A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies/Chapter 10

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Chapter X: Of the Kingdom and Province of Guatemala

This Tyrant at his first entrance here acted and commanded prodigious Slaughters to be perpetrated: Notwithstanding which, the Chief Lord in his Chair or Sedan attended by many Nobles of the City of Ultlatana, the Emporium of the whole Kingdom, together with Trumpets, Drums and great Exultation, went out to meet him, and brought with them all sorts of Food in great abundance, with such things as he stood in most need of. That Night the Spaniards spent without the City, for they did not judge themselves secure in such a well-fortified place. The next day he commanded the said Lord with many of his Peers to come before him, from whom they imperiously challenged a certain quantity of Gold; to whom the Indians return'd this modest Answer, that they could not satisfie his Demands, and indeed this Region yeilded no Golden Mines; but they all, by his command, without any other Crime laid to their Charge, or any Legal Form of Proceeding were burnt alive. The rest of the Nobles belonging to other Provinces, when they found their Chief Lords, who had the Supreme Power were expos'd to the Merciless Element of Fire kindled by a more merciless Enemy; for this Reason only, becauase they bestow'd not what they could not upon them, viz. Gold, they fled to the Mountains, (their usual Refuge) for shelter, commanding their Subjects to obey the Spaniards, as Lords, but withal strictly and expressly prohibiting and forbidding them, to inform the Spaniards of their Flight, or the Places of their Concealment. And behold a great many of the Indians addrest themselves to them, earnestly requesting, they would admit them as Subjects, being very willing and ready to serve them: The Captain replyed that he would not entertain them in such a Capacity, but instead of so doing would put every individual Person to Death, if they would not discover the Receptacles of the Fugitive Governours. The Indians made answer that they were wholly ignorant of the matter, yet that they themselves, their Wives and Children should serve them; that they were at home, they might come to them and put them to Death, or deal with them as they pleas'd. But the Spaniards, O wonderful! went to the Towns and Villages, and destroy'd with their Lances these poor Men, their Wives and Children, intent upon their Labour, and as they thought themselves, secure and free from danger. Another large Village they made desolate in the space of two hours, sparing neither Age, nor Sex, putting all to the Sword, without Mercy.

The Indians perceiving that this Barbarous and Hard-hearted People would not be pacified with Humility, large Gifts, or unexampled Patience, but that they were butcher'd without any Cause, upon serious Consultation took up a Resolution of getting together in a Body, and fighting for their Lives and Liberty; for they conceiv'd it was far better, (since Death to them was a necessary Evil) with Sword in Hand to be kill'd by taking Revenge of the Enemy, then be destroy'd by them without satisfaction. But when they grew sensible of their wants of Arms, Nakedness and Debility, and that they were altogether incapable of the management of Horses, so as to prevail against such a furious Adversary, recollecting themselves, they contriv'd this Strategm, to dig Ditches and Holes in the High-way into which the Horses might fall in their passage, and fixing therein purposely sharp and burnt Posts, and covering them with loose Earth, so that they could not be discern'd by their Riders, they might be transfixed or gored by them. The Horses fell twice or thrice into those holes, but afterward the Spaniards took this Course to prevent them for the future; and made this a Law, that as many of the Indians of what Age or Sex soever as were taken, should be cast into these Ditches that they had made. Nay they threw into them Women with Child, and as many Aged Men as they laid hold of, till they were all fill'd up with Carkasses. It was a sight deserving Commiseration, to behold Women and Children gauncht or run through with these Posts, some were taken off by Spears and Swords, and the remainder expos'd to hungry Dogs, kept short of food for that purpose, to be devour'd by them and torn in pieces. They burnt a Potent Nobleman in a very great Fire, saying, That he was the more Honour'd by this kind of Death. All which Butcheries continued Seven Years, from 1524, to 1531. I leave the Reader to judge how many might be Massacred during that time.

Among the Innumerable Flagitious Acts done by this Tyrant and his Co-partners (for they were as Barbarous as their Principal) in this Kingdom, this also occurs worthy of an Afterism in the Margin. In the Province of Cuztatan in which S. Saviour's City is seated, which Country with the Neighbouing Sea-Coasts extends in Length Forty or Fifty Miles, as also in the very City of Cuzcatan, the Metropolis of the whole Province, he was entertain'd with great Applause: For about Twenty or Thirty Thousand Indians brought with them Hens and other necessary Provisions, expecting this coming. He, accepting their Gifts, commended every single Spaniard to make choice of as many of these People, as he had a mind to, that during their stay there, they might use them as Servants, and forced to undergo the most servile Offices they should impose on them. Every one cull'd out a Hundred, or Fifty, according as he thought convenient for his peculiar service, and these wretched Indians did serve the Spaniards with their utmost strength and endeavour; so that there could be nothing wanting in them but Adoration. In the mean time this Captain requir'd a great Sum of Gold from their Lords (for that was the Load-stone attracted them thither) who answered, they were content to deliver him up all the Gold they had in possession; and in order thereunto, the Indians gathered together a great Number of Spears gilded with Orichalcum, (which had the appearance of Gold, and in truth some Gold in them intermixt) and they were presented to him. The Captain ordered them to be toucht, and when he found them to be Orichalcum or mixt Metal, he spake to the Spaniards as followeth. Let that Nation that is without Gold be accursed to the Pit of Hell. Let every Man detain those Servants he Elected, let them be clapt in Irons, and stigmatiz'd with the Brand of Slavery, which was accordingly done, for they were all burnt, who did no excape with the King's Mark. I my self saw the Impression made on the Son of the Chiefest Person in the City. Those that escap'd, with other Indians, engaged the Spaniards by Force of Arms, but with such ill success, that abundance of them lost their Lives in the Attempt. After this they return'd to Gautimala, where they built a City, which God in his Judgement with Three Deluges, the First of Water, the Second of Earth, the Third of Stones, as big as half a score Oxen, all concurring at one and the same time, laid Level with its own Ashes. Now all being slain who were capable of bearing Arms against them, the rest were enslav'd, paying so much per Head for Men and Women as a Ransom; for they use no other servitude here, and then they were sent into Pecusium to be sold, by which means together with their slaughters committed upon the Inhabitants, they destroy'd and made a Desert of this Kingdom, which in Breadth as well as Length contains One Hundred Miles; and with his Associates and Brethren in Iniquity, Four Millions at least in Fifteen or Sixteen Years, that is, from 1524, to 1540 were murdered, and dayly continues destroying the small residue of that People with his Cruelties and Brutishness.

It was the usual Custom of this Tyrant, when he made War with any City or Province, to take along with himas many of those Indians he had subjugated as he could, that they might fight with their Country-men; and when he had in his Army Twenty, or sometimes Thirty Thousand of them, and could not afford them sustenance, he permitted them to feed on the Flesh of other Indians taken Prisoners in War; and so kept a Shambles of Man's Flesh in his Army, suffered Children to be kill'd and roasted before his Face. They butcher'd the Men for their Feet and Hands only; for these Members were accounted by them Dainties, most delicious Food.

He as the Death of many by the intolerable Labour of Carrying Ships by Land, causing them to Transport those Vessels with Anchors of a vast weight from the Septentrional to the Mediterranean Sea, which are One Hundred and Thirty Miles distant; as also abundance of great Guns of the largest fort, which they carried on their bare, naked shoulders, so that opprest with many great and ponderous Burthens, (I say no more than what I saw) they dyed by the way: He separated and divided Families, forcing Married Men from their Wives, and Maids from their Parents, which he bestow'd upon his Marriners and Soldiers, to gratifie their burning Lust. All his Ships he freighted with Indians, where Hunger and Thirst discharg'd them of their Servitude and his Cruelty by a welcome Death. He had two Companies of Soldiers who hackt and tore them in pieces, like Thunder from Heaven speedily. O how many Parents has he robb'd of their Children, how many Wives of their Husbands, and Children of their Parents? How many Adulteries, Rapes, and what Libidinous Acts hath he been guilty of? How many hath he enslav'd and opprest with insufferable Anguish and unspeakable Calamities? How many Tears, Sighs and Groans hath he occasion'd? To how many has he bin the Author of Desolation, during their Peregrination in this, and of Damnation in the World to come, not only to Indians, whose Number is numberless, but even to Spaniards themselves, by whose help and assistance he committed such detestable Butcheries and flagitious Crimes? I supplicate Almighty God, that he would please to have Mercy on his Soul, and require no other satisfaction than the violent Death, which turn'd him out of this World.