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they carried Martinez into the land to be wondered at, and
so from town to town, until he came to the great city of
Manoa, the seat and residence of Inga the emperor. The
emperor, after he had beheld him, knew him to be a Christian,
for it was not long before that his brethren Guascar and
Atabalipa were vanquished by the Spaniards in Peru: and
caused him to be lodged in his palace, and well entertained.
He lived seven months in Manoa, but was not suffered to
wander into the country anywhere. He was also brought
thither all the way blindfold, led by the Indians, until he
came to the entrance of Manoa itself, and was fourteen or
fifteen days in the passage. He avowed at his death that he
entered the city at noon, and then they uncovered his face;
and that he travelled all that day till night thorough the
city, and the next day from sun rising to sun setting, yere 16



he came to the palace of Inga. After that Martinez had
lived seven months in Manoa, and began to understand the
language of the country, Inga asked him whether he desired
to return into his own country, or would willingly abide with
him. But Martinez, not desirous to stay, obtained the favour
of Inga to depart; with whom he sent divers Guianians to
conduct him to the river of Orenoque, all loaden with as
much gold as they could carry, which he gave to Martinez
at his departure. But when he was arrived near the river's
side, the borderers which are called Orenoqucponi 17 robbed
him and his Guianians of all the treasure (the borderers
being at that time at wars, which Inga had not conquered)
save only of two great bottles of gourds, which were filled
with beads of gold curiously wrought, which those Orenoque-
poni thought had been no other thing than his drink or meat,
or grain for food, with which Martinez had liberty to pass.
And so in canoas he fell down from the river of Orenoque
to Trinidad, and from thence to Margarita', and so to St. Juan
de Puerto Rico; where, remaining a long time for passage
into Spain, he died. In the time of his extreme sickness,
and when he was without hope of life, receiving the sacra-
ment at the hands of his confessor, he delivered these things,
with the relation of his travels, and also called for his
calabazas or gourds of the gold beads, which he gave to the
church and friars, to be prayed for.

This Martinez was he that christened the city of Manoa
by the name of El Dorado, and, as Berreo informed me,
upon this occasion, those Guianians, and also the borderers,
and all other in that tract which I have seen, are marvellous
great drunkards ; in which vice I think no nation can com-
pare with them; and at the times of their solemn feasts,
when the emperor carouseth with his captains, tributaries,
and governors, the manner is thus. All those that pledge him
are first stripped naked and their bodies anointed all over
with a kind of white balsamum (by them called curca), of
which there is great plenty, and yet very dear amongst
them, and it is of all other the most precious, whereof we
have had good experience. When they are anointed all over,
certain servants of the emperor, having prepared gold made

17 ' On the Orinoco.' Poni is a Carib postposition meaning ' on.'


into fine powder, blow it thorough hollow canes upon their
naked bodies, until they be all shining from the foot to the
head; and in this sort they sit drinking by twenties and
hundreds, and continue in drunkenness sometimes six or
seven days together. 18 The same is also confirmed by a letter
written into Spain which was intercepted, which Master
Robert Dudley told me he had seen. Upon this sight, and
for the abundance of gold which he saw in the city, the
images of gold in their temples, the plates, armours, and
shields of gold which they use in the wars, he called it El

After the death of Ordas and Martinez, and after Orel-
lana, who was employed by Gonzalo Pizarro, one Pedro de
Orsua, a knight of Navarre, attempted Guiana, taking his
way into Peru, and built his brigandines upon a river called
Oia, which riseth to the southward of Quito, and is very
great. This river falleth into Amazons, by which Orsua
with his companies descended, and came out of that province
which is called Motilones; 1 * and it seemeth to me that this
empire is reserved for her Majesty and the English nation,
by reason of the hard success which all these and other
Spaniards found in attempting the same, whereof I will
speak briefly, though impertinent in some sort to my purpose.
This Pedro de Orsua had among his troops a Biscayan called
Aguirre, a man meanly born, who bare no other office than
a sergeant or alferezr but after certain months, when the
soldiers were grieved with travels and consumed with
famine, and that no entrance could be found by the branches
or body of Amazons, this Aguirre raised a mutiny, of which
he made himself the head, and so prevailed as he put Orsua
to the sword and all his followers, taking on him the whole
charge and commandment, with a purpose not only to make
himself emperor of Guiana, but also of Peru and of all that
side of the West Indies. He had of his party 700 soldiers,
and of those many promised to draw in other captains and
companies, to deliver up towns and forts in Peru; but neither

18 The substance of this report is in the end of the 'Navigation of the
Great River of Maranon,' written by Gonzalo Fernando de Oviedo to
Cardinal Bembo (Ramusio, vol. iii. foj. 416). (Note by Hakluyt.)

19 ' Friars ' (Indians so named from their cropped heads).

30 Al-faris (Arab.), horseman, mounted officer.


finding by the said river any passage into Guiana, nor any
possibility to return towards Peru by the same Amazons, by
reason that the descent of the river made so great a current,
he was enforced to disemboque at the mouth of the said
Amazons, which cannot be less than 1,000 leagues from the
place where they embarked. From thence he coasted the
land till he arrived at Margarita to the north of Mompatar,
which is at this day called Puerto de Tyranno, for that he
there slew Don Juan de Villa Andreda, Governor of Marga-
rita, who was father to Don Juan Sarmiento, Governor of
Margarita when Sir John Burgh landed there and attempted
the island. Aguirre put to the sword all other in the island
that refused to be of his party, and took with him certain
cimarrones 71 and other desperate companions. From thence
he went to Cumana and there slew the governor, and dealt
in all as at Margarita. He spoiled all the coast of Caracas
and the province of Venezuela and of Rio de la Hacha; and,
as I remember, it was the same year that Sir John Hawkins
sailed to St. Juan de Ullua in the Jesus of Lubeck; 22 for
himself told me that he met with such a one upon the coast,
that rebelled, and had sailed down all the river of Amazons.
Aguirre from thence landed about Santa Marta and sacked
it also, putting to death so many as refused to be his fol-
lowers, purposing to invade Nuevo Reyno de Granada and to
sack Pamplona, Merida, Lagrita, Tunja, and the rest of the
cities of Nuevo Reyno, and from thence again to enter Peru;
but in a fight in the said Nuevo Reyno he was overthrown,
and, finding no way to escape, he first put to the sword his
own children, foretelling them that they should not live to be
defamed or upbraided by the Spaniards after his death, who
would have termed them the children of a traitor or tyrant;
and that, sithence he could not make them princes, he would
yet deliver them from shame and reproach. These were the
ends and tragedies of Ordas, Martinez, Orellana, Orsua, and
Aguirre. Also soon after Ordas followed Jeronimo Ortal
de Saragosa, with 130 soldiers; who failing his entrance by
sea, was cast with the current on the coast of Paria, and
peopled about S. Miguel de Neveri. It was then attempted
by Don Pedro de Silva, a Portuguese of the family of Ruy

21 Fugitive slaves. 22 1567-68.


Gomez de Silva, and by the favour which Ruy Gomes had
with the king he was set out. But he also shot wide of the
mark; for being departed from Spain with his fleet, he en-
tered by Maranon or Amazons, where by the nations of the
river and by the Amazons, he was utterly overthrown, and
himself and all his army defeated; only seven escaped, and of
those but two returned.

After him came Pedro Hernandez de Serpa, and landed
at Cumana, in the West Indies, taking his journey by land
towards Orenoque, which may be some 120 leagues ; but yere
he came to the borders of the said river, he was set upon
by a nation of the Indians, called Wikiri, and overthrown
in such sort, that of 300 soldiers, horsemen, many Indians,
and negroes, there returned but eighteen. Others affirm that
he was defeated in the very entrance of Guiana, at the first
civil town of the empire called Macureguarai. Captain
Preston, in taking Santiago de Leon (which was by him and
his companies very resolutely performed, being a great town,
and far within the land) held a gentleman prisoner, who
died in his ship, that was one of the company of Hernandez
de Serpa, and saved among those that escaped; who
witnessed what opinion is held among the Spaniards
thereabouts of the great riches of Guiana, and El Do-
rado, the city of Inga. Another Spaniard was brought
aboard me by Captain Preston, who told me in the hearing
of himself and divers other gentlemen, that he met with
Berreo's camp-master at Caracas, when he came from
the borders of Guiana, and that he saw with him forty
of most pure plates of gold, curiously wrought, and
swords of Guiana decked and inlaid with gold, feathers
garnished with gold, and divers rarities, which he carried
to the Spanish king.

After Hernandez de Serpa, it was undertaken by the
Adclantado, Don Gonzalez Ximenes de Quesada, who was
one of the chiefest in the conquest of Nuevo Reyno, whose
daughter and heir Don Antonio de Berreo married. Gon-
zalez sought the passage also by the river called Papamene,
which riseth by Quito, in Peru, and runneth south-east 100
leagues, and then falleth into Amazons. But he also, failing
the entrance, returned with the loss of much labour and


cost. I took one Captain George, a Spaniard, that followed
Gonzalez in this enterprise. Gonzalez gave his daughter to
Berrco, taking his oath and honour to follow the enterprise
to the last of his substance and life. Who since, as he hath
sworn to me, hath spent 300,000 ducats in the same, and yet
never could enter so far into the land as myself with that
poor troop, or rather a handful of men, being in all about 100
gentlemen, soldiers, rowers, boat-keepers, boys, and of all
sorts; neither could any of the forepassed undertakers, nor
Berrco himself, discover the country, till now lately by con-
ference with an ancient king, called Carapanaf 3 he got the
true light thereof. For Berrco came about 1,500 miles yere
he understood aught, or could find any passage or entrance
into any part thereof; yet he had experience of all these
fore-named, and divers others, and was persuaded of their
errors and mistakings. Berreo sought it by the river Cassa-
nar, which falleth into a great river called Pato: Pato
falleth into Meta, and Meta into Baraquan, which is also
called Orcnoque. He took his journey from Nnevo Rcyno
de Granada, where he dwelt, having the inheritance of Gon-
zalez Ximenes in those parts ; he was followed with 700
horse, he drove with him 1,000 head of cattle, he had also
many women, Indians, and slaves. How all these rivers
cross and encounter, how the country lieth and is bordered,
the passage of Ximenes and Berrco, mine own discovery,
and the way that I entered, with all the rest of the nations
and rivers, your lordship shall receive in a large chart or
map, which I have not yet finished, and which I shall most
humbly pray your lordship to secrete, and not to suffer it to
pass your own hands ; for by a draught thereof all may be
prevented by other nations ; for I know it is this very year
sought by the French, although by the way that they now
take, I fear it not much. It was also told me yere I departed
England, that Villicrs, the Admiral, was in preparation for
the planting of Amazons, to which river the French have
made divers voyages, and returned 24 much gold and other
rarities. I spake with a captain of a French ship that came

23 Carapana (=Caribana, Carib land) was an old European name for the
Atlantic coast near the mouth of the Orinoco, and hence was applied to one
of its chiefs (see p. 207). Berrio called this district ' Emeria.'

M Brought back.


from thence, his ship riding in Falmouth the same year that
my ships came first from Virginia; there was another this
year in Helford, that also came from thence, and had been
fourteen months at an anchor in Amazons; which were both
very rich.

Although, as I am persuaded, Guiana cannot be entered
that way, yet no doubt the trade of gold from thence
passeth by branches of rivers into the river of Amazons, and
so it doth on every hand far from the country itself; for
those Indians of Trinidad have plates of gold from Guiana,
and those cannibals of Dominica which dwell in the islands
by which our ships pass yearly to the West Indies, also the
Indians of Paria, those Indians called Tucaris, Chochi, Apo-
tomios, Cumanagotos, and all those other nations inhabiting
near about the mountains that run from Paria thorough the
province of Venezuela, and in Maracapana, and the canni-
bals of Guanipa, the Indians called Assawai, Coaca, Ajai,
and the rest (all which shall be described in my description
as they are situate) have plates of gold of Guiana. And
upon the river of Amazons, Thevet writeth that the people
wear croissants of gold, for of that form the Guianians most
commonly ma'.:e them; so as from Dominica to Amazons,
which is above 250 leagues, all the chief Indians in all parts
wear of those plates of Guiana. Undoubtedly those that
trade [with] Amazons return much gold, which (as is afore-
said) cometh by trade from Guiana, by some branch of a
river that falleth from the country into Amazons, and either
it is by the river which passeth by the nations called Tis-
nados, or by Caripuna.

I made enquiry amongst the most ancient and best travelled
of the Orenoqueponi, and I had knowledge of all the rivers
between Orenoque and Amazons, and was very desirous to
understand the truth of those warlike women, because of
some it is believed, of others not. And though I digress
from my purpose, yet I will set down that which hath been
delivered me for truth of those women, and I spake with a
cacique, or lord of people, that told me he had been in the
river, and beyond it also. The nations of these women are
on the south side of the river in the provinces of Topago,
and their chiefest strengths and retracts are in the islands


situate on the south side of the entrance, some 60 leagues
within the mouth of the said river. The memories of the
like women are very ancient as well in Africa as in Asia.
In Africa those that had Medusa for queen; others in
Scythia, near the rivers of Tanais and Thcrmodon. We find,
also, that Lampcdo and Marthesia were queens of the Ama-
zons. In many histories they are verified to have been, and
in divers ages and provinces; but they which are not far
from Guiana do accompany with men but once in a year, and
for the time of one month, which I gather by their relation,
to be in April ; and that time all kings of the borders assemble,
and queens of the Amazons; and after the queens have
chosen, the rest cast lots for their valentines. This one
month they feast, dance, and drink of their wines in abun-
dance ; and the moon being done they all depart to their own
provinces. * * * * They are said to be very cruel and
bloodthirsty, especially to such as offer to invade their terri-
tories. These Amazons have likewise great store of these
plates of gold, which they recover by exchange chiefly for
a kind of green stones, which the Spaniards call picdras
hijadas, and we use for spleen-stones - and for the disease
of the stone we also esteem them. Of these I saw divers in
Guiana; and commonly every king or cacique hath one,
which their wives for the most part wear, and they esteem
them as great jewels.

But to return to the enterprise of Berrco, who, as I have
said, departed from Nuevo Reyno with 700 horse, besides
the provisions above rehearsed. He descended by the river
called Cassanar, which riseth in Nuevo Reyno out of the
mountains by the city of Tunja, from which mountain also
springeth Pato ; both which fall into the great river of Mcta,
and Meta riseth from a mountain joining to Pamplona, in the
same Nuevo Reyno de Granada. These, as also Guaiare,
which issueth out of the mountains by Timana, fall all into
Baraquan, and are but of his heads ; for at their coming
together they lose their names, and Baraquan farther down
is also rebaptized by the name of Orcnoque. On the other
side of the city and hills of Timana riseth Rio Grande,

33 Stones reduced to powder and taken internally to cure maladies of
trie spleen.


which falleth into the sea by Santa Marta. By Cassanar
first, and so into Meta, Berreo passed, keeping his horsemen
on the banks, where the country served them for to march ;
and where otherwise, he was driven to embark them in boats
which he builded for the purpose, and so came with the
current down the river of Meta, and so into Baraquan.
After he entered that great and mighty river, he began daily
to lose of his companies both men and horse ; for it is in
many places violently swift, and hath forcible eddies, many
sands, and divers islands sharp pointed with rocks. But
after one whole year, journeying for the most part by river,
and the rest by land, he grew daily to fewer numbers ; for
both by sickness, and by encountering with the people of
those regions thorough which he travelled, his companies
were much wasted, especially by divers encounters with the
Amapaians. 26 And in all this time he never could learn of
any passage into Guiana, nor any news or fame thereof,
until he came to a further border of the said Amapaia, eight
days' journey from the river Caroli, 27 which was the furthest
river that he entered. Among those of Amapaia, Guiana
was famous; but few of these people accosted Berreo, or
would trade with him the first three months of the six which
he sojourned there. This Amapaia is also marvellous rich in
gold, as both Berreo confessed and those of Guiana with
whom I had most conference; and is situate upon Orenoque
also. In this country Berreo lost sixty of his best soldiers,
and most of all his horse that remained in his former year's
travel. But in the end, after divers encounters with those
nations, they grew to peace, and they presented Berreo with
ten images of fine gold among divers other plates and
croissants, which, as he sware to me, and divers other
gentlemen, were so curiously wrought, as he had not seen
the like either in Italy, Spain, or the Low Countries; and
he was resolved that when they came to the hands of the
Spanish king, to whom he had sent them by his camp-master,
they would appear very admirable, especially being wrought
by such a nation as had no iron instruments at all, nor any

88 Amapaia was Berrio's name for the Orinoco valley above the Caura

37 The Caroni river, the first great affluent of the Orinoco on the south,
about 180 miles from the sea.


of those helps which our goldsmiths have to work withal.
The particular name of the people in Amapaia which gave
him these pieces, are called Anebas, and the river of
Orenoque at that place is about twelve English miles broad,
which may be from his outfall into the sea 700 or 800 miles.
This province of Amapaia is a very low and a marish
ground near the river; and by reason of the red water which
issueth out in small branches thorough the fenny and boggy
ground, there breed divers poisonful worms and serpents.
And the Spaniards not suspecting, nor in any sort fore-
knowing the danger, were infected with a grievous kind of
flux by drinking thereof, and even the very horses poisoned
therewith ; insomuch as at the end of the six months that they
abode there, of all their troops there were not left above 120
soldiers, and neither horse nor cattle. For Berreo hoped to
have found Guiana by 1,000 miles nearer than it fell out to
be in the end; by means whereof they sustained much want,
and much hunger, oppressed with grievous diseases, and all
the miseries that could be imagined, I demanded of those in
Guiana that had travelled Amapaia, how they lived with that
tawny or red water when they travelled thither; and they
told me that after the sun was near the middle of the sky,
they used to fill their pots and pitchers with that water, but
either before that time or towards the setting of the sun it
was dangerous to drink of, and in the night strong poison.
I learned also of divers other rivers of that nature among
them, which were also, while the sun was in the meridian,
very safe to drink, and in the morning, evening, and night,
wonderful dangerous and infective. From this province
Berreo hasted away as soon as the spring and beginning of
summer appeared, and sought his entrance on the borders of
Orenoque on the south side; but there ran a ledge of so high
and impassable mountains, as he was not able by any means
to march over them, continuing from the east sea into which
Orenoque falleth, even to Quito in Peru. Neither had he
means to carry victual or munition over those craggy, high,
and fast hills, being all woody, and those so thick and spiny,
and so full of prickles, thorns, and briars, as it is impossible
to creep thorough them. He had also neither friendship
among the people, nor any interpreter to persuade or treat


with them; and more, to his disadvantage, the caciques and
kings of Amapaia had given knowledge of his purpose to the
Guianians, and that he sought to sack and conquer the em-
pire, for the hope of their so great abundance and quantities
of gold. He passed by the mouths of many great rivers
which fell into Orenoque both from the north and south,
which I forbear to name, for tediousness, and because they
are more pleasing in describing than reading.

Berreo affirmed that there fell an hundred rivers into
Orenoque from the north and south: whereof the least was
as big as Rio Grande, 28 that passed between Popayan and
Naevo Reyno de Granada, Rio Grande being esteemed one
of the renowned rivers in all the West Indies, and num-
bered among the great rivers of the world. But he knew
not the names of any of these, but Caroli only; neither from
what nations they descended, neither to what provinces they
led, for he had no means to discourse with the inhabitants
at any time; neither was he curious in these things, being
utterly unlearned, and not knowing the east from the west.
But of all these I got some knowledge, and of many more,
partly by mine own travel, and the rest by conference; of
some one I learned one, of others 'ihe rest, having with me
an Indian that spake many languages, and that of Guiana
naturally. I sought out all the aged men, and such as were
greatest travellers. And by the one and the other I came
to understand the situations, the rivers, the kingdoms from
the east sea to the borders of Peru, and from Orenoque south-
ward as far as Amazons or Maranon, and the regions of
Marinatambal, 90 and of all the kings of provinces, and cap-
tains of towns and villages, how they stood in terms of
peace or war, and which were friends or enemies the one
with the other ; without which there can be neither entrance
nor conquest in those parts, nor elsewhere. For by the
dissension between Guascar and Atabalipa, Pizarro con-
quered Peru, and by the hatred that the Tlaxcallians bare
to Mutezuma, Cortes was victorious over Mexico; without
which both the one and the other had failed of their enter^
prise, and of the great honour and riches which they at-
tained unto.

*The Magdalena. ''The Carib. *<> North coasts of Brazil.


Now Berreo began to grow into despair, and looked for
no other success than his predecessor in this enterprise;
until such time as he arrived at the province of Emeria
towards the east sea and mouth of the river, where he found
a nation of people very favourable, and the country full of
all manner of victual. The king of this land is called

Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 30 of 35)