Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/80

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fell in with a squadron of Spanish war vessels, surrendered to them after a severe engagement, and in 1527 was hanged as a pirate at Colmenar de Arenas. France strenuously maintained, and sought by repeated efforts to substantiate, the right to North America which Verrazzano's coasting-voyage was supposed to have acquired. In periods of war no attempts at possession were made; but in the intervals of peace expeditions were undertaken to the Gulf of St Lawrence, with the view of exploring the passage to the Far East of which it was imagined to be the beginning. Cartier made two voyages for this purpose in 1534 and 1535; and in 1540 he sailed up the great river of Canada, and selected a site for the colony which in 1542 Roberval attempted to establish. Cartier brought to France news of the two principal native nations of North America—nations on which later French settlers bestowed the names "Iroquois" and "Algonquin," each being a purely French word embodying a peculiarity in the sound of their respective languages. The Algonquins, who were the earlier immigrants, were partially cultivators of the soil, but chiefly relied for subsistence on hunting and fishing. The more advanced Iroquois, who appear to have driven the Algonquins from the choicest parts of their territory, had nearly reached the stage in which agriculture is the main source of subsistence, though they were accomplished hunters and formidable warriors: and their compact territory was parcelled out among five tribes, who formed the confederation so well known in later history as the "Five Nations." Though Roberval's attempt failed, the example thus set was followed in a later generation in other latitudes, and other nations were encouraged to imitate it. Meanwhile the aspect of American enterprise was greatly modified, and the effect produced by the discovery of the treasures of Mexico greatly enhanced, by the discovery and conquest of Peru, the richest district of the New World hitherto revealed.

Here, again, we are struck by the comparatively modern date of the aboriginal dominion which the Spanish adventurers found established along the coast and in the valleys of the Andes. This dominion, of which the centre was at Cuzco, was very much more extensive than that of the federated Mexican pueblos. Unlike the Nahuatlaca, the Peruvian people had no reckoning of years; nor can the date of any fact in Peruvian history anterior to the conquest be accurately ascertained. All that we know is that the settlement of the nation or people who then dominated the sierra and the coast from Cuzco, where the traditions of their arrival were still fresh, was of comparatively modern date. They called themselves Inca, or "people of the sun" (Inti). They were probably an offshoot from a large group of warlike tribes, in which the Tupi-Guarani were included, long settled on the margins of the vanished Argentine sea and of a chain of great lakes to the north of it, where they subsisted by fishing and hunting. From this district they ascended to the sierra, where the huanaco and vicuña,