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•* *.' 




University of California • Berkeley 

The Peter and Rosell Harvey 
Memorial Fund 










Vol. H. 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 Reembarkation — Persist- 
ence of Pizarro — Sufferings on Gallo Island — Fate Defied — Discovery 
of Tumbez and the Coast Beyond — Return to Panama — Pizarro Vis- 
its Spain — A New Expedition — Aboriginal History of Peru — The 
Rival Incas — Establishment of the Spaniards at San Miguel — Ata- 
hualpa 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Administration of Pedro de los Rios — He is Superseded by the Licen- 
tiate Antonio de la Gama — Barrionuevo's Reign — A Province in 
Nueva Andalucia Granted to Pedro de Heredia — He Sails for Car- 
tagena — Conflicts with the Natives — Treasure Unearthed — The 
Devil's Bohio — Prosperity of the Settlement — Alonso Heredia Sent 
to Rebuild San Sebastian — Is Opposed by Julian Gutierrez — Cap- 
ture of Gutierrez— The Golden Temple of Dabaiva Once More — 
Expeditions in Search of the Glittering Phantom, Francisco Cesar 
and Others — Audiencia Established at Panama — Maladministra- 
tion — Complaints of the Colonists — Destitution in the Province — 
Bishops of Castilla del Oro — Miraculous Image of the Virgin — Bibli- 
ographical 44 







The Dukes of Veragua — Maria 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 G3 




Alvarado Sets forth to Honduras to Join Cortes — 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 
Peiiol of Xalpatlahua — He Marches on Patinamit — His Return to 
Mexico — His Meeting with Cort6s 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 Settle- 
ment 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 Orduna 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 Cap- 
tured 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 Prov- 
ince , 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 BriDgs News of Ata- 
hualpa's Ransom — Strength of Alvarado's Armament — He Lands at 
Puerto Viejo — Failure of his Expedition — His Return to Guate- 
mala — 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 — Expedi- 
tions 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 — Andres 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 Fol- 
lowers — Alvarado Arrives in Honduras — He Founds New Settle- 
ments — His Departure for Spain J 44 






Malefeasance of Castaneda — Diego Alvarez Osorio the First Bishop of 
Nicaragua — A Convent Founded at Leon — Las Casas Arrives — Cas- 
taneda'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 Bias Be- 
lieves the Lava to be Molten Treasure — His Descent into the Burn- 
ing 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 Govern- 
ment — Antonio de Valdivieso Appointed Bishop — Feud between the 
Ecclesiastics and the Governor — Alonzo Lopez de Cerrato Takes the 
Residencia of Contreras — Missionary Labors in Nicaragua 166 




Diego Gutierrez Appointed Governor — Desertion of his Soldiers — He Pro- 
ceeds 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 — Reinforcements from Nicaragua and Nom- 
bre 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 Ca- 
cique Cocori — The Spaniards March into the Interior — Their Suffer- 
ings from Hunger — They are Attacked and Massacred — Benzoni and 
Five Other Survivors Rescued by Alonzo de Pisa 187 




The Adelantado's Match-making Venture — Its Failure — Alvarado's Com ■ 
mission 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 
Cortes — While above Pizarro He was far beneath Sandoval — His De- 
light in Bloodshed for its own Sake — The Resting-place and Epi- 
taph — Alvarado's Progeny 201 






Origin of the Chiapanecs — They Submit to the Spaniards after the Mex- 
ican 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 Espiritu 
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 Maladministration 213 




Decrease of Indian Population at the Isthmus — And in Honduras — Treat- 
ment 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 Panama 
Abolished — The Audiencia of Los Reyes and Los Confines Estab- 
lished — 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 — Pro- 
posed Change of the Site of Panama — Nombre de Dios and its 
Trade — The Isthmus the Highway of Commerce between the Hemi- 
spheres — Vasco Nunez 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 Ana- 
quito — Gonzalo's Dreams of Conquest — He Despatches Bachicao to 
Panama — 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 — Exe- 
cution 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 Nata — Gasca Arrives 
at the Isthmus with the King's Treasure — Capture of Panama — Blun- 
ders 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 Panama — Ber- 
mejo'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 Lem- 
pira — 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 2S9 



Mourning for Alvarado — Grief of Dona Beatriz — An Anomalous Gpvern- 
ment — A Female Ruler — A Beautiful but Treacherous Mountain — 
A Night of Horrors — Death of Doiia Beatriz — Destruction of Santi- 
ago — 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 — Maldo- 
nado 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 31. 






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 Contro- 
versy with the Audiencia of the Confines — He Departs for Spain — 
His Dispute with Sepulveda — His Appeal to the Conscience of 
Philip — The Audiencia Transferred from Panama to Guatemala — 
Death of the Apostle of the Indies — His Character — The Dominicans 
in Chiapas 328 




New Cathedral Wanted — A Poor Prelate and Unwilling Tithe-pay- 
ers — 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 Expedi- 
tion 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 Licen- 
tiate Brizeno — Famine, Pestilence, and Earthquake in Guatemala — 
The Audiencia of the Confines Removed to Panama — 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 Francis- 
cans — Bishops Villalpando and Cordoba — Fracas between two Ec- 
clesiastics — Administration of President Valverde, Rueda, Sande", 
and Castilla — Industrial Condition of the Province 358- 






Revolt of the Cimarrones — Pedro de Ursua Sent against Them — A 
Second Revolt — Bayana Caught and Sent to Spain — Regulations 
concerning Negroes — Commercial Decadence — Restrictions on Trade 
— Home Industries — Pearl Fisheries — Mining — Decay of Settle- 
ments — Proposed Change in the Port of Entry — Its Removal from 
Nombre de Dios to Portobello — Changes in the Seat of the Audien- 
cia — Tierra Firme Made Subject to the Viceroy of Peru — Defalca- 
tions in the Royal Treasury — Preparations for Defence against Cor- 





Drake's Attack on Nombre de Dios — Panic among the Inhabitants — 
Stores of Treasure — Retreat of the English — They Sail for Carta- 
gena — And Thence for the Gulf of Uraba — Visit to the Isle of Pinos — 
The Ships Moved to the Cabezas Islands — Second Expedition to Carta- 
gena — 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 Expedi- 
tion — 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 Rabago 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 Artiego Cherino— The Franciscans in Costa Rica— Martyr- 
dom 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 Nic- 
aragua, — Church Matters — The Jesuits Enter the Province — They are 
Recalled — The Diocese Subject to the Archbishop of Lima — Succes- 
sion 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 — Francois L'Olonnois the Filibuster— His Ves- 
sel 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 Ves- 
sel Wrecked off Cape Gracias a Dios — His Expedition to Desagua- 
dero — 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 Panama — Its Presidents — Captain 
Parker's Raid on Portobello — Growth of Portobello and Decadence of 
Panama — Malefeasance of Officials — Interoceanic Communication — 
Contraband Trading — Church Matters in Panama — Disputes between 
the Bishops and the Oidores — The Ecclesiastics in Evil Repute — De- 
structive Conflagration — Bazan's Administration — His Downfall and 
its Cause — The Annual Fair at Panama 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 Panama 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 Pa- 
nama — Capture of Fort San Lorenzo — March across the Isthmus — 
Morgan Arrives in Sight of Panama — Cowardice of the Governor — 
Battle with the Spaniards — Burning of the City — Torture of Prison- 
ers — Bravery of a Captive Gentlewoman — The Buccaneers Recross. 
the Isthmus — Division of the Booty 482 




The New City of Panama — Portobello Sacked by Pirates — A Buccaneer 
Fleet Assembles at Boca del Toro — The Corsairs Plan a Raid on Pa- 
nama — They Capture Santa Maria — And Thence Sail for Plantain 
Island — Massacre of their Captives — Desperate Conflict in Panama 
Bay — Some of the Marauders Return across the Isthmus — The Re- 
mainder Proceed to the Island of Taboga — And there Capture Sev- 
eral Prizes — They are Asked to Show their Commissions — The An- 
swer — 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 Maria 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 Reenforced — They Proceed to the Coast of South Amer- 
ica — Where they Gain Intelligence of the Treasure-fleet — The 
Pirates Sail for the Pearl Islands — Their Defeat in the Bay of Pa- 
nama — Raids on Leon, Realejo, and Granada — Piety of the Filibus- 
ters^ — 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 — Con- 
flagrations in Panama — 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 Mosqui- 
tia — Surrender of the Spaniards — Colonists Ordered to Leave the 
Coast — The Governors of Nicaragua — The British Defeated at Fort 
San Carlos — 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-cut- 
ting — 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 Ver- 
sailles — 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 Tegucigal- 
pa — 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 Tomas 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 Audien- 
cia — 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 Cathe- 
dral 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 — Fur- 
ther Expeditions — Fate of Velasco and his Command — Failure — 
Ursua's Enterprise — Progress of Paredes — Negotiations with the 
Canek — Opposition of Soberanis — Ursua Takes Command — Treacher- 
ous Allurements — The Itzas Conquered — Peten Garrisoned — Jealousy 
of Soberanis — Unsatisfactory Operations — Questionable Possession. 672 



The Tzendal Rebellion — A New Miracle — Atrocities — A Novel Hier- 
archy — The Tzendales Repulsed — Segovia's Operations — President 
Cosio Assumes Command — Fall of Cancuc — Spread of the Rebel- 
lion — 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 






Origin and Character of the Conqueror — The Triumvirate Copart- 
nership of Pizarro. Friar Luque, and Diego de Almagro for Con- 
tinuing the Discovery of Andagoya — Departure — Attitude of 
Pedraeias — Slow Development of their Plans — Return and 
Reembarkation — Persistence of Pizarro — Sufferings on Gallo 
Island — Fate Defied— Discovery of Tumbez and the Coast Beyond — 
Return to Panama — 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 — Pacifica- 
tion 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. 

In a society like that of Panama, 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 en- 
countered 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 

Vol. II. 1 ( 1 ) 


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 in- 
stincts nor his infamous cruelty and treachery stand- 
ing 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 Cortes. The develop- 
ment 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 ex- 
pressed or a single noble action recorded. The Chris- 
tianity which as a Spaniard he w r as 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 Cortes and other captains 
of a generous, lordly nature might wade through hor- 
rors 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 readi- 
ness of resource which carried through one of the 
most remarkable undertakings of any age. Soldier of 
fortune and petty farmer were the only distinctions 
lie 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 heartless- 
ness 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 Tuniaco, and last of 
all of what Andagoya had reported concerning Biru. 
It was known what Cortes 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 Biru, 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 Panama", and formerly school-master of the cathe- 
dral of Darien. Father Luque, or Loco as he was 
later called for this folly, had influence with Pedra- 
rias, and the proceeds of his piety thus far amounted 
to twenty thousand castellanos. He joined with him- 
self 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 gov- 
ernor was to have an eye watchful for himself. 

In a small caravel with about a hundred men and 
four horses/ Pizarro sailed from Panama 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 Pinas where terminated the voyages 
of Vasco Nuiiez and Andagoya, and entered the 
river Birii 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 
Nicolas de Kibera, the treasurer, went with the vessel 
and the gold collected to Panamd. 

Three months after the departure of Pizarro from 
Panama, Almagro followed with seventy men, and 

1 Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. cap. xiii.-xiv., says 80 men. Francisco de 
Jerez, Pizarro's secretary, Conq. del Peru, in Barcia, iii. 179, places the 
number at 112 Spaniards, besides Indians; Zarate, Hist, del Peru, in /(/., at 
114 men. For minor statements and discrepancies compare Gomara, J I is/. 
J nd., 141; Garci'aso de la Vega, Com. Ileal, pt. ii. lib. i. cap. vii.; Benzoni, 
Hist. Hondo Nvovo, 118; Ovicdo, iii. 382-00; Quintana, Vidas, Pizarro, 50. 


after some search, and the loss of an eye in fighting 
savages, he found his colleague, left with him his sur- 
plus men, and returned with his vessel to the assist- 
ance of Ribera. By this time Pedrarias, although lie 
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 
Bartolome 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 Panamd, 
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 over- 
laid 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 shout- 
ing to the homeless wanderers, the hairy exiles, chil- 
dren of the sea-foam, descendants of the sun, as they 
called the glittering serpents that were so soon to 
envenom their land. 

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, eight}^ of whom 
wore 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 Panama. 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 de- 
fend possession. The soldiers were not pleased to have 
the ships go back to Panama" 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 con- 
dition of the men; which letters, of course, were not 
delivered, none save one which Juan de Sarabia in- 
closed in a ball of cotton which was to be presented 
to the wife of the governor as a specimen of native 
industry. 2 

2 Thia letter picturing the horrors of the situation, and begging from the 
governor relief, was bigned by the writer and his comrades; after which 


Fearful lest the men might seize the remaining 
ship, Pizarro despatched it also to Panama* 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, how- 
ever, 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 Par- 
nassus. Yet what shall we say in view of the result? 
And sure I am it is no upright deity that aids him. 

When Tafur landed and told the men to get on 
board the ships, Pizarro cried " Stop!" Drawing his 

was a doggerel, current for years thereafter in the Indies, which ran as 
follows: Pues senor gobernador, 

Mirelo bien por entero 

Que alhi va el recogedor, 

Y aca queda el carnicero. 

And may be rendered thus: 

To this we hope your honor, 
Will lend a kindly ear ; 
You have the herder with you, 
We have the butcher here. 

In Balboa, Histoire du Perou, Ternaux-Compans gives a French rendering 
by Beaudoin : 

Monsieur le gouverneur, on s'en va vous chercher, 
Pour emmener des gens de la ville oil vous estes. 
Envoyez-nous-en done, car voicy le boucher 
Qui les esgorgera comme de pauvres bestes. 


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 Panamd, 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 mel" 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 Panama. Ruiz was ordered 
to accompany him and lend the associates his assist- 
ance. 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 fear- 
fully fascinating shore, they waited five months. 

This rash act of the now thoroughly inspired Pi- 
zarro was viewed differently by different persons at 
Panama^. 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 Panamd. 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. 

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 pur- 
poses, opposite the town of Tumbez. More brilliant 
than had been their wildest hopes was the scene sur- 
rounding 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 spec- 
tators surrounded them on landing. The women were 
shy at first, but presently could not sufficiently admire 
the fair complexion and flowing beard of the Euro- 
pean, 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, hav- 
ing vassals at his doors and gold and silver among his 
utensils. Conspicuous among the buildings of Tum- 
bez 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 decora- 
tions, and beautiful gardens dedicated to the sun. 

More witnesses to such facts as these must be ob- 
tained before leaving this place. So next day Pedro 
de Candia was permitted to go ashore armed cap-a-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 Panama^ carrying back with him 
two native youths, one of whom, called by the Span- 
iards Felipillo, became notorious during the conquest. 


The men had been ordered to treat gold with indiffer- 
ence, that the future harvest might be greater. 3 

The pirate's paradise was found; it next remained to 
enter it. Pizarro reached Panama late in 1527, and 
instantly the town was wild with excitement. Father 
Luque wept tears of joy. But although Pedro cle 
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 Panamd, early in 1528 Pizarro set out for 
Spain. Through the aid of Father Luque fifteen hun- 
dred 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 Can- 
dia accompanied Pizarro, and they took with them 
specimens of the natives, llamas, cloth, and gold and 
silver untensils of Peru. 

Two notable characters were encountered by Pizarro 
immediately on his arrival in Spain. One was Her- 
nan Cortes, revelling in the renown of an overthrown 
northern empire as Pizarro was about to revel in the 
overthrow of a southern. Cortds told Pizarro how he 
had conquered Mexico and gave him many valuable 
hints in empire-snatching. 4 The other was no less a 

3 Garcilaso dc la Vega, Com. Real, pt. ii. lib. i. cap. xi., tells the most 
extravagant stories concerning Tumbez. ' Avia gran nuraero de Plateros, que 
hacian Cantaros de Oro, y Plata, con otras muchas maneras de Joias, asi para 
( 1 Bervioio, y ornamento del Templo, que cllos tenian por Sacrosanto, como 
] ara servicio del mismo Inga, y para chapar las planchas deste Metal, por las 
paredes de los Tcmplos, y Palacios.' See also, Xerez, Conq. del Pern, aarcia, 
iii. 100-81 ; Zdrate, Hist, del Pcrv, Barcia, iii. 2, 3; Gomara, Hist. Ind., 143; 
to y Orel/ana, Varoncs Ilvstrcs, 138; Benzoni, Hist. Mundo Nvovo, 120; 
Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. cap. xii. ; Oviedo, iii. 

1 Some ailirm that, while in Spain, Cortes and Pizarro became great 
friends; that much fatherly advice was given by the former to the latter. 
Cortes, they say, although the younger, could teach his brother-conqueror 


personage than the Bachiller Enciso, who, still nurs- 
ing revenge, seized the now famous discoverer of 
Peru and imprisoned him on the old charge of in- 
juries 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 Panama, with the 
right to erect fortresses, maintain forces, grant en- 
comiendas, and enjoy the rights and prerogatives of 
absolute authority. His salary was to be 725,000 
maravedis, 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 maravedis, and 
for Father Luque the bishopric of Tumbez, with a 
salary of one thousand castellan os. Bartolome Ruiz 
was to be grand pilot of the South Sea; Pedro do 
Candia, commander of artillery, and the brave thir- 
teen 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, Fernan- 
do, Juan, and Gonzalo Pizarro, and Francisco Martin 
de Alcantara, all except the first like himself illegit- 

many things, and warned Pizarro against admitting another to a share in 
the supreme authority, which advice, indeed, was hardly necessary. 


imate, 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 capa- 
ble, he soon acquired unbounded influence over his 
brother, and was the scourge of the expedition. 

Small as was the force required by his capitulation 
with the crown, Pizarro was unable to raise it. With 
the assistance of Cortes 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 Nornbre 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 with- 
drawing from the partnership and engaging in con- 
quest on his own account. 

Crossing to Panamd, 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 expe- 
dition the color of a religious crusade. The Pizarros 
sail early in January 1531, leaving Almagro, as 
in the first instance, to follow with reinforcements. 
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 thou- 
sand pesos, which enabled them to send back the ships 
at once, one to Nicaragua and the other to Panamd, 
for reinforcements. 

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 Panama 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 Benalcazar. 
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 reinforce- 
ments 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 con- 
spiracy 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. 

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 prov- 
idence indeed at this juncture, not less kind than that 
which gave Montezuma's throne to Cortes. 

Tradition refers the aborigines of Peru to a time 
when the entire land was divided into petty chief- 
doms, 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 do- 
mestic arts, and the migratory clans of the western 
slope of the cordillera thus became cemented under 
the beneficent rule of the heavenly teachers. Orig- 
inally 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 ex- 

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 contami- 
nated 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 addi- 
tion 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 mon- 
arch of Quito, and concubine of Huayna Capac. 
From boyhood Atahualpa had been the constant 
companion of his father, who on his death-bed, con- 
trary 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 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 2 


Peruvian army, he marched against Huascar, over- 
threw him near the base of Chimborazo, and pressing 
forward again defeated the Peruvians before Cuzco, 
captured his brother, and took possession of the im- 
perial city of the incas. 

It was in the midst of this struggle that the Span- 
iards 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 ap- 
peared 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 Tum- 
bez?" 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 willing- 
ness 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, dis- 
tributed 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 estab- 
lishing 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 seri- 
ously 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 de- 
spatched by ship to Panama\ 

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 rag- 
ing. 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. 5 

5 Historians of the Peruvian conquest point with emphasis to political dis- 
ruption as the agency which gave the country to the Spaniards. Of course 
we cannot tell what would have been the accidents or incidents of this inva- 
sion under other conditions. As it happened, I fail to perceive how the civil 
war of necessity was the cause of success, or that without Peruvian disrup- 
tion the Spaniards could not have accomplished their purpose. Atahualpa 
at the head of a powerful army in the full flush of victory could have crashed 
this handful of Spaniards as easily as might have done a Peruvian host ten- 
fold greater. Pizarro could have performed his imperial cozenage as easily 
when peace reigned as at another time. Compare Naharro, Relation, in 
Col. Doc. Ined., xxvi. 232-7; Real Cedula, in Id., 256; Castaneda, Informa- 
tion, in Id., 256-9; Jaren, Information en Panama, in Id., 259-60; Candia, 
Information, in Id., 261-5; Pedro Pizarro, in Id., 201-10; Almagro, Informa- 
tion, in Id., 285-74; Sdmanos, Relation, in Id., v. 193-201; Col. Doc. Incd., 
in Id., 1. 206-20; Ovalle, Hist. Chile, in Pinkerton's Voy., xiv. 154-6, and in 
Churchill's Col. Voy., xiv. 154-6; Leon's Travels, Halduyt Soc; Garcilaso de 
la Vega, Com. Reales, ii. 13-20; Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 127-9; 
Xerez, Conq. del Peru, 179-81; Gomara, Hist. Ind., 141-7; Oviedo, iv. 147 et 
seq.; Zdrate, Hist. Perv, 17-23. The last-mentioned document is by one 
of the conquerors. According to some reports the inca was undetermined 
what course to pursue. Immediately after the capture of Huascar some of 
his counsellors were for sending an army and destroying the invaders at once. 
Others wished to take them alive and by making slaves of them ingraft their 
superiority into their own incipient civilization. Others more timid repre- 


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 inter- 
preters. 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 strangers. 

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, 

sented the strangers as exceedingly fierce and powerful, to conquer whom 
would be difficult and dangerous. ' Vnos querian, que fuesse vn capitan a 
ello con exercito, otros dezian, que aunque los estrangeros no eran muchos, 
eran valientes, y que la ferocidad de sus rostros, y personas, la terribilidad de 
sus armas, la ligereza, y brabura de aquellos sus cauallos pedian mayor 
fuerca.' Jlerrera, dec. v. lib. ii. cap. ix. According to Balboa the arrival of 
the Spaniards caused some anxiety among the Peruvians at Cuzco. 'Cette 
nouvelle inquieta tout le monde. Atahualpa cssaya de tranquilliser ses sujets 
en leur disant que ces strangers etaient probablement des envoyds de Vira- 
cocha, et depuis cette epoque ce nom est rests' aux Espagnols.' Hist, dii 
Pcrou, Tcmaux-Compans, Voy., sdrie ii. torn. iv. 309. Benzoni affirms that 
Atahualpa who was at Caxamalca, sent messengers to Pizarro threatening to 
make him repent if he did not leave his vassals unmolested and return to 
his own country. /In questo tempo Attabaliba Re del Peru si trouaua in 
Cassiamalca, e inteso com' era entrato nel suo paese gente con la barba, con 
certi animali terribili e scorreuano i luoghi, ammazzando, e depredando il 
tutto, mandb vn' ambasciatore a Francesco Pizzarro, minacciandolo, che se 
lien laseiaua i suoi vassalli, e se ne fosse ito al suo paese, che lo farebbe mal 
contento.' Hint. Mondo Nvovo, 121. 


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 ar- 
rives with an invitation from the inca for the Span- 
iards 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 prepared. 

At length from the terraced heights above Caxa- 
malca, 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 despond- 
ingly, and that without prejudice. But these auda- 
cious 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 hewm 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. Be- 
tween 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 manceuvrings of a dream and 
Caxamalca a phantom city. Quartering his troops in 
the plaza, Pizarro sends Hernando de Soto with fifteen 
horsemen, 6 and the interpreter Felipillo, to ask the 
inca the time and place of the approaching inter- 
view; 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 encoun- 
tered the Inca's army drawn up in distinct battalions, 
archers, slingers, clubmen, and spearmen, standing 
expectantly. 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 direc- 
tion. On the other side are the royal gardens and 

As the horsemen draw up before the royal quarters 

6 Herrera says 24 ; others 20. In the narratives of these early adventurers 
rarely two are exactly alike concerning any occurrence. Among them all, 
however, we can usually arrive near the truth. 

7 There were in reality, according to the 'Spanish Captain,' 80,000 war- 
riors in the encampment of the inca, but the cavaliers reported to their 
comrades only 40,000 in order not to dishearten them ! • Li Capitani ritor- 
norno al signor gourcnator, c li disscno quel chc era seguito del cacique, o 
(lie li parea che la gente ch' egli haucua portriano esser da quaranta mila 
huomini da guerra. Et questo dissono per dar animo alia gente, percho 
erano piu di ottanta mila, c dissono ancora qucllo che li haueua detto il 
cacique. ' Relatione cTvn Cayitano Spaynvolo, in llamusio, iii. 373. 


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 def- 
erence 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 Peru- 
vian 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 re- 
spectfully 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 oc- 
rurrence. 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 Caxa- 


malca." 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 refresh- 
ments to his visitors. But at this moment the atten- 
tion of all is directed to another scene. 

Hernando de Soto is an expert horseman and 
superbly mounted. He marks the smile of incredu- 
• lity 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, pranc- 
ing, leaping, running; then riding off a little distance 
he wheels and dashes straight toward the royal pavil- 
ion. 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 hold- 
ing 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 

As the night wears away, while Atahualpa lies 
dreaming of the twilight apparition, Francisco Pizar- 
ro 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 indif- 
ference 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 feasi- 
ble than at first glance one might imagine. To admin- 
ister 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 battles." 

Mass, attended by pious chants, follows the early 
clarion call the 16th of November, and dread-dispel- 
ling 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 squad- 


rons under Hernando de Soto, Hernando Pizarro, and 
Sebastian de Benalcazar, and stationed within the 
halls on the three sides of the plaza. The foot-sol- 
diers, 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 Span- 
iards await their victim till late in the afternoon, when 
from the tower they behold that which causes trepi- 
dation 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 pro- 
cession, 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 fol- 
lows 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, Ata- 
hualpa 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/ 1 Hence the miracle. 


Though few in comparison with his entire army, 
the attendants of Atahualpa numbered several thou- 
sands, 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 lit- 
ter. Nearest the person of the monarch are the 
orejones, as the Spaniards styled the Peruvian noble- 
men, richly attired with armor and crowns of gold 
and silver, come 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, list- 
less 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 remain- 
ing space. Profound quiet fills the place, and so 
hidden behind the forms of his own swarthy warriors 
are the few Spaniards appearing that Atahulapa, 
without descending from the litter, casts about him 
an inquiring glance and asks an attendant, "Have the 
strangers fled?" 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. 9 Approaching the royal 
litter, the ecclesiastic harangues the inca, beginning 
with the doctrines of the trinity, creation, redemption, 

8 The story is told in as many ways as there are historians. Some say that 
the inca entered Caxamalca as a conqueror, others as falling into the trap of 
the Spaniards. All are partially correct. Undoubtedly he would capture 
the Spaniards if he could, while they would prevent it by securing him if they 
were able. According to Zarate, seeing but a few men in the plaza when he 
entered he asked, 'Have these men surrendered?' and his people answered, 
1 They have ! ' ' Y coma vio tan pocos Espanoles, i esos a pie (porque los de 
a Caballo, estaban escondidos) pensb, que no osarian parecer delante de el, ni 
le esperarian; i levantandose sobre las andas, dixo a su Gente. Estos rendidoa 
estdn. Y todos respondieron que si.' Zdrote, Hist, del Peru, Bctrcia, in. 21. 

9 Some say a cross and a breviary, others a cross and a bible. ' Llego 
entonces a el Fray Vincente de Valuerde, dominico, que lleuaua una Cruz en 
la mano, y su breuiario, o la blibia, como algunos dizen.' Gomara, Hist. Ind., 


and delegation of authority , ia 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. 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 heav- 
ens. 12 Your pope must be a fool to talk of giving away 
the property of others. " 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, 14 saying, "You 
shall dearly pay for this indignity, and for all the in- 
juries you have done in my dominions." It is enough. 

10 ' Liii exposa longuement les mysteres de notre sainte religion, en citant 
son discours plusieurs passages des o>angiles, comrae si Atalmaipa avait su ce 
que c'etait que les 6vangiles, ou eut 6t6 oblige" de le savoir. ' Balboa, Hist, da 
P&rou, in Ternaux-Compans, Voy., serie ii. torn. iv. 315. 

11 'Respondio Atabaliba muy enojado, que no queria tributar siedo libre. ' 
Oomara, Hist. Ltd., 149. 'Ma clie non gli pareua come Re libero di dar tri- 
buto a chi non haueua mai ve duto.' Benzoni, Hist. Mondo Nuovo, 123. 'Soi 
libre, no debo tributo a nadie, ni pienso pagarlo, que no reconozco por superior 
a ningun Rei.' Garcilaso de la Vega, Com. Beales, pt. ii. lib. i. cap. xxv. 

13 ' Y que Christo murio, y el sol, y la luna nunca morian.' Gomara, Hist. 
Ind., 150. 

u 'Et che il Pontefice doueua essere vn qualche gran pazzo, poi clie daua 
cosi liberamente quello d'altri.' Benzoni, Hut. Mondo Nuovo, 123. ' Que no 
obedeccria al Papa porqne daua lo ageno, y por no dexar aquien nunca vio el 
reyno, que fue-de su padre.' Gomara, Hist. Ind., 149-50. 

11 'Poi gli dimando, come sapeua, che'l Dio de Cristiani di niente haueua 
fatto il mondo, e che fosse morto in Croce. II frate rispose, che quel libro lo 
did ua, c lo porse ad Attabaliba, ilqualc lo prese, e guardatoui sopra, ridendo 
; a me non dice niente questo libro; e gettatolo per terra, il frate lo 
ri] iglib. 1 Benzoni, Hist. Mondo Nuovo, 123. 'Le moine en fut si irritc qu'il 
ma a grands oris vengeance pour l'offense faite a Dieu et a sa sainte loi.' 
BcUOca, Hint, du Peroit, 315. 


God and the king rejected, and the holy evangelists 
trampled under foot. 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!" 16 

The zealous commander needs no second exhorta- 
tion. 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 drunk- 
enness 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 sol- 
diers, "Thrust! thrust! thrust with the point of your 
swords, lest by striking you break your weapons." 17 

15 Pizarro y Orellana mildly affirms that the inca threw the book from him 
in such scorn, that the monk was obliged to call upon the Christians to fight 
for their law. ' Y poniendole la biblia en las manos, la arrojb el Inga con ta 
gran vituperio, que obligb al Religioso a dar vozes a los Cristianos, diziendo- 
les, que bolviessen por su ley, que la ultrajava aquel barbaro gentil, de quien 
no avia ya que esperar.' Varones Ilvstres, 155. 

16 'Et subito ad alta voce comincid a gridare; vendetta, vendetta Cris- 
tiani, die gli Euangelij sono disprezzati, e gettati per terra. Vccidete questi 
cani, che dispreggiano la legge di Dio.' Benzoni, Hist. Hondo Nuovo, 123. 
Gomara says : 'Los Euagelios en tierra, Vegaca Christianos, a ellos, a ellos que 
no quiere nuestra amistad, ni nuestra ley.' Hist. Lid., 150. While Garcilaso 
de la Vega renders it thus: 'Ea, ea, destruidlos, que menosprecian nuestra 
lei, y no quieren nuestra amistad.' Com. Bextles, ii. lib. i. cap. xxv. 

17 'De Monick selfs hielt oock niet op den gantschen tydt dat sy doende 
waren met dit Dolck te vermoorden, vamrasen en tieren, vermanende de 
spaenjaer den dat sy niet houwen maer steken souden, om de Lemmers te 


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 crow T d which carry the monarch 
hither and thither and by the desperate defence made 
by the Peruvians. 

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 mana- 
cled and placed under a strong guard. 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. 13 Following 

bewaren, dat sy niet braecken, mits sy de Degens in nacomende moorderyen 
souden van noode hebben.' Wes'-Indische Spieyhel, 362. 

18 'Cargaua todos sobre Atabaliba, que todauia estaua en su litera, por 
prenderle, desseando cada vno cl prez y gloria de su prision.' Gomara, IcO. 
' Sea gardes prirent la fuite de tous lcs cotes, et les Espagnols, ayant entraine' 
l'lnga dans leur camp, lvi mirent les fers aux pieds.' Lialboa, Hist, du Perou, 

19 The ' Spanish Captain ' places the number at over seven thousand be- 
sides many -who had their limbs cut off and were in other ways mutilated. 
' Jiima sero in quel giorno morti da sei ouer sette mila Indiani, oltra inoiti che 
haneano tagliate le braccia, e molte altre ferite.' Relatione d' vn Capitano 
Spagnvolo; Jiamusio, iii. 374. 'Decimos, que pasaron de cinco mil Indios 
lot que muricron aquel dia. Los tres mil y quinientos fueron a hierro, y 
los demaa fueron viejos invtiles, mugcres, mucbachos, y ninos, porque de 


their instincts these fiends incarnate spend the night 
in rioting and drunkenness. 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 Ata- 
hualpa sup together that night! 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 ambas- 
sadors 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 
w r ere permitted to attend him, and for his life or 
prolonged imprisonment he was told to have no fear. 

ambos sexos, y de todas edades avia venido innumerable gente a oir, y solennicar 
la embajada de los que tenian por dioses.' Garcilaso de la Vega; Com. Reales, 
pt. ii. lib. i. cap. 25. This brutal massacre is dignified by Pizarro y Ore- 
liana, as one of the most important battles of history, remarkable for the loss 
of so little Christian blood ! 'Se vencio una de las mas importantes batallas, 
y con menos gente de quantas en las historias divinas, y humanas se han visto; 
no sacandose mas sangre de los Cristianos, que la de una pequena herida que 
le dieron en la mano a nuestro valeroso capitan salia.' Varones Ilvstres, 156. 

20 ' Cosi bauuta la sanguinolente e terribil vittoria di quella misera gente 
infelice; stettero tutti la notte in balli e feste, lussuriando.' Benzoni, Hist. 
Mondo Nvovo, 124. ' Als de Spaenjaerden desen bloedighen neerlaghe aenge- 
recht hadden van dit ongheluckighe Volck, hebben sy den naestvolgenden 
nacht metdansen en springhen, en bancketeren overghebrocht.' West-Indische 
Spieghel, 362. 

21 No greater monument of blind adulation is found in Spanish-American 
history than the Varones Ilvstres del Nvevo Mvndo, Madrid, 1639, of Pizarro 
y Orellana, a descendant of one of the great Pizarros. Not only the bru- 
tal Francisco Pizarro is made a saint, but the accounts of the eight heroes of 
the conquest, which occupy the greater part of a folio volume, are little else 
than a covering of defects by so-called glorious deeds, which serve besides the 
purposes of fame as a special plea for the confirmation of grants conferred 
upon the conqueror. This plea is embodied in the author's later Discurso 
Legal, and is in some degree made weightier by his position as member of the 
royal council. 


Meanwhile the Spaniards were exhorted to watch- 
fulness; 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 horse- 
men were sufficient to scatter the imperial army and 
rifle the encampment. And while Pizarro preached 22 
Christianity to his chained captive, his soldiers were 
out gold-gathering, desecrating the Peruvian temples, 
killing the men, and outraging the women. 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. 24 

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 sus- 
picion 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 atten- 
tion. 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." Pizar- 
ro made no reply. The Spaniards present threw an 
incredulous glance around the apartment. The room 

22 ' Y se fue enterando de ellos del discurso de su venida, y de la Fe 
Catolica, fjue oia muy bien: como hombre que tenia muy bien entendi- 
miento.' Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 156. 

73 ' Hallaron en el baiio, y Real, de Atabaliba cinco mil mugeres, que aunque 
tristes, y desamparadas, holgaron con los Christianos, muchas y bucnas tiendas, 
infinita ropa de vestir.' Oarcilaso de la Veya, Com. liealex, pt. ii. lib. i. cap. 

u 'Vali6 en fin la bajilla sola de Atabaliba, cien mil ducados.' Garcilaso 
(/.r la Vega, Com. Heal, pt. ii. lib. i. cap. xxvii. 'Los Soldados no se descui- 
cU ion en visitar los quarteles del exercito del Inga, donde hallaron grandissimas 
riqueza de oro, y plata.' Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 150. 


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 confine- 
ment, 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 ad- 
joining, I will fill that room twice full with silver." 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 cap- 
tive in which to gather this enormous treasure. Hol- 
low 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 ransom. 

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 

25< Tratb Ataulpa de su rescate, y ofrecio tan gran cantidad de oro, que 
parecia impossible cumplirlo.' Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstres, 156. 
'Prometid, porque le soltasen, cubrir de vasijas de plata y oro, el suelo de 
vna gran sala donde estava preso.' Garcilaso de la Vega, Com. Reales, pt. ii. 
lib. i. cap. xxviii. 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 3 


of gold and shod their horses with silver. Their cap- 
tain 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 Atahu- 
alpa 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." 26 Shortly 
afterward Huascar was secretly put to death; and 
Pizarro had the mortification of finding himself out- 
witted 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 transpor- 
tation of which required no less than nine hundred 

Time passed wearily with the imprisoned monarch. 
The influx of gold at first rapid, soon fell off, and un- 

20 'J'attends avec impatience l'arrivtfe de votre frere. pour sa voir quels sont 
8e,s droits, rendre justice a chacun et tacherde vousmettre d'accord.' Balboa, 
Hist, du Ptrou t 317. 


fortunately 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 him- 
self and company equitable participation in the spoil, ac- 
cording to compact. This Pizarro refused, but agreed 
to divide what should be thereafter taken. The dis- 
pute 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; 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 At- 
ahualpa' s wives, and did what he could to hasten his 
death. 28 

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, 29 equal in pur- 

27 Benzoni was told that Pizarro intended from the first to take the life of 
Atahualpa, as by this means he expected to be able better to subdue and 
govern the country. ' Per6 io ho inteso, da poi che Pizzarro l'hebbe fatto pri-" 
gione, l'intento suo fu sempre di leuarselo dinanzi a gli occhi, per meglio potere 
soggiogare, e dominare il paese.' Hist. Mondo Naovo, lib. iii. fol. 125. 

28 ' II 6tait, dit-on, epris d'une des femmes d'Atahualpa, que la crainte 
qu'inspirait l'lnga empechait de se rendre a ses d^sirs. ' Balboa, Hist. duPtrou, 
322. ' Sobre estas causas se examinaron a algunos Indios, a tiempo q el In- 
terprete Filipillo, zeloso de que una muger de Ataulpa le huviesse desdenado, 
interprets los dichos de los testigos, escriviendolos demanera, que el Padre 
Fray Vicente de Valverde dixo, que el Armaria la sentencia de muerte.' 
Pizarro y OreHana, Varones Ilvstres, 166. 

29 ' En la suma deste rescate, andan diversos, Agustin Qarate, y Francisco 
Lopez de Gomara, historiadores de aquellos tiempos, creo, que son erratas del 


chasing power to over twenty millions of dollars at 
the present day. "It is the most solemn responsi- 
bility 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 cas- 
tellanos, 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. 30 Father 
Luque had died shortly before the departure of Al- 
magro from Panama; no mention is made of him or 
of his legal representative, Gaspar de Espinosa, in the 

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 Al- 
magro, impatient to pursue their ambitious schemes, 
had long since determined Atahualpa's fate. The ac- 

molde : pondr6 aqui algunas dcllas, para que se vean mejor. ' Garcilaso de la 
Vcya, Com. lleales, pt. ii. lib. i. cap. xxxviii. I have taken the lowest estimate 
of this treasure as being in all probability as near the truth as any. Many 
different amounts are given, some of them as high as four millions. ' Hallaron 
cinqu^ta y dos mil marcos de buena plata, y vn millon, y trezientos, y veynte 
y seys mil y quinietos pesos de oro, suma, y riqza, nunca vista en vno.' 
Gomara, Hist. Ind., 154-5. 

30 The ' Spanish Captain ' says that every foot-soldier received 4,800 ducats, 
equal to 7,208 castellanos, while horsemen received double. Those who were 
left at San Miguel received 200 pesos each. ' II signor gouernatore fece le 
parti, e tocc6 a ciscuno fante a pie, quattro mila e ottocento pesi d'oro, che 
sono ducati. 7208, e a gli huomini a cauallo il doppio, senza altri vantaggi cho 
gli furon fatti ... A quelli Christiani che erano restati in quel luogo doue ha- 
ueua fondato il ridotto de San Michele, dette dua mila pesi d'oro, accioche lo 
partissero, che ne tocc6 dugento pesi a ciascuno.' Relatione d'vn Capitano 
Spagnvolo, Jiamusio, iii. 377. ' Chaque cavalier recut neuf cents pesos d'or 
et troia cent soixante marcs d'argent. Chaque fantassin eut la moiti6 de cette 
8omme. ' Hist, du P6rou, 327-8. 


cusations and the trial would both be laughable were 
they not so diabolical. Pizarro and Almagro acted 
as judges. Among the charges were attempted in- 
surrection, usurpation and putting to death the law- 
ful sovereign, idolatry, waging unjust warfare, adul- 
tery, 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 human- 
ity 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 them- 
selves had committed in a tenfold degree since enter- 
ing these dominions. The opinion of the soldiers was 
taken. 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 Vi- 
cente, 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, 

31 Pizarro well knew that the inca's death was certain if the matter were 
left to the soldiers, while by so doing he might be able to throw off some of 
the odium which otherwise would be fastened upon him. As he had antici- 
pated, the majority was in favor of killing the prisoner. Others would have 
him sent to Spain, while a few were in favor of granting him his liberty. 
1 Dit also volbracht zynde, door Pizarro, en Almagro vergaderen de Kryclis- 
raedt, en beraetslaghen met malcanderen, wat men met Attabaliba soude 
uytrechten: Eenighe sloeghen voor, datmen hem soude om dem hals bren- 
ghen, cenige vonden goct datmen hem los laten soude: Veele waren van 
meeninghe, dat het goet was datmen hem nae den Keyser soude senden. Ten 
laetsten, de stemmen vcrgadert synde, prevaleerde die, datmen hem soude 
ombrenghen. ' West-Indische Spkghel, 365. 


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! 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. 33 After another 
distribution government was organized by the Span- 
iards 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 Benalcazar took possession 
of Quito, where he was shortly afterward confronted 
by Pedro de Alvarado, one of the conquerors of Mex- 
ico 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 colo- 
nial history. 84 Although the distance was short the en- 

32 The philosophy as well as the religion of the early writers is ever found 
equal to the emergency. 'Y aunque parecio sin causa, y coino tal lo pagaron 
los que intervinieron en ella, no sin culpa; pues tan sin ellaavia sido fratricida 
del Guaxcar, como queda dicho.' Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilvstrcs, 166-7. 

33 'Comencaron vnos a desentablar las paredes del templo, que de oro, y 
plata eran: otros a desenterrar las joias, y Vasos de oro, que con los Muertos 
estavan: otros a toinar idolos que de lo mesmo eran.' Garcilaso de la Vega, 
Com. RecUe.1, pt. ii. lib. ii. cap. vii. 

34 'Acerca de los quinicntos hombres, que estos autores dicen, que llevb 
oonsigo I). Pedro de Alvarado, se me ofrece decir, que a muchos de los que 
fueron con el, les oi, que fueron ochocientos Espaiioles.' Garcilaso de la Vega, 
Com. lieales, pt. ii. lib. ii. cap. ii. 


tire way was strewn with the dead ; more than one hun- 
dred Spaniards and two thousand Indians perished. 
Enough however survived to enable Alvarado to make 
equitable arrangements with Almagro and Benalcazar. 
A portion of the vessels and the entire forces of Alva- 
rado 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 Alva- 
rado took his departure. Benalcazar 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 else- 
where no sooner are the savages slain than their 
destroyers fall to fighting among themselves. Alma- 
gro and Pizarro are old men, old friends, copartners; 
yet instead of dividing their immense acquisition and 
devoting the brief remainder of their days to peace- 
ful pursuits, so deadly becomes their hatred that 
each seems unable to rest while the other lives. 
Plernando Pizarro reports proceedings in Spain, and 
Almagro is placed in command of Cuzco, while Pizarro 
founds his capital at Lima. The king confirms Pi- 
zarro in his conquest and makes him Marques 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 Benalcazar 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 simulta- 
neously, and massacres the settlers on plantations. 
The Spaniards are reduced to the greatest extremity. 
Cuzco is laid in ashes, and Pizarro, unable to cooper- 
ate with his brother Hernando, despatches ships to 
Panama^ and Nicaragua for aid. 

The chief point of dispute between the associates 


is the partition line dividing their respective govern- 
ments. 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 posses- 
sion of Cuzco, makes Hernando Pizarro his prisoner, 
and captures his army. Instead of striking off his 
head as urged to do by Orgoflez, and marching at 
once on Lima, Almagro falters and thereby falls. 

Meanwhile Hernan Cortes sends his imperilled 
brother-conqueror a vessel laden with provisons; a 
kingly gift. Gaspar de Espinosa, Father Luque's suc- 
cessor, 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 Orgonez, 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, 
1 men of Chile,' tliey 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 b}^ oath to kill 
Francisco Pizarro on the following Sunday the 2Gth 
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 Alcantara, to arm him- 
self. 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 conspir- 
ators. Although his armor is ill-adjusted Pizarro 
springs forward sword in hand. "How now, villains! 
would you murder me?" cries this veteran of a hun- 
dred fights. Then to Alcantara, "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 Alcantara, the two 
pages of the governor, and every person present except 
the chief lie dead upon the floor, Pizarro still fights 
on. At length Pada, 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. 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 wereequalled 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 Nunez Vela at Anaquito had been avenged 
by the execution of Gonzalo Pizarro at Xaquixa- 
guana, the affairs of Peru lapse into the hands of the 
viceroys. 36 

33 His relative, Pizarro y Orellana, says he was at this time nearly 80 
year3 of age, and that he killed five persons and wounded others before he 
wa3 stricken down. 'Como eran tatos los que les ayudavan, aunque avia 
niuerto a cinco, y otros muchos heridos, y como la edad llegava acerca de 
ochenta afios, no pudo defense tanto, que no le diessen una estocadaen lagar- 
ganta, con que se desaleto, y desangro, y vino a arrodillar.' Varones Ilvstres, 

ac It is scarcely necessary to say that the best history of the Peruvian 
conquest, indeed the only one that can lay claims to fairness and complete- 
ness, is Mr Prescott's. The chief original authorities have already been 
given. Pizarro forms a leading figure in Quintana, Vidas de. Espanoles Cele- 
hrcs, published at Madrid in 1807, 1830, 1833, in three volumes, reprinted 
at Paris in 1845. Celebrated as a poet and dramatist since 1801, Quintana 
intended to produce a lengthy series of biographies of the national heroes who 
had already entered into his song ; but the demands of other studies and of 
his public duties as censor, director de estudios, and as senator, interfered 
with his work, and nine lives are all that have been recorded. While deelar- 
I da intention to be impartial and instructive he is often led by his innate 
predilection for hero and word painting, to mingle poetic fancy with biographic 
facts. The list may be greatly swollen by such works as Acosta, Hid. hid.; 


Velasco, Hist. Quito; Ercilla, La Araucana; Levinius Apollonins, Peruuice 
Regionis; Barney's Dis. South Sea, i. 120; Galvano's Diseov., 34-9; Robertson's 
Hist. Am., ii. 151; Laharpe, Voy., x. 259-458, xi. Set seq. ; Voys., Nouv. Bib. 
des Voys., xii. 131-67; Kerr's Col. Voy., iv. 328-464; Harris, Col. Voy., i. 788- 
97, iv. 464-512, v. 1-217; Molina, Hist. Chile, Madrid, 1788, i.— ii. ; March y 
Labores, Hist. Marina, ii. 123-5; Russell's Hist. Am., i. 264-301; Francisco 
Pizarro, in Quintana, Violas, 71-171; Andagoya, Carta al Rey, Oct. 22, 1536; 
Voy. Cur. and Rare, 34; Campbell's Sjxin. Am., 44-9; S. Am. and Mex., i. 
45-9; Descrip. de Am., 38-40; Helps' Span. Conq., iii. 419-58; Snowdens 
Am., 141-7; Sammlung, aller Reisbesch. , xv. 36-46; Voys., A New Col., i. 365-7; 
Guzman's Life, 84-134; Hakluyt's Voy., iii. 798-9; Piedrahita, Hist. Gen., 
438-40; Harper's Mag., xix. 434; Domingo de Eraso, in Doc. Hist. Esp., 1. 
220-31; Barrionuevo, Inform., in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, x. 144-52; 
Torquemada, i. 611; and the many royal cedulas and letters of the Pizarros 
and others. 




Administration of Pedro de los Rios — He is Superseded by the Licen- 
tiate Antonio de la Gama — Barrionuevo's Reign — A Province in 


tagena — Conflicts with the Natives — Treasure Unearthed — The 
Devil's Bohio — 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, Fran- 
cisco Cesar and Others — Audiencia Established at Panama — 
Maladministration — Complaints of the Colonists — Destitution 
in the Province — Bishops of Castilla del Oro— Miraculous Image 
of the Virgin — Bibliographical. 

Mention lias already been made of the appointment 
of Pedro de los Rios as governor of Castilla del Oro 
in place of Pedrarias Davila, of the arrival of his fleet 
at Nombre de Dios in 1526, and of the death of Pe- 
drarias 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 awran- 
dizement 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 pur- 
suing 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 
Panama, 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 admin- 
istration 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 Pios' 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 con- 
trol 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 pros- 
ecution of their exploring expeditions. 

But it was no part of the policy of Pios 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. 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 Panama, and Pedro 

1 Herrera, dec. iv. lib. iv. cap. ix. Although the charges against Pedrarias 
were pressed by Oviedo in person, there is no doubt that they were brought at 
the instigation of Rios. 


de los Rios was fined, despoiled of office, ordered home, 
and forbidden ever to return to the Indies. 2 His wife, 
whom he had left behind, refused to make the jour- 
ney to Spain without the company of her husband, 
and as he declined to return for her, she remained at 
Panama to the day of her death. 

After the condemnation of Rios in 1529, the licen- 
tiate refused to surrender his badge of office, retain- 
ing 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 administra- 
tion many public improvements were made. An 
inordinate craving for wealth was, as usual, the cause 
of his removal, 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 Espanola, 
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 Domingo. 

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 Anda- 

2 He died at C6rdova. Oviedo, iii. 123-4. 

3 Of his subsequent career it is known that he served under Pizarro in Peru 
and afterward retired to his estates in Cuzco. Cartas de Iudias, 761-2. 


lucia 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. 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 desti- 
tute 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 diffi- 
culty. 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 

4 On account of its resemblance to the harbor of Cartagena in Spain. 
Herrera, dec. v. lib. ii. cap. iii. 


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 gold. 

Returning to Cartagena, Heredia fell in with a 
vessel newly arrived from Espanola with troops on 
board that raised his command to one hundred foot 
and as many horse. Thus reen forced, he penetrated 
the province as far as the town of Cenu, 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 
bohio del diablo," 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 after- 
ward joined by a fresh reenforcement of three hun- 
dred men. The tidings of his success soon attracted 
numbers of dissatisfied colonists from Castilla del Oro, 
and toward the close of the sixteenth century Carta- 
gena became a place of considerable note, 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 

5 ITerrera, dec. v. lib. ii. cap. iii. This is the Spanish translation for the 
t>hrase applied to it by the natives. The word ' bohio ' belongs to the dialect 
cf the country. 

6 In J/errera, dec. v. lib. ii. cap. iv. , it is stated that the city was then very 
populous, had a considerable commerce, and contained two castles heavily 
mounted with artillery, a cathedral, a custom-house, a government-house, and 
other public buildings. 



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 Potosi, 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 re- 
quired to supply the real and artificial wants of an 
opulent community, called there once a year, and as 

Castilla del Oro. 

soon as it appeared in sight the treasures of the mines 
and pearl-fisheries were conveyed by land from Panama 
to Cruces, and thence down the Bio Chagre to Por- 

When the conquest and exploration of his terri- 
tory had been partially effected, Pedro de Heredia 
despatched his brother Alonso to the gulf of Uraba 

7 This incident occurred in the year 1545. Acosta, Hint. Nat. Intl., 20G-10. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 4 


to rebuild there the town of San Sebastian. 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 Nunez 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, 9 the settlement was founded, sorely against 
the will of Julian Gutierrez, who, having married 
the sister of the cacique Urabd,, had accumulated a 
fortune by bartering for gold such cheap baubles as 
the natives most preferred. 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 male- 
contents 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 Cesar, 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 pre- 
tended 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 

8 According to Hcrrera, dec. v. lib. ii. cap. iv., the new town was named 
San Sebastian de Bucna Vista. 

"In Jlcrrera, dec. v. lib. ii. cap. iv., we hare the somewhat remarkable 
statement that the nuts were of such size that two of them were often a 
sufficient burden for a man. He probably adheres to fact, however, when 
he states that on such food the Spaniards subsisted many days, at the first 
discovery of the country, alluding perhaps to Pizarro 's fifty days' sojourn in 
that neighborhood when waiting for the return of Ojeda. 

10 And paved the w ay for large bands of adventurers who afterward 
carried on a lucrative traffic with the natives. Acosta, Compend. Hist. Nueva 
Granada, 133. 


captives to Cartagena. Cesar with a few of the sur- 
vivors escaped to the woods and afterward took ser- 
vice under Heredia. News of the disaster soon reached 
Panamd, 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 
Cemi 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 ihe gulf of 
Uraba 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 Cordi- 
llera. 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 out- 
shone even the riches of an Atahualpa or a Monte- 
zuma. 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 Cesar, 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 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 cas- 
tellanos. The remnant of Cesar'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. 

11 'Es ticrra del Guaca que se derrama 
Por rico mineral a cuda lado.' 
Caetellanos, Vurones llluvtrcs Lid., 394. 


He soon arrived at the verge of the forest through 
which he must cut his way as best he could, with fre- 
quent 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 months." 

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 direc- 
tion. 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 Cesar, with Heredia's permission, equipped 
a force about equal in number to his first command, 
resolved this time to penetrate at all hazard the fast- 
nesses of the mysterious sierra. After leaving San 
Sebastian, Cesar marched along the coast in the direc- 
tion of the Rio Verde, thence turning eastward toward 


the cord ill era. The party suffered severely, and on 
arriving at the Guaca Valley mustered but sixty-three 
men capable of bearing arms. Nevertheless Cesar ad- 
vanced 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 in- 
tent, brought forth an abundant supply of roots, corn, 
fruit, and such other provisions as they possessed. 
The horses were treated with special care, and hom- 
age 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, termi- 
nated only by the death of Quinunchu, brother of 
Nutibara, who fell by the hand of Cesar. 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 ascer- 
tained 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. 12 

News of Cesar's expedition was soon carried to 
Cartagena, whence in December 1537 the licentiate 
Juan de Baclillo set forth to explore further the 
region south of the gulf of Uraba. A force of three 
hundred and fifty men was collected, with {ive hun- 
dred and twelve horses, a number of Indians and 
negroes, and ample stores of provisions and munitions 
of war. Francisco Cesar was second in command, and 
the treasurer Saavedra one of the captains. Starting 
from the port of Santa Maria near the mouth of the 
Atrato they arrived, with no adventure worthy of 

12 In Arosfa, Compend. Hist. Nueva Granada, ]42, it is stated that dining 
this expedition Cesar reached the town of the cacique Dabaiba, hut no men- 
tion is made of his iindii-.g any gold there. 


note, at the valley of Los Pitos 13 where was a fort 
defended by a large force of natives. Saavedra, lead- 
ing an attack on this stronghold at the head of sixty 
men, was beaten back, and Cesar, coming to his sup- 
port about nightfall, posted his men in readiness to 
renew the assault at daybreak. The defenders, per- 
ceiving 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 Cesar, 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 Nori, 14 with ranks somewhat thinned by famine 
and by ceaseless encounters with the natives. Meet- 
ing 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 con- 
stantly 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 Nori, 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 

13 So named on account of the swarms of troublesome insects in its neighbor- 
hood. Id., 252. 

14 Spelled also Nore. Id., 254. 


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 col- 
lar 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. Un- 
happily the fall did not prove fatal, and the Span- 
iards, though sorely hurt, had }^et 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 lonsf- 
protracted toil, threatened to abandon the expedition 
and set their faces homeward. The discontent was 
greatly increased by the death of Francisco Cesar, a 
much loved and well trusted officer, and one who, had 
fortune cast his lot in a wider or nobler sphere of ac- 
tion, 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 Call, in the valley of the Cauca Biver. 
Here the soldiers well nigh broke out into open mu- 
tiny. Badillo confronted them with drawn sword, 
! aiming: "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 Uraba, 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 ho 
stole away to Popayan, some twenty leagues to the 
south in the same valley. Thence he made his way 
to Panama, 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 discovered. 

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 Call. The remainder of the band followed 
the course of the Cauca Biver northward as far as the 
Indian province of Umbrd, where most of them took 
service under one Jorge Pobledo, who made further 
explorations on the right bank of the Cauca in the 
mountainous region which now bears the name of 

In 1533 15 the audiencia real y chancilleria of the 
city of Panama 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 Pica, 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 law- 
yers and magistrates to reside in Castilla del Oro, 

15 In 1 535, Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, viii. 25, confirmed by Clemente, 
Tobias Chronol6;jicas,2Q-i. 


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 him- 
self except in cases where the amount exceeded five 
hundred pesos. A transcript of proceedings might in 
such cases be sent to the audiencia of Espanola, 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 Panama" 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." 16 The government of the three provinces 
was in fact little else than a legalized despotism. Com- 
plaint w^as 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 down- 
trodden 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 swarm- 
into the New World settlements. At one time 
hospitals and churches of Panama" were insuffi- 
cient 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. 

H Carta al Emperador, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. C4-82. 


As an instance of his ignorance as to the true condi- 
tion 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 en- 
joined by the monarch to render aid to the faithful 
Pedrarias Davila 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 

Of Fray Tom&s de Berlanga, who filled the epis- 
copal chair a few years after Peraza's decease, 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 contain- 
ing, as was supposed, merchandise. The gale moder- 
ated 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 Immacu- 
late Conception. On his arrival in Spain Berlanga 
placed the image in the convent of Medina de Rio- 
seco, where he afterward founded a similar institution, 

17 In Hcrrera, dec. iv. lib. x. cap. v., it is stated that Berlanga succeeded 
Peraza on the death of the latter in 1531, or earlier, but this is probably a 
mistake. There is much conflict of authorities as to the succession of bishops 
about this date. In Alcedo, iv. 33, Gonzalez Davila, Teatro Ecles., and Fer- 
nandez, Hist. Edes., it is stated that Vicente de Valverde was elected in 1533, 
and after holding office for a few months was promoted to the see of Cuzco, 
Berlanga taking his place at Panama in 1534 as stated by Fernandez, who is 
probably the most accurate authority in church matters, and according to 
Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, x. 237, officiating in August of the follow- 
ing year, as 'juez comisario por su Majcstad,' at an investigation into the 
conduct of Francisco Pizarro and other officers. 


chanting his first mass there on the 19th of January 
1543. 1S 

18 So says Gonzalez Davila, Berlanga died August 8, 1551. Teatro Ecles., 
ii. 57-8. 

With the trio of travellers and observers, Benzoni, Acosta, and Thevet, 
may be classed Juan de Castellanos, whose Elegias de Varones Ilustres de 
J, i 'lias 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 
ly with discontent at the poor recognition of his services, caused him to 
join the church. He received the appointment of candnigo tesorero at Carta- 
gena, 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: 

Iro con pasos algo presurosos, 
Sin orla do poutico.s cabellos 
Que hacen versos dulccs, sonorosoa 
A los ojercitados en leellos; 
Pues como canto casoa dolorosbs, 
Cualea Los padecieron muchoa delloa, 
PareciCme decir la verdad pura 
£in usar do ficion ni compostura. 

The case and variety of the lines indicate the natural poet, however, and 
i when form departs the sentences retain a certain elegance. The first 
part was published as Prlmera Parte de las Elegias, etc., Madrid, 1589, 4°, 
used by De Bry in his eighth part on America, and given in the fourth volume 
of Btblioleca de Autores Enpanoles, 1850. The second and third parts, pro- 
vided with maps and plans, and dedicated, like the first, to King Philip, 
remained in manuscript in the library of the Marque's del Carpio — Pinelo, 
Epitome, ii. 590 — till issued by Ariban, together with the first part, in 
I 7. as a special volume of the above Biblioteca. A fourth part, perhaps 
1 !)<■ best and most important, as it must have recorded the latest and freshest 
ions of Castellanos, was used by Bishop Piedrahita for his history, 
and lias since disappeared. He found the original with Consejcro Prado, 
ami refers to "las otras tres partes impre^sas." 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 continu- 
ous 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, Munoz' 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 manu- 
script. 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 1G23 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 
tlerra Jirme, 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 Bogota, whence Munoz obtained a copy for the Madrid Aca- 
demy. The published volume opens with a dissertation on geographic knowl- 
edge among the ancients, and on the origin of the Indians, and proceeds with 
the discovery and naming of America. The Isthmus receives at first consid- 
erable attention, as one of the earliest explored portions, but soon the narra- 
tive 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 statements. 

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 ereole of Bogota 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 lit- 
erary taste by writing comedies, of which no traces remain however. His 
ability procured rapid advancement in the church. While governor of the 
archdiocese, till 1CG1, he incurred the enmity of a visitador and was obliged 
to appear in Spain for trial, but passed the ordeal, and received in compen- 
sation 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 Conqvlstas 
d<l Xvcvo Reyno de Granada, 1G88. In 1676 he was promoted to the see of 
Panama, 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 Qnesada's Compendio, and of the fourth part of Castellanos y Elcylas, both 
now lost, andthetext shows indeed but little of the research, speculation, and 
variety manifest in Simon, whom he excels however in beauty and clear- 
ness 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 bor- 
dered with cuts of Indian battle scenes, and the portraits of seven leading 
Lings and caciques, while that of the first libro has 12 minor chiefs in medal- 
lions. 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 Ilistorico del Descubrimiento y Colonization de la 
Xiicca Granada enelsiglo decimo sexto. Paris, 1843. Lacking in critique it 
nevertheless fills the want of a popular chronologic review, and exhibits con- 
siderable labor. Acosta was an officer of engineers in the Colombian service 
who had taken an active part in scientific investigations, and written several 
;u'chu2ologic essays. 



The Dukes of Veragua— Maria de Toledo Claims the Territory for 
her Son Luis Colon — Felipe Gutierrez Appointed to the Com- 
mand—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. 

Thus far in North America we have followed the 
Spaniards in their pacification and settlement of Cas- 
tilla 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 ster- 
ility 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 Bartolome 
Colon to plant a settlement upon the coast of Vera- 
gua, 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 Isa- 
bella to the first admiral. In 1 538, 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 grand- 
sire, Luis abandoned, in 1540, all claims to the vice- 
royalty of the Indies, receiving therefor the title of 
duke of Veragua and marquis of Jamaica. 1 Not 
lon<x after Don Luis died, leaving two daughters and 
an illegitimate son. From this time the lineal de- 
scendants 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, marques de la Jamaica, y almirante 
dc las Indias. 

Maria 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 Espanola a license to colonize 
the province of Veragua. 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. 

1 ' Chripstobal Colom, declare A cste almirante, su nieto, por duque do 
Veragua y marques do la isla dc Sanctiago, alias Jamayca, e almirante pcr- 
p6tuo destas Indias, e le hizo mcrccd de lo uno y de lo otro por titulo de 
mayorazgo, e con cllo lc concedi6 otras mercedes.' Oviedo, ii. 498-9. Sue 
also Charlevoix, Hist. San Domingo, i. 447. 

' 2 In Herrera, dec. iv. lib. ii. cap. vi., it is stated that the vireina asked 
permission of the Cpnsejo de Indias to arm vessels for the purpose of subju- 
' the natives, but that her request was refused because the fisco had 
not I B yet decided the question of privilege. 


But the Lady Maria lacked funds for the enter- 
prise, and to enlist men and equip an armada without 
the royal sanction and without money was impossible. 
The mother, however, w T as equal to the emergency. 
Among the ecclesiastics of Santo Domingo who, as 
they avowed for the glory of God and the promulga- 
tion 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, ''sev- 
eral 3 7 ears 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 Pi- 
zarro came in for a share at the distribution of the 
gold at Caxainalco, 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 clerigo 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 cooperation. 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, 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 
Ovieclo, " I also knew, for he had grown rich by keep- 
ing a public house half way between Nombre de Dios 
and Panama." With a fine squadron* manned by 

3 'Felipe Gutierrez obtuvo concesion en 1535, para conquistar la provincia 
de Veragua.' Carta, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. 204. In Notas 
llioyrdficas, in Cartas de Indias, 771, it is stated that after being in the ser- 
vice of Charles V. he was granted the right to make the conquest of a tract 
of territory extending from Castilla del Oro to Cape Gracias a Dios. 

4 Consisting of four navios and one galleon. 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 5 


four hundred well armed men, Gutierrez embarked 
from Santo Domingo in September 1535. 5 The pilot, 
whose name was Liafio, 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 a 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 accord- 
ing to their belief the land was Veragua, but the 
pilot Liafio insisted that they had not yet reached 
that province. Another party went in boats to the 
Cerebaro Islands, where meeting an Indian they in- 
quired 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 discov- 
ered a large river, which some said was the Belen; 
others declared it to be a stream west of the Belen. 6 
At the mouth of this river was a small island where 
Gutierrez disembarked his men, built some huts, and 

8 Felipe Gutierrez set out in 1535, though some authorities make it 1553. 
The former <l;ite is probably correct, for in a letter addressed to the emperor 
in 1534 Andagoya states that he has been advised of his Majesty's orders to 
the governor of Veragua to recruit men in Panama, and begs him to recon- 
sider his command. Andagoya, Carta al lley, Oct. 22, 1534. 

•This stream was the river Conccpcion, about two leagues west of the 
river Veragua and four leagues west of the Pel en. 


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 

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 in- 
terpreter, and the clerigo 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." 7 It soon became evident 
that to remain in that locality was death to all con- 
cerned, and Gutierrez determined to remove to some 
more favorable spot farther from the marshy low- 
lands of the coast. Foraging expeditions were sent 
out in several directions for the double purpose of 
securing food and examining the country. 

7 'A aquella poblacion mand6 llamar el gobernador Felipe Gutierrez la 
cibdad de la Concepcion, y tambien la pudiera llamar de la aflicion, porque 
61 y todos tenian trabaxo extremado.' Oviedo, ii. 483-4. 


In one of these excursions- the Spaniards encoun- 
tered a cacique named Dururua who received them 
courteously, and entertained them, after his rude 
fashion, with bounteous hospitality. But the follow- 
ers 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 insuffi- 
cient to satisfy their cupidity. After his resources 
were exhausted their demands did not cease, but heap- 
ing 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, 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 Ind- 
ian was sent under his direction to bring in the treas- 
ure. 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 people. 

In chains and guarded by a band of thirty men 

8 An expedition must be fitted out. The governor being sick delegated the 
command to his lieutenant Alonso de Pisa, who was to be accompanied by 
the priest Juan do ttosa. This latter knew that Pisa was not a favorite with 
the men, and the cl6rigo was ambitious to represent the church militant as 
geiiera] of the expedition; but Governor Gutierrez reproved him severely, 
stating that it was unseemly for a priest to carry arms. Many profane words 


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 execu- 
tion. 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 dis- 
appeared from the vicinity, removing all provisions 
and leaving behind a wasted country. 

On their inarch 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 Davalos 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 fol- 
lowing another native w^as killed for food, and it is 

were interchanged, the Spanish language being remarkably rich in such 
vocabulary. Sosa gained his point, and received the appointment, Diego de 
Piaa, brother of Alonso, acting as his lieutenant. Oviedo, ii. 484-9. 


related that even one of their own countrymen was 
slaughtered and devoured. 9 

When the survivors arrived at Concepcion and pre- 
sented themselves before the governor, but nine ema- 
ciated 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 con- 
demned 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 Caesarean majesty's name, and 
the mark used in branding criminals doomed to per- 
petual slavery in his service. 

Thus we see in every attempt made by the Span- 
iards upon the coast of Yeragua 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 
N ombre 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. Fortu- 
nately they found several fields of maize which had 
not yet been destroyed, and hearing of a great quan- 
tity 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 pillag- 
ing 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 ccrtaiu high hill 

■ ' Quito algonofl quo mataron vn Christano enfermo, y sc Ie comieron.' Her- 
rern, dec. v. lib. ix. cap. xi. 


where they had been told were situated mines of sur- 
passing richness. On reaching the spot they were 
informed that by digging in a certain place an abun- 
dance of gold could be gathered. The Spaniards did 
as directed, but found only a few nuggets, and turn- 
ing 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 ter- 
minated 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. Con- 
tinuing 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 rem- 
nant 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 
Vcragua, if possible, increased. "I was informed by 


Marcos cle 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 do Carnpo, 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. Wrap- 
ping 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. 
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 cle 
Dios, he there obtained some intimation of the where- 
abouts and condition of Father de Sosa and the 
remnant of the Veragua colonists. A vessel was im- 
mediately 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 govern- 
ment of Felipe Gutierrez in the province of Veragua 
was at an end. 10 He crossed over to Panama, and 

10 In //' m ra, dec. v. lib. ix. cap. xi., there is a severe and somewhat unjust 
stricture on the conduct of Gutierrez. He says that when the sufferings of 
the party became intolerable, their leader, being too cowardly to risk a final 
and de perate effort, deserted his men, thus forfeiting his former good name, 
and embarked secretly with a few friends for Nombre de Dios; but it docs not 
I Dp ar what h<^ would have sained by attempting any further enterprise with 
the remnant of his starving band. 


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 ambi- 
tious schemes of colonization. 




Alvarado Sets Forth to Honduras to Join Cortes — 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 Penol ofXalpatlahua— He Marches on Patinamit — His Return 
to Mexico — His Meeting with Cortes. 

It will be remembered that of all the native tribes 
of Guatemala the Cakchiquels offered the stoutest re- 
sistance to the forces of Pedro de Alvarado. When 
the Spaniards took possession of Patinamit they pre- 
ferred to abandon their capital rather than submit to 
the domination of the conqueror. 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. 2 
The nui nbcrs of the colonists were, however, being 
continually reenforced. The trouble which occurred 
in Mexico during the absence of Cortes, caused many 
of the settlers in Anahuac to turn their faces toward 

1 Hist. Cent. Am., i. 683 et seq., this series. 
At the former of the abore-named sessions, afresh enrolment of citizens 
took place, and it is worthy of note that Alvarado first became one himself on 
that date as 'el Si- Capital] General' heads the list which contains more 
than forty names. RemesaJ erroneously gives August 23, 152G, as the date of 
tin enrolment. Hist. Chyapa, 8. 



Guatemala, while those newly arrived from Spain or 
the West Indies also joined the followers of Alva- 
rado, who now considering that his hold upon the 
country was secure, informed the municipality of San- 
tiago that he intended to depart at once for Mexico. 

Reports had reached Guatemala of the death of 
Cortes 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. 3 

Moreover, his brother Jorge and many other Span- 
iards of the Cortes party had secretly informed him 
of the usurpation by the factor Salazar of the gov- 
ernorship of Mexico, urging him not to absent him- 
self longer, and promising to establish him as governor 
in place of the former, until positive information 
should be received whether Cortes were alive or dead. 
The chance that the mantle of his great master might 
perhaps fall upon his own shoulders, made him anx- 
ious not to miss this opportunity, and he lost no time 
in beginning the journey. But it was already re- 
ported 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 after- 
ward learned that this was no idle threat, for a force 
of fifty horse and seventy foot had already been de- 
spatched against him, and he could not for a moment 
expect that the small band of soldiers which the col- 
onists had been able to spare him as an escort should 
be able to compete with these troops. Venturesome 

3 Remesal makes a sly allusion to his vanity. 'Le parecio al Capitan 
Pedro de Aluarado bolucr a la ciudad de Mexico, a ver, yque le viessen,' and 
adds that at this time, though not so quick and active as formerly, he had a 
fine appearance and a handsome countenance. Hist. Chyapa, 7. 


as lie 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 Cortes, and received from him despatches 
with instructions to join him in Honduras with all 
his available forces. At that time, it will be remem- 
bered, 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 
152G. 4 Alvarado at once prepared to obey his orders, 
but his purpose was resolutely opposed by the col- 
onists. 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 en- 
deavored to dissuade him. But remonstrance was of 
no avail. The alcaldes and regidores he addressed 
in intemperate and abusive language, 5 while to his 
brothers he hotly exclaimed: " Offer me no advice; all 
I possess was given me by Hernan Cortes, and with 
him will I die." 6 Discontent was, however, widely 
: pread, 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. 7 

With great difficulty the adclantado levied troops 
for his expedition. His men were discontented, and 
utterly averse to engage in an enterprise which 

* Hid. Cent. Am., i. 581-2, this scries. 

6 In the eharges subsequently brought against Alvarado it was alleged that 
he had deposed the officers of the cabildo on account of their opposition. To 
this lie replied that he had merely appointed a new cabildo at the beginning 
of the year, aecording to the usual custom. Ramirez, Proaso contra Alvarado, 
12, 6M 

c Ramirez , Proceso contra Alvarado, 12. 

1 Ar6valo, Adas Annul. OucU., 16, 17. Remesal is of opinion that Alva- 
rado himself petitioned for a body-guard to go with him to Mexico; but a more 
{able explanation of the matter is that the political disturbances in Mexico 
i; (I extended to Guatemala, and that seditious movements were on foot. 
all Ramirez, ProcetO contra Alvarado, 83; and liemesal, Mist. Chycqja, 7. 


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 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 
Socunusco they sacked the villages which lay on their 
route, and on their arrival in that province, consider- 
ing 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 way. 

Notwithstanding this defection, the adelantado soon 
afterward set forth to join Cortes, 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 prov- 
inces of Cuzcatlan and Chaparristic, and entered 
Choluteca in Honduras, where, at a place called 
Choluteca Malalaca, as narrated by Bernal Diaz, 10 he 

8 Alvarado calls this city the 'city of Santiago,' and also the 'city of 
Guatemala,' Arcvalo, Adas Ayunt. Guatemala, 102, by which expressions, it 
must be understood to have been Patinamit. Brasseur de Bourbourg, on the 
authority of the Cakchiquel manuscript, states that Alvarado mustered his 
forces at Xapan, and that at the moment of commencing his march one half 
of his men mutined and fled to Patinamit; whereupon Alvarado pursued them, 
and the two parties nearly came to blows at the latter place. He found 
means, however, to pacify them, but in the night the mutineers set fire to the 
city and escaped, the date being May 9, 1526. Hint. Nat. Civ., iv., 686. 

9 No two authorities agree as to the time of his departure. Vazquez states 
that he left in the month of January 1526, Chronica de Gvat., 69, and Juarros 
in February, Guat. (ed. London, 1823), 433; while Brasseur de Bourbourg 
gives the 10th of May as the date. Remesal altogether ignores Alvarado's 
expedition to Honduras, and states that he remained in Santiago until he re- 
ceived news of the arrival of Cortes at Vera Cruz, whereupon he again brought 
forward the question of his own departure for Mexico. Hint. Chyapa, 8. 

10 1 list. Vcrdad., 220. The position of this town may have been in the 
neighborhood of the present Tegucigalpa. There is an affluent of the Cholu- 


heard for the first time of the return of Cortes to 

It has already been mentioned that in 1525 the 
settlement of Natividad cle Nuestra Seilora was aban- 
doned on account of the unhealthiness of its site and 
the refusal of the natives to furnish provisions, and 
that Cortes granted permission to the Spaniards 
to remove to Naco. 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, de- 
spatched 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. 12 Bernal Diaz, who was one of the troop, 
relates that on reaching the Olancho Valley they 
learned that Cortes had already embarked from Tru- 
jillo, leaving Saavedra in command. Marin's brief 
sojourn in Honduras had already made him impatient 
to return to Mexico, 13 and he at once decided to re- 
turn 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 
an d a erera n d i zem ent. 

The lieutenant-general then commenced his home- 
ward 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 

teca River which bears the name of Malalaja, and the similarity of names leads 
to the conjecture that Alvarado reached the neighborhood of Tegucigalpa as 
the Malalaja flows into the main stream just above that town. Brasseur de 
Bourbourg calls the town Malacatan. 

u ///.-L Cent. Am., i. 571, this series. 

'- Both Sandoval and Cortes had written to Marin, but neither letter 
reached its destination. Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad.,2\Q. 

i acnerdome que tiramos piedros a la ticrra que dexauamos atras, y 
.con el ayuda de Dios iremos a Mexico.' Bernal Diaz, Hid. Verdad., 219. 


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, 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, 15 * 
where Alvarado found that during his delay in Cho- 
luteca the whole country had risen in rebellion. 
Several battles were fought, all resulting favorably to 
the Spaniards, and on the 6th of August 152G, after 
a final and desperate conflict, the Indians were routed 
with terrible carnage and soon afterward tendered 
their submission. 16 The Spaniards then continued 
their journey by forced marches and reached Guate- 
mala without further adventure. As they drew near 
to Jalpataqua 17 they were met with the unwelcome 
tidings of the revolt of the Cakchiquels and other 
native nations. 18 

During the absence of Pedro de Alvarado in Hon- 
duras, his brother Gonzalo, left in charge as his lieu- 
tenant, had made good use of the opportunity to 
enrich himself, imposing excessive tribute and regard- 

14 ' E era de tal gordor, q* del se hizo vna canoa, que en estas partes otra 
mayor no la auia visto. ' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 220. The ceiba is the 
wild cotton-tree and grows to an enormous size. 

15 Bernal Diaz' memory has here failed him. He states that after crossing 
the Lempa they entered the Chaparristic — called by him Chapanastiques — 
province, and that here the Indians killed a Spaniard named Nicuesa, and 
wounded three others of his party who were foraging for provisions. The 
Spaniards had passed through the Chaparristic province when they had 
reached the Lempa, and therefore it was either in Cuzcatlan that Nicuesa was 
killed, or the river which Alvarado's men crossed must have been the Goas- 

l6 Fuentes y Guzman, Recordation Florida, MS., 22; Juarros, Gnat., ii. 
96-7, id. i. 23, 253. The official gazette of Salvador erroneously gives Aug. 
C, 1525, as the date of submission, and states that the conquest is yearly com- 
memorated. Salvador, Gac. Offic.,4 Die. 1877, p. 1123. It will be remembered 
that Alvarado in his first campaign in Salvador did not succeed in reducing 
the province of Cuzcatlan to allegiance. He, however, formed the determi- 
nation of returning to complete its subjugation. There is evidence that this 
was accomplished previously to May 1525. Consult Arevalo, Adas Ayunt. 
Guat., 12, 13, and Ramirez, Proceso contra Alvarado, 105-G. 

17 About ten miles from the river Paz in Guatemala territory. 

18 Fuentes y Guzman, Recordation Florida, MS., 22. 'Los Espafioles, que 
estaban en Olintepeque de Quetzaltenango no havian tenido modo do dar aviso 
a los de Honduras.' Vazquez, Chronica de Gvat., 71. 


inor 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. 19 His crowning act of oppression was to com- 
pel a large number of Indian boys to work in certain 
gold-washings near Patinamit, 20 requiring of them to 
procure daily a certain quantity of the precious metal. 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 defi- 
ciency should be made up by contribution, and threat- 
ened 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.' 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 

19 Fncntes states that it was either Pedro de Alvarado or the ordinary 
alcaldes to whom the disturbance was to be attributed. Recordation Florida, 
MS., 20. Escamilla is of opinion that the lieutenant, Jorge dc Alvarado, 
was the one to blame, Sucebion Chronologica., 1*2, while the former author 
remarks that Jorge was in Mexico at the time, and was confounded with Gon- 
zalo. He also states that the latter was ordinary alcalde, but this was not 
the case, for as may be seen in Artvalo, Actas Ayunt. Guat., 1C, 17, the 
alcaldes were Diego Becerra and Baltasar de Mendoza. 

-" V;izquez says 400 girls and as many boys. Chronica de Gvat., G9. Fuen- 
tes y Guzman, 200 boys. Recordation Florida, MS., 21. The gold-washings 
were those of Chahbal and Punakil, the former word meaning, according to 
Vazquez, ' the washing-place,' and the latter, ' plateado 6 dorado.' 

'*'' One castellano of tequio according to Fuentcs. ' Vn eafmtillo de oro 
Uvado del tamaiio del dedo meniquc,' according to Vazquez, Id. 

a2 In the native dialect ' Caxtok.' 


important matters. "Why wait you?" he exclaimed, 
as he now bid his votaries strike once more for free- 
dom. " 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 ; con- 
voke the nation and terminate your woes." The appeal 
was not in vain. From Chaparrastic to Olintepec, 
a distance of one hundred and thirty-nine leagues, 
the Indians rose in revolt. 23 An army of thirty thou- 
sand warriors was quickly and^ secretly raised, and 
the Spaniards now scattered among the different set- 
tlements 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 unsuspect- 
ing colonists, slaughtering the greater portion of them 
together with a number of their Indian allies. Those 
who escaped fled to Quezaltenango and Olintepec. 24 

23 Juarros, Gnat. , ii. 289. The whole land from Cuzcatlan to Olintepec — 
a distance of over 90 leagues — revolted. Fuentes y Guzman, Recordation Florida, 
MS., 21. Brasseur de Bourbourg states that the confederated Indians com- 
prised the Pokomams, Pocomchis, Quiches, Cakchiquels, Pipiles, and Xincas, 
but entertains some doubt as to the Quiche's taking part in the league, as such 
action is at variance with the Cakchiquel manuscript and with Vazquez. 
Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 690. At a council summoned by the chiefs of the revolt- 
ing tribes there were present among others the caciques of Tecpan Atitlan 
(the modern Solola), of Puyaalxot, Sinacam, and the Appoxahil, of Xilotepec, 
Zacatepec, Chimaltenango, and Zumpango. Fuentes supposes that Sinacam 
was at this time at Patinamit, whereas he had escaped to the mountains of 
Comalapa, occupying there the stronghold of Ruyaalxot. This author evi- 
dently knew nothing of the Cakchiquel insurrection in 1524, for he states 
that after concealing for two years his intention to revolt the cacique now 
took advantage of Alvarado's absence. 

21 Juarros disagrees with the account given by Vazquez because it leads to 
the conclusion that Santiago was abandoned, and argues that this could not 
have been the case, because sessions of the cabildo were held on the 23d and 
2Gth of August. Guat., i. 351-2, note and ii. 306. Juarros was not aware that 
the so-called city had no permanent site till 1527. The books of the cabildo 
were but the record of the acts of a municipality that was continually 
changing its position. Besides, Alvarado had before the dates above men- 
tioned rejoined Gonzalo at Olintepec, and the above sessions were held at 
that town. The account given by Fuentes and followed by Juarro3 differs 
materially from that of Vazquez which has been followed in the text. 
Fuentes states that at this unexpected crisis all attempts at civil govern- 
Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. G 



The Indians were now in possession of the country 
from its southern boundary to the district of Quez- 
altenango, but a swift and terrible vengeance was 

about to overtake them 

in their borders. Having 
Cuzcatlan he swept 

Alvarado was already with- 

crushed the rebellion in 

northward with the fury of a 

Alvarado's March. 

tempest. Scattering like sheep the bands that first 
offered him resistance, he met with no serious opposi- 
tion till he arrived at the penol of Xalpatlahua, sit- 
uated about three leagues from the present village of 

ment were abandoned, and energetic measures adopted for a vigorous 
defence; that Gonzalo with CO Spanish horse and foot and 400 Mexican and 
Tlascalan allies took up a position at Olintepec, while Baltasar de Mendoza 
with the rest of the army remained for the protection of the city of Santiago, 
Gonzalo de Ovalle, with his companions, being stationed in the valley of Pan- 
choy and Hernando de Chaves in that of Alotenango; that the troops were 
quartered in the open plains during the months of June, July, and August, 
and suffered much from the heavy rains; and that the detachment under 
Chaves sustained four attacks from the forces of Sinacam, while Ovalle 
engaged twice with Sequechul who had fortified his camp with earthworks 
and ditches. Recordation Florida, MS., 22; Juarros, Guat., ii. 291. I cannot 
accept this version of Fuentes. Bemal Diaz makes no mention of Alvarado's 
being joined by any Spaniards in the series of engagements that took place 
during his march through to Olintepec. On the contrary he says 'fuimos por 
nuestras jornadas largas, sin parar hasta donde Pedro de Alvarado auia dexado 
su cxercito, porque estaua todo de guerra, y estaua en 61 por Capitan vn 
hcrmano que se dezia Gonzalo de Alvarado; llamauase aquella poblacion donde 
lofl hallamos, Olintepeque.' Hist. Verdad., 220. From this it is evident that 
Vazquez' account is correct and that the Spaniards had been completely driven 
out of the Cakchiquel district. 


At this point a huge rock, surrounded by a dry 
moat, formed an almost impregnable fortress, com- 
manding 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 
penol 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 de- 
fenders all collected at the point assailed, and Alva- 
rado, rapidly wheeling round his column, crossed the 
ditch and gained the height. 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 pur- 
suit and carnage cease. 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 dis- 
tricts. The contest was long maintained with doubt- 
ful result, but was at last decided by the arrival of 
the friendly cacique Cazhualan, who, although a por- 
tion of his tribe had forsaken their allegiance, 27 fell 

25 Meanwhile the other column had suffered severely. There is a list of 
those killed in Arcvalo, Actus Ayunt. Gnat., 54. It is refreshing to know that 
their spiritual welfare was cared for, the cabildo on the 16th of Sept. 1528 
securing to them their lots and lands and ordering the same to be sold for the 
good of their souls. Bernal Diaz was among the wounded: 'alii me hirieron 
de vn flechazo, mas no fue nada la herida.' Hist. Verdad., 220. 

20 Fuentes y Guzman, Recordation Florida, MS., 23-4; Juarros, Guat., ii. 

27 The name of the chief is spelled by Fuentes Cazualan and Casualan. Juar- 
ros states that the word mean3 'The faithful will come,' and adds, 'nombre 
que parece profetico, pues en tiempo de este Cacique vinicron los fieles Chris- 


on his countrymen with such forces as he could col- 
lect and caused their overthrow. 

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 war- 
riors, 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. 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 defend- 
ers left, took up their quarters there for the night. 23 

On the following morning, however, they evacuated 
the city and occupied a position on the plain, where 
building for themselves a number of huts/ they re- 

tianos a preclicar el Santo Evangelio. ' Guat. , ii. 292. Cazhualan had been one 
of the first to give in his allegiance, an act which offended the greater part of 
his subjects, who revolted against him, whereupon he resorted to arms. A 
fierce conflict ensued, which ended in the defeat of the insurgents, who fled 
to the woods. The rebels refusing to return to their allegiance, Cazhualan 
visited Alvarado, who promised him assistance. Thenceforward he remained 
a faithful ally of the Spaniards. Fuentes y Guzman, Recordation Florida, MS., 
19, 20. According to Fuentes and Juarros Alvarado shortly afterward sent a 
force to his aid, and Petapa was soon reduced to obedience and made sub- 
missive to its cacique. Fuentes states that the Guzmans of Petapa are 
descended from Cazhualan. Recordation Florida, MS.. 24-5; Juarros, Guat., 
ii. 29G. 

28 This great battle is simply but graphically made mention of by Bernal 
Diaz in the few words, ' Y les hizimos yr con la mala ventura.' Fuentes, fol- 
lowed by Juarros, locates the scene of this battle elsewhere. He states that 
on reaching the valley where Guatemala stands Alvarado attacked and carried 
the intrenched camp of Sequechul, and that on the same night the army 
arrived in Guatemala. Recordation Florida, 24. Vazquez correctly writes: 
'En la vltima de Ins quales (batallas) cntraron la Ciudad de Patinamit, los 
] lapanoles, que . . . fue hazana muy memorable esta victoria. ' Chronica de Gvat., 
73. This view corresponds with the account of Bernal Diaz. 

29 This capital had already been repaired, and the buildings elicit an ex- 
pression of admiration from Denial Diaz, who says: 'Y estauan los aposentos 
y Lis easas eon tan buenoa edificios, y ricos, en fin como de Caciques que man- 
dauan todaa las Provincias comarcanas.' Hist. Verdad., 22(f. 

'■'■' Braaaeur de Bourbourg suggests that the erection of these dwellings 
rise to the present city of Tecpan-Guate'mala, which is to-day inhabited 
by the descendants of the citizens of Patinamit. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv, C93. 


mained for several days, during which Alvarado vainly 
endeavored to induce the revolted caciques to return 
to their allegiance. 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 safety. 

Official business was promptly despatched. New 
alcaldes and regidores were elected, two of the former, 
named Hernan Carillo 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, 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 Cortes, whose friendship was soon to be cast aside, 

31 Pelaez considers that this time was occupied in removing the inhabitants 
and destroying the city. Mem. Gnat., i. 49. ButBernal Diaz makes no men- 
tion of so striking an event. 

32 Two of the brothers of Pedro de Alvarado now pass from the scene as 
prominent actors in Guatemala. Gonzalo came over to Mexico with Cortes, 
and took part in the conquest. On his return to the capital of that country 
it appears from the books of the cabildo that he was regidor in 1527 and 1528, 
and in the latter year received a grant of land for a fruit-orchard, on which 
occasion the cabildo graciously mentions that he had remitted the payment 
of 100 pesos previously loaned to the city. Bernal Diaz makes mention of 
him as having written an account of the conquest of Guatemala. At a later 
date he settled in Honduras and became alcalde of one of the towns founded 
there by his brother. He also resettled the city of Gracias a Dios. The 
second brother alluded to — Don Gomez — also came to Mexico with Cortes. 
What time he left Guatemala is not evident; his name, however, appears on 
the books of the cabildo on January 8, 1525. He was in Mexico in 1527. 
When Alvarado went on his expedition to Peru, this brother accompanied 
him, joined the Almagro faction, was made prisoner at the battle of Salinas, 
but was released by Pizarro. Later he was so disgusted at the assassination 
of that leader that he joined the standard of the viceroy Vaca de Castro and 
was present at the battle of Chupas. He died of sickness a few days after- 
ward in 1542. Libro de Cabildo, MS., 215-16, 224; Ardvalo, Actas Ayunt. 
Guat., 12; Bernal Biaz, Ilirt., 176, 240; Dice. Univ. Hist. Geog. Ap., i. 167. 


and whose lofty pride was ere long to be humbled by 
the very man w T hom that great conqueror now wel- 
comed with open arms and entertained with princely 
hospitality at his palace in Mexico. 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 
Cortes 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. 34 

33 ' Cortes nos lleu6 a sus Palacios, adonde nos tenia aparejada vna muy 
solene comida.' Bernal Diaz, Hist. Vordad., 220. 

31 The Recordation Florida de la Historia de Guatemala by Don Francisco 
Antonio de Fuentes y Guzman is a manuscript work in three volumes, two of 
which exist in the archives of the municipality of Guatemala city. They 
comprise seventeen books, the fh-st of which relates to the history of the in- 
digenous races, the substance of which is taken almost entirely from Torquc- 
mada. The six following books treat consecutively of the conquest down to 
the time of the Spaniards entering Guatemala; of its independence with respect 
to Mexico; of the destruction of old Santiago and Alvarado's life and career; of 
the founding of the second city of Santiago; of miraculous images existing in 
Guatemala; and of the privileges and ordinances of its capital city. The next 
nine contain descriptions of as many principal valleys of the province, among 
which may be mentioned those of Las Vacas, Mixco, Zacatepec, and Xilotepec. 
In these descriptions the author deals with all matters of interest connected 
with the valleys, including Indian games. The seventeenth book is devoted 
to the historiography of the spiritual administration of these valleys in the 
writer's time. According to Beristain the first volume was sent to Spain to 
be printed, but nothing more is known of it. Fuentes y Guzman was born in 
Antigua Guatemala, his family being descended from Bernal Diaz. Juarros 
states that he wrote in 1G95. Guat. (cd. London, 1823), 309. He had at his 
command a large number of rare documents, but did not make such use of 
them as an unbiassed chronicler would have done. His admiration of the 
conquerors was too great to admit of his making mention of the cruelties 
which such documents must have exposed. The same feeling urged him to 
indulge in invective against Las Casas. Such were his prejudices in this respect, 
that as regards the conquest, he could not be considered a reliable historian 
were there no other evidence of his inaccuracies; but when I find that in 
many instances his narrative is at variance with that given in Alvarado's own 
letters, the necessity of receiving his statements with additional caution is 
apparent. Bras.scurde Bourbourg is, perhaps, extreme in saying: 'Lcmcn- 
aonge qui regne continuellement dans les rCcits de Fuentes,' llist. Nat. Civ., 
iv. 80Oj but this latter author was as ready to accept Indian versions of 
evi nts, as the other was disposed to ignore them. The style of Fuentes, 
though not wanting in elegance and descriptive power, often becomes flowery 
and sometimes inflated. 




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. 

Of the two lieutenant-governors appointed by 
Alvarado on his departure from Olintepec, Puerto- 
carrero 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 im- 
portant 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 com- 
mander, being severe and ruthless in his treatment of 
the natives. 1 His high breeding was displayed by a 
fine deportment and courteous mien, while as a com- 
panion he could be either most cliarming or exceeding 

1 In a memorial of Mexicans and Tlascaltecs petitioning the king of Spain 
for redress of grievances, they said, 'Venimos a conquistar esta prov»- bajo 
el yugo pesado del Ad°- Alvarado, i D n - P°- Puertocarrero; ' and again: 
1 i malos trat°s. de los Esps- qe. ahorcaron i mataron ms- de noss- ' Memorial, 
15 Marzo 1547; Squier's MSS., xxii. 41. 



disagreeable; his flashes of wit and humor were as 
much enjoyed as the lash of his sarcasm was dreaded. 

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 instruc- 
tions 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 sta- 
tioned 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 com- 
pelled 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. 2 

At daybreak on the following morning Puertocar- 
rero marched against the insurgents. His force con- 
sisted of sixty horse, eighty arquebusiers, five hundred 
and fifty Tlascaltecs and Mexicans, and one hundred 
Zacatepecs. He had also two pieces of artillery. 

2 Fuentes says they reached Santiago on this day. He also states that 
<> de Alvarado was captain of the garrison; but I think that some other 
officer was then in command, as a Diego de Alvarado was regidor of Santiago 
this same year. Sec Arevalo, Adas, Ayunt. Guat., 1C-18. 


On arriving within sight of the town the army en- 
camped in a small valley two leagues from the village 
of Ucubil, 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 encourage- 
ment 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 condi- 
tion 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 harm- 
less by a strong breeze, which drove the smoke into 
their eyes. Later their weapons w T ere used with 
more effect, and the Indians began to retire with 
less, whereupon the Spaniards incautiously advanced, 
thereby suffering defeat; for when the Spanish forces 

3 ' Que hoy no se encuentra el menor vestigio decl.' Juarros, Guat., ii. 297. 


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 w r ere driven 
back by a well directed fire of artillery and small 
arms. Forming into tw T o 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 pur- 
sued to the entrance of the town, where Panaguali 
and two other priests with eight of the principal 
caciques were made prisoners. 

The campaign was now at an end. Puertocarrero, 
aware that the loss of their priests and their chief- 
tains 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, Puerto- 
carrero 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 

55*** i ■ ' 


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 con- 
fidently hoped to capture the Spaniards for sacrifice. 4 

4 Fuentes y Guzman, Recordation Florida, MS., 4-12; Jiiarros, Guat., ii. 
297-300. Many families are descended from Spaniards who distinguished 
themselves in this campaign. Bartolome Becerra, one of the captains, left 
numerous descendants besides those bearing his family name. His daughter 
Teresa married Bernal Diaz, from whom are descended the Castillos, the 
family of Fuentes y Guzman, and others. Gaspar de P )lanco, another officer 


The suppression of the Zacatepec rebellion being 
completed Alvarado's lieutenant 5 next turned his 
attention to the stronghold of Sinacam. This fortress, 
built of stone and lime, was situated in an almost in- 
accessible position in the Comalapa mountains. 6 In 
the fastnesses of this range, seamed with gloomy 
canons, numbers of the Cakchiquels had taken refuge. 
Far down in the sierra is a precipitous ravine through 
which flows the Rio Nimaya. 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. 8 Here Sina- 
cam's followers planted and gathered their maize in 
safety, while river and forest supplied them with ad- 
ditional 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. 9 

At the head of a numerous and well appointed 

who later took a prominent part in the conquest of Copan, is represented in 
the female line by the family of the Villacreces Cueba y Guzman. From 
Sancho de Baraona, who filled the offices of procurator, syndic, and ordinary 
alcalde, are descended the Baraona de Loaisa. The cavalry officer Hernando 
de Chaves was ever placed in command when dangerous enterprises were to 
be undertaken. His daughter Dona Catarina de Chaves y Vargas married 
Rodrigo de Fuentes y Guzman, and a second one was wedded to Pedro de 
Aguilar. Juarros, Gitat., i. 349-51. 

5 Vazquez commits a twofold error in stating that Alvarado not only 
conducted the campaign about to be narrated, but on his arrival at Olin- 
tepec united his forces with those stationed there, and inarched against 
Patinamit, which he took after a series of engagements, and then went in pur- 
suit of the caciques who had escaped. Chronica, de Gvat. , 72-3. This is utterly 
at variance with the account given by Bernal Diaz, who took part in the cam- 
a. Nor did Alvarado after his arrival at Olintepec undertake any further 
operations before his departure for Mexico, according to this latter authority, 
who says: k y estuvimos descansando ciertos dias' (that is at Olintepec), 'y 
lucgo fuimos a Soconusco.' Hist. Verilad., 220. 

6 Called by Vazquez the Nimanche, a word meaning 'great tree,' and 
derived from the enormous cedars which grew in the ravines. The range is 
situated about eight leagues from Comalapa and ten to the east of Tecpan 
mala, near the site of Ruyaalxot. Chronica de Gvat., 70-71. 

7 ' Passa el rio grande, q sc dize Nimaya, por sus muchas aguas.' Id. 

1 For an account of a priest's descent into this ravine see Vazquez. Id. 

,J Brasseur de Bourbourg states that this fortification had been previously 
built, 'dans la provision d'une guerre avec les Quiches, 'and adds that accord- 
ing to public rumor subterranean psssages connected it with Patinamit. Hist. 
Nat. Civ. , iv. C93-4. Vazquez, on the contrary, says that the Quiche's aided 


force 10 Puertocarrero took up a suitable position be- 
fore it, 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, 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. 13 

But failure only roused the Spaniards to more de- 
termined 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 re- 
vealed to the besiegers some secret path, 14 or even 
served as guide; but the storming of the fortress 

in its erection in order to provide a safe retreat in case of being defeated by 
the Spaniards. Its ruins were still to be seen in the time of Juarros. Guat. , 
i. 253. 

10 According to Fuentes it consisted of 215 Spanish arquebusiers and cross- 
bowmen, 108 horsemen, 120Tlascaltecs, and 230 Mexicans, with four pieces of 
artillery, under Diego de Usagre. Recordation Florida, ii. 586. Bracscur de 
Bourbourg says the army was composed of 200 Spanish veterans and numer- 
ous Mexican, Tlascaltec, Zutugil, and Quiche" auxiliaries. Vazquez followed 
by Escamilla asserts that the number of Spaniards scarcely amounted to 200 
men. Chronica dc G vat., 72. 

11 At a place called Chixot according to the Cakchiquel manuscript. Bras- 
seur de Bourbourg has a note to the effect that this must be the same as the 
Ruyaalxot of Vazquez, as the etymology of this latter name corresponds 
with that of the Mexican word Comalapa, which he believes to have been 
afterward founded on the spot. Vazquez says the Spaniards took up their 
quarters so close to the mountain that they were hardly safe from the rocks 
rolled down upon them. Chronica de Gvat., 73. 

12 Juarros states that the emissaries were put to death. Guat., i. 253. 

13 'Ellos como monos se descolgaban hasta dondc querian, subian, corno por 
vna escalera bien ordenada por aquellos riscos. . .y dando bastantes cuy dados 
al exercito Espailol.' Vazquez, Chronica de Gvat., 73. 

14 Brasseur de Bourbourg is of this opinion. 


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 favor- 
able 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 expres- 
sions 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 Span- 
iards trampled as they pressed on in pursuit of the 
panic-stricken natives. Sinacam and Sequechul, to- 
gether with a larger number of their followers, were 
captured, and few of those who survived the massacre 
made good their escape to the mountains. 15 

15 Brasseur de Bourbourg states that Sinacam escaped by one of the subter- 
ranean passages before mentioned, and after living a wretched life for several 
years, wandering about the mountains, surrendered to Alvarado in 1530 
Hist. Nat. Civ., G95-702. Vazquez has copied an act of the cabildo dated 
May 19, 1540, in which Alvarado is requested either to take Sinacam and 
Sequechul with him on his proposed voyage to the Spice Islands on account 
of their rebellious proclivities, or to execute them. Alvarado replied that 
he would do what was most convenient. As a matter of fact Sinacam died 
in Jalisco before the sailing of the fleet. Vazquez is of opinion that as they 
were not put to death in the heat of the moment, Alvarado would not be 
likely to execute them at the instigation of the cabildo. Chronica de Gvat. y 
30-2. The author of the Isagoge states that they lingered in prison for 14 
years, that they were put on board the fleet, and probably perished during 
the voyage, as nothing more is known of them. Pelaez, Mem. Gnat. , i. 77. 
Brasseur de Bourbourg's account of the fate of these princes is that Sinacam 
died in 1533, while Sequechul was put on board the fleet and perished miser- 
ably off the coast of Jalisco. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 790, 800-1. Fuentes gives 
so different an account to that of Vazquez relative to the capture of the strong- 
hold, that, as Juarros remarks, every one would suppose it to be the narra- 
tion of an entirely distinct event. Guat., ii. 302-5. The capture of Sinacam 
was yearly celebrated by 'the festival of the volcano,' at which a mimic 
representation of the event was performed. In the great plaza of Guatemala 
an artificial mound was thrown up and covered with branches of trees and 
locks in imitation of a mountain, and on the top a miniature castle was built. 
Here the governor of Jocotenango stationed himself with the principal men 



The storming of the Cakchiquel stronghold oc- 
curred on Saint Cecilia's day, the 2 2d of November 
1526, and long afterward the event was yearly cele- 
brated by an imposing procession. On the anniver- 
sary 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 

In the month of March 1 527, a new governor arrived 
in Guatemala in the person of Jorge de Alvarado, 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 Cortes 
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 friend- 
ship of Cortes. Nevertheless he was a man eminently 
fitted to rule. His appointment was at once recog- 
nized by the cabildo, and he was requested immediately 
to take the oath of office. 

of his village. He represented Sinacam, and in so high esteem was this 
privilege held, that in 1G80 the ruler of Itzapa offered 500 pesos for the 
right of personating the character, but was refused. When the governor 
had placed himself at his post, two companies of Tlascaltecs commenced the 
mimic siege, and after a long display of prowess on both sides, the assailants 
stormed the height and captured Sinacam, who was secured with a chain and 
delivered prisoner to the president. Id., 301-3, note. 

10 Remesal infers that he was in Guatemala on the 26th of August 152G, 
Hist. Chyapa, 8; though we know that he was at that date a regidor of the 
city of Mexico. Consult Libro de Cabildo, MS., 152; and Icazbalcela, Col. 
Doc, ii. 547. 


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, 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 periodi- 
cal rains. The governor then presented to the muni- 
cipality 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. 18 Locations were 

17 The session was held in the valley of Almolonga, and it is significant 
that this is the first meeting mentioned in the books of the cabildo as being 
held there. Of the instability of this so-called city there is sufficient proof. 
Sancho de Barahona, in arguing against the payment of tithes, says: ' Lo otro 
digo, que para se pagar los dichos diezmos. . .habia de habcr pueblo fundado, 
donde los espanoles tuviesen poblacion sentada.' Ardvrrfo, ActasAyunt. Guat., 
27. The valley of Tianguecillo or Tianguez was the same as the present Chi- 
maltenango. Juarros, Guat., ii. 304. 

18 Ilcmesal states that in July 1530 the cabildo ordered one bull to bo 
bought for 25 pesos de oro, a price which indicates the scarcity of cattle at 
that date. In 1543 six were purchased. Hist. Chyaya, 27. This author is of 
opinion that Santiago was chosen as the patron saint only because of the 
devotion of the Spaniards to that apostle. Id., 4. Fuentes gives as the reason 
that the Spanish army entered the Cakchiquel capital on his anniversary day, 
a in I states that he personally took their city under his protection, by appear- 
ing on horseback with sword in hand at the head of the army, while march- 
in g along the valley of Panchoy. Juarros, Guat., ii. 273. For further 
opinions and information on this subject consult Vazquez, Chronica de Gvat., 
74-5: Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 20-1; Juarros, Guat., ii. 275-7; Escamdla, 
Notkias Cariosaiide Guat., 12; and Pelaez, Mem. Guat. ii. 223-7. 


to be assigned for a hospital, a chapel and shrine, 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 pos- 
session 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." 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. 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 erec- 

19 The former received the name of the 'hospital de misericordia, ' and 
the chapel and shrine were to be dedicated to Nuestra Senora de los 

20 In April 1528 Santiago was made the capital of the province, Pvgct, 
Cedularlo, 27; and in 1532 was granted armorial bearings, which are thus 
described by Juarros: 'A shield charged with three mountains on a field 
Gules, the centre one vomiting fire, and surmounted by the Apostle St James 
on horseback, armed, and brandishing a sword; an Orle with eight shells; 
Or, on a field, Azure; crest a crown.' Quat. (ed. London, 1823), 105. For 
other descriptions see Vazquez Chronica de Gvat., 37; and A revalo, Col. Doc, 
Antig., 5-6. A lithograph of the shield faces page five of this last authority, 
and a wood-cut of it, somewhat different, is to be seen in Gonzalez Ddvila, 
Teat. Eclcs., i. between pp. 138 and 139. 

21 It has already been observed that the names of the same persons often 
appear in more than one list of enrolled citizens. This was done in order to 
obtain new grants without prejudice to previous ones. Citizens were enrolled 
in 1527, 'sin perjuicio de las otras vecindades antes recibidas en esta dicha 
cibdad.' Adas Ayunt. Guat., 39. And again in 1528, 'sin perjuicio de las 
vecindades que se han hecho en esta cibdad, despues de la qnc sc fundo en 
esta provincia en tiempo de Pedro de Alvarado.' Id. 42. Remesal says: 
' Muchos estan escritos dos vezes, porque no tuuieron por suficiente para 
adquirir dererecho a esta segunda vezindad, estar alistados en la primera. ' Hist. 
Chi/apa, 33. 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 7 


tion 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 red i vision 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 caballerias and 
peonias, 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 

22 The caballeria was the amount of land granted to a cavalryman, and the 
pconia that bestowed on a foot-soldier, who was termed 'peon.' The former 
received GOO by 1,400 pasos, or about 174 acres, and the latter half that 
quantity. Ar&oalo, Actas Ayunt. Guat., 48. Remesal states that the caba- 
lleria was GOO by 300 feet, and otherwise gives an account that is not in accord- 
ance with the book of the cabildo. Hist. (J/n/apa, .39. Even the more accurate 
Juarros is in error in stating that the grant to a cavalryman was 1,000 by 
GOO pasos. Guat., ii. 341. 


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; 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 Al- 
molonga soon became one of the most flourishing col- 
onies throughout the breadth of Central America. 

23 As these grants were considered as rewards for services rendered to the 
king for a period of five years, the deeds were confirmed at a later date upon 
the holder proving that he had served for that length of time. 




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 Orduna 
Arrives at Santiago — And Takes the Residencia of Jorge de Al- 
varado — The Confederated Nations in Revolt— Juan Perez Dar- 
don'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 Con- 
duct of a Cavalry Soldier — Alvarado's Return to Santiago — 
Demoralized Condition of the Province. 

Soon after his meeting with Cortes 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 Mejia, 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 Mejia affirmed could be substantiated by 
documents which he laid before the council. The result 
was that an order was issued directing a formal inves- 
tigation 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 more- 
over 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, 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 suc- 
cess 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. 2 The king listens with marked at- 
tention, 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. 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. 4 He is also made gov- 
ernor and captain general, as Arevalo tells us, of 
Guatemala, of Chiapas, Cinacantan, Tequepampo, 
Omatan, Acalan, and all other territories adjoining 

1 Garcilaso de la Vega asserts that Charles in his royal gardens at Aran- 
juez chanced to see Alvarado pass by, and struck with his appearance asked 
who he was. On being told that it was Alvarado he said, ' No tiene este 
hombre talle de aver hecho lo que de el me han dicho,' and ordered the 
charges against him to be dismissed. Hist. Peru, ii. 58. 

2 Alvarado petitioned the king for the government of Guatemala and other 
provinces, which he represented to have been conquered and pacified at his 
own cost. The adelantado Montejo declared before the king on the 13th of 
April 1529, that in no portion of his statement did Alvarado speak the truth, 
which assertion he said would be corroborated in the report of the president 
and oidores. Montejo, Carta, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc. , xiii. 89. A 
similar statement was made at a session of the cabildo of Mexico held Jan. 
29, 1529, and Vazquez de Tapia and the chief procurator were empowered 
to take steps in the matter to counteract Alvarado's false statements. Libro 
de Cabildo, MS., 248. 

8 ' Y que por el poco camino que auia hasta la mar del Norte, seria facil el 
comercio.' Herrera, dec. iv. lib. ii. cap. iii. 

4 Remesal says that he had before been ironically dubbed comendador by 
the soldiers, because he had been in the habit of wearing at feast days the 
cloak of an uncle who held that title. Hist. Chyajpa, 1C. See also Hist. Mex., 
L 74, this series. 


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 ex- 
plore the waters of the South Sea. 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 Cortes, but 
a mere vow could not be allowed to stand between 
him and high connection. Cortes 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 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 Dona Francisca de la Cueva, 
daughter of the conde de Bedmar, and niece of the 
duke of Alburquerque. Secretary Cobos received 
his offer approvingly, arranged the marriage, and at 
the ceremony gave the bride away. 7 

Alvarado was now prepared to return to the west- 
ern world, and on the 26th of May 1528, 8 entered his 
appointments and despatches at the India House in 
Seville according to form. While he was there wait- 
ing to embark Cortes arrived at Palos. But the new 
adelantado was no longer so anxious to meet his for- 

5 Cortds was much displeased with this agreement, as he considered the 
search for the Spice Islands and the navigation of the South Sea to be his 
exclusive right. Ramirez, Proceso contra Alvarado, p. xvi. 

6 ' Cortes le embiaba siempre Espanoles, Caballos, Ilierro, y Ropa, y cosas 
de Rescate, y le favorecia mucho, porque le avia prometido de Casarse con 
vna su Prima- Hermana, yasi le hico su Teniente, en aquella Provincial Tor- 
quemada, i. 322. 

7 Dofia Francisca lived but a short time after the marriage. Remesal says 
that her death occurred a few days after marriage; Zamacois, Hist. Mtj., iv. 
4C5, and Ramirez that she died on her arrival at Vera Cruz. Herrera only 
mentions that Alvarado became her suitor. He afterward married her sister 
Beatriz, and the first named author, pages 42, 49, imagines that this second 
marriage took place shortly after the first, whereas it was at least ten years 
later. Consult Arcvalo, Doc. Antig., 179, and Pacluco and Cardenas, Col. 
Doe., ii. 245, 252. Brasseur de Bourbourg makes the same mistake. Hist. 
Nat. Civ., iv. 701. 

8 Remesal correctly points out a mistake in the books of the cabildo, the 
year 1527 being carelessly copied for 1528. Hist. Chyapa, 39; Arcvalo, Adas 
Ayunt. Gual., 83. 


mer 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 Cortes 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 hast- 
ening 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 ow T ed 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, bear- 
ing 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 Guate- 
mala, 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." 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 wit- 
nesses for the prosecution. On April 6, 1529, the 
examination commenced; on the 4th of June Alva- 
rado presented his reply; and on the 10th began the 

9 Bemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 42. 


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. 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 gov- 
ernor of Guatemala feel their power yet a little longer. 

Soon after Alvarado's arrival in Mexico, his brother 
Jorge, w T ho 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. 11 At 
the same time the adelantado, being so empowered, 

10 Only two of these remain to our knowledge. For the discovery and 
preservation of the Proceso de Residencia contra Pedro de Alvarado, we are 
indebted to the licentiate Ignacio Rayon, 'oficial mayor' in the Mexican 
archives. The confusion of the immense pile of documents in that office had 
become so great that in 184G the government decided to reduce them to 
some order, and entrusted the work of so doing to the director Miguel Maria 
Arrioja, whose co-laborer was Rayon. In a bundle of old papers, marked 
'useless,' was the Proceso contra Alvarado, the historical value of which wa3 
at once recognized. The first intention of the finder was merely to copy and 
add it to his collection of manuscripts. His friends, however, advised him 
otherwise; and through their assistance — Ignacio Trigueros generously offer- 
ing to pay expenses, and Jose Fernando Ramirez having obtained permission 
from the government — he published it in Mexico in 1847. The Proceso is the 
official investigation into Alvarado's conduct in Mexico and Guatemala, and 
consists of the several charges, mainly bearing on his cruel treatment of the 
natives, his extortions, and embezzlement of royal dues, and the testimony of 
the witnesses on both sides. Though there is much conflicting evidence, it is 
of great value in establishing numerous historical points narrated by the early 
chroniclers. This volume contains, besides the Proceso, a biographical 
sketch of Alvarado's career by Ramirez; fragments of the Proceso contra 
Nuho de Guzman, preceded by an account of his life by the same author; and 
notes explanatory of four copies of Aztec paintings, one of which represents 
the death of Alvarado. The account given by Ramirez of Alvarado's expedi- 
tion to Peru is the same as that of Herrera and incorrect, as are also the rea- 
sons he assigns for the Honduras campaign. It is well known that Ramirez 
was minister of state during the empire under Maximilian. 

11 There is a copy of this document in the Adas Ay tint. Guat., 80-4. 
Alvarado, his officers and lieutenants were to be subject to the audiencia and 
chancilleria real of the city of Mexico, appeal in civil and criminal causes to 
lie from Alvarado and his officers to the president and oidores of Mexico, 
with some exceptions in civil cases. He had power to appoint and remove 
officers of administration at will, and to try and decide all causes, civil and 
criminal, to make general laws, and particular ones for each pueblo ; to estab- 
lish penalties, and enforce them; to order persons whom he might wish to 
send away from his province to appear before their Majesties, and in case of 
their refusal, to visit them with penalties which their Majesties in anticipa- 
tion confirmed. His annual salary was to be 5G2,500 maravedis. 


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, 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 1 4th of August Fran- 
cisco de Orduna, the official appointed by the oidores, 
arrived at Santiago, and presenting his credentials 
took the customary oath the same day. 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 recon- 

12 And somewhat contemptuously added: '6 que no quiere usar dellos, si 
de derecho lo puede 6 debe hacer. ' Id. , 84. 

13 Francisco de Orduna was Cortes' secretary in 1523, and. was sent by him 
to negotiate with Claray. Hcrrera, dec. iii. lib. v. cap. vi. In 1524 he was 
elected secretary of the cabildo of Mexico, and shortly afterward returned to 
Spain. We next find him procurador of Mexico in 1526. Ocafia, Carta, in 
Icazbalcela, i. 530, 532, and the governor Alonso de Estrada made him regidor 
in 1528. From this time his friendly relations with Cortes seem to have been 
interrupted, as his evidence taken in February 1529. in the residencia insti- 
tuted against that conqueror, is far from favorable. In the same testimony he 
also displays antipathy to Alvarado. 


cile differences was not Orduna'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, lie was often guilty of .gross 
indecency in speech and of unseemly personal violence; 
after acts of gross injustice he insulted all who claimed 

One of his first measures was to call in question 
the legality of Jorge's administration. The alcalde 
Gonzalo Dovalle, a creature of Orduna's, brought the 
matter before the cabildo, claiming that all reparti- 
mientos 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, inas- 
much 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 Orduna's arrival he found himself 
in control of the ayuntamiento. 

The natives were not slow to take advantage of 
the discord among the Spaniards, and during the lat- 
ter portion of 1529 it became necessary to send out 
numerous expeditions to suppress revolt or repel 
encroachments. 14 Several of the confederated nations 

11 In the minutes of the cabildo dated 15th September, it is stated 'al pre- 
sente cstan los mas de los espanoles de guerra sobre el pueblo del Tuerto, 6 
sobrc el pueblo de Xumaytepeque a donde han muerto ciertos espanoles, y 
estamos al presente de camino para la provincia de Uxpantlan, e Tesulutlan, 
6 Tequepanpo y Umatlan, que cstan todas c otras muchas de guerra.' Ardvalo, 
Actas Ayiuit. Ghtat., 128. The Libro de Actus de Ayuntamiento de laCiudad de 
Santiago de Guatemala comprises the minutes of the cabildo of Santiago during 
the first six years of its existence, copied literally, by Rafael de Ar6valo, sec- 
retary of the municipality, from the original records in the archives of the 
city. The work was published in Guatemala in 1856. There can be no doubt 
that the records of many of the sessions are wanting in this work, owing to 
their loss or illegibility. It is to be regretted that the transcriber did not 
indicate in his publication where he considered the originals were defective, 
or remark upon the obliteration of different portions, the only instance of 
his doing so being on page 7. Remesal states that until the year 1530 the 
cabildo had no bound book of records, but simply loose sheets, many of which 
must have been lost, Hist. Chyajja, 33; and Juarros refers to minutes which 


which had sustained defeat at the hands of Alvarado 
on his return from Honduras 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. 16 

The march of the troops was uninterrupted until 
they reached the river Coaxiniquilapan. 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, 18 hotly pursued by the Spaniards. 
The latter failed more than once in their attempts to 

do not appear in AreValo's edition. I cannot, therefore, agree with Brasseur 
de Bourbourg, who asserts that it ' comprend tous les actes du conseil com- 
munal ... durant les six premieres ann^es.' Bib. Ilex. GuaL, 15. Though 
many of the ordinances are of minor interest, the work is of value, inasmuch 
as a portion of them reflect to a great extent the condition and social state of 
the colonists, while from others an idea is derived of the continual state of 
warfare in which the Spaniards lived. A considerable number afford informa- 
tion relative to the holding of and succession to property, to restriction 
regarding the sale of it, and the amount of land to be possessed by a single 
owner. These and other regulations for the internal government of the com- 
munity afford much information with regard to its system. The book is 
additionally valuable as conclusive in assigning correct dates in many impor- 
tant instances. It also throws much light on many historical events, and is 
particularly serviceable in supplying a vivid conception of the arbitrary pro- 
ceedings and violent character of Francisco de Ordufia. 

15 The natives of Xumay, Xalpatlahua, Cinacantan, and Petapa. Brasseur 
de Bourbourg states that the two former were identical with the Chortis. 
Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 698. 

16 Dardon had accompanied Alvarado from Mexico, and was appointed by 
him a regidor of the city of Santiago, founded in 1524. This office or that 
of alcalde he held for many years. He served with distinction as a subaltern 
in many campaigns. Juarros, Gnat., i. 348-9. 

17 The present town of Cuajiniquilapa is situated a few miles from the 
right bank of this river. 

18 Brasseur de Bourbourg assumes that it was surmounted by a fortress. 


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, 19 
finding himself unable to cope with the enemy, deter- 
mided 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 re- 
solving 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 country- 
men 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. 


While the confederated tribes were thus again 
being brought under subjection, an expedition directed 
against the stronghold of Uspantan 21 met with signal 
failure. Shortly after Orduna's arrival the reduction 

19 Tonaltetl by name. 

20 Juttrros, Gnat., ii. 88-90. This author makes the rather doubtful asser- 
tion that the place was called Los Esclavos from the fact that these were the 
first rebels whom the Spaniards branded. Brasseur de Bourbourg more 
reasonably assigns the origin of the name to the great number branded. 

J1 Brasseur de Bourbourg says: 'The town of this name situated between 
the lofty mountains of Bilabitz and Meawan preserved more than other places 
the ancient rites of Hunahpu and Exbalanque, and the temple of these gods 
annually received a certain number of human victims. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 


of this place was decided on by the cabildo; and a 
force of sixty foot and three hundred experienced 
Indian auxiliaries 22 was despatched for that purpose 
under command of the alcalde Gaspar Arias. 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 con- 
quered Quiches 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 moun- 
tain 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 Orduna had deposed him from office and appointed 
another alcalde in his place. 24 Indignant at this pro- 
ceeding, he resolved to return at once to Santiago, 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-sol- 
diers, he determined to carry the place by storm, hoping 

22 Brasseur de Bourbourg gives the number of Indian allies as three thou- 
sand. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 700. 

23 Called by Juarros, Gaspar Arias Davila. Guat., i. 363. This officer may- 
be identical with a certain Gaspar Arias de Avila or Davila, whom Alvarado 
while in Honduras sent to confer with Pedrarias at Panama. The name of 
Gaspar Arias appears in the minutes of the cabildo of Oct. 4, 1525, and not 
again till March 18, 1528, when he was nominated for the office of alcalde. 
The omission of his name for so long a period may be explained by his absence 
in Panamd. 

/i According to Bernal Diaz, Gaspar Arias was a firm supporter of Alva- 
rado and his party. Hence, probably, his dismissal from office. 

2d The reception which Arias met with at Santiago is a good illustration of 
Orduna's character. On appearing before the cabildo and petitioning that 
the wand of office be restored to him, Orduna passionately called him a dis- 
turber of the peace, laid violent hands on him, and, while ordering him to be 
carried off to prison, struck him in the face. 'Delante de todo el cabildo, y 
en gran menosprecio y desacatamiento de su magestad y de su cabildo.' In 
January 1530 Arias again petitioned for redress, but though the voting was 
somewhat in his favor, he does not seem to have obtained it, as his name 
appears no more as alcalde. Artvalo, ActasAyunt. Guat., 139-42. 


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 dis- 
comfiture a number of prisoners captured by the enemy 
were immediately stretched upon the altar in sacri- 
fice. 20 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 ambus- 
cade 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. 

Orduila, recognizing that his indiscretion had been 
the cause of this disaster, hastened to repair his mis- 

20 'Plusieurs Espagnols et surtout beaucoup d'allies, ayant 6t6 pris vivants, 
Be vircnt cmiTienes dans la place et sacrifids solermellement a la divinitc" bar- 
In .' Draateur da Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 700. The name of the idol 
was Exbalanque\ 


take. He met with much difficulty in raising a suffi- 
cient 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, 27 the latter commanded by Span- 
ish officers. As Orduna 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 Orduna sent envoys 
to Uspantan with a summons to surrender. 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 Orduna sent forward Castella- 
nos with the greater portion of the troops to under- 
take the righting, while he himself remained in safe 
quarters at Chichicastenango. 29 The latter first di- 
rected 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 

27 According to Herrera the number of Spaniards consisted of 31 horse and 
30 foot. dec. iv. lib. vii. cap. v. 

28 In Herrera, dec. i. lib. vii. cap. xiv., is a copy of the requerimiento 
ordered by the king to be delivered to the natives when summoned to alle- 
giance as noticed elsewhere. A similar form existed in the archives of Guate- 
mala in Remesal's time. This formal summons was frequently omitted, or 
evaded. A priest, who at the beginning of the conquest of Guatemala had 
taken part in the war while a layman, thus describes the form and mode of 
proceeding. At night one of the soldiers with sound of drum, said: 'You 
Indians of this town ! we inform you that there is one God, and one pope, and 
one king of Castile, to whom this pope has given you as slaves; wherefore we 
require you to come and tender your obedience to him and to us in his name, 
under the penalty that we wage war against you with fire and sword !' The 
priest then briefly describes the sequel : 'At the morning watch they fell upon 
them, capturing all whom they could, under pretence that they were rebels, 
y los demas los quemauan, 6 passauan a cuchillo, robauales la hazienda, y 
ponian fuego al lugar.' Ilemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 413-14. 

29 Juarros states that Orduna shortly afterward returned to Santiago on 
account of sickness; but I find that Castellanos .arrived there before him. 
Consult Actas Ayunt. Guat., 138, 142-3, from which it appears that the 
treasurer was in Santiago on the 19th of January 1530, and Orduna on the 
12th of February. 


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 moun- 
tain pass, whence they were driven only after a 
sharp and protracted struggle. 

Castellanos then advanced without further opposi- 
tion 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 preci- 
pices 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 cling- 
ing 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 Span- 
iards 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 Chahul surrendered with- 
out 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 
Orduna's maladministration 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 Pedra- 
rias Davila, under Martin Estete, for the purpose of 
taking possession of Salvador and making that prov- 
ince an appendage to Nicaragua. If a man of ability 
had been in charge of this expedition it is not improb- 
able 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 Gua- 

At the foot of a precipitous mountain range near 
Gracias £ Dios is the circus of Copan, where lie the 
ruins of an ancient town which are yet an object of 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 8 


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. 

On the following morning an assault was made 
upon the intrenchment, but without success; and 
though the attack was renewed again and again dur- 
ing 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 discom- 
fited. He had exceeded his orders and was acting 
on his own responsibility in attempting the subjuga- 
tion of Copan. He was compelled to admit his rash- 
ness; but the question was now which way should he 
turn in his present dilemma? To capture the strong- 
hold 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 wel- 
come news was brought that a spot had been dis- 
covered 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 cour- 
age of a cavalry soldier, one Juan Vazquez de Osuna, 
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 barri- 
cade 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 Osuna's support. The whole 
Spanish force followed, swarming through the breach, 
and formed in line inside the defences. The con- 
test 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 Sitala" 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 fur- 
ther 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 conqueror. 5 


'°Juarros } Guat. (ed. London, 1823), 300-7. Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 703-4. 


About the middle of 1530, Pedro de Alvarado 
returned to Guatemala, having at length extricated 
himself from the net spread by his adversaries. Com- 
plaints that the audiencia was misinterpreting the 
king's instructions remained unheeded; representa- 
tions that he was being unjustly deprived of oppor- 
tunities 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 Cortes 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 im- 
prisoned 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, 31 and insurrectionary move- 
ments in the city excited the alarm of the oidores and 
their partisans. At this juncture information was re- 
ceived that Cortes was already on his way to Mexico. 
A compromise was agreed upon, and Alvarado was 

31 Rememl, Hist. Chycpa, 48. Cavo makes this remark upon Remesal's 
account: 'It seems to me more probable that the disagreement was between 
an oidor and that conqueror, since it is certain that three years previously 
the emperor ordered the factor to leave Mexico.' Tre.s Sirjlos, i. 104-5. A 
letter of Bishop Zumarraga to the king dated August 27, 1529, disproves 
Cavo's inference that the factor was not in Mexico at the time. The bishop 
also gives a different version of the challenge. He states that the president 
Guzman, Salazar, Alvarado, and others while out riding discussed the news 
lately received that Cortes had been highly favored by the king and was on 
his way back to Mexico. Guzman remarked that he believed he would soon 
return, whereupon the factor passionately exclaimed, 'El rey que a tal traidor 
como a Cortds embia es hereje y no cristiano.' For a few days nothing was 
done to call the factor to account for such treasonable language, but on the 
18th of the month Alvarado appeared before the audiencia and requested per- 
mission to send him a formal challenge. That body, however, defended Sal- 
azar, and on the following day their president Guzman made reply to this 
effect: 'Pedro de Alvarado miente como muy ruin caballero, si lo es, que el 
Factor no dijo tal, porque es servidor de Vuestra Majestad y no habia de 
decir tal palabra.'and Alvarado was ironed and thrown into prison. The 
bishop adds, 'y no se que haran del,' and that he has three witnesses worthy 
of all trust and of the order of Santiago, who heard the factor use the lan- 
guage. Zumarraga, Carta, in Pacheco and C'drdenas, xiii. 17G-7. Zamacois 
gives almost the same account a8 the above. Hist. Mcj., iv. 485-6. 


at last permitted to continue his long-delayed journey 
to Santiago. 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. 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 
Orduna. 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 presi- 
dent of the cabildo. 

Orduna'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. 

32 This release must only be considered as conditional, and not as a rejection 
of the charges brought against Alvarado. We learn, however, from Remesal 
that in 1531 the second audiencia acquitted him. Hist. Chyapa, 42. 

33 Bishop Zumarraga states that the president and oidores robbed Alva- 
rado of all the valuables which he had brought from Spain, ' que fue tanto 
aparato y cosas ricas como un conde principal desos reinos pudiera traer ; ' all 
his silverware, tapestry, horses, and mules, ' de todo no le han dejado un pan 
que" comer.' He also furnishes a list of articles given as presents by Alvarado 
to the president and the oidores. He, moreover, makes the assertion that 
' Desta manera han perseguido a quantos han sido de contraria opinion del 
Factor. . .y lo que peor es, que en apellando 6 sabiendo que querian apellar, 
los aprisionavan. ' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 136-40. Herrera 
leaves it to be concluded that Alvarado left Mexico at his pleasure: 'Halla- 
ron al Adelantado don Pedro de Alvarado, que entendidos cstos rumores en 
Mexico, auia ydo para defender su gouernacion, y lleuaua ochenta soldados 
de a pie, y de a cauallo. ' dec. iv. lib. vii. cap. v. 


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 

To wring redress from Orduiia was, however, an 
easier matter than to correct the disorder which he 
had produced. The colonists were divided into nu- 
merous 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 aristo- 
cratic orders, who hated them for the extortions they 
practised and the disrespectful indifference they dis- 
played. Numbers of mechanics, having acquired re- 
partimientos and wealth, charged what they pleased, 
in defiance of law, and worked only when they felt 
inclined. 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 own- 
ers; the streets were almost impassable, and horses 

34 The cabildo frequently issued regulations with the object of correcting 
these abuses. The inconvenience caused by artisans closing their workshops 
was so serious that, on June 4, 1529, the cabildo passed an act ordering them 
to exercise their callings under penalty of having the service of their Indians 
fcuspended. In 1534 a similar decree was passed, and again in April 153G. 
Adas Ayunt. Guat., 88, passim; Jiemesal, llist. Chyapa, 171. 


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 Santiago. 

Such was the condition of affairs when Alvarado 
returned, and there is no doubt that his timely ar- 
rival saved the colony from destruction. 35 He recog- 
nized 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 con- 
fiscation, 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 repartimien- 
tos was ordered, and the conditions of military ser- 
vice 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 w 7 ho 
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 arque- 
buse, and with sword and dagger, and must furnish a 
horse if he could. 

The laws existing in Guatemala as to the acquisi- 
tion, tenure, and conveyance of land would, under a 
proper administration, and in a territory rich as was 
that province in natural resources, have assured pros- 
perity 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 conducted. 36 

33 ' Fueron los atrassos grandes, los disgustos contiuuos, y las dissensiones, 
dc muchas consequecias: que a no aplicar efficazes, y oportunos remedios el 
Adelantado. . .pudieraser, que se huviera despoblado latierra.' Vazquez, Chro- 
nica da Gvat., 15G. 

3G Vazquez states that in 1531 horses had so multiplied that the cabildo 
assigned the plains between Escuintla and Mazaqua as lands for brood-mares 
and foals. Remesal relates that the increase of the herds was much retarded 
by the ravages of wild beasts, which destroyed the young animals, and not 


Though the settlers were few in number, 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. 38 But such was 
the mischief wrought by the maladministration of 
Orduha 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 wilder- 

unfrequently cows and mares. In February 1532 great destruction was 
caused by an enormous lion, whose haunt was the densely wooded slopes of 
the Volcan de Agua. The loss of cattle was so great that the city offered a 
bounty of 25 pesos de oro or 100 bushels of corn to any one who killed the 
monster. In March a large party headed by Alvarado went forth to hunt 
for it, but their efforts were unsuccessful. He was finally killed by the herder 
of the mares. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 173; Album Mex., 417. Notwithstand- 
ing the depredations of wild animals, live-stock increased so rapidly that in 
1540 beef sold for three cents a pound and mutton for four and five cents. 
Pclaez, Mem. Guat., i. 188. There are two competitors for the distinction of 
having first introduced horned cattle into Guatemala. According to Vaz- 
quez, the auditor Francisco de Zorilla imported stock at his own expense, and 
had a feeding-ground for his herds assigned to him in 1530. Juarros ascribes 
to Hector de Barreda the honor of being the first importer, and to him was 
assigned in the distribution of lands a feeding-ground in the present Valle do 
las Vacas, which received its name from the fact that he there established a 
stock-farm. Chronica tie Gvat., 1G2; Juarros, Guat., ii. 354. 

37 In 1529 the population of Santiago numbered only 150 according to the 
records of the cabildo, Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 22; but in the neighborhood 
were many settlers who had not been enrolled as citizens. 

38 None were allowed to hold more than two caballerias. 


ness impassable during the rainy reason, except to 
Indians, on account of the swollen rivers and marshes. 

During the remainder of the year 1530 few inci- 
dents 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 settle- 
ment which Juarros declares to have been the town 
of San Miguel. 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, 40 but 
owing to famine and misfortune in April of the follow- 
ing 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. 

39 Juarros entertains no doubt of this: in the first place because its loca- 
tion exactly corresponds with that where Moscoso built his town; and sec- 
ondly, because there is no evidence that any Spanish town existed on the 
other side of the Lempa previous to 1530, while the villa de San Migviel is 
proved by the books of the cabildo of the city of Guatemala, to have been in 
existence in June 1531. Guat., ii. 105. In May 1535 it is mentioned by 
Alvarado in a letter to Charles V. Cartas, Squier's MSS., xix. 7. 

i0 Called by Juarros San Jorge de Olanchito. 




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 Ade- 
lantado — But is Afterwards Ordered to Take his Residencia— 
Alvarado in Honduras. 

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 emperors 
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 suit- 
able spot was found, in the vicinity of which was an 
abundant supply of excellent timber, and the work 
was at once begun. 

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 settle- 
in cnt on a territory already assigned to others. 1 He 

1 ' Vos damos liccncia. . .para que por nos . . . podais dcscubrir, con- 
quistar e poblar, cualesquicr Islas que hay en la mar del Sur dc la Nueva 
l.spafia, qucstan en su parage; 6 todas las que hallaredes haeia el Pouiente 



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 pleas- 
ure 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 adelantaclo's expense is a matter 
not easily determined; 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 fab- 
ulous 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 

della, no siendo en el parage de las tierras en que hoy hay proveyda goberna- 
dores ; 6 asi mismo . . . podais descubrir cualquier parte de tierra firme, que 
hallaredes, por la dicha costa del Sur, hacia el Poniente, que no se haya 
hasta agora descubierto, ni entre en los limites 6 parage Norte-Sur, de la 
tierra questa dada en gobernacion a otras personas.' Capitulation, in Pacheco 
and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 538-9. 

2 Herrera, dec. iv. lib. x. cap. xv.,andRemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 112, state that 
in these preparations Alvarado was provided by the emperor with a consid- 
erable amount of funds; but the adelantado in his official letters to the court, 
in Cartas, Sqmer's 3ISS., xix. 1-4, 13-27, while dwelling on the labor and 
expense these preparations involved, makes no allusion to outside aid. It is 
not probable, however, that a man of Alvarado's character would have fitted 
out this expedition purely from loyal motives or having in view only the 
remote contingency of the compensation to be derived from his twelfth of 
the profits. 


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 maravedi 
in his treasury. It was fortunate, it was indeed prov- 
idential, 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 
Panamd the reports of the immense treasures discov- 
ered in Peru were confirmed, and the enthusiasm 
knew no bounds. "Come," said Alvarado to the colo- 
nists, "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 disobedi- 
ence 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 dan- 
ger 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 ab- 
sence. 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 Guate- 
mala 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 Al- 
varaclo 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. 3 Though sorely vexed at this interference, 
which he attributed to the machinations of Cortes, 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 pre- 
vious 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 in- 
forms 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 suffi- 
cient number of Spaniards in the province to guard 
against any possible uprising of the natives. He con- 
siders, however, that there is little danger of an out- 
break, "for," as he remarks with refreshing assurance, 
" I have ever obeyed your Majesty's orders regarding 
the kind treatment of the Indians." 4 

Meanwhile Alvarado had found it necessary to 
remove his fleet for slielter to the bay of Fonseca, 
whence he despatched Garcia Holguin with two ships 
to Peru for the purpose of ascertaining the actual 

3 Herrera, dec. iv. lib. x. cap. xv., and Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 113, state 
that the audiencia ordered the fitting-out of his expedition to be stopped. 
* Her vera, dec. iv. lib. x. cap. xv.; liemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 113. 


state of affairs and the nature of the country. 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 Pealejo. 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 Panama^ 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 cap- 
ture 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 pre- 
text 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. 

5 Alvarado, Cartas, in Squier's MSS., xix. 13-27; Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. 
cap. i. Ilerrcra mentions but one ship. 

6 There is no information, or none of value, as to the first settlement of 
Realejo by the Spaniards. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. cap. i., states that Alva- 
rado was compelled, through lack of ships, to leave 200 men there. This may 
have been the origin of the colony. Purchas, 1G25, spells the word Real jo; 
Ogilby, 1671) Realejo; Dampier, 1090, Rialcja; Jefferys, 177 r G, Realejo, as bay 
and city. Cartog. Pac. Coast, MS., ii. 204, a. 


Soon after the arrival of the fleet in Nicaragua, 
Holguin rejoined the adelantaclo 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 reach- 
ing the sum of 130,000 pesos de oro. 7 Provisions were 
becoming scarce; the vessels were threatened with 
destruction from the teredo; and his followers, begin- 
ning 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. 8 

The fleet now numbered twelve sail, eight being 
vessels of one hundred tons or more. 9 Three had been 
built on the shore of Guatemala; several had been 
purchased from the estate of Pedrarias Davila; and 
the remainder were procured from the colonists of 

7 Equal in purchasing power to more than a million and a half of dollars 
at the present time. 

8 Alvarado, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xix. 1-4, writing to the emperor from 
Puerto de la Posesion, January 18, 1534, says: ' Mi derrota sera conforme a la 
merced de V. M. y dende los 13 hasta los 20 grados de la otra parte de la 
linea descubrire todos los secretos de esta Mar y las Yslas, y Tierra firme, y 
donde mas convenga conquistare\ y poblare.' In view of this it is singular 
that Zarate, in Barcia, iii., and those who copy him, are the only authorities 
who concede that Alvarado had any right to sail in a southerly direction. 
Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. cap. i., Prescott, Conq. Peru, ii. 11, and others affirm 
that his capitulation required him to sail toward the west, and it is evident 
that they did not see the letter mentioned in Squier's MSS. 

9 The number of vessels is variously stated. Herrera mentions 11; Re- 
mesal, 10; Juarros, 8, Oviedo, 11, and Prescott, 12. The number and ton- 
nage given above are taken from the letter in Squier's MSS., mentioned in note 
18. This was written from Puerto de la Posesion on the eve of departure. 
One galleon was of 300 tons, another of 160, a third of 150, and a fourth, 
built by order of Pedrarias Davila in the gulf of Chira, was of 100 tons. 


Nicaragua. 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 pros- 

()ect of renewing their deeds of conquest in a new 
and 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, 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 

10 Alvarado is charged with the seizure in Nicaragua of two vessels in 
which a force of 200 men was about to be sent to the aid of Pizarro. This, 
however, was most likely in the form of an appropriation with the consent of 
the owners of the vessels. The adelantado in Carta, in Squier's MSS., xix. 
13-27, denies this charge and forwards vouchers to prove, as he says, that 
they were bought at the request of the owners and paid for to their entire 
satisfaction. He adds however the saving clause, that, 'even had they been 
seized, such an act was justified by the importance of the undertaking.' This 
letter also appears to have escaped Herrera's notice. 

11 In the estimate of the total Spanish force authors mainly agree, but the 
number of cavalry is variously stated, and even the official letters of Alvarado 
are contradictory on this point. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. cap. i., gives 500 as 
the total, of whom 227 were cavalry. Oviedo, iv. 240, mentions 600, with 
240 cavalry. According to a legal investigation made in Guatemala in 1536 
his whole force was 500 and his cavalry 230, Information echa en Santiago 
Set. 15, 1536; and this is the estimate here adopted. Alvarado, Carta, 
Squier's MSS., xix. 1-4, writing to the emperor a few days before his de- 
parture from Puerto de la Posesion, states that he had 450 men including 260 
horse, and, a few weeks later, writing from Puerto Viejo to the governor of 
Panama, says that he set sail from Nicaragua with 500 men of whom 220 
were cavalry. 


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 achieve- 
ments. " God willing," he writes, " I set sail this very 
day, and my course shall be in accordance with your 
Majesty's wishes." 

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. 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 Benalcazar, the associates of 
Pizarro, have already been mentioned in these pages. 13 
He had boasted that he would lead his army through 
the province of Peru and drive Pizarro from the city 
of Cuzco. 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 mortifi- 
cation he found on arriving at Santiago, at the begin- 

12 In Squkr's MSS., xix. 7-14, is a full account of Alvarado's report to the 
emperor, dated May 12, 1535, after his return from Peru. 

13 Chap, i., this volume. 

14 [nformadon contra Alvarado, in Packcco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, x. 152- 
23G. Cuzco lies slightly to the south of the thirteenth parallel, and was there- 
fore in the territory assigned to the adelantado; but it is not probable that he 
was aware of this fact. 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 9 


ning of March 1535, that the silver bars given him in 
payment were one half copper. 

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 ser- 
vants were murdered; the Indians on the southern 
seaboard both of Guatemala and Salvador were in 
open rebellion; and war and war's turmoil again pre- 
vailed 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 Ponquillo 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 hope- 
less bondage; and by the time of the adelantado's 
return resistance was well-nigh ended. 

Notwithstanding the ignominious failure of his ex- 
pedition to Peru, the adelantado at once began prepa- 
rations for further schemes of conquest and discovery. 
In a despatch to the India Council, dated November 
1535, 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 emper- 
or by the treasury officials had not been without effect. 
On the 20th of February 1534 a royal cedula was 

K ' Alvarado, Carta, in Solder's MSS., xix. 21. 


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 ordi- 
nary jurisdiction of the governor or his lieutenant, 
nor was even the audiencia of Mexico allowed to de- 
cide 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 ac- 
complished nothing by his visit. 16 But the emperor's 
ministers were not satisfied that justice had been 
done; and Maldonado, being ordered in the following 

16 'Y asi el se volvio a la cibdad de Mexico sin hacer cosa ninguna.' Al- 
varado, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xix. 17. This investigation was attended 
with some circumstances difficult of explanation. Maldonado's official pro- 
ceedings were anomalous, and were strictly neither those of a visitador nor 
a juez de residencia. The king's decree mentioned in the text enjoined 
secrecy as to the motives of his visit; yet he caused the object of his arrival 
to be publicly cried. The difference between a visita and residencia is as fol- 
lows: The visita could be made at any time by special commission of the 
crown, but without suspending, in the exercise of his official duties, the per- 
son whose conduct was to be investigated. The inquiry was strictly secret, 
and the visitador had no power to pass sentence. His duty was to remit the 
original depositions to the India Council, by which tribunal judgment was 
passed. The residencia, on the other hand, was taken at the expiration of a 
person's term of office; the examination was public, and afforded every oppor- 
tunity for defence. Icazbalceta, Col. Doc, ii. pp. xxviii.-xxx. The secrecy of 
witnesses and non-interference with the authority of the person whose con- 
duct was investigated were not always maintained, however, in the visita. In 
that to which Viceroy Mencloza was subjected, in 1547, his authority was at 
first disregarded and- the names of witnesses disclosed. Soldrzano, Politica 
Indiana, lib. v. cap. x. It may be remarked that the chroniclers seem to 
have been quite unaware of this first visit of Maldonado in 1535, and only 
record his arrival in Guatemala as juez de residencia in 1536. It is, however, 
fully substantiated by Alvarado's letter above quoted. For a full explana- 
tion of the term 'residencia,' see Hist. Cent. Am., i. 250-1, this series. 


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 con- 
dition of affairs in this province had now become so 
distressful that, as will hereafter be related, the set- 
tlers 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 oppor- 
tunity 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 dis- 




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. 

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 be- 
fore been made, took up his abode at Quezaltenango, 
and there lived in security, instilling faith and hope 
into the native heart, 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 re- 
ligious 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 w T as such that two friars at 
least ought to reside there. They requested, there- 

1 See Hist, Cent. Am., i. 638, this series. 



fore, 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 w T ere 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. 

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 educa- 
tion 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 
Quiche tongue. 2 Marroquin's appointment was con- 

a Marroquin was a good Latin scholar and was the first to apply the system 
of studying that language to the Indian dialects. He translated the Catholic 
catechism into Quiche. Vazqwz, Chronica de Gvat., 150. 


firmed 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 III. 3 
The chief anxiety of the newly appointed prelate 
was to provide a sufficient number of ecclesiastics for 
the requirements of his extensive diocese. The secu- 
lar priests residing in Guatemala at this period as we 
have seen were inadequate to the great work of con- 
version which he contemplated, and he felt the neces- 
sity 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. 4 
In 1529, or possibly at an earlier date, a convent was 
founded near Santiago by the Dominican friar, Do- 
mingo de Betanzos, 5 who travelled on foot from Mexico 

3 Gonzalez Ddvila, Teatro Ecles., i. 142. Torquemada mentions that 
Francisco Jimenez, one of the 12 Franciscans who first arrived in New Spain, 
was appointed the first bishop of Guatemala, but declined the position ' por 
quedar en el estado humilde. . .de Fraile Menor,' iii. 445. Vazquez, quoting 
a royal c6dula dated May 24, 1531, proves that a bishop had been already 
appointed at that date. Chron. Gvat., 36-7. According to Remesal, the 
emperor appointed Domingo de Betanzos the first bishop, and as he could not 
be induced to accept the honor, the mitre was given to Marroquin at the 
request of Alvarado. Hist. Chyapa, 58-9. In Nueva Espafia, Breve Res., 
MS., ii. 351-76, is a copy of the bull confirming the bishop's appointment, 
printed in Spanish and Latin. 

4 Vazquez relates that Fray Toribio Motolinia, mentioned by Torquemada 
as the sixth of the first 12 Franciscan missionaries, resided in Guatemala dur- 
ing portions of 1528 and 1529; but this is extremely doubtful. According to 
the former chronicler he preached and baptized at Quetzaltenango and Pati- 
namit in both years. Chron. Gvat., 20-1; but there is conclusive evidence 
that he was in Mexico some time during 1528 engaged in violent opposition 
to the audiencia. Santa Maria, Lettre, in Temaux-Compans, Voy., serie ii. 
torn. v. 92 et seq., and was also there on the 15th of April 1529 occupied in 
the same contention. Proces-verbal, in Id., 104 et seq. It is not very probable 
that, during the interval, he should have made a journey to Guatemala and as 
Vazquez claims even to Nicaragua. Consult also Ramirez, in Icazbalceta, 
Col. Doc, i. pp. xlv.-cliii. According to Torquemada, Toribio was sent to 
Guatemala in 1533 to found monasteries, iii. 489. 

5 In 1527, according to Gonzalez Davila, who states that a hospital was 
founded at the same time. Teatro, Edes., i. 140. Remesal, who is more to 
be relied on in this matter, gives 1529 as the date of Betanzos' arrival in 
Santiago, and says that he came at the request of Alvarado on his return from 
Spain. Hist. Chyapa, 15, 42-5. 


with a single companion. At the beginning of the fol- 
lowing 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 steps. 

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 w T as 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 cus- 
tomary 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 re- 
quired 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 allot- 
ted to him. Notwithstanding all discouragements, 
however, he resolved that the settlers should not lack 
for spiritual guidance. 

At the beginning of the year 1536 Bartolomd de 
Las Casas w r as residing at Leon, there engaged in a 
controversy with Hodrigo cle 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 
cedula 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 embark- 
ing 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 beg- 
ging 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 Guatemala. 

But Marroquin was not yet satisfied. At this early 
period in his career he was an enthusiast in the mis- 
sionary 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 solem- 
nity and splendor. 6 

The bishop's labors were now directed to the eleva- 
tion of the parish church of Santiago to cathedral 
rank. He therefore proceeded to frame the constitu- 
tion and complete the establishment of his diocese in 

6 'Celebrose su consagracion con ostentissimo aparato, assi por ser la 
primera q en Yndias se hazia, como por la magnificencia del S. Principe, que 
le consagro.' Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 39. 


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 pre- 
centor, 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. 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 in- 
curred 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 there- 
fore to abandon his voyage, he forwarded his power 
of attorney to Juan Galvarro, the procurador of San- 
tiago 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, 8 informing him of the great need of mis- 
sionaries, and stating that he had asked aid both from 

7 Remesal gives a copy of this constitution, which was signed, 'Episcopvs 

"Artvalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 182-5; Marroquin al Empcrador, in Cartas de 
Indias, 413-14. The bishop's signature, in his letters addressed to the em- 
peror from 1537 to 1547, is different in almost every letter. On May 10, 1537, 
he signs himself 'Episcopus Sancti Jacobi Huatemalensis;' on August 15, 
1C39, 'Episcopus Cuahvtcmalensis;' on August 10 and November 25, 1541, 
'Episcopus Cuacvtemolensis;" and on June 4, 1545, and September 20, 1547, 
'Episcopus Cuachutemallcnsis.' Cartas de Indias, 425, 428, 431, 433, 443, 


Mexico and Santo Domingo, but had received none, 
although it had been promised. 

During the early part of the year Charles had al- 
ready appointed the cathedral prebendaries. Marro- 
quin 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 de- 
clares, 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. 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. 10 "You will pay," he 
says, "what is due in a proper manner; if not, I com- 
mand that no scandal be raised about it." 

Nor were his apprehensions unfounded. The set- 
tlers 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 

9 The tithes, when paid in kind, were of little value unless delivered at 
convenient places. The king, therefore, issued a c^dula ordering that they 
be taken by the natives to the mines, or some other suitable place, within a 
radius of 20 leagues around each town. Mendoza, Carta, in Pacheco and 
Cardenas, Col. Doc, ii. 209; Florida, Col. Doc, 138. 

10 Speaking of the provision, he says: 'Kecibere - merced la reciban con 
todo amor y voluntad.' Arevalo, Col. Doc. Antiy., 184. 


the emperor had any claim upon it. The cabildo 
immediately appealed to the viceroy, and meeting 
with no sympathy in that quarter addressed them- 
selves directly to the emperor. 11 Their representa- 
tions 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 carry- 
ing out his various plans, he none the less labored 
with unceasing perseverance, 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. 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 14 at 
Ciuclad 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 San- 
tiago was almost destroyed by inundation in 1541, 
the friars of La Merced, then six in number, were 

11 Ardvalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 14. 

13 The bishop's humility and pardonable boastfulness are sometimes a little 
striking. Speaking of the provision for the delivery of the tithes, he says: 
'Sino se pierde por mis demeritos, que creo no pierde, pues trabajo mas que 
los demas perlados, que en estas indias al presente residen.' Id., 184. 

18 During the earlier period of the Spanish conquests in America this order 
took no active part. A few individuals, however, found their way to the new 
world, among whom was Bartolom6 de Olmedo, who accompanied Cortes to 
Mexico. RemucU, Hist. Chyapa., 148. 

"On March 17, 1538, according to Gonzalez, Ddvila, Teatro Ecles., i. 144. 
Reme.sal states that the convent was not formally organized until a year or 
two later, and quotes an entry in the books of the cabildo dated the 12th of 
August 1538, from which it appears that certain citizens wished to assist in 
the building and furnishing of a convent and church for the use of the order. 
Hid. Chyapa, 148. There is some doubt as to the exact date. 


compelled for a time to remain amid the ruins of the 
deserted city, for such was the indifference of the set- 
tlers 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. 15 

In the church of their order at Santiago was an 
image of Our Lady of La Merced, for which miracu- 
lous 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 Maria 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 con- 
vent in Guatemala. The aspect and bearing of the 
man impressed the seaman, and he faithfully dis- 
charged 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 rejoic- 
ing at this unexpected boon; but their happiness was 
complete when they marked the divine serenity of 
the countenance, and perceived that an exquisite fra- 
grance 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. 16 

15 Remesal, Hist. Cliyapa, 147-9; Gonzalez Ddvila, Teutro Ecles., i. 144-8; 
Escamilla, Nolicias Curioms, MS., 12; Iylesiasy Conventos tie Mex., 283. 
1G Juarros, Guat., i. 380. 


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 1S20. H« wrote very fully on the subjugation of his country by the con- 
querors. 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 promi- 
nent 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 con- 
querors 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 dog- 
matic assertion. He draws largely from Itemesal and Vazquez, and quotes 
several other of the earlier authorities ; but strangely enough, while mention- 
ing the manuscripts of Gonzalo de Alvarado and Bemal Diaz, and of writers 
in the Quiche", Cakchiquel, and Pipil tongues, he does not allude to Alvarado's 
letters to Cort6s. 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 appear- 
ance of incompleteness. The first edition was published in Guatemala by 
Don Ignacio Bctela, and the two volumes appeared respectively in 1808 and 
1818. A later issue was published in the same city in 1857. J. Baily trans- 
lated the first publication into English, in a slightly abridged form, which 
was issued in London b}' John Hearne in 1823. In this edition omissions and 
inaccuracies may be noticed. 

Francisco Vazquez, the author of the Chronica de la Provincia del Santis- 
ahno Nubre de Jcsvs 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 Guate- 
mala 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 
Bince 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 Re- 
mesal, 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 decla- 
laration 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 attrib- 
uted 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 lamiae, har- 
pies, 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 con- 
tained 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. 




DiECxO 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 — Andres 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 Hon- 
duras — He Founds New Settlements — His Departure for Spain. 

When Salcedo set out for the Freshwater Sea, 
hoping to gain possession of the province of Nica- 
ragua — an expedition which, it will be remembered, 
resulted only in his humiliation and imprisoment 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 

1 See Hist. Cent. Am., i. GOG, this series. 



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 ship- 
loads 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 con- 
duct in the dispute with Pedrarias, but was answered 
only by a severe reprimand for his cruel treatment 
of the natives. 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 crimi- 
nal complaint against Herrera and his accomplices. 
Salcedo endeavoring to please both parties pronounced 
the arrest of the former illegal, but inflicted no pun- 
ishment on the wrong-doers. Herrera thereupon 
appealed to the audiencia of Panama, and Diego Men- 
dez 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 instruc- 
tions to sail for Puerto de Caballos, and thence proceed 
inland a distance of twenty leagues to their destina- 
tion. The journey was to be accomplished as far as 
possible by sea in order that the natives might be 

2 Salcedo brought with him to Tmjillo 209 slaves ; of these 102 were 
branded in the face. Testiwonio, Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 70-7. 
Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 10 


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, 3 and 
the proposed expedition was deferred. 

There were now three rival claimants for the gov- 
ernorship — the treasurer Andres 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/ had the support of the regi- 
dores; 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 parti- 
tion of the late governor's property; and each bound 
himself by oath not to lay his cause before the author- 
ities in Spain. Meanwhile Diego Mendez was silenced 
with threats of death and confiscation of property. 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 

3 It is stated that Salcedo's death was caused by a sore on one of his legs, 
and by the rough treatment received while imprisoned at Leon; but his friends 
suspected that he had been poisoned. Herrera, dec. iv. lib. vii. cap. iii. 

4 The only document which Herrera could produce in support of his claim 
was a memorandum without date, signature, or witness. The appointment 
of Cereceda, on the other hand, was signed by Salcedo and attested by 12 
witnesses. Cerezeda, Carta, in £guier'8Mb'S., xx. 3-5. See also Oviedo, iii. 192. 

5 Diego Mendez had already been waylaid during the night and severely 
wounded at the entrance of his house. He would have been killed had not 
«ome of his friends come to his assistance. Cerezeda, Carta, in Squier's MSS., 
xx. 4, 5; Oviedo, iii. 193. 


submitted in all things to his will. Even in the dis- 
tribution of the slaves which belonged of right to 
Salcedo's son, 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. 7 Each, however, 
feared that the other might secretly despatch letters 
to Spain. A ship then happened to be lying at Tru- 
jillo ready for sea, and Cereceda, suspecting that his 
rival would send despatches, ordered all her canvas 
to be withdrawn. Pie 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 dis- 
cord 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 de- 
spatched to the Naco Valley, and a settlement founded 
there named Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion. A 
party of sixty men, under the command of Captain 

6 It was claimed that a portion of the repartimientos belonging to the late 
governor had been unlawfully appropriated, and was therefore liable to con- 
fiscation. Soon afterward the boy died, and his entire inheritance was divided 
among certain of the officials. Oviedo, iii. 193. 

7 Cereceda afterward excused himself by saying that he had given his con- 
sent in order to preserve peace in the province. ' Consent! que se les diese lo 
que no les diera si fuera solo haciendo lo que era razon; hicelo solo por sose- 
gallos i que no alterasen 6 amotonasen la tierra, ' in order to gain time until 
the king should definitely determine upon a new governor. (Jcrezada, Carta, 
in Squier's MSS., xx. 5, C. 



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." 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 starva- 
tion on the Spaniards. Ortiz, however, sent messen- 
gers assuring them that he came not to make war but 
to settle peaceably in their midst, and by kind treat- 
ment induced them to return to their habitations, thus 



affording one of those rare instances where the com- 
mander of a military expedition forbore to enslave or 
plunder the natives who fell into his power. 

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 await- 
ing 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 

B IIerrera, dec. iv. lib. vii. cap. iii. 


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 divi- 
sion of Salcedo's property. 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. Sev- 
eral Spaniards were murdered, and as the insurrec- 
tion 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 asso- 
ciates, 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, 

9 The morality of the colonists appears to have been somewhat more lax 
hereabout than usual. In commenting on the conduct of Herrera and other 
officials Cereceda says : ' Tenian ocupadas quatro casas de casados deste pueblo 
i que con infamia publica i pesar los maridos los comportavan, sin yo ser parte 
a lo remediar con palabras i amenazas, porque lo demas por el mayor daiio se 
escusava.' Carta, in Squier's MSS., xx. 7. 


and there for several months they wasted their time 
and substance in revelry and ostentatious display, 
leaving Trujillo unprotected and the rebels unpun- 

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 settle- 
ment. 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 Men- 
dez 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 Tru- 
jillo, 10 he boldly appeared a second time before the 
cabildo, and claimed recognition of his office. Her- 
rera 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 threat- 
ened to disregard the right of sanctuary, and eject 
him by force. 

But the administration of Yasco 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 

10 Tho certificate was originally taken from Mendez by the cabildo, and 
deposited with the Notary Carrasco, who, being an enemy to Herrera, was 
easily induced to return it to its owner. Cerezeda, Carta, in Squkr'a MSS., 
xx. 15-18. See also Oviedo, iii. 193. 


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. Cere- 
ceda, 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, hasten- 
ing 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, shout- 
ing "Long live the king and the community." 

Finding himself unable to control the rioters, who 
now began to show signs of hostility toward himself, 
Cerececla made his escape, though with much diffi- 
culty, and attempted to regain his house; but was in- 
tercepted by Diego Mendez, who, armed with lance 
and dagger, demanded his own recognition as lieuten- 
ant-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 re- 
fused to give any satisfactory answer, Mendez, being 
surrounded by a throng of rioters, began to assume 
a threatening attitude. Now, for the first time dur- 


ing 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 dan- 
ger. 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 an- 
swer into a full concession of his authority, and array- 
ing 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 fol- 
lowing 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 re- 
turned 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 quell- 
ing the insurrection in the Olancho Valley, informing 
him of what had transpired, but in language so care- 
fully 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 threat- 
ened to hang all who refused to obey him, and summon- 
ing into his presence the caciques of the tribes which 
had been enslaved by Herrera, demanded their sub- 

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. 11 
While yet in session, the chief of the conspirators, 
informed by his spies that the cabildo had been con- 
vened, 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 nothing. 

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 Cere- 
ceda that, during his captivity, which lasted thirty- 
seven days, it is related that his hair and beard turned 
from a glossy black to silvery white. 

Before the arrival of Cereceda's messenger, an 
emissary despatched by Diego Mendez arrived at the 

11 ' ft ovo regidor que dixo, 6 temiendo al Diego Mendez, 6 porque 1c pares- 
oia ser conviniente a la repiiblica, que si no se pudiesse concertar en que 
fucsse su teniente Diego Mendez, que lo fucsse cl Cereceda del, porque- csso 
era lo que convenia alservicio de Dios 6 dc Sus Magestades, calbienu sosiego 
de aquella universidad e dc la tierra. E porque algunos se riycron dcsto, 
replied assi: "Reysos e partfsceos mal lo que he dicho? Pues asentadlo 
asci, escribano, que yo lo digo assi." ' Ovicdo, iii. 2C3. 


Olancho Valley and with little difficulty persuaded 
the followers of Diego Diaz, who were already disaf- 
fected 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 12 and one of their opponents killed, Diego 
Mendez was captured, and on the following day sen- 
tenced 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, imprison- 
ment, or confiscation of property. Two of the leading 
accomplices, who had been present at the assassina- 
tion of Herrera, 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 Tru- 
jillo 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 gov- 

On receiving news of the seditious tumults which 

i2 Cerczeda, Carta, in Sqttier's MSS., xx. 39. Oviedo, iii. 207, says that 
only seven -were wounded. Herrera, dec. v. lib. i. cap. x. , mentions but four. 

13 'Que eran aquel Pedro Vidal, alguacil, que did la pufialada al Vasco de 
Herrera 6 le cch6 la soga al cuello, con la que fu6 despues ahorcado el mal- 
fechor; y el otro Alonso Vazquez, alcalde 6 capitan de la goiarda del tirano.' 
Ocledo. iii. 208. 


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 ves- 
sels 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 

The feeling of dissatisfaction which had long pre- 
vailed was intensified by this new disaster. Exag- 
gerated 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 sev- 
eral years they had been living in extreme discom- 
fort, 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. 14 To add to the distress of the Spaniards 
epidemic diseases broke out among the Indians, spread- 
ing from house to house and from town to town, and 

u Ddvlla, Relation, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 114-17. See 
also Oviedo, iii. 213. 


swept away at least one half of the native population. 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 avocations. 

In order to distract the attention of the colonists 
from their forlorn condition, Cereceda set about estab- 
lishing 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 Avila, 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. 17 

Cereceda returned in time to prevent the depopu- 
lation 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, 

15 • Murieron mas de la mitad dollos, assi de los que Servian a los chripsti- 
anos en sus haciendas, como de las naborias de casa.' Oviedo, iii. 213. 

10 Ccrezeda, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 50; Oviedo, iii. 212. See also 
Hist. Mex., ii., this series. 

17 Herrera endeavored to persuade Avila to accompany him, and proceed 
in quest ol new discoveries. The latter, however, declined, and on the 
return of Cereceda was sent on with his men, by sea, to Yucatan. Oviedo, iii. 


mustering in all about one hundred and thirty, 18 leav- 
ing 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 barri- 
cade 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 cat 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 reach- 
ing their destination. But in this they were doomed 
to disappointment. Arriving at Naco, wayworn and 
famished, they found the place abandoned by all ex- 
cept 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. 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 refuse. Taking 
their departure from Naco, therefore, they proceeded 
to the province of Zula, where they founded a settle- 
ment which they named Buena Esperanza. 20 

Such was the position of affairs when, in the year 
1535, Christobal 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 

I8 Oviedo, iii. 213, gives 180 as the number. 

19 The Quimistan (Quinbistan?), Zoliita, Zelimonga, and Zula Indians re- 
turned, but not those of Naco. Ilerrera, dec. v. lib. ix. cap. viii. 

20 Distant 23 leagues from Puerto de Caballos, 3 from Quinbistan, 7 from 
Naco, and 15 from San Gil de Buenavista. Ilerrera, dec. v. lib. ix. cap. viii. 


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 Buano, 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 cle Arevalo, 
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 inter- 
view with Cereceda, and proposed that the men of 
Honduras should cooperate with him in his explora- 
tions, promising in return to assist them in their min- 
ing enterprises, and to protect them from the natives. 
The governor gladly accepted this offer, and took com- 
mand of a force composed of a portion of Cueva's troops 
together with all his own available men. 21 It was pro- 
posed first to march against a powerful cacique, who 
had for ten years held captive a Spanish woman, 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 Buena- 
vista and Puerto de Caballos, in conformity with his 

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 

21 Cereceda was to be ' captain of all the other captains.' Herrera, dec. v. 
lib. ix. cap. ix., estimates the strength of the combined forces at 80 soldiers, 
but this is manifestly an error. 

22 Herrera speaks of her as a native of Seville, and as having been cap- 
tured by Cizimba, ' que auia diez alios " tenia por muger,' at the time of the 
massacre at Puerto de Caballos. dec. v. lib. ix. cap. ix. 


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 in- 
land. Thereupon Cereceda complained to the India 
Council, and begged the arrest and execution of Cueva 
for trespass and violation of contract. He also peti- 
tioned 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 requests. 

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 whole- 
some situation; that rich mines lay undeveloped in its 
vicinity, and that the soil was fruitful and well watered. 23 

23 'Los que quedaron en la ciudad de Truxillo . . . sinificauan al Rey sua 
neccssidades, suplicauante. . .que no la olvidasse, pues no era menos prove- 
chosa que las otras de las Indias, por las muchas minas que en ella auia : y 
quanto al sitio de la Ciudad dezian, que era muy sano, enxuto, y ayroso, y 
de muy buenas aguas. . .Dezian que no auia vezino que no tuuiesse en su casa 
vn huerto con todas las frutas de Castilla, que se auian podido auer, las 
quales se dan an muy bien, corao naranjos, cidras, limones agrios y dulces, 
granados y higueras, de las quales a sietc meses que sc platan, se cogia 
fruta: do melones y vbas, y otras tenian abundancia.' Herrera, dec. v. lib. 
ix. cap. ix. 


They attributed their past misfortunes to bad govern- 
ment, 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 arque- 
buses. As they were not in communication with 
Mexico they requested to be placed under the juris- 
diction of the audiencia of Espanola. 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 de- 
clared 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 im- 
proved 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, Andre's de Cere- 
ceda 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/ 4 and the 
adelantado was besought "for the love of God and 
their Majesties," to come to their succor. 25 The royal 
treasurer, Diego Garcia de Celis, was sent in com- 
pany with Juan Ruano 26 to Santiago, where Alvarado 
then resided, and representing to him the deplorable 
condition of the people of Honduras, received assur- 
ance 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. 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 

24 Herrera says that affairs in the province were in a sad plight, for Cere- 
ceda, ' cuya crueldad excedia a toda humana prudencia, ' had lost all control 
over his men. dec. vi. lib. i. cap. viii. Montejo, who afterward became gov- 
ernor of Honduras, also speaks in very disparaging terms of Cereceda. 'All 
the time he was in Zula and Naco he never moved two leagues from his 
abode. Of the 27 or 28 towns in existence when he reached the country he 
did not leave a single one. He destroyed everything, even the cattle and 
mares. The people he brought away in irons, leaving some towns without a 
single inhabitant. He and his advisers, a priest named Juan Avila and a 
certain Juan Ruano, had laid waste the best portion of Honduras.' Pacheco 
and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, ii. 240-1. 

25 ' Quisiesse socorrer a los pobladores chripstianos, que estaban en Hon- 
duras, en pacificar la tierra, 6 dar 6rden c6mo no se acabassen de perder los 
espanoles que alii estaban.' Oviedo, iii. 214. 

26 Oviedo, iii. 214, says that this occurred in 1533. Celis himself states 
that Cereceda sent him to Guatemala toward the end of 1535, or early in 
1536. Camino de Gnat., in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 540-9; 
whereas Herrera states that Celis went of his own accord. 'Estas cosas 
llcgaron a termino que el Tesorero como buen minis tro sossego la gente, con 
promoter de yr a Guatemala a pedir socrro a don Pedro de Aluarado.' dec. 
vi. lib. i. cap. viii. 

27 Cava, Honduras, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 280 et seq., 
Celis subsequently put in a claim for 800 castellanos, for the subsistence of 
his party, and for horses employed during the exploration of a road to Guate- 
mala. On the 24th of October 1539 a judicial investigation was held before 
the alcalde mayor, at Puerto de Caballos, to ascertain whether the treasurer 
had, as he claimed, discovered a road thence to Guatemala. Several witnesses 
were examined, and all testified that Alonso Ortiz had discovered and trav- 
elled over the road before Celis; that the latter when he passed on to Guate- 
mala was under no expense whatever, for his supplies were furnished by 
others. Cells, Camino, in Id., xiv. 540-50. In Guatemala he stopped at the 
house of the king's treasurer, and was therefore under no expense. Montejo, 
in Id., ii. 241. 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 11 


a formal meeting was held before the notary Ber- 
nardino de Cabrenas, 28 to take the matter under con- 
sideration. Cereceda, addressing the alcalde and regi- 
dores, stated that thej 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 
Garcia de Celis, 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 depar- 
ture of Celis, 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 whither- 
soever they pleased. To this Cereceda assented, and 
orders were issued accordingly; the alcalde and regi- 
dores ratifying and confirming the governor's acts and 
their own, in the presence of the notary. 29 

The resolution was at once carried into effect; but 
within four days after leaving Buena Esperanza the 
colonists were met by Celis with a letter from Alva- 
rado promising speedy relief. Had the envoy returned 
but a single day later it is not improbable that Cere- 

28 There were present, Andrds de Cereceda, the alcalde Alonso Ortiz, and 
the regidores Bernardo de Cabranes, Juan Lopez de Gamboa, and Miguel 
Garcia de Lilian. Mendoza, Carta, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 

29 Mendoza, Carta, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xiv. 301-4*. The 
foregoing is the account given in Cereceda's official report to the viceroy of 
Mexico. Herrera, however, gives quite a different version of the matter. 
He states that the settlers, seeing that, after an absence of four months, the 
treasurer Celis did not return or send any message, agreed to abandon the 
place. Loading their Indian servants with what little effects they had left, 
they proceeded on their way, after tying Cereceda and two of his friends to 
trees, because he forbade them to take away their slaves on the ground that 
i t was contrary to royal orders to carry them from one province to another, 
although he himself had done so and had allowed his friends the same privi- 
But after marching a few leagues they fell in with men coming from 
< I;!;! temala, whereupon they returned to the settlement and made friends 
with the governor, dec. vi. lib. i. cap. viii. In a letter to Alvarado dated 
May i), 1536, Cereceda says nothing about being tied to a tree, although he 
complains of gross ill-treatment at the hands of the colonists. 


ceda would have lost his life, for he had become ex- 
tremely 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 after- 
ward 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 oif 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 reestablished." 

Cereceda and Celis 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 ade- 
lantado 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 faith- 
ful servitor of his Majesty. "But," he continues, "in 
order thafc 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 in- 
trusted, believing that, in so doing, I am performing 
a service to his Majesty." 

Alvaraclo,on his arrival, was well received by the set- 
tlers, 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 
Celis 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 with- 
out 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 vicin- 
ity. 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 intercommu- 
nication between Honduras and Guatemala. After a 

30 It was intended to establish here a large settlement. The city was 
founded on the 26th of June 153(3. The various officials were appointed, 
sworn, and inducted into office. Sites for dwellings were assigned to the 
alcaldes, regidores, and vecinos. The name of the town was not to be 
changed except by the emperor's orders; and it was decreed that none should 
reside elsewhere until the emperor's pleasure was known. Honduras, Fanda- 
cio n, in l'achcco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvi. 530-8. 


toilsome journey he arrived at a fertile and well 
watered valley, where he established a settlement, 
naming it in token of his thankfulness " Gracias a" 
Dios." 31 

But while the adelantado was winning fresh laurels 
and gaining new adherents in Honduras, he was in- 
formed 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; 82 a sum- 
mons to appear at court, while his residencia was to 
be taken during his absence, made an intricate mat- 
ter 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 dur- 
ing his career in Mexico and Guatemala, he has no 
doubt that his services will recommend him to the 
favor of the court. 

31 This settlement was distant from Comayagua 38 leagues and from Gua- 
temala 106 leagues. Juarros, Guat., i. 41; Herrera, dec. vi. lib. i. cap. viii. 

32 Alvarado, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xix. 24-5, 29. In this letter he pro- 
poses to the king to conduct a large expedition from Spain through the Straits 
of Magellan into the South Sea, in which he believed there were many islands 
and even some continents. 




Malefeasance of Castaneda— Diego Alvarez Osorio the First Bishop of 
Nicaragua— A Convent Founded at Leon— Las Casas Arrives— 
Castaneda'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 Ro- 
bles Attempts to Seize the New Territory — Contreras Leaves 
for Spain — His Arrest, Trial, and Return — His Son -in-law Mean- 
while 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. 

The sense of relief which was felt by all the colo- 
nists of Nicaragua, when death at last put an end to 
the administration of Pedrarias Ddvila, was of brief 
duration. A new taskmaster soon held them in bond- 
age almost as grievous as that of the great despot who 
now lay buried in the church-vaults at Leon. Fran- 
cisco de Castaneda, who then held office as contador, 
and some months previous had been alcalde mayor/ 
claimed that he was legally entitled to the vacant 
governorship. 2 The cabildo knew of no valid objec- 
tion, and upon Castaneda's promise to rule with mod- 

1 'A quien se auia dado el oficio de contador, y depuestole del de alcalde 
mayor, por las diferecias que traia con Pedrarias.' 1/errera, dec. iv. lib. ix. 
cap. xv. Oviedo, iv. 112, still speaks of him as 'alcalde mayor 6 contador' 
when he takes charge of the government. 

2 'Que era de derecho, que quando dos personas que tenian poderes del 
Rey, moria el vno, el que quedaua sucedia al otro.' JJerrera, dec. iv. lib. ix. 
cap. xv. 



eration and fairness he was appointed and duly recog- 
nized. 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 con- 
fiscated. 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. 5 Castaneda was even sus- 
pected of making fraudulent entries in the books of 
the treasurer Tobilla, whose death had recently oc- 
curred; nor had he even given himself the trouble of 
taking an inventory of the contents of the treasure- 

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. Castaneda 
was presently informed of his danger, but gave no 
heed to the warning. He had but one aim in life, to 

3 Herrera and viedo both state that after the death of Pedrarias ' qued6 
en el cargo de la gobernacion el licenciado Francisco de Castaneda, ' whereas 
Andagoya, Nar. , 39, says that ' the Bishop Diego Alvarez Osorio succeeded 
Pedrarias as governor, but died a short time after he had assumed office, leav- 
ing Castafieda as his successor.' This is undoubtedly an error. The editors 
of Datas Biog., in Cartas de Indicts, 710, give as the date of Osorio's death 
the year 1534, which is also erroneous. His decease occurred in 1536. See 
Las Casas, Information, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., vii. 127. 

4 In a few days Castaneda had appropriated eight of them. Herrera, dec. 
iv. lib. ix. cap. xv. 

5 'No podia dexar de auer fraude, pues los auia dado a menosprecio, por 
contemplaciones, y por coseguir sus fines.' Herrera, dec. iv. lib. ix. cap. xv. 


gather riches by whatever means, 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. 7 

Until 1531 the vicars of the church of Panama* 
held ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the province of 
Nicaragua. 8 In that year Diego Alvarez Osorio, a 
precentor of the cathedral of Panama, 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 Pemesal remarks, "a 
noble cavalier of the house of Astorga, learned, vir- 
tuous, and prudent, with much experience in whole- 
some government measures." 9 The prelate was or- 
dered to found a Dominican convent at Leon, and 
the treasurer was commanded to furnish the necessary 
funds. The royal tithes which were formerly appro- 
priated by the diocese of Panama, were now to be in- 

6 'El qual se di6 todo el recabdo quel pudo a enriquescerse; 6pudolobien 
hacer, pues no le quedo quien le fuesse a la mano.' Oviedo, iv. 112. 

7 Among those who left the province were Sebastian de Benalcazar and 
Juan Fernandez, who joined Pizarro on the Isthmus in March 1531. In their 
company went Francisco Bobadilla, Juan de las Varillas, and Ger6nimo Pon- 
tevedra, friars of the order of Mercy, who figured in the conquest of Guate- 
mala and Nicaragua. Navarro, Relation, in Col. Doc. InM., xxvi. 238. 

8 During the brief rule of Salcedo in Nicaragua, one Maestro Rojas, a 
patron of the church, imprisoned the ex-treasurer Castillo on a charge of 
heresy, but the former held no jurisdiction in the case, and Rojas remained 
in confinement until the arrival of Pedrarias, accompanied by Fray Francisco 
de Bobadilla, who was vested with the requisite authority by the bishop of 
Panama. His power was transferred to the bachiller Pedro Bravo, and from 
him to Pedrarias, who tried the case, acquitted Castillo, and restored him 
to office. Squier's MSS., iv. 

9 Hist. Chyapa, 105. It appears that he was not a friar, being spoken of 
as ' muy magnifico e muy reverendo senor D. Diego Alvarez Osorio. ' Pacheco 
and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, vii. 116; see also Alcedo, iii. 322, who adds that he 
was a native of America, though of what place is unknown;' and Conzalez 
Ddvlla, Teatro Ecles., i. 235; Juarros, Hist. Guat., i. 49. 


creased, 10 and applied to the support of the churches 
and hospitals of Nicaragua. 

Under the rule of Castaneda 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. 
Bartolome de las Casas, 11 after his earnest though in- 
effectual labors in Mexico, returned to Nicaragua in the 
year 1532, and was received with open arms by Oso- 
rio, who invited him to remain, and to aid him in estab- 
lishing the Dominican convent, and also in his labors 
on behalf of the natives ; but above all to use his au- 
thority in putting an end to the malefeasance of Cas- 
taneda. Las Casas cheerfully consented. A convent 
was founded ; residences were built for the friars ; prep- 
arations 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 Castaneda, who had been trained in the 
school of Pedrarias, and now bid fair to better his 
instruction. Belief came at last. News arrived at 
Leon that Bodrigo de Contreras had been appointed 
governor of Nicaragua, and was now on his way to 
the province. Castaneda thereupon gathered up his 
stolen gains and fled to Peru; passed thence to Es- 
panola; 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, Maria de 
Perlalosa, formerly betrothed to Vasco Nunez de 
Balboa, now accompanied him to the province, to- 
gether with her infant children, Hernando and Pedro. 
His administration meets the hearty approval of 

10 New tithes were to be levied on cocoa, honey, wax, and flax, to provide 
for the salary of the bishop, which was 500,000 maravedis, and the limits 
of the new diocese were to be determined *y estavian bien servidas las igle- 
sias.' Squier's MSS., xxii. 109. 

11 For previous mention of Las Casas see Hist. Cent. Am., i. 277-9, 284, 309. 


Oviedo; a refreshing circumstance, as it is the first 
instance in which that historian speaks in praise of a 
governor in a Spanish province. 12 His conduct is at 
least in strong relief with that of his two predeces- 
sors, 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 Castaneda 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 dis- 
cussed 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. 13 

But the subjugation of the natives was too often 
followed by their enslavement, and Las Casas was 
still in the province 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. 15 The 

12 ' En tanto, desde que Rodrigo de Contreras f ue a aquella tierra estuvo 
exercitando su officio, como buen gobernador, 6 tuvo en paz e buena justicia 
aquellas tierras e provincial, que por Su Majestad le fueron encomendadas, 6 
procurando la conversion 6 buen tractamiento de los indios para que viniessen 
a conoscer a Dios.' Oviedo, iv. 113. 

13 A provision was ratified by the emperor on the 20th of April 1537, and 
contained also permission to make the conquest of the islands in lakes Nica- 
ragua and Managua. Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xxii. 515-34. 

14 Before the flight of Castaneda Las Casas visited Espanola whither he was 
Bummoned to negotiate a treaty with the powerful chief Enrique. He returned 
once more to Realejo, and soon afterward attempted a second voyage to Peru, 
but was driven back to port by stress of weather. 

16 See the lengthy deposition taken in Leon by request of the governor before 
Bishop Osorio, and concluded after the prelate's death, before the lieutenant- 


colonists were sorely perplexed. Las Casas undoubt- 
edly 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 gov- 
ernor's authority, 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 invita- 
tion which it has already been stated was extended 
to him by Francisco de Marroquin, bishop of Guate- 
mala, to take charge of the convent of Santiago, 
departed from Leon taking with him all the Domini- 
cans. 17 

governor and alcalde mayor licenciado Gregorio de Zeballos and the notary 
Martin Mimbreiio. Many witnesses here testify to the persistent opposition 
of Las Casas, who was requested to accompany the expedition, but refused, 
though he offered to go in command of 50 soldiers, to explore and make a 
peaceful conquest of the territory in question. Las Casas, Information, in 
Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 116-46. 

16 ' El Gouernador recibia informaciones, para prouar que el padre escanda- 
lizaua la gente, y alteraua la Prouincia.' Herrera, dec. vi. lib. i. cap. viii. 

17 Notwithstanding the controversy with Las Casas, the people of Leon, 
and even Contreras himself, were unwilling to see their convent deserted. In 
the depositions already mentioned witnesses testify on the 23d of August 
1536 that ' dos meses, poco mas 6 menos tiempo, que fue antes que los dichos 
frailes dominicos se fuesen del monasterio de Sant Francisco desta cibdad.' 
Las Casas and his companions were asked to remain by the regidores ' e otras 
muchas personas desta cibdad,' who made their request on behalf of the gov- 
ernor. They refused, however, and departed the same day. Las Casas, In/or- 


In 1537 certain of the ecclesiastics are again con- 
nected with the history of the province, but in a 
manner not altogether consistent with the dignity of 
their profession. While travelling through Nicara- 
gua three years previously, Fray Bias 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, 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, 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 consulta- 
tions, were hurled into the crater human victims who 
submitted to their fate without a murmur. 20 When 

macion, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, vii. 116-46. It is evident that 
this event occurred about the month of June 1536. Remesal, who is not 
generally over-exact in dates, says that Las Casas arrived in Guatemala ' casi 
al fin del aiio de treynta y cinco.' Hist. Chyapa, 111. Why Helps, in his Life 
of Las Casas, 185, without venturing to give a correct date himself, should 
boldly assert ' Herrera makes him go to Spain, and though he gives a wrong 
date (1536) for this, yet the main statement may be true,' I am at a loss to 

18 ' En medio dessa laguna 6 metal saltan 6 revientan dos borbollones 6 
manaderos muy grandes de aquel metal continuamente, sin ningun punto 
cessar, 6 siempre esta el metal 6 licor alii Colorado 6 descubierto, sin escorias. ' 
On one occasion the lava rose to the top, creating such intense heat that 
within a league or more of the volcano all vegetation was destroyed. Oviedo, 
iv. 81-2. 

19 Oviedo was of the opinion that she must have been the devil; but 
whether the consort of his Satanic Majesty or the devil himself in female 
form he does not say. ' E segund en sus pinturas usan pintar al diablo, ques 
tan feo 6 tan lleno de colas 6 cuernos ebocas e" otras visages, como nuestros 
pintores lo suelen pintar a los pies del arcangel Sanct Miguel 6 del apostol 
Sanct Bartolome. ' Oviedo, iv. 75. 

20 ' E que antes 6 despues un dia 6 dos que aquesto se hiciessc, echaban alii 


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 confi- 
dence 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 mat- 
ter. Some few conceded that Fray Bias 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 con- 
viction that providence had reserved this treasure for 
him and his fellow-laborers, 21 and now after his Ion or 
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 dor- 
en sacrificio un hombre 6 dos 6 mas e" algunas mugeres 6 muchachos 6 
muchachas; 6 aquellos que assi sacrificaban, yban de grado a tal suplicio.' 
Oviedo, iv. 74. 

21 ' Callad, padre : que por ventura Dios no quiere que lo descubran capi- 
tanes ni personas ricas, sino pobres 6 humillados.' Oviedo, iv. 77. 


rick and a cage were manufactured by the friars 
own hands at a safe distance from the Spanish set- 
tlements, 22 and dragged up by natives to the mouth 
of the volcano. Guides were procured, and it was 
agreed that Fray Bias 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, 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. Neverthe- 
less 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. 

22 ' E porque faltaba un cabrestante e no lo mandaban hacer por no ser 
descubiertos, el frayle lo hico por su mano en el lugar ques dieho que estaban 
todos los otros aparejos.' Oviedo, iv. 78. 

23 Two unsuccessful attempts were made before this date, and some of the 
friar's associates, terrified by their first glimpse of the burning lake, abandoned 
the enterprise. Oviedo, iv. 78. 



A few clays 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 neighbor- 
ing 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 imagi- 


nary prize, and for a time imagine themselves pos- 
sessed of wealth which a thousand ships cannot carry. 

Soon after the departure of the Dominicans, Con- 
treras resolved to carry out the exploration of the 
Desaguadero. Captain Diego Machuca, 2 * a veteran 

21 In 1529, during his residence in Nicaragua, Oviedo was the guest of Ma- 
ehuca, and speaks favorably of his conduct. In company with his host and 
the cacique Lenderi the chronicler explored a volcano, near the Masaya, in the 


officer and one whose humane disposition gave assur- 
ance that the inhabitants of the native towns would 
not be maltreated, was placed in charge of the expedi- 
tion. Two ships were fitted out on Lake Nicaragua 
and a force of two hundred men followed by land. The 
dangers encountered 25 during the voyage are not re- 
corded 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 expe- 
dition despatched under Francisco Gonzales de Bacla- 
joz 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 Panamd. 26 A second 
expedition, despatched by Doctor Robles under com- 
mand of Andres Garavito, also failed of success. 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 

crater of which was a warm-water lake, at about the same level as the lava 
which excited the cupidity of Fray Bias. The descent was difficult, but 
Indian women managed to pass up and down in obtaining water. With regard 
to the depth of the lake Oviedo remarks: ' Este lago, a mi parescer(6 lo 
juzgan otros) esta en el pesso e hondura que esta el fuego que dixe en el poco 
del momte de Massaya. . .no le hallan suelo por su mucha hondura.' Machuca, 
assisted by his friends, furnished the funds needed for exploring the Desa- 

84 The principal rapids in the stream still bear the name of Machuca. 
Squier's Nicaragua (ed. 1856), i. 82. 

20 Mention is made of this expedition by Estrada Ravago, whose narrative 
of the affairs of the province, written in 1572, appears in Squier'sMSS., xiii. 4. 

27 According to Oviedo, (jJaravito must have made friends with Contreras, 
for speaking o? the former he says that one day, while engaged in a game of 
'cafes' in the city of Leon, he suddenly fell dead from his horse. He was 
oue of those who took part in the enterprise which cost Vasco Nunez de lial- 


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 settle- 
ments. After the passage in 1542 of the new code 
of laws, of which mention is elsewhere made, Nica- 
ragua 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 oper- 
ation, sets forth for Spain, to prevent, if possible, dis- 
astrous 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 Panama recommend- 
ing his arrest, and he is compelled to continue his 
journey as a prisoner. The charges against him can- 
not be of a serious nature; for although his old oppo- 
nent, 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 com- 
pany with Vasco Nunez Vela, landing in Tierra Firme 
in January 1544. 

Meanwhile Pedro de los Pios, the royal treasurer, 23 
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 Pios, determines to anticipate his meas- 
ures, and proceeding to Granada, where he obtains 

boa his life, and betrayed him to Pedrarias, for which act of treachery his own 
life was spared. Oviedo, iv. 58-9. According to R&vago, Garavito's men, after 
the death of their commander, sailed for Peru on their own responsibility. 

' 28 Ho held oilice for eleven years as treasurer, and during all that time it is 
said that he put nothing into the treasury. Squier's 3ISS., xxii. 144, 149. It 
may be remarked, on the other hand, that the affairs of the province were in 
such a condition that little or no revenue could be collected. There is no evi- 
dence that llios was related to his namesake, the former governor of Castilla. 
del Oro. 

Hist. Cent. Am. Vol. II. 12 


the support of the cabildo, imprisons Rios in the 
convent.' 29 But the following morning the cabildo 
intimidated by the threats of Dona Maria, the gov- 
ernor'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 aclher- 
ents that all who may suffer death in this most Chris- 
tian 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 re- 
lents 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. 30 

When the news of these proceedings reached the 
audiencia of Panamd, Diego de Pineda was de- 
spatched 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 for- 
gotten. A few months later Contreras arrived in the 
province, 81 but his secret enemies were still at work, 

29 It is somewhat remarkable that the dean of a church could imprison a 
royal treasurer, but such is the fact. 'Le vino a premier. . .pidio favor a la 
Ciudad dc Granada donde el estava (Rios), lo prendio i mctie e:i el monasterio 
de la Merced por ser casa de piedra.'. . .Squier's MSS., x::ii. 144. 

30 On May 20, 1545, he wrote from his prison to the emperor: 'Dos alios 
que estoi prcso, i mis bicnes sin cuenta en manos dc mi3 adversaries. Ha 
mcsc3 que me pusieron en csta carccl arzobispal,' and asked to be tried at 
once, and punished or acquitted as the case might be. Squier'a AISS., xxii. 148. 

31 li, is probable that ltios continued to govern until the return of Centre- 


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 Bios. 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 in- 
vestigation. 32 

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 ecclesias- 
tical authorities. In 1544 Father Antonio de Val- 
divieso was appointed to the vacant see of Nicara- 
gua. 33 His appointment was duly confirmed by papal 
bull, and in November of the following year he was 
consecrated at Gracias a Dios by bishops Las Casas 

ras. Soon after the events just described he lost his life, probably during 
some expedition into the interior, as nothing is said of him until July 15, 1545, 
when bishop Valdivieso in one of his letters to the king, says : ' I asi ban 
muerto po de los Rios, Luis de Guevara, i otros de menos cuenta.' In a 
subsequent report this prelate again refers to 'al dif*° Tes? P? de los Bios,' 
stating that the tithes collected, and still due by him at his death, had not 
been recovered. Squier's MSS. y xxii. 109-10. 

32 One Pedro Garcia, in a communication to the emperor, dated Leon, 
January 10, 1545, complains that 'la r» de Contreras, Rios i su teniente Luis 
de Guevara hecha por el Lie. Herrera, ha sido sepultada i sin fruto. Squier , s 
3ISS., xxii. 145; and when certain malecontents afterward demanded that 
Herrera be sent back to Leon to finish his investigation, the answer came 
from the audiencia 'que no habia lugar quel dicho Licenciado volviese a esta 
tierra.' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., vii. 571. 

33 Ddv'da, Tcatro Ecles., i. 235. Valdivieso was a native of Villahermosa, 
and the son of Antonio de Valdivieso and Catalina Alvarez Calvento. Lie 
became a Dominican in the convent of San Pablo, Burgos, of which he was 
an inmate when the emperor called him to the bishopric of Nicaragua. Dates 
Biog., in Cartas de Jndias, 857, and Col. Doc. Incd., i. 117; Herrera, dec. vii. 
lib. vi. cap. vi., states that he was made bishop 'por mucrte del obispo Men- 
dauia, ' referring to dean Mendavia, but Rios would not have dared to send 
him a prisoner to Spain had he been a bishop. To whom Valdivieso refers 
when, while speaking of himself as being the second bishop concentrated in 
Nicaragua, he remarks: 'Fue el 1? antecesor que murio a 40 dias que llego a 
la tierra,' Squier's MSS.. xxii. 125, it is impossible to determine. The first 
bishop, Osorio, was appointed in 1531, and died in 153G. That another pre- 
late was chosen before Valdivieso is nowhere recorded. It is probable, how- 
ever, that ho alludes to Fray Juan de Arteaga, bishop elect for Chiapas, who, 
when Las Casas first refused that appointment, left Spain on February 15, 
1541, and died at Puebla the same year, soon after his arrival. Iiemesal, Hist. 
Chyapa, 202. 


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 down- 
fall 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 gov- 
ernor, 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. 84 

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 audi- 
encia. 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 

34 'Inquisicion no se ha de mentar en esta tierra, i en entrando en elle me 
embiaron a decir que si entendia en cosa de Inquisicion o lo pensava, me 
darian do pufialadas. ' Squier's MSS., xxii. 140. On another occasion, when 
President Maldonado and the oidor Ramirez were at Granada preparing an 
expedition to Peru, the bishop refused to ofliciate in church because a person 
\v; s present whom he had excommunicated. Hereupon Ramirez used insult- 
ing language, causing him to retire from the church. Valdivieso's conduct 
<1 such ill-feeling that a mob afterward assembled in the street and threat- 
ened to hani' him. 


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. 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 Tezulutlan, 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 some- 
times 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 inade- 
quate for their maintenance. 

The most serious accusation brought against Con- 
treras, but one that rests on no sufficient evidence, is 
that he appropriated the estates of deceased enco- 
menderos, 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 indi- 
viduals, had passed into the hands of his wife. It was 
afterward even laid to his charge that he had com- 

35 The following quotation is from a report of the audiencia at Gracias a 
Dios, dated December SO, 1C45. 'Los Domiuicos de Nicaragua tenian un 
pueblo que so les mando quitar por las Ordenanzas. Representaronnos que 
Bin el no podiian estar, i poraue no se auscntasen se lo dcjamos. Tendra el 
pueblo 20 Indios. ' Squier's MSS.,xxii, 131. 


pelled 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. 36 

Meanwhile the oidor, Herrera, was sparing no effort 
to insure the governor's downfall, and with that pur- 
pose sent private reports to the emperor and the 
council of the Indies. In one of these 37 he recom- 
mended 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 govern- 
ment be vested in the hands of a person whose duty 
it should be to visit, at frequent intervals, every set- 
tlement in the province. He also recommended that 
the children of the caciques should be placed in con- 
vents, there to be trained in the Christian faith, and 
that the adult Indians should remain in their towns 
for the same purpose. 38 In short his object, like that 
of Valdivieso, whose cause he never ceased to advocate, 
w 7 as 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." 39 It was even thought necessary to 
send to Spain one Antonio Zarate to advocate their 

36 ' Y el Fiscal auia puesto acusacion contra Rodrigo de Contreras, porque 
siendo gouernador de aquella provincia, salio diucrsas vezes dc su Goucrnacion 
con gcnte dc pie y de cauallo, y fue a la parte de Costa rica, y al desaguadero, 
y otras tierras comarcanas, adonde hizo grandes excessos, assi contra Caste- 
llanos, como contra Indios. ' Herrera, dec. vii. lib. vi. cap. vi. 

37 Dated at Gracias a Dios, December 24, 1545. Squier's MSS., xxii. 126. 

38 Herrera was actuated merely by selfish motives. He desired for himself 
the office of ruler, and it was fortunate for the province that he did not obtain 
it; for when in 1548 his residencia was taken by the licentiate Ccrrato he was 
proved to have been the most rapacious of all his colleagues. 

39 Report, dated Granada, April 23, 1547. Squier's MSS., xxii. 40. 


cause, whereupon Valdivieso despatched to the council 
of the Indies, some three weeks later, a communica- 
tion 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 Pan- 
ama, informing him of Z&rate's purpose and recom- 
mending 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 accomplish- 
ing the object of his mission. 

The struggle which Contreras had so long main- 
tained 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 Espanola, and now ap- 
pointed to that of the Confines, arrived at Gracias a 
Dios. One of his first acts was to take the resiclencia 
of the governor, whereujDon finding that the trans- 
fer of his encomiendas had been made after the pas- 
sage of the new code, though before its publication in 
the province, 40 he declared them confiscated. Con- 
treras 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, 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 

40 The laws were published in Nicaragua in 1545. 

41 This report was dated Leon, February 10, 1548. The principal 
accusations contained therein are mere repetitions of those already mentioned. 
See Squier's MSS., xxii. 98-100. 


oidor was confirmed by the council of the Indies, and 
Bodrigo de Contreras returned no more to Nicaragua. 42 
His children, however, still remained in the province, 
soon to figure as the leaders of a revolt which threat- 
ened, for a time, the very existence of Spain's do- 
minion 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 Guate- 
mala, in the year 1528, to join certain Flemish friars 
then resident in Nicaragua, he founded at Granada 
the convent of Concepcion/ 3 and having a knowl- 
edge of the native language, was successful in his 
efforts, giving special care to the baptism and conver- 
sion 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. 44 Hernandez and Sal- 
cedo 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 Bar- 
tolome Perez. Diligent search was made by these 
officials, but it was found that the barbarians had either 
forgotten or never understood the truths of Christi- 
anity, and Bobadilla was obliged to perform this holy 

42 He probably remained in Spain till 1554, as nothing further is recorded 
of him until that year, when we hear of him as serving in Peru. He finally 
appears in the act of swearing allegiance to Philip II. in Lima on the 25th of 
July 1557. Datos Biog., in Cartas de Indias, 742. 

43 This convent was subsequently occupied by Dominicans, as the Flemish 
friars abandoned it in 1531, travelling in company with Fray Marcos de Niza 
to Costa Rica, Peru, Tierra Firme, Espaiiola, and Mexico. Vazquez, Chron. 
Gvat., 21-2. Juan de (Jandabo, a Franciscan friar, and one of the first that 
came to Nicaragua, was still in Granada in 1536, where he labored in company 
with Fray Francisco de Aragon. The place and date of his death are unknown. 
Notas, Datos, Biofj., in Cartas de Indias, 7G2. 

"Gonzalez JMvila, in Teatro Ucles., i. 233. 


work anew. This friar baptized twenty-nine thousand 
and sixty-three persons in the province of Nicaragua, 
during a space of nine days, 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 converted." 

On the 29th of August 1540, Hernando de Alva- 
rado and Fray Juan de Pad ilia started from Granada 
toward the South Sea by way of Coiba, 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 Benvenida and thirty others 
left Yucatan for the province of Costa Pica 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 sav- 
ages during the celebration of one of their feasts, 
dragged over the rocks, beaten till he was almost life- 
less, and then hanged; his murderers completing then- 
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 advan- 
tage of the opportunity were continually committing 
depredations on the borders, robbing and slaughter- 

45 In the province of Oxomorio Bobadilla baptized 85; in Diria, 5,018; in 
Mombacho, 3,241; in Masaya, 937; in Malapalte, 154; in Marmalte, 409; in 
Lenderi, 2,917; in Managua, 1,116; in Matiari, 421; in Mavitiatomo, 75; in 
Nagrando, Ariat, Mabitra, and Mahometombo, 585; in Maribio, 0,346; in 
Zecoteaga, 2,169. ' E assi paresceme a mi que para esta creencia desta gente 
nuevamente allegada a la iglesia, que es mas menester de bapticarlos 6 dexar- 
los, pues que sin creer, como lo dice la mesma verdad evangelica, no se pueden 
salvar, sino condenar.' Ovic/o, iv. 59-60. 

46 During their journey they discovered a river which they named Nuestra 
Senora. Pacheco and Cdi-denas, Col. Doc, iii. 511-13. 

47 The time of their arrival is given as 1550. Bienvenida, Lettre, in Ternaux- 
Compans, Voy., sene i. torn. x. 308. 


ing 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 estab- 
lished. After the explorations conducted by Captain 
Machuca, we read of no important enterprise until the 
year of the governor's departure. In 1548 the con- 
tador Diego de Castaneda organized an expedition for 
the conquest of the district of Tegucigalpa. 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. Re- 
pelling 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. 


48 Named Tabizgalpa by Arias Gonzalo Davila, who accompanied the expe- 

49 In this chapter there have been consulted various documents in Pacheco 
and Cardenas, Col. Doc, i. 556, 503; iii. 84-8, 511-13; vii. 11G-46; Cartas 
de Indlas, 710, 762, 775; Datos Biog., in Cartas de Indias, 3G, 742, 857; 
Col. Doc. Incd., xxvi. 238; xlix. 21-3; 1. 116; Squier's MSS., xiii. 3, 4; 
xxii. 34-149; Oviedo, iii. 176-9; iv. 76-92, 112-15; Herrera, dec. iv. lib. i. 
cap. ix.; lib. ix. cap. xv. ; lib. x. cap. v.; dec. v. lib. vii. cap. ii. ; dec. vi. 
lib. i. cap. viii. ; dec. vii. lib. vi. cap. v. ; dec. viii. lib. i. cap. ix. ; JRemesal, 
Hist. Chyapa, 105-7, 193-9, 203-6; Avdagoya, Nar., 39; Vega, Hist. Descub. 
Am., ii. 244-6; Gonzalez D&vila, Teatro Deles., i. 234-5; Cogollvdo, Hist. 
Yucathan, 345; Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 252; Juarros, Guat., i. 49; Morelli, 
Fasti Novi Orbis, 112; Benzoni, Hist. Mondo Nvovo, 105; Pelaez, Mem. Guat., 
i. 135; Pineda, in Soc. Mex. Geog., iii. 347; Kerr's Col. Voy., v. 175; Levy's 
Nic.y 67-73; Squier's States Cent. Am., i. 82. 




Diego Gutierrez Appointed Governor — Desertion of his Soldiers — 
He Proceeds to Nicaragua — The Advice of Contreras — The Ex- 
pedition Sails for the Rio San Juan — Friendly Reception by the 
Natives — His Men Desert a Second Time — Reinforcements from 
Nicaragua and Nombre de Dios — The Historian Benzoni Joins 
the Party— Gutierrez as an Evangelist — He Inveigles Camachire 


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 Surviv- 
ors Rescued by Alonso 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, 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 north- 
ern 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. 2 Vague reports of a settlement 

1 It is claimed by some chroniclers that, in the time of Columbus, this 
portion of the mainland was already known by the name of Costa Rica on 
account of the fine specimens of gold discovered, principally in the Talamanca 
district, where it abounded in streams and was obtained with little labor. 
Molina, Bosquejo Coda E., 79; this author follows Navarrete. See also JJrja- 
rano, Informe, MS. Morel de Sta Cruz, Visita Aposl.. MS., 14, on the other 
hand attributes the name to the rich pearl-fisheries which were found on the 
coast and to the quality of the fruits, woods, and other products of the ter- 

2 Hist. Cent. Am., i. 484-5, this series. 




named Cartago, founded early in the sixteenth cen- 
tury by some band of roaming adventurers, are men- 
tioned in several of the early chroniclers; but when 
and by whom it was established, is a question 3 on 
which there is no conclusive evidence. 

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 con- 
quest and discovery was added the all-pervading 

^ v. 



Ct v BuricaPtX) 

Costa Rica, 1545. 

passion of the Spaniard, for it was believed that the 
armies of the great Montezuma had invaded the terri- 
tory from a distance of more than six hundred leagues, 

3 I am inclined to believe that the original founders of Cartago were set- 
tlers from the colony established by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba at Bru- 
selas, on the gulf of Nicoya in 1524, and abandoned three years later by order 
of Salcedo (see Hist. Cent. Am., i. 512, this series); more particularly as its 
first site was known to have been close to the harbor of Caldera, and therefore 
not far from the landing-place of Cordoba. It was next removed to a spot 
near the Rio Taras, and thence to its present location. It is even claimed by 
some that Cartago was the lirst city established in what was formerly called 
the kingdom of Guatemala. Juarros makes this statement, basing his asser- 
tion on a report made in 1744 by Jose de Mier y Ceballos to the engineer Luis 


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 after- 
ward set forth on an enterprise which was destined 
to prove even more calamitous than the one conducted 
by his kinsman. 

Gutierrez proceeded first to Espaflola, where he 
raised a company of about two hundred men and sailed 
thence for Jamaica, the base of supplies for the col- 
onies of Tierra Firme. Here a mutiny broke out 
among his men, causing the loss of all his military 
stores. Arriving at Nornbre de Dios he fell sick, and 
while lying at the point of death his men deserted, 
and crossing over to Panama 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 Bio San Juan, and so made his way to the city 
of Granada. Falling in with one Baena, a successful 

Diez Navarro. Referring to the same document he continues : * It appears 
by an edict preserved among the records, that the first governor and captain 
general of Costa Rica was Diego deAstieda Chirinos.' Hut. Gnat. (ed. London, 
1823), 75, 341-2. These statements are repeated in Mosquito, Doc, 27, where 
the governor is called Ostiega. See also Salv. Dlar. OJic, 30 Mar. 1S7G, 
1G8. Molina, the modern historian of Costa Rica, follows Juarros and goes 
even further when he says: 'Mais il est probable que sa fondation eut lieu 
pendant lequatrieme voyage deColomb, en 1502. . .enl522,Cartago, l'ancienne 
capitale cspagnolede la province, etait une villed'assez d'importance pour dc- 
mander qu'on vouliit bien y fixer la residence d'un gouverneur avec son secre- 
taire. Diego dc Astieda Chirinos parait avoir (t te son premier gouverneur. ' . . . 
Coup oVOeil de Co*ta R. (ed. Paris, 1849), 4. That the above authors arc in 
error is proved by the fact that Diego de Artiega Cherino (as his name should 
properly be written) was not appointed governor and captain general of Costa 
Rica, Nicaragua, and Nicoyatill 51 years later, namely, in 1575. Pacheco and 
Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 559-05. Molina, in a subsequent work, also inclines 
to the belief that Cartago was founded by those who abandoned the earlier 
settlements, and corrects his former statement in regard to Columbus, merely 
saying: 'El immortal Colon mismo en su cuarto viaje en el ano de 1502, 
toc6 en varios puntos de su costa en el Atlantico.' Bosquejo Costa R., 10. It 
is singular that Molina, in his treatise on the boundary question between 
Costa Rica and Nicaragua, should not have referred to the document men- 
tioned by Juarros, and that he should have failed to use it in his Mem. Costa 
R. and Nic. In Jlerrera, dec. vii. lib. iv. cap. xvii., the date of the founding 
of Cartago is even removed to the time of Gutierrez, which may be correct, 
inasmuch as he first gave to the province the name of Nueva Cartago. 


adventurer from Peru, lie succeeded in borrowing from 
liim three thousand castellanos with which he hoped 
to retrieve his fortunes. 

Gutierrez now endeavored to enlist men in Nicara- 
gua, 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 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 posses- 
sion of the newly created province. He then endeav- 
ored to dissuade him from his purpose, representing 
the country as rugged and his scheme as foolhardy 
and dangerous. "But if you persist in the occupa- 
tion 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 

4 The first boundaries appointed for the province arc those mentioned in 
the charter granted to Gutierrez, dated Madrid, November 29, 1C40, wherein 
they arc described as 'extending from sea to sea, and from the frontier of 
Veragua, running to the westward to the great river (Rio Grande), provided 
that the coast adjoining said river on the side of Honduras should remain 
under the government of Honduras, with power to Gutierrez to conquer and 
settle any island in said river which should not be previously located by 
Spaniards; and the right to the navigation, fisheries, and other advantages of 
said river; and provided that he (Gutierrez) should not approach to within 15 
leagues of the Lake of Nicaragua, because this territory of 15 leagues being 
reserved, as well as said lake, were to remain in the possession of the govern- 
ment of Nicaragua; but the navigation and fisheries both in that part of the 
river granted to Gutierrez and in the 15 leagues reserved, and in the lake, 
should be possessed in common, conjointly with the inhabitants of Nica- 
ragua.' Molina, Costa R. and Nic, 7. The author claims to possess a certified 
copy of unpublished documents stored in the archives of Spain, in which he 
states the conditions of the charter granted to Gutierrez. See also Oviedo, 
iii. 179, and Levy's Nic, 07-73. 


are rich in gold, and in this way only can you obtain 
food." 5 

The advice of Contreras was cruel, unjust, and con- 
trary 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 em- 
peror 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." 6 It was fine 
doctrine, but doctrine that here would not win. Col- 
lecting a force of sixty men, he soon set sail with two 
vessels for the mouth of the Rio Surre. 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 set- 
tlements in the New World. He was a man of great 
tenacity of purpose, but irascible, and singularly defi- 
cient 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 

5 It is stated by some chroniclers that Contreras promised to furnish men 
and provisions on condition that he be allowed a share of the spoils. 

G ' A queste parole, rispose Diego Gottiercs, chc l'lmperatore gli haueua dato 
quella Gouernatione perchc la populasse, c non perchc la ro basse, c se ii gli 
altri la fortuna era stata contraria, die haueua spcranza in Dio che a lui gli 
saria propitia, e chc in modo alcuno no volcua lasciare la impresa, nd manco 
volcua compagnia alcuna.' Benzoni, Hist. Hondo Ncovo, 83. 

7 Spelled also Sucre. Benzoni, Hondo Nvovo, 85. 


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, 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 voy- 
age, 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 com- 
mand of one Captain Bariento, with men, arms, am- 
munition, and provisions from Nicaragua. Thereupon 
he turned back, conducted the vessel to his settle- 
ment, and handing to his nephew all the gold that 
had been collected, amounting to eight hundred cas- 
tellanos, bade him return with the ship to Nombre 
de Dios and there purchase arms and procure re- 
cruits. Girolomo Benzoni, the Italian chronicler of 
the New World, was at Nombre de Dios when Cap- 
tain 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. 9 Other 
adventurers, lured by the promise of wealth, deter- 
mined to join the expedition, and soon twenty-seven 
men were pledged for the hew 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, 

8 'E despues que alii cstuvo un alio 6 mas, porque faltaron los bastimen- 
tos, se le amotino la gente e se le tornaron a Nicaragua ; 6 este gobernador 
se qucd6 con seys hombres solos. . .Pcro aunque cstc gobernador estaba solo e 
con tan pocos chripstianos. . .no dexaban los indios naturalcs de lea dar do 
comer 6 oro, sin haoer mal ni dano a ninguno de los nuestros.' Ovledo, iii. 180. 

9 'E cosi fece vintisette soldati, e trouandomi io in questa Citta volsi csscr 
vno di que gli, ancora eh'io fussi ripreso da vno Spagnuolo antiano, ilquale era 
andato nella prouincia di Cartagena, c santa INJarta, c altri hioghi, per ispatio 
di quindici anni, dicendomi, che in modo alcuno, mi lasciassi vinccrc di andaro 
a talc imprcsa, c che non volesse dar crcdito alcuno alle parole del Capitano. 
Benzoni, Hondo Nvovo, S4-5. 


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 reenforced he began the exploration of his prov- 
ince. 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 dis- 
tance, 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 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 13 


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 represent- 
atives, comprises jour whole duty." To these words 
the chieftains bowed their heads, but without making 
answer, neither assenting to nor rejecting the munifi- 
cent 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 sen- 
timents 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 Ca- 
machire and Cocori, 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 Guti- 
errez ordered a strong iron collar to be fastened round 
their necks, and chaining them to a beam in his dwell- 
ing, taxed them with stealing the buried jars of salt 
and honey, and demanded restitution, or, as an equiva- 
lent, 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 

10 Oviedo names the two caciques Cama and Coco: ' E cada dia traian oro 
al gobernador, el qual, como hombre de ninguna espiriencia, prendio a uno 
do aqucllos caciques, que estabau de paz, que se dccia el Cama (el qual era 
muy rico), porque no lc daba tanto oro como este gobernador le pedia.' iii. 180. 


unless, within four days, he obtained gold enough to 
fill it six times he should be burned to death. 11 The 
trembling native promised to comply, and sent out 
his vslaves to collect the treasure. Perceiving the 
Indian to be tractable, and believing him anxious to 
comply in good faith with the demand, Gutierrez per- 
mitted 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 de- 
clared 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 threat- 
ened 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 ful- 
fil his promise to people the province and not to pil- 
lage 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 Span- 
iards, laid waste their own lands, destroyed their 

11 'la Gottierez dreigde Camachiren te verbranden; hoewel nu bereeds 
versheide stukken gouds, met allerlei beesten, tijgers, visschen, vogelen kon- 
stig geboetseert, die de prijs van wee tonnen gouds op-haelden, door de selve 
begiftigt was. Sulk een schenkaedje scbeen te gering. Hy bragt den gevan- 
gene by een kist: en swoer, hy soude hem langsaem braeden, ten zy binnen 
vier dagen ses mael meer goud verschafte als de kist laeden konde.' : Montaiius y 
Nicuwe Weereld, 87. 


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 tem- 
perament singularly adapted to inspire distrust, dis- 
content, 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, re- 
marked to a comrade, " We are going to the shambles." 
Whereupon the other, a man of more sanguine tem- 
perament, made answer; "Thou art one of those who, 
we intend, shalt have a principality in spite of thy- 
self." 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 de- 
clivities. 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 

12 ' Et cosi partissimo, e a pena che fussimo saliti dalle case, io indiuinai 
quello c'haueua da essere di noi altri, dicendo a vno Spagnuolo, noi andiamo 
alia beccheria; e rispondendonri lui queste parole disse. Tu sei vno di quegli, 
che gli vogliamo far guadagnare vn Prencipato al suo dispetto.' Benzoni, 
Mondo Nvovo, 89. 


than his situation. Arriving a,t a spot where the path 
divided, Gutierrez demanded of an Indian belonging 
to the train which route to pursue m order to arrive 
at some native villages of which they were in search. 
He replied that he did not know ; whereupon the gov- 
ernor 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; 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 counter- 
manded 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. 14 

But the career of Diego Gutierrez was well-nigh 

13 This degradation so affected Cocori that he .shed tears and promised, if 
he were liberated, to bring the governor a quantity of gold. ' Et essendo poi 
tutti noi altri in punto per marciare, e vedendo il Cacique come il Gouerna- 
tore per dispregio lo voleua menare con lui earico, e con altri suoi Indiani, 
con parte delle sue bagaglie ; si attrist6 in tal maniera, che si messe a pian- 
gere, come vn putto ; e gli disse, che se voleua dargli liberta, che in termine 
di quattro giorni, gli darebbe vna buonasomma d'oro. 7 Beitzoni, Hondo Nvovo, 
89. But his promise availed him nothing. 

11 Benzoni relates that being unable to eat his portion of dog-meat which 
was full of worms, he went to the governor and demanded food. Diego told 
him to go and eat of the roots of trees, whereupon a Spaniard who was stand- 
ing near exclaimed, 'Sir governor, since you will not share the good and the 
bad with us,goand make war by yourself.' A piece of cheese weighing three 
pounds was then divided among the men, who were thus pacified for that 
night. The chronicler was on sentry during the early morning- watch, and 
hearing the governor give orders to his cook to boil a piece of pork for his 
breakfast paced to and fro near the fire till every one was asleep, when, sharp- 
ening a piece of wood to a point, he speared the pork and secured the prize 
in his knapsack, 'feeling better pleased,' he tells us, 'than if he had secured 
a treasure.' Hist. New World, in HaMuyt, Divers Voy. t 132. 


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 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 in- 
terior of a wilderness. Whither were they bound, and 
what the insane hope that urged them forward? Gu- 
tierrez 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 Fran- 
cisco, 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 moun- 
tains 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 be- 
fore 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 approach- 
ing 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 buc- 
cinus — 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." 16 They soon returned, however, and 

15 The Rio Grande. 

10 'Et hauendo combattuto dall' vna parte, e dalP altra per ispatio di mezo 
quarto d' bora, e hauendo noi altri ammazzato, c ferito molti Indiani, e alia lino 


renewed the conflict. The Spaniards, worn with toil 
and fasting, were quickly overpowered and all but 
six were slain. Gutierrez fell 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 subjugate. 

Benzoni stumbled upon the helmet of a dead com- 
rade, 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. 18 

fattogli voltare le spalle.' Benzoni, Hist. Mondo Nuovo, 91. Montanus states 
that the entire battle lasted half an hour. 'Na een half uur vechten, de 
insden d'aenvallers ; doch, met versche benden gestijft, hervatten den torn: 
braeken tuschen de Spaensche flag-orde in: floegen met palm-houte swaerden 
en knodsen harsenen en beenen te pletteren. ' Die Nieuwe Weereld, 88. 

17 Oviedo says the governor was sick with gout at the time. ' Y el gober- 
nador en essa sacon mandaba mal su persona, porque andaba tullido de gota e 
quatro negros le traian echado en una hamaca, lo qual le debiera bastar para 
ser mas paciente con los indios.' His statements differ materially from those 
of Benzoni. He relates that the Spaniards were surprised in their camp and 
that Gutierrez and 72 of his men were slain, seven only making their escape, 
but it is not probable that he had so large a force under his command, iii. 181. 
Ravago, in Squier's MSS. , xiii. 3, says that only 44 or 45 days elapsed between 
the landing of Gutierrez and his death, but his report concerning the early 
history of the province is somewhat vague and unreliable. 

18 There is little doubt that Benzoni's narrative of the expedition of Gutier- 
rez is somewhat colored in consequence of a rupture between himself and the 
governor. 'The first day that we entered the port,' he says, 'the governor 
graciously placed me at his table, and took pleasure in conversing with me. 
The greater part of his conversation was about gold and silver, and the wars, 
and the cruelties inflicted on wretched Italy, and especially on Milan. But 
when he perceived that such subjects were disagreeable to me, he took a dis- 
like to me and never would bear the sight of me after. ' It is, however, the 
only complete record of that event, and I can but give his version of it. 
Oviedo's information as to the early history of Costa Rica is taken from Juan 
de Espinosa, who accompanied Alonso de Pisa to Cartago in one of his return 
voyages, iii. 184. He was well acquainted with Gutierrez, and thus tries to 
palliate his faults: 'Desalmados 6 platicos que por aca han andado, que a 
los novicios 6 nuevamente venidos a gobernar los ensenen a robar;' and in con- 
sequence thereof 'por enriquescer, presto vuelven la hoja, e trocado el intento 
con que partieron de Espafia, si bueno era, 6 afirmado en el cauteloso que en su 


pecho estaba callado, en poco tiempo manifiestan las pbras el contrario de las 
palabras. 5 iii. 178. 

Other authorities quoted in this chapter are Herrera, dec. vii. lib. iv. cap. 
xvii.; Benzoni, Mondo Nvovo, lib. ii. 83-92; Bejarnno, Informc; Haya, Inform e; 
iSquier's MSS., xiii. 1-3; Juarros, Guat. (ed. London, 1823), 73-6, 341-5; 
Molina, Coup d'Oeil de Costa B., 4; Molina, Boxquejo Costa B., 10, 83-92; 
Molina, Costa B. and Nic., 6-8, 36-8; Mosquito Doc. 27, in 77-229; Morel de 
StaCruz, Visita Apost., MS., 14; Beichardt, Cent. Am., Ill, 112; Salv., Diar. 
OJic. 30 Mar. 1876, 618. 

The time of Diego Gutierrez' fight with the Indians and death, as given 
by Oviedo, is contradicted in an official manuscript extant that places it in 
December 1544. It is the investigation made in Leon, Nicaragua, on the 
25th of June, 1545, and the writer assures us he has an authenticated copy of 
it. Peralta's autograph note in Peralta, Bio San Juan, 9. 



. 1537-1541. 

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 Cortes — While above Pizarro He was far beneath 
Sandoval — His Delight in Bloodshed for its own Sake — The Rest- 
ing-place and Epitaph — Alvarado's Progeny. 

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 gov- 
erned. 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 encomien- 
das were to marry within three years from the date 
of their notification, or to forfeit their Indians in favor 
of married persons. 1 This order met with general dis- 

^Arevalo, Col. Doc. Antic/., 13. The law was soon modified by decrees of 
Feb. 12, 1T)38, and of June 29 and November 8, 1539, by which prelates and 
governors were directed to induce all eligible unmarried men holding encomi- 
endas to marry within three years. This, however, was to be accomplished 
by persuasive means, or by distinguishing in favor of the married men in the dis- 
tribution of Indians, and not by coercive measures, liecop. de Indias, ii. 271-2. 



approval, and the cabildo petitioned the king to re- 
consider 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, 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 ex- 
presses 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, 3 many of the conquista- 
dores were present, these damsels, who, concealed 
behind a screen in an adjoining apartment, were wit- 
nessing the festivities, commented on the appearance 
of their prospective husbands in the most disparaging 
terms. " They say," remarked one to her compan- 
ions, "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, 

2 ' Y otros que aunque haya mngeres en la tierra, y ellos esten on edad que 
todavia se sufra casarse, no las querran por las enfermedades contagiosas que 
dc la tierra sc han pegado.' Ar&ralo, Col. Doc. Atttiy., 14. 

8 Commentarios Healcs. ii. 58. 


in the same manner that an old broken kettle is ex- 
changed for one that is new and sound." 

Now it chanced that one of the ' old fellows ' over- 
heard 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 expe- 
dition was to be made at his own expense, and he was 
to take a westerly * direction toward China and the 
Spice Islands. 4 From a letter of the viceroy of Mex- 
ico we also learn that he was authorized to extend 
his explorations northward, 5 and that the emperor 
directed all the principal officials of the New World 
to aid in the arrest and punishment of any of Alva- 
rado's subordinates who, when discoveries had been 
made, should revolt, fail to fulfil missions intrusted to 
them, or disobey him under any pretext. No clem- 
ency would be extended by the crown to such offenders. 
These privileges were granted in consideration of his 
services in the conquests of Mexico and Guatemala. 

Early in 1539 the adelantado set sail from Spain, 
accompanied by his wife Dona Beatriz de la Cueva, 7 

4 Vazquez, Chronica de Gvat., 158-9; Bernal Diaz., Hist. Verdad., 235; 
Herrcra, dec. vii. lib. ii. cap. x. 

5 'Y que asimismo descubriese, por la costa de esta Nueva Espaiia que 
llaman de la mar del Sur a la parte del norte, con dos navios. ' Pacheco and 
Cardenas, Col. Doc., iii. 507. See also Oviedo, iv. 23. 

6 Vazquez, Chronica de Gvat., 158-9. 

7 No greater proof could exist of the high favor in which Alvarado stood 
at court than the arrangement of this second marriage. The lady being the 



and on the 4th of April landed in state at Puerto de 
Caballos, with three large vessels well filled with pro- 
visions, 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. 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 weigh- 
ing 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 con- 
sumed in making the journey to Gracias d, Dios. 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 

sister of his former wife, a special dispensation of the pope was required to 
legalize the marriage; and through the influence of Cobos and the power of 
the emperor a bull was granted. Such an authorization was rarely obtained. 
Oviedo, iii. 214-15; Alvarado, Carta, in Arevalo, Col. Doc. Anthj., 170; Ga- 
varrete, Copias de Doc, MS., 43-4; Gomara, Hist. 2nd., 2G9; Torquemada, i. 
323. Remesal, who is in error as to the date of this marriage, has this remark 
respecting the dispensation. 'Licencia que se da raras vezes. . .Y entonces 
parecio mayor liberalidad del Sumo Pontifice, por auer sido el primer matri- 
monio consumado.' Hist. Chyapa, 17. See also Benzoni, Hist. Mondo N novo, 

8 Alvarado, Carta, in Are'valo, Col. Doc, Antig., 179; Herrera, dec. vi. 
lib. ii. cap. x. Oviedo says Alvarado brought 400 men; that he touched at 
Espaiiola and took in supplies, staying there 17 days and leaving on March 
12th. iii. 214-15. In Datos Bio<j. the number of men is given as 250, including 
hijosdalgo and men-at-arms. The cargo included 300 arquebuses, 400 pikes, 
200 ballestas, much artillery, and rich merchandise, valued at over 30,000 
ducats. Cartas de Indias, 709. The date of his arrival is obtained from his 
own letter to the cabildo of Santiago above quoted. Remesal states that 
there existed in the archives of San Salvador a letter of exactly the same 
tenor, but dated April 3d, and as he quotes the commencement, which is the 
same as that of the letter preserved by Arevalo, it was either a duplicate, or 
Remeaal commits one of his careless errors. Uavarrete, in Copias de Doc, 
MS., 4.'5-4, gives the date as the 1st of April. 

9 Here, as will be hereafter related, Montejo surrendered to Alvarado his 
claim to the provinces of Honduras and Higueras. 


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. 10 On his arrival 
Alvarado spared no expense in completing his arma- 
ment, not only using all his own available means, but 
borrrowing largely and purchasing vessels on credit. 11 

About August 1539, Friar Marcos de Niza, who 
had for some time past been travelling in the unex- 
plored regions far to the north of Mexico, returned, 
with the marvellous tale of the seven cities of Cibola 
and their wonderful wealth. 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, 13 who accordingly 
hurried forward the preparations for his enterprise. 

Before the middle of 1540 his command had been 
reenforced by numerous recruits, and a fleet of at least 
twelve 14 vessels had been constructed, and equipped 

10 While at Santo Domingo on his return voyage Alvarado told Oviedo 
that he had on the coast of the South Sea seven or eight ships built for his 
proposed voyage to China and to the Spice and Molucca Islands. Oviedo, iii. 

11 His expenses were enormous. Bernal Diaz says, ' f ueron tantos los gastos 
que hizo que no le basto la riqueza que traxo del Piru, ni cl oro que le 
sacavan de las minas . . . ni los tributos de sus pueblos, ni lo que le presentaron 
sus deudos y amigos, y lo que tom6 fiado de mercaderes.' Hist. Verdad., 235. 
His will, in which he made Bishop Marroquin his executor, shows that he 
had numerous creditors, who had furnished ships, provisions, supplies, and 
money. Eemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 185-6. Vazquez says the cost was over 
200,000 pesos de oro. 

12 Niza, Descub. , in Pacheco and Cdrddnas, Col. Doc. , iii. 325 et seq. 

13 The claimants to this presumed right besides Alvarado were Viceroy 
Mendoza, Cortes, Nuno de Guzman, Hernando de Soto, and the city of Com- 
postela in Nueva Galicia. Id., xv. 300 et seq. For further particulars, see 
Hist- Mex., vol. ii., this series. 

14 Mendoza states that he fitted out as best he could 12 ships. Carta, in 
Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. 507; Herrera, 12 deep-sea vessels, includ- 
ing one of 13 and one of 20 benches of oars. Beaumont, 12 ships. Crdn. Mich., 
ii. 252; Tello, Hist. N. Gal., 382, a fleet of ships; Bernal Diaz, 13 good sized 
ships, including a galley and a patache. Hist. Verdad., 235; Vazquez, 13 
ships. Chronica de Gvat., 159; Remesal, 10 or 12 large ships, a galley, and 
fustas with oars. Hist. Chyapa, IG1 ; so also, Gomara, Hist. Ind., 268-9, and 
Torqnemada, i. 323; Oviedo states that there were 13 ships, including large 
and small; 3 galleons over 200 tons each, a fine galley and two fustas; the 
other ships being of 100 tons burden and over, iv. 19, 20, 23; Juarros, 12 
deep-sea vessels and 2 smaller ones. Gvat., i. 255, and Benzoni, Hist. Mondo 
Nvovo, 154, 10 vessels and 4 brigantines. Bernal Diaz asserts that the fleet 
was fitted out in Acajutla, and Tello at Realejo. Lastly Oviedo represents 
Alvarado as sailing from Iztapa, when 8 ships were built, to Acajutla. There 


with everything that foresight could suggest. Leav- 
ing Don Francisco de la Cueva as his lieutenant- 
governor, the adelantado sailed from Iztapa, 15 and 
landing at Navidad in Jalisco proceeded to Mexico, 
where he entered into arrangements with Mendoza 
relative to the expedition, and their individual in- 
terests in it. 16 The agreement was not concluded with- 
out 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, 17 
when an insurrection having broken out in Jalisco his 
assistance in suppressing it was requested by the act- 
ing governor Onate. Contrary to advice he entered 
the revolted province with his own troops, not waiting 
for other forces to join him, and attacking the penol 

is even more discrepancy with regard to the number of his men. Viceroy 
Mendoza states that the force consisted of 400 men and CO horses. Carta, in 
Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. 507; Oviedoof 1,000 men, some of whom 
he brought from Spain, and others had seen service in the Indies ; Herrera 
that there were more than 800 soldiers and 50 horses ; Bernal Diaz, G50 sol- 
diers besides officers, and many horses ; Tello, 300 Spaniards ; Beaumont, 800, 
and 150 horses, and Benzoni, 700 soldiers. 

15 Herrera states that Alvarado despatched his expedition to the coast of 
Jalisco, there to wait for him, and went overland to Mexico, and Oviedo, 
iv. 2G, also entertains this view ; but Mendoza and Gomara, Hist. Ltd., 268-9, 
distinctly states that lie sailed with his fleet, and the former's testimony is 
conclusive. Oviedo gives the additional information that Alvarado sent a 
messenger to the emperor with an account of his expedition and drawings of 
his fleet. Oviedo had an interview with the messenger and saw the draw- 
ings. Vazquez wrongly asserts that on his voyage the adelantado discovered 
Acajutla. Chronica de Cvat., 159. He had already done so as early as 1524. 
See Hist. Cent. Am., i. 670, this series. Bernal l)iaz wrongly gives 1538 as 
the date of his sailing. Hist. Verdad., 230. The time of his departure was 
about the middle of 1540, for on the 19th of May of that year the cabildo 
requested him when on the point of departing with his fleets to take with him 
the imprisoned princes Sinacam and Sequechul. Vazquez, Chron. Cvat., 30. 

16 In Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc. , iii. 351-02, is a copy of the agree- 
ment between Alvarado and the viceroy. Oviedo gives the copy of a letter 
addressed by Mendoza to himself, in which the viceroy states that the king, 
in his contract with Alvarado, was pleased to give him a share in the dis- 
coveries without his knowledge or solicitation, iii. 540. Mendoza states that 
this share was one half. Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. 507. Article 
20 of Alvarado's capitulation with the crown authorized him to give Men- 
doza one third interest in his armament. Vazquez, Chronica de Gvat., 159. 

17 'Acordamos despachar dos armadas; una para descubrir la costa desta 
Xueva Espana, 6 otra que fuesse al Poniente en demanda de los Lequios y 
Catayo.' Mendoza, Carta, in Oviedo, iii. 540. 


of Nochistlan met with the defeat which has already 
been described. 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 fol- 
lowers, hastening to his assistance, found him insensi- 
ble, 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 
da} r s, received such consolation as the rites of religion 
could give. 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 con- 
vent at Tiripitio, and finally interred in that of Santo 
Domingo, in the city of Mexico. 20 To meet the ex- 
penses of his funeral enough of his property in Gua- 

18 Hist. Mex., ii. 498 et seq., this series. 

19 When asked where he suffered, 'echando sangre por la boca decia: 
" Aqui y el alma;" ' and when the priest arrived to confess him he exclaimed: 
1 Senor, sea bien llegado para remedio de una alma tan pecadora. ' Tello, Hist. 
N. Gal., 393. 

20 His injunctions with regard to the disposal of his remains were but 
tardily carried out. Datos Biograjicos, in Cartas de Indias, 7C9-10, 745; Tello, 
Hist. N. Gal., 395; Beaumont, Crdn. Mich., iv. 27G-7. Bernal Diaz errone- 
ously states that he was buried at Purificacion. Hist. Verdad., 236. Accord- 
ing to a clause in the will of Bishop Marroquin, made in 15G3, Alvarado's 


dalajara 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. 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 injunc- 
tion was never executed. After the aclelantado's de- 
cease, 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, 22 and in 
another letter stated that no one cared to do so. 23 

Duly authorized by Juan de Alvarado, his co- 
executor, to settle Alvarado's estate, Bishop Marro- 
quin 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 Remsal. 
Much is done for the relief of Alvarado's soul, which 

remains were still at Tiripitio, 'dode esta enterrado, que es en Tyrepati.' 
The former left 200 ducats to the convent where Alvarado was buried. He 
also left 1,000 pesos de oro de minas to found a chaplaincy in the church at 
Guatemala, that masses might be there said for his soul. Some years after 
the death of the bishop the daughter of the adelantado had her father's remains 
transferred from Tiripitio to Guatemala, where they were interred with great 
solemnity in the cathedral. Reme sal, Hist. C/iyapa, 190. Gonzalez Davila says, 
' En el aiio 1542 el Obispo comec6 a executar el tcstamento del Gouernador 
D. Pedro de Aluarado,' and erroneously adds . . . ' y el Obispo traslado su cuerpo 
de Mexico a Santiago.' Teatro Edes., li. 148. 

21 Tello, Hist. N. Gal., 394-5; Beaumont, Cron. Mich., iv. 274-G; Remesal, 
Hist. Chyapa, 101-2; this last author, page 187, states that Marroquin in 
carrying out the intentions of Alvarado's will, ordered the payment to be 
made for a set of clerical vestments which the friar Betanzos ordered him to 
furnish as a penance in 1528. Bernal Diaz remarks, 'Some say a will was 
made, but none has appeared. ' Hist. Verdad., 236. 

22 The viceroy states that Alvarado's debts amounted to 50,000 pesos de 
minas, to which must be added 15,000 more expended by himself on his ac- 
count. Carta, in Cartas de Indicts, 253-4, and fac-simile R. Bishop Marroquin, 
August 1541, says that he left at his death debts to the amount of 50,000 
pesos. Id.. 429, fac-simile V. 

23 Mendoza, Carta, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc. , iii. 507-8. 


we grant was needful, and to be expected under the 
circumstances. The document further chiefly concerns 
the liberation of Indian slaves, the founding of chap- 
laincies and altars, the payment of his numerous 
debts, and the bequest of insignificant sums to his 
illegitimate sons. 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 con- 
querors of his age he was second as a commander only 
to Cortes, though in character and system of action 
he was his opposite. Cortes possessed a certain great- 
ness and nobility of soul : Alvarado w T as mendacious, 
treacherous, and dishonest; his frank demeanor cloaked 
deceit, and favors heaped upon him were repaid with 

21 In the valley near Santiago Alvarado had a large plantation with many- 
married slaves, collected in the following manner: Soon after the conquest 
he summoned the principal lords and demanded from each so many families, 
with their head, who without more ado were branded and placed on his 
plantation. These the bishop declared should thenceforth be free, and 
possess and dwell on the lands they had previously tilled, with the sole 
obligation of supporting two chaplaincies, founded by this same instrument, 
for the purpose of saying daily mass for the repose of the souls of Alvarado 
and his wife. An altar in the cathedral dedicated to St Peter was also 
ordered to be founded, before which the aforesaid masses were to be said. 
The slaves in the gold-mines are next declared set free, and are to reside on 
his plantation; not, however, until the debts of Alvarado shall have been 
paid, during which time their needs of soul and body were to receive careful 
attention. The will concludes with an enumeration of Alvarado's property, 
in which ships, artillery, lands, negroes, houses, live-stock, etc., figure. It 
was apparently never executed, for the audiencia of Mexico ordered that the 
encomiendas of Alvarado which were the best and most numerous of the 
provinces of Guatemala should not be given to any one, but that one or two 
competent persons be appointed to take charge of and manage them, and that 
the proceeds be devoted to the public works of the city and cathedral and 
the opening of roads, building of bridges, and the assisting of poor people to 
rebuild their homes. On the 10th of October 1542 a royal decree was issued 
declaring that all the Indians and towns belonging to Alvarado were the 
property of the crown. This decree was not published, however, until Jan. 
8, 1544. A protest was entered against it by the city as being detrimental 
to the public interest, but it seems to have had no effect, as the royal factor 
was instructed to collect the tribute of the said towns, and take charge of 
the Indians. liemesal, Hint. Chyapa, 181-90. Bishop Marroquin, in a letter 
to the emperor, dated March 15, 1545, recommends that his debts be paid, 
as many needy persons will thereby be benefited. Squicr's MSS., xxii. 138. 
And again in June of the same year, he states that Alvarado having left no 
legal heirs, the estate reverted to the crown, and repeats his previous recom- 
mendation that the debts be paid, adding that the creditors were suffering, 
many of them being in prison for debt. Cartas de Indias, 441-2. Consult 
also Testimonio, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., xiii. 208-70. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. U 


ingratitude. In the breast of Cortes beat an affection- 
ate 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 am- 
bition or lust. To govern by fear was his delight. 
Cortes was cautious and far-sighted; Alvarado im- 
petuous, never anticipating other than favorable re- 
sults. In versatility, as well as in mental and moral 
qualities, Cortes was far superior to the adelantado — • 
instance the mutiny at Patinamit. Cortes 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. Never- 
theless, though his victories were chiefly owin^ 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, 25 and his 
capacity for ruling was inferior to his ability in the 
field. 26 

Judged even by the standard of his age it must be 
said of him that, while ever proclaiming disinterested- 
ness and loyalty to the crown, 27 none of his contem- 
poraries 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 

r °Rcmc8al, Hid. Chyapa, 172. 

20 ' Fue mejor soldado, que Gouernador.' Gomara, Hist. Intl., 269. 

27 In a, letter to the council of the Indies he says: ' Fucs todo lo que yo 
estuhiere sin ocuparme en algo en que sirba a Su Mag. lo tengo por muy mal 
gastado.' Carta, in Squicr's MS., xix. 31. 


spurred by jealous opposition to the man through 
whose favor he had been raised to his high station. 28 
A perusal of the despatches written during his later 
years would without other evidence lead to the con- 
clusion 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 ad- 
dressed to Cortes during the days of their friendship, 
reveal more correctly the true character of the man. 
There w T e 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. 29 

Alvarado left no legitimate offspring, for though he 

28 He wrote to the emperor requesting that no change be made in his com- 
mission, as he had learned that Cortes was soliciting permission to undertake 
the conquest he meditated. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. ii. cap. x.; Beaumont, Cr6n. 
Mich., iv. 252-3. 

29 I give herewith a copy of Alvarado's epitaph : 

* El que Augusto le tuvo merecido 
En este angosto monumento yace 

Y Fenis de sus glorias hoy renace 
Burlando 6U memoria del olvido 
Mexico intime en eco repetido 
Alabanzas qe. el tiempo las enlace 
Qe. si tanto valor se satisface 

Lo qe. a Eomulo Roma lo ha debido 
Conquista fundacion y poblasiones 

Y haber la idolatria disipado 
Deshaciendo las nieblas de opiniones 
Obrando bicn con ser adelantado 

Si hay sujeto capas de cstos blazones 

Todo cabe en D. Pedro de Alvarado. 

Requiescat in pace.' 
It is copied literally from Gavarrete, Copias de Doc., MS., 53. Gonzalez 
Davila, in 1649, makes this extraordinary statement : 'Murio en Mexico, y yaze 
en el Convento de Santo Domingo.' He also says that Ivan Diaz de la Oalle, 
'Oficial Mayor de la Secretaria de Nueua-Espana, ' dedicated to Alvarado the 
following epitaph, which was to serve until one was written such as the 
memory of his feats and actions deserved: 

££i Monumento, el que merecia mas Augusto, que fue para 

4 Yaze En Este Angosto la Nobilissima Ciudad de Guatimala, lo que para Roma 
Romulo; El famoso por la virtud de su valor, y vitorias, 
Don Pedro de Alvarado, del Abito de Santiago, Adelantado, Gouernador, 
Capitan General, Conquistador, Fundador, y Poblador desta Ilustrissima 
Ciudad de Guatimala. Que la dio Templos, Leyes, Costumbres, y Ritos. 
Despues de auer deshecho en muchas batallas el engafio de la Idolotria, 
poniendo para sicmpre cessacion en sus Altares, y Aras. Passo a la inmor- 
talidad de que ya goza en el Alio 1541.' Teatro Ecles., i. 140. 


had two children by his second wife they both died in 
early childhood. 30 Numerous illegitimate children, 
however, survived him, among whom may be men- 
tioned Dona Leonor, Pedro, and Diego de Alvarado, 
his offspring by a daughter of Xicotencatl, the lord 
of Tlascala. 31 

i0 Juarros, Guat., i. 347. 

31 Dona Leonor married Pedro Puertocarrero and afterward Francisco de 
la Cneva, brother of Alvarado's wife. Pedro was legitimized by the em- 
peror. This was, according to Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 237, the natural 
son, mentioned also by Saavedra, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 
247-50, who went to the court of Spain to claim moneys due to his father, 
and whom Saavedra recommended urgently to Las Casas the councillor of 
state. Diego was slain in 1554 by Indians at the defeat at Chuquinga. Mar- 
roquin informs the emperor that Alvarado left six sons and daughters ' desnu- 
dos syn abrigo alguno.' Cartas de Indlas, 429, 432-3, 709-10; Gomara, Hist. 
Ind. , 269. Another son named Gomez, by an Indian girl in Guatemala, is 
mentioned in the will afterward framed by Bishop Marroquin. Remesal, Hist. 
Chyapa, 185. For an account of the presentation of Xicotencatl's daughter 
to Alvarado, see Hist. Mex. , i. 227-30, this series. 




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 
Artilleryman— Capture of the Stronghold of Chiapas — The Cha- 
mulans Rise in Revolt — Their Fortress Besieged — Repulse of the 
Spaniards — Bernal Diaz in Peril— Flight and Surrender of the 
Chamulans — Marin Returns to Espiritu 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 Maladminis- 

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 Pa- 
lenque in Chiapas 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 civil- 
ization into America, and after his disappearance was 
worshipped as a god, is ascribed the foundation of this 
ancient dynasty about three thousand years ago. 2 

1 Originally written Giapa, as appears from several original cddulas and 
other documents bearing dates as late as 1579. Guat. Col. de Cedillas Reales, 
passim. The meaning of the word is differently explained, Chiapan signify- 
ing 'locality of the chia' (oil-seed), also ' sweet water.' Native Races, ii. 126. 
According to Mazariegos it is derived from 'Tepetchia,' 'Battle hill,' the 
name of the stronghold where the Chiapanecs fortified themselves against the 
Mexicans. Mem. Chiapa, 12. 

a See Native Races, v. 231, this series. 



It is related in the oldest records obtained from 
the archives of Mexican histor}^ 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 Chia- 
panecs, who, though at first confined to a narrow 
strip of territory, finally overran the entire region. 3 
Whether the Chiapanecs came originally from Nica- 
ragua, 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. 4 

It is probable that, as early as 1520, Spaniards pen- 
etrated into this region under the auspices of Monte- 
zuma, while friendly relations were still maintained 
between that monarch and Cortes. 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. 5 These different territories 
were soon portioned out in repartimientos, and Chiapas 
was assigned with other districts to the Spanish set- 
tlers in Espiritu Santo. No sooner, however, was 
the attempt made to render these repartimientos prof- 
itable 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. 6 

*Id.,i. 681-2; v. G03-4. 

i For the aboriginal history of these people I would refer the reader to my 
Native Races of the Pacific States, vol. v., passim. 

r ° Mazarirr/os, Mem. Chiapa, 5, 6; C6rtcs, Diario, xix. 390; Juarros, Gunt., 
i. 10; Id. (ed. London, 1823), 210; Larrainzar, Soconwsco, 1G; llemesal, JJi«f. 
Chyapa, 264. 

6 Mazariegos states that harsh treatment drove the Indians to revolt, citing 


In 1523 the settlement at Espiritu Santo was in 
charge of Captain Luis Marin, an officer who had 
fought under Cortes, 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. Deem- 
ing it imprudent to march against the Chiapanecs with 
the slender force at his command, Marin repaired to 
Mexico to ask aid from Cortes, and w T as at once sup- 
plied with an auxiliary band of thirty men, and in- 
structed to proced to Chiapas with all the troops he 
could muster, and establish there a Spanish town. 

Returning to Espiritu 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 Maz- 
apan 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 follow- 
ers. Marin had also a field-piece in charge of one 
whom he supposed to be a competent artilleryman. 8 

as instances that youths of 20 years and under were sold as slaves at the rate 
of no more than three pesos fuertes; that fugitives were hunted down with 
bloodhounds, and that any one found warming himself at a tire after eight 
o'clock at night was hanged. Mem. Chiapa, 6, 7. In these statements he is 
guilty of anachronism. The law regarding the extinguishing of fires was 
passed on the 15th of August 1528, and that arranging the price of slaves iii 
October of the same year, the former being almost immediately annulled with 
regard to the punishment of hanging; but both were enacted after the sub- 
jugation of the Indians. Consult Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 276, 278-9. 

7 Called also Chiapan. This river takes its rise in the Chuchumatan 
mountains. Brasseur de Bourbourrj, Hist. Nat. Civ. , iv. 574, It and its afflu- 
ents form the head- waters of the Tabasco or Grijalva. The Spaniards were 
moving up the left bank, the town of Chiapas being on the opposite side 
somewhat higher. 

8 This force is less than that given by Gomara and others. Bernal Diaz 


The escribano Diego de Godoy was his second in 

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, 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 sur- 
rounded 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 main- 
tained 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 com- 
rades. 10 Two of the captives, who appeared to be 
chieftains, gave information that the confederated 

states that there were five other horsemen, who, however, could not be 
counted as fighting men. The artilleryman he describes as 'muy cobare,' 
and informs us that the natives of Cachula, ' Iba teblando de miedo, y por 
halagos los llevamos q nos ayudassen a abrir Camino, y llevar el fardaje.' 
He also asserts that the levy was held in lent, 1524, adding ' Esto de los alios 
no me acuerdo bien.' His memory was correct, however, as is proved by 
Godoy's despatch to Cortes, which will be frequently quoted later. 

9 The Indians of Chiapas and its district were the terror of surrounding 
towns, and were incessantly at war with those of Cinacantlanandof the towns 
about Lake Quilenayas, robbing, killing, reducing to slavery, and sacrificing 
captives. They even waylaid merchant trains on the roads between Tehuan- 
tepec and other provinces. Bernal Diaz states that without exception they 
were the greatest warriors of all New Spain, superior even to the Tlascaltecs 
and Mexicans. 

10 The number of natives killed as related by Bernal Diaz is so dispropor- 
tionately small that some error must have crept into his text. He says, 'Ha- 
Uamos quinze dellos inuertos, y otros muchos heridos q no sepudiero ir.' Hist. 

Verdad, 178. 


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 ex- 
pect 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 Chia- 
panecs 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 pre- 
pared 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. 11 

Lonsr 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 pur- 
pose; 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. 12 Marin quickly put his men in array, 

n Bernal Diaz remarks that Chiapas could in truth be called a city, for its 
streets were well laid out, and its houses strongly built, containing more than 
4,000 heads of families. 

12 Id., G'odoy, IleL, in Barcia, i. 1G7; Gomara, Hist. Mex., 233. Brasseur 


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 help- 
lessness, 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. 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. Ad- 
vancing 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 invad- 
ers sustained unusual casualties. Several of the horse- 
men 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 cen- 
tre 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 

clc Bourbourg suggests that these aprons were made of india-rubber. Hid. 
Nat. Civ., iv. 574; but Bernal Diaz, 178, says, ' Co buenas annas de algodo,' 
and Gomara, ' vnospancses rodados de algodon hilado.' 

18 Bernal Diaz' contempt of this man is expressed by an epithet particu- 
larly offensive to a Spaniard, ' nuestro negro Artillero que llevavavamos' (sic) 
' (<j bicn negro se podra llamar).' Hint. Verdad., 179. 


report — was regarded by the Chiapanecs as their di- 
vinity, and her presence she had predicted would 
insure them victory. 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, rely- 
ing on their numbers and their courage; and the 
hard-pressed Spaniards, supported by the prayers and 
benediction of their priest, 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 Chipanecs seek safety, some on the neighboring 
rocks, and others by swimming the deep and rapid 

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 

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 with- 

14 'Y traian en vn brasero sahumerio, y vnos idolos de piedra. ' Id. 

15 ' Y diximos al Fraile q nos encomendase a Dios. ' Id. 


out 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. 16 For some time they are unable to effect a 
landing, and Marin's position is critical, when fortu- 
nately 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 in- 
fan try 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 opposition. 17 

All the neighboring towns were now ordered to send 
in their allegiance, and such an effect had the subjec- 
tion of the hitherto invincible Chiapanecs upon the 
different tribes that resistance was not even thought 
of, Cinacantlan, Gopanaustla, Pinula, Huehueiztlan, 18 
Chamula, and other towns tendering their submis- 
sion. The conquest of the country was now consid- 
ered complete, and Marin had already apportioned 
out certain repartimientos when harmony was inter- 
rupted by the conduct of one of the soldiers. 

While at Cinacantlan, whither the army had pro- 
ceeded, Francisco de Medina left camp without per- 
mission, and taking with him eight Mexicans went to 

16 ' Nos hiriero cesique a todos los mas, y a algunos a dos, y a tres heridas. ' 
Id., 180. 

17 Three prisons of latticed timbers were discovered in the city. These 
were filled with captives who had been seized on the roads. Among them 
some were from Teliuantepcc, others were Zapotecs and Soconuscans. Many 
Indians also were found sacrificed, and in the temples were hideous idols, ' y 
hallamos muchascosas malas de sodomias que vsavan.' Id., 180. 

18 Called by Bernal Diaz Gueyhuiztlan, also Guequiztlan, Gueguistitlan, 
and Guegustitlan, which are probably misprints. Hist. Verdad., 180-1. 
Godoy spells it Hucgueyztean. ltd., in Barcia, i. 168. The first author writes 
for Cinacantlan, Cinacatan; Godoy, Cenacantean; and Herrera, Canacantean. 
dec. iii. lib. v. cap. ix. 


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 Chamu- 
lans, however, rose to a man, and Medina was glad to 
get back to Cinacantlan, where he was arrested. 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 threat- 
ening 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. 20 He now consid- 
ered 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. Mes- 
sages were also sent to the friendly cacique of Cina- 
cantlan 21 soliciting an equal number. 

On the 30th of March, about ten o'clock in the 

19 Godoy in his despatch to Cortes states that Medina was released on bail, 
but that on their return to Espiritu Santo he had imprisoned him, and that 
justice would be dealt him. Bernal Diaz, however, states that Marin ordered 
him to be sent under guard to Cortes: 'y luego manda que por la posta le 
lleuassen a Mexico, para que Cortes le castigasse.' Hist. Verdad., 180. Her- 
rera, followed by Brasseur de Bourbourg, asserts that Godoy sent him to Cor- 
tes, dec. iii. lib. v. cap. ix. Oviedo makes no mention of the circumstance. 
Bernal Diaz informs us that the offender was a soldier of high standing, and 
refrains from giving his name for the sake of his honor, but with amusing 
inconsistency states that he will mention it later, which he does on page 198. 
Medina's fate was tragic, but merited; he was killed by Indians at Xicalanco, 
for particulars of which event see Hist. Cent. Am., i. 543-4, this series. 
Remesal and Beaumont give a version of his death somewhat different from that 
of Bernal Diaz, who is the more reliable authority. They state that Medina had 
been sent after Cortes to inform him of the disturbances which had arisen in 
Mexico during his absence on the Honduras expedition, and that he was cap- 
tured by the Indians of Xicalanco, who, sticking splinters of pitch-pine into his 
body and setting fire to them, made him walk round a hole in the ground till 
he expired. Hist. Chyapa, 164; Gr6n. Mich., MS., 322. 

20 It was here thatCiudad Real, or Chiapas de los Espafioles, was founded 
later. Id., 181; Godoy, Eel., in Barcia,i. 107. 

21 Cinacantlan lay between Chiapas and Chamula about three leagues from 
the latter. Hist. Verdad., 180. 



morning, the troops arrived at the foot of the eminence 
on which Chamula 22 was situated. The ascent, at the 
only point where attack was possible, was impracti- 
cable for horsemen. Marin therefore ordered the cav- 
alry to take up a position on the level ground below, 
and to protect his rear while the assault was being 
made. 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 thick- 
ness, 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. 

Though astonished at the strength of these ram- 
parts, 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. 24 The 

22 Called Chamolla by Herrera, and also by Gomara. Conq. Mex., 233; 
Chamolan by Ixtliloxchitl. Horribles Crueldades, 71. 

23 Godoy states that the horsemen were divided into three troops, which 
were stationed so as to form a cordon round the hill; Bernal Diaz that the 
cavalry attempted the steep, but were found to be useless, and that Marin 
therefore ordered them to retire, as he feared an attack from the towns of 
Quiahuitlan (Huehueiztlan?). 

2 * * Yno les podiamos hazer dano ninguno con los grandes mamparos que 
tenian, y ellos a nosotros si, que siempre herian muchos de los nuestros.' 
JJemal Jbiaz, Hist. Verdacl., 181. Godoy on the contrary says that 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. 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, scald- 
ing water, firebrands, and hot embers, 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 27 at the retreat- 
ing 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 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 

Chamulans sustained heavy loss' from the cannon and cross-bows. Bel., in 
Barcia, i. 167-8. 

25 Godoy makes no mention of the building of these sheds. 

20 ' Y agua y sangre toda rebuelta, y mui caliente,' was also showered down 
upon the Spaniards according to Bernal Diaz. Godoy says 'nos echaban 
mucha agua caliente, embuelta en cenica, i cal. ' 

27 Bernal Diaz gives a glowing account of the shower of golden ornaments: 
' Y nos echaron desde las almenas siete diademas de oro fino, y muchas cuentas 
vaziadizas, 6 otras joyas como caracoles y anades todo de oro.' Hist. Vcrdad., 
181. Godoy on the contrary says: 'echaron vn poco de Oro desde dentro, 
diciendo, que dosPetacas tenian de aquello.' Bel., in Barcia, i. 1G8. Herrera 
and Gomara follow Godoy. 

28 Three o'clock in the afternoon. Bernal Diaz is frequently at variance 
with Godoy in minor points, and from his account this would be cither the 
third day of the siege, or the assault with the sheds was commenced on the 
first day; neither of these statements agreeing with Godoy. I consider the 
latter more reliable in many matters of detail, as he wrote almost immediately 
after the occurrences. 


of rain, and so murky became the sky that the com- 
batants 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 Cina- 
cantlan allies Bernal Diaz had never lived to write 
the 'True History of the Conquest of Mexico.' 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 

On the following day, the 1st of April, Marin re- 
turned 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 prom- 
ising that all the captives should be released if they 
submitted. These inducements had their effect, and 
the deserted town was soon again repeopled. 31 

29 Bernal Diaz was slightly wounded by a spear- thrust in the contest which 
occurred before the rain-storm, and was only saved by the thickness of his 
cotton corslet. He claims to have discovered the ruse of the Chamulans in 
planting their spears in position, but on this point his narrative is doubtful. 
Godoy says, 'I hallamonos burlados...i subiendo el Albarrada, no havia 
Hombre dcntro.' Rel., in Barcia, i. 108. 

30 ' Hallamos harto de comer, que bien lo haviamos menester, a causa que 
los dos Dias no haviamos comido, ni teniamos que ni aun los Caballos.' Id. 
Ixchitlocbitl, contrary to Bernal Diaz, Godoy, Gomara, and Hcrrera, states 
that they obtained much booty but few provisions. Horribles Crueldades, 71. 

:il Godoy states that 200 Indians had been killed on the first day of the 
siege; while on the second so many fell that they were not counted. The 


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 re- 
turned, 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 Cortes' 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. 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 Espiritu 
Santo in safety at the beginning of April 1524. 

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 lead- 
ing chroniclers. During the interval there is little 

town was assigned by Luis Marin to Bernal Diaz, as a reward for having first 
entered it, and Cort6s ratified the grant for a period of eight years. When 
Ciudad Real was founded the population of Chamula was transferred thither. 
Hist. Verdad, 181. 

32 Godoy states that this opinion was unanimous. In this portion of the 
narrative he and Bernal Diaz are thoroughly at variance, the latter evidently 
having wished to remain. Considerable dissension occurred. Alonso de 
Grado, whom Bernal Diaz describes as a turbulent rather than a fighting 
man, produced a cCdula signed by Cortes assigning to him half the town of 
Chiapas as an encomienda. On the strength of it he demanded of Marin half 
the gold collected at that city, which was refused him on the ground that it 
was needed to pay for the horses that had been killed. An angry dispute 
followed, in which Godoy became involved, and it was terminated by the 
lieutenant putting both him and Grado in irons and keeping them prisoners 
six or seven days. Then Grado was sent under guard to Mexico, where he 
was severely reprimanded by Cortes, and Godoy released by the intercession 
of friends. Hist. Verdad., 182. Now Godoy mentions nothing of this affair, 
but states that Grado went to Chiapas, and other -Spaniards to towns ' que 
alii el Teniente les havia depositado,' and were well received. Rel., in Barcia, 
i. 169. 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 15 


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 re- 
duced them to submission. 33 

For a time the Chiapanecs yielded to their fate, but 
the exactions and cruelties of Juan Enriquez de Guz- 
man, who had been appointed captain of the province 
by Marcos de Aguilar, 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, 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 Span- 
iards battered down their fortifications and advanced 
to the assault. Still the Chiapanecs flinched not, and 
fought until they could no longer wield their weapons. 30 
Then followed a tragedy as strange and appalling as 

33 Both Herrera and Remesal state that this first expedition of Mazariegos 
was undertaken in 1524, and in this statement only, and in the number of 
the forces, do they agree. Herrera's account of the campaign of 1524 is copied 
almost word for word by Remesal in his narration of the one in 1526; and 
the former author as lightly mentions Mazariegos' second expedition as Re- 
mesal does his first. The latter may, however, in this instance, be relied upon, 
as he quotes from the archives of Mexico. The entrance of Pedro Puertocar- 
rero into Chiapas from Guatemala is mentioned by both authors, as an inci- 
dent of the campaign which each describes, but it is impossible to believe that 
Alvarado could have spared that officer with a body of troops during the 
eventful year 1524, when fully occupied with the conquest of Guatemala. I 
have, therefore, adopted Remesal's chronology. It is strange that he does not 
seem to have had any knowledge of Marin's expedition, as related by Herrera. 
This somewhat perplexes Juarros, who remarks that Bernal Diaz' narration 
is ' circumstantially so different from the relation of Remesal as to induce a 
belief that the latter had been misled by false information.' Ouat. (ed. Lon- 
don, 1823), 210-11. 

34 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 221-2. Guzman was a near relative of the 
Duke of Medina Sidonia. Id. 

35 Mazariegos was cousin to Alonso de Estrado, then governor of Mexico. 
Remesal gives the names of more than 80 officers and soldiers who accompanied 
the expedition. Noticeable among them is that of Juan Enriquez de Guzman, 
who appears to have returned to Mexico after the outbreak. In the same 
list appear the names of two priests, Pedro de Castellanos and Pedro Gonza- 
lez. Hist. Chyapa, 265. From Bernal Diaz we learn that Mazariegos was 
instructed to take Guzman's resitlencia. Hist. Verdad., 222. It was the 

fjerformance of this duty, perhaps, which, at a later date, made Guzman so 
>itter an enemy of Mazariegos. 

36 'Pelearon, hasta que pudicron leuantar los bracos.' Herrera, dec. iii. lib. 
y. cap. xiv. 


any recorded on the page of history. The self-de- 
struction 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 em- 
brace, 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. 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/ 


While Mazariegos was thus occupied at the strong- 
hold of the Chiapanecs, he learned that a competitor 
had appeared on the field. Pedro Puertocarrero had 
invaded the province from the Guatemalan frontier, 39 

37 ' Se despenaron mas de quinze mil dellos en dos vezes que fueron con- 
quistados.' Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 330. 

38 It stands, though in a ruined state, to this day. Mazariegos, Mem. Chi- 
apa, 13. The traveller Thomas Gage, who wrote in 1677, remarks that the 
country of Chiapas ' surpasseth all the rest of America in that one and famous 
and most populous town of Chiapa of the Indians,' which later he says ' is 
held to be one of the biggest Indian towns in all America, containing at 
least 4,000 families.' New Survey, 219, 233. 

39 The object of Puertocarrero 's presence is considered by Remesal to have 
been the extension of territory under the government of Alvarado. Hist. Chy- 
apa, 265-6. Another author states that at the commencement of the revolt 
the Spaniards had hurriedly fled to Comitlan, where they sent word to Alva- 
rado in Guatemala. Mazariegos, Mem. Chiapa, 10. The reader is aware that 
Alvarado was in Spain at this period. 


and Mazariegos regarding him as an encroaclier, now 
marched against him. He found the interloper sta- 
tioned at Comitlan, and his lamb-like followers would 
probably, by way of variety, have indulged in a con- 
flict 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 hu- 
mane 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 

The control over the province was a matter of dis- 
pute on more than one occasion. That it was in- 
cluded 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 con- 
quest would seem to invalidate his claim. That nev- 
ertheless he acquired a certain amount of control 
appears from a cedula issued April 14, 1531, and 
quoted by Bemesal, 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 ex- 
pedition, though the members confessed that they did 
so only through fear of his causing them fresh trouble. 4(> 
The country, being now subjugated and free from out- 
side 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 re- 

40 Hint. Chyapa, 270. The colonists of Espiritu Santo also laid claim to 
the territories of Chiapas and Cachula, as is seen in a royal c6dula of 1538, in 
Pttga, Cedulario, 1 15. Juarros says that Puertocarrero being informed of the 
disturbances in Chiapas considered it his duty to repair thither and endeavor 
to restore tranquillity. Guat. (ed. London, 1823),, 214. 


organizing the province and arranging for its coloniza- 
tion. 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 per- 
manent, 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 enrol- 
ment of citizens took place, more than fifty names 
being recorded. The town was named Villa Real after 
Mazariegos' native city, Ciudad Ileal of La Mancha. 
The newly appointed cabildo then went into session 
and the appointments of Luis de Luna, as visitador 
general, and Geronimo de Carceres, as escribano, were 
recognized and accepted. 41 

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, 42 twelve leagues distant. 
Here were rich, arable, and pasture lands, while a 
winding river and numerous streams afforded an abun- 
dant supply of water. A town was formally laid out,, 
lots were assigned to citizens, buildings begun, re- 
partimientos 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 pre- 
vent the appropriation of their produce or its destruc- 

41 These appointments had been extended by Alonso de Estrada in Novem- 
ber 1527. On the 6th of March the municipality drew up a tariff of fines, 
ordered a pillory and scaffold to be erected, and transacted other business. 
liemesal, Mist. Chyapa, 268-9. 

* 2 Guez Gueizacatlan as spelled by Juarros, Hint. Guat., 61. 


tion 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. Reg- 
ulations 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. Christian- 
ized natives were to receive Christian burial, and 
others were to be decently interred outside the city. 

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 Enri- 
quez de Guzman was ordered by the audiencia of 
Mexico to take his residencia, and appointed captain 
general and alcalde mayor of Chiapas. His investi- 
gation 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 
cedula of July 7, 153G, its name was again changed 
to Ciudad Real. 43 

Guzman now exercised his power without restraint, 
and laid the foundation of permanent evils. All offi- 
cial positions were filled by favorites of his own to the 
exclusion of those entitled to them; the encomiendas 

43 A coat of arms was granted to the town in 1535. It was as follows: 
A shield with two mountain ranges with a river flowing between them; above 
on the right a castle, Or with a lion rampant against it; on the left a palm 
Vert in fruit, and another lion rampant, all on a field, Gules. A decree of 
the state congress of July 27, 1829, again changed the name of the place to 
Ciudad de San Cristobal. Pineda, in Soc. Mex. Geog., hi. 371-2. Consult 
also Gonzalez JDdvila, Teatro Eclcs., i. 188-9, where will be found a wood-cut 
design of the arms; Remesal, J list. Chyapa, 271, 272-3; Mazariegos. Mem. 
Chiapa, 18-19; Juarros, Gnat., i. 12; Pineda, Descrip. Geog., 48. For mean- 
ing of viciosa see Hist. Mex., i. 145. 


were taken from those to whom they had been as- 
signed, 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. 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 admin- 
istration 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 exer- 
cised 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. 45 

44 The office of alguacil mayor was at last sold for 4,687 pesos; those of the 
eight regidors for 400 pesos each; that of the public administrator for 4,200 
tostones — the toston being half a peso — that of escribano publico for 627 pesos, 
and later for 1,110 pesos. Purida, in Soc. Hex. Geog., Boletin, iii. 370. 

45 For the incidents that occurred before the capture of the town of Chia- 
pas the account of Bernal Diaz has been accepted as the base of this narra- 
tive, but the version of Diego de Godoy, an 'escribano del rey,' who accom- 
panied the expedition, is also worthy of credit. The latter furnished Cortes 
with two reports of the proceedings, though his first one, which was written 
from Cinacantlan, has not yet appeared in print, and is perhaps no longer 
extent. The second despatch was written from Espiritu Santo, and was first 
published at Toledo by Caspa de Avila on the 20th of October 1525, together 
with the fourth letter of Cortes to the king of Spain, and again in Valencia 
by George Costilla on the 12th of July 152G. In 1749 Andre's Gonzalez de 
Barcia reproduced it in Madrid, in his collection of the works of the chroni- 
clers. Godoy's account and that of Bernal Diaz, though agreeing in the 
main features of the campaign, are strangely contradictory in many par- 
ticulars. In weighing the credibility of their statements it should be borne 
in mind that the former wrote his despatch immediately after the conclusion 
of the campaign, while the latter wrote from memory many years afterward. 
It is beyond dispute that Marin commanded this expedition, as appears from 
his own despatch and the statements of Bernal Diaz ; yet in Gomara, Hist. 
J\lex., 233; Herrera, dec. iii. lib. v. cap. viii., and Brasseur de Bourbourg, 
J lint. Nat. Civ., iv. 573, it is stated that Godoy was in charge, Marin being 
second in command. 




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 Legisla- 
tion — Its Non-observance — The New Laws — The Audiencia of Pa- 
nama Abolished — The Audiencias of Los Reyes and Los Confines 
Established — Disgust Caused by the New Code — The First Vice- 
roy of Peru Arrives at the Isthmus — He Takes Charge of Treasure 
Acquired by Slave Labor — And Liberates a Number of Indians. 

The old Milanese chronicler, Girolamo Benzoni, 
mentions that during a journey from Acla 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 Avith hands and teeth, tearing 
their clothes, spitting in their faces, uttering doleful 
cries, and exclaiming guaccil guacci! which Benzoni 
translates as " the name of a quadruped that prowls 

1 Benzoni spells the word Achla and states that the town was situated at 
a distance of about two bow-shots from the shore. Mondo N"uovo, 77. For a 
description of its site see Hist. Cent. Am., i. 418, this series. Girolamo Ben- 
zoni, in 1541, joined the Spaniards in their forays for gold and slaves, and 
traversed the Central American provinces. Regarded doubtless as an inter- 
loper he does not appear to have met with the success he expected, and in 
1 556 returned to Italy determined to vent his spite by an expose* of Spanish 
greed and cruelty. In 1565 he published the work entitled La Uistoria del 
Mondo Nvovo, dedicated to Pius IV., and containing 18 wood-cuts, with his 
own portrait on the frontispiece. The second edition, somewhat amplified, 
appeared in 1572, followed by quite a number of reprints and translations, 
particularly in German and Latin. The well known version by Chauveton, 
doctor and protestant preacher at Geneva, the Novce Novi Orbit Histories, 
Geneva, 1578, was frequently reissued. The dedication praises Benzoni for 
exactitude and impartiality, and notes by other writers are added to confirm 
and explain the text. De Bry gave further value to this version by means of 
maps and fancy plates. Purchas, among others, treated it with less respect 
in offering merely ■ Brief e extracts translated out of Ierom Benzo. ' Amends 



by night in search of prey." 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 

were made for this slight in 1857, when the only full English version was is- 
sued by Admiral Smyth, under the auspices of the Hakluyt Society. The 
rendering is somewhat faulty, however, and the corrections of Benzoni's uncult- 
ured style and misspelled names not always an improvement. 

Benzoni had evidently the intention of writing a more imposing general 
history of the New World, though it dwindled into a short narrative. There 
is an apparent effort at moderation, particularly with regard to himself, yet 
the disposition to exaggerate, or to lie, as Thevet intimates, crops out even in 
his sarcasms, and yielding to credulity he allows a great part of the narra- 
tive, on events or phenomena, to become merely the record of jangling and 
weird rumors current among gossips. This he partly admits by saying : ' In 
molte cose ho trouato che vna parte non conforma con l'altra, a causa che 
ogn'uno fauorisce il suo capitano, et piu dico, che in questi paesi si trattano 
poche verita. ' lib. iii. fol. 128. ' Lo mas de su narracion saco de los autores 
precedentes con bastante fidelidad, pero comunmente sin juicio ni examen. En 
los principios esta lleno de errores. ' Mufloz, Hist. Nuevo Mundo, torn. i. xxi.-ii. 
Robertson refers to him as a discontented detractor. He does not feel well 
affected toward Las Casas, despite their common aim, but calls him a vain 
man, incapable of carrying out his reform promises. Whatever may be said 
against the work, much of the material is valuable, as it embraces facts 
glossed over by the chroniclers, and gives the personal observations of a man 
not imbued with Castilian partiality. Indeed, Pinelo calls him an ' Autor 
poco afecto a los Espanoles,' Epitome, torn. ii. 589, and they very naturally 
have returned the compliment by neglecting him. 

A contemporary of Benzoni as traveller and author is the Frenchman 
Andrd Thevet, who claims to have travelled for 17 years round the world, to 
acquire a proper knowledge of men and things, and who is credited with 
having mastered 28 languages. The result of his observations was issued at 
Paris in 1558 as, Les singularitez de la France Antarctique, antrement nommce 
Ame'rique, containing philosophic dissertations on natural and moral history 
in the Levant, Africa, and America, and remarkable chiefly for credulity and 
want of critique. It attained several editions which are now sought for their 
rarity, among them, Historia delV India America. Di Andrea Tevet. Ven- 
ice, 1561. He also wrote the Cosmographie nniverselle, Paris, 1575, 2 vols, 
folio, which is even more valueless, and admired only for its wood-cuts; the 
Cosmographie du Levant. Lyon, 1556 ; and the Cosmographie moscovite, pub- 
lished only in Paris 1858; and he left several other pieces in manuscript. 
De Thou refers to him rather severely as follows: ' Fuit patria engolimensis, 
professione primo Franciscanus, dein, cum vix litteras sciret, abjecto cucullo 
ex monacho celeberrimus planus religiosis et aliis peregrinationibus primam 
setatem contrivit, ex quibus fama contractu., animum ad libros seribendos 
inepta ambitione applicavit, quos alieno calamo plerumque exacatos et ex itin- 
erariis vulgaribus atque hujusmodi de plebe Scripturis consarcinatos miseris 
librariis pro suis venditabat: nam alioqui litterarum, antiquitatis atque omnis 
temporum rationis supra omnem fidem fuit imperitus, ut fere incerta pro certis, 
falsa proveris et absurda semper sciberet.' Hist., lib. xi. 

2 This epithet they applied to all Christians. 


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 thou- 
sand souls, there were, in 1536, only forty-five remain- 
ing. At a coast town named La Hag^a, 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. 3 

Cruel as was the treatment of the natives in every 
part of the Spanish provinces, nowhere was oppres- 
sion 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 Mexi- 
can and Cholultec auxiliaries at Almolonga, being 
enslaved, overworked, and otherwise maltreated, until 
in 1547 there were barely a hundred survivors. 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 mili- 
tary 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, 

3 For the condition of the native settlements in Honduras, see Monte jo, 
Carta*, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, ii. 223-4, 228, 240-1; and 
Squier's MSS., xxii. 24-G. 

4 By c<3dula, dated July 20, 1532, they were exempted from other than a 
nominal tribute of two reals, Juarros, Gnat., i. 74; ii. 343; but this order 
•was unheeded. In 1547 the survivors drew up a memorial to the emperor 
representing their past services and sufferings, and petitioning for their rights. 
The document was written by a friar and referred to the licentiate Cerrato, 
who was instructed to see that justice was done to them. Memorial, 1547, 
MS., in Centro America, Extractor Sueltos, 41-2. An attempt was made at a 
later date to impose tribute upon their descendants; but the Mexican govern- 
ment confirmed them in their rights in 1504: 'Fueron amparados en posesion 
de su libertad, y se libro en Tenuctitlan a 6 de noviembre dc 1564 real pro- 
vision, que conservan los naturales de Almolonga en folios de pcrgamino 
( lhuadernados en forma de libro, empastado con tablas finas, y forrado en 
terciopelo carmesi,' etc. Pelaez, Mem. Guat., i. 107. 


many of whom perished from excessive toil and priva- 
tion. They were required to furnish, besides, a large 
quantity of cloth, cacao, 5 honey, and poultry; and so 
grievous were the burdens laid upon them that even 
the caciques were impoverished, and their wives com- 
pelled to serve as beasts of burden and tillers of the 

If such was the treatment to which the most faith- 
ful' 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, hang- 
ing, and burning, torturing, mutilating, and branding, 
followed the suppression of a revolt. Starvation, ex- 
haustion, 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 pro- 
visions, men were slain merely for the feet and 
hands, which were esteemed delicacies by the anthro- 
pophagous 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 deso- 
late, 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 

5 In the time of Alvarado the tribute of cacao was 1,400 xiquipiles, and this 
was paid until 1542. HequSte d'Atitlan, in Tcmaux-Compans, Voy., serie i. 
torn. x. 420-2. A xiquipil was 8,000, and the number of chocolate-beans 
contributed was therefore 11,200,000. 


Indians in Guatemala alone amounted to four or five 
million souls. 8 

None of the conquerors of the New World, not even 
Pedrarias Davila, 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 de- 
populated by enchantment. 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, 

6 Begio, Ind. Devastate 38-40. How populous the country was may be 
imagined from the fact that Alvarado represented it as exceeding Mexico in 
the number of its inhabitants. ' Et ipsemet tyrannus scripsit majorem esse 
in hac provincia populi frequentiam, quam in Regno Mexico, quod & verum 
est.' Id. Las Casas also states that, when the Spaniards first entered the 
country, the towns and villages were so many and large and so densely popu- 
lated that those who marched in advance not infrequently returned to the 
captain demanding a reward for having discovered another city equal in size 
to Mexico. Hist. Apolog., MS., 28. 

7 It will be remembered, however, that Alvarado procured relays of Indians 
from Guatemala to pack his material and supplies from Trujillo to Iztapa. 
Enough were left, remarks Remesal, upon whom to wreak his vengeance, and 
the Cakchiquel and Quiche* princes, who appeared before him to do him hom- 
age, became the first victims. They were reproached with the reforms brought 
about in their favor, during his absence, as of crimes worthy of capital pun- 
ishment; for daring to complain to the governor they were accused of rebellion. 
Nameless adventurers, who had been unable to extort enough gold from them, 
or take from them their vassals to work in their fields and houses, pretended 
that the ill-will of these chiefs had caused their ruin, and loudly demanded 
that the adelantado should grant new repartimientos according to their ser- 
vices. Alvarado, who was wounded to the quick by the appointment of 
Maldonado, listened to all these complaints, and now displayed his usual bru- 
tality. Prince Cook, Ahtzib of the Cakchiquel crown, he ran through with 
a sword. Tcpepul, king of Gumarcaah, or Utatlan, and the Ahpozotzil Cahi 
Imox, together with a large number of lords, were cast into a prison on some 
frivolous pretext. When on the point of sailing from Iztapa, Alvarado being 
requested by the municipal council to determine their fate, settled the matter 
by hanging the latter and putting the former together with a number of the 
leading caciques on board his fleet. All of them perished miserably on the 
coast of Jalisco. Among his other victims was a lord called Chuwi-Tziquinu 
and 17 other Cakchiquel princes, whom he took with him from Santiago under 
pretence of conducting them to Mexico. When a short distance from the city 
he caused them all to be strangled. Jiemesal, Hist. Ch>/apa, lib. iv. cap. iv. 
v. xx.; BraMtur de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., iv. 797-801; Pelaez, Mem. 
Gnat., i. 77. 


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 
cedula for the protection of the fast decreasing races. 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 in- 
terests of the throne may be a somewhat prominent 
consideration, exhibits sympathy and enjoins modera- 
tion toward the oppressed races. 9 Other cedulas were 
issued at brief intervals, 10 but that all were inoperative 

8 Real Ctdula de 17*de Novre 1526, in Soc. Mex. Geog., Boletin, v. 326-31. 
In the preamble to this decree the emperor states that it is notorious that 
excessive toil in mines and at other labor and the want of food and proper 
clothing had caused the death of such numbers that some parts of the country- 
had become depopulated, while whole districts were abandoned by the natives, 
who had fled to the mountains and forests to escape ill-treatment. This 
cedula, designed to apply to the king's dominions in the west from Panama 
to Florida, ordered diligent inquiry to be made relative to the killing, robbery, 
and illegal branding of Indians, and that the perpetrators should be de- 
livered over to the council of the Indies. Other provisos were that slaves 
should be restored to their native country, and if this were not possi- 
ble they were to be placed in reasonable liberty, nor were they to be 
too heavily worked or made to labor in the mines or elsewhere against 
their will. In future expeditions of discovery and colonization the leader 
was to take with him two ecclesiastics at least, who were to use greatest dil- 
igence in obtaining kindly treatment for the Indians. Natives who were 
peaceably inclined were not to be made slaves; at the same time the promo- 
tion of morality and good customs was not left out of sight, and in cases 
where it might be deemed beneficial by the priest they might be assigned to 
Christian Europeans as free servitors; and lastly no discoverer was to take 
with him out of their native land on any of his expeditions more than one or 
two Indians to act as interpreters. Ximenez, lib. iii. cap. lii., states that 
natives were branded as slaves through having been merely assigned to an 
encomendero, and that young boys and tender girls were taken from the towns 
by hundreds to wash for gold in the gulches, where they perished from hunger 
and hardship. Pelaez, Mem. GuaL, i. 67. A notable case of branding Indians 
who had peaceably submitted, was that of the natives of Cuzcatlan by Alva- 
rado in 1524, described by witnesses in Cortes, Residencia, 96, 155. 

9 This order repeated the mandates of the previous cexlula, and in addition 
abolished the system of encomiendas, as well as the branding of Indians as 
slaves. His majesty refused to grant them as vassals to any one. No Span- 
iard was to be allowed to use them as pack-animals. The caciques were not 
to be deprived entirely of governing power, bfat allowed certain jurisdiction, 
under the advice and instruction of the governors of provinces. Natives 
were to be encouraged in gold-mining; but, on payment of the royal dues, 
the gold they extracted was to belong to themselves; nor were they to be de- 
prived of the lands they had acquired by inheritance, if they wished to culti- 
vate them. 

10 In 1533 it was enacted that an Indian's load should not exceed two arro- 
bas in weight. In 1536 it was ordered that natives who had been accustomed 


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 enco- 
menderos, 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 prowl- 
ing dogs and carrion birds, until the odor of corrup- 
tion infected the settlements. 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. 12 

to move from place to place were not to be prevented from doing so. Other 
laws passed the same year were to the effect that no Spaniard of any rank 
could be carried about by Indians in hammock or palanquin. Negroes ill- 
treating Indians were to receive 109 lashes, or if blood were shed, a punish- 
ment adequate to the severity of the wound. Native villages and settlements 
were not to be inhabited by (Spaniards, negroes, or mulattoes. A Spaniard 
when travelling could only remain one night, and Spanish traders three days, 
in an Indian village. In 1538 laws were made ordering that caciques were not 
to sell or barter their subjects. This year also a modification of previous en- 
actments limited the use of natives as pack-animals to those under 18 years 
of age. The Indians were, by all possible means other than coercion, to be 
induced to live in communities. In 1541 viceroys, audiencias, and governors 
were ordered to ascertain whether cncomenderos sold their slaves, and if any 
such were discovered they were to be exemplarily punished and the bondsmen 
thus sold restored to liberty. Recop. de Indias, ii. 192, 194, 201-2, 212, 277-8, 
288-9. These laws were general and applied to all Spanish America. Vaz- 
quez states that, in the year 1714, there existed in the city archives of Guate- 
mala royal cedulas, issued in 1531, 1533, and 1534, authorizing the branding 
of slaves taken in war or obtained by rexcate. Chronica de Ovat., 37-8. 

11 In December 1530 the cabildo of Santiago was compelled to pass a law 
ordering the burial of the dead. ' Los Indios que mucren en sus casas, no los 
enticrran, e los dexan comer de perros, y aucs, 6 podrir dentro de la dicha 
ciudad, de que suelen venir 6 recrecer muchas dolencias fi los vezinos y hab- 
itates.' Iiemesaf, Hist. Chyapa, 30. Christianized Indians, whether servant 
or slave, were to be buried in consecrated ground at the depth of the waist- 
belt of a man of good stature. Others were to be buried an estado deep, out 
of reach of dogs, under penalty of 20 pesos de oro. Id. 

12 In 1529 laws were passed prohibiting such acts under a penalty of 25 
pesos do oro, the proprietor of the servant to forfeit his ownership. If the 
person offending were an hidalgo the fine was 100 pesos de oro; if not he was 


Thus notwithstanding the ordinances enacted by 
the emperor for the protection of the natives, and in 
the face of a papal Dull issued in 1531 by his holi- 
ness Paul III., 13 restoring to the Indians their liberty 
throughout the provinces, their numbers rapidly de- 
creased 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 satis- 
faction 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 Bartolome 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 Yallaclolid for the 
purpose of drawing up regulations for the better gov- 
ernment 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 u 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, 14 while 

to receive 100 lashes. Arevalo, Adas Ayunt. Gnat., 90-1, 114-15. The market 
called by the Indians tiaiic/uez was held daily at sunset. To provide against 
the outrages then committed a master of the market was appointed in 1532. 
In the following year another decree was found necessary, which was repub- 
lished February 9, 1534. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 32. 

13 Paul III. it will be remembered is noted as the pontiff who excommuni- 
cated Henry VIII. of England, and in the contest of Charles V. with the 
Protestant League despatched a large force to the emperor's aid. 

14 Ifc will be remembered that the inquisition, at that time in full blast, 
was founded by the Dominican order. In PrescoWs Peru, ii. 253, it is stated 
that the arguments used by Las Casas before the junta were first published 
by a secretary of that institution. 


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. 

The ordinances framed by the junta received the 
emperor's approval, and after being somewhat ampli- 
fied were published in Madrid in 1543, and thence- 
forth known as the New Laws. 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. 16 None were thence- 
forth 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 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 

15 The full text of them is given in Leycs y Ordenanzas, Icazbaleeta, Col. 
Doc, ii. 204-27. There are extracts from them in Herrera, Remesal, Tor- 
quemada, and other chroniclers. For further mention of the new code and 
its workings see Hist. Mex., ii. 516, et seq. this series. Prcscott says: 'The 
provisions of this celebrated code are to be found, with more or less — generally- 
less — accuracy, in the various contemporary writers. Herrera gives them in 
extenso.' Peru, ii. 255. The historian is himself somewhat inaccurate on this 
and other points. 

16 Before the new laws were passed Indians captured in war or guilty of 
certain crimes could be legally enslaved. 

17 For a description of the repartimiento and encomienda system, see Hist. 
Cent. Am., i. 202-4, and Hist. Mex., ii. 145-52, this series. 


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 then 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 Panama 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 juris- 
diction 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 18 were empow- 
ered to inquire into the administration of the gov- 
ernor 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 

18 For a description of the organization and jurisdiction of audiencias see 
Hist. Cent. Am., i. 270-3, this series, and of the supreme council of the 
ludies, 280-2 of the same vol. 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 16 


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 con- 
stituted 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 
Nunez 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, 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 Panama at the expense of their propri- 
etors, 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 

19 The version given in PrescoWs Peru, ii. 2G0-1, is that the viceroy found 
a sliip, laden with silver from the Peruvian mines, ready to sail for Spain, and 
that he laid an embargo on the vessel as containing the proceeds of slave 
labor. There is, however, no absolute prohibition in the new code against 


him, if possible, some concessions. They urged that, 
inasmuch as the Indians had been converted to Chris- 
tianity, 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 
Panama 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 Panama" 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 author- 
ity of the church, they were excommunicated, and 
thus rendered incapable, in the eyes of the people, of 
discharging the functions of their office. The gov- 
ernor and the bishop were continually at war, the 
latter cloaking under his pretended zeal for the con- 
version of the Indians, and the former under the pre- 
text of upholding the dignity of the crown, the real 

tlic employment of Indians in working the mines, although, as mentioned in 
Jlerrera, dec. vi. lib. v. cap. iv., a ce^lula issued in 1538, forbade that natives 
be so engaged, and authorized the substitution of negro slave labor for such 


purpose for which each was too often striving — that 
of gathering into his coffers the gold of his Majesty's 
vassals. 20 

20 The emperor was memorialized by the clergy and by the civil authori- 
ties, each party sending its petition without the other's knowledge, each 
slandering its adversary and using such falsehoods as would be most likely 
to injure the opposite cause. Abreo, in Cent. Am.; Extr. Sueltos, in Squitr's 
AISS., xxii. 48. 




Administration of Doctor Robles — Interoceanio Communication — Pro- 
posed Change of the Site of Panama — Nombre de Dios and its 
Trade — The Isthmus the Highway of Commerce between the 
Hemispheres — Vasco Nunez 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 Anaquito — Gonzalo's Dreams of Conquest — He De- 
spatches Bachicao to Panama — Hinojosa's Expedition — His Blood- 
less 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. 

Of Pedro Vazquez, who succeeded Barrionuevo as 
governor of Castilla del Oro, little is known; but of 
Doctor Bobles, 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 twelve- 
month 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 Bios, 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 Panama" in 1538, he held 
office for several years, and the abolition of that tribu- 
nal was probably due in a measure to his malefeasance. 
There are no explicit details as to the precise charges 
which were brought against Bobles, but we learn that 



in every instance he contrived to baffle, the scrutiny 
of his judges. The licentiate Yaca de Castro was 
first ordered to bring the offender to justice, but called 
in vain on his fellow-oidores of the audiencia of 
Panama to aid him in so doing. On the establish- 
ment 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 
Panamd, was ordered to take his residencia. Robles 
appears to have escaped punishment, for he soon after- 
ward figures as senior oidor of the audiencia of Lima. 
He returned before long to Panama, and we leaim 
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. 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 Panama, 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 thor- 
oughfare 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 dis- 
tance of nine leagues proved most useful in the subse- 
quent intercourse of Spain and Peru. 

The project for interoceanic communication by way 
of the isthmus of Panamd was first mooted more than 
three hundred and fifty years ago, and to Charles V. 

1 Gasca, Carta al Conscjo, in Col. Doc. Lidd., 1. 107; sec also Ilerrera, dec. 
vi. lib. v. cup. iii. 


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 Panama. 
Andagoya, who has already been mentioned as the 
one who in 1522 conducted an expedition to Biru, 
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 enterprise. 2 

In the same despatch Andagoya also reports ad- 
versely on a question which had been for several years 
under discussion — that of moving to another site the 
population of Panama. In a letter addressed to Fran- 
cisco 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. 3 A royal 
cedula 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 

2 In Garella, Isthme de Panama, 4, it is stated that Andagoya made his 
survey in obedience to a cedula issued 20th February 1534. Some authori- 
ties state that Philip first suggested the idea of uniting the two oceans by 
means of a canal; but when the survey was ordered he was not over seven 
years of age. In Hist. Cent. Am., i. 360-1, this series, there is a description 
of the difficulties overcome in constructing the first road across the Isthmus 
about 1520, and an account of the obstacles encountered by surveying expe- 
ditions even in the middle of the nineteenth century. 

3 Almagro, Information, Col. Doc. Intel., xxvi. 265, and Herrera, dec. iv. 
lib. x. cap. vii. 


Panama 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 mowed and difficult ground, through forest and 

Do O ' © 

through streams sometimes almost impassable dur- 
ing the rainy season. 5 Merchants doing business at 
Nombre de Dios usually resided at Panama. At the 
time of Benzoni's visit to the former town, about the 
year 1541, it contained but fifteen or twenty whole- 
sale merchants, the remainder of the population being 
principally small tradesmen, innkeepers, and sailors. 

The trade of Nombre de Dios was extremely fluctu- 
ating. Fourteen or fifteen Spanish vessels of various 
sizes, the largest being about three hundred and sixty 
tons burden, arrived there annually, with miscella- 
neous 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 ob- 
tained 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 

4 Benzoni goes somewhat out of his way to make Panama appear in a con- 
temptible light. He says that it contained about 4,000 inhabitants and had 
about 120 houses built of reeds or wood and roofed with shingles, but he 
does not explain how such a population contrived to crowd themselves into 
that number of dwellings. 

5 In his description of a journey from Acla to Panama by way of Nombre 
de Dios, Benzoni mentions that his party was accompanied by 20 negro 
slaves, whose business it was to cut away the undergrowth and branches of 
trees that barred their path. The same writer also alludes to the danger 
incurred by travellers during the rainy season through the frequent crossing 
of the Chagres en route across the Isthmus. He relates a story of a Spaniard, 
who while fording the last branch of the river, mounted on a mule, and with 
gold and jewels in his possession to the value of 4,000 ducats, was carried down 
stream, lost everything, and was saved only by tying himself to the branch 
of a tree, arriving at Nombre de Dios with only his waistcoat. 


was delivered to muleteers, who conveyed it to 
Panamd, whence it was shipped in various directions, 
though the greater part of the trade was with Peru. 6 

About the middle of the sixteenth century the 
isthmus of Darien had become the gate-way between 
the two seas, and Panama 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 
Panama became not only the metropolis of the two 
Americas, but the half-way house and toll-gate be- 
tween 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 w r ith 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, vel- 
vets, 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 Panamd, Francisco Pizarro could 
never have conquered Peru, 7 and after his conquest it 

6 In commenting on the statements then current as to the commerce of 
Panama, Benzoni remarks: 'Senza dubio dieci Mercatanti Venetiani basteri- 
ano a comprare tutte le mercantie che vi entrano vna volta l'anno, con la 
istessa citta.' Mondo Nvovo, lib. ii. 79. 

7 Pizarro sent 20,000 gold castellanos to Panama and thus enlisted in his 
service a number of recruits which he could not otherwise have obtained. 
Naharro, Descubr. y Conq., MS. 


is more than probable that but for prompt assistance 
from Pananul 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 infre- 
quently to social and political convulsions, and to 
attack from foreign powers. An insurrection in 
Guatemala, a rebellion in Peru, a system of restric- 
tions on Asiatic trade were immediately felt in Pan- 
ama, 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 Panama 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 Span- 
iards, but Spain and Fernando were weaker. 

Upon the death of Francisco Pizarro, the Alma- 
grist faction maintained the ascendency in Peru, 8 
until dispersed by Vaca cle Castro on the plains of 
Chupas. Young Almagro then fled to Cuzco, where 
he was arrested and beheaded as a traitor. 9 Vaca de 

8 Among other marauding expeditions planned by Almagro was a raid on 
Panama and Nombre de Dios for the purpose of plundering both places, and 
making the former a base for future operations against Nicaragua and Gua- 
temala. He intended moreover to destroy all ships on the Pacific side that 
could not be utilized. Vaca de Castro [Licenciado Cristobal), Carta al Empe- 
rador Don Carlos, ddndole atenta de la sublevacion y castvjo de Don Diego de 
Almaaro el mozo y deotros importantes asuntos (Cuzco, Nov. 24, 1542). Cartas 
de-Indias, 478, 483-4. 

a On the very spot where his father met a like fate. Ilerrera, dec. vi. lib. 
vi. cap. i. 


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 gov- 
ernment. 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 w r elfare 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 con- 
stantly 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 indepen- 
dent of all rule, being governed by the dictates of their 
judgment or interest. If success attended these law- 
less 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; 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 fac- 
tions, and the license hitherto granted to the con- 
querors rendered thern 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 Nunez Vela 
landed at Tumbez on the Peruvian coast, and as the 
fame of his high-handed measures at Panama had not 
preceded him, was accorded a loyal reception. His 
popularity was short-lived, for the viceroy imme- 
diately liberated a number of slaves and on his jour- 
ney to Los Peyes 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 dis- 
gust throughout the province, but Nunez was deaf to 
all remonstrance and even caused the arrest of some 
of the malecontents. 

Many now bidding defiance to the vicegerent took 
up arms and urged Gfonzalo Pizarro, the sole surviving 
brother of the conqueror, to place himself at their head. 
Nothing loath, Gonzalo proceeded at once to Cuzco, 

10 'Espanoles hai que crian perros carniceros y los avezan a matar Indios, 
lo qual procuran a las veces por pasaticmpo, i ver si lo hacen bien los perros.' 
Morales, lidacion, MS. 


and having good store of wealth accumulated by mining 
and pillage soon mustered a numerous band. 11 The 
roya] 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 Nunez 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 dis- 
ciplined troops. On the 28th of October 1544, 
amidst the acclamations of the populace, he entered 
Lima 12 at the head of his army, and the royal audien- 
cia was dissolved. Scarcely had the ship which was 
to carry Vasco Nunez to Panama set sail from Lima, 
when Alvarez, 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 Tum- 
bez, 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. 13 

Gonzalo Pizarro, who had been narrowly watching 
the movements of the viceroy, now determined to 

11 In Herrera, dec. vii. lib. vii. cap. xxii., it is stated that Gonzalo was 
elected captain, procurator general, and chief-justice. 

12 It was truly a triumphal entry. Pizarro himself was clad in a full suit 
of mail, with a richly embroidered surcoat, and before him was borne the 
royal standard of Castille. Zarate, Hist. Peru, lib. v. cap. xii. 

13 He gathered great strength by the adhesion of Diego Centeno, a brave 
officer, who was exasperated by the cruelty and oppression of Pizarro's lieu- 
tenant-governor in Chareas, and therefore declared for the viceroy. Robert- 
son's J list. Am., ii. 240. 


bring matters to an issue. On the 4th of March 
1545, he departed from Lima and marched against 
his opponent. Vasco Nunez, fearful of the result, 
abandoned the town and tied to Anaquito, 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. 14 

Even before this event Gonzalo Pizarro had assumed 
the dictatorship of Peru and resolved to make himself 
master of Panamd, his dreams of conquest extending 
even to the provinces north of Tierra Firme. 15 En- 
listing in his service one Hernando Bachicao, 16 he 
placed him in command of six hundred men and a fleet 
of twenty-seven ships. 17 Arriving at Tumbez, Bachi- 
cao landed a hundred troops, whereupon Vasco Nunez, 
though in command of two hundred well trained vet- 
erans, fled to Anaquito, a portion of his forces desert- 
ing 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 Panama, sent to request that he 
would forbear to land an armed force in Tierra Firme. 

14 Vasco Nunez was decapitated by a negro on the battle-field, and his 
head borne on a pike. Some of the soldiers were brutal enough to pluck the 
grey hairs from the beard and wear them in their helmets as trophies of the 
victory. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. i. cap. iii. See, also, Fernandez, Hist. Peru, 
pt. i. lib. i. cap. liv. 

15 He ordered galleys to be built at Arequipa, which with the vessels 
already in his possession would make him master of the sea from Chile to 
Nicaragua. Zaratc, Hist. Peru, lib. v. cap. xv. 

16 Named by some authors Machicao, and in Benzoni, Mondo Nuovo, 
Machicano. When Gonzalo Pizarro made his entry into Lima, Bachicao 
caused the artillery, ammunition, and equipments to be carried on the backs 
of Indians, thus showing his contempt for the new code of laws. Benzoni, 
Mondo Nuovo, 210 {Hah. Soc. ed. ) See, also, Gomara, Hist, hid., 214, and 
JJatos Biograjicos, in Cartas de Indias, 718-20. Gomara says of him: 'Lo 
escojeran entre mil para qualquiera afrenta, pero couarde como liebre, y asi solia 
el dezir: ladrar, pese a tal, y no morder. Era hombre baxo mal acostumbrado, 
ruh'an, presumptuoso, renegador, q se auia encomenado al Diablo, ... buen 
ladron. . .asi de amigos como dc enemigos.' 

17 On board the fleet were Maldonado and Doctor Trejada on their way to 
Spain to render to the emperor Gonzalo Pizarro's account of the matter and 
await his Majesty's further instructions. Pizarro, Carta al Bey, in Col. Doc. 
Jncd., 1. 105 passim. 


Bachicao replied that he intended but to land his pas- 
sengers and revictual his fleet. 

The people of Panama* 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 oppo- 
sition. 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 ! 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 disaffec- 
tion or even for pastime. 19 

On receiving news of his lieutenant's misconduct 
accompanied with letters of remonstrance from the 
citizens of Panama, Gonzalo at once deposed him from 
the command. 20 He was resolved, however, to gain 
control of the Isthmus, and despatched for this pur- 
pose Pedro de Hinojosa, at the head of two hundred 
and fifty men, with instructions to seize and hold both 
Panama and Nombre de Dios. Hinojosa, who had 

ls Gomara, Hist. Inch, ii. 14. Benzoin states that the captain was hanged 
at the harbor of Vecchio in Taboga. ' Fece alcuni soldati in porto Veccliio, 
e vicino Taboga piglio una naue, e perche il patrone non abasso le velle cosi 
presto, lo mando a impicecare, e cosi giunto a Panama, e non volendo Giouanni 
di Gusman che intrasse nella citta, ilquale faceua gente per lo Vicere.' Hist. 
Mondo Nvovo, 143. 

19 Bcnzoni, Hist. Mondo Nvovo, 211. See also Ovicdo, iv. 400. In Zarate, 
Hist. Peril, lib. v. cap. xvi., it is stated that the order for an execution was 
given in the words 'Manda hacer el capitan Hernando Bachicao.' 

20 Of Bachicao's subsequent history we learn that he was captured while 
attempting to desert to the royalist party, and executed by Francisco Carba- 
jal, one of Gonzalo's officers. Datos Biograjicas, in Cartas de Indias, 718-20. 


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 
Yiejo, whence a vessel was sent in charge of Bodrigo 
de Carbajal with letters from Gonzalo to the principal 
residents of Panama begging their favor and coopera- 
tion, disclaiming all connection with Bachicao's out- 
rages, 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 ap- 
peared 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 Panamd. 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 enlist- 
ing 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, in- 
cluding 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 de- 
part, 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 mes- 
senger the true state of affairs, he slipped away, and 
hiding his vessel among the Pearl Islands, there 
awaited the approach of his commander. 21 

In the mean time Hinojosa continuing his course 
northward touched at Buenaventura. There he learned 
that Vasco Nunez Vela was then engaged, with the 
assistance of Benalcazar, in recruiting his army m 
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 Illa- 
nes and Juan de Guzman, he had determined to send 
his brother, Captain Vela Nunez, accompanied by 
efficient officers, to hasten the arrival of troops from 
Panama. Moreover he had ascertained that the 
viceroy was building a brigantine, now almost com- 
pleted, on board of which he intended to place his 
brother, in charge of all his treasure, 22 and to send to 
Panama, 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 
Nunez, 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 Nunez and his command as prisoners on board 

11 In addition to other precautions, Pedro de Casaos, the corregidor, or 
mayor, of Panama, crossed the Isthmus to Nombre de Dios, and exhorted all 
loyal citizens to rally for the defence of Panama. Gathering all the arque- 
buses and other arms which he could find, he returned to the city and called 
upon the captains of the viceroy to place themselves under his banner. This 
they obstinately refused to do, thereby sowing discord which was to tell 
greatly in favor of the insurgents. Zarate, Hist. Peru, lib. v. cap. xxx. 

w Twenty thousand ducats according to Benzoni, Mondo Nvovo, 144. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 17 


the fleet. Then taking with him young Pizarro, 
whom he liberated and treated with marked considera- 
tion, he set sail for Panamd, and after being joined by 
Carbajal, cast anchor in the bay with eleven ships 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 trans- 
acted business through their factors, upon whom 
Gonzalo Pizarro would not fail to inflict summary 
punishment if he heard of opposition at Panamd. 
On the other hand Doctor Pobles, 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 dis- 
pleasure. 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 25 marched forth to 
oppose the landing of Hinojosa. The entire forces 
of the royalist party now r mustered, apart from some 
small reinforcements from Nombre de Dios, nearly 
eight hundred men, only ninety of whom were dis- 
ciplined troops, the remainder being an ill-armed crew 
of citizen-soldiers. The army was well supplied with 
field artillery. 26 

. a Eight ships and three brigantines. Benzoni, Month Nnovo. 

24 Juan de Illanes, as soon as he saw the ships, cried out with a loud voice 
to the citizens, 'Come out of your houses, ye traitors, come and defend the 
king's domain from these tyrants!' When Pedro de Casaos sent word to 
Hinojosa to inquire the cause of his coming he answered that 'he came to 
pay the debts of Machicano.' Benzoni, Mondo Nvovo, 144-5. 

25 jj errera , dec. vii. lib. x. cap. ix. Garcifaw de la Vega, in Hist. Peru, ii. 
244, styles Hinojosa governor, and Zarate, Hist. Peru, lib. v. cap. xxx., saysi 
' Y el governador de aquella Provincia llamado Pedro de Casaos, Natural de 
Sevilla, fue con gran diligencia a la Ciudad de Nombre de Dios, i mando aper- 
cebir toda la Gente que en ella estaba, i juntando todas las Armas, i Arcabuces 
que pudo haver, los llevo consigo a Panama.' The corregidor of a town was 
often styled 'governador' by courtesy. Hence perhaps the mistake. 

2G llerrera, dec. vii. lib. x. cap. ix. 


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 Panama, ordering the fleet 
to keep him company at a short distance from the 
shore with guns trimmed ready for action. 27 

At this juncture the ecclesiastics of the city issuing 
forth in a body, with mournful chants and sad coun- 
tenances, 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. Host- 
ages were given on either side, and the efforts of the 
priests to bring about an agreement between the par- 
ties were redoubled. 

Hinojosa declared that he could not see why he 
was denied entrance into the city. 28 He came not to 
make war but restitution. Gonzalo Pizarro harbored 
no evil design; but he was master of Peru, and he in- 
tended to be master of the only thoroughfare to Peru — 
that which traversed the continent from Nombre de 
Dios to Panama. 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 Panamd were not 
satisfied. 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 

27 It is said that a battle now appearing inevitable, the officer in charge of 
Vela Nunez was ordered to hang him and the other prisoners to the yard-arm. 
Zarate, Hist. Peru, lib. v. cap. xxxi. This statement is very improbable. 

28 He informed the people of Panama that if they had received a wretch 
like Machicao, they certainly ought to admit him. Herrera, dec, vii. lib. x. 
cap. ix. 

29 They had no faith in Hinojosa's promises. 'Aunque Gonzalo Pizarro 
governase juridicamente, como ellos decian; y que no tenian color ninguno 
para entremeterse en distrito ageno; y que las mismas promesas avia hccho 
Bachicao.' Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 244. 


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. 30 His ships mean- 
while were to retire to Taboga or to the Pearl Islands, 
to be revictualled and repaired. The articles of agree- 
ment were drawn up by a notary and signed by the 
respective parties who bound themselves by oath to 
adhere faithfully to the terms stipulated. 

Although Hinojosa was thus restricted by the 
terms of his compact and for the moment could strike 
no blow for the conquest of Panama, he was by no 
means idle during the interval. Maintain in of a strict 
watch against surprise and assassination, 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. Gon- 
zalo Pizarro and the affairs of Peru were discussed 
over brimming goblets. Brilliant stories concerning 
the discovery and opening of mines of fabulous rich- 
ness 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 satis- 
faction of seeing his forces daily increase, while those 
of Pedro de Casaos proportionately diminished. The 
soldiers of Juan de Manes and Juan de Guzman did 

30 Herrera, dec. vii. lib. x. cap. x., and Benzoni, Mondo Nvovo, 145. la 
Gomara, Hist. Ind., 218, it is stated that 40 men were allowed to land. 
Other authorities give 50 as the number of the guard and 30 days as the 

31 ' Con este concierto Hinojosa mando recoger la gente a las naos, y los de 
Panama le hablaron y trataron con mucha cortesia, y le aposentaron en la 
ciudad y diziendole, que se trataua de prenderle, 6 matarle; aunque no lo 
creyd, todauia se hizo fuerte en la casa adode posaua, y poco despues, como 
bue Capitan, por quitar ocasiones de tumultos se fue a sus naos, y presto se 
entendio q aquel rumor no fue palabras.' Herrera, dec. vii. lib. x. cap. 10. 

32 It was during this year that the wealth of Potosi began to be known. 


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 them- 
selves 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 Panama 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 vic- 
tory. 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. 33 He then despatched his son-in-law, Her- 
nando Mejia cle 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 Panama thus quietly passed 
into the hands of Hinojosa the partisans of the vice- 
roy were not idle. Melchor Verdugo, 34 to whom as 
one of the conquerors of Peru had been assigned the 
province of Caxamalca, proffered his services to Vasco 
Nunez Vela, on his first landing in Peru. Becoming 

33 In Ilerrera, dec. viii. lib. i. cap. ix., it. is stated that Hinojosa's officers 
committed many robberies, taking care to hide them from their commander, 
who strictly forbade anything of the kind and gave orders that all such 
offenders should be handed over to the civil authorities. Gasca, in Carta a I 
( n/iscjo, 1. 108-9, says that Hinojosa forced the people of Panama and 
Nombre de Dios to feed and quarter his men. 

34 A native of Alava, and a fellow-townsman of the viceroy. Zarate, Hut. 
Peru, lib. v. cap. xxxiii. See also Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 244. 


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 fortu- 
nate enough to seize one of Bachicao's vessels, laden 
with the spoils of Panama. With the proceeds of 
this capture, and with funds realized from his own 
estate, he enlisted a company in the service of the vice- 
roy. 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 Con- 
fines. 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 Panama. Hi- 
nojosa, 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 Nica- 
ragua 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 Yerdugo 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 Panamii, 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 35 sailed 

M 'Et non molto dopo Melehior Verdugo calato per lo Scolatio di Nicara- 
gua con du cento soldati con animo di oflendere la gente di Pizzarro.' Benzoni, 
Mondo Xcovo, 146. In Zaraie, Hist. Peru, lib. v. cap. xxxiii., the number 
is stated at 100. 


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 
Mejia, Pedro Cabrera, and other officers were peace- 
fully 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 Pan- 
ama. 36 

Had Verdugo thenceforth conducted his affairs with 
the skill and discretion which characterized Hinojosa's 

movements at Panama he would have caused that 
commander no little trouble, but he had none of the 
tact or generalship of Gonzalo's officer. He impris- 
oned the alcaldes, levied arbitrary assessments upon 
the merchants, demanded heavy ransom for his pris- 
oners, and soon made himself so obnoxious to the 
people that with one accord they petitioned Doctor 
Pibera, the mayor, to ask protection from Hinojosa. 
The appeal was not in vain. Pibera at once entered 
into negotiations with Hinojosa, 37 and it was agreed 
that while the former levied troops at Nombre de 

36 The darkness of the night favored them, but Verdugo 's men might have 
effected their capture if they had not been too intent in plundering the house. 
Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 245. 

37 Herrera says that Hinojosa expecting to be attacked placed the city of 
Panama in a thorough state of defence and told his officers that Verdugo held 
but the authority granted him by the audiencia de los Confines and knew 
not even whether the viceroy were alive, dec. viii. lib. ii. cap. iv. 


Dios, the latter should at once march from Panamd 
with a strong force. Verdugo impressed into his ser- 
vice 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 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. ITino- 
josa'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, 39 and regained their ships, whence a brisk can- 
nonade 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 Mejia and the other fugitive 
officers, and leaving them at Nombre de Dios in 
charge of a stronger garrison returned with Ribera 
to Panama. 

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 

38 One hundred and fifty arquebusiers. Bcnzoni, Hist. Mondo Nvovo, 145- 
4G; 140; Comara, Jllst. Intl., 219. 

39 ' Verdugo f u il primo a saltare in vn Brigantino, et solo vn soldato resto 
ferito, e questo fu el line dellc brauate di Verdugo.' Benzoni, Mondo Nvovo, 


them by a Genoese navigator, could scarcely find time 
to do more than grant permits to adventurers to sub- 
jugate, at their own cost, new territories in the west- 
ern world, and to receive when remitted to them the 
royal fifth of the returns. But rebellion, of whatso- 
ever 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 de- 
bates 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 differ- 
ent 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. 40 

Pedro de la Gasca/ 1 a counsellor of the inquisition, 
but a man holding no public office, was the one se- 
lected as the fit instrument for the occasion. He 
united a mild and insinuating disposition with remark- 
able firmness and tenacity, and a cool and bland 
exterior with a strength and sagacity but little sus- 
pected by most of his countrymen. None knew better 
how to combine a subtle humility and bold caution 

40 ' La dificultad de tanto aparato, . . Armas, y Cavallos, Municon y Basti- 
mento, y la IN avcgacion tan larga, y aver de pasar dos Mares les f orcava a no 
tomar cste Consejo.' Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 208. 

41 Gasca was born in 1494 in the Caballeria de Navarregadilla, a small town 
near the Barca de Avila. He received a liberal education, being placed by 
his uncle at the famous seminary of Alcala de Henares, and subsequently 
transferred to the university of Salamanca. He was ordained a priest in 1531, 
and in 1541 was appointed counsellor of the inquisition. He acquired great 
renown by his gallant defence of the city of Valencia, at a time when its 
inhabitants were panic-stricken at the approach of a foreign foe. ' Vinieron a 
tierra de Avila la familia de Gasca mudandose ... las dos letras consonantes 
C y G el nombre de Casca en Gasca.' Hint, de Don Pedro Gasca, MS. Even 
when a student he showed the power of his will and decision of character in 
quelling political disturbances. Dutos Biograjicos, in Cartas de Indias, 763-7. 


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. 42 He was empowered with the authority 
of a sovereign, being allowed to levy troops, declare 
war, appoint and remove officers at will, make repar- 
timientos, condemn to death, condone offences, grant 
amnesties, and might send back to Spain if neces- 
sary even the viceroy himself. 43 

On the 26th of May 1546, Gasca set sail from San 
Lucar 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, Her- 
nando Mejia was not without his suspicions of Alva- 
rado. 44 He had but recently committed one blunder 
in allowing himself to be outwitted by Melchor Ver- 
dugo ; 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 

42 ' El Titulo que Uev6, fue de Presidente de la Audiencia Real del Peru.' 
Zarate, Hist. Peru, in Barcia, lib. vi. cap. vi. 

43 ' Llevo las Cedulas, y Recaudos necesarios, en caso, que convinese hacer 
Gentc de Guerra, aunque estos fueron secretos, porque no publicaba, ni trataba, 
fino de los perdones, i de los otros medios pacificos.' Zarate, Hist. Peru, in 
Barcia, lib. vi. cap. vi. Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 209, says: 'Le 
diesen absolute- Poder en todo, y por todo, tan cumplido y bastantc, como su 
Magestad lo tenia en las Indias.' Sec, also, Prescott's Peru, ii. 344. 

44 'Alvarado hablo a Hernan Mexia, i lc dio noticia de la venida del Presi- 
dente, diciendole quien era, i a lo que venia, i despues de largas platicas se 
despidieron, sin baverse declarado el vno al otro sus animos, porque ambos 
estaban sospechosos. ' Zarate, //is/. Peru t in Barcia, lib. vi. cap. vi. 


of July Gasca intimated his intention to land, and 
Mejia gave him a loyal reception. Drawing up his 
men on the beach, he put out for the president's ves- 
sel 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. 
Mejia was not long in the company of the unpre- 
tending ecclesiastic before he became convinced that 
beneath his calm demeanor slumbered a power that 
would soon make itself felt in the land. Gasca ex- 
plained the object of his errand and the scope of his 
authority. His purpose was peace, and his commis- 
sion, which was dated after the battle of Anaquito 
and the death of the viceroy, authorized him to grant 
pardon for all offences, no matter how heinous. 45 It 
now therefore became all loyal subjects to oppose no 
longer the emperor's messenger. Mejia 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 Nunez 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 ascend- 
ency the subtle influence which a man of his keen, 
incisive penetration, invested with the garb of author- 
ity, 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 disclaimed. 

45 F ern anclez, Hist. Peru, pt. i. lib. ii. cap. xxi. Gasca did not hear of 
the death of the viceroy until after his landing at Nombre de Dios, but 
smothered his resentment, and even declared that if Pizarro would not receive 
him he would return to the emperor. Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 
170. See, also, Gomara, Hist. Ind., 228. Gasca's letter to Verdugo, then 
awaiting the emperor's orders at Cartagena, is also characteristic of the subtle 
churchman: ' Embi6 a decir a Melchior Verdugo, que venia con ciertos Com- 
paiieros a servirle, no viniese, sino que estuviese a la mira. ' Garcilaso de la 
Veya, Hist. Peru, ii. 269. See, also, Ilerrera, dec. viii. lib. ii. cap. v. 


Mejia being left to draw his own conclusions and 
to act for himself, at length thus declared his resolu- 
tion 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 com- 
mand, and even offered to march on Panama^ and seize 
the fleet. 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 

On receiving news of the president's landing and 
of his courteous reception, Hinojosa was sorely dis- 
pleased. His lieutenant had been placed in command 
at Nombre de Dios for the express purpose of guard- 
ing 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 Panama, he wel- 
comed with roj^al honors, and without even consult- 
ing his commander, a man commissioned to assume 
authority over all the affairs of Peru. Gasca shrewdly 
surmised that Mejia 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 
Panama 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 

10 ' Mcxia lc rcpondio, que la vandera que alii estabuo, la tenia por el Hey, y 
no por Pizarro, y <j haria en su seruieio quanto le madasse.' Ilerrera, dec. viii. 
lil). ii. cap. v. 'I que si qucria, que llanamente se alcale Vandera por su 
Magestad, lo haria, i podian ir a Panama, i tomar la Armada, lo qual seria 
facil de liacer.' ZarcUe, II 1st. Peru, lib. iii. Iu3. See also, Garc'daso de la 
Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 270. 


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 Nom- 
bre 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 pro- 
posed 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 after- 
ward returned to Spain, there to lay his grievances 
before the emperor. 

On the 13th of August 1546 Gasca makes his en- 
trance into Panama, and is received with much cere- 
mony 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 Mejia. 
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 sol- 
dier is at fault. The foe has become a phantom, pow- 
erful, nay invincible, but intangible. Opposition to 
the subtle influence of the priest is like waging con- 
flict 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 meas- 
ures 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 con- 
firmed 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 Mejia 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 through- 
out 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. Mean- 
while, 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/ 7 

The arrival of this unwelcome news from Panamd, 
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; 

47 Fernandez, J/ist. Peru, pt. i. lib. ii. cap. xxviii. See also IJerrera, dec. 
viii. lib. ii. cap. vi., and Gomara, Hist. Intl., 228. 


and all were invited to express their opinion. Gasca's 
despatch provoked much merriment 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. of Gonzalo's lieutenants, thousrh secretlv 
a traitor to the revolutionary cause, was despatched 
to Panamd 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 Mejia 
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 

48 When Paniagua, Gasca's emissary, first, called on Gonzalo he was dis- 
courteously treated, the governor not even asking him to be seated^ 


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 alle- 
giance to his cause, placed his fleet at his disposal, 
and hoisted the royal banner of Spain from the main- 
mast of his flag-ship. 

Gasca now answered the resolution signed by the 
seventy cavaliers, inditing his letter to Gonzalo, and 
expressing his wonder that such an insignificant clerigo 
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 49 not to reveal his purpose, he im- 
pressed into his service every available man on the 
Isthmus, obtained loans of money, wrote to the gov- 
ernors 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. 50 

"Surely the devil must be in their midst!" ex- 
claimed old Carbajal, 51 as Valdivia receiving this com- 
pliment 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 

49 The captains so sworn signed their names before the notary Juan de 
Barutiu. Panamd, Pleito Jlomenage, in Col. Doc. Incd., xlix. 

50 In Carta d Miguel Diez A rmendariz, in Cartas de Indias, Gasca states 
that since the 1st of December 1546 1,000 soldiers, including several men of 
ronk, had been assembled for the king's service; that he had at his disposal a 
fleet of from 23 to 25 ships, two of which were built at Panama; and that there 
had not yet been time for the arrival of reinforcements from Guatemala, Hon- 
duras, Mexico, Espanola, or Nicaragua, at which latter province there were 
250 horsemen ready to embark. 

51 On seeing the masterly disposition of the royalist forces, Carbajal, Gon- 
zalo's lieutenant, remarked, ' Valduia rige el campo o el diablo. ' 


Pizarros was handed over to the executioner, upbraid- 
ing 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, 52 
while he himself was left without the means of pur- 
chasing a mass for the welfare of his abandoned soul. 53 

52 Among those present at Gonzalo's funeral was Hinojosa, who, after serv- 
ing further the royal cause, was assassinated in 1552. 

63 The most partial biograj>her of the Pizarros is Fernando Pizarro y Ore- 
liana, author of Varones Ilvstres del Nvevo Mvndo, Madrid, 1639, folio. The 
book contains the lives of Columbus, Ojeda, CortCs, the four Pizarros, Alma- 
gro, and Garcia de Paredes, but the greater part is devoted to the author's 
namesakes and kinsmen, by the side of whom the other heroes appear in com- 
paratively faint outline. Every incident that can in any way redound to 
their credit is made to shine with a lustre unsurpassed even by the pearls and 
gold for which they so recklessly staked their lives. The brilliancy indeed 
is so strong as to merge into complete obscurity the bloody deeds and shame- 
ful traits which characterize the name. This is intentional on the part of the 
writer, who not only suppresses facts most notorious, but in glossing over the 
later revolt of Gonzalo, even attempts to justify it. His object is to advocate 
for the heirs of Hernando Pizarro, the restoration of his estates and titles of 
marquis as more fully set forth in the Discurso Legal, i Politico, published the 
same year, immediately after the Varones. The work is, in brief, the plead- 
ing of a learned lawyer, as the author proves himself, supplemented with 
quaint and abstruse notes and profuse marginals chiefly from classic writers. 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 18 




Cause of the Revolt — Preparations of the Conspirators — Assassina- 
tion of Bishop Valdivieso — The Rebels Defeat the Men of Gra- 
nada — Their Plan of Operations — The Expedition Sails for 
Nata — Gasca Arrives at the Isthmus with the King's Treasure — 
Capture of Panama — Blunders of the Rebel Leaders — Hernando 

TENANT Bermejo — Gasca 's Arrival at Nombre de Dios— Uprising 
of the Inhabitants of Panama — Bermejo's Attack on the City — 
His Repulse — His Forces Annihilated — Fate of Hernando and 
his Followers. 

After the downfall of Bodrigo cle 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 lux- 
ury, 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 set- 
tlers, and in the province were many exiles from Peru, 
veterans who having fought under Carbajal and Gon- 
zalo 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 Bodrigo Salguero, whom 
Gasca had banished for attempting to raise an insur- 
rection 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 instiga- 
tion 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 gov- 
ernor 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 con- 
vey 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 in- 
vite those who were thought most likely to join them 
to a pretended merry-making. When all were assem- 
bled 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 con- 
quered 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 cer- 
tain rights inherited from his grandfather Pedrarias 
Davila; 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 

1 Pedrarias never had the shadow of a right to the province of Peru; but 
it was probably an easy matter for Hernando so to persuade his audience. 


Bishop Valdivieso was the only man who was likely 
to offer serious opposition; and as a measure of pru- 
dence 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. 2 Hernando in company with 
an apostate friar, named Castaiieda, 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 ap- 
proach, 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. 3 The dwelling was then plun- 
dered; 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 break- 
ing open the royal chest divided among themselves its 

The leaders of the revolt separated their forces into 

3 'Yporque algunos querian yr A, armarse, y otras de mala gana le seguian, 
los reprehendia, y amenazaua, diciedo, que los haria castigar como a delin- 
quentes, diziendoles; que no auian menester otras annas, i mando a Iuan 
Barmejo, que matasse al que no le siguiese.' Herrera, dec. viii. lib. vi. cap. v.; 
see, also,, J list. Cht/apa, 491. 

8 ' Hecho esto embio a Granada a dar auiso a Pedro de Contreras su her- 
mano, embiandole la daga con que auia muerto al Obispo, sin punta, que so 
le auia despuntado al tiempo que le niatoV I'emesa/, Hist. Chyapa, 492; see 
also Herrera, dec. viii. lib. vi. cap. v., and Gasca, Carta in Col. Doe. IiieiL, 
l.j but Zarate, Hist. Peru, lib. vii. cap. xii., does not attribute the killing of 
the bishop to Hernando himself, saying, 'i vn Dia entraron ciertos Soldados 
de su Compania, adonde estaba el Obispo jugando al Axedrez, i le mataron.' 
This, however, is not likely, as Hernando was thirsting for personal revenge 
against the prelate, and the apostate Mar, probably excommunicated, may 
also have had his secret motives for participating in the murder. 


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 re- 
cruits and destroy all the vessels on Lake Nicaragua, 
thus preventing any tidings of the rebellion from reach- 
ing Tierra Firme by way of Nombre de Dios. 

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 posses- 
sion of the city. All the shipping on the lake was 
destroyed, and the rebels marched to Realejo accom- 
panied by Pedro, who, notwithstanding the entreaties 
of his mother, had resolved to join the expedition. 
Hernando, meanwhile, had captured there two vessels 
laden with merchadise for Peru, and impressed their 
crews into his service. Salguero had been equally 
fortunate at Nicoya, having entered the town with- 
out opposition and enlisted some sixty recruits. The 
forces of the revolutionists now mustered more than 
three hundred men. 

Knowing that success depended on promptness of 
action, the rebel leaders determined to embark im- 
mediately for Tierra Firme, and at once arranged 
their plan of operations. From certain exiles recently 
arrived from Peru it was ascertained that the licen- 
tiate 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 Panama' 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 Nicara- 
gua and Guatemala and destroy all the vessels they 
could capture. The settlers who were unfit for mili- 
tary service were to be plundered of their goods and 
sent, together with all the women and children, to Car- 
tagena. Panama, Nombre de Dios, and Nata 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 do- 
minions in the New World. 4 

Soon after the conspirators had taken their depart- 
ure from Granada, the alcaldes ordered a bark to be 
built with the intention of sending news of the threat- 
ened invasion to Nombre de Dios; but alarmed by 
the threats of Dona Maria, 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 revolution- 
ists, having completed their preparations, set sail 
from Nicoya for Punta de Higuera, in the district of 

On the 12th of March 1550 Gasca arrived at Pa- 
namd, and at once proceeded to land the royal treas- 
ure, 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 him- 

4 Gasca, Carta al Roy, in Col. Doc. Inid., 1. 117-23. Sec, also, Remesal, 
Hist. Chyapa, 493; Garcilaso de la Vega, II 1st. Peru, ii. 371, and llerrera, dec. 
viii. lib. vi. cap. v. 


self 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 sea- 
men 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. 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 

The rebel expedition had now arrived at Ptinta de 
Higuera, where a caravel was captured, laden with 
corn — a welcome prize, as the revolutionists were 
already in want of provisions. Continuing their voy- 
age toward Panama 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 hirn, 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 

5 On board these vessels were placed all the vagrants and those who had 
come from Spain without license, together with certain married men who had 
left their wives in Spain. ' Para boluerlas a Castilla por casados, holgazanes, 
y gente que antes auia de causar desasosiego que prouecho.' Hcrrera, dec. 
viii. lib. vi. cap. i. The governor was determined to leave on the Isthmus 
none who were not settlers or traders, or known to live on their means or by 
their labor. Gasca, Cartas, in Col. Doc. Incd., 1. 111. 


inlet about one league from the city, and under cover 
of the darkness made their entrance without opposi- 
tion, shouting "Death to the traitor!" and "Long live 
Prince Contreras, captain general of liberty." The 
governor's home was surrounded, but as he had de- 
parted 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, 6 while the remainder dis- 
persing themselves through the streets, seized all the 
arms and ammunition they could discover, being in- 
structed 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, at- 
tired themselves in a suit of new garments. 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 assas- 
sination, 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 addi- 
tional treasure to the amount of four hundred and 
fifty thousand pesos. 

Bermejo urged that the bishop, the treasurer, the 
regidores, and other principal officials be put to death; 
but Hernando, not wishing to shed blood unneces- 
sarily, accepted their promise under oath to join the 

6 So confident were they of success that instead of removing the treasure 
to their ships they deposited it with the merchants and others, who bound 
themselves before a notary to deliver it when called for either to Bermejo or 
the Contreras brothers. 'Proveieron estos disparates, imaginandose, que sin 
toner contraste alguno, eran yd Seiiores de toda el Nuevo Mundo.' Garcilaso 
de la Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 373. 

7 Remesal, Hist. Chycupa, 493. Vega, Hint. Peru, ii. 372, says they found 
so much Spanish merchandise 'que yd les dava hastio, por no poderlas llcvar 
todas. ' 


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 inva- 

While the city thus fell into the hands of the con- 
spirators, Pedro de Contreras with fifty men had 
seized all the ships in the harbor of Panama, and 
Salguero with twenty mounted arquebusiers had 
been despatched to Cruces with instructions to slay 
the licentiate and the governor and to bringf 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 fol- 
lowing day, amusing themselves by plundering the 
custom-house and making merry over brimming gob- 
lets of choice wine, paying the merchants for their 
goods from the stolen treasure. 

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 over- 
confident. 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 over- 
powered in detail. Hernando with only forty men 
set forth from Panama^ for Nombre de Dios, thinking 
this slender band sufficient to cope with Gasca's com- 
mand. 8 Arriving at a place called La Yenta de 

8 This is the number given in Herrera, dec. viii. lib. vi. cap. v., while in 


Chagre he captured one Gomez cle 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 

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 Panamd unguarded and 
marched to the support of Hernando, hoping to crush 
the foe in a single encounter and thus end all opposi- 
tion. 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. 

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 Panama 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 bring- 
ing 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 

Gasca, Carta, in Col. Doc. In6d., 1., only 18 or 20 are mentioned. Gasca 
must be in error, for Contreras afterward left 25 men at Capira when lie 
returned to assist Bermejo. 


proceed at once to Nombre cle 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 ar- 
rived 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 cle 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 Panamd, 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 extinguished. 

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^Con- 
treras, who still remained with the fleet, hereupon 
sent a boat on shore to ascertain the cause of the up- 
roar. The crew .were instantly made .prisoners, and 
the men of Panama* now resolved to attempt the cap- 
ture 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, deter- 
mined 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 in- 
forming them of what had transpired, and urging 
their instant return ; but without waiting for his as- 
sistance the rebel leader marched at once on Panamd, 
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 reinforcements, 
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 bar- 
ricade 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 

After consulting with his officers it was resolved 
to set fire to the cit}^ at several points during the fol- 
lowing night, and to fall on the inhabitants while they 
were engaged in extinguishing the flames. No quar- 
ter was to be shown, and orders were given that every 
inhabitant' over twelve years of age should be slaugh- 
tered without regard to sex or condition. While the 
rebels were in council one of the captives, overhearing 
their conversation, secretly despatched his negro ser- 
vant to give information of their design. Notwith- 
standing the advice of the bishop, who deemed it best 
to await the arrival of Gasca from Nombre de Dios, 
the men of Panama 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 offi- 
cers. 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 cow- 
ard 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, 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, 10 among 
them Bermejo and Salguero, the latter by a lance- 
thrust from the treasurer Amaya, who during the 
light managed to escape from his guards. The re- 
mainder were captured to a man and conducted in 
shackles to the jail, where the alguacil mayor, Rod- 
rigo 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 Panamd, sent a message approv- 
ing 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 lieu- 
tenant. 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 fol- 
lowing day he was informed of the disastrous result 

9 When Salguero received the message from Bermejo some confusion en- 
sued, and most of the silver bars which he had captured were lost, being 
thrown into the river or stolen by negroes, who hid them in the rocks and 
swamps. Not only had Salguero captured the king's silver but also a large 
quantity of treasure belonging to private individuals. lie ordered it to be 
packed on mules taken from the settlers at Cruces; but when he came near 
the city and .saw the troops sallying forth he abandoned his baggage-train and 
burned forward to join Bermejo. Gasca, Carta, in Col. Doc. I add., 1. 149; 
and Uerrera % dec. viii. lib. vi. cap. vi. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 497, states 
that when the silver was lost only a portion of Salguero's men marched with 
him towards Panama, the remainder making for the sea-shore, where they 
were taken on board the ships of Pedro de Contrcras. It is estimated that 
tin; entire amount of treasure captured by the rebels would be worth at the 
present day some $12,000,000. 

"' Cased, Carta, in Col. Doc. lndd., 1. 149-50. See, also, Ilerrcra, dec. viii. 
lib. vii. cap. vii. Remesal gives 82 as the number slain on the field. Gasca 

! in his despatch that only three of the citizens of Panama were killed, 
though many were wounded but none fatally; a rather improbable statement, 
considering that the rebels knew they need expect no quarter. 


of the battle before Panamd,, 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 Nata. Meanwhile the men left at 
Capira, fearing an attack from Gasca's troops, aban- 
doned their post and marched across the Isthmus. 
On approaching Panama" 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 Natd, but 
no sooner was his departure known than four vessels 
started in pursuit ; and Gasca, who arrived from Pan- 
ama 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 stran- 
gle 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 rec- 
ognized 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 Panama. 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 domin- 
ion was accomplished. 11 

11 Soon after the suppression of the Contreras revolt, Gasca, having recov- 
ered most of the stolen treasure, embarked for Spain, where he was appointed 
to the bishopric of Siguenza and afterward to that of Palencia. He died on 
the 10th of November 1565, leaving a history of Peru, which was published 
at Seville two years after his death. His Carta al Conscjo, in Doc. Ined., 1. 
106 -63, is probably the most reliable source of information concerning the 
events related in this chapter. Herrera agrees with him in all the principal 
incidents, differing only in the order in which they are related, and in some 
minor points of detail. Remesal is very explicit in his narrative, and agrees 
for the most part with Gasca and Herrera. Gomara and Zarate give only a 
condensed statement of the matter, and in the main indorse the preceding 
authorities. The account given in Juarros is taken from Remesal, and that 
of Benzoni is borrowed from various sources, while Gonzalez Davila relates 
only the assassination of Bishop Valdivieso. 



Francisco de Monte jo Appointed Governor — Revolt of the Cacique 
Lempira— Dastardly Artifice of the Spaniards— Establishment 
of New Colonies — Condition of the Settlements— Mining in Hon- 
duras — Return of Pedro de Alvarado — Montejo Deposed from 
Office — Alonso de Maldonado the First President of the Audi- 
encia 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 Super- 
seded by Alonso Lopez de Cerrato — The Seat of the Audiencia 
Moved to Santiago de Guatemala. 

In answer to the petition of the settlers at Tru- 
jillo, the emperor appointed as ruler of Honduras and 
Higueras Francisco de Montejo, the governor of Yu- 
catan. It is not recorded that he brought with him 
either reinforcements 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 succes- 
sor, not finding in Honduras any profitable field for his 
enterprise, had abandoned the territory and returned 
to Guatemala. 1 The governor first proceeded to San 
Pedro del Puerto de Caballos, where he at once an- 
nulled the repartimientos granted by Alvarado, be- 

1 In a letter to the king, dated Ciudad Real, August 10, 1541, Bishop 
Marroquin speaks very favorably of Chavez, and states that he was well 
adapted to rule. Carta al Emperador, in Cartas de Indias, 430. 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 19 (289) 


stowing them on bis friends or appropriating them 
to his own use, 2 and despatched an expedition to the 
neighboring sierra for the purpose of pacifying the 
Indians. As no attempt was made to enslave or mal- 
treat them, many returned voluntarily to the settle- 
ment. Montejo then visited Gracias & Dios, where 
he ascertained that certain Spaniards, journeying from 
Comayagua toward Guatemala, had been murdered 
by the natives in the province of Cerquin. He re- 
paired 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 un- 
deceived. 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 be- 
fore 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 d Dios, 3 he had bid defiance to Alvarado when 
on his wav to the relief of Cereceda at the head of a 
strong party of Spaniards and two thousand friendly 

2 ■ Como su necesidad no era poca, tomo la mejor parte para si, y lo demas 
dio a sus amigos. ' Herrera, dec. vi. lib. i. cap. ix. See, also, Juarros, Gnat., 
i. 42, and (Jomara, Hist, hid., G4. Herrera also implies that he appropriated 
what remained of the live-stock and supplies brought by Alvarado from Gua- 
temala for the relief of the colonists, dec. vi. lib. iii. cap. xix. 

3 In Squier's Honduras, 88, it is stated that this stronghold was situated 
in the present department of Gracias, which borders on Guatemala and San 
Salvador. LempLra's ancient territory is still known by the name of Corquin, 
the word being applied to a district and town of Gracias. The valley of 
Scnsenti, encircled by the mountains of Selaque, Pecaya, and Merendon, 
formed a part of the cacique's dominion. See p. 81 this vol. for map. 


natives. Juan de Chavez before his return to Guate- 
mala had attacked Leinpira's fortress with all the 
forces he could muster, but was foiled in his attempt, 
and the natives now believed their position to be im- 

Fired with the ambition to deliver his country, the 
cacique assembled the neighboring chieftains — their 
followers mustering in all some thirty thousand war- 
riors — and invited them to join him in an effort to 
exterminate the invaders. He pointed out the dis- 
grace 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 a" Dios. Captain Caceres with a well equipped 
force was despatched by Montejo to quell the insur- 
rection, whereupon Lempira retired to his strong- 
hold 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 peo- 

C&ceres 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 belea- 
guered 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 
Caceres, 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 de- 
liberate 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. 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, 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 a Dios, in 1538, of 
the licentiate Cristobal 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 wel- 
comed and received every assistance in the discharge 
of his duties. 

Montejo now turned his attention to the construc- 
tion of roads and the development of the resources 

4 Herrera, dec. vi. lib. iii. cap. xix. The historian is of opinion that the 
Spaniards would have been compelled to abandon the siege had they not re- 
sorted to this or some similar artifice, and in that case it is not improbable 
that Lempira would have found himself powerful enough to drive them from 
the province or perhaps to exterminate them. 

5 On the 10th of December 1537 the viceroy of New Spain reports to the 
king that he has received advices from the adelantado Montejo and the licen- 
tiate Maldonado, stating that the province was at peace and making fair 


of his province which had already given promise of a 
prosperous future. Wheat had been successfully cul- 
tivated and the prospects of a largely increased pro- 
duction were encouraodngf, 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 dis- 
tance 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 Panama, 
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 
Davila and Sandoval's party. 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 Caceres 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 

6 Hist. Cent. Amer., i. 570, this series. 


Puerto cle Caballos. Here was founded, in 1539, 
the town of Comayagua, 7 and so prosperous were the 
affairs of the new colony that a few years later 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 9 "were always in- 
creasing as w T ere 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 com- 
munication 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. 10 

7 Montejo, writing from Gracias a Dios on June 1, 1539, reports to the 
emperor concerning the settlement at Comayagua and the appointment of 
alcaldes and regidores. The town had at that time 33 vecinos, most of them 
owning but few Indians. Juarros, Gnat., i. 41-2, gives 1540 as the year of 
its foundation, as do Conder and Squier, while Remcsal says the town was 
founded in 1542. It is certain, however, that it was built before Alvarado's 
return to Honduras, in 1539. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. vii. cap. iv; Conder's 
Mexico and Guatemala, ii. 290: Squier' s Notes, Cent. Amer., 129. 

8 In December 1557. 

v These were Trujillo, Gracias a Dios, Comayagua, San Pedro del Puerto 
dc Caballos, San Jorge do Olancho, Buena Espcranza, and San Juan del 
Puerto de Caballos. Pedraza, in a dispatch to the audiencia dated December 
30, 1545, quoted in Squier' 8 MSS., xxii. 133, states that one of Montcjo's cap- 
tains sent to examine the territory lying between Trujillo and the Olancho 
valley extended his explorations to the mouth of the Desaguadero and founded 
in that neighborhood the town of Nueva Salamanca, but the prelate's idca3 
of the geographical limits of the province were evidently somewhat vague. 
Possibly he may have had in mind a settlement of that name previously 
founded in Yucatan. 

10 Pedraza, in describing the difficulties of travel and the condition of the 


The mines of Honduras bad already begun to yield 
a moderate amount of treasure, and but for the whole- 
sale 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 Davila 
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 a 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 Andres de Nueva Zara- 
goza, 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 Bartolome 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 Co- 
mayagua," 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." 11 

roads, states that from Trujillo to Puerto de Caballos the distance by sea 
v.-as 40 leagues, the journey being a very dangerous one. Thence to San 
Pedro it was 14 leagues, over a difficult road — especially bad in the rainy 
season — now in the mud (hasta la barriga), now climbing steep rocks; thence 
to Gracias a Dios 25 leagues, three or four native settlements intervening; 
from Gracias a Dios to Comayagua 25 leagues more, with three settlements 
between; thence to San Jorge in the Olancho valley between 20 and 30 
leagues, no settlements between; thence to Nueva Salamanca 30 leagues, 
without any settlements intervening. Of the plague of mosquitoes on this 
portion of the route he remarks: 'Que nos comian vivos de noche i de dia, i 
nos sacaban los ojos que no havia tiempo que pudiese dormir. ' From Nueva 
Salamanca to Trujillo, he says: 'Hai cerca de 40 leguas infernales. que ni a 
pie ni a caballo se pueden andar, sino la mas parte rodando con el lodo a los 
medios muslos i descalzos, i muchas veces subiendo hasta el cielo, i otras veces 
bajando hasta los abismos.' Id., 17. 

11 Oviedo was then writing of what occurred in 1538; but it is probable 


While Montejo was engaged in various projects for 
promoting the welfare of the province, Pedro de Al- 
varado arrived at Puerto de Caballos in command of 
his powerful and well appointed force, 12 and proceeding 
thence to San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos, soon 
afterward despatched a messenger to Gracias a 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 un- 
popular. 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 Espaiiola. 
This measure had been abandoned only on account 
of the great distance and infrequency of communica- 
tion; and now after some previous negotiation for an 
exchange of territory 13 Alvarado had landed in person 
to demand the annexation of his province to Guate- 
mala. He had long before expressed his opinion that 

that the 100,000 pesos de c-ro of which he speaks included the amount ob- 
tained in several preceding years. In 1539 Montejo reports that there are 
in Comayagua very rich mines, both of gold and silver, but as he would not 
allow the natives to be employed in them against their will they were worked 
only on a small scale. Montejo, Carta, Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, ii. 
221-22, 233, 251. This consideration for the welfare of the Indians no doubt 
hastened his downfall. 

,J ttee Hist. Cent. Amer., ii.,and Hist. Mex., ii. passim, this series. 

13 By a royal cedula dated May 25, 1538, the viceroy of Mexico was in- 
structed to allow Francisco de Montejo and Alvarado of Guatemala to ex- 
change portions of their respective provinces, Puerto de Caballos and Ciudad 
Real de Chiapas being particularly mentioned. Purja, Cedulario, ) 10. It 
would appear that Montejo did not give his consent to this proposition. 


Honduras could not stand alone, but that if joined to 
the adjacent province it would contribute to the em- 
peror's treasury a hundred thousand castellanos yearly, 
whereas at that time it yielded almost nothing. 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 as- 
sistance 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 Guate- 
mala, not an Indian would be found in the province 
in a few months, and that in less than two years the 
territory would be beggared. 

After more than a month had elapsed since the 
despatch of his message without any reply being re- 
ceived, Alvarado determined to set forth toward 
Gracias & 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 intimi- 
dation 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, how- 
ever, he resolved to receive him courteously, and on 
his approach to the settlement w T ent 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 

u Montejo, Carta, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, ii. 231-2, 245; 
Alvarado, in Id., 255. In a letter to the king, Montejo says he had heard 
that his Majesty had been informed that Alvarado would, on his return to 
Honduras, find the amount of the king's fifth to be 100,000 castellanos, but 
that the statement was uufounded, the sum being only 12,000 castellanos. 
The cause assigned for the deficiency was the stoppage of certain mining 
works which had been operated by gangs of Indians from Salvador and Gua- 
temala on account of the great mortality among them. The order for the 
•stoppage of the work emanated from Maldonado, acting governor of Guate- 
mala, and presumably occurred before the assumption of the government by 


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 Cristobal 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 resi- 
dence and a large number of slaves. To him he 
now appealed for aid in this his dire distress, and 
through the prelate's intercession 15 with Dona 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, 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 

15 Montejo was on bad terms with Pedraza, but gained his intercession by- 
approaching him when he was in an amiable mood. He accuses him of boast- 
ing that his authority was greater than that of the governor and that a letter 
from him to the emperor would at once procure his dismissal. He also states 
that on one occasion he was compelled to turn back from an expedition on 
which he had started, news having reached him that Pedraza was disturbing 
the country by his harsh treatment of the Indians, and that he had some dif- 
ficulty in restoring quiet. Montejo, in Id., 248-51, 258-9. It is not improb- 
able that this may have been the case, for in a letter quoted in Squier's MSS., 
xxii. 20, 27, Pedraza states that in 1547 he petitioned for leave to found a 
settlement in the Indian village of Jutical, in Comayagua, and to grant re- 
p;irtimientos to those who should furnish him the means, claiming that he 
was specially inspired by the holy spirit to carry out the pacification of the 
natives by prayer and persuasion. The ecclesiastic was a young man; vain, 
ambitious, covetous, and one who would not hesitate to prostitute his pro- 
fession if it would serve his own interests. 

10 The amount was 17,000 pesos according to Ovicdo, iv. 23. 


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 caste- 

In a despatch to the emperor, written soon after- 
ward, 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 inglori- 
ous career, while about the same time Alvarado re- 
turned to Guatemala, leaving Alonso de Caceres 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. 17 

On his return to the province in 1545, the bishop 18 
undertook a pastoral tour through the province, last- 
ing 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 moun- 
tains, being in terror of the Spaniards, who have con- 

17 In a letter to the emperor, dated Trujillo, May 1, 1547, Pedraza states 
that he would gladly have gone in person to aid Gasca in Peru, were it not that 
his journey to Portugal five years before and the time he had lost in Spain 
awaiting the papal bull, consumed the greater part of his fortune. Pedraza, 
Carta, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 18. It is not probable, however, that he was 
in any great danger of poverty, for he made large sums of money by his traffic 
in slaves. 

18 During this absence of Pedraza, Bishop Marroquin of Guatemala had 
charge of the diocese and made various pastoral visits through the province, 
on which occasions he was afterward accused by the former of having spent 
more than 12,000 pesos of the episcopal revenues. Marroquin in refuting 
this charge refers to Alonso Maldonado, president of the audiencia, and affirms 
that though he spent over 1,000 castellanos during his journeys going and 
coming, he never received one peso de oro in return. Marroquin, Carta al 
Principe Don Felipe, in Cartas de Indias, 449. 


tinued to enslave them for so many years. Many 
Portuguese, Italians, and other foreigners have propa- 
gated 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 occur- 
rence." Valdivieso, who was residing at the time at 
Gracias a 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 con- 
verting 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 suc- 
cessful in selling papal bulls among the Indian villages, 
a practice which was continued till 1547, when a royal 
cedula 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 for- 
mer recommendation was adopted, and notwithstand- 
ing the protestations of the audiencia of the Confines, 
the site selected was at Trujillo, 10 the bishop's salary 

19 This cathedral was dedicated to the 'Conception of Our Lady ' and had 
live dignitaries with salaries ranging from 150 down to 40 pesos a year. Gon- 
zalez Udvila, Tealro Ecks. t i. 304 et seq. 


being fixed at five hundred thousand maravedis, though 
soon afterward he petitioned that his stipend be in- 
creased to two thousand ducats. 

When the new code of laws abolished the audiencia 
of Panama 1 and appointed the audiencia of the Con- 
fines, 20 Alonso de Maldonado was elected its first presi- 
dent 21 through the recommendation of Las Casas, 
the remaining oidores being the licentiates Diego de 
Herrera, of whom mention has been made in connec- 
tion with the province of Nicaragua, Pedro Ramirez de 
Quinones, and Juan Pogel. 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 a Dios, 
where in 1545 the first session of the tribunal was 
held. 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 audi- 
encia was the publication of the new code of laws 
which, they declared, was to be strictly and immedi- 
ately 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 ter- 
ritory 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 ineffec- 
tual protests, and with sending procurators to advocate 

20 See Hist. Cent. Amer., ii., and Hist. Mex., ii., passim, this series. 

21 Before his appointment he was an oidor of the audiencia of Mexico, and 
acting governor of Guatemala. 

22 In Bemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 206, and Cartas de Indias, 776, the audiencia 
is said to have held its opening session May 16, 1544, whereas in a letter to 
the emperor dated December 30, 1545, and signed by President Maldonado 
and all the oidores, it is distinctly stated: 'En 15 Marzo desembarcaron los 
Lice. Herrera i Rogel. En 13 Mayo nos juntamos en Aud» i luego se prego- 
naron las Nuevas Ordenanzas.' Audiencia, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 130. 


their cause at the court of Spain. It does not appear 
that the natives were at all benefited by the regula- 
tions enacted in their favor; for a year or two later, on 
the arrival at Gracias a Dios of Las Casas and Valdi- 
vieso, 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 doubt- 
ful liberty. 

On the first of June 1549 a royal cedulawas 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 pay- 
ment 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 a" 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 dis- 
tant. 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 re- 
ceived 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 blan- 
kets 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 con- 


secration as bishop of Nicaragua, there were now 
present at Gracias a Dios the prelates Marroquin of 
Guatemala, and Pedraza of Honduras. 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 encomien- 
das, were exceeding loath to part with them; and 
when Las Casas threatened with excommunication all 
who should refuse to give up their bondsmen, Marro- 
quin 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 em- 
peror 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 perse- 
cution, were unwilling to minister to his necessities. 

23 Pedraza had been summoned from San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos, 
whence he had only come after repeated solicitations. Had he persisted it 
would have been necessary for Las Casas aud Valdivieso to proceed to that 
town in company with Man-oquin, for it was required that three prelates 
should assist at the ceremony of consecration. Pedraza was on bad terms 
with the two former, who state that they have heard things related of him. 
'Que parecen no buenas, y muchos escandalos.' Las Casus and Valdivieso, 
Relation in Cartas de Indias, 19-23. 


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. 24 In a letter to the emperor Mal- 
donado 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 griev- 
ances, 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 T -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 w T as claimed 
that Las Casas and his colleagues were their pro- 
tectors 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 
21 lb. 


responsible for their trust and punished in case of 
malefeasance as the new laws prescribed. 25 The me- 
morial concluded by threatening the president, oidores, 
and other officials with excommunication, should they 
neglect to obey these orders within the space of three 

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 appear- 
ance' 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 inter- 
fere 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 Nurio de Guzman, nor during 
the rule of any of the former tyrants, were the min- 
isters 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. 26 Mean- 
while 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, 

15 The above are the leading points contained in the memorial, which was 
a somewhat lengthy document, containing seven different clauses according 
to Las Casus, Carta Amonest. , and Relation in Squier's MSS., xxii. 140-42; 
and nine according to Renewal, Hist. Chyapa, 374-76, and Icazbalceta, Col. 
Doc, i., lxxvii.-viii. Remesal states that each bishop presented a memorial,, 
that of Las Casas giving less offence than the others. 

26 Las Ca<as and Valdivieso, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 118-20. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 20 


envy, and hypocrisy, and denounces his assumption in 
daring to present so offensive a memorial to the audi- 

* 97 


Las Casas waited in vain for an answer to his de- 
mands. 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; 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 pun- 
ishment!" 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, Senior Licenciado Alonso Maldo- 
nado," quietly withdrew from his presence. 

All now expected that the president would be ex- 
communicated. As the consecration of Valdivieso 
was to take place two clays later and none could be 
present who were under the ban of the church, Mal- 
donado resolved to make some effort at reconciliation. 
To repair to the house of the bishop and there tender 

27 Marroquin states that the memorial was 'mucho desacato i mayor desa- 
tino: i 61, como mas atrevido i favorido (por haverle dado credito a sus pro- 
posicioncs i fundamentos sacados de su pecho Ueno de hipocresias, sobcrvia, 
invidia, i avaricia), Id presento, requirio, i amonesto.' Marroquin, Car/a, in 
Squier'a MSS., xxii. 139-40. He speaks rather favorably of Maldonado, but 
complains of his being remiss, wanting in vigilance, and somewhat careless as 
to the welfare of the colonists. He declares that there is dissension between 
the members of the audiencia, and says: 'A mi no me satisi'u/.en mucho sus 
letras ni su vida, aunque los he conversado poco. ' Marroquin, Carta, in Carta 
de, Indicts, 440-1. 

28 Maldonado exclaimed, while Las Casas was protesting against being ex- 
pelled from the hall of the andiencia: ' Kstos cocinerillos en sacandalos del 
conuento no ay quien se pueda aueriguar con cllos.' liemesal, J list. Chyapa, 


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 presi- 
dent'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 Heal 
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 por- 
tion 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. 29 

Toward the close of the year 1545 the bishops de- 
parted for their several provinces. Of the oidores, 
Rogel accompanied Las Casas to Ciudad Heal; 39 
Quinones was soon afterward engaged in levying a 
force in aid of Gasca's expedition to Peru; and the 

v9 When the audiencia refused to recognize the bishops as protectors of 
the Indians, Marroquin addressed a letter to the emperor, wherein, after 
commenting on the disturbances caused by the new code, he concludes: 'Mas, 
no son tan largas los podercs de los Obispos dcstas partes conio el ruido i 
sonido. La Audiencia lo manda todo i da a entender que no hai para que el 
Obispo sea Protetor i Visitador: asi han proveido Visitadores a deudos suyos, 
quando V. M. solo quiere fiarlo a los Obispos.' Marroquin, Carta, in Squier's 
MSS., xxii. 135-6. 

3 ^By order of the audiencia Rogel visited Chiapas for the ostensible pur- 
pose of assisting Las Casas in liberating the natives and settling the amount 
of their tribute" 


president, who, together with Herrera, still remained 
at Gracias a 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 re- 
ceived 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 con- 
tribute 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 resi- 
dencia 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 acquaint- 
ance 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 supplica- 
tion could divert him from the execution of his pur- 
pose. 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 lias passed and that 
of the friars has beo'un." 31 

In 1548 the licentiate arrived at Gracias a 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. 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 pun- 
ishment other than loss of office. 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 reinstated. 34 

Although Cerrato was accused by the settlers of 

31 Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 480. Cerrato did not hesitate, however, to 
censure the bishops severely when he thought it necessary. He complained 
of their maintaining alguaciles like those of the emperor and of the unjust 
arrest of persons ' sin haver caso de Inquisicion. ' In speaking of the excom- 
munication by the bishop of Nicaragua of certain royal officers because they 
were unable to pay him his salaiy, he says that he and Pedraza ' were enough 
to turn the heads of a thousand judges.' Cerrato, Cartas, in Squier's MSS., 
xxii. 83, 7. 

32 Cerrato, Carta de Setiembre 28, 1548, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 80-1. 

33 Even if he had been found blameless he could not have been reinstated, 
as Cerrato was appointed by the crown to supersede him. He lost his life at 
sea about two years later. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 179. 

31 He was fined for having appropriated a mine and for having seized cer- 
tain negroes belonging to one of the priests. Cerrato, Cartas, in Squier's J\1SS. 
Marroquin remarks in Carta al Principe Don Felipe, in Carta de India*, 448: 
' Very few who have come to the Indies have so well feathered their nests in 
so short a time as Herrera and Rogel.' 'Quieren para siun dios y un principe, 
y para los demas confusion y perdicion. ' Pedraza endorses Marroquin 's state- 
ment with reference to Herrera, and accuses him of trafficking in silks, vel- 
vets, and cloth like a common mercer. Carta, in Squier's MSS. , xxii. 123. The 
statement of Las Casas and Valdivieso in Id., xxii., is doubtless more deserv- 
ing of credit. 


partiality in the administration of justice, be enjoyed 
the fall confidence of the emperor, 35 who gave orders 
that all matters of grave import pertaining to the gov- 
ernment 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 oc- 
curred that is worthy of note, with the exception of a 
revolt among the negro slaves at San Pedro del Puerto 
dc Caballos, which was promptly quelled by a force 
despatched against them by the audiencia. 

In 1549 the seat of the audiencia of the Confines was 
removed from Gracias d Dios to Santiago de Guate- 
mala. The former town, now containing but eighteen 
settlers, was situated in a neighborhood wdiere 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 mon- 
arch 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 sel- 
dom fails to present. 

85 Bcrnal Diaz speaks unfavorably of Cerrato. He says that at first he 
promised well, but subsequently acted in every way contrary to his instructions, 
as if these had been ' mira que todo lo bueno que bacare y obiere en estas 
provincias todo lo deys a vuestras parientes.' He accuses him of giving the 
best repartimientos to his two brothers, a granddaughter, a son-in-law, and 
his followers and friends, and remarks that the people feared the coming of 
another boat-load of Cerratos. Carta al Emperador, in Cartas de lndlas, 38-42. 




Mourning for Alvarado — Grief of Dona Beatriz — An Anomalous Gov- 
ernment—A Female Ruler — A Beautiful but Treacherous Moun- 
tain — A Night of Horrors — Death of Dona Beatriz — Destruction 
of Santiago — A Ruined City— Burial of the Dead — Gloom of Con- 
science-stricken Survivors — Joint Governors — Removal of City 
Resolved upon — A New Site Discussed — Another Santiago Founded 
— Maldonado Appointed Governor— Action of the Audiencia Rela- 
tive to Encomiendas — Controversies and Recriminations — Removal 
of the Audiencia to Santiago — President Cerrato Offends the Set- 
tlers — His Mode of Action. 

When the news of Alvarado's death arrived in San- 
tiago 1 during the last days of August 1541, demon- 
strations of sorrow were on every side; the cathedral 
was draped in black, 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 adelan- 
tado's wife, Dona Beatriz, was so severe as appar- 
ently 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, 

1 Viceroy Mendoza addressed letters to the bishop of Guatemala, Fran- 
cisco de la Cueva, and the cabildo respectively. In that sent to the muni- 
cipality he says : ' You will learn that God was pleased to take to his glory 
the adelantado Alvarado.' Arevalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 179-80. Tello states 
that Governor Onate also send word of Alvarado's death to Guatemala. Hist. 
N. Gal., 390-7. According to Remesal the first reports were generally dis- 
credited, and it was not until the viceroy's letters arrived that any manifes- 
tation of sorrow was shown. Hist. Chyapa, 165 et seq. A cabildo was held 
on the 29th of August. 

2 Ibid.; Carta al Emperador, in Cartas de Indias, 432-3; Bernal Diaz, 
Hist. Verdad., 236. 



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 ac- 
counted impious, 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 re- 
pose of the late conqueror's soul. 

But while due observance of mourning was shown 
for the loss which the colonists had sustained in Al- 
varado'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-gov- 
ernor, but although this appointment was approved by 
the viceroy 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 Dona Beatriz governor. This anoma- 
lous 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 Dona 
Beatriz and tendered her the appointment. Her vio- 
lent 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, 

3 An unknown author writing later during the same year states that Dona 
Beatriz 'dixo muchas veces que ya no tenia Dios masmal que le haeer.' Rela- 
tion, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., iii. 385. Gomara, J list. Ltd., 
2G9-70, and Torquemada, i. 324 et seq., make similar statements. Gomara'a 
assertion is disputed by Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad., 220-7. See, also, for 
accounts of Dona Beatriz' grief, Carta del Obispo in Pacheco and Cardenas, 
Col. Doc, iii. 388; Benzoni, Hondo Nvovo, 156; Bernal Diaz (ed. Paris, 
1837), iv. 46G-7; Iicmesal, J list. Chyapa, 1GG. 

4 In his letter to the cabildo, above alluded to, and dated July 15, 1541. 
Arivalo, Col. Doc. Antuj., 179-80. Remesal gives July the 5th as the date, 
one day after Alvarado's death, which it was impossible for the viceroy to 
know anything about at that time. The friar, however, attempts to account 
for the discrepancy which his error produced. Hist. Chyapa, 1G5-G. 


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, Fran- 
cisco de la Cueva, 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 preroga- 
tive she reserved to herself. Her brother's appoint- 
ment was recognized by the cabildo on the following 
day, Saturday the 10th of September. 6 

But it was not fated that this unfortunate lady 
should long enjoy her high position. Her doom with 

5 Bishop Marroquin was of opinion that Cueva was not a fit person to have 
been left by Alvarado in charge of the government. In a letter to the king 
dated August 10, 1541, he describes him as being too young and inexperienced, 
void of zeal in favor of the natives, careless in matters of justice, as not being 
partial to the company of good people, and offering a bad example to others. 
Carta, at Emperador, in Cartas de Int'zas, 430. I entertain little doubt that 
it was through the bishop's influence that the appointment of Doiia Beatriz was 
made. It certainly was countenanced by him. His control over the lady-gov- 
ernor would give him great power in the protection of the natives. 

6 The extraordinary appointment of JDofia Beatriz to the government of 
Guatemala is thus condemned by Gomara, who infers that she caused herself 
to be elected: ' Y se hizo jurar por Gouernadora: desuario, y presuncion de 
muger, y cosa nueua entre los Espaiioles de Indias. ' Hist. Ind. , 270. Escamilla, 
Notirias Curiosas de Guat., L, states that she resigned the same day, referring 
doubtless to the appointment of Cueva. Remesal, who gives a detailed account 
of these proceedings, also attributes the appointment to her own desire for it, 
ungenerously remarking: ' Y con todos estos extremos excedia su ambicion a 
las lagrimas, y el desseo de madar a la falda del mongil y pligues de la toca. ' 
The only dissenting voice to her appointment was that of the alcalde, Gonzalo 
Ortiz, who probably objected to it on the grounds of her apparent want of 
saneness. Although half a page was left blank for the entry of his opinion it 
was never filled up. This blank half page still existed in 1615. The signa- 
ture of the hapless lady on this occasion was written thus: La sin ventura 
Dona Beatriz. In the original a line is drawn through the words Dona Bea- 
triz which was probably done by herself at the time of signing with the object 
of letting it be known that in future she wished to be called La Sin Ventura. 
Hist. Chyapa, 1G6-8. This same author states on page 367 that Cueva's ap- 
pointment by the viceroy was not recognized by the city because it was not 
accompanied by his commission as governor. I cannot agree with the above 
authorities who attribute to Dona Beatriz such ambitious feelings while in 
the state of despair to which she abandoned herself, but regard her appoint- 
ment as a purely diplomatic proceeding. 


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. 7 The reader is aware that the city 
of Santiago was situated on the slope of the lofty 
volcan de Agua. 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 Septem- 
ber, 9 about two hours after nightfall, a volcanic erup- 
tion 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 10 and 
hurling them upon the inhabitants. The wind and 
rain and darkness rendered the disaster all the more 

7 The base of the following account of the destruction of Santiago City is 
taken from Bishop Marroquin 's narrative in Pacheco and Cdrdena*, Col. Doc, 
iii. 386-8, and from another and fuller narration without signature in Id. , 
378-86. Ovicdo, iv. 27-32, gives an almost verbatim copy of it, and states: 
"Estas nuevas truxo a la isla. . .Cuba, Johan de Alvarado, t;obrino del mesmo 
adelantado don Pedro, que aporto al puerto de la Habana, desde donde el 
capitan Johan de Lobera, su amigo e uno de los milites que un tiempo an- 
duvieron con el mesmo adelantado, me escribio todo lo ques dicho por su 
carta fecha a quatro de encro de mill 6 quinientos 6 quarenta y dos alios.' It 
must, however, be remarked that the letter in Pacheco and Cardenas bears 
unquestionable evidence of having been written in Guatemala. Juan de Alva- 
rado, who had been recommended by Marroquin to the emperor for the gov- 
ernorship — Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 271 — was on his way to 
Spain. I conjecture that he was the bearer of this anonymous account of the 
calamity and allowed Lobera to transcribe it, who merely changed the first 
person into the third and forwarded it to Oviedo in Santo Domingo. 

8 The town unfortunately occupied a site in a natural hollow running down 
the mountain side. 

a Bcrnal Diaz (ed. Paris, 1837), iv. 463-4; Herrera, dec. vii. lib. ii. cap. 
xiii.; Gomara, Hist. Ind., 270, the records of the cabildo according to Peme- 
sal, Hist. Ch'/apa, 559, and Vazquez, Chron. de Gvat., 164-5, give September 
the 11th as the date. But Marroquin and the anonymous writer both state 
that the disaster occurred on Saturday night, the first authority mentioning 
that the preceding Thursday was the 8th. 

10 ' Porque las piedras, como diez bucyes juntos, las llevaba como corcha 
Bobre el agua.' Pel. , in Pacheco and ('drdena*, Col. Doc, iii. 383. The im- 
mense stones brought down by this deluge were still to be seen in the city 
when Bernal Diaz wrote, (ed. Paris, 1837), iv. 463. 


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 crushed. 11 
Dona 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. 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 Dona Leonor, the eldest natural daugh- 
ter of Alvarado. These Dona Beatriz sent for, but 
' most of them were carried away by the torrent, though 
Dona 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 

11 ' Y muchos, quebrados brazos y piernas, de que algunos despues ban 
muerto.' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., iii. 383. 

12 The bishop says that eight 'doncellas' perished with her, 'entrellas dofia 
Anica, hija natural del Adelantado, de 5 aiios.' Id., 387. Consult also 
Gomara, Hist. Ind., Var.qwz, Chron. de Cvat., 91, and Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 
173-80. This last author gives a vivid account of this catastrophe, but ap- 
pears to have drawn considerably upon his imagination. He affirms that 
repeated violent shocks of earthquake occurred; that the Volcan de Agua was 
reduced a league in height — ' Parecioel mote descabecado co vna legua menos 
de subida' — and indulges in general exaggeration. With regard to the earth - 
quakesitmay be stated that Remesal, page 559, asalso Vazquez, Chron. de Graf. , 
104-G, quotes from the books of the cabildo with date of September 9, 1542, 
as follows : ' Que porque a- vn ailo que por nuestros pecados, vino el terremoto, 
e tempestad a esta Ciudad;' and again on page 365; from the minutes of the 
same with date of September 16, 1541, 'Que por quanto Dios nucstro Senor 
fue seruido. . .de embiar tempestad 6 torro molto a esta Ciudad.' But as 
neither Bishop Marroquin nor the Anonymous Writer makes mention of any 
earthquake, I can but conclude that none took place, notwithstanding an entry 
in the books of the cabildo a year after the event to the contrary. 


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. Dona Beatriz' apartment 
which she had left was the only portion of the build- 
ing 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 par- 
ticulars 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 es- 
caped the danger, though that apartment was the 
only portion of the building left standing. 13 

When day dawned the scene of desolation was heart- 
rending. 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 per- 
ished. 14 The streets were choked up with accumula- 
ted debris, trunks of mutilated trees, and huge rocks. 
Scattered in all this wreck lay disfigured corpses and 
carcasses of drowned cattle. 15 

13 One Spaniard and 60 Indians who were outside all perished. Such is 
the account given by the bishop. That of the anonymous writer differs from 
it. He states that Cueva escaped from the house and saved himself by getting 
upon a wall which had remained standing. 

11 The anonymous writer, pp. 381-2, gives the names of eight, and says that 
more than 40 Spaniards of both sexes lost their lives. The bishop, page 388, 
mentions the names of twelve settlers whose houses were completely over- 
thrown or washed away, adding: 'Si bienalgunos destos se salvaron;' and fur- 
ther on informs us that ' Murieron, sin los espanoles dichos, mas de GOO indios. ' 
Vazquez states that about 100 Spaniards and over 200 Mexican and Tlascalan 
allies escaped unharmed. Chron. de Gv<tt., 98. 

v > 'E gran suma de ganado, que tomo en el monte y otra que tomo en la 
cibdad, que se vinieron a ella huyendo.' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., iii. 


And now began the sad, sad search for the dead, 
followed by mournful burial. Many of the lost were 
never found. The bodies of Dona Beatriz and those 
who perished with her were recovered with one ex- 
ception. Her remains were interred with due solem- 
nity near the high altar of the cathedral, 16 and those 
of her companions in death were reverently laid side 
by side in one common grave. 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 mani- 
festation 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 Dona Beatriz in her frenzied 
grief. 18 So much insane foolishness can be wrapped 
in words of wisdom ! The bishop endeavored to en- 
courage his flock though in such deep dejection. A 

388. The mud in the streets reached almost up to the highest windows. Id., 

16 No mention is made of the church having received damage. A portion 
of the bishop's residence was destroyed, causing the death of 'un bachilier 
Contreras.' Id., 388. According to Remesal the remains of Dona Beatriz 
were subsequently transferred to the cathedral of the new city. From the 
day on which she perished the bishop ordered three masses to be said weekly 
for the repose of her soul. Hist. Chyapa, 181. Benzoni describes this lady us 
'a woman truly proud, vain, and haughty;' while Alvarado, in a letter to the 
cabildo, dated Puerto de Caballos, April 4, 1539, assures that body that 
'Dona Beatriz estd muy buena.' Areva/o, Col. Doc. Antig., 179. 

17 Their remains were removed in 1580 to the Franciscan convent at 
Almolonga. The inscription, in 1615-17, said that there were buried Juan de 
Artiaga and twelve lady companions, all of whom perished with Doha Beatriz 
in 1541. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 181. This inscription is confirmed by Vaz- 
quez. Chron. de Gva.t., 96. 

18 The bishop, however, thought otherwise. In an address to the people 
for the purpose of encouraging them, he said: 'Que a los buenos habia llevado 
Dios a su gloria y a los que los habia dexado, nos habia avisado para que 
fu^semos tales.' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. 385. Remesal uncom- 
promisingly attributes the catastrophe to blasphemous language of Dona 
Beatriz, and adds that so exasperated were the inhabitants that they wished 
to cast her body to the dogs, as that of another Jezebel. Hist. Chyapa, 179-80. 
Vazquez treats this charge as an absurdity and intimates that it is an inven- 
tion of Remesal, who he says was the first to publish such a story. Chron. 
de Gvat., 91. But this last author also errs, since the belief undoubtedly pre- 
vailed, as is proved by the anonymous writer on the above quoted page of 
Pacheco and Cardenas. Mendieta, while inclined to excuse the language 
attributed to Dona Beatriz, implies that it was a punishment from God who 
was displeased with Alvarado 's irregular second marriage. Hist. Ecles., 390. 


penitential procession was held and the litany chanted 
before the high altar. He enjoined them, moreover, 
to* fast and pray on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Satur- 
days. 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 set- 
tlers 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, 19 while those 
who remained 20 expressed their determination to go 
elsewhere. To arrest total abandonment and dis- 
persion the cabildo, on the 22d of October, issued a 
decree prohibiting any citizen from leaving under a 
penalty of one hundred pesos de oro. 21 And long after 
the capital had been removed to another site, a peniten- 
tial procession, attended by the civil and ecclesiastical 
orders, left the new city at daybreak on each anni- 
versary and visited the former capital in mournful 
commemoration of this calamitv. 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. 22 There mass was celebrated 
and the graves of the dead were decorated, after which 
the procession dispersed. 23 

The death of Doha 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 

19 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Verdad. (ed. Paris, 1837), iv. 4G7. 

80 None dared to occupy the few houses left, and a large barrack was con- 
structed on the outskirts of the town as a common dwelling-place. Pacheco 
and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iii. 386. 

2l jRemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 3GG. 

28 Torquemada attended one of these processions. He writes: 'iban cada 
A no, en el mismo Dia, que le corrcsponde al dc el ancgamiento (y Yo me 
hallo en clla vn Afio. . . ) pidiendo a Dios seguridad en la segunda Poblacion, 
y perdon dc averle ofendido.' i. 3:27. 

23 Soon after the death of Bishop Marroquin the custom was discontinued, 
although he left a fund to support its observance. BerncdDiaz, J I int. Verdad., 
(ed. Paris, 1837), iv. 4G8-9. It was established at a meeting of the cabildo 
on September <>, 1542. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 559. After the old church was 
pulled down the procession marched to the Franciscan convent in the old city. 
Vazquez, Chron. de GvaL, 1G4-G. 


of affairs the cabildo met on the 16th and 17th of 
September, and after some discussion elected Cueva 
and Bishop Marroquin joint governors provisionally. 24 

The bishop in a letter addressed to the king, dated 
February 20, 1542, informs his Majesty that in ac- 
cepting 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 appoint- 
ing a governor of great influence and ability. He had 
previously suggested certain individuals, 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 elec- 
tion of such men to the welfare of the province, that 
Marroquin implores his Majesty to order that those 
who had resigned should resume office. 26 

While describing the country as tranquil he pict- 
ures the colony as almost in a state of dissolution. 
The late calamity had involved the settlers in great 
poverty, 27 and the contrast between their present con- 
dition and the state of prosperity to which they had 
arrived under Alvarado's rule induced them to medi- 

2i Id., 366; Escamilla, Noticias Curio ms de Gnat., MS., 1. 

25 These were the oidor Maldonado, Juan de Alvarado, a nephew of tho 
deceased adelantado, and Juan Chavez, a resident of Santiago. Marroquin, 
in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 271. Juan de Alvarado was a 
nephew of the adelantado, and according to Berna] Diaz went to Spain with 
Pedro, a natural son of the conqueror, neither being ever heard of afterward. 
Hist. Verdad., 237. 

?a He recommends as honorable gentlemen, Sancho de Baraona, a con- 
quistador, Hernan Mendez, and Doctor Bias Cota. Id., 37G-7. Consult also 
Kemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 58-9, 3G5. 

27 'Hizo mucho da no en las tiendas y mercaderias.' Pacheco and Cdrdenav, 
Col. Doc, iii. 388. The cabildo in a letter to the king, dated September 10, 
1543, says, 'perdimos casi todos lo que teniamos.' Arcvalo, Col. Doc Antifj.,20. 




c i ** J < 

o c 


Ancient and Modeicn Guatemala. 


tate 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 re- 
main. 28 

After the election of the joint governors the impor- 
tant question of removal was discussed by the author- 
ities and citizens. That the interests of the country 
demanded such a step was the almost unanimous opin- 
ion, 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 ar- 
gument in favor of the valley of Tianguez in the plains 
of Chimaltenango was again revived and found sup- 
porters, while by others the valley of Petapa or that 
of Mixco were preferred. There were, however, objec- 
tions 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 inhabi- 
tants should not be abandoned; 30 and after a careful 
investigation of the advantages offered by different 
localities, 31 those of the valley of Panchoy were con- 

28 It will be remembered that Alvarado appointed Marroquin his executor. 
The bishop justifies this proceeding by the necessity of the occasion. Had 
the distribution not been made he assures the king that two thirds of the 
Spaniards would have left, but he adds that, nevertheless, the greater portion 
of Alvarado's Indians had been reserved to his children. Id., xiii. 268-9. 

29 At a special meeting held on the 27th of September, 43 citizens were 
present, making with the authorities 55 persons in all. Of these 43 voted for 
removal, five against it, and seven were without choice. Juarros, GuaL, ii. 

30 Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 366. Bishop Marroquin was at first in favor of 
removing to some high plains two leagues off, but for the reasons above stated 
and also in order to lessen the labor of the Indians he changed his opinion. 
Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 370-1. 

31 At an open meeting held on the 2d of October, at which 78 persons were 
sworn in to vote without fear or self-interest, 49 voted for removal to Chimal- 
tenango and 29 to the valley of Alotenango, and the former place was for- 
mally declared the future site of the city. At this juncture Juan Bautisia 
Antonelli, a royal engineer, arrived with instructions to superintend the lay- 
ing out of towns. He made an examination of various localities and gave in 
a full report upon the valleys of Las Vacas, Chimaltenango, Alotenango, 
Melpas do Luis de Alvarado, and the valley of Tuerto or Panchoy, and strongly 
recommended the selection of the latter. Juarros, GuaL, ii. 263-6. Helps 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 21 


sidered to be so superior that in cabildo held on the 
2 2d of October it was ordered that the future city 
should be there erected. 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 na- 
tives again made to toil in the erection of buildings 
for their oppressors. 33 Nevertheless the work did not 
progress with the rapidity which the authorities seem 
at first to have expected, 34 and though during 1542 
some progress was made, even the house of the ca- 
bildo had not been completed in April 1543. The 
exact date of the formal removal of the municipality 
to the new city is not known, 33 but on the 10th of 
March 1543 a session was held there. 36 On the 12th 
of June following the host was transferred from the 
church of the ruined town in solemn procession, at- 

suspects that Antonelli's report had reference to some other occasion and dis- 
credits it. Sp. Conq., iii. 390. For general map of Guatemala see p. 110 this 

9i Juarros, ubi sup. Bernal Diaz considered that either the valley of 
Petapa or Chimaltenango would have been a more favorable situation on 
account of the frequent overflowing of the river and the earthquakes experi- 
enced at Panchoy. List. Verdtid., iv. (ed. Paris, 1837), 4G7. 

33 The cabildo considered it their duty more than once to pass laws to pre- 
vent the Indians from being overloaded, llemesal, J J 1st. Chyapa. 3G7-8. 
Every month the Cakchiquels of the dependency of the Ahpozotzil were com- 
pelled to furnish 1,000 laborers of both sexes to aid the pi^isoners of war in 
the building of the city. Cahchiquel, MS., Brasseur de Bourbowg, Hist. Nat. 
Civ., iv. 700. The audiencia and viceroy of Mexico ordered the Indians of 
Alvarado's estate, to be employed in the erection of the new city. The bishop 
appealed against this order on the ground of the distribution which he had 
made already, the annulling of which would cause great dissatisfaction. Carta, 
in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 27G. 

34 On November 18, 1541, the cabildo issued a decree ordering lots to be 
enclosed with adobe walls before St John's day, June 1542, under penalty of 
forfeiture. The time given being found to be too short, it was extended on 
May 21, 1542, to caster in the following year. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 3G5-7. 

33 Helps, who is given to looseness in his statements, without quoting any 
authority in this instance boldly states that 'the 4th of December 1543 was 
the day on which the Spaniards took possession of their new quarters.' Sp. 
Conq., iii. 390. 

30 Remesal asserts that the entry in the books of the cabildo on that date 
is the first to indicate a session held in the new city; 'es el primcro que se 
escriue en esta forma. En la ciudad de Santiago de Guatemala, en el asicnto 
Qiutuo della,' etc. Hist, Chyapa, 3G8. 


tended by the civil authorities, and all the people pres- 
ent in the city. 

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, 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 pro- 
claimed on the 13th of June following.* 


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 Mal- 
donado provisional ruler of Guatemala, pending in- 
structions from the crown, and on the 17th of May 
following the new governor presented his commis- 
sion to the cabildo and was placed in office the same 
clay. 39 

During the following year excitement prevailed in 
Guatemala owing to information having been received 
in October of the new code of laws and the establish- 
ment 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, 40 a committee invested 
with power of electing representatives was appointed, 41 
but it was unable to agree, and on the 29th of Feb- 
ruary 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 

37 Called henceforth Ciudad Vieja. 

38 Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 368. This author was presented with a paint- 
ing of the city, executed by Captain Miguel de Ortega at the request of the 
authorities. He describes it as representing a scene truly beautiful. 

39 Remesal, Hint. Chyapa, 200, 3G7. 

40 It was the general wish that Governor Maldonado should be chosen, 
but this was rendered impossible by his appointment as president of the new 
audiencia. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 393. 

41 The members were the bishop, Crist6bal de la Cueva, Gabriel de Ca- 
brera, Sancho Barahona, and Hernan Mendez de Sotomayor. 


of the people might be taken. 42 Nevertheless con- 
siderable delay occurred, and it was not until the fol- 
lowing 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 instruc- 
tions, and departed for Spain. 43 

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 ad- 
dressed to the king dated the 30th of December 
1545 the}r state that if all Indians were liberated 
whose owners had no legitimate title none would be 

42 In this document the petitioners especially brought forward as an in- 
justice a regulation previously passed that only manned settlers could hold 
repartimientos. Id. The cabildo had as early as February 1533 made a rep- 
resentation to the crown on this matter, in which they explained the diffi- 
culty and expense attending the procuring of wives from Spain. Ardvah, Col. 
Doc. Antig., 13-14. It is evident also that in 1543 the cabildo again ad- 
dressed his Majesty on the subject of their claims, as the viceroy Mendoza 
acknowledges receipt of 'el pliego que venia con ellas para S. M.,' and adds: 
*yo escribo a S. M. . .haciendole relacion, corao conviene al servicio de S. M. 
alargar las mercedes y no acortallas.' Id., 180. 

43 Remesal states that Mendez under various pretexts delayed his journey, 
and that on the 8th of June the cabildo revoked his appointment. No other 
procurador appears to have been appointed up to September 10, 154G, when 
receipt of the revocation of the new laws as regarded the repartimientos ren- 
dered such an appointment no longer necessary. On this later date the cabildo 
resolved to send a commission to the audiencia to solicit its enforcement. Hist. 
Chyapa, 394-5. But I find that on May 7, 1545, the authorities of Guate- 
mala wrote to the king requesting that their procurador, who had been sent 
to protest against the new code, might be given a hearing. Squier's HISS., 
xxii. 138. And Bishop Marroquin, writing on September 20, 1547, mentions 
that many letters had been sent with Hernan Mendez to the council of Indies 

1 ive to his action with the audieneia in 1545. Carta al Principe, in Cartas 

de I nd 4a .s, 440. He also states that Mendez was prejudiced against the public 

will and partial to Herrcra and the bishops of Nicaragua and Chiapas, and 

that there was also another procurador named Olivcro in Spain at that time. 

r'a MS8., xxii. 44-5. 


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. 44 

In 1545 the new laws were repealed, and at a some- 
what later date the concession of perpetual reparti- 
mientos was granted to the colonists of Guatemala. 45 

Meanwhile the controversv relating to the treat- 
ment 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, 46 and I find that Marro- 
quin considered himself obliged to explain that it had 
been levied without sufficient knowledge of facts, and 
that some changes were necessary. 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 in- 
clude the right to inflict corporal punishment and to 

44 They also recommended that Don Juan, the cacique of Atitlan, and 
others who had aided in the pacification of the country should be allowed to 
retain their Indians. It was, moreover, suggested that alcaldes mayores should 
be appointed in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Chiapas. Id., 132-3. 

45 The cabildo on March 30, 1548, thank the emperor for this concession 
which had been notified by their procurador Al? de Oliveros. Id., 01-2. This 
privilege did not, however, last long. In 1564 the procurator at court sought 
to procure the passage of a law establishing encomiendas in perpetuity, but, 
owing to the prejudice of the existing council against the colonists, he dared 
not even broach the subject. In 1565 there were in Guatemala 72 encomien- 
das which produced 80,000 ducados annually. A royal cCdula dated Novem- 
ber 28, 1568, ordered encomiendas to be granted solely upon merit, the descend- 
ants of discoverers and conquerors being especially considered. But in 1572 
the cabildo complained of the incessant arrival of persons provided with royal 
cedulas granting them encomiendas as they became vacant, to the detriment 
of deserving residents who had been long in the country. The attempt to 
obtain encomiendas in perpetuity was abandoned in 1585, and a petition made 
for their extension to a third life. This was also defeated in 1595. Pelaez, 
Mem. Gnat., ii. 2, 3. Bernal Diaz in the latter years of his life represents 
himself, in common with four others, the sole survivors of Cortes' soldiers, as 
aged, infirm, very poor, with a large family, and small income. Hist. Verdad. , 

46 Padre Cancer writing to the bishop of Chiapas October 20, 1545, men- 
tions that the cacique of Teznlutlan and other Indians were going to present 
to him a petition against the enormous tributes which had been imposed upon 
their people. Carta, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Cot. Doc., vii. 233-5. 

47 Squier'sMSS., xxii. 137. In September 1547 Marroquin had heard that 
the oidor Rogel 'esta nombrado para hacer la retasacion,' and adds, 'Ojala no 
sea aora como lo pasado. ' Id. , 45. 


settle their difficulties. He moreover strongly recom- 
mended that for the purposes of better instruction 
and government Indian towns should be consolidated 
and subjected to a system of police. 48 

Meanwhile Alonso Lopez Cerrato had been ap- 
pointed president of the audiencia of the Confines. 
It was already admitted that Gracias a" 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. 49 Accordingly his 
Majesty by royal cedula authorized the president and 
oidores to move to the city of Santiago, 50 where they 
arrived in 1549, and according to Remesal accepted 
Bishop Marroquin's offer of his palace for their use. 51 

Cerrato's administration as president of the audien- 
cia caused grievous offence to the settlers of Guate- 
mala, and in a representation to the king they charge 
him with bein«: ungenerous, undignified, wanting in 
zeal for the honor of God, and unconscientious. 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 

48 The crown acted upon this suggestion and issued two decrees relating 
thei'eto. Marroquin on February 4, 1548, reports that the consolidation of 
native towns was already in progress and that it was a highly necessary 
measure. Id. , 89, 92. 

49 President Cerrato describes Gracias a Dios as occupied by only 18 
vecinos, with neither physician, surgeon, nor druggist, while a great scarcity 
of both meat and fish prevailed. He adds that the majority wore in favor of 
removal to the city of Santiago. Carta, in S<[ukr'n MSS., xxii. S7-8. Marro- 
quin urgently advocated this city as the future seat of the audiencia. Id. t 43, 
89, 94. 

50 The removal doubtless took place in 1549. The letters of Cerrato and 
Marroquin above quoted bear dates of October 5, 1548, and September 50, 
lo47, February 8, 1548, and August 1, 1548, respectively, Komesal gives the 
date of the ccdula as May 1, 1549. J lint. Chyapa, 503. Vazquez, Chrdn. da 
Ovat., 222, Juno 16, 1548. 

•''The king by royal c£dula, dated July 7, 1550, approved tlie purchase of 
the episcopal palace for the use of the audiencia. HUt. Chywpa^ 50.3. 

M The document, found in An ado, Col. Doe, Anlig., 21-4, is defective 
and without date, but was probably written soon after the establishment of 
the audiencia de los Confines in Santiago. 


were preparing to do so. Bishop Marroquin's remon- 
strances with Cerrato only developed hostile feelings 
in the latter, which were publicly evinced by his ab- 
senting himself for a long time from the services of 
the church, 53 conducted by the prelate. 

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 posi- 
tion relative to the natives; 54 but in Cerrato they 
perceived one who recognized them as merciless task- 
masters, 55 and possessed both the determination to 
arrest the existing destructive system, and the courage 
to inflict punishment upon them for any gross infringe- 
ment of the law. 58 

53 'Forrno gran enemistad, y estuvo muchos dias que no quiso ir a misa a 
la Iglesia mayor. ' Id. , 22. The disagreement between Marroquin and Cer- 
rato was already brewing in 1548, for on November the 3d of that year the 
latter informs the crown that he and the licentiate Eamirez were in San Sal- 
vador engaged in liberating slaves and reforming tributes, 'que eran incom- 
portables las que havian hecho el Opo i el Lie. Maldonado;' and, he adds, 'i 
luego. . .nos partiremos a Guatemala ise hara lo mismo.' AlEmpr, in Squier's 
MSS., xxii. 97. 

5 *■'. President Cerrato reported to the emperor September 28, 154S, that the 
first audiencia had. observed neither new nor old laws, that the Indians were 
treated as previously, and no steps taken to liberate them. Carta, in Squier's 
MSS., 80. 

55 He stated to the king that the tributes levied were intolerable and could 
not be satisfied even if the Indians were twice as numerous, remarking, 'ni 
los Encomendcros guardan lei ni tasacion i los' — the Indians — 'destruyen sin 
piedad.' Id., 80, 82. 

56 The punishment of certain Spaniards of Comayagua by Cerrato for load- 
ing Indians had called forth a general storm of abuse and denunciation by the 
settlers. Id. , 82. At this time Bishop Marroquin was the only one who had 
letters patent, and consequently jurisdiction, as protector of Indians; the 
other bishops had to apply to the audiencia to obtain such authority. Id., 
83-4. Marroquin in February 1548 requested the king to allow him to have 
an alguacil for the service in connection with his protectorship. Id. } 90. 




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 Sepulveda — His Appeal to the Con- 
science of Philip — The Audiencia Transferred from Panama to 
Guatemala — Death of the Apostle of the Indies — His Character — 
The Dominicans in Chiapas. 

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. 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. 2 In 1537, through the exer- 
tions of Bishop Marroquin, a convent of the order 

1 As early as May 28, 1528, fines were appropriated to the building of the 
church. J'emesal, Hist. Chyapa, 277; Juarros, Hist. Guat., 03. It was dedi- 
cated to Nuestra Senora de la Anunciacion, but afterward, when the name of 
the city was changed, San Cristobal was chosen as the patron saint, and 
this name was retained after it was erected into a cathedral. Heme .sal, Hist. 
Chyapa, 274; Nueva Espana, Breve Res., MS., ii. 390; Calle, Mem. y Not., 122. 

2 Both these priests were army chaplains, the latter receiving his appoint- 
ment from Pedro de Alvarado in the name of his Majesty. The religious 
fervor of the Spaniards at Ciudad Real was to say the least lukewarm. In 
1528 Pedro Gonzalez was ordered to say mass daily on pain of forfeiting his 
salary. Another ordinance was that citizens were to attend church in proper 
time ; ' El Espafiol que desde el Euangelio adelante estuuicrc fucra dc la Yglesia, 
tiene pena de tres pessos;' while a third was to the effect that no citizen was 



of La Merced was founded by frailes Pedro de Bar- 
rientos and Pedro Benitez de Lugo. On the 18th of 
May these friars petitioned the cabildo for an allot- 
ment of land on which to found a monastery, but 
though their request was granted they remained but 
a short time. 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 re- 
quest met with a liberal response, and the friars who 
arrived in after years were well supplied with the 
means of support. 4 

By a papal bull issued on the 19th of March 1538, 5 
Ciudad Real was appointed a cathedral city, the dio- 
cese 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 prevail- 
ing 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. 6 

to be absent from the city during Christmas, easter, and whitsuntide, under 
a heavy penalty, which was inflicted on those absent at Christmas in 1535. 
Bemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 275-6; Mazariegos, Mem. Chiapa, 44; Pineda, De- 
scrip. Geog., 128. 

3 Fray Pedro de Barrientos was appointed superior, and according to 
Pineda, 129, by Bishop Marroquin. The cabildo granted the friars their choice 
of an allotment, and they selected one near the Cerro de la Cruz on the road 
to Chapultepec. An additional piece of land, 130 paces square, was also 
given them for their church and convent. Bemesal, Hist. Cliyapa, 43C-7; 
Juarros, Hist. Guat.,63-4; Pineda, Descrip. Geog., 129. 

4 In 1546 Fray Marcos was succeeded by Friar Hernando de Arbolancha. 
The former established a cattle farm near Copanabastla, where he also built 
a country-house and a sugar-mill. 

5 According to Bemesal, Hist. Chyapa, 202; Gonzalez Ddvila, Teatro Ecles., 
i. 189, April 14th; Calle, Mem. y Not., 122, May 19th; Larrairtzar, Hist. 
Soconusco, 20, April 14th; Pacheco and Cardenas. Col. Doc, viii. 26, May 
15th. All these dates are wrong, as may be seen from a copy of the bull in 
Nueva Eypaiia, Breve Bes., MS., ii. 392. 

6 Nueva Espana, Breve Bes., MS., ii. 389-92. 



On the 14th of April 1538, Juan de Arteaga y 
Abenclano, a friar of the order of Santiago, was ap- 
pointed 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 docu- 
ment framing the constitution of his diocese. 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, 8 his dio- 
cese remaining in charge of the bishop of Guatemala 
until the arrival, in 1545, of Bartolome de las Casas. 

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 disin- 
terestedness should be doubted, accepted the prelacy 
of this extensive diocese, 9 one fourth of the tithes 

7 In Nueva Espana, Breve lies. , MS. , it is 
remarked that a copy of this document is no- 
where to be found, but that Remesal makes 
mention of it as being identical with that of 
the Guatemalan bishopric, except in the exor- 
dium. In the cathedral of Chiapas no account 
of it exists. See Eemesal, Hint. Chyapa, 202. 
The personnel of the cathedral was to consist 
of a dean, archdean, precentor, chancellor, and 
treasurer, besides two canons and other ecclesi- 
astics. Gonzalez Ddvila, Teutro Ecles., [. 189. 

8 Remesal states that the immediate cause 
of his death was taking poison during the night 
in mistake for water. Mazariegos inclines to 
the opinion that the fatal draft was taken while 
Arteaga was delirious with fever. Mem. < '///'- 
apa, 45. According to Calle, Mem. y Not. , 1 22, 
Abendano was a native of Estepa. Some of 
Abms of the City of Chiapas. tho mem bers of his chapter went to Santiago, 
and others remained at Ciudad Real in a destitute condition, but were provided 
for by Marroquin. They asked that their allowance be given them from the 
revenues of that church, but this was refused by Marroquin until tho emperor's 
decision should be known. Pacheco and Gurdcnas, Col. Doc., xiii. 278-9. 

• In his memorial to the audiencia Oct. 22, 1545, Squier's MSS., xxii. 176, 
Las Casas claims Yucatan and Tezulutlan. June 4, 1545, Bishop Marroquin 
acknowledges receipt of the prince's letter assigning Soconusco to Las Casas. 
Id. t 121. 



of his bishopric and an additional sum of 500,000 
maravedis 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 de- 
cree caused the liberation of all the Indian slaves 
brought to Spain from the New World he embarked 
at San Lucar on the 11th of July. 10 He was accom- 


panied by his constant companion, Father Eodrigo de 
Ladrada, and forty-five Dominican friars, including 
Father Tomds Casillas, their vicar, and his successor 

10 Remesal, Hist. Chi/apa, 223, says the 9th; Las Casas, in Quintana, Vidas, 
184, the 10th; Helps, Span. Conq., iv. 302, the 4th. 


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 insist- 
ing on the enforcement of the new laws, so exasperat- 
ing them that they refused to acknowledge him as 
their bishop, on the ground that his papers were de- 
fective. 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 Feb- 
ruary 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 administra- 
tors on the security of one of the citizens. 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 Ter- 
minos, 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. 12 

The cathedral chapter consisted, on Las Casas' ar- 
rival, 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 

11 Pacheco anfl. Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 211-14. 

12 Las Casas, Relation de entrada, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., vii. 


Chiapas, if we are to believe Las Casas, committed 
many excesses/ 3 and there is abundant evidence that 
in their subsequent treatment of them there was 
much harshness and cruelty. 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, 15 and made 
this the chief of certain sins for which he reserved to 
himself the right of granting absolution. The publi- 
cation 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; wdiere- 
upon the former, determined not to be thus thwarted, 
sent his bailiff and a few attendants with orders to 

13 'Donde mas excesos y desorden ha habido en hacer injusta e" inicua y 
malvadamente los indios esclavos, ha sido en Guatemala yChiapa.' Las Casas, 
Representation, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 1G8-9. 

11 Diego Ramirez, juez visitador to Chiapas in 1548, writes Las Casas 
under date of April 20, 1549, that so excessive had been the tribute imposed 
by the settlers, that many of the natives had nothing left, not even a mantle, 
and their condition was that of slavery or even worse. Pacheco and Cardenas, 
Col. Doc, vii. 204. Cerrato, writing to the emperor, Sept. 28, 1548, says 
that in Guatemala and Chiapas the encomenderos observed neither the law 
nor the prescribed tribute, but destroyed the natives without pity. Squier's 
J1SS., xxii. 82. 

15 Las Casas' opponents contended that this included all slaves however 
acquired. Las Casas, Eel., in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 158; 
Carta, Audiencia, July 20, 1545, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 111-12. Las Casas, 
that it only concerned those unlawfully enslaved. Carta, Oct. 25, 1545, in Id. , 
122-3. But practically it embraced all slaves, for their legal enslavement was 
difficult of proof. Carta, Audiencia, Dec 30, 1545, in Id., 130-1. 


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 leg. 16 

At this juncture an alcalde, who among others had 
been attracted by the disturbance, added to the ex- 
citement 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, 17 and he was obliged to content himself 
with declaring him anathematized and excommuni- 
cated. 18 

Las Casas was baffled but not defeated. He re- 
ceived an invitation to assist in the consecration of 
Bishop Valdivieso at Gracias a" 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. 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 

16 Las Casas, Bel., loc. cit. 

11 Las Casas y Valdivieso, Carta, Oct. 25, 1545, in Squiers MSS., xxii. 

18 Las Casas, Jiel., loc. cit. 

19 In a letter dated July 20, 1545, the andiencia informed the emperor of 
Las Casas' doings at Ciudad Real, and charged him with usurping the juris- 
diction of the crown. Carta, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 111-12. 


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 re- 
sented his unqualified condemnation of it as a reflec- 
tion 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 importuni- 
ties 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 Heal 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 Yuca- 
tan. 20 No further troubles appear to have occurred 
between the bishop and the colonists. 21 

In 1547 Las Casas embarked for Spain. The revo- 
cation of the new laws of which he must have heard 

20 Las Casas, Carta, Oct. 25, 1545, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 121; Id., Nov. 9, 
15//5, in Cartas de Indias, 36. 

21 Las Casas' hostile reception and his subsequent reconciliation with the 
settlei-s described by Hemesal, Hist. C/iyapa, 379-87, I am inclined to dis- 
credit, owing to the well known tendencies of this writer, and the fact that 
tue letter of Father Casillas, Pachero and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 181-2, 
written when Las Casas was on his return from Gracias a Dios, does not indi- 
cate such hostility. 


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 re- 
treat 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 Gines Sepulveda, 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 propo- 
sitions in refutation of this view in which he main- 
tained 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 kincr from taking offence at his boldness, and in- 
duced him to permit the unrestricted publication of 
his works while those of his opponent were forbidden 
to be printed. Henceforth he continued to be con- 
sulted 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 encomien- 
das. 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 
kings confessor, who had written to him on the sub- 
ject, 22 he made a bold and earnest appeal to the royal 

M For a copy of the letter see Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 290, 
338; also Las Casas, Oeuvrcs, ii. 120-180; this latter version is detective. 


conscience. The appeal was not in vain, and he 
thus paved the way for the final emancipation of the 

His last service to the New World was his repre- 
sentation to the council of the Indies of the great 
inconvenience and prejudice caused to the settlers and 
natives of Guatemala by the removal to Panama of 
the audiencia of the Confines. In 1569, partly owing 
to his influence, the audiencia was reestablished 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 contempora- 
ries, a conclusion which they deemed warranted by the 
unflinching courage and tenacity with which he main- 
tained 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 suf- 
ferings, 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 per- 
secution, insult, loss of friends, the enmity of country- 
man. 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 mis- 
representation, 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 forgot- 
ten that this was probably due to the intolerant relig- 
ious and scholastic spirit of his times. The purity of 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 22 


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 Bartolome 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 benefac- 
tors 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 inhabi- 
tants. 23 

Through the solicitation of Las Casas, Diego Ram- 
irez, of whom mention has been made in connection 
with the history of Mexico, 24 was sent to investigate 
the alleged oppression of the natives and their oppo- 
sition 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.* 25 

After the departure of Ramirez, matters relapsed 
into their former condition. Within less than a year, 
however, Cerrato having taken charge of the audi- 
encia determined to remedy these abuses, declaring 
that the natives continued to be destroyed without 
pity, the previous official visits having accomplished 
nothing. 20 

* Books, Chiapa, 27-8. 

-'■ Hint. Mex. t ii. 570 ct scq., this series. 

amirez, Cartas, April 26, 1548, April 20, 1541, in ParJ/cro and Cdr- 
denaa, Col. Doc, vii. 201-4; Fr. Torre, Carta, Aug. 3, 1548, inSquier'sMSS., 
xxii. 94-6. 

» Carta, Sept. $8, 1548, in Sqnier* MSS., xxii. 81-2. 


Before the arrival of the Dominicans, little seems 
to have been clone 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 in- 
stance we may certainly do so, the Indians were 
morally and religiously more degraded under Christ- 
ian than under pagan domination. Idolatry was 
openly practised, and to their former vices were added 
those of the Spaniards, which their chiefs, now de- 
prived in great part of their authority, were power- 
less 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 Domini- 
cans were of course interrupted by the persecution to 
which they were subjected because of their bold sup- 
port of Las Casas. Alms were refused them, and 
theirsupplies 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 in- 
genuity 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 es- 
tablished several convents including that of Ciudad 
Real, and had visited and carried their teaching to 
the remotest parts of the province. 27 

27 Fray Antonio de Remesal began the history of the Dominican province 
of San Vicente de Chiapas y Guatemala about the middle of April 1615, and 
finished it in Oajaca, Sept. 29, 1G17. The secular history of Guatemala and 
the other provinces under the jurisdiction of the audiencia de los Confines 
is moreover incidentally given, but not in a detailed manner. The author's 
diligence and perseverance in having completed in so short a time a folio 
volume of 784 pages, and one displaying great research, are remarkable, and 
the more praiseworthy for the reason that it was accomplished under violent 
opposition and many difficulties. It is to be regretted that, having bestowed 
so much labor on investigation, he did not supply a bibliographical list of his 
authorities. These he informs us consisted of archives, books, manuscripts, 
memorials, narratives, wills, and statements, which he asserts were docu- 
ments worthy of credit and authentic, but omits enumeration of them 'in 


order to avoid a very long list.' He was indebted to Conde de la Gomera, 
president of the audiencia of Guatemala, for access to the archives and official 
papers of different cities. To him he dedicates his book. The advantages 
enjoyed by Remesal in this respect render the work an exceedingly valu- 
able contribution to Central American history. Its value, however, is less- 
ened by the great number of typographical and other errors which it con- 
tains. These are very important, especially where dates are concerned. 
While a large number of them are quite obvious, very many incidents of 
great importance must be verified as to time of occurrence, by reference to 
other authors. In the portion of his work which relates to the conquest of 
Guatemala, many inaccuracies are observed. In fact, Ramesal was hurried, 
and often biassed. His style is clear and pleasing; free from the redundant 
and inflated form so common a century later. He submitted his manuscript 
to Torcjuemada, by whom it was highly approved and its publication advised. 
This occurred in the citj r of Mexico. But meantime a storm was brewing else- 
where. The work was by no means to the liking of certain parties in Guate- 
mala. By means of letters addressed to different parts of Mexico, but more 
particularly by a special messenger who preached a crusade against the new his- 
tory, these enemies raised up a tempest of indignation against Remesal and Ilia 
book, especially in Oajaea. Through the influence, however, of sensible and 
powerful Mends in Mexico and Guatemala all opposition was overcome. See 
pages 747-51 of his work. The author was born in the town of Allariz in Galicia, 
and on the 9th of October 1613, nearly five months after he left Spain, arrived at 
Guatemala, where he was most kindly received by the Dominican order. Dur- 
ing the time he remained in their convent, he failed not to observe the excel- 
lent system of government under which the society worked, and occupied 
his time in perusing the acts of the chapters held in the. convent. He was so 
impressed with the excellence of these laws and regulations that he proceeded 
to make a kind of summary of them. While thus employed, a work on the 
origin of the province, written by Friar Tomas de la Torre, fell into his hands. 
This suggested to him to undertake a history that would embrace both secu- 
lar and ecclesiastical matters. With unconquerable diligence and ardor he 
prosecuted to the end the work thus projected. On one occasion, when suf- 
fering from a fibrous abscess in the face, he carefully perused in a single day 
the whole of the first book of the archives of Guatemala city, after having 
submitted to a severe surgical operation on his right cheek. Twice he jour- 
neyed over all New Spain, collecting information and, in particular, studying 
the books of the cabildos of different cities and towns. The evidence he thus 
obtained was in many instances at variance, he states, with printed books 
and histories of his own religion. The authors of these— whose names he does 
not mention — he would not condemn, however, but excuse on the ground 
that later research will necessarily produce different accounts of events. See 
his preface. Remesal was a fearless writer. Perhaps he had some leaning 
to tlit; descendants of the conquerors, yet he does not hesitate to denounce 
the acts of the iirst colonists, to deal with Alvarado in a manner severely 
condemning him, and to endorse Las Casas with regard to the cruel oppres- 
sion of the Indians. But his statements are to be accepted with caution, 
especially where Las Casas or the Dominican order is concerned. No effort 
is spared to hold them up to the gaze of an admiring posterity, and to expose 
the errors and perverseness of their enemies. To this end all sorts of prob- 
able and improbable situations and adventures are described, wherein the 
religious eventually triumph. Many important facts are glossed over, or 
omitted, the true versions of which it is evident must have come within his 
observation. Numerous speeches, sermons, conversations, even the thoughts 
and feelings of the leading actors, are described with a minuteness of dctnil 
that is astonishing considering the lapse of time — over 75 years. The account 
of the prosecution of the religious by Baltasar Gucrra may be looked upon as 
a fiction, while the author's inventive faculty has had much to do with that 
of the opposition to Lis Casas in Ciudad Real. His version of Las Casas' 
doings in Gracias a Dios seems also greatly exaggerated. 




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 — De- 
crees 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. 

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. 1 The 
means, however, for the construction of these edifices 
could not be immediately procured. The bishop there- 
fore caused to be built a hermitage, called Santa 
Lucia, which served temporarily as the parish church 
in the new city. 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 permis- 
sion to make such a change was pointed out to the 

1 The old church had cost more than 10,000 pesos, and the bishop had not 
only expended his own means upon it, but had also borrowed 5,000 or 6,000 
more. He requests the king February 20, 1542, that the prompt and full 
payment of tithes be enforced, and that he aid him with 3,000 or 4,000 pesos 
for the construction of the new church already being built. Carta, in Pacheco 
and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 272-3. 

2 Vazquez, Chron. de. Goat., 153. 



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. 3 With regard to the build- 
ing of the new cathedral few particulars are known, 
other than that the bishop was compelled for a num- 
ber of years to appeal to the king for aid in its com- 
pletion. 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 en- 
force the payment to the church of one tenth of all 
tributes. 5 He, moreover, assures him that his salary 
of five hundred thousand maravedis 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. 6 

But the colonists were not easily compelled to pay 
their tithes of cacao, 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 

3 Although Marroquin expressed acquiescence in the wishes of the cabildo 
he did not approve of the pulling down of the church, and ordered it to be 
re-roofed at his own expense. Ardvalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 190-1. Vazquez 
states that the old cathedral was taken down and the materials used in the 
construction of the new one. Chron. de Gvat., 105. 

4 In March 1545 Marroquin petitioned the king that the subsidy of the 
novenos for the erection of the church be continued. The grant was extended 
for four more years. In accordance with a second request made in Septem- 
ber 1547 the grant of two novenos was extended for six years. Again in 
March 1548 the bishop asked for aid in addition to the novenos already 
granted. Squier'8 J/.S'.S'. , xxii. 45, 91, 138. Vazquez states that the building of 
the church lasted only three years. Chron. de Gvat., 153. 

5 He also complains of the government officials who maintained that he 
had no right to tithes during his absence in Mexico with Alvarado in 1540-1. 
Carta, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xiii. 274-5. 

6 Id., 273-4. In May 1547 Bishop Pedraza asked the king for an in- 
crease of salary from 500,000 maravedis to 2,000 ducados, the stipend given 
to the bishop of Guatemala and others. SquUr'a MSS., xxii. 29. The royal 
officials were ordered in 1540 to investigate the question of salaries and 
amount of tithes received yearly in each bishopric. If they fell short of 
500,000 maravedis, the deficit was to be supplied out of the royal treasury. 
Recop. de Ind., i. 03-4. 

7 Cacao formed the chief and most valuable tithe in the diocese. Id., 94. 
The payment of tithes on pita — the fibre of the agave manufactured into 

ties of clothing etc.— -and balsam and the carrying of tithes to the churches 
was under consideration by the audiencia, December 20, 1545. Id., 132. 


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 incur- 
red in his visits to Honduras and Chiapas. Never- 
theless the colonists maintained a stubborn opposition, 
and in 1548 matters had so little improved that Mar- 
roquin once more asks for aid from the crown. 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 cedula assigning Soconusco 
to the bishop of Chiapas on the ground of its prox- 
imity to that province. This decision Las Casas 
communicated to Marroquin in 1545, and hence arose 
mutual vituperation, charges of grasping after terri- 
tory, 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 cedula, 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 con- 
tain half a dozen bishoprics, while Las Casas reports 
that the bishop of Guatemala had appropriated dis- 
tricts extending almost to Nicaragua, and states that 
his see is the asylum of vagabond clergymen. 9 

But though Marroquin was thus involved in diffi- 
culties with his flock and disputes with his brother 
bishop, he labored hard for the welfare of the former 
by founding various charitable institutions. Under 

8 Squlcr's MSS., xxii. 92, 4. In December 1551 the viceroy of Mexico ad- 
dressed the cabildo on this question and expressed his astonishment at the 
outcry against the payment of tithes, ' que de derecho divino y humano son 
obligados a pagallos.' Arcvalo, Col. Doc. Antiy., 181-2. 

'Squiera MSS., xxii. 44-5, 120-1, 123, 139; Cartas de India*, 19-23, 442. 


his auspices was established between 154G and 1548, 10 
the convent of La Concepcion, the first lady superior 
being 1 Dona Beatriz de Silva, a nun of the Dominican 
convent of Madre de Dios in Toledo. 11 This institu- 
tion was liberally aided by the crown. 12 

About the same time the hospital of San Alejo was 
founded by the Dominicans, 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 insti- 
tution to the crown; hence it was known as the 
royal hospital of Santiago. 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, 15 having re- 

10 In 154G according to Gonzalez Ddvila, Hist. Ecles., i. 140. Vazquez 
states that the convent of La Concepcion was not founded until 1577. Chron. 
de Gvat., 153. 

11 Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 441. Vazquez, as previously quoted, however, 
states that the name of the tirst lady superior was Juana de San Francisco, 
implying that she was a Franciscan and not a Dominican. This author's 
whole account is a contradiction of Remesal's version. 

12 The emperor contributed 2,000 ducados toward its founding. Gonzalez 
Ddvila, Tcatro Ecles., i. 152. 

u Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 585. Gonzalez Davila says that Marroquin 
'Dio principio al Hospital de S. Alexo, donde se cur& Indios y Esparioles, que 
oy es Hospital Real, en ano 1G47' — a misprint for 1547 — Tcatro Ecles., i. 150. 
This hospital was founded for the benefit of Indians who were no longer 
capable of service, and whom the Spaniards were wont to turn out into the 
streets to die like dogs. Guat. Santo Domingo en 1724, 55. 

11 Vazquez, Chron. dc Gvat., 152. Consult also Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 
584-6, where a somewhat different account is given. In claiming merit for 
his order this author represents the Indians as unwilling to enter the hospital 
of Santiago, preferring that of San Alejo. Both hospitals received liberal 
support from the crown. 

'•The second opening of the Dominican convent took place about July 
1536. Though Remesal, on pages 111, 115, states that Las Casas arrived at 
Santiago in 1535, there is positive evidence that 1536 is the right year. In 
the deposition, taken in Leon on the 23d of August 1530, relative to the pro- 
ceeding of Las Casas in Nicaragua, the witness Martinez de Isagre in his 


ceivecl from the municipality an assignment of four 
lots of ground whereon to rebuild their convent. 16 In 
1547 the provincial chapter of the order in Mexico 
recognized and accepted the convent of Guatemala as 
regularly organized, and appointed Friar Tom as Ca- 
sillas as a prior. At this date there were thirteen mem- 
bers of the community besides the prior. In 1550 
Fray Tomds de la Torre succeeded Casillas, by which 
time the number had increased to only fifteen. 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. Accord- 
ing to Torquemada, Fray Toribio Motolinia was sent 
in 1533, by the custodia of the order in Mexico, to 
found monasteries in Guatemala, 18 but the first perma- 
nent 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, 19 and arrived at Mexico in 1540, their expenses 
having been paid by him. 20 After remaining six 
months at that city they proceeded by land to Guate- 
mala, but at Tepeaca, six leagues from Puebla, their 
prelate Casaseca fell sick and died. 21 The rest contin- 

evidence mentions that the padre left Leon about two months previous to that 
date. Ivformaciones, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 141, 143. Gon- 
zalez Davila makes the same error as Remesal. Teatro Ecles., i. 143. Juarros 
is correct. Guat., 2G4. Torquemada, iii. 338, states that friars Pedro de An- 
gulo, Juan de Torres, and Matias de Paz, were sent from Mexico in 1538 to 
found the province of the order in Guatemala. 

16 A misunderstanding occurred between the cabildo and the friars relative 
to the grounds of the latter in the old city. These the Dominicans had sold, 
but the cabildo, which had declared the site of the old an egido, deemed the 
new grant an equal exchange for the former lots, declared that the friars had 
no right to make such a sale, and ordered the inclosures which had been built 
to be pulled down. JRernesal, Hist. Chyapa, 369-70. 

17 Remesal gives the names and grades of these members. Id., 457, 525. 

18 Torquemada, iii. 489. On the 18th of January 1533 I find that Moto- 
linia was in Tehuantepec with Fray Martin de Valencia and others of the 
order, who signed at that place a letter to the emperor. Ternaux-Compans, 
Voy. , s6rie ii. torn. v. 228. 

19 The names of these friars were Alonso de Casaseca, called also de las 
Eras, Diego Ordonez, Gonzalo Mendez, Francisco de Bustillo, Diego de Alva, 
and a lay brother Francisco Valderas. Torquemada, iii. 338; Vazquez, Chrou. 
de Gvat., 42-3, 154, 518-19; Gonzalez Davila, Teatro Ecles., i. 145. 

20 The expense of each friar from Seville to Vera Cruz was 70 ducados. 
Id.; Meudieta, Hist. Ecles., 384. 

21 Diego Ordouez was chosen to succeed him. Vazquez, Chrou. de Gvat. , 51-5. 


uecl their journey and were received at Santiago with 
every demonstration of welcome. B} r private con- 
tributions and with the assistance of the bishop they 
were enabled to erect a humble dwelling, 22 in which 
they discharged the duties of their calling with as 
punctual and strict observance as if it had been a con- 
vent of the highest order. After the destruction of 
Santiago appropriate ground was allotted to them for 
the erection of their convent, church, and other build- 
ings, 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. 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 mem- 
bers of his order. He soon accomplished his mission 
and returned with twelve brothers to Mexico. Un- 
happily in their haste to engage in their labors most 
of them broke down on the long and toilsome journey 
to Santiago, and died. 25 At a later date, however, 
the want was somewhat relieved by the arrival of 
Motolinia with a considerable number of his order. 26 

The Franciscan order was now firmly established 

22 Vazquez states that they occupied a small convent badly out of repair 
built by Franciscans formerly in the country. 'Coventico, que por entoces 
apenas tenia vn lienzo de horcones. ' Id. , 59. 

23 Vazquez gives a copy of the order for the allotment signed by the joint 
governors Marroquin and Cueva. It is without date, but Vazquez infers that 
it was given during October 1541, when lots were being distributed. Id., 1G7. 

21 They were engaged in the difficult task of collecting the Indians into 
towns. Fray Ordonez remained in charge of the monastery; Gonzalo was 
sent among the Zutugils; Bustillo and Alva to the Quiche's and Cakchiquels 
respectively. Id., GO-7, 77-82, 106-11, 129. 

^Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., 384-5; Torquemada, iii. 338-9. 

26 Both the date and number of friars are matters of dispute. Torquemada 
states that Motolinia was sent in 1542 to Guatemala by Jacobo de Testera, 
comisario general of the order, with twelve of the 150 friars whom he had 
brought to Mexico that year. Torquemada, iii. 337, 339. He follows Mend/eta, 
Hist. Ecles., 385. Figueroa, in Pap. Franciscan os, MS., i. No. 1, 37 et aeq., 
Bupporta Torquemada as to date but maintains that the number of friars was 24. 
Vazquez, on the authority of Fund, de la Prov. de S. Fran™ de Gnat. MS., 
1683, Lteana, Hist. Yuc., a letter of Motolinia dated October 21, 1545, and the 
minutes of the cabildo, concludes that Motolinia arrived at Guatemala in 
1544, with 20 or 24 friars. Chron. de GvaL, 42-3, 102, 105-0, 440. 


in Guatemala. Motolinia erected the convents which 
had been founded 27 into a custodia, despatched friars 
to Yucatan, 23 and visited different parts of the coun- 
try. He then returned to Mexico and was succeeded 
in his office of custodio by Fray Gonzalo de Men- 
dez. 29 

The jealousy which existed between the Domin- 
icans and Franciscans was exhibited in Guatemala as 
strongly as elsewhere, and the bickerings which oc- 
curred, and opposition offered by the earlier estab- 
lished order to the new-comers, were so discouraging 
that many of the Franciscans left the province. 30 But 
for the efforts of Bishop Marroquin they would have 
abandoned the field. 31 

In 1547 the comisario general states that there 
were only twelve Franciscans in Guatemala, and re- 
quests that young members of the order, capable of 
acquiring the native language, be sent out. 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 

27 The convent next founded after that at Santiago was the one at Atitlan 
by Fray Gonzalo in 1541; then followed others at Tecpan atitlan and Coma- 
lapa. Id. , 84-5, 340. There is some doubt as to the date of the founding of 
the Franciscan custodia in Guatemala. Torquemada states that it was es- 
tablished in 1551, following Mendieta. Vazquez is contradictory, giving the 
years 1544 and 1549 as the dates. Cron. de Gvat., 102, 123, and furthermore 
quotes on pp. 144-6, Fund. Prov. S. Francisco, MS., 1583, as follows: 'Digo, 
que lo q ay en el caso es: que esta Provincia fue veinte aiios Custodia de la 
Provincia del Santo Evangelio de Mexico. ' As this refers to the erection of 
the order into a province in 1529, it would appear that there was a Francis- 
can custodia in Guatemala in 1539. Figueroa, in Pap. Franciscanos, MS. i. 
No. 1, 37, gives 1542 as the date. 

28 The number of friars sent to Yucatan as variously given by the authori- 
ties already quoted, was four or six. But Marroquin, writing to the emperor 
December 1, 1545, states that Fray Villapando was in Yucatan with eight of 
the order, whom he had taken from Guatemala. Squier's MSS., xxii. 140. 
For mention of Villapando's labors in Yucatan see Hist. Mex., ii. 452 et seq., 
this series. 

29 Torquemada, iii. 339. The cabildo of Santiago in December 1545 peti- 
tioned that Motolinia should be sent back. The comisario general in Mexico 
replied, in February 1545, that more friars would be sent but that Motolinia's 
services were more needed in Mexico. Vazquez, Chron. de Gvat., 105-G. 

30 Ibid; Audiencia al Emperador, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 132. 

31 Torquemada, iii. 339, 374-5; Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., 385. 

32 Many through inability to master the difficulties of the languages had 
left. Squier's 3ISS., xxii. 39-40. 


Mercenaries, who are described as beinsf detrimental 
rather than beneficial to the cause of the church. 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 prac- 
tised by the Franciscans, and they would not admit 
that the interests of the conquerors were compatible 
with the welfare of the conquered races. The Fran- 
ciscans, 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 be- 
lieved 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, 34 it cannot be disputed that the indis- 
creet zeal of Las Casas gave dissatisfaction to eminent 
men even in his own order. 35 

It was through the exertions of Bartolome de Las 
Casas that the pacification of Vera Paz was achieved 
without the aid of an armed force. The native name 

n Zapata, Carta, 'Dcstrui/rn i no edifican.' Id., 40. 

:!1 Las Caaaa, in Quinlana, Vklas. 207-8. 

** According to Motolinia, Hist. Ecles., 250, 208, Fray Betanzos wrote 
a letter to Las Casas attributing much evil and scandal to his mode of 


of this territory was Tuzulutlan. The Spaniards after 
their entrance into Guatemala made several unsuccess- 
ful attempts to subdue it, and from this cause and the 
fierce character of the natives they called it Tierra de 
Guerra. 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, ex- 
tended sixty leagues from east to west, measured from 
the river Nito 3 ' to the river Zacapulas, and fifty 
leagues from south to north, commencing from the 
northern slope of the Canal and Rabinal mountains. 33 
The surface was rugged and mountainous; roads were 
almost unknown, and the inhabitants active and war- 
like. 33 Nevertheless Las Casas proposed to penetrate 
it in defiance of danger, exposure, and hardship. 

Previous to 1536 he had published a treatise, 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 inces- 
santly 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 

36 Meaning land of war; the name Vera Paz signifying true peace was 
given it by the Dominicans because thej^ had accomplished by peaceful 
measures what force of arms had failed to do. Miranda, in Squier's MSS. , xv. 2; 
Juarros, Guat., ii. 320-1. This last author, quoting Las Casas, states that 
this name was conferred by Charles V. i. 153. Consult also Remesal, Hist. 
Chyapa, 118-24. The native name is written by different authors Tuzulutlan 
and Tezulutan. 

37 Now called Dulce. 

38 S quiets MSS., xiv. 1-2. Miranda in 1575 reported to the oidor Palacio 
of the Guatemala audiencia that the river Zacapulas separated Vera Paz from 
the province of Guatemala, and that the distance thence to the gulf of Dulce 
was about 48 leagues, its greatest width being 27 leagues. The inhabited 
portion was only one third or one fourth of its surface, for the friars had col- 
lected the Indians into towns, and established a system of commerce. Squier's 
MSS., xv. 3. At the time of these reports the northern part, a wild and 
heavily wooded country, was — and still is — inhabited by wild tribes, being 
then a refuge for fugitive Indians from Yucatan. 

39 Quintana conjectures that lack of mines and other valuable resources 
prevented their being enslaved. Vidas, 2 a parte, 173. 

40 Entitled Be Unico Vocationis Modo, and abounding in copious legal and 
theological arguments in favor of his system of peaceable conquest, llemesal, 
Hist. Chyapa, 118-21; Las Casas, in Quintana, Vida*, 2» parte, 172-3. 


by accomplishing the conquest of Tuzulutlan. The 
undaunted padre accepted the challenge, and in con- 
junction 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 per- 
mitted to enter the country. 41 

Las Casas at once proceeded to put his designs in 
execution, and by the employment of converted Ind- 
ians and the establishment of frontier posts, opened 
friendly relations with the hitherto exclusive inhabi- 
tants of Vera Paz, 42 and laid the basis of the future 
acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Spain.- 


• • J 1 Las Casas, in Quintano, Vidas, 238-9. These terms were guaranteed by 
Maldonado in May 1537 according to Remesal. Hist. Ch>/apa, 122-3. .They 
were approved by the audiencia of Mexico in February 1539, and b"y the 
emperor in November 1540. Peal Cidula, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., 
vii. 14G-5G. 

nPelaez, Mem. de Gnat., i. 153. 

43 Remesal gives an interesting and romantic account of the method first 
adopted by Las Casas, but one which, I apprehend, is more r.n invention 
than a true statement of facts. He represents Las Casas and his colleagues 
as composing verses in the Quiche tongue, narrating the principal mysteries 
of the Catholic faith. These were set to music and taught to four Indian 
merchants, who were in the habit of journeying into Tuzulutlan. The lord 
of Zacapulas was a formidable and powerful chief called by Remesal Don 
Juan. To him the four merchants were instructed to go and sing their can- 
ticles, having been provided with various articles from Spain such as would 
excite curiosity. Their reception was favorable, and the interest awakened 
by their songs, the novel presents which they brought, and their description 
of the peace-loving men induced a wish in the haughty chieftain to be visited 
by the friars themselves. Accordingly a second expedition was planned and 
Fray Luis Cancer was selected to accompany the Indian traders. His mis- 
sion was successful. The cacicrue was persuaded to embrace Christianity, 
destroy his idols, and be baptized. On the return of Fray Luis, Las Casas 
determined still further to extend the work in person, and in December 
1537 visited Don Juan accompanied by Fray Angulo. They then extended 
their journey into the more remote districts of Tuzulutlan and Coban, being 
provided with an escort by the cacique, who vainly endeavored to dissuade 
them from their hazardous undertaking. The treatment they met with was, 
however, generally favorable, and though they experienced some opposition 
among the subjects of both Don Juan and the lord of Coban, they completed 
their journey and returned early in 1538. Hist. Chyapa, 122-4", 135-40. 
(' insult also Fernandez, Hist. Ecles., passim; Las Casas, in Qidntana, Vidas, 
L74-6; and Brcuseur de Bourboury, J lis!. Nab. Civ., iv. 793-6. Now this 

rant savors at least of inaccuracy. The efforts of Las Casas and his com- 
p Olions, previous to his departure to Spain in 1539-40, were confined to the 
frontier.; which were to a certain extent under subjugation. In February 
1C42 Bishop Marroquin, writing to the emperor, after mentioning the arrival 


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 op- 
position 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.' 14 Accordingly he left Guatemala and 
proceeded by wa*y of Mexico to Spain. 45 

of some Dominicans who brought with them 'dos seiiores de la raya de tierra 
de guerra, que les salieron al camino,' and describing the excitement caused 
by the reading of a royal provision ' eshivida a contemplacion de fray Bar- 
tolom6 de las Casas y por su relacion,' uses these words: 'Esto confiado, 
que este pedazo de tierra que esta a la mar del Norte, cuya cabecera cs 
Teculutlan, ha de vcnir en conocimiento de nuestra santa f<3e, sin riesgo ni 
sangre ni muertes, y cuando no, antes ganara que perdera. ' Pacheco and 
Cardenas. Col. Doc. , xiii. 27S-9. This clearly proves that but little progress 
had been made in the spiritual conquest of Vera Paz up to the date of Mar- 
roquin's letter. The mention of the two lords of the Tierra de Guerra and 
Fray Domingo de Vico's custom of composing verses on the life of Christ and 
scriptural subjects, to be sung by converted Indians at feasts, as mentioned 
by Ilemesal on pages Gll-12, may have suggested to that writer his story of 
the merchants and Don Juan and the lord of Co ban. Moreover, in Decem- 
ber 1545 the audiencia informed the emperor that two Dominicans had, pre- 
vious to May preceding, left Guatemala for the provinces of Tuzulutlan and 
Lacandon, and t'nat their lives being reported in danger Fray Angulo had 
gone to their aid. The oidores also expressed their disapproval of the propo- 
sition to exempt Don Juan, the cacique of Atitlan, and others from the 
cncomienda system as a reward for the assistance rendered by them in the 
pacification of those districts. Squier'a M88. , xxii. 131. 

41 In addressing the emperor from Madrid, December 15, 1540, Las Casas 
reports the commencement of the work, and that the lords of the provinces 
had already treated with the Dominicans secretly. He expresses the convic- 
tion that the country would be brought to acknowledge the sovereignty of 
Spain ' por via de paz, amor y buenas obras. ' Col. Doc. In6d., viii. 555-6. 

43 The date of his departure from New Spain and of his arrival at the penin- 
sula are alike uncertain. Remesal states that he attended a provincial chap- 
ter of his order held in Mexico on the 24th of August 1538 at which the 
question of his mission to Spain was discussed and permission given to him, 
Ladrada, and Cancer to go thither. At the same meeting the title of vicar of 
the Dominican convent in Guatemala was conferred upon Fray Angulo. Hist. 
Chyapct, 147, 150. Las Casas, in Qulntana, Vidas, 178, concludes that he arrived 
in Spain in 1539. Helps, Span. Conq., iii. 304-7, and Life of Las Casas, 178, 
avers that he returned from Tuzulutlan to Santiago in May 1539 and pro- 
ceeded to Mexico to attend the chapter held on August 24, 1539. According to 
Icazbalceta, Col. Doc. , i. pp. lv. lxir. 258, Las Casas was in Tlascala in the early 
part of 1539. For particulars regarding the sailing of the fleets to and from 
Spain see Id. , pp. cxiv-v. February 15th was the day of leaving Vera Cruz aa 
regulated by decree of 15G4. Ilemesal states that previous to his departure Las 
Casas founded Itabinal after mature deliberation as to the choice of a site favor- 


On his arrival at court lie 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 attribu- 
ting to him the existing troubles and turmoils. 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 clay, all such as were not already instructed 
should be taught their religious duties. 47 The second 
guaranteed to Las Casas and his companions, in .their 
labors in Tuzulutlan, freedom from interference on 
the part of the Spaniards. 48 At the same time he 
obtained other documents authorizing him or his com- 
panions 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 in- 
terfere with them. 49 

able to his design. The undertaking was extremely difficult, but through 
the curiosity of roaming natives and the friendly invitations of the original 
settlers, the number of inhabitants increased before long to 500, including neo- 
phytes and other Indians. Las Casas was assisted in this work by Fray Luis 
Cancer, who availed himself of the opportunity of visiting - the interior as far 
as the towns of Coban. Hist. Chyapa, 143-4. 

46 These were respectively dated November 17, 1539, and April 20, 1540. 
In the first of these he is charged with insisting upon the liberation of certain 
slaves under penalty of their owners being refused the sacraments. Gavarrt te, 
< 'op. Doc, 41-2. In the second one it is asserted that he was travelling about 
rather than looking after the Indians 'que estan de guerra' and 'nunca los 
vio. Ni creeinos que tuvo inteligencia ninguna con ellos.' Ardvalo, Col. Doc. 
A ///!</., 15-10. 

47 Copy of this decree which was dated January 9, 1540, can be found in 
Gonzafez Ddvila, Teatro Eclcs., i. 14G-7; and Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 152. 

1 This deerce was issued on October 17, 1540. It also provided that in 
the event of the collection of tribute being decided upon by Las Casas the 
nor or bishop should appoint a proper person. Id., 153, et seq; Real 
Cddula, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, vii. 146 i>. 

:y Tlii.s decree, however, was not issued until January 28, 1541. Remesal, 
J 114. (Jkyapa, 155-G. 


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 cedula or delay its oper- 
ation 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 per- 
formed, 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 truth- 
ful statement of the question could be submitted to 
the king. This delayed the arrival of the final de- 
cision 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 cedula 
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 pacifi- 
cation proper may be considered to have begun. 60 

The exertions of Las Casas during the time he re- 
mained 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 

50 My authority for giving this date is a passage from a letter addressed 
by Cancer from Seville to Las Casas at the court of Spain. It is as follows: 
'Contedes luego el fundamento, que fue todo el suceso de las provincias de la 
Verapaz, y como S. M., a instancia de vuestra Senoria, me envio alia agora 
siete afios y lo que se hizo con solo dos religiosos. ' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. 
Doc, vii. 185. This letter was doubtless written in 1548, shortly before Can- 
cer's departure on his ill-fated expedition to Florida, which will presently be 
narrated. See copy of royal order dated December 28, 1547, extending per- 
mission, also assistance to the expedition. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 114-15. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 23 


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 en- 
trance of the Dominicans the inhabitants of these 
districts opposed all attempts to subdue them, 51 but 
that by infinite labor and care the friars had over- 
come their ferocity and exasperation. In his progress 
through the country the bishop everywhere me,t with 
a kind welcome. Escorted by Don Juan, a son of 
the lord of Coban, with many of his subjects, he pro- 
ceeded from town to town, 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 re- 
ceived religious instruction. Proceeding thence to 
the town of Tuzulutlan he there met Bishop Marro- 
quin, who was making a similar visit/ 3 and I appre- 
hend that the two prelates did not entertain such 
friendly feelings to each other as had been displayed 
to both of them by the natives. 

51 Bishop Marroquin states that nearly the whole of this region to the 
northern was conquered by Diego de Alvarado, and that a hundred Span- 
iards settled therein. They afterward abandoned it to go to Peru, and in the 
more important affairs which occupied the colonists this rugged province was 
forgotten. Las Cams, in Qtiintana, Vidas, 238. 

"Among the places visited may be mentioned Zacapula, ' uno de los 
pueblos de paz que sirven a los espafioles en la ciudad dc Guatemala, ' at which 
place four caciques of Tezulutlan met the bishop. Then he proceeded to 
Fatal and Jatic, Coban, and Tezulutlan. In formation, in Pachero and ( 'tirtle- 
nas, Col. Doc, vii. 21G. From the same document it may be gathered that at 
the time of the visit the friars in the country were: Pedro de Angulo, Luis 
Cancer, Juan dc Sant Lucas, Fray Gabriel, Domingo de Vico, Domingo de 
Azcona, and two others whose names are not mentioned. 

63 Marroquin reporting this visit indulges in unfriendly and ungenerous re- 
marks against Las Casas: 'yo se que 61 ha de escribir invenciones 6 iuiagina- 
ciones, que ni el las cntiende ni entendera en mi concicncia: porquc todo su 
edificio y fundamento va fabricado sobrc hipocresia y avaria, y asi lo mostr6 
lucgo que lc fuc dada la mitra.' But I do not find that the bishop of Guate- 
mala differs in any material point from the bishop of Chiapas in his account. 
He says, ' y media legua antes que llcgase salio todo cl pueblo h ombres y 
mugcreri a me rccibir con muchas danzas y baile3. . .y alabe mucho a Dios en 
ver tan buena voluntad y tan buen principio,' and admits further on that the 
friendly reception was due to the method adopted by the friars. He describes 
.the land as ' la mas fragosa que hay aca, no cs para que pueblcn espafioles en 


But Las Casas had still to learn that however suc- 
cessful 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 fol- 
lowing Fray Luis Cancer wrote to him — the prelate 
being then at Gracias a* 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. 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 em- 
peror 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. 55 The friar made his 

ella por ser tan fragosa y pobre.' Las Casas, in Quintana, Vidas, 238-9. See 
also Marroquin, Carta, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 139-40. Motolinia also states 
that Las Casas represented Vera Paz as of great extent and densely populated, 
but that it was not one tenth as large as represented by him. Las Casas, in 
Quintana, Vidas, 243. 

54 ' El tributo que tienen agora es intolerable, cada ochenta dias doscientas 
y cincuenta mantas, cuarenta y dos ziquipiles de cacao, y lo de la sementera, 
y creo que se la comen en las minas los oficiales. ' He states, too, that with 
warriors taken from Tuzulutlan a town double its size had been founded near 
Guatemala. With regard to the tribute he hoped that it would at any rate 
be reduced to two payments a year, one on St John's day and the other at 
Christmas. Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 231-6. Nevertheless im- 
moderate tribute was complained of for many years afterward. In 1551 a 
royal decree was issued for the purpose of lessening the burden. In 15G8 the 
audiencia of Guatemala was ordered to moderate the tribute paid by the 
Indians of Vera Paz, the caciques having forwarded a petition to the crown; 
and in 1577 the audiencia is again ordered to reduce the tribute. Bemesal, 
Hist. Chyapa, 702-3. 

55 The crown furnished Cancer with 800 ducados, with which ten tons of 
goods were purchased for the purpose of trading with the Indians. The friar 


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 in- 
deed, 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 slaughter-house." 56 

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 expedi- 
tion 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 Garcia, Diego 
de Tolosa, and a lay brother named Fuentes. Con- 
trary 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, 57 Fray Cancer, accompanied 
by Tolosa and the lay brother, proceeded on his mis- 
sion, 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. 58 

addressed three letters to Las Casas previous to his departure, the first being 
dated February 9th, and the second February 14th. None of them give the 
year, but there is little doubt that they were written in 1548. Copies of these 
letters are to be found in Packeco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vii. 184-201. 

**Ibid. Remesal states that Cancer took no companions with him from 
Spain, hut that lie selected from the Dominican convent in Mexico three 
friars and a lay brother. Hist. Chyapa, 515. There can be no doubt, how- 
ever, that two of these accompanied him from Spain. See Pacheco and Car- 
dena8, Col. Doc, vii. 199. 

57 Both Fernandez, Hist. Ecles., 150-1, and Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 515-10, 
attribute the catastrophe which followed to the action of the captain, who, 
they assert, was well aware that he was not carrying out the wishes of 
( 'ancer. Las Casas also states that the captain knew of the danger, but re- 
fused to land farther ofF under the pretext that four Spanish armies had dis- 
embarked at that point without meetingwith resistance. <>■ uvrea, i. 405. 

mesal enlarges on the tragedy. He states that the cacique of the 


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 
Sepulveda by maintaining that the previous cruel con- 
duct of the Spaniards on the coast was the cause of 
the tragedy in Florida. 59 The career of Las Casas in 
Chiapas and the appointment of Cerrato as governor 
of Guatemala have already been mentioned. 

neighboring village was grieved that the murdered friars had not been taken 
alive, in order that he might have conversed with them, and that he caused 
the skins of the victims to be stripped off and stretched upon the walls of his 
house, while their heads were stuffed with cotton and suspended from a tree. 
He then adds 'y comieronse la carne en vn gran combite, despues de muchos 
bayles y fiestas.' Hist. Chyapa, 516. According to the same author, between 
1566 and 1600 four unsuccessful attempts were made by Jesuits, Dominicans, 
and Franciscans to christianize Florida. In these efforts nearly all the mis- 
sionaries lost their lives. In a second attempt made by the Franciscans they 
gained a foothold in the counfay, and in 1612 a province called Santa Elena 
was founded by the chapter general at Rome. Id., 518-19. Davila Padilla, 
179-89, states that Fray Louis Cancer was a native of Saragossa in Spain. 
He was of noble family, and proficient in various branches of learning. He 
first went to Espaiiola, thence to Puerto Rico, where he founded a convent, 
and a few years later proceeded to Guatemala. Both this author and Fer- 
nandez, Hist. Ecles., 150, assert that on a voyage from Mexico to Spain he 
was captured by Turkish pirates, but ransomed. To judge from his letters 
Cancer was a single-minded and devout missionary, filled with religious ardor, 
and sanguine of success. 

59 Las Casus, Oeuvres, i. 405-6. His vehement opponent Motolinia, in his 
letter to the king, dated January 2, 1555, while urging the necessity of carry- 
ing the gospel into Florida, remarks, ' but not after the manner of Las Casas. ' 
Icazbalceta, Col. Hoc, i. 255. 



Qfesada's Administration — The Oidor Zorita Gathers the Natives 
into Towns — Expedition against the Lacandones— Its Failure— 
Landecho Appointed Queseda's Successor — His Residencia Taken 
by the Licentiate Brizeno— Famine, Pestilence, and Earthquake 
in Guatemala — The Audiencia of the Confines Removed to Pan- 
ama — 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 Cordoba — 
Fracas between Two Ecclesiastics —Administration of Presi- 
dents Valverde, Rueda, Sande, and Castilla — Industrial Condi- 
tion of the Province. 

Cerrato's successor was Doctor Antonio Rodri- 
guez 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. 1 The residencia of the former pres- 
ident and oidores was soon begun, and completed some 
time in May. 2 Quesada was active in establishing 
reforms, and it was to the Indian question that his 
principal efforts were directed. The president deter- 
mined 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 gov- 
ernment similar to that of Spanish settlements, the 

1 Jan. 14th, according to Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 222; evidently before the 
beginning of March. See Quesada, Carta, May 25, 1855, in Squier's JiJSS., 
xxii. 1-3. 

2 Quesada, in his letter cited above, reports it finished. 



offices being confided to their hereditary chiefs accord- 
ing to rank. 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, 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. 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 ex- 
pected 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. 
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 

3 The salaries of the different offices were to be fixed; each town was to have 
a casa de communidad, a strong box to contain their surplus earnings, a jail, 
tariff, records, and accounts of the estates of minors and the deceased; lands 
were to be assigned them; the mode of paying tributes was to be regulated; 
and, above all, they were to be instructed. Quesada, Carta, loc. cit. 

4 Torres, Carta, Nov. 17, 1555, in Squier's 31SS., xxii. 6. 

5 Cavah'on, Carta, Feb. 27, 1555, in JSquier's M SS. , xxii. 7. 

6 Torres, Carta, Nov. 8, 1555; Torres, Carta, Nov. 17, 1555; Cardenas, 
Carta, Dec. 6, 1555, in Squier's MSS., xxii., 5-7. 


mention of a fearful epidemic which swept over the 
country in 1558, 7 and the seizure and pillage of Puerto 
de Caballos by four French ships during the same 
year. 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. 9 This would seem to indicate that, what- 
ever the president's subsequent policy, it was satisfac- 
tory neither to the ecclesiastics nor to the settlers. 

Quesada died in November 1558, and the oidor 
and licentiate Pedro Ramirez de Quinones took tem- 
porary 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 Cortes to 
Honduras, nor had its conquest been attempted. 

As early as 1550 attempts at the pacification of the 
adjacent province of Acala were begun by the Domini- 
cans of Vera Paz. For a time their efforts were suc- 
cessful, 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 evi- 
dence that their pacification was again attempted. 

7 Its chief feature was bleeding at the nose, for which no remedy could be 
found. The country was almost depopulated. Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 157. 
Juarros, Onat. (ed. Lond. 182.3), 148. 

8 They killed four men, besides a priest who attempted to prevent the 
seizure of the host, remained nearly two weeks, and made many prisoners. 
The viceroy of New Spain was at once notified. Velasco, Carta, Sept. 30, 1558, 
in Sqwer'a MSS., x. 1,2. 

9 Carta, Feb. 18, 1555, in Ar6valo, Col. Doc. Antig., 25. 


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 
Peal. The attack was made at night, and but few of 
the terrified inhabitants escaped. While sacrificing 
their captives the natives shouted derisively: " Christ- 
ians, call upon your God to defend you!" 

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 condi- 
tion of affairs were accordingly made to the crown 
both by bishop and friars. In consequence a cedula 
elated January 22, 1556, ordered the audiencia de los 
Confines to investigate the matter, punish the Lacan- 
dones 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 in- 

In the mean time the depredations of the Lacan- 
dones 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 cooperation of the sword was 
necessary to the planting of the cross, and so far di- 
verged 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. 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 dis- 
tricts beyond Ciudad Real, thus placing this city be- 
tween 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 author- 
ized 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 cedula 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. 

This decree was published in Santiago in the be- 
ginning 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 un- 
known and hostile province, large numbers of settlers 

10 'Que no solo le era licito al Rey hazerles guerra, sino q en conciencia 
estaua a ello obligado, y para a defender a sus subditos totalm6te destroy ra 
los de Lacandon. ' Mcmexal, Hid. Chyapa, 610. 



in Guatemala and Chiapas offered to accompany the 
expedition. President Ramirez was appointed com- 
mander-in-chief, as he had already certain military re- 
nown not altogether merited. Early in the same year 
the respective forces arrived at Comitlan, the ap- 
pointed 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, coin- 

Lacandon War. 

prised 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 specta- 
cles 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 prepara- 
tion should escape them. 

While the work of putting together one of the brigan- 
tines was progressing, a few of the natives approached 
the shore in canoes and demanded of the Spaniards 
their object in thus invading their country. Return- 
ing they made offers of peace, but as they denied 
having more than eleven canoes, the Spaniards sus- 
pected 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 de- 
spatched.* The brigantine was soon afterward launched 
and as the Lacandones saw it bearing down upon 
them they took to flight. 11 Many were captured, in- 
cluding 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 Puchut- 
las, which was also an island fortress, though its exact 
position cannot now be ascertained. 12 

11 Remesal, Ilisl. Chyapa, C21, says many escaped in the direction of Yu- 
catan through a large river connected with the lake which Pelaez, Mem. 
(I not., i. 101 -2, supposes to have been the Zacapulas. 

12 In 1G38, Tinelo says that it was not known whether Fuchutlas was in 
Lake Lacandon or in another lake. Relation, i. Fancourt in his map accom- 


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 readi- 
ness for defence. Preparations were immediately made 
for the attack, and a raft was built as the second brig- 
antine 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. 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 prisoners. 

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

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. 14 Its failure 

panying Hi*t. Yuc, places the town north of L. Lacandon. Other maps of 
this region do not attempt to give its locality. In making my map of thia 
region I have drawn from this and other sources. Davila says the expedition 
started forth to visit the provinces of La Candon, Pochultra, Catanu, and 
Tofilte pequena. lielacio)), in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvi. 327. 

13 This according to Jnarros, though he does not give us his authority for 
the statement. Guat., i. 259. 

11 llcmesal, Hist. Chyapa, 622, piously observes that the expedition was 
ordained by God for the salvation of a single soul, that of an infant, ' Eii- 
tiendesc que solo la ordenb nuestro Sefior para saluar vn alma predestinada 
de vn niiio de solos quinze dias que halladole vn Espailol atrauessado con vna 


proved most disastrous to the colonists; for, though 
some are said to have received a reward for their ser- 
vices, 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 subse- 
quent 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 Puchutla. 15 

In August 1559 the licentiate Juan Martinez de 
Lanclecho, Quesada's successor, arrived in Guate- 
mala, 16 and entered upon office early in September, 
Ramirez being appointed an oidor of the audien- 
cia of Lima, and after undergoing the investigation 
of his residencia embarking at the port of Acajutla, 
whither he was accompanied by the principal author- 
ities and citizens, who thus showed their recognition 
of his w r orth. 

The petition of the cabildo of Santiago that a gen- 
tleman 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 

saeta le bautizb antes que espirase.' Pelaez, Mem. Hist. Guat. t i. 159-C4, 
takes the more practical view adopted in the text. 

15 Remcsal, Hist. Chyttpa, 523-645, forms the chief and original authority 
for the foregoing events, and it is much to be regretted that we have no other 
account with which to compare his statements. In all subsequent descrip- 
tions of this expedition their authors have directly or indirectly followed 
ltemesal. Villagutierre, Hist. Conq. Itza., 51-80, copies him literally. Pi- 
nch), Relation, 2-4; Juarros, Guat., 258-9; Pelaez, Mem. J list. Gnat., i. 159- 
64, all follow him. Squier, Cent. Amer., 554-61, follows both Villagutierre 
and I'inclo. 

10 Arevalo, Col. Doc. Anthj., 26. Vazquez, Chronica Gvat. } 222, says that 
he was appointed Nov. 28, 1558. 


for this favor. Experience had taught, however, that 
in order to protect and further the interests of the col- 
onists, 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 governor. 

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. 17 

The colonists were jubilant that the humane meas- 
ures of Cerrato and of Zorita, which their constant 
efforts had hitherto failed to accomplish, were now 
certain of defeat. Doctor Mejia, 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. 18 

The Dominicans were the object of Mejia'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 

17 Dowerless maidens had been provided for, provisions had become abund- 
ant and cheap, and both Spaniards and Indians were contented. Cartas, in 
Arevalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 28, 30. 

18 ' Mand6 que diesen los indios cierta cantidad de pescado cada semana, 
no habiendo rios ni mar dentro de diez y doce leguas. Mando con pena. . . 
que no vendiesen las gallinas por mas de un real, valicndo a dos reales, y sino 
quisiesen venderla a real, dio licencia que los espanolcs se la tomasen por 
fuerza.' Las Casas, Representation in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., vii. 


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 raake 
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 de- 
plorable condition of the natives and the persecution 
of the friars were made the subject of numerous let- 
ters to Las Casas, who represented these abuses to 
the crown in strong colors, urging the removal of 
Mejia and the adoption of relief measures for the 
natives. 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, 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. 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 assur- 
ing 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 people. 22 

The continued complaints against Landecho at 
last induced the crown to decide on his removal, and 

19 Las Casas, Representation, loc. cit. ; Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, G24-6; Ca- 
hlhlo, Carta, Feb. 12, 1363, in Arcvalo, Col. Doc. Antlg., 36. 

w Hist. Chyapa, 039. 

21 Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 646. 

22 ' Que se le envic a mandar tenga especial cuidado del bien 6 aumento de 
los que en esta cibdad e provincial viven.' Carta, Jan. 26, 1562, in Ar&ra ] o, 
Col. !)<><'. An/iff., 32. In another letter they petitioned the king that in the 
appointment of governors preference be given those having experience in the 
Indies, as with a new governor there always came a number of servants, de- 
pendants, find relatives who had to be provided for, to the prejudice of the 
more meritorious conquerors and settlers. Carta, Feb. 1,.', 1003, in Id., 36. 


Licentiate Francisco Brizeno, 23 oidor of the aucliencia 
of Santa Fe, 24 was commissioned to take his reside ncia. 
He arrived in Santiago on the 2d of August 15G4. 25 
The residencia of the president was terminated in 
December of the same year, and resulted in the sus- 
pension of the president and the oidor Loaisa. 26 

During Landecho's rule, a drought, which occurred 
in 15G3, was followed by such great scarcity of corn 
as to cause much suffering among the natives, 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 Cina- 
cantlan, in Chiapas, which it nearly depopulated, but 
the effects of the earthquake were more extended. In 
Santiago and the adjacent country it was destruc- 
tive both to life and property. 28 To mitigate the 

23 Spelled Bricefio by Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 646; Briceno de Coca, also 
Briseno, by Juarros, GuaL, i. 354; ii. 49; the orthography here adopted is 
from the letters of the cabildo, in Arevalo, Col. Doc. Antir/., 39, 45. 

2t Presbyter, . .and visitador of the provinces of Popayan and Guatemala. 
Escamilla, Not Cur., MS., 2. 

25 At the end of July, according to Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 646; Feb. 12, 
1565, according to Juarros, GuaL, ii. 49. In January of 1564 the cabildo 
were awaiting his arrival. In the following December they say that he 
arrived August 2d of the previous year, ' del aflo pasado,' which is evidently 
an error, the same year being meant. 

2G Cabildo, Carta, Dec. 20, 1564, in Artvalo, Col. Doc, 39. Remesal, Hist. 
Chyapa, represents Landecho's rule as very corrupt; that he was placed 
under arrest in his own house by Brizeno, and that to escape a fine of 30,000 
pesos he secretly fled to the coast, embarked, and perished at sea. Remesal 
also states that all the oidores were suspended excepting one, whose name 
he does not give, and all fined in sums varying from 3,000 to 9,000 pesos. 
Juarros follows, in brief, Remesal's account of the corrupt rule, arrest, fine, 
escape, and death of Landecho, and the fining of the other oidores, including 
Loaisa, who he says was retained. In the account of Bozefio's arrival, how- 
ever, he gives the popular tradition that the visitador came first in disguise 
and made himself known only to the prior of the convent of Mercy, with 
whom he lodged. Having learned from personal observation and conversa- 
tions th<s true state of affairs, he proceeded to the town of Petapa, whence he 
announced his arrival to the audiencia and cabildo. The letter of the cabildo 
cited above does not favor either of these versions. It says: 'Delavisita 
resulto quedar suspendido el Presidente y Gobernador que en ella estaba, 
juntamente con el Lie. Jufre de Loaisa Oidor.' 

27 Corn sold at the exorbitant price of four tostones a fanega, and bands 
of men and women went about the country seeking work sufficient to enable 
them to obtain food. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 641, 645. 

28 Private residences, and churches, and convents, were greatly damaged; 
many Indians -were buried under the ruins of their houses, and the inhabi- 
tants were compelled to live in temporary shelters or in the open air, while 

IIist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 21 


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 established. 29 

A matter of greater moment than the change of 
governors now occupied the attention of the colon- 
ists of Guatemala. The transfer of the audiencia dc 
los Confines to Panamd had been decided on by the 
crown, but for what cause is not recorded by the 
chroniclers. 30 A decree to this effect was issued early 
in 15G3, and confirmed by a second one dated the 8th 
of September in the same year in which its jurisdic- 
tion was defined. 31 

A line extending from the gulf of Fonseca to the 
mouth of the river Ulua formed the northern limit 
of the territory made subject to the new audiencia of 
PanaimL This did not include, however, the cities of 
Gracias a Dios and San Gil de Buenavista with their 
districts, which together with the provinces of Guate- 
mala, Chiapas, Soconusco, and Vera Paz were made 
subject to the audiencia of New Spain. 32 

Doctor Barros de San Millan, oidor of the audiencia 
of Panama, was commissioned by the crown to remove 

constant prayers were offered to appease the divine wrath. Remesal, Hist. 
Chyapa, 647; Juarros, Gnat,., i. 88; ii. 353. 

29 Minutes of Cabddo, Jan. 20, 1580, quoted by Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 

30 At this time Francisco del Valle Marroquin was acting as procurator at 
court for the city of Guatemala. In a letter dated Feb. 20, 15G4, he informed 
the cabildo that the transfer of the audiencia had already been determined 
upon, and about a mouth later wrote that in consequence of the dissatisfaction 
with which the procurator from Peru had left the court, the council deemed 
it a favorable opportunity to transfer the audiencia. Marroquin, Cartas, cited 
in Pelaez, Mem. J I int. Guat., i. 1G4-6. In 15G3 the audiencia of Quito was 
established. Dtcadas, in J'arheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, viii. 35. The fore- 
going facts would appear to imply that the transfer of the audiencia had some 
connection with political changes in Peru. Whatever were the motives of 
the crown for this measure, they were too urgent to be effected by the power- 
ful influence brought to bear against this change, which is indicated by the 
letters of Marroquin. 

• ;l Bemesal, Hist. Chyapa, G46, gives May 17, 15G4, as the date of the first 
decree, and Juarros, Guat., ii. 41»,Scpt. 17, 1663. The dates here adopted 
are those given in Panamti, Ileales Cddulas, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. 
Doc, xvii. '531-2. 

Zi Marroquin, Carta, Feb. 20, loc. cit., and Panamd, Peales Ccdalas, loc. 


the aucliencia de los Confines, and before the end of 
December 1564 was on his way to Panama with the 
seal, the visitador Brizeno having brought the order 
and published it soon after his arrival. 33 

This change, which seriously affected the interests 
of Guatemala, was vigorously opposed by its inhabi- 
tants. 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 Brizeno, 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 Panama." 

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 reestablishment in Santiago, Doctor 
Antonio Gonzalez, oidor of the audiencia of Granada, 
being appointed president and arriving in Santiago 
with the oidores early in 1570. 


33 Cabildo, Cartas, in Arevalo, Col. Doc. Antig., Sl-AQ; Panamd, Cddulas 
Rentes, loc. cit.; Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, G46-7. Juarros, Guat., i. 259-60, says 
Oidor Loaisa conveyed the seal. 

3i Cabildo, Carta, March 12, 1570, in Ardvalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 43-4, men- 
tions the audiencia as already in Santiago. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa,, 657-8 
his, says that Gonzalez was appointed June 28, 1508, but that he found 
decrees of September 27, 15G7, and March 3, 15G8, addressed to the audiencia 
of Guatemala. According to this same author the audiencia arrived on the 5th 
of January 1570. Juarros, Guat., i. 260; ii. 50, gives June 28, 15G8, and Jan. 


During the absence of the audiencia the country 
was governed by the visitador Brizeno, whose admin- 
istration appears to have been just, and with the ex- 
ception of church affairs, uneventful. There is no 
evidence that Gonzalez was given the extraordinary 
powers granted to Landecho, perhaps because the ex- 
periment had not proven satisfactory, but according 
to Pelaez, a fiscal had been added to the officers of the 
audiencia during its absence. 35 Brizeno's residcncia 
was. taken sometime in March, and the only charge 
brought against him was the granting of certain re- 
partimientos at the suggestion of the cabildo of San- 
tiago. The findings in the case were transmitted to 
the crown, and the cabildo immediately wrote defend- 
ing the measure as necessary, and asking for his ac- 
quittal. 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 as- 
signed to the bishopric of Chiapas, was subsequently 
included in the see of Bishop Marroquin, though 
again affiliated with the bishopric of Chiapas in 159G. 
Soon after their arrival the Dominicans sent to Soco- 
nusco a mission of several friars; but unable to with- 

25, 15G9, as the dates of the decrees ordering the removal of the audiencia, 
and in the dates of the appointment of Gonzalez and the arrival of the audien- 
cia at Santiago follows Iteinesal. 

K Mem. 11 h'. 1C9. See also Juarros, Guat., ii. 50; RememI, Hist. 
Chyapa, 668 bis. The oidores composing the audiencia were the licentiates, 
Jufre de Loaisa, V aides de Carcamo, and Cristobal Asqueta. See last two 
authorities cited. 

M Carta, in Are'valo, Col. Doc. Ant/g. t 44-5. Itemesal, Hist. Chycvpa, 050, 
Bays that he was honorahly acquitted and returned to Spain, in which he is 
followed by Jimrros, Guat., i. 200. Escamilla, Not. Cur., MS., says Brizeiio 
went to Santa Fe de Bogota as president of that audiencia. 


stand the excessive beat most of them fell sick, and 
the death of one of their number so dispirited the 
remainder as to cause the abandonment of the prov- 

The see of Chiapas remained vacant until 1550, 
when Father Tom^s Casillas, at the suggestion, no 
doubt, of Las Casas, was appointed to fill it. He 
visited the greater part of his diocese, including Ta- 
basco; 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 desig- 
nated 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. 37 

The next occupant of the see, Pedro de Feria, 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 
Feria 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, 
Feria appointed seculars to several vacancies to the 
no small chagrin of some of the friars. In 1592 38 Don 
Fray Andres de Ubilla was appointed successor to 
Feria, and continued in office until 1601, when he was 
promoted to the see of Michoacan. 

At a Dominican provincial chapter held in 1576, at 

37 By Remesal he is sometimes called Domingo de Ara. Davila says he 
constructed a vocabulary of the language of Chiapas. 

58 1590, says Fernandez, Hist. Eden., 114, but the above date is confirmed 
by Davila, Teatro Ecles., 107; Concilios Proi\, i. 325, and lltmeaal, Jiist. 
Chyapa, G53. 


C in clad Real, the convent of Santo Domingo de Chi- 
apas was accepted as that of the province, and Pedro 
de Barrientos chosen as first vicar. At chapters held 
in Chiapas and Guatemala prior to 1G00, it was for : 
bidden 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 fif- 
teen 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 1 5 80 two hundred Spanish vecinos. There 
were about ninety Indian towns in the province, with- 
in 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 
«harge and repaired to his see a year or two later, but 
died early in 1562 before proceeding to consecration. 33 
The establishment of this see was unwise in the ex- 
treme, and must be attributed solely to the represen- 
tations 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 sup- 
port a prelate; an opinion borne out by subsequent 
experience. 40 

Angulo was succeeded by Father Tomds de Ciir- 

39 According to Calle, Mem. y Not., 125, the bishopric was established in 
1556. Gonzalez Davila, Teatro Ecles., i. 171-2, says Angulo was appointed 
April 21, 15G0, and died at Zalanui, Vera Paz, while on his way to Guatemala 
to be consecrated. Ilemesal says that he received his appointment in Guate- 
mala at the beginning of 1560; accepted it April 21st; went thenee to Mexico; 
the following year was ordered to his diocese to await the arrival of the bulls 
for his consecration; and that in March or April 15G2 died at Zalama, Vera 
Paz, while on the way to <iuatemala. By royal decree of September 1560, 
the audiencia was ordered to pay him the usual 500,000 maravedis, until he 
had sufficient tithes for his support. I deem this author more reliable than 
the others as he wrote earlier, was a Dominican, and had greater facilities for 
obtaining information. 

*» Cabildo, Carta, Jan. 20, 15G4, in Artvalo, Col. Doc. Ant'uj., 38-9. 


clenas, a Dominican. The date of his appointment 
according to Gonzalez Ddvila was April 1, 15G5, and 
according to Remesal he continued in possession until 
his death, in 1580. 41 

In 1555 Bishop Marroquin, now old and wearied 
with over tw T enty-five years of constant service as 
priest and bishop, sought to retire, but though Presi- 
dent Quesada recommended to the crown that his 
petition be granted it was refused, and he died at 
Santiago on holy Friday of 1563/ 2 and was buried 
with the highest honors in the cathedral of Santiago. 43 
His successor was Bernardino de Villalpando, bishop 
of Cuba, who arrived in Santiago in 1564. M 

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 

41 Fernandez, Hist. Edes., 116, says Father Pedro de la Pena followed 
Angulo, then Cardenas, and that Father Antonio de Ervias, Dominican, was 
bishop in 1570. Calk, Mem. y Not., 125, places Pena second, and says that 
he was removed to Peru in 1580; that Ervias ruled from 1583-90, and that 
Cardenas was appointed in 1595. Remesal, Hist. Chyapa., 702-4, names 
Hervias as the successor of Cardenas, in 1583 or 1584, Castro next, and finally 
Rosillo. This was the last bishop named, according to Remesal, who adds 
that while in Guatemala, in 1614, he was told by Bishop Cabezas, that the 
incorporation of the bishopric of Vera Paz with that of Guatemala was then 
being discussed. The order of succession as given by Remesal as far as Ervias, 
is confirmed by Mendieta, Hist. Edes., 548, a most reliable author, and a 
resident of New Spain, where he wrote between the years 1575-96. 

iz April 18, according to Juarros, Gnat., i. 276, and after a long illness 
according to Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 149-50. See also Quesada, Carta, Mayo 
25, 1555, in Squier's MSS., xxii. 5. 

43 Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 149-50; Gonzales Ddvila, Teatro Ecles., i. 150; 
Concilios Prov. , 1555, 1565, 285. 

u Remesal, Hist. Chyapa, 654; Juarros, Guat., i. 276; Vazquez, Chron. 
Gvat., 190. 


ecclesiastics which they could not attend to them- 
selves, 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 subordinates. 

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. 45 

In 1551 the Dominicans of Guatemala, Honduras, 
Nicaragua, and Chiapas were organized into an inde- 
pendent provincia with the title of San Vicente de 
Chiapas. Father Tomds de la Torre was appointed 
provincial, and the first provincial chapter was held 
at Santiago in January. 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 molesta- 
tion from the colonists. The provinces of San Sal- 
vador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica w r ere visited, a 
convent was founded in the city of San Salvador, and 
two attempts were made to establish the order in 
Nicaragua. 47 

In 1559 a custodia was formed of the Franciscans 

45 Rem<<s«l, Hist. Chyapa, 587-G00; Vazquez, Chron. GvaL, 133-7; Qucsada, 
Curia, Mayo 25, 1565, in Squier'a MSS., xxii. 3-4. 

"Bemeaal, Hist. <://!/<>/>", 532-7, 5(50-3; Fernandez, Hist. Ecctcs., 142; 
Ddvila Padiila, Hist. Fund. Mex., 110-11. 

17 Rememl, Hist. Chyapa, 500, 520-3, 578-84, 50G-G01, G13-14, G2G-7, G3G- 
9, G42-7; Juarros, (J mil., ii. 98-9. 


in Guatemala and Yucatan, by which provinces the 
vicar was alter natelv 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 chap- 
ter was opened in Santiago on the 12th of October, 
1566.* 8 

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 de- 
cree 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. 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 be- 
lieve 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 provin- 
cials and the audiencia, and the representations of all 
that the secular priests, ignorant of the Indian lan- 
guages, 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 conse- 
quence recourse was had to the crown, but in the 
interim the prelate persistently carried out his meas- 
ures notwithstanding the opposition of the friars, the 
colonists, and the natives, the religious being prevented 

^Mendieta, Hist. EcJes., 382-5; Vazquez, Chron. GvaL, 144-9,179, 223; 
Cogolludo, Hist. Yticathan, 326. 

^Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., 38G; Relation, in Prov. del Sto Evangelio, MS., 
1; Vazquez, Chron. Gvat., 129-37, 147, 182-4, 224-G; Juarros, Guat., ii. 99- 
100, 100. 


from abandoning tlie 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. 53 
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. 51 Francisco Cam- 
branes, 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 Fer- 
nandez de Cordoba who was transferred from the 
bishopric of Nicaragua. 52 

Cordoba 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 Cordoba set out on his official visits, and 
everywhere met with complaints from the natives 

50 The neglect to punish the notorious abuses of the clergy, 'having in his 
household certain women who were neither his sisters nor his cousins; and re- 
ceiving bribes through his nephew and one of the women, who was young and 
of doubtful reputation,' appear to have been the principal charges. Remeaal, 
Hist. < -hyapa, 656. 

■' In Aug. 1569, according to Juarros, Glial.., i. 277; in Santa Ana, San 
Salvador, according to Gonzalez Davila, Teairo Eeles,i. 153. See also Cabildo, 
Carta, .July 0, 1567, in Artvalo, Col. hoc Anticj., 41-2; Remesal, Hist. Chy- 
apa, 654 65; Vazquez, ('/iron. Gvat., 194 200; Juarros, (,'uaL, i. 27G-8. 

^Remesal, 1114. Chyapa, 700; Juarros, Gnat., i. 277-8. 


concerning their priests, especially among the Ochi- 
tepiques, 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 inci- 
dent 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 atti- 
tude and deferentially withdrew, after making his 
apologies, and repaired to the cabildo, where the peo- 
ple 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 consecra- 
tion, 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, exas- 
perated beyond control, ordered his men to charge, 
which they did, wounding not a few and causing a 
general stampede. 

At this point the encomendero Leon Cardena inter- 
posed 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 ignomini- 
ously turned and fled to his house, where he had to 


undergo a siege until he promised to depart for Gua- 
temala taking all his paraphernalia with him. 53 The 
Franciscan remained master of the field, and was 
eventually appointed guardian of Zamayaque, but the 
consequences of the unseemly quarrel were far-reach- 
ing, and the discussions to which it gave rise went far 
to reform the character of priests put in charge of the 

Bishop Cordoba labored in Guatemala for twenty- 
three years, Fray Antonio de Hinojosa being ap- 
pointed his colleague two years before the decease of 
the former, which occurred in 1598. During his ad- 
ministration 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 sacra- 
ment to the Indians in places remote from the set- 
tlements. The Franciscans especially multiplied in 
Guatemala, sixty-six arriving in that province be- 
tween 1571 and 1573. In 157G the audiencia was 
directed by the crown to make an annual grant of 
fifty thousand maravedis for each mission established 
by them. In 1578 Garcia de Valverde, who during 
that year was appointed president of the audiencia, 
undertook the rebuilding or enlargement of several 
Franciscan convents 54 and the erection of several 
churches. Such was his enthusiasm that he was 
often seen carrying stone and mortar for the work- 
men, and his example spread among the inhabitants 
of Santiago, men of noble birth imitating the pre- 
late's example. 

53 At Guatemala he presented himself before the audiencia and demanded 
redress. A judge was sent to investigate, and he reported abuses witnessed 
by Bishop Gomez himself; an utter ignorance of the native speech, so that 
they gladly confessed to any visiting priest, and the absolute refusal of the 
natives to have el seiior cura for their guardian. Vaxquez, Chron. de GvaL, 


'' Those, of San Juan de Comalapa, San Francisco de Tccpan Guatemala, 
La Assumption do Tecpanatitlan, San Miguel de Totonicapan, and Espiritu 

Santo de Quezaltcnango. Vaxquez, Chron. de GvaL, 2G1. 


In the year 1G00 when Juan Ramirez was ap- 
pointed bishop there were in Guatemala twenty-two 
convents of the Franciscans and fourteen of the 
Dominican order. 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 men- 
tion 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 im- 
posed in him. Ships and cannon were procured; 
small arms and ammunition were obtained from Mex- 
ico, 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 Cali- 
fornia where they w r ere 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. 56 

Valverde's decease occurred in September 1589, 
and when on his death-bed he received intelligence of 

55 There were also six doctrinas belonging to the Merced order, and 22 to 
the padres eleYigas. Ilendieta, Hist. Ecles., 386. 

56 The cabildo prayed the king for 200 strong breast-plates, (petos); 500 
helmets, (celedas 6 morriones); 400 coats of mail, (cotas); 400 arquebuses, etc. 
Many would be bought by citizens, and the rest remain in keeping of the 
audiencia. Gunpowder could not be manufactured in Guatemala for lack of 
saltpetre, etc., and the}' asked an annual grant of twelve centals from Mexico. 
Arevalo, Col. Doc. Aidbj., 09-70. 


his promotion to the presidency of the aucliencia 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 cedulas. 
He has embellished the capital with many a fine build- 
ing so that it is far other than it was." Nevertheless 
his enemies were too strong for him, and in the fol- 
lowing year he was superseded by Doctor Francisco 
Sande, 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. 57 

The new president incurred the enmity of the 
cabildo by abolishing one of its most cherished privi- 
leges, 58 and by causing the office of alferez, the 
holder of which became ex officio the senior member 
of the cabildo, to be disposed of for five thousand 
ducaclos to one Francisco de Mesa, whose chief recom- 
mendation seems to have been that he was a kinsman 
of the president's wife. In November 1596 Sande 
departed for New Granada, of which province he had 

57 'The licenciado Rueda, late president of the audiencia, is about to leave 
for Spain. He has exercised his oifice with care and ensured good Christian 
government as will be seen by the papers connected with the vista on his 
conduct now sent by Doctor Sande.' Santiago Cabildo (Feb. 16, 1595), in 
Artvalo, Col. J ')(><-. Antig., 80. Contrast this with Juarros, Gnat., 261. 
' President de la Rueda was punished for having so badly treated the l-eligious 
during his government. He fell into a state of idiocy, rushing from the 
house without clothes into the country, where he ate grass like oxen, and re- 
mained in that state till he died.' During Rueda's administration a bridge 
was built across the Los Esclavos. It was 128 yards long, 18 in breadth, and 
had eleven arehes. At the point where it was constructed the river was of 
great depth and communication was frequently cut off between the capital 
and the eastern provinces by inundation. Jnarros, Guat., 239-41 (ed. Loud., 
Condefs Mex. and Guat, 201. 

38 That by which the appointment of 'liel ejecutor' was vested in the 
cabildo. The office was <>!!<■ <>t' great profit and its duties were discharged by 
each member in rotation. The cabildo had enjoyed this privilege by royal 
license for many years, its concession being granted by ceclula of July 9, 1564, 
and confirmed by one of April 21, 1587. Juarr08,Guat., 120. (London ed. 1823.) 


been appointed governor. 59 His successor was Doctor 
Alonso Criado de. Cast ilia, who assumed office in Sep- 
tember 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 Guate- 
mala in as unfavorable a light as possible. Neverthe- 
less 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 dues. 

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 ex- 
tensive 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 inex- 

59 Sande came to Mexico as alcalde of the andiencia. In 1575 he was 
appointed governor of the Philippine Islands and held that position until 
1580, after which he became an oidor of Mexico. Datos, Biog., in Carta* de 
Indias, 840-1. 


haustible quantity. The pita, which furnished excel- 
lent 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. 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 sat- 
isfy 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. 


But commercial decadence was not the only mis- 
fortune from which the province suffered. In 1575 
and the two subsequent years earthquakes occurred 
in Guatemala, 62 attended with great destruction of 
property. In December 1581 a violent eruption oc- 
curred in the volcano west of Santiago. The land for 
miles around was covered with scorise; the sun was 

00 The king's grant of one half of the first year's tribute from the encomi- 
endas becoming vacant during ten years, "was of great assistance in opening 
these ports. The president sends a map of the port and of the country for 
more than 15 leagues about it. Santiago Cabildo, Carta al liey (April 20, 
1591), in Ardvalo, Col. Doc. Antig., 77-8. 

61 As an instance of the dimensions to which this cacao trade could grow 
it may be mentioned that 50,000 loads, worth 500,000 pesos, were raised 
within an area of two leagues square in Salvador. Palacio, Relation in Pa- 
elieco and Cdrdencu, Col. ]><><•., vi. 15. 

62 Palacio mentions a heavy shock that occurred in 157G by which houses 
were destroyed and several lives lost. In a letter to the king he relates that 
he saw a large fragment of a church facade which had been hurled to a consid- 
erable distance. Relation in Paeheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc., vi. 23-4, 59. 


darkened, and the lurid flames darting from the cone 
spread terror throughout the neighborhood. The in- 
habitants, believing that the day of judgment had 
come, marched in penitential procession loudly bewail- 
ing 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 nu- 
merous 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 convent. 63 

63 Ponce, Eel. de Las Casas in Col. Doc. In6d. i lviii. 140. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 25 




Revolt of the Cimarrones — Pedro de Ursua Sent against Them — A 
Second Revolt— Bayana 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 dlos to portobello — changes in the seat of the 
audiencia — tlerra flrme made subject to the vlceroy of peru — 
Defalcations in the Royal Treasury— Preparations for Defence 
against Corsairs and Foreign Powers. 

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 settle- 
ments 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 
lull alive into their hands. Organized as marauding 



companies they became widely known as cimarrones 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. 2 In the year 1554 many hundreds of them 
were thus banded in Tierra Firme alone. 

About this time the new viceroy of Peru, Andres 
Hurtado de Mendoza, marques de Cahete, opportunely 
arriving at Nombre de Dios from Spain, en route for 
his capital, resolved on the subjugation of these out- 
laws. 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 dis- 
coveries. The viceroy, believing Ursua to be unjustly 
persecuted and recognizing his eminent fitness, au- 
thorized 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, 3 a man 
of their own race, of singular courage, who had been 
elected king by those occupying the mountains be- 
tween Plagon and Pacora, and whose number now 
exceeded six hundred. 

1 Cimarron, a Spanish word, primarily signifies * wild ' as applied to 
plants, and 'untamed' as applied to animals; hence the appropriateness of the 
epithet. The cimarrones played a somewhat conspicuous part in the subse- 
quent troubles of the country, and are not to be confounded with a tribe of 
Indians of similar name, the Simerones referred to in Native Races, iii. 794 
this series. The mistake is made, however, by the author of Drake, Cav- 
endish, and Dampicr, GO, and also by Bidwell, Panama, 53. Garcilaso de 
Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 460, says the epithet had its origin in the Windward 
Islands — vocablo del language de las isles de Barlovento. 

* Garcia de Hermosillo was himself an eye-witness of one of the many 
cimarron atrocities in 1554, when eight men w r ere killed including a sen of 
one of the judges of the India House at Seville. Hermosillo, Memorial al Rey t 
8qmer'8 MSS., xxi. 15. 

3 Gaicilasode Vega, Hist. Peru, ii. 460, calls him Ballano. 


Bayano retreated slowly and warily, posting am- 
buscadea 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 4 carried on the campaign with unwearied 
patience, and at last surrounded the remnant of the 
cimarrones and compelled them to sue for peace. Ba- 
yano was sent a prisoner to Spain. In 1570 his fol- 
lowers founded the town of Santiago del Principe. A 
cedula 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 Panama binds the 
emancipated slaves to capture runaways and return 
them to their masters. 

After a short-lived peace the cimarrones again took 
the field, reenforced by maltreated or discontented 
negro fugitives from the mines, and committed such 
depredations that the king resolved on a war of ex- 
termination against them and their allies. In a cedula 
dated 23d of May 1578 he appointed his factor and 
vecdor 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. 
Panama and the adjoining provinces of Quito and 
( artago were enjoined to provide all necessary sup- 
plies, and the Casa de la Contratacion de Seville was 
•to furnish four hundred arquebuses and a supply of 
ammunition. The Spaniards were only partially suc- 

isful, 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. 

4 Ursua was a native of a town of the saihe name in Navarre. He went to 

New Granada with his uncle, the licenciado, Michael Diaz de Armendariz. 

Piedrakita, Hist. Gen., '■■'.10. Of his career subsequent to this war we learn 

that he went to Lima whence, after various services, he was sent in 1501 to 

ome rich Brazilian forests in the neighborhood of the rio Marauon, 

■ he met his death at the hands of his own countrymen. 


In 1596 the cimarrones, in concert with buccaneers, 
opened a road from their own town to the e 
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 never- 
theless the cimarrones in collusion with English cor- 
sairs for years set the Spaniards at defiance. 

The regulations framed during the sixteenth cen- 
tury concerning negroes, whether bond or free, pre- 
scribed w T ith the utmost minuteness their deportment, 
their social relations, and the restrictions under which 
they were to live. 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 in- 
ferior 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. 6 The regulations 

5 As an illustration, a law of 1540, dealing with offences and their punish- 
ment, states: 'Mandamuos, que en ningun caso se ejecute en los negros cim- 
arrones la pena de cortarles las partes, que honestamente no se pueden 
nombrar. ' In towns and cities negroes were not allowed to be out after dark; 
arms were not 'to be carried, and any one lifting a weapon against a Spaniard, 
even though no wound were inflicted, was liable to receive one hundred 
lashes and to have a nail driven through the hand. For a second offence the 
hand of the offender was cut off. Negresses were not allowed to wear jew- 
elry, pearls, or silk unless married to a Spaniard. Free negroes were required 
to pay tribute according to property. Zamora, Bib. Ler/. tilt., iv. 4G1-7. 

6 Under date July 31, 1561, the king wrote to the audiencia on this subject, 
stating that his ambassador in London had informed him that a Portuguese 
named Bartolome' Bayon was fitting out a vessel for carrying African slaves 


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 pre- 
sumption so common among lower races and classes, 
the negro failed not to take advantage of any privi- 
lege he might obtain over his red-skinned neighbor. 7 
Such checks proved of little use, however, since they 
also applied in part at least to Spanish task-masters. 
Indeed, in a royal cedula 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. 8 Other stringent laws 
were issued, but they came too late, or were neglected 
like the rest. Under the yoke of their various oppres- 
sors the native population of the Isthmus gradually 
disappeared, and toward the close of the century their 
numbers had become insignificant. 

In the affairs of Panama" 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. 

Panama" had comparatively but little indigenous 
wealth and was largely dependent for prosperity on 

to the West Indies, and ordering his arrest. lieales Cddulas, in Pacheco and 
Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 540-1. 

7 Negroes and mulattoes were forbidden to go among the Indians in 1578. 
Recdes Ctdulas, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 501-2. In 1589 
it was ordered that no negro should employ an Indian or ill-use him in any 
way. Infraction of this law was punishable with 100 lashes. If the offence 
was repeated the culprit's ears were to be cut off. In case of a free negro, the 
punishment was 100 lashes and perpetual banishment. A reward of 10 pesos 

paid to informers, and masters neglecting to observe the law were liable 
to b fine of LOO pesos. Zamora, Bib. Leg. Ult., iv. 4G2. 

Reales Ccdtdas, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 4-7. 


Spain's colonial policy. Unfortunately this was char- 
acterized by a short-sightedness which eventually 
proved disastrous both to the province and the em- 
pire. The great fleets which arrived from Spain came 
in reduced numbers, at longer intervals, and with de- 
pleted stores. In 1589, ninety-four vessels reached 
the Isthmus laden with merchandise; sixteen years 
later the fleet mustered only seventeen ships. 9 To the 
depredations of buccaneers which will be hereafter 
described this state of affairs may in part be attrib- 
uted, but other causes were at work. The king of 
Spain had alreatly appeared before his subjects at 
Panama in the character of a royal mendicant; 10 and 
now he laid restrictions on their trade which could not 
fail to prove disastrous to the commercial interests of 
the city. 

Hitherto there had been a large and lucrative traffic 
with the Philippine Islands, yielding often six-fold 
increase to the fortunate trader. 11 But the cupidity 
of the monarch prompted more and more restrictive 
measures, until it was altogether forbidden to Panama, 
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 mer- 

* In 1585 the number of ships was 71; in 1587, 85; in 1589, 94; in 1592, 72; 
in 1594, 50; in 1596, 69; in 1599, 56; in 1601, 32; in 1603, 34; in 1605, 17. 
Panama, Des., in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, ix. 103. 

10 On Aug. 4, 1574, the king writes the president and oidores of the 
audiencia at Panama, that he wants the people of the province to make him 
a gift or loan, to meet his urgent necessities. The audiencia, however, are 
to broach the subject as though it emanated from themselves, not even hint- 
ing that the king had solicited it. 'Tratareis dello corao de vuestro oficio, 
sin dar a entender que lo aceis por orden y mandado Nuestro.-' The influence 
of the bishop is to be called into requisition if the people appear unwilling to 
do anything before further communication from the king. Eeales Cedulas, in 
Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xvii.. 510. 

11 A Spanish trader in a letter dated August 28, 1590, says: 'Here I haue 
remained these 20 dayes, till the shippes goe for the Philippinas. My meaning 
is to carie my commodities thither: for it is constantly reported, that for every 
hundred ducats a man shall get 600 ducats cleerely. Wee must stay here in 
Panama from August till it be Christmasse. For in August, September, Octo- 
ber, and Nouember it is winter here, and extreme foule weather upon this 
coast of Peru, and not nauigable to goe to the Philippinas, nor any place else 
in the South sea. So that at Christmasse the shipes begin to set on their 
voyage for those places.' HaMvytfa Yoy., iii. 564. 



chants. 12 No Chinese goods were to be brought to Pan- 
ama 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, Pio- 
bamba, and Puerto Viejo, cordage for ships, and Nic- 
aragua a good quality of pitch. Quito and other 
places manufactured cloths, and New Spain silken and 
woolen goods. Had Philip adopted a generous colo- 
nial policy he would have fostered and profited by 
these new industries, but all fiscal regulations looked 
to the advancement of Spanish commerce without re- 
gard for the development of trade within the colonies. 

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; 

12 A royal cedula of November 11, 1578, forbade the carrying of Manila 
dry goods. This is confirmed by cddulas of January 12, 1593, July 5, 1595, 
and February 13th and June 13, 1599. The object was to stop entirely all 
trade between the Philippines and Tierra Firme. Memorial sobre Manila, in 
Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, vi. 444. The c6dula of 1593 is full and 
explicit: 'Toleration and abuse have caused an undue increase in the trade 
between the West Indies and China, and a consequent decrease in that of the 
( astilian kingdom. To remedy this it is again ordered that neither from 
Tierra Firme, Peru, nor elsewhere, except New Spain, shall any vessel go to 
China or the Philippine Islands to trade.' Reales C6dulas, in Pacheco and 
Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 420. See also Decadas, Id., viii. 114. Another 
cCdula to the same effect was issued July 25, 1G09; the license being still con- 
tinued to New Spain at the instance of the merchants of Seville whose inter- 
ests were jeopardized. The Portuguese had established factories in China, 
and though selling their goods at higher rates than the Chinese, could undcr- 
' il the Spanish merchants who desired the landing of Chinese products 
themselves, and to sell them in the colonies at their own figures. Gran. 
M nulla, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col Doc, vi. 405-G. 


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 inju- 
rious effect of Peruvian wine upon the public health, 
but the real motive was the prejudicial effect of its 
sale upon the Spanish wine trade. 13 Tobacco was a 
monopoly of the crown, and one rigidly protected, its 
sale, importation, or cultivation being forbidden under 
severe penalties. 14 

Panama 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 vio- 
lated. 15 The scarcity of provisions sometimes caused 
distress approaching to famine, and at certain sea- 
sons was liable to be aggravated by the crowds of 
travellers and adventurers who crossed the Isthmus. 16 

13 At a meeting held by the treasury officials and the city council of Pan- 
ama on January 29, 1600, it was resolved that, as the importation and sale of 
Peruvian wine had been forbidden in years past, an edict should lie issued 
enforcing this regulation, and appointing fines and penalties for those who 
infringed it, or mixed such wine with that imported from Spain. The reason 
alleged is the injurious quality of the wine. This edict was also to be pub- 
lished at Lima, Trujillo, Quito, and Guayaquil. Reales Cedulas, in Pacheco 
and Cardenas, Col. l)oc, xvii. 216-18. At a subsequent meeting, held April 
12, 1600, the trade in Peruvian wine is denounced on account of its being 
a source of loss to the royal treasury. Id., xvii. 221. 

14 The punishments for infraction of this law were heavy fines and banish- 
ment; and in the case of negro delinquents, bond or free, the fines were to be 
doubled, and 200 lashes in addition to be inflicted in public on the offender, 
whether male or female. Apothecaries were allowed to keep on hand tw$ 
pounds of this article and no more. JRecop. Ind., ii. 66. 

15 The city council passed an ordinance that in future merchants should 
not purchase certain articles in larger quantities at a time than therein pro- 
vided. Wine, oil, ham, sugar, pease, beans, lard, Nicaragua molasses, cheese, 
raisins, figs, and crockery, are among the commodities specified. Purchasers 
were required to produce their wares before a justice. The ordinance was re- 
ferred to the audiencia and was fully approved and ordered into execution 
Dec. 11, 1592. Reales Cedulas, in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 

16 'Here is a great want. . .of provision for here is almost none to be had 
for any money, by reason that from Lima there is no shipping come with 
maiz. . .But I can certifie your worshippe, that all things are very deeire here, 
and that we stand in great extremitie for want of victuals.' Letter from 
Panama, August 12, 1590. HakluyVs Voy.. iii. 503. 


Peru was the great source of supply and the trade 
with that country was the subject of frequent cedulas 
addressed to the viceroy. 17 

Pearls and gold were still among the leading pro- 
ductions of the Isthmus, and the most valuable fish- 
eries were at the old Pearl Islands of Vasco Nunez de 
Balboa. 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 at- 
tended 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 cer- 
tain 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. 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 20 as being the "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 

17 On Feb. 18, 1595, the viceroy is ordered not to interfere with the taking 
of provisions from the valleys of Trujillo, and Sana to Panama City, and to 
see that Panama was well provisioned. Recop. de Indian, ii. 04. A similar 
order was issued Feb. 18, 1597. liecdes Cedulas, in Pacheco and Cardenas, 
Col. Doc., xvii. 339-60. 

18 See II 1st. Cod. Amor., i. 377,409-11, this series. 

19 'II peut levendre a qui bon lui Bemblej maia pour 1 'ordinaire il le cede a 
son maitre pour un prix modique.' Raynal, Hist. Phil., iv. 200. 

20 He visited the islands in 1594, and found them inhabited by Spaniards 
and negro slaves 'kept only to fish for pearls.' II arris' Col. Voy., i. 740. 


wealth to Panama, 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, 21 and not until sev- 
eral 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 achievments, where, according to 
the report of a later governor, the metal had been so 
abundant as to be "weighed by the hundredweight." 22 
More definite is the information for this period con- 
cerning 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 wealth." 23 

21 The expense actually exceeded the proceeds — *y la pesqueria de las por- 
las, por ser mils las costa que el provecho.' Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, 
iv. 81. In prosperous days some 30 brigs were in engaged in the traffic. Id., 
ix. 81. 

22 Ariza, Darien, MS., 33. 

23 Dampier, Voy., i. 158; Oyilby's Am., 235; Harris, Col. Voy., i. 748. 


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 aban- 
doned during the rainy season, their occupants betaking 
themselves to Panamd,. 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 Fe, where the smelting-works were estab- 
lished; and Ciudad de San Carlos built on the South 
Sea, some forty or more leagues west of Santa Fe. 
These communities contained altogether about a hun- 
dred 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 re- 
membered was founded by Pedrarias in 1515, and 
rebuilt by Vasco Nunez two years later, 24 had in 1580 
dropped out of existence. And so it was with several 
settlements that at different times had risen with hope- 
ful prospects. Either the climate killed or drove off the 
inhabitants, or rival towns sprang up under the patron- 
age of some governor, and with real or fancied advan- 
tages lured away the citizens. Nombre de Dios had 
maintained its position as the leading town and port 

'The city of Panama received annually some thousand pounds of gold... 
There is greater Plenty (gold) in the mines of Santa Maria — not far off— than 
within the same Space in any other Part of New Spain, or perhaps in the whole 
World. Span. Em-p. in Amer. , 210-1.3. We have a glimpse of the working of 
the mines in a report of the expenses in connection with some fifteen of them 
worked for the king's benefit. At these were employed, in addition to the 
overseer, the blacksmith and his assistant, one hundred negroes, of whom 
seventy were freshly imported Africans, and one third of the number were 
women. ' The total expenditure for the year was a little less than $20,000. The 
several items of expense are given in Vcrayua, liclac. de las Minus, in Col. Doc. 
I m <i., xx.xi. 365-72. 

** Hist. Cent. Am., i. 418, 441, this series. 


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 Panama" 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 Garcia de Hermosillo was commissioned by 
the king in 1554 to inquire into the merits of the re- 
spective routes, and two years later made a volu- 
minous but partial report, 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, Panuco, 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 cedula was there- 
upon addressed, in October 1556, to the audiencias of 
Espanola 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 

25 A single extract will show the partiality of this report. ' Que del dicho 
Nombre de Dios al dicho de Panama van 18 leguas por tierra por un camino 
muy trabajoso de muy grandes lodos y calores, y pasan un rio, y la primera 
Jornada 112 veces 6 mas en un dia.' Garcia llermosillo, Mem. in Extr. 
Sueltos, xxi. 28-9. 


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 commu- 
nication with Peru, and, as they temptingly added, 
likely to increase largely the royal revenue. 26 

Communications between the home government 
and its transatlantic subjects involved vexatious de- 
lays; 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 quick- 
ened anew by an address of Felipe de Aninon, 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 Panamd to Puerto de Caballos and Fon- 
seca." 27 The memorial, without presenting any new 
arguments, recapitulates with considerable force those 
which had been previously advanced, urging that im- 
munity w r ould thus be secured from the raids of cor- 
sairs, and that even though Panamd 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, be- 
came 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 

2G Memorials were presented by the cabildo on Dec. 22, lf>f>9, on May 17, 
1561, and again on 26th of January 1662, when they denounced Nombre de 
Dioa as 'la Sepultura de Espafioles.' Artvalo, Col. J Joe. Aniig., 27-.*i.'>. 

27 This memorial is not dated, but Squier says it was written in 1505. 
AuiHoit, Discurso, mSqukr'a MSS. S v. 


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 ex- 
pended 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. 

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 neces- 
sity 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 privateers- 
men, who, under Drake and others, had already com- 
mitted 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. 28 

In 1529 Panama is described by Herrera as "a 
town of six hundred householders." In 1581 it was 
styled by Philip "muy noble y muy leal." Never- 
theless 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. 

28 Pern. Descrip., in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, iv. 108-9. Its origi- 
nal name was San Felipe de Puertovelo. Purchas, PUgrimes, v. 889, errs ia 
giving 1584 as the date of removal. 


Small-pox, quinsy, dysentery, intermittent fevers, and 
other ailments were prevalent among the community, 
and at times the city was almost depopulated.' 


In 1564 the seat of the audiencia of the Confines 
was removed, as we have seen, to Panamd 30 under the 
presidency of Doctor Barros de Millan. Great though 
short-lived were the rejoicings throughout Tierra 
Fir me 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 

By a cedula 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. 31 Little direct information of the 
working of the new regime in the latter part of the 

29 Some physicans ascribed these diseases to the use of Peruvian wine, not- 
withstanding the prohibitions already mentioned. To a statement made by 
the councillor of the corporation to the city council of Panama a medical re- 
port is appended which reads thus: 'Muchas calenturas ardientes y podridas, 
muchos dolores de costado, camaras de sangre, romadizo y otras indisposiciones 
de calor y humedad, por ser esta tierra mm caliente y humeda por cuya razon 
hierve dentro de las venas, y humedeciendo el cerebro causa vahidos, y las 
dichas enfermedades arriba referidas, y granos, y viruelas, y sarampion y ron- 
chas. Fecho en Panama en onze de Abril de mil y seiscientos. ' Peaks Cedillas, 
in Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 219-22. 

w Reales C&dulas, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 531-2; confirmed 
by Vazquez, Chron. de Gvat., 222-3, and Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, ix. 
89-90. Juarros, Gnat., states that it did not receive the royal approbation 
until July 7, 1505. In the beginning of 15G0 a royal cCdula was issued, vest- 
ing the government of Tierra Firme in the president of the audiencia residing 
in Panama. The people of Guatemala resisted the change as long as they 
could, and other mandates were necessary to give full force to this measure. 
Seefieales Ced., in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xviii. 531-2, imdDecadas, 
in Id., xiii. 30-38. 

31 A special cedula, dated July 30, 1588, on the appointment of Garcia de 
Mendoza as viceroy, authorizes him to take part in and preside over the ses- 
sions of the audiencia, but not to interfere with matters relating to the ad- 
ministration of justice. Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 407. Other 
c6dulas issued in 1014, 1020, and 1628 confirmed the one issued in 1571. The 
first of these three orders also made the provinces of Charcas and Quito sub- 
ject to the viceroy of Peru. Pecop. de Ltd., ii. 109-10; Zamora, Bib. Leg. Ult., 
iii. 357; Montesclaros, lielaclon, in Pacheco and Cdrdenas, Col. Doc, vi. 191. 


sixteenth century can now be obtained. The cedillas 
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 Jan- 
uary 7, 1588, forbidding the president and oidores 
residing at Panama 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 sus- 
pended for illegal speculation with government funds, 
which became so common that in 1594 the defalca- 
tions in the treasury from this cause alone amounted 
to about one hundred and fifty thousand pesos. 32 In 
1579 the corregidor of Panama, 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. 33 The granting of passports was a 
means by which members of the audiencia contrived 
to cheat the king of his revenues, his Majesty declar- 
ing that in a single year two thousand persons passed 
through Tierra Firme without procuring the royal 
license at the prescribed cost. 34 Gambling was also 
prevalent, dice being the favorite game, and many 
merchants, bringing their goods from Spain, were 
fleeced by professional gamesters. 35 

While, the condition of affairs at the Isthmus was 

32 The king mentions this fact, and instructs the president of the audiencia 
to have a periodical examination of the accounts of the treasury officers made 
by one of theordores. Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 410. 

33 The president of the audiencia stated to the king that the family were 
destitute, and that the money could not be recovered from them, whereupon 
his Majesty ordered its collection from the sureties. This document is dated 
July 8, 1580. Pacheco and Cardenas, Col. Doc, xvii. 487-8. 

34 In 15.95 travellers without passports visited the Isthmus in such num- 
bers as to cause scarcity of provisions, and often included men whose services 
were needed in the army. The oidores were threatened with penalties unless 
there was a reform in this matter. Ileales Ccdulas, in Pacheco and Cardenas, 
Col. Doc, xvii. 410. 

35 llerrera, dec. iii. lib. x. cap. ix. As early as 152G this matter received 
special notice from the emperor, and many regulations were made in subse- 
quent years, but apparently to little purpose. 

Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 26 


thus in an unsatisfactory condition, the authorities 
were constantly in dread of invasion from foreign 
powers. Early in the year 15G1 two caravels arrived 
with intelligence that a large fleet had sailed from 
England for America, and with orders that prepara- 
tions 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 Par- 
ker 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 squad- 
ron. 36 

Although, as will be told in the next chapter, the 
Isthmus was several times invaded by English adven- 
turers between 1572 and 159G, it w T as not until near 
the end of the century that any really effectual meas- 
ures were completed for its protection. On the 2d of 
May 1574 the king w r rote to the audiencia of Panamd 
that he had information of many privateering expedi- 
tions then being fitted out with the intention of pro- 
ceeding 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 
( Tuces and other points on the Isthmus. At this 
date Panamd alone could put into the field eight hun- 

3G The Spanish minister in London remonstrated in strong terms against 
Parker's conduct, but to no purpose. Queen Elizabeth not only justified hia 
action but warmly commended him. Darien, ticots Colony, 50 (lOO'J). 


clred 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 de- 
fences, and it was ordered that the cost be defrayed 
from the royal treasury. 37 

Panama 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 
Panama presenting no serious obstacle to an invading 
force. 33 

31 Beetles Cedules, in Pacheco and Cardenas, CoL Doc, xvii. 395-7, 432-3, 
490, 522-3. 

s8 See p. 49 this voL for map of territory. 



Drake's Attack on Nombre de Dios — Panic among tiie Inhabitants — 
Stores of Treasure— Retreat of the English — They Sail for 
Cartagena — And Thence for the Gulf of Uraba — 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— Oxen- 
ham's Raid— Drake's Circumnavigaton of the Globe — His Second 
Voyage to the West Indies — His Final Expedition— His Death 
and Burial off Portobello. 

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 ri<Hit hand 
grasping a map of America, his left a cluster of bulb- 
ous roots, the meaning of which might puzzle the ob- 
server until he reads on the pedestal the inscription: 
"Sir Francis Drake, the introducer of potatoes into 
Europe, in the year of our Lord 158G.'' Thus, in Of- 
fenburg, 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 cir- 
cumstances, lie shipped as an apprentice on board a 
small merchant craft, and on the decease of the cap- 
tain 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 cx- 



pedition 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 men. 

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 readi- 
ness 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 de- 
spatched 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 mus- 
tering 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 pri- 
vateersmen discharged their pieces bui 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. 1 

Drake ordered his men to stand to their arms, for 

1 In Clark's Life, of Drake, 7, and Burton's English Ileroe, 11, it is stated 
that in an apartment of the governor's house was a stack of silver bars 70 feet 


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 Brit- 
ish could gain shelter their powder wjxs 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 com- 
mand 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. 2 

At daybreak the entire company embarked, and 
after making prize of a vessel of sixty tons laden prin- 
cipally with wines, landed at the port of Bastimentos. 3 

long, 10 in breadth, and 12 feet high, and that the captives gave information 
that the treasure-house contained more gold, jewels, and pearls than their pin- 
naces could carry; but one must make due allowance for the vivid imagina- 
tion of those chroniclers. 

2 The account given in JTaHuyt's Voy., iii. 778-9, differs materially from 
that of other authorities. The story is told by a Portuguese, one Lopez Vaz, 
whose narrative the chronicles tells us ' was intercepted with the author there- 
of at the riuer of Plate, by Captaine Withrington and Captaine Christopher 
Lister, in the fleete set foorth by the right Honorable the Erie of Cumberland 
for the South sea in the yeere 158C' He states that Drake landed with 1T;0 
men, and stationing 70 of them in the fort near Nombre de Dios, marched 
with the remainder into the town; that the inhabitants fled to the mountains, 
but that a party of 14 or 15 Spanish arquebusiers fired a volley upon the 
English, killing their trumpeter and wounding Drake in the leg. Hereupon, 
he says, the English retreated to the fort but found it abandoned; sound- 
ing the trumpet after the firing had ceased and the signal being unanswered, 
the men left in charge retreated to their boats, thinking that their comrades 
were either slain or captured. Drake and his followers then threw away 
their arms, and by swimming and wading made their way to the pinnaces. 
It is highly improbable that 80 English privateersmen, under the command 
of such a captain as Drake, would thus tamely beat a retreat before a handful 
of Spaniards. 

3 Islas y Porto de Bastimentos according to Juan Lopez, son of Tomas 
Lopez de Vargas, the celebrated Spanish cosmographer, in a map prepared by 
the former in 1789, for the use of the Spanish ambassador in Great Britain. In 
the map following the introduction to Dampicr's Voy., published in 1G99, the 
word is similarly spelled and applied to a group of islands off Nombre de 
Dios. Bcllin, Karte von der Erdenye, Panama,, 1754, agrees with Drake, but 


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 Panama 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 Uraba. 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 Span- 
iards 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; where- 
upon the English again visited the Isla de Pinos, 
capturing there vast quantities of provisions, includ- 
ing 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. 4 These were secured for future use in store- 
houses, 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 Bias, where the 

like Lopez places the group about half way between Nombre de Dios and 
Portobello. The author of Life and Dangerous Voy. of Drake, 16, speaks of 
'the Isle of Bastimiensis or the Isle of Victuals.' See Cartography Pacific 
States, MS., and Hist. Cent. Am., i. passim, this series. 

4 This visit to the Isla de Piaos is not mentioned in Clark's Life of Drake, 
but is described circumstantially in Burton 's English Heroe, 26. In the latter 
work it is stated that the supplies captured were sufficient to victual a force 
of 3,000 men, and it is not improbable that this was the case, for the galleons 
were now off the coast and the Isla de Pinos was the usual storing place for 


channel was so narrow and difficult that none could 
enter by night. 5 Here he was free from all clanger of 
surprise. The rainy season had now begun, and dur- 
ing that time the Spaniards did nof convey treasure 
by land. A delay became necessary before any ex- 
tensive 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 dis- 
playing 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 annoy- 
ance 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 cap- 
turing any valuable prize, they set sail for the gulf 
of San Bias. 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 ex- 
posure, 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 heaven." 

Drake remained for several weeks in his lurking 
place among the islands. At length the welcome 

5 In the map prepared b}' Juan Lopez, these islands are placed a few miles 
east of point San Bias and named the 'Islas Cabezas 6 ( 'autivas.' By Burton 
they are also called the Cabezas, but by Clark the Cativaas. 


news arrived that the Spanish fleet had reached 
Noinbre de Dios, and the adventurers at once began 
their march overland toward Panama. 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 cf the 'calenture' fever, 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 ex- 
cept by their arms. 7 

Many days the party journeyed, forcing their way 
through dense underbrush and cane-brake, crossing 
swollen streams and toiling up mountain steeps. Yet 
the}^ suffered little hardship. High overhead a can- 
opy 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. 8 

6 In Burtons English Heroe, 41, it is stated that a post-mortem examina- 
tion was made of the body of Joseph Drake, who died of this calenture, and 
that the 'liver was swoln, and the heart as if boy led.' 

7 In the account of Lopez Vaz, in Hakluyt''s Voy., iii. 179, it is stated that 
Drake had with him 100 English besides the negroes. This is clearly a mis- 
take, for the evidence is conclusive that he left Plymouth with only 73 men, 
and he could have had little chance to recruit his force except from the 
cimarrones; though, as remarked by the author of Drake, Cavendish, and 
Dampier, 59, he may have been reenforced from the vessels which he met 
with off the coast. 

8 The cimarrones carried two different kinds of weapons, one being an 
arrow pointed with iron, fish-bone, or hard wood for use against the Span- 
iards, the other a javelin with an iron head varying from a pound and a half 
to one ounce in weight, to serve in the pursuit of game, the metal being 
highly tempered and sharp enough to pierce deep into the flesh of a stag or 
wild boar. Burton's English Heroe, 43-4. See also Life and Voy. of Drake, 


On the third day of their march they arrived at a 
negro town, distant forty-five leagues from Panama" 
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 Span- 
iards, 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 reinforcements 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 contin- 
ued his journey. 

Four days later the expedition arrived at the sum- 
mit 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." 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 

9 The author of Selection of Curions Voy., iv. 15, states that Drake arrived 
at the summit of this mountain ten days after leaving the town of the cimar- 
rones. According to other authorities the time was seven days. 


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 achieve- 
ment 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 Eng- 
lish were now nearing the end of their march, and as 
they journeyed frequently came in sight of Panama 
and of the Spanish vessels riding at anchor in the 

Extreme caution became necessary, 10 and on ap- 
proaching Panama, 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 for- 
ward to Panama disguised as a slave to ascertain the 
exact night and time of night 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 Panama 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 Biver, and when within two leagues of the 

10 'The ladies of Panama used to imploy hunters and fowlers to take the 
curious fowls in that countrey, by whom they might be discovered.' Burton's 
English Jleroe, 49. 

11 The treasure was forwarded from Panama to Cruces at night to avoid 
the heat encountered by day in the open country lying between. 


town of Graces 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 
Crucea to Panama, and the strictest injunctions were 
given that none should stir except at the appointed 

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-VitcB without Uater, forgetting himself, 
perswaded a Symcron 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 Gentle- 
man 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 io others of the danger." 

,2 Venta Cruz according to Burton'' s Life of Drake, 18, Burton's English 
Hero', 50, and Life and Voy. of Drake, 42, and Vcnta de Cruzes in the map 
confronting p. 1 in Dumpier'* Voy. Probably both are identical with Crucea, 
or Crnzea as it is spelled in the map on p. 137 of Esquemelin, Hist. Bucanier/i, 
in which no such place as Venta, Cruz is mentioned. Juan Lopez in the map 
before mentioned calls the place San Francisco de Cruces. 


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 wiiile the remainder be allowed 
to pass on, so that in case of attack the enemy's at- 
tention might be engaged until troops could be sum- 
moned from Panama. The provision trains were 
quickly captured and a few hundred pounds of base 
bullion 13 were discovered among the packs. 

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 
Panama. 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 com- 
mander, 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 com- 
pany of soldiers, stationed in the town as a defence 
against marauding bands of cimarrones, 14 together 
with a party of friars, came forth to oppose his pas- 
sage. The Spanish captain hailed them, and on 
learning that they were English summoned them to 

13 Two horse-loads of silver, according to Clark and Burton; but it was 
more probably base metal containing about enough silver to make it worth 
the freight. 

11 The trains were frequently attacked by cimarrones. ' From Venta 
Cruz to Nombre tie Dios they go always with their Treasure by clay through 
the cool fresh Woods, unless the Symerons happily make them sweat for fear, 
as oft happens, and therefore their Recoes (a name applied to mules and mule- 
teers travelling in company) are guarded with Souldicrs.' Burton's English 
Ueroe, 49. See also Life and Voy. of JJraLe, 42. 


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 posses- 
sion of Cruces. 

Much consternation was at first caused amon^ the 
townsfolk, especially among some Spanish women of 
Nombre deDios still suffering from child-birth; 13 but 
Drake manifested little of that fiendish cruelty dis- 
played by the buccaneers of later years. Giving orders 
that none should lay hands on women or do violence 
to unarmed men, 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, reach- 
ing their ships in safety, though hungry, shoeless, and 

After an unsuccessful cruise on the coast of Vcr- 
agua, 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 afcer ascending the river a short distance in 

13 Tn Burton** English ITeroc* 56, 57, it is stated that at Nombre de Dios 
parturition was usually followed in a few days by the death of the infant, but 
that children born at Cruces, reared there till six years of age, and then 
brought to Nombre de Dios, usually enjoyed good health. See also Life and 
I '•;/. of Drake, 47. 

lr ' Lopez Vaz, in HaMuyt, Voy., iii. 770, states that five or seven merchants 
w< re slain, and that the town was set on fire, property being destroyed to the 
value of more than 200,000 ducats. If this did occur it was doubtless the 
work of the cimarrone3, but there in no mention of it in other authorities. 


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 Panama. 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 adven- 
turers 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 direc- 
tion. 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, 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 approach- 
ing, 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 hard- 
ship 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 anchor. 18 

17 In Burton's English Jleroe, 70, and in Life and Voy. of Drake, 57, it is 
stated that they sat up to the waist in water and that each wave drenched 
them up to the arm-pits. To steer and sail a raft under such circumstances, 
even if they escaped being washed overboard, was certainly a remarkable feat 
of navigation. 

18 There is some confusion in the narrative of the old chroniclers at this 
point. In ( 'lark's Life of Drake, 20, it is related that a 'frigot' which sailed 
with the expedition to the rio Francisco, was ordered to lie off the mouth of 
the river, while on account of shoal water the men ascended the stream in 
pinnaces; but for what purpose the voyage on the raft, if this were the case, 

and why leave the vessel in so exposed ;i position? In Hurt ] n\< English He, 

00, it is stated that the ship was left at (sent bach to) the Cabezas, and, page 

7.1, that when Drake fell in with his pinnaces his men 'sayled back to their 


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 re- 
maining 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. Never- 
theless 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 19 laden with pro- 
visions, 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 4 their devotions 

Frigot and from thence directly to their Ships;' but according to this authority 
both ships and 'frigot' were already at the Cabezas, where they lay secure 
from the Spanish cruisers. 

19 Drake made many other captures, the recital of which would be wearisome 
to the reader. According to Burton more than 200 vessels of from 10 to 120 
tons traded at that time between Cartagena and Nombre de Dios. Most of 
these, he tells us, the English captured, and some of them twice or thrice. 
Clark makes no mention of this; but the author of Voy. Hist, round World, 
i 44, states that the English took more than 100 vessels of all sizes. 
Hist. Cent. Am., Vol. II. 27 


and flocked to the shore to welcome their brave coun- 
trymen, who thus returned to their native land with 
so much gold and glory. 

Among those who accompanied Drake in his expe- 
dition to Tierra Firme in 1572 was one John Oxen- 
ham, 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 ves- 
sel, 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 Panamd. 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 Panamd, 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 excep- 
tion of five boys who were sold into slavery. Thus 
ended the first piratical cruise attempted by English- 
men in the South Sea. 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 


Ilakluyt's Voy., iii. 520-28. 


15th of November 1577 he set out upon the famous 
expedition which was to place hirn in the foremost 
rank of navigators. On September 6th, in the fol- 
lowing 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 Panama, 
he sailed as far north as the forty-third parallel, ex- 
pecting to find a passage eastward to the Atlantic. 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 15 80. 22 His flag-ship 
the Pelican was taken to Deptford, and on board the 
bark in which he had compassed the world 23 this 
stout-hearted mariner, who had begun life as a pren- 
tice 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 - 

21 During the voyage Drake touched at the bay which still bears his name 
under the Punta de los Reyes on the coast of California. Here he spent five 
weeks, smoked native tobacco with the Indians, and took possession of the 
country, calling it New Albion. 

22 'Which was Monday in the iust and ordinary reckoning of those that 
had stayed at home in one place or countrie, but in our computation was the 
Lords day or Sonday.' Drake's World Encompassed, 162. 

23 The vessel was afterward broken up, and a chair, made from some of the 
timber, was presented to the university library of Oxford by Charles II. Here 
the poet Cowley sat enthroned and drank a cup of wine, taking occasion to 
deliver himself thereupon of some vile verse, concluding with the lines 
(addressed to the chair): 

' The Streights of Time too narrow are for thee, 
Launch forth into an undiscovered Sea, 
And steer the endless course of vast Eternity, 
Take for thy bail this Verse, and for thy Pilot me.' 

One can almost wish that the chair had taken him at his word, for the good 
ship deserved a better fate. 


five ships with a number of pinnaces set sail from 
Plymouth, having on board two thousand three hun- 
dred 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 Espanola, within a few miles of Santo 
Domingo. The city was taken after a feeble resist- 
ance, 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 thou- 
sand 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 thou- 
sand 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 occupa- 
tion of Nombre de Dios and Panama, and the seizure 
of the treasure stored on either side of the Isthmus. 
It was resolved, therefore, to return to England. 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 25 by Raleigh were taken on board the 

24 Although Drake had lost nearly one third of his forces, there was prob- 
ably some further reason for his abandoning the expedition after such feeble 
effort. His conduct contrasts strangely with the untiring persistence which 
he displayed in other enterprises. Pos