A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies/Chapter 3

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Chapter III: Of the Kingdoms contained in Hispaniola
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This Isle of Hispaniola was made up of Six of their greatest Kingdoms, and as many most Puissant Kings, to whose Empire almost all the other Lords, whose Number was infinite, did pay their Allegiance. One of these Kingdoms was called Magua, signifying a Campaign or open Country; which is very observable, if any place in the Universe deserves taking notice of, and memorable for the pleasantness of its Situation; for it is extended from South to North Eighty Miles, in breadth Five, Eight, and in some parts Ten Miles in length; and is on all sides inclosed with the highest Mountains; above Thirty Thousand Rivers, and Rivulets water her Coasts, Twelve of which prodigious Number do not yield in all in magnitude to those famous Rivers, the Eber, Duer, and Guadalquivir; and all those Rivers which have their Source or Spring from the Mountains lying Westerly, the number whereof is Twenty Thousand) are very rich in Mines of Gold; on which Mountain lies the Province of rich Mines, whence the exquisite Gold of Twenty Four Caracts weight, takes denomination. The King and Lord of this Kingdom was named Guarionex, who governed within the Compass of his Dominions so many Vassals and Potent Lords, that every one of them was able to bring into the Field Sixteen Thousand Soldiers for the service of Guarionex their Supream Lord and Soverain, when summoned thereunto. Some of which I was acquainted with. This was a most Obedient Prince, endued with great Courage and Morality, naturally of a Pacifick Temper, and most devoted to the service of the Castilian Kings. This King commanded and ordered his Subjects, that every one of those Lords under his Jurisdiction, should present him with a Bell full of Gold; but in succeeding times, being unable to perform it, they were commanded to cut it in two, and fill one part therewith, for the Inhabitants of this Isle were altogether inexperienced, and unskilful in Mine-works, and the digging Gold out of them. This Caiu proferred his Service to the King of Castile, on this Condition, that he would take care, that those Lands should be cultivated and manur'd, wherein, during the reign of Isabella, Queen of Castile, the Spaniards first set footing and fixed their Residence, extending in length even to Santo Domingo, the space of Fifty Miles. For he declar'd (nor was it a Fallacie, but an absolute Truth,) that his Subjects understood not the practical use of digging in Golden Mines. To which promises he had readily and voluntarily condescended, to my own certain knowledge, and so by this means, the King would have received the Annual Revenue of Three Millions of Spanish Crowns, and upward, there being at that very time in that Island Fifty Cities more ample and spacious than Sevil it self in Spain.

But what returns by way of Remuneration and Reward did they make this so Clement and Benign Monarch, can you imagine, no other but this? They put the greatest Indignity upon him imaginable in the person of his Consort who was violated by a Spanish Captain altogether unworthy of the Name of Christian. He might indeed probably expect to meet with a convenient time and opportunity of revenging this Ingominy so unjuriously thrown upon him by preparing Military Forces to attaque him, but he rather chose to abscond in the Province De los Ciquayos (wherein a Puissant Vassal and subject of his Ruled) devested of his Estate and Kingdom, and there live and dye an exile. But the Spaniards receiving certain information, that he had absented himself, connived no longer at his Concealment but raised War against him, who had received them with so great humanity and kindness, and having first laid waste and desolate the whole Region, at last found, and took him Prisoner, who being bound in Fetters was convey'd on board of a ship in order to his transfretation to Castile, as a Captive: but the Vessel perished in the Voyage, wherewith many Spaniards were also lost, as well as a great weight of Gold, among which there was a prodigious Ingot of Gold, resembling a large Loaf of Bread, weighing 3600 Crowns; Thus it pleased God to revenge their enormous impieties.

A Second Kingdom was named Marien, where there is to this day a Haven, upon the utmost Borders of the Plain or open Countrey toward the North, more fertil and large than the kingdom of Portugal; and really deserving constant and frequent Inahbitants: For it abounds with Mountains, and is rich in Mines of Gold and Orichalcum, a kind of Copper Mettal mixt with Gold; The Kings name of this place was Guacanagari, who had many powerful Lords (some whereof were not unknown to me) under his subjection. The first that landed in this Kingdom when he discovered America was an Admiral well stricken in years, who had so hospitable and kind a reception from the aforesaid Gracanagari, as well as all those Spaniards that accompanied him in that Voyage, giving them all imaginable help and assisstance (for the admiral's vessel was sunk on their Coasts) that I heard it from his own mouth, he could not possibly have been entertained with greater Caresses and Civilities from his own parents in his own Native Country. But this King being forced to fly to avoid the Spanish slaughter and Cruelty, deprived of all he was Master of, died in the Mountains; and all the rest of the Potentates and Nobles, his subjects, perished in that servitude and Vassalage; as you shall find in this following Treatise.

The Third Kingdom was distinguished by the Appellation of Maquana, another admirable, healthful and fruitful Region, where at present the most refined sugar of the Island is made. Caonabo then reigned there, who surmounted all the rest in Power, State, and the splendid Ceremonies of His Government. This King beyond all expectation was surpriz'd in his own Palace, by the great subtilty and industry of the Spaniards, and after carried on board in order to his transportation to Castile, but there being at that time six Ships Riding in the Haven, and ready to set Sail such an impetuous storm suddenly arose, that they as well as the Passengers and Ships Crew were all lost, together with King Canabao loaded with Irons; by which judgement the Almighty declared that this was as unjust and impious an Act as any of the former. This Kind had three or four Brothers then Living, Men of strength and Valour, who being highly incensed at the Captivity of their King and Brother, to which he was injuriously reduc'd, having also intelligence of the Devastations and Butcheries committed by the Spaniards in other Regions, and not long after hearing of their Brothers death, took up Arms to revenge themselves of the Enemy, whom the Spaniards met with, and certain party of Horse (which proved very offensive to the Indians) made such havoc and slaughter among them, that the half of this Kingdom was laid waste and depopulated.

Xaraqua is the Fourth Kingdom, and as it were the Centre and Middle of the whole Island, and is not to be equalled for fluency of Speech and politeness of Idiom or Dialect by any Inhabitants of the other Kingdoms, and in Policy and Morality transcends them all. Herein the Lords and Peers abounded, and the very Populace excelled in in stature and habit of Body: Their King was Behechio by name and who had a Sister called Anacaona, and both the Brother as well as Sister had loaded the Spaniards with Benefits and singular acts of Civility, and by delivering them from the evident and apparent danger of Death, did signal services to the Castilian Kings. Behechio dying the supreme power of the Kingdom fell to Anacaona: But it hapned one day, that the Governour of an Island, attended by 60 Horse, and 30 Foot (now the Cavalry was sufficiently able to unpeople not only the Isle, but also the whole Continent) he summoned about 300 Dynasta's, or Noblemen to appear before him, and commanded the most powerful of them, being first crouded into a Thatcht Barn or Hovel, to be exposed to the fury of the merciless Fire, and the rest to be pierced with Lances, and run through with the point of the Sword, by a multitude of Men: And Anacaona her self who (as we said before,) sway'd the Imperial Scepter, to her greater honor was hanged on a Gibbet. And if it fell out that any person instigated by Compassion or Covetousness, did entertain any Indian Boys and mount them on Horses, to prevent their Murder, another was appointed to follow them, who ran them through the back or in the hinder parts, and if they chanced to escape Death, and fall to the ground, they immediately cut off his Legs; and when any of those Indians, that survived these Barbarous Massacres, betook themselves to an Isle eight miles distant, to escape their Butcheries, they were then committed to servitude during Life.

The Fifth Kingdom was Hiquey, over whom Queen Hiquanama, a superannuated Princess, whome the Spaniards Crucified, did preside and Govern. The number of those I saw here burnt, and dismembered, and rackt with various Torments, as well as others, the poor Remnants of such matchless Villanies, who surviving were enslaved, is infinite. But because so much might be said concerning the Assassinations and Depopulating of these people, as cannot without great difficulty be published in Writing (nor do I conceive that one fragile part of 1000 that is here contained can be fully displayed) I will only add one remark more of the prementioned Wars, in lieu of a Corollary or Conclusion, and aver upon my Conscience, that notwithstanding all the above-named Injustice, profligate Enormities and other Crimes which I omit, (tho sufficiently known to me) the Indians did not, nor was it in their power to give any greater occasion for the Commission of them, than Pious Religioso's Living in a well regulated Monastic Life did afford for any Sacrilegeous Villains to deprive them of their Goods and Life at the same time, or why they who by flight avoided death should be detain'd in perpetual, not to be ransom'd Captivity and Slavery. I adde farther, that I really believe, and am satisfied by certain undeniable conjectures, that at the very juncture of time, when all these outrages were commited in this Isle, the Indians were not so much guilty of one single mortal sin of Commission against the Spaniards, that might deserve from any Man revenge or require satisfaction. And as for those sins, the punishment whereof God hath reserved to himself, as the immoderate desire of Revenge, Hatred, Envy or inward rancor of Spirit, to which they might be transported against such Capital Enemies as the Spaniards were, I judge that very few of them can justly be accused of them; for their impetuosity and vigor I speak experimentally, was inferior to that of Children of ten or twelve years of age: and this I can assure you, that the Indians had ever a just cause of raising War against the Spaniards, and the Spaniards on the contrary never raised a just was against them, but what was more injurious and groundless then any undertaken by the worst of Tyrants. All which I affirm of all their other Transactions and passages in America.

The Warlike Engagements being over, and the Inhabitants all swept away, they divided among themselves the Young Men, Women, and Children reserved promiscuously for that purpose, one obtained thirty, another forty, to this Man one hundred were disposed, to the other two hundred, and the more one was in favor with the domineering Tyrant (which they styled Governor) the more he became Master of, upon this pretence, and with this Proviso, that he should see them instructed in the Catholick Religion, when as they themselves to whom they were committed to be taught, and the care of their Souls instructed them were, for the major part Idiots, Cruel, Avaritious, infected and stained with all sorts of Vices. And this was the great care they had of them, they sent the Males to the Mines to dig and bring away the Gold, which is an intollerable labor; but the Women they made use of to Manure and Till the ground, which is a toil most irksome even to Men of the strongest and most robust constitutions, allowing them no other food but Herbage, and such kind of unsubstantial nutriment, so that the Nursing Womens Milk was exsiccated and so dryed up, that the young Infants lately brought forth, all perished, and females being separated from and debarred cohabitation with Men, there was no Prolification or raising up issue among them. The Men died in Mines, hunger starved and oppressed with labor, and the Women perished in the Fields, harrassed and broken with the like Evils and Calamities: Thus an infinite number of Inhabitants that formerly peopled this Island were exterminated and dwindled away to nothing by such Consumptions. They were compelled to carry burthens of eighty or one hundred pound weight, and that an hundred or two hundred miles compleat: and the Spaniards were born by them on the Shoulders in a pensil Vehicle or Carriage, or kind of Beds made of Net-work by the Indians; for in Truth they made use of them as Beasts to carry the burthens and cumbersom baggage of their journeys, insomuch that it frequently happened, that the Shoulders and Backs of the Indians were deeply marked with their scourges and stripes, just as they used to serve a tired Jade, accustomed to burthens. And as to those slashes with whips, blows with staves, cuffs and boxes, maledictions and curses, with a Thousand of such kind of Torments they suffered during the fatigue of their laborious journeys it would require a long tract of time, and many Reams of Paper to describe them, and when all were done would only create Horror and Consternation in the Reader.

But here is is observable, that the desolation of these Isles and Provinces took beginning since the decease of the most Serene Queen Isabella, about the year 1504, for before that time very few of the Provinces situated in that Island were oppressed or spoiled with unjust Wars, or violated with general devastation as after they were, and most if not all these things were concealed and masked from the Queens knowledge (whom I hope God hath crowned with Eternal Glory) for she was transported with fervent and wonderful zeal, nay, almost Divine desires for the Salvation and preservation of these people, which things so exemplary as these we having seen with our eyes, and felt with our hands, cannot easily be forgotten.

Take this also for a general Rule, that the Spaniards upon what American Coasts soever they arrived, exercised the same Cruelties, Slaughters, Tyrannies and detestable Oppressions on the most innocent Indian Nation, and diverting themselves with delights in new sorts of Torment, did in time improve in Barbarism and Cruelty; wherewith the Omnipotent being incensed suffered them to fail by a more desperate and dangerous lapse into a reprobate state.