CELEBRATED TRAVELS AND TRAVELLERS.
THE EXPLORATION OF THE WORLD
THE CONQUERORS OF CENTRAL AMERICA.
Hojeda—Americus Vespucius—The New World named after him—Juan de la Cosa—Vincent Yañez Pinzon—Bastidas—Diego de Lepe—Diaz de Solis—Ponce de Leon and Florida—Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean—Grijalva explores the coast of Mexico
Ferdinand Cortès—His character—His appointment—Preparations for the expedition, and attempts of Velasquez to stop it—Landing at Vera-Cruz—Mexico and the Emperor Montezuma—The republic of Tlascala—March upon Mexico—The Emperor is made prisoner—Narvaez defeated—The Noche Triste—Battle of Otumba—The second siege and taking of Mexico—Expedition to Honduras—Voyage to Spain—Expeditions on the Pacific Ocean—Second Voyage of Cortès to Spain—His death
The triple alliance—Francisco Pizarro and his brothers—Don Diego d'Almagro—First attempts—Peru, its extent, people, and kings—Capture of Atahualpa, his ransom and death—Pedro d'Alvarado—Almagro in Chili—Strife among the conquerors—Trial and execution of Almagro—Expeditions of Gonzalo Pizarro and Orellana—Assassination of Francisco Pizarro—Rebellion and execution of his brother Gonzalo
The information which had been gained by Balboa as to the riches of the countries situated to the south of Panama had scarcely become known to the Spaniards before several expeditions were organized to attempt the conquest of them. But all had failed, either from the means used being insufficient, or from the commanders not being equal to the greatness of the undertaking. It must be confessed also that the localities explored by these first adventurers—these pioneers, as they would be called now-a-days—did not at all come up to what Spanish greed had expected from them, and for this reason, that all the attempts had been hitherto made upon what was then called "Terra Firma," a country pre-eminently unhealthy, mountainous, marshy, and covered with forests; the inhabitants were few, but of so warlike a disposition that they had added another obstacle to all those which nature had strewn with so prodigal a hand in the path of the invaders. Little by little, therefore, the enthusiasm had cooled, and the wonderful narratives of Balboa were mentioned only to be turned into ridicule.
From an old print.
There lived, however, in Panama a man well able to weigh the truth of the reports which had been circulated concerning the richness of the countries bathed by the Pacific; this man was Francisco Pizarro, who had accompanied Muñez de Balboa to the southern sea, and who now associated with himself two other adventurers, Diego de Almagro and Ferdinand de Luque. A few words must be said about the chiefs of the enterprise. Francisco Pizarro, born near Truxillo between the years 1471 and 1478, was the natural son of a certain Captain Gonzalo Pizarro, who had taught the boy nothing but to take care of pigs; he was soon tired of this occupation, and took advantage of his having allowed one of the animals who were in his charge to stray, not to return to the paternal roof, where he was accustomed to be cruelly beaten for the smallest peccadillo. The young Pizarro enlisted, and after passing some years amidst the Italian wars, he followed Christopher Columbus to Hispaniola in 1510. He served there with distinction, and also in Cuba; afterwards he accompanied Hojeda to Darien, discovered, as has been already mentioned, the Pacific, with Balboa, and after the execution of the latter, he assisted Pedrarias Davila, whose favourite he had become, in the conquest of all the country known as Castille d'Or.
While Pizarro was an illegitimate child, Diego de Almagro was a foundling, picked up according to some in 1475 at Aldea del Rey, but according to others at Almagro, from which circumstance, as they maintain, he derived his name. He was educated in the midst of soldiers, and while still young went to America, where he had succeeded in amassing a small fortune.
Ferdinand de Luque was a rich ecclesiastic of Tobago, who exercised the calling of a schoolmaster at Panama. The youngest of these adventurers was by this time more than fifty years of age, and Garcilasso de la Vega relates that upon their project being known, they became the objects of general derision; Ferdinand de Luque was the most laughed at, and was called by no other name than Hernando el Loco, Ferdinand the Fool. The terms of partnership were soon agreed upon between these three men, of whom two at least were without fear, if they were not all three without reproach. Luque furnished money needed for the armament of the vessels and the pay of the soldiers, and Almagro bore an equal part in the expense, but Pizarro, who possessed nothing but his sword, was to pay his contribution in another manner. It was he who took the command of the first attempt, upon which we shall dwell in some detail, because it was then that the perseverance and inflexible obstinacy of the "conquistador" first came fully into sight.
Map of South America 1690s
One of the historians of the conquest of Peru, Augustin de Zarate, relates as follows:—"Having then asked and obtained the permission of Pedro Arias d'Avila, Francisco Pizarro after much trouble equipped a vessel upon which he embarked with 140 men. At the distance of 150 miles from Panama he discovered a small and poor province named Peru, which caused the same name to be henceforward improperly bestowed upon all the country which was discovered along that coast for the space of more than 3600 miles in length. Passing onwards he discovered another country, which the Spaniards called the burnt people. The Indians slew so many of his men that he was constrained to retire in great disorder to the country of Chinchama, which is not far distant from the place whence he had started. Almagro, however, who had remained at Panama, fitted out a ship there, upon which he embarked with seventy Spaniards, and descended the coast as far as the River San Juan, 300 miles from Panama. Not having met with Pizarro, he went back northwards as far as the burnt people, where, having ascertained by certain indications that Pizarro had been there, he landed his men. But the Indians, puffed up by the victory which they had gained over Pizarro, resisted bravely, forced the entrenchments with which Almagro had covered his position, and obliged him to re-embark. He returned therefore, still following the coast-line until he arrived at Chinchama, where he found Francisco Pizarro. They were much rejoiced at meeting again, and having added to their followers some fresh soldiers whom they had levied, they found their troops amounted to 200 Spaniards, and once more they descended the coast. They suffered so much from scarcity of provisions and from the attacks of the Indians, that Don Diego returned to Panama to collect more recruits and to obtain provisions. He took back with him eighty men, with whom and with those who remained to them, they went as far as the country called Catamez, a country moderately peopled and where they found abundance of provisions. They noticed that the Indians of these parts who attacked them and made war against them, had their faces studded with nails of gold inserted in holes which they had made expressly for receiving these ornaments. Diego de Almagro returned once again to Panama, whilst his companion waited for him and for the reinforcements which he was to bring with him, in a small island called Cock Island, where he suffered much from the scarcity of all the necessaries of life."
The Indians kill many of the Spaniards.
Upon his arrival in Panama, Almagro could not obtain permission from Los Rios, the successor of Avila, to make new levies, for he had no right, Los Rios said, to allow a greater number of people to go and perish uselessly in a rash enterprise; he even sent a boat to Cock Island to bring away Pizarro and his companions. But such a decision could not be pleasing to Almagro and De Luque. It meant expense thrown away; and it meant the annihilation of the hopes which the sight of the ornaments of gold and silver of the inhabitants of Catamez had caused them to entertain. They sent therefore a trusty person to Pizarro, to recommend him to persevere in his resolution, and to refuse to obey the orders of the Governor of Panama. But Pizarro in vain held out the most seductive promises; the remembrance of the fatigues which had been endured was too recent, and all his companions except twelve abandoned him.
With these intrepid men, whose names have been preserved, and amongst whom was Garcia de Xerès, one of the historians of the expedition, Pizarro retired to an uninhabited island at a greater distance from the coast, to which he gave the name of Gorgona. There the Spaniards lived miserably on mangles, fish, and shell-fish, and awaited for five months the succour that Almagro and De Luque were to send them. At length, vanquished by the unanimous protestations of the whole colony,—who were indignant that people whose only crime was that they had not despaired of success, should be left to perish miserably and as though they were malefactors,—Los Rios sent to Pizarro a small vessel to bring him back. With the object of presenting no temptation to Pizarro to make use of this ship to renew his expedition, not a single soldier was placed on board of her. At the sight of the help which had arrived, and oblivious of all their privations, the thirteen adventurers thought of nothing but persuading the sailors who came to seek them to participate in their own hopes. Whereupon, instead of starting again on the route to Panama, they sailed all together, towards the south-east, in spite of contrary winds and currents, until, after having discovered the Island of St. Clara, they arrived at the port of Tumbez, situated beyond the 3° of south latitude, where they saw a magnificent temple and a palace belonging to the Incas, the sovereigns of the country.
The country was populous and fairly well-cultivated, but what proved beyond all else seductive to the Spaniards, and made them think that they had reached the marvellous countries of which so much had been said, was the sight of so great an abundance of gold and silver, that these metals were employed not only as finery and ornament by the inhabitants, but also for making vases and common utensils.
Pizarro caused the interior of the country to be explored by Pietro de Candia and Alonzo de Molina, who brought back an enthusiastic description of it, and he caused some gold vases to be given up to him, as well as some llamas, a quadruped domesticated by the Peruvians. He took two natives on board his vessel, to whom he proposed to teach the Spanish language, and to use them as interpreters when he should return to the country. He anchored successively at Payta, Saugarata, and in the Bay of Santa-Cruz, of which the sovereign, Capillana, received the strangers with such friendly demonstrations, that several of them were unwilling to re-embark. After having sailed down the coast as far as Porto Santo, Pizarro set out on his return to Panama, where he arrived after three whole years spent in dangerous explorations, which had completely ruined De Luque and Almagro.
Pizarro received by Charles V.
Pizarro resolved to apply to Charles V. before undertaking the conquest of the country which he had discovered, for he could not obtain leave from Los Rios to engage fresh adventurers; so he borrowed the sum required for the voyage, and in 1528 he went to Spain to inform the emperor of the work which he had undertaken. He painted the picture of the countries that were to be conquered in the most pleasing light, and as a reward for his labours the titles of governor, captain-general, and alguazil-major of Peru were bestowed upon him and his heirs in perpetuity. At the same time he was ennobled, and a pension of 1000 crowns was bestowed upon him. His jurisdiction, independent of the governor of Panama, was to extend over a tract of 600 miles along the coast to the south of the Santiago river; it was to be called New Castille, and he was to be the governor; concessions that cost nothing to Spain, for Pizarro had yet to conquer the country. On his side he undertook to raise a body of 250 men, and to provide himself with the necessary ships, arms, and ammunition. Pizarro then repaired to Truxillo, where he persuaded his three brothers Ferdinand, Juan, and Gonzalo to accompany him, as well as one of his half-brothers Martin d'Alcantara. He took advantage of his stay in his native town, and at Caceres, to try to raise recruits, both there and throughout Estramadura; they did not, however, come forward in large numbers, in spite of the title of Caballeros de la Espado dorada which he promised to bestow upon all who would serve under him. Then he returned to Panama, where affairs were not going so smoothly as he had hoped. He had succeeded in getting De Luque named Bishop protector de los Indios; but for Almagro, whose talents he knew, and whose ambition he feared, he had only asked that he should be ennobled and a gratuity of 500 ducats bestowed upon him, with the government of a fortress which was to be built at Tumbez. Almagro refused to take part in this new expedition; he was not pleased with the meagre portion given to him after spending all his money on the earlier expeditions; he wished now to organize one on his own account. It required all Pizarro's address, aided by the promise to give up to Almagro the office of adelantado, to appease him and make him consent to renew the old partnership.
Map of Peru.
The resources of the three partners were so limited at this time, that they could only get together three small ships and 124 soldiers, of whom thirty-six were horse-soldiers; the expedition set out in February, 1531, under the command of Pizarro and his four brothers, whilst Almagro remained at Panama to organize an expedition of supplies. At the end of thirteen days' sailing, and after having been carried by a storm 300 miles more to the south than he had intended, Pizarro was forced to disembark both men and horses on the shores of the Bay of San Mateo, and to follow the line of the coast on land. This march was a difficult one in a very mountainous country, thinly-peopled, and intersected by rivers which had to be crossed at their mouths. At last a place called Coaqui was reached, where was found a great booty, which decided Pizarro to send back two of his ships. They carried to Panama and Nicaragua spoils to the amount of 30,000 castellanos, as well as a great number of emeralds, a rich booty, which would, according to Pizarro, determine many adventurers to come and join him.
Then the conqueror continued his march southwards as far as Porto-Viejo, where he was joined by Sebastian Benalcazar and Juan Fernandez, who brought him twelve horsemen and thirty foot-soldiers. The effect which had been produced in Mexico by the sight of the horses and the reports of the fire-arms was repeated in Peru, and Pizarro was able to reach the Island of Puna in the Gulf of Guayaquil without encountering any resistance. But the islanders were more numerous and more warlike than their brothers of the mainland, and for six months they valiantly resisted all the attacks of the Spaniards. Although Pizarro had received some aid from Nicaragua, brought by Ferdinand de Soto, and although he had beheaded the cacique Tonalla and sixteen of the principal chiefs, he could not overcome their resistance. He was, therefore, obliged to regain the continent, where the maladies peculiar to the country tried his companions so cruelly, that he was forced to stay three months at Tumbez, exposed to the perpetual attacks of the natives. From Tumbez he went next to the Rio Puira, discovered the harbour of Payta, the best on this coast, and founded the colony of San-Miguel, at the mouth of the Chilo, in order that vessels coming from Panama might find a safe shelter. It was here that Pizarro received some envoys from Huascar, who informed him of the revolt of Atahualpa, the brother of Huascar, and asked his aid.
"The Peruvians," says Michelet in his admirable Précis d'Histoire Moderne, "handed down the principal facts to posterity by knots, which they made in ropes. They had obelisks and exact gnomons to mark the equinoxes and solstices. Their year consisted of 365 days. They had erected prodigies of architecture, and they carved statues with amazing art. They formed the most polished and industrious nation of the New World."
The inca Huayna-Capac, father of Atahualpa, under whom this vast empire was destroyed, had done much to increase and embellish it. This inca, who conquered all the country of Quito, had made, by the hands of his soldiers and of the vanquished people, a great road 1500 miles in length from Cuzco to Quito, across precipices which had been filled up and mountains which had been levelled. Relays of men, stationed at intervals of a mile and a half from each other, carried the emperor's orders throughout the empire. Such was their police, and if we wish to judge of Peruvian magnificence, we need only instance the fact that the king when he travelled was carried on a throne of gold which weighed 25,000 ducats, and the golden litter upon which the throne rested was borne by the highest personages of the realm.
In 1526, when the Spaniards appeared on the coast for the first time, the twelfth inca had lately married—in defiance of the ancient law of the kingdom—the daughter of the vanquished king of Quito, and had had a son of this marriage named Atahualpa, to whom he left this kingdom on his death, which happened about 1529. His eldest son Huascar, whose mother was descended from the incas, had the remainder of his states. But this partition, so contrary to the customs established from time immemorial, caused such great discontent at Cuzco, that Huascar, encouraged by his subjects, determined to march against his brother, who would not acknowledge him for his lord and master. Atahualpa, in his turn, had too lately tasted power to be willing to abandon it. He managed by bribes to attach to himself the greater part of the warriors who had accompanied his father during the conquest of Quito, and when the two armies met, fortune favoured the usurper.
Is it not curious to remark how both in Peru and Mexico the Spaniards were aided by entirely exceptional circumstances? In Mexico some of the people who had recently submitted to the Aztec race, being mercilessly trampled upon by their conquerors, welcome the Spaniards as deliverers; in Peru the strife between two brothers, furious against each other, hinders the Indians from turning all their forces against the invaders whom they might easily have crushed.
Pizarro upon receiving the envoys sent by Huascar, to ask his aid against his brother Atahualpa, whom he represented as a rebel and usurper, saw at once all the advantages that might accrue to him from these circumstances. He saw that by espousing the cause of one of the brothers, he could more easily crush them both, therefore he advanced at once into the interior of the country, at the head of a very inconsiderable force, consisting of sixty-two cavalry and one hundred and twenty foot-soldiers, of whom only twenty were armed with arquebuses and muskets; he was obliged to leave part of his troops to guard San-Miguel, in which Pizarro reckoned upon finding a refuge in case of his being unsuccessful, and where in any case all supplies which might arrive could be landed.
Pizarro first made for Caxamalca, a small town situated at about twenty days' march from the coast. To reach it he had to cross a desert of burning sand, without vegetation and without water, which extended for sixty miles in length as far as the province of Motupé, and where the slightest attack of the enemy, joined to the sufferings endured by the little army, would have been sufficient to crush the whole expedition at one blow. Next the troops plunged into the mountains and became entangled in narrow defiles where a small force might have annihilated them. During this march Pizarro received an envoy from Atahualpa bringing him some painted shoes and gold bracelets, which he was requested to wear at his approaching interview with the inca. Naturally Pizarro was lavish in his promises of friendship and devotion, and assured the Indian ambassador that he should be only following the orders given him by the king his master in respecting the lives and property of the inhabitants. From the moment of his arrival at Caxamalca Pizarro prudently lodged his soldiers in a temple and a palace belonging to the inca, where they were sheltered from any surprise. Then he sent one of his brothers with De Soto and twenty horse-soldiers to the camp of Atahualpa, which was distant only three miles, to announce to him his arrival. The envoys of the governor were received with magnificence, and were astonished at the multiplicity of the ornaments and vases made of gold and silver which they saw throughout the Indian camp. They returned, bringing a promise from Atahualpa that he would come on the next day to visit Pizarro, to bid him welcome to his kingdom. At the same time the envoys gave an account of the wonderful riches they had seen, which confirmed Pizarro in the project which he had formed of seizing the unfortunate Atahualpa and his treasures by treachery.
Several Spanish authors, and notably Zarate, disguise these facts, which no doubt appeared to them too odious, and altogether deny the treachery towards Atahualpa. But at the present day there are extant many documents which force the historian to believe, with Robertson and Prescott, in the perfidy of Pizarro. It was very important for him to have the inca in his own hands, and to employ him as a tool, just as Cortès had done with Montezuma. He therefore took advantage of the honesty and simplicity of Atahualpa, who placed entire confidence in Pizarro's protestations of friendship and so was thrown off his guard, to arrange an ambuscade into which Atahualpa was certain to fall. There was not a scruple in the disloyal soul of the conqueror; he was as cool as though he were about to offer battle to enemies who had been forewarned of his approach; this infamous treason must be an eternal dishonour to his memory. Pizarro divided his cavalry into three small squadrons, left all his infantry in one body, hid his arquebusiers on the road by which the inca must pass, and kept twenty of his most determined companions near himself. Atahualpa, wishing to give the Spaniards a great idea of his power, advanced with the whole of his army. He himself was borne upon a kind of bed, decorated with feathers, covered with plates of gold and silver, and ornamented with precious stones. He was accompanied by his principal nobles, carried like himself on the shoulders of their servants, and he was surrounded by dancers and jesters. Such a march was more that of a procession than of an army.
As soon as the inca had nearly reached the Spanish quarters (according to Robertson), Father Vincent Valverde, the chaplain of the expedition, who was afterwards made a bishop as a reward for his conduct, advanced with the crucifix in one hand and his breviary in the other. In an interminable discourse he set forth to the monarch the doctrine of the creation, the fall of the first man, the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the choice made by God of St. Peter to be His vicar upon earth, the power transmitted through him to the Popes, and the gift made by Pope Alexander to the King of Castille of all the regions of the New World. When he had expounded all these doctrines, he called upon Atahualpa to embrace the Christian religion, to recognize the supreme authority of the Pope, and to submit to the King of Castille as his legitimate sovereign. If he submitted immediately, Valverde undertook to promise that the king his master would take Peru under his protection, and allow him to continue to reign there; but he declared war against him and threatened him with fearful vengeance if he refused to obey, and persevered in his impiety.
To say the least of it, this was a singular scene and a very strange harangue, alluding to facts which were utterly unknown to the Peruvians, and of the truth of which a more skilful orator than Valverde would not have succeeded in persuading them. If we add that the interpreter knew so little of the Spanish language that it was almost an impossibility for him to translate what he scarcely understood himself, and that the Peruvian language lacked words to express ideas so foreign to its genius, we shall not be much surprised to learn that Atahualpa understood almost nothing of the Spanish monk's discourse. Some sentences, however, which attacked his own power, filled him with surprise and indignation. But he was none the less moderate in his reply. He said that, as master of his own kingdom by right of succession, he could not see how any one had the power to dispose of it without his consent; he added that he was not at all willing to renounce the religion of his fathers to adopt one of which he had only heard that day for the first time; with regard to the other points touched upon in the discourse he understood nothing, it was a thing entirely new to him, and he would much like to know where Valverde had learnt so many wonderful things. "In this book," replied Valverde, handing him his breviary. Atahualpa received it with eagerness and turned over some of the leaves with much curiosity, then, putting it to his ear, he exclaimed, "What you show me there does not speak to me, and tells me nothing." With this he flung the book upon the ground.
This served as a signal for the combat, or rather for the massacre. Cannon and muskets came into play, the cavalry sprang forward, and the infantry fell sword in hand upon the stupefied Peruvians. In a few moments the confusion was at its height. The Indians fled on all sides, without attempting to defend themselves. As to Atahualpa, although his principal officers tried to make a rampart of their own bodies, while they carried him off, Pizarro sprang upon him, dispersed or overthrew his guards, and seizing him by his long hair, threw him down from the litter in which he was carried. Only the darkness could arrest the carnage. Four thousand Indians were killed, a greater number wounded, and 3000 were taken prisoners. An incontestable proof that there was no real battle is, that of all the Spaniards Pizarro alone was hit, and he received his wound from one of his own soldiers who was too precipitately endeavouring to seize upon the inca.
Atahualpa is made prisoner.
From an old print.
The booty collected in the camp and from the dead exceeded anything the Spaniards could have imagined, and their enthusiasm was proportioned to the conquest of such riches.
At first Atahualpa bore his captivity with resignation, which may have been partly due to Pizarro's doing all he could to soothe him, at least by words. But the inca, soon understanding the unbridled covetousness of his jailors, made a proposal to Pizarro to pay him ransom, and to have a room of twenty-two feet in length by sixteen in width filled as high as the hand could reach with vases, utensils, and ornaments of gold. Pizarro eagerly agreed to this, and the captive inca despatched the necessary orders at once to all the provinces; these were carried out promptly and unmurmuringly. Beyond this, the Indian troops were disbanded, and Pizarro was able to send Soto and five Spaniards to Cuzco, a town situated more than 600 miles from Caxamalca, while he himself subjugated all the country within a circuit of 300 miles.
In the meantime Almagro landed with 200 soldiers. There had been set aside for him and his men—with what regrets may easily be imagined—100,000 pesos (a Spanish coin); a fifth was reserved for the king, and this left 1,528,500 pesos to be divided between Pizarro and his companions. This product of pillage and massacre was solemnly divided between those entitled to it on the Festival of St. James, the patron saint of Spain, after fervent prayer to God. A deplorable mixture this of religion and profanity, too common unfortunately, in these times of mingled superstition and avarice.
Each horse-soldier received 8000 pesos as his share, and each foot-soldier 4000, which would be equivalent to about 1600l. and 800l. sterling. This was enough to satisfy the most exacting soldier, after a campaign which had been neither long nor difficult. Many of the adventurers wished to enjoy this unexpected good fortune in a peaceable manner in their own country, and eagerly asked for their dismissal. This Pizarro granted without hesitation, for he felt sure that the news of their rapidly-acquired wealth would soon bring him new recruits. With his brother Ferdinand, who went to Spain to give the emperor an account of Pizarro's triumph and some splendid presents, went sixty Spaniards, laden heavily indeed with money, but lightly with remorse.
As soon as Atahualpa's ransom was paid, he claimed his freedom; but Pizarro, who had only saved his life that he might make all the treasures of Peru his own, and shelter himself under the prestige and authority which the inca still exercised over his subjects, was soon wearied by his entreaties. He suspected him also of having for some time secretly given orders to levy troops in the distant provinces of the empire. Besides, Atahualpa having soon discovered that Pizarro was no better educated than one of the lowest of his soldiers, felt in consequence a contempt for the governor which, unfortunately, he could not conceal. Such were the reasons, all trivial as they were, which determined Pizarro to prepare for the trial of the inca.
Nothing could have been more hateful than this trial, in which Almagro and Pizarro were at the same time both suitors and judges. The heads of the accusation were so ridiculous and absurd, that one is in doubt whether to be most surprised by the effrontery or the wickedness of Pizarro, in subjecting the head of a powerful empire, over which he had no jurisdiction, to such an inquiry. Atahualpa, being found guilty, was condemned to be burnt alive; but as he had at length asked to be baptized, that he might rid himself of the importunities of Valverde, his enemies contented themselves with strangling him. A worthy counterpart this, of Guatimozin's execution! These were amongst the most atrocious and odious deeds committed by the Spaniards in America, where, however, they have sullied themselves with every imaginable crime.
Among this herd of adventurers there were still some men who had retained sentiments of honour and self-respect. They protested loudly against this perversion of justice, but their generous pleadings were stifled by the selfish declamations of Pizarro and his worthy assistants.
The governor now raised one of Atahualpa's sons to the throne, under the name of Paul Inca; but the civil war between the two brothers, and the events which had occurred since the arrival of the Spaniards, had done much to loosen the ties which bound the Peruvians to their kings, and this young man, destined soon to die an ignominious death, had scarcely more authority than Manco-Capac, the son of Huascar, who was acknowledged by the inhabitants of Cuzco. Soon after this, some of the principal people in the country even tried to carve for themselves kingdoms out of the empire of Peru. Such was Ruminagui, the commandant of Quito, who caused the brother and the children of Atahualpa to be massacred, and declared himself independent. Discord reigned in the Peruvian camp, and the Spaniards resolved to take advantage of it. Pizarro advanced rapidly upon Cuzco, the small number of his forces having been the only reason which had prevented him from doing so sooner. Now that a crowd of adventurers, attracted by the treasures which had been brought back to Panama, vied with each other in hastening to Peru, now that he could assemble 500 men—after leaving an important garrison at San-Miguel under Benalcazar's command,—Pizarro had no further reason for delay. On the way some skirmishes took place with large bodies of troops, but they ended as always, with severe loss to the natives, and a very insignificant one to the Spaniards. When they entered Cuzco, and took possession of the town, the invaders showed surprise at the small quantity of gold and precious stones which they found there, although it far exceeded Atahualpa's ransom. Was this because they were becoming accustomed to the riches of the country, or because there was a larger number to share in them?
Meanwhile, Benalcazar, being weary of inaction, took advantage of the arrival of a reinforcement from Nicaragua and Panama, to set out for Quito, where according to the Peruvians, Atahualpa had left the greater part of his treasure. He placed himself at the head of eighty horse-soldiers and 120 infantry, defeated on several occasions Ruminagui, who disputed his passage, and thanks to his prudence and cleverness, he entered Quito victorious; but he did not find there what he sought, that is to say, the treasures of Atahualpa.
At the same time, Peter d'Alvarado, who had so signally distinguished himself under Cortès, and who had been made governor of Guatemala, as a reward for his services, pretended to believe that the province of Quito was not included in Pizarro's command, and organized an expedition consisting of 500 men, 200 of whom were cavalry. Landing at Porto-Viejo, he wished to reach Quito without a guide, by going up the Guayaquil River and crossing the Andes. This road has always been one of the worst and most trying that it is possible to choose. Before they had reached the plain of Quito, after horrible sufferings from hunger and thirst, without speaking of the burning cinders hurled from the crater of Chimborazo, a volcano near Quito, and the snow-storms which assailed them, the fifth part of the band of adventurers, and half the horses, had perished; the remainder were completely discouraged and quite unfit for fighting. It was therefore with the greatest surprise, and some uneasiness, that they found themselves face to face, not with a body of Indians as they had expected, but with a party of Spaniards, under the command of Almagro. The latter were preparing to charge, when some of the more moderate among the officers caused an arrangement to be entered into, by virtue of which Alvarado was to withdraw to his own province after receiving 100,000 pesos to defray the expenses of the armament.
Ferdinand Pizarro had set sail for Spain, while these events were happening in Peru, feeling sure that the immense quantity of gold, silver, and precious stones which he took with him, would secure him a warm welcome. He obtained for his brother Francisco the confirmation of his appointment as governor, with more extended powers; he himself was made a knight of the order of St. Iago; as for Almagro, he was confirmed in his title of adelantado, and his jurisdiction was extended 600 miles, without, however, its limits being very strictly defined, which left the door open for many contests and all kinds of arbitrary interpretations.
Ferdinand Pizarro had not reached Peru again, when Almagro, having learnt that a special government had been assigned to him, pretended that Cuzco formed part of it, and made preparations for its conquest. But Juan and Gonzalo Pizarro had no intention of allowing themselves to be robbed, and the parties were on the point of coming to blows when Francisco Pizarro, who is often called the Marquis or the great Marquis, arrived at the capital.
Almagro had never forgiven Francisco Pizarro the duplicity which he had displayed in his negotiations with Charles V., nor the coolness with which he had claimed for himself, at the expense of his two friends, the principal share of authority, and the most extended government. But as Almagro met with great opposition to his designs, and as he was not the stronger, he concealed his vexation, put a good face on the matter, and seemed delighted at a reconciliation. "They renewed their partnership, therefore," says Zarate, "on condition that Don Diego d'Almagro should go and discover the country on the south side, and if he found any that was really good, they should ask his Majesty to make him the governor of it; but that if he found nothing to suit him, they should share Don Francisco's government between them." This arrangement was made very solemnly, and they took their oath upon the consecrated wafer, that for the future they would undertake nothing against one another. Some say that Almagro swore that he would never encroach either upon Cuzco or on the surrounding country within 390 miles, even if his Majesty should give him the government of it. They add that turning towards the holy sacrament, he pronounced these words, "Lord, if I violate the oath that I now take, I pray that Thou wilt confound me, and punish me both in my body and my soul!"
Pizarro and Almagro take an oath upon the Host.
After this solemn agreement, which was destined to be observed with as little fidelity as the first, Almagro made his preparations for departure. Thanks to his well-known liberality, as much as to his reputation for courage, he gathered together 570 men, of about equal numbers of cavalry and infantry, with which he set out by land for Chili. The journey was an extremely trying one, and the adventurers suffered severely from intense cold whilst crossing the Andes; they had also to deal with very warlike tribes, unsoftened by any civilization, who assailed them with a furia of which nothing they had seen in Peru had given them any idea. Almagro could make no settlement, for he had scarcely been two months in the country when he heard that the Indians in Peru had revolted, and massacred the greater part of the Spaniards, whereupon he immediately retraced his steps.
After the new partnership had been signed between the conquerors (1534), Pizarro had returned to the provinces bordering on the sea, in which he could establish a regular government, there being no longer anything to dread from resistance. For a man who had never studied legislation, he had drawn up some very wise rules for the administration of justice, for the collection of taxes, the apportionment of the Indians, and the working of the mines. Some parts of the "conquistador's" character were doubtless very open to criticism, but it is only just to recognize that he was not wanting in enlarged ideas, and that he was conscientious in playing his part as the founder of a great empire. This it was which made him hesitate long before choosing the future capital of the Spanish possessions. Cuzco had the recommendation of having been the residence of the incas; but this town, situated more than 400 miles from the sea, was very distant from Quito, of which the importance seemed to Pizarro to be extreme. Before long he was struck with the beauty and fertility of a great valley, watered by a stream called the Rimac, and there in 1536, he established the seat of his dominion. Soon, the City of Kings (de Los Reyes), or Lima, as it is called by a corruption of the name of the river which flows at its feet, assumed the aspect of a great city, owing to the magnificent palace and the sumptuous residences for officers, which Pizarro caused to be built there. While these cares kept Pizarro far from his capital, small bodies of troops, sent in different directions, penetrated into the most distant provinces of the empire, with the object of extinguishing the last smouldering embers of resistance; so many of the soldiers were employed in this way, that there remained in Cuzco itself but a very small body of troops. The inca, who had remained in the hands of the Spaniards, thought this an opportune moment for fomenting a general rising, in which he earnestly hoped that the foreign government might be overthrown. Although closely guarded, he contrived to take his measures with so much skill that he did not arouse the suspicions of his oppressors. He obtained permission even to be present at a grand fête, which was to be held at several miles' distance from Cuzco, and for which the most distinguished persons in the empire had met together. As soon as the inca appeared, the standard of revolt was raised. The country was soon in arms from the confines of the province of Quito as far as Chili, and a number of small detachments of Spaniards were surprised and destroyed. Cuzco, defended by the three brothers Pizarro with but 170 Spaniards, was exposed for eight consecutive months to the incessant attacks of the Peruvians, who had now become expert in the use of the arms which they had taken from their enemies. The conquerors made a most valiant resistance, but experienced some severe losses, especially that of Juan Pizarro. Almagro left Chili in the greatest haste, crossed the stony and sandy desert of Atacama, where he suffered as severely from heat and drought as he had done in the Andes from cold and snow, penetrated into the Peruvian territory, defeated Manco-Capac in a great battle, and succeeded in approaching the town of Cuzco, after having driven away the Indians. He then tried to get the town given up to him, on the pretext that it was not included in Pizarro's government, and violating a truce, during which the followers of the marquis were taking a short rest, he entered Cuzco, seized both Ferdinand and Gonzalo Pizarro, and had himself acknowledged as governor.
While this was going on, a considerable body of Indians invested Lima, intercepted all communications, and annihilated the various small bodies of troops which Pizarro sent at intervals to the aid of the Spaniards at Cuzco. At this time he sent away all his vessels to Panama to compel his companions to make a desperate resistance; he recalled from Truxillo the forces under the command of Alonzo d'Alvarado, and entrusted to the latter a column of 500 men, which advanced to within several miles of the capital without having the slightest suspicion that the town was now in the hands of fellow-countrymen, who were fully determined to bar their passage. But Almagro desired much rather to attract these new adversaries to himself than to destroy them; he arranged therefore, to surprise them and make them prisoners. He had now a fine opportunity in his hands of ending the war, and making himself master of the two governments by a single blow. Several of his officers had observed this to him, and especially Orgoños, who proposed that the two brothers of the "conquistador" should be put to death, and that Almagro should advance by forced marches with his victorious troops against Lima, where Pizarro, taken by surprise, would not be able to resist him. But as a Latin poet says, "Jupiter makes dotards of those whom he means to ruin." Almagro, who in so many other instances had thrown aside all scruples, did not wish to put himself in the wrong by invading Pizarro's dominions as a rebel, and he quietly took the road back to Cuzco.
Looking at it only from the side of Almagro's own interests, he evidently committed in this a gross blunder, of which he was soon to repent; but if we consider, what we should never lose sight of, the interest of the country, he had already committed a capital crime in the acts of aggression of which he had been guilty, and in kindling civil war in face of an enemy quite ready to take advantage of it. His adversaries did not delay to remind him of it. Whereas prompt decision would have been necessary for Almagro to make him master of the situation, Pizarro had everything to expect from time and opportunity. While waiting for the promised reinforcements from Darien, he commenced negotiations with his adversary, lasting for several months, during which time one of his brothers, as well as Alvarado, found means to escape with more than seventy men. Although Almagro had been so often duped, he consented again to receive the licentiate Espinosa, who was ordered to represent to him, that if the emperor knew what was taking place between the two competitors, and learnt the condition to which their contests had reduced affairs, no doubt he would recall them both, and put some one else in their place. At last, after the death of Espinosa, it was decided by the friar Francisco de Bovadilla, to whom Pizarro and Almagro had referred their differences, that Ferdinand Pizarro should be immediately set free, that Cuzco should be given back to the marquis, and that they should send several officers on both sides to Spain, charged with representing the respective rights of the two parties and submitting them to the emperor's decision.
Pizarro in Lima, Peru
Scarcely had the last of his brothers been set at liberty than Pizarro, rejecting all idea of peace and amicable arrangement, declared that arms alone should decide whether he or Almagro was to be lord of Peru. In a short time he had assembled a body of 700 men, of which he entrusted the command to his two brothers. Finding it impossible to cross the mountains which would have been the most direct road to Cuzco, they followed the line of the sea-coast as far as Nasca, and then penetrated into a branch of the Andes, by which they could reach the capital in a short time. Possibly Almagro ought to have defended the mountain defiles, but he had only 500 men, and he reckoned much on his splendid cavalry, whom he could not deploy in a confined space; he therefore waited for the enemy in the plain of Cuzco. The two parties encountered each other on the 26th of April, 1538, with equal animosity; but the victory was decided by two companies of musketeers which the emperor had sent to Pizarro when he heard of the revolt of the Indians. One hundred and forty soldiers perished in this engagement, which received the name of las salinas. Orgoños and several officers of distinction were killed in cold blood after the battle, and Almagro himself, aged and ill, could not escape from Pizarro.
The Indians who, assembled in arms on the surrounding mountains, had reckoned upon falling on the conqueror, had need instead to fly in all haste. "Nothing," says Robertson, "more entirely proves the ascendancy gained by the Spaniards over the Americans, than seeing that the latter, witnesses of the defeat and dispersion of one of the parties, had not the courage to attack the other, even weakened and fatigued as they were by their victory, and dared not fall upon their oppressors when fortune offered them so favourable an opportunity for attacking them with advantage."
At this period a victory not followed by pillage was incomplete, so the town of Cuzco was sacked, and all the riches that Pizarro's companions found there did not suffice to content them. They had such exalted ideas of their merits and of the services which they had rendered, that each would have desired an appointment as governor. Ferdinand Pizarro therefore dispersed them, and sent them to conquer fresh territories with some of the partisans of Almagro who had rallied, and whom it was important to send to a distance.
As for Almagro himself, Ferdinand Pizarro, feeling convinced that his name constituted a focus of permanent agitation, resolved to get rid of him. He caused him therefore to be put upon his trial, which ended, as it was easy to foresee, in a sentence of death. When Almagro received this news, after giving way for a few moments to a very natural grief, pleading his great age and the different way in which he had behaved with regard to Ferdinand and Gonzalo Pizarro when they were his prisoners, he recovered his calmness and awaited his death with a soldier's courage. He was strangled in his prison, and afterwards publicly beheaded (1538).
After several successful expeditions, Ferdinand Pizarro set out for Spain, to give the Emperor an account of what had taken place. He found most minds there strangely prejudiced against him and his brothers. Their cruelty, their violence, and their disregard of the most sacred engagements had been laid bare without reserve, by some friends of Almagro's. Ferdinand Pizarro needed the utmost cleverness to win the Emperor round. Charles V. had no means of judging fairly on which side the justice of the case lay, for he had only heard of it from the interested parties; he could only discern the deplorable consequences to his own government of the civil war. He decided, therefore, to send a commissioner to the country, to whom he gave most extensive powers, and who, after having inquired into all that had taken place, should establish whatever form of government he thought most advisable. This delicate mission was confided to Christoval de Vaca, a judge of audience at Valladolid, who proved not unequal to his task. One fact is worthy of notice; he was recommended to show the greatest respect towards Francisco Pizarro, at the very time when his brother Ferdinand was arrested and thrown into a prison, where he was destined to remain forgotten for twenty years.
While these events were taking place in Spain, the Marquis portioned out the conquered country, keeping for himself and his trustworthy friends the most fertile and best situated districts, and giving to Almagro's companions, the men of Chili as they were called, only the more sterile and distant territories. Next he confided to Pedro de Valdivia, one of his aides-de-camp the execution of the project which Almagro had only been able to sketch out, the conquest of Chili. Valdivia set out on the 28th of January, 1540, with 150 Spaniards, amongst whom Pedro Gomez, Pedro de Miranda, and Alonzo de Monroy were destined especially to distinguish themselves; he crossed first the desert of Atacama, which even at the present day is considered a most troublesome enterprise, and reached Copiapo, standing in the midst of a beautiful valley. Received at first with great cordiality, he had to sustain, as soon as harvest was over, several combats with the Araucanians, a race of brave, indefatigable warriors, very different from the Indians of Peru. In spite of this, he laid the foundations of the town of Santiago on the 12th of February, 1541. Valdivia spent eight years in Chili, presiding over the conquest and organization of the country. Less greedy than the other "conquistadores" his contemporaries, he only sought for the mineral riches of the country that he might ensure the development of the prosperity of his colony, in which he had taken care first of all to encourage agriculture. "The best mine that I know of, is one of corn and wine with nourishment for livestock. Who has this, has money. As for mines, we do not depend upon them for subsistence. And often that which looks well outwardly is not really worth much." These wise words of Lescarbot, in his Histoire de la Nouvelle France, might have been used by Valdivia, so exactly do they correspond with and express his sentiments. His valour, prudence, and humanity, more especially the latter quality, which shines forth strangely in contrast with the cruelty of Pizarro, ensures for him a distinction all his own among the "conquistadores" of the sixteenth century.
The shores of Rio Napo.
At the time that Valdivia set out for Chili, Gonzalo Pizarro crossed the Andes at the head of 340 Spaniards, half of whom were mounted, and 4000 Indians, of whom the greater part of the Indians perished from cold; then he penetrated eastwards into the interior, seeking for a country where spices and cinnamon were said to abound. In these vast Savannahs, intersected by marshes and virgin forests, the Spaniards encountered torrents of rain, which lasted quite two months; they found only a scattered population, who were not industrious and also hostile; in consequence, the invaders often suffered from hunger in a country where there were then neither horses nor oxen, where the largest quadrupeds were tapirs and llamas, and even the latter were seldom met with on this slope of the Andes. In spite of these difficulties, which would have discouraged any less energetic explorers than the descubridores of the sixteenth century, they persevered in their attempt and descended the Rio Napo or Coca, an affluent on the left of the Marañon, as far as its confluence. There, with great difficulty they built a brigantine, which was manned by fifty soldiers under the command of Francisco Orellana. But either the strength of the current carried him away, or else being no longer under the eyes of his chief, he wished in his turn to be the leader of an expedition of discovery; he did not wait for Gonzalo Pizarro at the appointed rendezvous, but continued to descend the river until he reached the ocean. Such a voyage is simply marvellous, through nearly 6000 miles of an unknown region, without guide, without compass, without provisions, with a crew who murmured more than once against the foolish attempt of their leader, and in the midst of populations almost invariably hostile. From the mouth of the river, which he had just descended in his badly built and dilapidated vessel, Orellana succeeded in reaching the Island of Cubagua, whence he set sail for Spain. If the proverb "He who comes from a distance tells many lies" were not of much earlier date, one might have thought it had been coined for Orellana. He invented the most preposterous fables as to the wealth of the countries he had traversed; the inhabitants were so rich that the roofs of the temples were formed of plates of gold; an assertion which gave rise to the legend of El Dorado. Orellana had heard of the existence of a Republic of female warriors who had founded a vast empire, which caused the river Marañon to be called the River of the Amazons. If, however, we strip this narrative of all that is ridiculous and grotesque, and calculated to please the imaginations of his contemporaries, it remains certain that Orellana's expedition is one of the most remarkable of this epoch, so fertile in gigantic enterprises; and it furnishes the first information upon the immense zone of country lying between the Andes and the Atlantic.
But we must return to Gonzalo Pizarro. His embarrassment and consternation had been great, when on arriving at the confluence of the Napo and Marañon, he had not found Orellana, who was to have been awaiting him. Fearing that some accident might have befallen his lieutenant, he had descended the course of the river for 150 miles, until he met with an unfortunate officer, who had been left behind for having addressed some remonstrances to his chief upon his perfidy. The bravest among Pizarro's men were discouraged at the news of the cowardly way in which they had been abandoned, and at the destitute condition in which they were left. Pizarro was obliged to yield to their entreaties and to return to Quito, from which they were more than 1200 miles away. To give an idea of their sufferings on this return journey, it suffices to say that, after having eaten horses, dogs, and reptiles, roots, and wild beasts, and after having devoured every article made of leather in their accoutrements, the unfortunate survivors who reached Quito, lacerated by brambles, emaciated and utterly impoverished, numbered only twenty-four. Four thousand Indians and two hundred and ten Spaniards had perished in this expedition, which had lasted less than two years.
While Gonzalo Pizarro was conducting the unfortunate expedition just related, the old partisans of Almagro, who had never frankly joined Pizarro, gathered round the son of their old leader, and formed a plot for murdering the Marquis. In vain was Francisco Pizarro several times warned of what was threatening him, he would pay no heed to the report. He said "Keep quiet, I shall be safe as long as there is no one in Peru who does not know that I can in a moment take the life of any one who should dare to form the project of attempting mine."
On Sunday, the 26th of June, 1541, at the hour of siesta, Juan de Herrada and eighteen conspirators left the house of Almagro's son with drawn swords in their hands and armed from top to toe. They ran towards the house of Pizarro, crying out, "Death to the tyrant! death to the infamous wretch!" They entered the palace, killed Francisco de Chaves, who had appeared in haste on hearing the noise, and gained the hall, where was Francisco Pizarro, with his brother Francisco-Martin, the doctor Juan Velasquez, and a dozen servants. These jumped out of the windows, with the exception of Martin Pizarro, two other gentlemen, and two tall pages, who were killed while defending the door of the governor's apartment. He himself had not had time to put on his cuirass, but he seized his sword and buckler and defended himself valiantly, killing four of his adversaries and wounding several others. One of his assailants, in a spirit of self-devotion, attracted to himself the blows of Pizarro. Meanwhile the other conspirators made their way in and attacked him with such fury that he could not parry all the blows, being so exhausted that he could scarcely wield his sword. "Thus," says Zarate, "they made an end, and succeeded in killing him by a thrust in the throat. Falling to the ground, he asked in a loud voice that he might be allowed to confess, and then not being able any longer to speak, he made the sign of the cross on the ground, which he kissed, and then yielded up his soul to God." Some negroes carried his body to the church, where Juan Barbazan, his old servant, alone ventured to come and claim it. This faithful servant secretly rendered to it funeral honours, for the conspirators had pillaged the house of Pizarro, not leaving enough even to pay for wax tapers.
Death of Pizarro.
From an old print.
Thus did Francisco Pizarro come to his end, assassinated even in the capital of the vast empire which Spain owed to his valour and indefatigable perseverance, but which he bestowed upon his country, it must be admitted, ravaged, decimated, and drowned in a deluge of blood. Pizarro is often compared with Cortès; the one had as much ambition, courage, and military capacity as the other; but the cruelty and avarice of the Marquis della Valle were carried to an extreme in Pizarro, and united in him to perfidy and duplicity. If we are inclined to excuse certain parts of Cortès' character which are not estimable, by the times in which he lived, we are at least charmed by that grace and nobility of manners, and by that way of a gentleman above prejudices, which made him so much beloved by the soldier. In Pizarro, on the contrary, we find roughness, and a harsh, unsympathizing way of feeling, while his chivalrous qualities disappear entirely behind the rapacity and perfidy which are the salient features of his character.
If Cortès found brave and resolute adversaries among the Mexicans, who opposed almost insurmountable difficulties to his progress, Pizarro had no trouble in vanquishing the Peruvians, who were timid and enervated, and who never made any serious resistance to his arms. Of the conquests of Peru and Mexico, the less difficult produced the greater metallurgic advantage to Spain, and thus it was the more appreciated.
The civil war was on the point of breaking out again after Pizarro's death when the governor arrived, who was delegated by the metropolitan government. As soon as he had collected the needful troops, he marched towards Cuzco. He seized young Almagro without trouble, had him beheaded with forty of his confederates and governed the country with firmness, until the viceroy Blasco Nuñez Vela, arrived. It is not our intention to enter into the detail of the disputes which took place between the latter and Gonzalo Pizarro, who, profiting by the general discontent, caused by the new regulations as to the "repartimientos," revolted against the Emperor's representative. After many changes of fortune, for which we have not space, the struggle ended by the defeat and execution of Gonzalo Pizarro, which took place in 1548. His body was taken to Cuzco and buried fully dressed; "No one," says Garcilasso de la Vega, "being willing to give even a winding-sheet for it." Thus ended the judicial assassin of Almagro. Is not the text appropriate in this case: "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword"?
F I N I T O
Celebrated Travels and Travellers
Part I. The Exploration of the World
Author: Jules Verne
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