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The history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 online

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Luqne celebrated mass, divided the consecrated host into three parts,
for himself and his two associates, and a contract which had for
its object pillage and murder was ratified in the name of the God of
peace 1

The preparations for the expedition were ready about the end of
October, 1524, and Pizarro left about the middle of November of
the same year. He had had the precaution to consult Pascal d'An-
dagoya,* who had made a part of the route which he undertook to
travel over; Andagoya advised him to abandon his enterprise.
But the dangers which were represented to Pizarro only excited his
courage and confirmed him in his resolution. His fleet consisted, at
first, but of a single vessel and two canoes.f After enduring great
hardships, suffering many privations, and repeated efforts, Pizarro
finally reached Tumbez, on the Gulf of Guayaquil, in the empire of
the incas.

Almegro, Du Luque, and Pizarro, having exhausted nearly all
their wealth in the search for Peru, were by their united talents and
efforts, in J 530, enabled to collect only three small vessels and a
hundred and eighty soldiers, of whom thirty-six were cavalry; with
this small force Pizarro did not hesitate to undertake the conquest
of a great empire. Almegro remained at Panama to collect and

oars. All tlie streams which flow down the northern side of those mountains
into the sea abound in gold, and the kings who reign upon its borders eat and
drink out of golden vessels. Gold, in fact, is as plentiful and common among
these people of the south, as iron is among you Spaniards." But this had no
reference to Peru. The hostile Indian tribes at constant war with each other
would have rendered intercourse with Peru impossible. Pizarro with his ves-
sels was from November 1524 to 1526 in making his way to Peru. But the In-
dian's story served a purpose, to send to Diego Columbus and the King of Spain.

* He wrote an account of what occurred in Terra Firma while he was there,,
and from this account have been drawn some of the quotations in this volume.

t Eiclier.


send the reinforcements and provisions of which Pizarro might have
need. The proper season for sailing from Panama to Peru being
better known, Pizarro made the voyage in thirteen days, although
contrary winds and currents forced him a hundred leagues to the
north of Tumbez, and he was obliged to land his forces in the bay
of St. Matthew. He lost no time in returning. to the south without
leaving the shore, as well to be more easily joined by the re-enforce-
ments which he expected from Panama, as to secure a retreat upon
his vessels in case of accident. The seducing description of the
country, which Pizarro had made to his followers, so little corre-
sponded with their expectations, that many of his companions began
to re^jroach him on account of it, and the soldiers would have lost all '
confidence in him if, even in those sterile parts of Peru, he had not
found some appearances of wealth and culture which seemed to
justify the reports of their chief. Finally they arrived in the pro-
vince of Coaque, and, having surprised the inhabitants of the prin-
cipal town, they found there vases and ornaments of gold and silver,
valued at more than thirty thousand pesos, and other riches which
dissipated their doubts and restored courage and hope to even the
most discontented.

Pizarro, himself, was so transported with these rich spoils, which
he considered as the firstfruits of a land abounding in treasures,
that he immediately dispatched a vessel to Panama with a large
part of the booty for Almegro; and another to Nicaragua, charged
with considerable sums for persons of influence in that province, in
hopes that this display of the wealth which he had acquired in so
short a time might determine many of the adventurers to come and
join him. In the mean time he continued his march along the coast.
Pizarro did not meet with an}"- resistance as far as the island of
Puna, in the bay of Guayaquil ; this island was more peopled than
the other countries which he had traversed, and its inhabitants were
more courageous and less civilized than those of the continent.
They defended themselves with so much valor and obstinacy that
Pizarro spent six months in subduing them.

While here he began to gather the fruits of the care which he had
taken to spread the renown of his first success. There arrived to
him from Nicaragua two detachments, which it is true did not
exceed thirty men each, and some horses for the cavalry ; but it
appeared to him a re-enforceraent so much the more important as
the one was commanded by Sebastian Benalcasar, and the other by
Hernando de Soto ; two of the best officers that had served in


PlzaiTO found many prisoners in the island of Pnna, whicli showed
that its inhabitants were very warlike. Among these prisoners he
found many inhabitants of Tumbez; he set them all free, and those
of Tumbez he sent back to their countiy, and requested them to
take in their bark three of his men whom he sent to their cacique.
Scarcely had these perfidious Indians arrived in their town when
they sacriliced these three deputies to their idols.* Hernando de
Soto, who with many Indians was put upon another bark, came
near experiencing the same fate. Some of his friends seeing him
leaving, stopped him and made him come ashore, and thus saved
his life.

The next day Pizarro landed his troops in Tumbez, on entering
the town he was surprised to find it not only deserted, but with the
exception of a few buildings entirely demolished. He advanced
more than two leagues into the country without encountering a
single Indian, It appeared to him that all the inhabitants had
retired to a neighboring height. On his return he met a detachment
of cavalry sent to seek him. He resolved to establish a camp there
in order to take time to examine the country and its inhabitants.

He sent propositions to the cacique ; but three weeks elapsed
without receiving from him any answer. The cacique made dreadful
menaces to all the Spaniards who left the camp. One day Pizarro
discovered a large body of Indians posted on the other side of a
river. Irritated at the cacique's obstinacy, he finally determined to
attack him. He prepared secretly some flats and crossed the river
at the close of day, with his two brothers and fifty cavaliers, marched
all night ; finding himself the next day, at day-break, very near the
camp of the Indians, he rushed upon them with an impetuosity that
so frightened them that they thought only of escaping. He slew a
great number of them, and made a cruel war upon them for fifteen
days, to avenge the death of the three Spaniards whom they had
slain. The cacique, frightened, sued for peace, accompanying his
request with some presents of gold and silver. The fame of this
victory caused all the inhabitants of this province to sue for peace.

This victory excited the courage of Pizarro. He advanced into the
country with the greater part of his troops, and left the rest near
Tumbez under the command of Antonio de Navarre and Alonzo
Requelme, his design being to penetrate as far as Port Payta, and
reconnoitre the land before deciding on any plan of operations.f

* Pizarro on his first visit to Tumtez (1527) had been hospitably received,
hut since then a revolution had occurred, and the place had been destroyed,
f Richer.


He set out early in May 1532, and keeping along the more level
regions himself, sent a small detachment under the command- of
Hernando de Soto to explore the skirts of the vast sierra that
border the lowlands of Peru on the Pacific. At the expiration of
some three or four weeks spent in reconnoitring, Pizarro came to
the conclusion that the most eligible site for his settlement was the
rich valley of Tangarala, thirty leagues south of Tumbez. To this
spot, accordinglj', he ordered the men left at Tumbez to repair at
once with their vessels ; and no sooner had they arrived than busy
preparations were made for building up the town. Pizarro gave his
infant city the name of San Miguel,* in acknowledgment of the
services rendered him bj'that saint in his battle with the Indians of
the island of Puna. The site was afterwards found to be so un-
healthy that it was abandoned for another on the banks of the
Piura. Hence the name San Miguel de Piura still commemorates
the founding of the first European colony in Pei'u.f

Wlien Pizarro embarked at the bay of St. Matthew, a civil war
wliich raged between Atahualpa and Huascar, two contestants for
the throne of Peru, was in all its force. If in his expedition in
1526 Pizarro had attacked this countrj-, he would have had to op-
pose the forces of a great state united under Huayna Capac, a skil-
ful and courageous monarch without anj'thing to divert him. But
when the two competitors learned the outrages and violence of the
Spaniards, they were so occupied with a war so interesting to each
of them that they could not give the least attention to the move- ,
ments of an enemy who seemed too feeble to alarm them, and whom
they believed they could easily stop when they had leisure.

Huascar sent to Pizarro to ask his assistance against Atahualpa,
as against a rebel and usurper. Pizarro immediately comprehended

* This saint had appeared to the faithful in the battle with the Indians on
the Island of Puna. The saints, Peter and James, had, according to Gomara,
appeared to the faithful of Cortes's army at the battle of Tabasco ; but Diaz, who
was in that battle, says he was such a sinner that he could not see them. At
the battle of Xoohimiloo, Cortes, being overpowered by his enemies, would have
been ■ captured and sacrificed to the Indian idols had not a brave Tlascalan
seasonably come to his relief. Herrera and Torquemada say that the day after
this event Cortes sought for the Tlascalan who had rescued him, but could not
find him, either dead or alive ; on which account, from the devotion which the
general paid to St. Peter, he became convinced that th^ apostle had been the per-
son who had saved his life. These same saints who, with flaming swords, hovered
over the army of Cortes at the battle of Tobasco, were represented in a fine paint-
ing in the church of Sta. Maria- degli Angeli at Rome, hovering over Pope Leo
in the presence of Attila.

t Presoott.


the importance of this overture, and so clearly foresaw all the ad-
vantages that could be derived from the civil war which divided the
kingdom, that, without awaiting the reinforcements from Panama,
he determined to advance into the interior while the domestic dis-
cord depi'ived the Peruvians of the possibility of attacking him
with all their forces ; hoping that in taking (according to circum-
stances) the defence of one of the competitors he would be able the
more easily to overcome them both.

As he was obliged to divide his forces, he left at San Miguel a
garrison sufficient fpr the defence of this place, which, in case of
mishap, was to serve as a retreat and shelter where he could re-
ceive the succors which he was expecting from Panama. He began
his march on the 24th of September, 1532, Ave months after landing
at Tumbez, with sixty-two cavaliers, one hundred and two foot sol-
diers, of whom twenty were armed with arquebuses, and three with
muskets.* He marched for Caxamalca, a town twelve days' journey
from San Miguel, and where Atahualpa was encamped with the
greatest part of his troops.

The Spaniards were obliged to cross the sandy plains between
San Miguel de Piura and Motupe, seventy miles in extent, and
without water, tree, or plant, or any verdure on this horrible extent
of burning sand ; but as soon as they had left them they found popu-
lous villages, where tliey supplied their wants.f He had proceeded
but a short distance when an officer, dispatched by the inca, met him
with a rich present from this pi-iuce, who offered him his friendship,
and had him assured that he would be well received at Caxamalca.
Pizarro, employing the artifice already made use of by his fellow-
countrymen in America, pretended that he was the embassador of a
powerful prince, and declared that he advanced with the intention

* Probably arquebuses was intended for arhaletes — crossbows ; for arquebus
and mousquet were at that time the same thing. Arquebuses were at first fired
by applying by hand the match to the touch-hole, but in 1476 there was a con-
trivance, suggested by the trigger of the arbalast, by which the burning match
could be applied with more celerity and certainty. The arquebus was fired from
the chest, with the butt in a right line with the barrel ; but the Germans soon
gave a hooked formed to the butt, which elevated the barrel, and then the
weapon was called haguehut. The former were common in 1485, and the latter
in 1540. Xeres says that " he (Pizarro) had sixty-seven horses, and one hun-
dred and ten foot soldiers, three of them with guns, and some -with crossbows."
Xeres makes no mention of the two falconets, the smallest class of cannon,
weighing from five to fifteen hundred weight ; and carrying a ball weighing
from one to three pounds. But iu the attack on Atahualpa he mentions Candia
with his guns.

t Riolier.


of offering to Atahualpa his assistance against the enemies who dis-
puted his throne.

The Peruvians, not being able to form any correct idea of what
object the Spaniards had in view in entering their country, ex-
hausted themselves in conjectures. Sliould they regard these for-
eigners as beings of a superior nature, who came to them to do
them good or to punish them for their crimes, or should they con-
sider them as enemies of their peace and liberty ? Th|p protestations
of the Spaniards, who ceased not to say that they came to bring to
the Peruvians a knowledge of the truth, and to lead them into the
way of happiness, gave some appearance of probability to the first
opinion ; but they were disproved in the second by the violence,
rapacity, and cruelty of these terrible guests. In this uncertainty
the declaration that Pizarro made of his pacific intentions dissi-
pated the fears of the Inca, and determined him to receive the
Spaniards as friends. In consequence of this they were permitted
to cross undisturbed the sandy desert between San Miguel and
Motoupe,(7) where the least effort of an enemy, joined to the dis-
tress in which they were in crossing so wretched a country, would
have been fatal to them ; and afterwards they were allowed to pass
through a mountain defile, so narrow and difficult that a few reso-
lute men would have been able to defend it against a numerous
army. But there again, through the imprudent credulity of the
inca, they did not meet with any obstacle, and they took peaceable
possession of a fort constructed for the defence of this important

From Motoupe he advanced towards the mountains which en-
viron the low countrjf of Peru,* and arrived at a place called
Zaran, situated in a fruitful valley among the mountains. The
curaco received him with kindness and hospitality, and the troops
were quartered in one of the royal iambos.f Shortly before enter-
ing Zaran, Pizarro learned that a Peruvian garrison was at Caxas,
at no great distance from Zaran. He immediately dispatched a
small party under Hernando de Soto, in the direction of Caxas, to
reconnoitre the ground, and bring him intelligence of the state of
things to Zaran, where he would halt until his return.

Day after day passed, and a week had elapsed before tidings
were received of De Soto and his men, and Pizarro was becoming
seriouslj' alarmed for their fate, when on the eighth morning they
appeared, accompanied by an envoy from the inca himself. The

* Richer.

t Large puWio buildings along the highways of Peru.


Spaniards had met at Caxas this envoy, and he had accompanied
them to Zaran, to deliver the message of his sovereign, with pres-
ents to Pizarro. The Indian ambassador came charged with his
master's greeting to the Spaniards, whom Ataliualpa welcomed to
his country, and invited Pizarro to visit him in his camp among the

Pizarro now received from De Soto a full account of his expedi-
tion. Soto, on entering Caxas, found the inhabitants mustered, in
hostile array, as if to dispute his passage. But he soon convinced
them of his pacific intentions, and they received the Spaniards with
the same courtesy which had been shown to them in most places on
their march. Here Soto saw one of the royal officers employed in
collecting the tribute for the government ; from this functionary he
learned that Atahualpa was quartered with a large army at Caxa-
malca. Soto also gathered much important information in regard
to the resources and general polic3' of Ae government, the state
maintained by the inca, and the stern severity with which obedi-
ence to the law was everywhere enforced. He had an opportunit^r
of observing this himself; on entering the village he saw several
Indians hanging dead by their heels, having been executed for some
violence offered to the Yirgins of the Sun, of whom there was a
convent in the neighborhood.

From Caxas, Soto passed to the adjacent town of GKianca-
bamba ; much larger, more populous, and better built than Caxas.
The houses, instead of being built of clay baked in the sun, were
many of them constructed of solid stone so nicely put together
that it was impossible to detect the line of junction. A river which
traversed the town was crossed by a bridge and the high-road of
the incas. The road was raised in many places like a causeway,
paved with heavy stone flags, and bordered with trees, while
streams of water were conducted through aqueducts along the
sides. . At certain distances there were small houses for the accom-
modation of travellers, who might thus pass from one end of the
kingdom to the other. In another quarter they beheld magazines
destined for the army, filled with grain and clothing ; and at the
entrance of the town was a stone building occupied by a public
officer, who collected the tolls and duties on various commodities
brought into or taken out of the town. These accounts of De Soto
not only confirmed all that the Spaniards had heard of the Indian
empire, but greatly raised their ideas of the resources and domestic
policy of the empire.*

* fresoott's Conquest of Peru.


The envoy presented Pizarro with such a quantity of rich presents
that it made the Spaniards believe that the prince who sent them
possessed immense treasures. They doubted not that he was
offended at the treatment of the inhabitants of Tumbez ; but they
were ignorant, says Garcialasso, that the Peruvians regarded them
as the sons of the Sun, and as executors of his vengeance, and that
their object was less to purchase the friendsliip of the small number
of men, than to appease the anger of the Sun, whom they believed
was offended at them. The Spaniards received, on the part of the
Peruvians, a welcome wherever they passed, and khej'' brought them
divers sorts of liquors and viands. And the Spaniards observed
everywhere that they had spared nothing for their reception.

As they drew near Caxamalca, they had a view of the inca's armyi,
which extended a whole league. In the afternoon they reached the
town and found it deserted. Pizarro entered it and took possession
of the great court or public square, the one side of which was formed
by the palace of the inca and the other by the temple of the Sun,
the whole environed by a strong rampart of earth.*

The population of Caxamalca was about two thousand. The
town was built at the foot of a sierra, upon a flat space extending
for a league. Two streams traversed the adjacent valley, and the
town was approached by two bridges, under which these rivers ran.
The great square, larger than any at that time in Spain, was con-
nected with the streets by tvvo gates. In front of this square, and
incorporated with it in the direction of the plain, was a fortress
built of stone. Stone stairs led up from the square to the fortress.
On the other side of this fortress there was a secret staircase and a
sallj'-port connecting the fortress with the open country.

Above the town, on the hill-side, where the houses begin, there
was another fortress constructed on a rock, the greater part of it
scarped. This hill-fortress, which was larger than the other, had a
triple inelosure of more extent than the great square, and the
ascent to it was by a winding staircase. There was still another
inclosed space between the hill-fortress and the heights of the sierra,
which was surrounded by buildings where the women-servants
attached to the palace had their residence.

Outside the town there was a building surrounded by a court open
to the air, but inclosed by mud walls and planted with trees. This
was the temple of the Sun. There were also several other temples
within the town. The houses, which prol)ably formed two sides of
the great square, were very large. The frontage of some of them

* Richer.


occupied no less than two hundred yards, and they were surrounded
by walls about eighteen feet liigh. The walls were of good and
solid masonry. The roofs of these houses were formed of straw
and wood. The interior of these houses was divided into several
blocks of buildings, each of tliese blocks consisting of a suite of
eight apartments, and having a separate entrance. In the court-
yard were reservoirs of water brought from some distance in tubes.
The town was commanded by the fortress on the hill, and com-
pressed, as it were, between the fortress and the great square, where
probably the government buildings were. This square again, with
its smaller fortress, commanded the open country.*

Pizarro, after a consultation with his officers, determined to send
an embassy to the inca.f Accordingly, De Soto was appointed to
execute this commission, with a retinue of twenty horse ; he was
directed to proceed with this party to the emperor's presence. The
Spaniards found the Peruvian army drawn up to receive them, notice
of whose arrival had been given by an Indian sent to prepare the
way. As they passed the ranks, the Indians gazed with astonish-
ment at the horses. Soto, leaping over a ditch, advanced rearing
and curveting with his mare, to the unspeakable amazement of these
simple people, who, having never seen au^' quadruped much larger
than a llama, could hardly separate in their imagination the rider
from the horse. The inca had dispatched one of his generals to
receive the ambassadors and show them all possible respect. When
this officer approacl>cd Soto and the Spaniards, he saluted them
with the most profound obeisance ; then, turning to the people, de-
clared that these were the descendants of Viracocha, whom they
ought to worship with the most humble adoration. Immediately

* Arthur Help's " Life of Pizarro."

t In the " Modern Universal History," vol. 34, p. 409, is the following : "Ac-
cordingly Hernando Pizarro and Ferdinando Soto were appointed to execute this
commission with a retinue of twenty horse ; Soto was directed to proceed with
this party to the emperor's presence, and Pizarro to remain a little distance
behind with another party to bring him off in case any violence should be offered
to his person." This was done by Pizarro after deliberating with his ofSoers,
and probably Soto was appointed, at their suggestion, as the proper person for
such an embassy. It was not till after Soto had set out that Hernando Pizarro,
according to his own account, followed him ; and he gives as a reason why he
should do so, " That their numbers (Soto's) were insufficient for defence." " He
(Francisco Pizarro) therefore ordered me to follow, and to act according to cir-
cumstances." Xeres says the same, and probably had it from Hernando Pizarro
himself. 'Every Spanish officer who went to Pern in those days had the exploits
of Cortes and his heroes before him, and aspired to emulate them, or to appear,
in the eyes of the world, great heroes.


all the Indian files began their protestations, which they continued
even as they accompanied the Spaniards into the incas's presence.*
Theamazement of both parties was almost equal. The Spaniards
admired the riches, grandeur, and magnificence of the inca, while
the monarch was surprised at the habits, beards, complexion, man-
ners, arms, and horses of the Spaniards. Some minutes passed in

Online LibraryBarnard ShippThe history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 → online text (page 21 of 75)