A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies/Chapter 20

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Chapter XX: Of the vast Kingdoms and Spacious Provinces of PERUSIA

A notorious Tyrant in the Year 1531, entered the Kingdoms of Perusia with his Complices, upon the same Account, and with the same pretences, and beginning at the same Rate as others did; he indeed being one of those who were exercised, and highly concerned in the Slaughters and Cruelties committed on the Continent ever since the Year 1510, he increased and heightened the Cruelties, Butcheries, and Rapine; destroying and laying waste (being a False-hearted Faithless Person) the Towns and Villages, and Murdering the Inhabitants, which occasioned all those Evils, that succeeded in those Regions afterward: Now to undertake the Writing of a Narrative of them, and represent them lively and Naturally to the Readers view, and perusal, is a work altogether impossible, but must lie concealed and unknown until they shall more openly and clearly appear, and be made visible to every Eye, at the day of Judgement. As for my part, if I should presume to unravel, in some, measure the Deformity, Quality and Circumstances of those Enormities, I must ingenuously confess I could by no means perform so burthensom a Task, and render it complete and as it ought to be.

At his first admission into these parts, he had laid waste some Towers, and robbed them of a great quantity of Gold, this he did in the Infancy of his Tyrannical Attempts, when he arrived at Pugna a Neighbouring Isle so called, he had the Reception of an Angel; but about Six Months after, when the Spaniards had spent all their Provisions, they discover'd and opened the Indians Stores and Granaries, which were laid up for the sustenance of themselves, Wives and Children against a time of Dearth and Scarcity, brought them forth with Tears and Weepings, to dispose of at pleasure: But they rewarded them with Slaughter, Slavery and Depopulation as formerly.

Thence they betook themselves to the Isle Tumbala, situate on the firm Land, where they put to Death all they met with. And because the People terrified with their abominable Sins of Commission, fled from their Cruelty, they were accused of Rebellion against the Spanish King. This Tyrant made use of this Artifice, he commanded all that he took, or that had bestowed Gold, Silver and other rich Gifts on him, still to load him with other Presents, till he found they had exhausted their Treasures, and were grown naked and incapable of affording him farther supplies, and then he declared them to be the Vassals and Subjects of the King of Spain, flattering them, and proclaiming twice by sound of Trumpet, that for the future he would not captivate or molest them any more, looking upon it as lawful to rob, and terrifie them with such Messages as he had done, before he admitted them under the King's protection, as if from that very time, he had never rob'd, destroyed or oppressed them with Tyrannical Usage.

Not long after Ataliba the King and Supreme Emperor of all these Kingdoms, leading a great Number of Naked Men, he himself being at the Head of them, armed with ridiculous Weapons, and wholly ignorant of the goodness of the Spaniards Bilbo-Blades, the Mortal Dartings of their Lances, and the Strength of their Horse, whose Use and Service was to him altogether unknown, and never so much as heard of before, and that the Spaniards were sufficiently weapon'd to rob the Devils themselves of Gold, if they had any, came to the place where they then were; saying, Where are these Spaniards? Let them appear, I will not stir a foot from hence till they give me satisfaction for my Subjects whom they have slain, my Towns they have reduced to Ashes, and my Riches they have stolen from me. The Spaniards meet him, make a great Slaughter of his Men, and seize on the Person of the King Himself, who was carried in a Chair or Sedan on Mens Shoulders. There was a Treaty had about his Redemption, the King engaged to lay down Four Millions of Crowns, as the purchase of his Freedom, but Fifteen were paid down upon the Nail: They promise to set him at Liberty, but contrary to all Faith and Truth according to their common Custom (for they always violated their promises with the Indians) they falsely imposed this upon him, that his People were got together in a Body by his Command; but the King was made answer, That throughout his Dominions, not so much as a Leaf upon a Tree durst move without his Authority and Pleasure, and if any were assembled together, they must of necessity believe that it was done without his Order, he being a Captive, it being in their power to deprive him of his Life, if any such thing should be ordered by him: Notwithstanding which, they entered into a Consultation to have him burnt alive, and a little while after the Sentence was agreed upon, but the Captain at the intreaty of some Persons commanded him first to be strangled, and afterward thrown into the fire. The King understanding the sentence of Death past upon him, said; Why do you burn me? What Fact have I committed deserving Death? Did you not promise to set me free for a Sum of Gold. And did I not give you a far larger quantity than I promised? But if it is your pleasure so to do, send me to your King of Spain, and thus using many words to the same purpose, tending to the Confusion and Detestation of the Spanish Injustice, he was burnt to Death. And here let us take into serious Consideration the Right and Title they had to make this War, the Captivity, Sentence, and Execution of this Prince, and the Conscience wherewith these Tyrants have possessed themselves of vast Treasures, which they have surreptitiously and fraudulently taken away from this King, and a great many more of the Rulers of these Kingdoms. But as to the great number of their Enormities committed by those who stile themselves Christians in order to the extirpation of this People, I will hear repeat some of them, which in the very beginning were seen by a Franciscan, confirmed by his own Letters, and signed with his Hand and Seal, sending some of them to the Perusian Provinces, and others to the Kingdom of Castile: A Copy whereof I have in my Custody, Signed with his Hand, as I said before; the Contents whereof follow.

I Frier Marcus de Xlicia, of the Franciscan Order, and Prefect of the whole Fraternity residing in the Perusian Provinces, one of the first among the Religious, who arrived with the Spaniards in these parts. I declare with incontrovertible and undeniable Testimony, those Transactions, which I saw with my own Eyes, and particularly such as relate to the usage of the Inhabitants of this Region. In the first place I was an Eye-Witness, and am certainly assured, that these Perusians are a People, who transcend all other Indians in Meekness, Clemency, and Love to Spaniards; and I have seen the Indians bestow very liberally on them Gold, Silver, and Jewels, being very serviceable to them many other ways. Nor did the Indians ever betake themselves to their Arms in an Hostile manner, till by infinite Injuries and Cruelties they were compelled thereunto: For on the contrary, they gave the Spaniards an amicable and honorable Reception in all their Towns, and furnished them with Provisions, and as many Male and Female Servants as they required.

I can also farther testify, that the Spaniards, without the least provocation on their part, as soon as they entered upon these Territories, did burn at the Stake their most Potent Caciq Ataliba, Prince of the whole Country, after they had extorted from him above Two Millions of Gold, and possessed themselves of his Province, without the least Opposition: and Cochilimaca, his Captain General, who with other Rulers, came peaceably into them, followed him by the same fiery Tryal and Death. As also some few days after, the Ruler of the Province of Quitonia, who was burnt, without any Cause given, or Crime laid to his Charge. They likewise put Schapera, Prince of the Canaries to the same Death, and in like manner, burnt the Feet of Alvidis, the greatest of all the Quitonian Lords, and rackt him with other Torments to Extract from him a discovery of Ataliba's Treasure, whereof as appeared after, he was totally ignorant. Thus they treated Cocopaganga, Governour of all the Provinces of Quitonia, who being overcome with the Intreaties of Sebastian Bernalcarus, the Governours Captain, went peaceably to pay them a Visit; but because he could not give them as much Gold as they demanded, they burnt him with many other Casics and Chief Persons of Quality. And as I understand, did it with this evil Intention, that they might not leave one surviving Lord or Peer in the whole Country.

I also affirm that I saw with these Eyes of mine the Spaniards for no other reason, but only to gratify their bloody mindedness, cut off the Hands, Noses, and Ears, both of Indians and Indianesses, and that in so many places and parts, that it would be too prolix and tedious to relate them. Nay, I have seen the Spaniards let loose their Dogs upon the Indians to bait and tear them in pieces, and such a Number of Villages burnt by them as cannot well be discovered: Farther this is a certain Truth, that they snatched Babes from the Mothers Embraces, and taking hold of their Arms threw them away as far as they would from them: (a pretty kind of barr-tossing Recreation.) They committed many other Cruelties, which shook me with Terror at the very sight of them, and would take up too much time in the Relation.

I likewise aver, That the Spaniards gathered together as many Indians as filled Three Houses, to which, for no cause, (or a very inconsiderable one) they set fire, and burnt every one of them: But a Presbyter, Ocana by Name, chanced to snatch a little baby out of the fire, which being observed by a Spaniard, he tore him out of his Arms, and threw him into the midst of the Flames, where he was with the rest, soon burnt to Ashes, which Spaniard the same day he committed that Fact, returning to his Quarters, dyed suddenly by the way, and I advised them not to give him Christian Burial.

Furthermore I saw them send to several Casics and Principal Indians, promising them a protecting passport to travel peaceably and securely to them, who, no sooner came, but they were burnt; Two of them before my Face, one at Andonia, and the other at Tumbala, nor could I with all my persuasions and preaching to them prevail so far as to save them from the Fire. And this I do maintain according to God and my own Conscience, as far as I could possibly learn, that the Inhabitants of Perusia never promoted or raised any Commotion or Rebellion, though as it is manifest to all Men, they were afflicted with Evil Dealings and Cruel Torments: And they, not without Cause, the Spaniards breaking their Faith and Word, betraying the Truth and Tyrannically contrary to all Law and Justice, destroying them and the whole Country, inflicting on them great Injuries and Losses, were more ready to prepare themselves for Death, than still to fall at once into such great and irrecoverable Miseries.

Nay I do declare, according to Information from the Indians themselves, that there are to this day far greater Quantities of Gold kept hid and concealed than ever were yet detected or brought to light, which by means of the Spanish Injustice and Cruelty, they would not then, nor ever will discover so long as they are so barbarously treated, but will rather chose to dye with the Herd. Whereat the Lord God is highly offended and the King hath very ill Offices done him, for he is hereby defrauded of this Region, which was sufficiently able to furnish all Castile with Necessaries, the Recovery whereof can never be expected without great difficulty and vast Expenses.

Thus far I have acquainted you with the very words of this Religious Franciscan, ratified by the Bishop of Mexico, who testified that the said Frier Marc did affirm and maintain what is above-mentioned.

Here it is to be obsere'd what this said Frier was an Eye-Witness of; for he traveled up in this Country Fifty or a Hundred Miles, for the space of Nine or Ten Years, when as yet, few Spaniards had got footing there, but afterward, at the noise of Gold to be had there in great plenty, Four or Five Thousand came thither, who spread themselves through those Kingdoms and Provinces the space of Five or Six Hundred Miles, which they made wholly desolate, committing the same, or greater cruelties than are before recited; for in reality they destroyed from that time to these very days, above an Hundred Thousand poor Souls more than he gives an Account of, and with less fear of God and the King, nay with less Mercy have they destroyed the greatest part of Mankind in these Kingdoms, above Four Millions suffering by violent Death.

A few days after they darted to Death with Arrows made of Reeds a Puissant Queen, the Wife of a Potentate, who still sways the Imperial Scepter of that Kingdom, whom the Spaniards had a design to take, which instigated him to raise a Rebellion, and he still continues a Rebel. They seized the Queen his Consort, and contrary to all Law and Equity murdered her, as is said before, who was then, as report, big with Child, only for this Reason, that they might add fresh Affliction and Grief to her Husband.