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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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profound silence; when, at length, Soto came within proper dis-
tance, the inca rose up, embraced him cordially, and bade him
welcome into his dominions. After this compliment, an elegant
entertainment of bread, fruits, and divers kinds of liquors, was
served up bj' six virgins and as many boys, well dressed. Two
beautiful maidens of the royal blood advanced before these, holding
in their hands small golden cups filled with the liquor usually drunk
by the inca, of which they gave one to Atahualpa and another to
the ambassador, who drank peace and friendship to each other, this
ceremony being deemed in Peru a mark of the most cordial recep-
tion and sincere welcome. At lengtli, Soto began to deliver his
commission, but was stopped by the inca, that he might admire a
little longer in his form and figure the image of the god Yira-
coche.(8) Soto, mounting his horse, made him prance, leap, and
curvet, to the great satisfaction of Atahualpa, who suffered the
beast to come lip and smell him, without seeming afraid, though
the Indian soldiers fled in crowds when the animal approached-
The emperor's curiosity being now satisfied, the ambassador was
allowed to speak, but was requested to be concise. Soto accord-
ingly began to inform the inca of the Roman pontiff, of Charles the
Fifth, etc., and concluded with acquainting him of the arrival of the
Spaniards at Caxamalca, and referring him for further particulars
to a personal interview with Pizarro.f

Atahualpa promised him that he would go the next day to visit
them in their quarters. The becoming deportment of the monarch,
the order which reigned at his court,- the respect with which his
subjects approached his person, and executed his orders, astonished

* Soto did not ride into the presence of tlie inoa, but dismounted before
he reached him, and left his horse at a little distance in charge of some of
his soldiers. When Hernando Pizarro arrived where Soto had left his men,
he there left those who had accompanied him, and advanced from there with
only two horsemen, but whether mounted or not is left to conjecture. The inca
was so surrounded by his chiefs and retinue that he could not have been
approached on horseback without Way having been made for him. Cortes dis-
mounted and advanced on foot to meet Montezuma.

f ' ' The Spanish writers differ widely about the particulars pf this audience,
and, indeed, the whole conduct of the inca, but they agree that he told the
ambassador he would visit Pizarro at Caxamalca." — Richer.


the Spaniards, who had not till then seen anything in South
America above the petty chiefs of some savage tribes. But their
gaze was fixed much more upon the immense riches displayed with
profusion in the camp of the monarch. The ornaments which were
worn upon the person of the inca and the people of his suite, the
gold and silver vases in which the repast he gave them was served,
tlie multitude of utensils of every kind, made of these precious
metals, were for them a spectacle which exceeded all the ideas of
opulence that a European of the sixteenth century could form.

At the return of the Spaniards from the encampment of the inca,
their imagination still heightened by the spectacle which they had
witnessed, and their cupidity increased more and more, they made
to their companions so seducing a description of what they had
seen, that Pizarro was confirmed in the resolution which he had
already taken. He knew, by the observations which he had made
of the manners of the people of the new world, as well as by the
example of Cortes, of what importance it would be to him to seize
the person of the inca. To succeed in it he formed a plan which
required as much audacity as perfidy. In contempt of the char-
acter with which he had invested himself, in announcing himself as
the ambassador of a great monarch who sought the alliance of the
inca ; in violation of the repeated assurances of friendship which
he had given him, and of the offer of services which he had made
him, he resolved to profit by the confiding simplicity with which
Atahualpa counted upon his protestations, and, to seize upon the
person of the inca in the interview to which he had invited liim.
He prepared the execution of his plan as coolly and with as little
scruple as if this treason were not to be one day the disgrace of
himself and his country. He divided his cavalry, consisting of
sixty, into three equal squads, under the command of his brother
Hernando, Benalcasar, and De Soto. They were drawn up behind
a wall, so as not to be at first perceived by the inca. He made one
corps of his infantry, except that he retained near his person
twenty of the most determined soldiers, to aid iiim in the perilous
enterprise which he reserved for himself. The artillery, which con-
sisted of two falconets, and the arquebusers, were placed opposite
the route by which the inca was to arrive. All received orders not
to leave their posts, nor to make any movement until the signal of
action was given.

At dawn the whole camp of the Peruvians was in motion ; but,

as Atahualpa wished to appear with the greatest magnificence in

his first interview with these foreigners, the preparation for his

march was so long that the day was already far advanced when he



commenced it. The inca advanced with great order aiid solemnity;
amidst the din of warlilie instruments. He was preceded by four
hundred men, dressed alilte, who opened the way for him. Sitting,
himself, upon a kind of throne or palanquin adorned with plumes
of divers colors, and almost covered with plates of gold and silver
enriched with precious stones, he was carried upon the shoulders
of his principal courtiers. Behind him, some of his principal offi-
cers were borne in tlie same manner. Several bands of dancers
and singers accompanied the march, and all the plain was covered
with troops to the number of more than thirty thousand men.*

The advance guard entered, the first, the great square, while a
troop of three hundred Indians, clothed in chequered livery, made
clean the way before the inca's litter. After them came a corps of
dancers and singers, then a number of Peruvians in golden armor,
wearing crowns of gold and silver, in the midst of wliom was borne
along the inca himself. Then came several columns of men. As
each body of men advanced they deployed to the right or the left ;
and Atahualpa's litter was borne on towards the centre of the great
square. He then ordered a halt, and that his and the other litters
should continue to be held up.f

As soon as the inca was near the quarters of the Spaniards,
Vincent Valverde, a Jacobin priest, almoner of the expedition,
advanced through the crowd with a crucifix in one hand and his
breviary in the other, and in a long discourse expounded to the
monarch the doctrine of the creation, the fall of the first man, the
incarnation of Jesus Christ, the choice that God had made of St;
Peter to be his vicegerent upon earth, the power of St. Peter trans-
mitted to the popes, and the donation made to the king of Castile
by the pope, Alexander YI., of all the regions of the new world.
After having disclosed all this doctrine he summoned Atahualpa to
embrace the Christian religion, to recognize the supreme authority
of the pope, and the king of Castile as his legitimate sovereign,
promising him, .if he submitted, that the king, his master, would
take Peru under his protection and permit him to continue to reign
there ; but declared war against him, and menaced him with the
most terrible vengeance if he refused to obey and if he persisted iii
his idolatry.

This strange discourse, which embraced incomprehensible myste-
ries and unknown facts, of which all human eloquence could not
give a distinct idea to an Indian in so short a time, was so badlv

* Richer. This procession of the inca was much like that of the Mexican
monarch, Montezuma, at his first interview with Cortes,
t Arthur Help's "Life of Pizarro."


rendered by the interpreter, who understood but little Spanish, and
who could not express himself with clearness in the language of the
inca, that Atahualpa comprehended scarcely any of it. Only some
items of the harangue of the priest, more easy to be seized, filled
him with astonishment and indignation. His reply, however, was
moderate; he commenced by observing that he was master of his
own kingdom by the right of succession, and that he could not con-
ceive how a foreign priest claimed to dispose of what did not belong
to him; and that if this pretended donation had been made he, who
•was tlie legitimate proprietor, refused to confirm it; that he was not
at all disposed to renounce the religion which he held from his
ancestors, and to abandon the worship of the sun, the immortal
divinity which he and his people adored, to worship the god of the
Spaniards who was subject to death ; that in regard to the otiier
l)oints treated of in his discourse he had never heard of them, that
he comprehended nothing of them, and that he desired to know of
the priest where he had learned such extraordinary things. In this
book said the priest, presenting to him his breviary. The inca
eagerly took the book, and, after having turned over a few leaves,
placed it to his ear, and then said : This here which you have given
me does not speak, and tells me nothing; — so saying, he with disdain
threw the book upon the ground. The monk picked it up and,
furious, rushed to his companions, crying out, to arms! to arms!
slay these miscreants who tread under their feet the law of God.* '
The friar had no sooner returned than Pizarro gave the signal for
attack. Immediately the artillerj'^ was discharged in order to begin
the attack by astonishing the Indians. Then the musketeers poured
in a most terrible fire, while the cavalry sallied out and trod and cut
down the afirighted Indians. At the same time the foot pressed on
with their crossbows, pikes, and swords, making dreadful slaughter
of a confused multitude, who in their fear and flight trampled down
one another, and thus facilitated the action of the Spaniards in the
scene of slaughter. The suddenness of the attack, the astounding
noise of the artillery and musketry, the vigor of the onsetj the death
of their companions, and the fury of the horses and dogs entirely
disconcerted the Peruvians. Pizarro, sensible that the caipture of
the inca would secure a guarantee for the safety of his forces, fell
desperately, with his guard, upon the corps that surrounded the
royal litter. Great numbers of the nobility, who pressed around
their monarch and shielded him with their bodies, were slain without
resistance, but their places were undauntedly filled up by others;
insomuch that the Spaniards must have relinquished their design of

* Richer.


seizing the monarcli, through mere fatigue, had not Miguel, a resolute
soldier, pierced through the crowd, laid hold of the litter and made
way for Pizarro and some other soldiers, who immediately laid hands
upon Atahualpa, who made no resistance, overturned the litter and
made him prisoner.(g)*

The capture of their monarch decided the flight of all his troops.
The Spaniards pursued and continued to massacre in cold blood,
with a deliberate barbarity, the fugitives, who made no resistance.
The carnage ended only with the day; more than four thousand of
the Peruvians were slain ; not a Spaniard perished ! Pizarro alone,
who had too eagerly seized the inca, was only slightly wounded in
the hand by one of his own men.

The riches collected in the pillage of the camp exceeded all the
ideas which the Spaniards had formed of the wealth of Peru, and
they were so transported with this astonishing success, that they
passed the night in drunken revels and foolish sport, natural to base
adventurers who had made in so short a time such an extraordinary

In the first moments of his captivity the inca could hardly realize
an event so unexpected ; but he very soon felt all the horror of his
situation, and his depression was proportioned to the elevation from
which he had fallen. Pizarro, fearing to lose all the advantages
which he might draw from the possession of a prisoner of such im-
portance, endeavored to console him by demonstrations of mildness
and respect which belied his action. In living among the Spaniards
the inca very soon discovered the passion that ruled them, and which
they did not take the trouble to conceal ; he believed that he could
make use of it to obtain his liberty. He ofltered to the Spaniards
a ransom which astonished them, notwithstanding all that they
already knew of the wealth of his kingdom. The chamber in which
he was guarded was twenty-two feet by sixteen ; he engaged to fill
it with golden vases and utensils to the height to which a man could
reach. Pizarro, without hesitation, accepted an ofier so seducing,
and drew a line along the walls of the room to mark the height to
which the promised treasure should be raised.

Atahualpa, transported with joy by the hope of recovering his
liberty, immediately took measures to fulfil his engagement. Very
soon there were seen Indians, bending beneath the weight of the
gold they bore, arriving from all directions. As it was necessary to
collect this gold from all parts of the empire, the Spaniards, being
impatient, thought that they did not fulfil the engagement of the
inca with sufficient promptitude, and began to suspect artifice in

* Universal History.


this slowness. Atahualpa, perceiving their discontent, told Pizarro
that the town of Cuzco being two hundred leagues distant, and the
road to it being very diflflcult, it therefore was not astonishing that
those who had charge of his orders were slow in returning. He
added that if he would send there two of his men they would see
with their own eyes that he was able to fulfil his engagement. See-
ing that Pizarro was deterred by the danger which the Spaniards
might incur in so long a route, he smilingly said to him : " You have
me, my wife, my children, and my brothers, in your power; are we
not sufficient security ?" Hernando de Soto and Pedro de Varco
offered to make the journey. Atahualpa advised them to make it
in one of his litters, in order that they might be more respected.

They left, and met, at nine days' journey from Caxamalca, a body
of Peruvian troops who led prisoner Huascar, the brother of Ata-
hualpa. The unfortunate prince, having heard who they were, whom
he saw in the litters, asked to speak to them. Soto assured him
that the intention of his sovereign, and of Pizzavo, was to cause
justice to be done the Peruvians. Then Huascar explained to them
his rights to the crown, the injustice of his brother, and begged
tliem to return to the general to engage him in his interest, and
added, that if Pizarro would declare in his favor, he would engage
to fill with gold the hall of Caxamalca, not only to the line which
they had marked, but even to the very ceiling (which was a third
more). Atahualpa, he added, in order to fulfil his engagement, will
be obliged to strip the temple of Cuzco, and I have in my power all
the precious stones and all the treasures of my father. Having, in
fact, received them by inheritance from his father ; he had concealed
them in the earth, in a place which was not known to any one, for
he had slain the Indians who had worked at this operation.

Hernando de Soto, not wishing to disobey the orders which had
been given him, refused to retrace his steps. On the other hand, the
partisans of Atahualpa believing his deliverance near at hand, and
regarding the offers of Huascar as an obstacle to his re-establish-
ment, informed him of what had passed between Soto and Huascar.
Atahualpa, perceiving of what importance it was that Pizarro should
not be informed of it, gave orders to slay his brother immediately,
and this order was punctually executed. In the mean time Soto
and Varco continued their journey to Cuzco.* On their arrival in
that city they were astonished at the respect and deference shown
them by the Indians of both parties. The friends of Huascar, im-
agining that he still lived, endeavored to engage the strangers in
his interest by the most liberal presents and offerings ; those of ttie

* Riclier.


opposite faction practised the same civilities and attentions in ex-
pectation of procuring tlie release of Ataliualpa. The vestals, called
Mamaconas, dedicated to the sun, were ordered to attend upon the
strangers, whom they regarded as the children of that luminary.
Unfortunately, however, four Spaniards, who attended Soto and
Varoo on this expedition, by their folly and insolence, abused the
respect shown them ; thej' laughed at the simplicit3' of tiieir vota-
ries, and thereby incurred their hatred and contempt. As the inca's
chief treasures were lodged in the great temple, application was
made to the high priest, Vilavena, to issue out what was neces-
sary for Atahualpa's ransom, which he readily granted. Immense
quantities of gold and silver were accordingly brought to the
Spaniards, who set out with it for Caxamalca. Pizarro was greatly
astonished at the prodigious wealth that flowed in, which greatly
surpassed his most sanguine expectations. But not yet satisfied,
he obtained a grant from his prisoner of the treasures contained in
the temple of Pachacamae, to which place he sent his brother Her-

Not long after the departure of Soto, Hernando Pizarro began
his journey to Pachacamae, in the temple of which place the inca
affirmed there were immense treasures. Pizarro reached the temple
of Pachacamae where he saw everything corresponding with tlie
inca's account, returned after a fatiguing march with much treasure
and one of the inca's generals, named Chalcuchima, who had been
assembling troops to attempt the recovery of his king, but had
yielded to the remonstrances of Hernando Pizarro, who was so bold
as to go, attended only by an interpreter, into the midst of the
Indian camp, and prevailed upon the Indian general to accompany
him, to dismiss his troops, and submit quietly to tlie fate of his
sovereign, and to repair to the place of his confinement to endeavor,
with the rest of his friends, to alleviate his misfortunes until the
ransom should be paid.

When Chalcuchima approached the palace where Atahualpa was
detained prisoner he took off his shoes,* and, on approaching before
him, he cast himself at his feet, and, shedding tears, said to him,
that if he had been near his person he would not now be loaded
with chains. Atahualpa replied to him that he recognized in his ,
disgrace a just punishment for the negligence he had had for the
worship of the Sun; and that his misfortune came principally from
the cowardice of his people who had abandoned him.

Fame rapidly spread at Panama the news of the progress which .

* " Put off thy shoes from off thy feet ; for the place whereon thou staudest'
is holy ground." The inoas were considered by the Peruvians as holy.


Francisco Pizarro had made in Peru, and of the immense richeS'
•which he found there. Almegro, yielding to the influence of jeal-
ousy, conceived the project of putting himself in possession of the
country which was beyond the limits of the government of Pizarro.
He equipped some vessels and repaired to Puerto Viejo where was
spread the news of the defeat of Atahualpa, and of the engagement
he had made for his ransom. At this news Almegro changed ids
design and resolved to go to Caxamalca, hoping to share with
Pizarro the riches of the inca. On arriving there he found that'
they had already amassed a great part of the ransom of Atahualpa;'
but the soldiers of Pizarro declared to him that the new-comers
ought not to share with the conquerors the spoils of the vanquished.
There arose on this; subject a contest that might have had dangerous
consequences. Pizarro, the strongest in the number of his soldiers:
and by the affection which they had for him, feigned not to notice
the discontent of Almegro, and took occasion of his arrival to send'
his brother Hernando to Spain. He charged him to render to the
court an account of the progress of his conquest, and to present to-
the emperor what belonged to him of the. riches which they had'
amassed. Atahualpa saw with extreme sorrow the departure of
Hernando Pizarro.

Hernando Pizarro took w:ith him a hundred thousand pesos of:
gold, and as much in silver. Each cavalier had for his share twelve
thousand pesos in gold and very near the same quantity in silver,
that is to say, two hundred and forty marks of each kind. The in-
fantrj' were paid in proportion. The general, knowing how danger-
ous it would be for him to let exist a motive of jealousy between
his soldiers and those of Almegro, gave to these last a sum almost
as considerable as that which he had distributed to his own.*

* The following is taken from a note to Xeres, on the distribution of the ran-
som of Atahualpa : "Almegro got 30,000 pesos of gold, and 10,000 of silver.
The total ransom of Atahualpa, 4,605, 6'70 ducats. Of this sum, 3,933,000 du-
oa.ts was the value of tlie gold, and 372,670 ducats the value of the silver. This
may be considered equal to £3,500,000."

The following is taken from the report of the notary, Pedro Sancho, in whose:
presence the distribution was made : —

To the Governor, Marks of silver.


Pesos of



To Hernando Pizarro,




To Hernando de Soto.,




To Juan Pizarro,




To Pedro Caudia,




To Gpnzalo Pizarro, , ;




To Sebastian de Benalcazar,


, ((


To Juan Pizarro de Orellano,




These sums show the estimation placed upon the merits of the men to whom


Sixty soldiers asking permission to return to Spain to enjoy in
peace their wealth, Pizarro, doubting not that their fortunes would
excite the desire of the greater part of those who should see them,
and in this way would procure him a great number of men, per-
mitted them to leave.

All the treasure being now collected, Pizarro passed a decree,
that the king's fifth should be deducted, and the remainder divided
in a certain proportion to each, according to his merit. The pro-
digious treasures they had amassed served only to diminish the
enjoyment of the adventurers. The great plenty of gold and silver
diminished its value one-half. Gaming rose to an exorbitant
height among them, and property was continually shifting from one
hand to another. The tides of affluence and indigence brought
along with them an infinity of vices which foiled all the authority
and influence of the commander, and rendered the Spanish con-
quorers the most profligate, corrupt, and abandoned set of miscre-
ants in the universe. No regard was paid to the most sacred
obligations ; wealth was the only pursuit, and power the only rule
of right ; nor was Pizarro himself untainted with the general de-

The inca, after the division of his ransom among the Spaniards,
summoned them to fulfil the promises they had made to set him at
liberty ; but nothing was farther from the thoughts of Pizarro.
After having succeeded in his project, he held as of no account
what he had promised, and while the credulous prince hoped soon
to ascend his throne, Pizarro had secretly resolved to kill him.
Several circumstances seem to have determined him to commit
this crime, one of the most criminal andmost atrocious with which
the Spaniards have blotted their fame in the conquest of America.

Pizarro, in imitating the conduct of Cortes towards Montezuma,
lacked the talents necessary to follow out the plan. As he had
neither the address nor the moderation which would have enabled
him to gain the confidence of his prisoner ; he knew not how to
profit of the advantage of being master of his person and au-
thority. Atahualpa showed more discernment than Montezuma,
and iiad better unravelled the character and plans of the Spaniards.
Suspicion and distrust were very soon created between them and
him, and Pizarro very soon beheld the inca as a burden of which
he desired to be relieved.

they were given. Pizarro appears to have apportioned the several sums to the
private soldiers, and probably did so to the oflB.oers.

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 22 of 75)