A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies/Chapter 7

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Chapter VII: Of the Province of Nicaragua

The said Tyrant An. Dom. 1522. proceeded farther very unfortunately to the Subjugation of Conquest of this Province. In truth no Person can satisfactorily or sufficiently express the Fertility, Temperateness of the Climate, or the Multitude of the Inhabitants of Nicaraqua, which was almost infinite and admirable; for this Region contain'd some Cities that were Four Miles long; and the abundance of Fruits of the Earth (which was the cause of such a Concourse of People) was highly commendable. The People of this place, because the Country was Level and Plain, destitute of Mountains, so very delightful and pleasant, that they could not leave it without great grief, and much dissatisfaction, they were therefore tormented with the greater Vexations and Persecutions, and forced to bear the Spanish Tyranny and Servitude, which as much Patience as they were Masters of: Add farther that they were peaceable and meek spirited. This Tyrant with these Complices of his Cruelty did afflict this Nation (whose advice he made use of in destroying the other Kingdoms) with such and so many great Dammages, Slaughters, Injustice, Slaver, and Barbarisme, that a Tongue, though of Iron, could not express them all fully. He sent into the Province (which is larger than the County of Ruscinia) Fifty Horse-Men, who put all the People to the Edge of the Sword, sparing neither Age nor Sex upon the most trivial and inconsiderable occasion: As for Example, if they did not come to them with all possible speed, when called; and bring the imposed burthen of Mahid (which signifies Corn in their Dialect) or if they did not bring the Number of Indians required to his own, and the Service or rather Servitude of his Associates. And the Country being all Campaign or Level, no Person was able to withstand the Hellish Fury of their Horses.

He commanded the Spaniards to make Excursions, that is, to rob other Provinces, permitting and granting these Theiving Rogues leave to take away by force as many of these peacable People as they could, who being iron'd (that they might not sink under the Burthen of Sixty or Eighty Pound weight) it frequently hapned, that of Four Thousand Indians, Six only returned home, and so they dyed by the way; but if any of them chanced to faint, being tired with over-weighty Burthens, or through great Hunger and Thirst should be siezed with a Distemper; or too much Debility and Weakness, that they might not spend time in taking off their Fetters, they beheaded them, so the Head fell one way, and the Body another: The Indians when they spied the Spaniards making preparations for such Journeys, knowing very well, that few, or none returned home alive, just upon their setting out with Sighs and Tears, burst out into these or the like Expressions.

Those were Journeys, which we travelled frequently in the service of Christians, and in some tract of time we return'd to our Habitations, Wives and Children: But now there being no hope of a return, we are forever depriv'd of their Sight and Conversation.

It hapned also, that the same President would dissipate or disperse the Indians de novo at his own pleasure, to the end (as it was reported) he might violently force the Indians away from such as did infest or molest him; and dispose of them to others; upon which it fell out, that for the space of a Year complete, there was no sowing or planting: And when they wanted Bread, the Spaniards did by force plunder the Indians of the whole stock of Corn that they had laid up for the support of their Families, and by these indirect Courses above Thirty Thousand perished with Hunger. Nay it fortun'd at one time, that a Woman opprest with insufferable Hunger, depriv'd her own Son of his Life to preserve her own.

In this Province also they brought many to an untimely End, loading their Shoulders with heavy planks and pieces of Timer, which they were compell'd to carry to a Haven Forty Miles distant, in order to their building of Ships; sending them likewise unto the Mountains to find out Hony and Wax, where they were devour'd by Tygers; nay they loaded Women impregnated with Carriage and Burthens fit for beasts.

But no greater pest was there that could unpeople this Province, than the License granted the Spaniards by this Governour, to demand Captives from the Casics and Potentates of this Region; for at the Expiration of Four or Five Months, or as often as they obtain'd leave of the Governour to demand them, they deliver'd them up Fifty Servants, and the Spaniards terrified them with Menaces, that if they did not obey them in answering their unreasonable Demands, they should be burnt alive, or baited to Death by Dogs. Now the Indians are but slenderly stor'd with Servants; for it is much if a Casic hath Three or Four in his Retinue, therefore they have recourse to the Subjects; and when they had, in the first place, seized the Orphans, they required earnestly and instantly one Son of the Parent, who had but Two, and Two of him that had but Three, and for the Lord of the place satisfied the desires of the Tyrant, not without the Effusion of Tears and Groans of the People, who (as it seems) were very careful of their Children. And this being frequently repeated in the space between the Year 1523, and 1533, the Kingdom lost all their Inhabitants, for in Six or Seven Years time there were constantly Five or Six Ships made ready to be fraighted with Indians that were sold in the Regions of Panama and Perusium, where they all dyed; for it is by dayly Experience prov'd and known, that the Indians when Transported out of their Native Country into any other, soon dye; because they are shortned in their allowance of Food, and the Task impos'd on them no ways dimished, they being only bought for Labour. And by this means, there have been taken out of this Province Five Hundred Thousand Inhabitants and upward, who before were Freemen, and made Slaves, and in the Wars made on them, and the horrid Bondage they were reduc'd unto Fifty or Sixty Thousand more have perished, and to this day very many still are destroy'd. Now all these Slaughters have been committed within the space of Fourteen years inclusively, possibly in this Province of Nicaraqua there remains Four or Five Thousand Men who are put to Death by ordinary and personal Opressions, whereas (according to what is said already) it did exceed other Countries of the World in multitude of People.