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The History Of The Conquest Of Peru by William H. Prescott

Part 11 out of 17

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dispel the accusations against him.

Before his departure, he counselled his brother to beware of the
"men of Chili," as Almagro's followers were called; desperate
men, who would stick at nothing, he said, for revenge. He
besought the governor not to allow them to consort together in
any number within fifty miles of his person; if he did, it would
be fatal to him. And he concluded by recommending a strong
body-guard; "for I," he added, "shall not be here to watch over
you." But the governor laughed at the idle fears, as he termed
them, of his brother, bidding the latter take no thought of him,
"as every hair in the heads of Almagro's followers was a guaranty
for his safety." *13 He did not know the character of his enemies
so well as Hernando.

[Footnote 13: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 10. -
Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 12. - Gomara, Hist de las
Ind., cap. 142.
"No consienta vuestra senoria que se junten diez juntos en
cinquenta leguas alrrededor de adonde vuestra senoria estuviere,
porque si los dexa juntar le an de matar. Si a Vuestra Senoria
matan, yo negociare mal y de vuestra senoria no quedara memoria.
Estas palabras dixo Hernando Picarro altas que todos le oymos. Y
abracando al marquez se partio y se fue." Pedro Pizarro, Descub.
y Conq., Ms.]

The latter soon after embarked at Lima in the summer of 1539. He
did not take the route of Panama, for he had heard that it was
the intention of the authorities there to detain him. He made a
circuitous passage, therefore, by way of Mexico, landed in the
Bay of Tecoantepec, and was making his way across the narrow
strip that divides the great oceans, when he was arrested and
taken to the capital. But the Viceroy Mendoza did not consider
that he had a right to detain him, and he was suffered to embark
at Vera Cruz, and to proceed on his voyage. Still he did not
deem it safe to trust himself in Spain without further advices.
He accordingly put in at one of the Azores, where he remained
until he could communicate with home. He had some powerful
friends at court, and by them he was encouraged to present
himself before the emperor. He took their advice, and, shortly
after, reached the Spanish coast in safety. *14
[Footnote 14: Carta de Hernando Pizarro al Emperador, Ms. -
Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 10. - Montesinos,
Annales, Ms., ano 1539.]
The Court was at Valladolid; but Hernando, who made his entrance
into that city, with great pomp and a display of his Indian
riches, met with a reception colder than he had anticipated. *15
For this he was mainly indebted to Diego de Alvarado, who was
then residing there, and who, as a cavalier of honorable
standing, and of high connections, had considerable influence.
He had formerly, as we have seen, by his timely interposition,
more than once saved the life of Hernando; and he had consented
to receive a pecuniary obligation from him to a large amount.
But all were now forgotten in the recollection of the wrong done
to his commander; and, true to the trust reposed in him by that
chief in his dying hour, he had come to Spain to vindicate the
claims of the young Almagro.
[Footnote 15: Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.]

But although coldly received at first, Hernando's presence, and
his own version of the dispute with Almagro, aided by the golden
arguments which he dealt with no stinted hand, checked the
current of indignation, and the opinion of his judges seemed for
a time suspended. Alvarado, a cavalier more accustomed to the
prompt and decisive action of a camp than to the tortuous
intrigues of a court, chafed at the delay, and challenged
Hernando to settle their quarrel by single combat. But his
prudent adversary had no desire to leave the issue to such an
ordeal; and the affair was speedily terminated by the death of
Alvarado himself, which happened five days after the challenge.
An event so opportune naturally suggested the suspicion of
poison. *16

[Footnote 16: "Pero todo lo atajo la repentina muerte de Diego de
Alvarado, que sucedio luego en cinco dias, no sin sospecha de
veneno." Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 9.]

But his accusations had not wholly fallen to the ground; and
Hernando Pizarro had carried measures with too high a hand, and
too grossly outraged public sentiment, to be permitted to escape.
He received no formal sentence, but he was imprisoned in the
strong fortress of Medina del Campo, where he was allowed to
remain for twenty years, when in 1560, after a generation had
nearly passed away, and time had, in some measure, thrown its
softening veil over the past, he was suffered to regain his
liberty. *17 But he came forth an aged man, bent down with
infirmities and broken in spirit, - an object of pity, rather
than indignation. Rarely has retributive justice been meted out
in fuller measure to offenders so high in authority, - most
rarely in Castile. *18

[Footnote 17: This date is established by Quintana, from a legal
process instituted by Hernando's grandson, in vindication of the
title of Marquess, in the year 1625.]

[Footnote 18: Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. - Pizarro y
Orellana, Varones Ilustres p 341. - Montesinos, Annales, M., ano
1539. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 142.]

Yet Hernando bore this long imprisonment with an equanimity
which, had it been founded on principle, might command our
respect. He saw brothers and kindred, all on whom he leaned for
support cut off one after another; his fortune, in part,
confiscated, while he was involved in expensive litigation for
the remainder; *19 his fame blighted, his career closed in an
untimely hour, himself an exile in the heart of his own country;
- yet he bore it all with the constancy of a courageous spirit.
Though very old when released, he still survived several years,
and continued to the extraordinary age of a hundred. *20 He lived
long enough to see friends, rivals, and foes all called away to
their account before him.

[Footnote 19: Caro de Torres gives a royal cedula in reference to
the working of the silver mines of Porco, still owned by Hernando
Pizarro, in 1555; and another document of nearly the same date,
noticing his receipt of ten thousand ducats by the fleet from
Peru. (Historia de las Ordenes Militares Madrid, 1629, p. 144.)
Hernando's grandson was created by Philip IV. Marquess of the
Conquest, Marques de la Conquista, with a liberal pension from
government. Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilustres, p. 342, and
Discurso, p. 72.]

[Footnote 20: "Multos da, Jupiter, annos", the greatest boon, in
Pizarro y Orellana's opinion, that Heaven can confer! "Diole
Dios, por todo, el premio mayor desta vida, pues fue tan larga,
que excedio de cien anos." (Varones Ilustres, p. 342) According
to the same somewhat partial authority, Hernando died, as he had
lived, in the odor of sanctity! "Viviendo aprender a morir, y
saber morir, quando llego la muerte.]
Hernando Pizarro was in many respects a remarkable character. He
was the eldest of the brothers, to whom he was related only by
the father's side, for he was born in wedlock, of honorable
parentage on both sides of his house. In his early years, he
received a good education, - good for the time. He was taken by
his father while quite young, to Italy, and there learned the art
of war under the Great Captain. Little is known of his history
after his return to Spain; but, when his brother had struck out
for himself his brilliant career of discovery in Peru, Hernando
consented to take part in his adventures.

He was much deferred to by Francisco, not only as his elder
brother, but from his superior education and his knowledge of
affairs. He was ready in his perceptions, fruitful in resources,
and possessed of great vigor in action. Though courageous, he
was cautious; and his counsels, when not warped by passion, were
wise and wary. But he had other qualities, which more than
counterbalanced the good resulting from excellent parts and
attainments. His ambition and avarice were insatiable. He was
supercilious even to his equals; and he had a vindictive temper,
which nothing could appease. Thus, instead of aiding his brother
in the Conquest, he was the evil genius that blighted his path.
He conceived from the first an unwarrantable contempt for
Almagro, whom he regarded as his brother's rival, instead of what
he then was, the faithful partner of his fortunes. He treated
him with personal indignity, and, by his intrigues at court, had
the means of doing him sensible injury. He fell into Almagro's
hands, and had nearly paid for these wrongs with his life. This
was not to be forgiven by Hernando, and he coolly waited for the
hour of revenge. Yet the execution of Almagro was a most
impolitic act; for an evil passion can rarely be gratified with
impunity. Hernando thought to buy off justice with the gold of
Peru. He had studied human nature on its weak and wicked side,
and he expected to profit by it. Fortunately, he was deceived.
He had, indeed, his revenge; but the hour of his revenge was that
of his ruin.

The disorderly state of Peru was such as to demand the immediate
interposition of government. In the general license that
prevailed there, the rights of the Indian and of the Spaniard
were equally trampled under foot. Yet the subject was one of
great difficulty; for Pizarro's authority was now firmly
established over the country, which itself was too remote from
Castile to be readily controlled at home. Pizarro, moreover, was
a man not easy to be approached, confident in his own strength,
jealous of interference, and possessed of a fiery temper, which
would kindle into a flame at the least distrust of the
government. It would not answer to send out a commission to
suspend him from the exercise of his authority until his conduct
could be investigated, as was done with Cortes, and other great
colonial officers, on whose rooted loyalty the Crown could
confidently rely. Pizarro's loyalty sat, it was feared, too
lightly on him to be a powerful restraint on his movements; and
there were not wanting those among his reckless followers, who,
in case of extremity, would be prompt to urge him to throw off
his allegiance altogether, and set up an independent government
for himself.

Some one was to be sent out, therefore, who should possess, in
some sort, a controlling, or, at least, concurrent power with the
dangerous chief, while ostensibly he should act only in
subordination to him. The person selected for this delicate
mission, was the Licentiate Vaca de Castro, a member of the Royal
Audience of Valladolid. He was a learned judge, a man of
integrity and wisdom, and, though not bred to arms, had so much
address, and such knowledge of character, as would enable him
readily to turn the resources of others to his own account.

His commission was guarded in a way which showed the
embarrassment of the government. He was to appear before Pizarro
in the capacity of a royal judge; to consult with him on the
redress of grievances, especially with reference to the
unfortunate natives; to concert measures for the prevention of
future evils; and above all, to possess himself faithfully of the
condition of the country in all its details, and to transmit
intelligence of it to the Court of Castile. But, in case of
Pizarro's death, he was to produce his warrant as royal governor,
and as such to claim the obedience of the authorities throughout
the land. - Events showed the wisdom of providing for this latter
contingency. *21
[Footnote 21: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Gomara, Hist.
de las Ind., cap. 146. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8,
cap 9. - Montesinos, Annales, Ms. ano 1540.

This latter writer sees nothing short of a "divine mystery" in
this forecast of government, so singularly sustained by events.
"Prevencion del gran espiritu del Rey, no sin misterio." Ubi

The licentiate, thus commissioned, quitted his quiet residence at
Valladolid, embarked at Seville, in the autumn of 1540, and,
after a tedious voyage across the Atlantic, he traversed the
Isthmus, and, encountering a succession of tempests on the
Pacific, that had nearly sent his frail bark to the bottom, put
in with her, a mere wreck, at the northerly port of Buenaventura.
*22 The affairs of the country were in a state to require his

[Footnote 22: Or, as the port should rather be called, Mala
Ventura, as Pedro Pizarro punningly remarks. "Tuvo tan mal viaje
en la mar que vbo de desembarcar en la Buena Ventura, aunque yo
la llamo Mala. Descub. y Conq., Ms.]

The civil war which had lately distracted the land had left it in
so unsettled a state, that the agitation continued long after the
immediate cause had ceased. This was especially the case among
the natives. In the violent transfer of repartimientos, the poor
Indian hardly knew to whom he was to look as his master. The
fierce struggles between the rival chieftains left him equally in
doubt whom he was to regard as the rulers of the land. As to the
authority of a common sovereign, across the waters, paramount
over all, he held that in still greater distrust; for what was
the authority which could not command the obedience even of its
own vassals? *23 The Inca Manco was not slow in taking advantage
of this state of feeling. He left his obscure fastnesses in the
depths of the Andes, and established himself with a strong body
of followers in the mountain country lying between Cuzco and the
coast. From this retreat, he made descents on the neighbouring
plantations, destroying the houses, sweeping off the cattle, and
massacring the people. He fell on travellers, as they were
journeying singly or in caravans from the coast, and put them to
death - it is told by his enemies - with cruel tortures. Single
detachments were sent against him, from time to time, but without
effect. Some he eluded, others he defeated; and, on one
occasion, cut off a party of thirty troopers, to a man. *24

[Footnote 23: "Piensan que les mienten los que aca les dizen que
ai un gran Senor en Castilla, viendo que aca pelean unos
capitanes contra otros; y piensan que no ai otro Rei sino aquel
que venze al otro, porque aca entrellos no se acostumbra que un
capitan pelee contra otro, estando entrambos debaxo de un Senor"
Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms.]
[Footnote 24: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib 6, cap. 7. -
Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Carta de Espinall, Ms. -
Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms.]

At length, Pizarro found it necessary to send a considerable
force under his brother Gonzalo against the Inca. The hardy
Indian encountered his enemy several times in the rough passes of
the Cordilleras. He was usually beaten, and sometimes with heavy
loss, which he repaired with astonishing facility; for he always
contrived to make his escape, and so true were his followers,
that, in defiance of pursuit and ambuscade, he found a safe
shelter in the secret haunts of the sierra.

Thus baffled, Pizarro determined to try the effect of pacific
overtures. He sent to the Inca, both in his own name, and in
that of the Bishop of Cuzco, whom the Peruvian prince held in
reverence, to invite him to enter into negotiation. *25 Manco
acquiesced, and indicated, as he had formerly done with Almagro,
the valley of Yucay, as the scene of it. The governor repaired
thither, at the appointed time, well guarded, and, to propitiate
the barbarian monarch, sent him a rich present by the hands of an
African slave. The slave was met on the route by a party of the
Inca's men, who, whether with or without their master's orders,
cruelly murdered him, and bore off the spoil to their quarters.
Pizarro resented this outrage by another yet more atrocious.

[Footnote 25: The Inca declined the interview with the bishop, on
the ground that he had seen him pay obeisance by taking off his
cap to Pizarro. It proved his inferiority to the latter, he
said, and that he could never protect him against the governor.
The passage in which it is related is curious. "Preguntando a
indios del inca que anda alzado que si sabe el inca que yo soi
venido a la tierra en nombre de S. M. para defendellos, dixo que
mui bien lo sabia; y preguntado que porque no se benia a mi de
paz, dixo el indio que dezia el inca que porque yo quando vine
hize la mocha al gobernador, que quiere dezir que le quite el
Bonete; que no queria venir a mi de paz, que el que no havia de
venir de paz sino a uno que viniese de castilla que no hiziese la
mocha al gobernador, porque le paresze a el que este lo podra
defender por lo que ha hecho y no otro." Carta de Valverde al
Emperador, Ms]

Among the Indian prisoners was one of the Inca's wives, a young
and beautiful woman, to whom he was said to be fondly attached.
The governor ordered her to be stripped naked, bound to a tree,
and, in presence of the camp, to be scourged with rods, and then
shot to death with arrows. The wretched victim bore the
execution of the sentence with surprising fortitude. She did not
beg for mercy, where none was to be found. Not a complaint,
scarcely a groan, escaped her under the infliction of these
terrible torments. The iron Conquerors were amazed at this power
of endurance in a delicate woman, and they expressed their
admiration, while they condemned the cruelty of their commander,
- in their hearts. *26 Yet constancy under the most excruciating
tortures that human cruelty can inflict is almost the universal
characteristic of the American Indian.
[Footnote 26: At least, we may presume they did so, since they
openly condemn him in their accounts of the transaction. I quote
Pedro Pizarro, not disposed to criticise the conduct of his
general too severely. "Se tomo una muger de mango ynga que le
queria mucho y se guardo, creyendo que por ella saldria de paz.
Esta muger mando matar al marquez despues en Yncay, haziendola
varear con varas y flechar con flechas por una burla que mango
ynga le hizo que aqui contare, y entiendo yo que por esta
crueldad y otra hermana del ynga que mando matar en Lima quando
los yndios pusieron cerco sobrella que se llamava Acarpay. me
paresce a mi que nuestro senor le castigo en el fin que tuvo."
Descub. y Conq., Ms.]

Pizarro now prepared, as the most effectual means of checking
these disorders among the natives, to establish settlements in
the heart of the disaffected country. These settlements, which
received the dignified name of cities, might be regarded in the
light of military colonies. The houses were usually built of
stone, to which were added the various public offices, and
sometimes a fortress. A municipal corporation was organized.
Settlers were invited by the distribution of large tracts of land
in the neighbourhood, with a stipulated number of Indian vassals
to each. The soldiers then gathered there, sometimes accompanied
by their wives and families; for the women of Castile seem to
have disdained the impediments of sex, in the ardor of conjugal
attachment, or, it may be, of romantic adventure. A populous
settlement rapidly grew up in the wilderness, affording
protection to the surrounding territory, and furnishing a
commercial depot for the country, and an armed force ready at all
times to maintain public order.

Such a settlement was that now made at Guamanga, midway between
Cuzco and Lima, which effectually answered its purpose by
guarding the communications with the coast. *27 Another town was
founded in the mining district of Charcas, under the appropriate
name of the Villa de la Plata, the "City of Silver." And Pizarro,
who journeyed by a circuitous route along the shores of the
southern sea towards Lima, established the city of Arequipa,
since arisen to such commercial celebrity.

[Footnote 27: Cieza de Leon notices the uncommon beauty and
solidity of the buildings at Guamanga. "La qual han edificado
las mayores y mejores casas que ay en todo el Peru, todas de
piedra, ladrillo, y teja, con grandes torres: de manera que no
falta aposentos. La placa esta llana y bien grande' Cronica,
cap. 87.]

Once more in his favorite capital of Lima, the governor found
abundant occupation in attending to its municipal concerns, and
in providing for the expansive growth of its population. Nor was
he unmindful of the other rising settlements on the Pacific. He
encouraged commerce with the remoter colonies north of Peru, and
took measures for facilitating internal intercourse. He
stimulated industry in all its branches, paying great attention
to husbandry, and importing seeds of the different European
grains, which he had the satisfaction, in a short time, to see
thriving luxuriantly in a country where the variety of soil and
climate afforded a home for almost every product. *28 Above all,
he promoted the working of the mines, which already began to make
such returns, that the most common articles of life rose to
exorbitant prices, while the precious metals themselves seemed
the only things of little value. But they soon changed hands, and
found their way to the mother-country, where they rose to their
true level as they mingled with the general currency of Europe.
The Spaniards found that they had at length reached the land of
which they had been so long in search, - the land of gold and
silver. Emigrants came in greater numbers to the country, and,
spreading over its surface, formed in the increasing population
the most effectual barrier against the rightful owners of the
soil. *29

[Footnote 28: "I con que ia comencaba a haver en aquellas Tierras
cosecha de Trigo, Cevada, i otras muchas cosas de Castilla."
Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 2.]

[Footnote 29: Carta de Carvajal al Emperador, Ms. - Montesinos,
Annales, Ms., anos 1539 et 1541. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y
Conq., Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 7, cap. 1. -
Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 76 et alibi.]
Pizarro, strengthened by the arrival of fresh adventurers, now
turned his attention to the remoter quarters of the country.
Pedro de Valdivia was sent on his memorable expedition to Chili;
and to his own brother Gonzalo the governor assigned the
territory of Quito, with instructions to explore the unknown
country towards the east, where, as report said, grew the
cinnamon. As this chief, who had hitherto acted but a
subordinate part in the Conquest, is henceforth to take the most
conspicuous, it may be well to give some account of him.

Little is known of his early life, for he sprang from the same
obscure origin with Francisco, and seems to have been as little
indebted as his elder brother to the fostering care of his
parents. He entered early on the career of a soldier; a career
to which every man in that iron age, whether cavalier or
vagabond, seems, if left to himself, to have most readily
inclined. Here he soon distinguished himself by his skill in
martial exercises, was an excellent horseman, and, when he came
to the New World, was esteemed the best lance in Peru. *30

[Footnote 30: The cavalier Pizarro y Orellana has given
biographical notices of each of the brothers. It requires no
witchcraft to detect that the blood of the Pizarros flowed in the
veins of the writer to his fingers' ends. Yet his facts are less
suspicious than his inferences.]
In talent and in expansion of views, he was inferior to his
brothers. Neither did he discover the same cool and crafty
policy; but he was equally courageous, and in the execution of
his measures quite as unscrupulous. He had a handsome person,
with open, engaging features, a free, soldier-like address, and a
confiding temper, which endeared him to his followers. His
spirit was high and adventurous, and, what was equally important,
he could inspire others with the same spirit, and thus do much to
insure the success of his enterprises. He was an excellent
captain in guerilla warfare, an admirable leader in doubtful and
difficult expeditions; but he had not the enlarged capacity for a
great military chief, still less for a civil ruler. It was his
misfortune to be called to fill both situations.

Chapter IV

Gonzalo Pizarro's Expedition. - Passage Across The Mountains. -
Discovers The Napo. - Incredible Sufferings. - Orellana Sails
Down The Amazon. - Despair Of The Spaniards. - The Survivors
Return To Quito.


Gonzalo Pizarro received the news of his appointment to the
government of Quito with undisguised pleasure; not so much for
the possession that it gave him of this ancient Indian province,
as for the field that it opened for discovery towards the east, -
the fabled land of Oriental spices, which had long captivated the
imagination of the Conquerors. He repaired to his government
without delay, and found no difficulty in awakening a kindred
enthusiasm to his own in the bosoms of his followers. In a short
time, he mustered three hundred and fifty Spaniards, and four
thousand Indians. One hundred and fifty of his company were
mounted, and all were equipped in the most thorough manner for
the undertaking. He provided, moreover, against famine by a
large stock of provisions, and an immense drove of swine which
followed in the rear *1

[Footnote 1: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. lib. 8, cap. 6, 7. -
Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 2. - Zarate, Conq.
del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 1, 2. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap.
143. - Montesinos, Annales, ano 1539.
Historians differ as to the number of Gonzalo's forces, - of his
men, his horses, and his hogs. The last, according to Herrera,
amounted to no less than 5000; a goodly supply of bacon for so
small a troop, since the Indians, doubtless, lived on parched
corn, coca, which usually formed their only support on the
longest journeys.]

It was the beginning of 1540, when he set out on this celebrated
expedition. The first part of the journey was attended with
comparatively little difficulty, while the Spaniards were yet in
the land of the Incas; for the distractions of Peru had not been
felt in this distant province, where the simple people still
lived as under the primitive sway of the Children of the Sun.
But the scene changed as they entered the territory of Quixos,
where the character of the inhabitants, as well as of the
climate, seemed to be of another description. The country was
traversed by lofty ranges of the Andes, and the adventurers were
soon entangled in their deep and intricate passes. As they rose
into the more elevated regions, the icy winds that swept down the
sides of the Cordilleras benumbed their limbs, and many of the
natives found a wintry grave in the wilderness. While crossing
this formidable barrier, they experienced one of those tremendous
earthquakes which, in these volcanic regions, so often shake the
mountains to their base. In one place, the earth was rent
asunder by the terrible throes of Nature, while streams of
sulphurous vapor issued from the cavity, and a village with some
hundreds of houses was precipitated into the frightful abyss! *2

[Footnote 2: Zarate states the number with precision at five
hundred houses. "Sobrevino vn tan gran Terremoto, con temblor, i
tempestad de Agua, i Relampagos, i Raios, i grandes Truenos, que
abriendose la Tierra por muchas partes, se hundieron quinientas
Casas." (Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 2.) There is nothing so
satisfactory to the mind of the reader as precise numbers; and
nothing so little deserving of his confidence.]
On descending the eastern slopes, the climate changed; and, as
they came on the lower level, the fierce cold was succeeded by a
suffocating heat, while tempests of thunder and lightning,
rushing from out the gorges of the sierra, poured on their heads
with scarcely any intermission day or night, as if the offended
deities of the place were willing to take vengeance on the
invaders of their mountain solitudes. For more than six weeks
the deluge continued unabated, and the forlorn wanderers, wet,
and weary with incessant toil, were scarcely able to drag their
limbs along the soil broken up and saturated with the moisture.
After some months of toilsome travel, in which they had to cross
many a morass and mountain stream, they at length reached
Canelas, the Land of Cinnamon. *3 They saw the trees bearing the
precious bark, spreading out into broad forests; yet, however
valuable an article for commerce it might have proved in
accessible situations, in these remote regions it was of little
worth to them. But, from the wandering tribes of savages whom
they had occasionally met in their path, they learned that at ten
days' distance was a rich and fruitful land abounding with gold,
and inhabited by populous nations. Gonzalo Pizarro had already
reached the limits originally proposed for the expedition. But
this intelligence renewed his hopes, and he resolved to push the
adventure farther. It would have been well for him and his
followers, had they been content to return on their footsteps.

[Footnote 3: Canela is the Spanish for cinnamon.]

Continuing their march, the country now spread out into broad
savannas terminated by forests, which, as they drew near, seemed
to stretch on every side to the very verge of the horizon. Here
they beheld trees of that stupendous growth seen only in the
equinoctial regions. Some were so large, that sixteen men could
hardly encompass them with extended arms! *4 The wood was thickly
matted with creepers and parasitical vines, which hung in
gaudy-colored festoons from tree to tree, clothing them in a
drapery beautiful to the eye, but forming an impenetrable
network. At every step of their way, they were obliged to hew
open a passage with their axes, while their garments, rotting
from the effects of the drenching rains to which they had been
exposed, caught in every bush and bramble, and hung about them in
shreds. *5 Their provisions, spoiled by the weather, had long
since failed, and the live stock which they had taken with them
had either been consumed or made their escape in the woods and
mountain passes. They had set out with nearly a thousand dogs,
many of them of the ferocious breed used in hunting down the
unfortunate natives. These they now gladly killed, but their
miserable carcasses furnished a lean banquet for the famishing
travellers; and, when these were gone, they had only such herbs
and dangerous roots as they could gather in the forest. *6

[Footnote 4: This, allowing six feet for the spread of a man's
arms, would be about ninety-six feet in circumference, or
thirty-two feet in diameter; larger, probably, than the largest
tree known in Europe. Yet it falls short of that famous giant of
the forests mentioned by M. de Humboldt as still flourishing in
the intendancy of Oaxaca, which, by the exact measurement of a
traveller in 1839, was found to be a hundred and twelve feet in
circumference at the height of four feet from the ground. This
height may correspond with that of the measurement taken by the
Spaniards. See a curious and learned article on Forest-trees in
No. 124 of the North American Review.]
[Footnote 5: The dramatist Molina, in his play of "Las Amazonas
en las Indias," has devoted some dozen columns of redondillas to
an account of the sufferings of his countrymen in the expedition
to the Amazon. The poet reckoned confidently on the patience of
his audience. The following verses describe the miserable
condition to which the Spaniards were reduced by the incessant

"Sin que el Sol en este tiempo
Su cara ver nos permita,
Ni las nubes taberneras
Cessen de echamos encima
Dilubios inagotables,
Que hasta el alma nos bautizan.
Cayeron los mas enfermos,
Porque las ropas podridas
Con el eterno agua va,
Nos dexo en las carnes vivas."]

[Footnote 6: Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms. - Pedro Pizarro,
Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. -
Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 2. - Herrera, Hist. General,
dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 6, 7. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2,
lib. 3, cap. 2.

The last writer obtained his information, as he tells us, from
several who were present in the expedition. The reader may be
assured that it has lost nothing is coming through his hands.]

At length the way-worn company came on a broad expanse of water
formed by the Napo, one of the great tributaries of the Amazon,
and which, though only a third or fourth rate river in America,
would pass for one of the first magnitude in the Old World. The
sight gladdened their hearts, as, by winding along its banks,
they hoped to find a safer and more practicable route. After
traversing its borders for a considerable distance, closely beset
with thickets which it taxed their strength to the utmost to
overcome, Gonzalo and his party came within hearing of a rushing
noise that sounded like subterranean thunder. The river, lashed
into fury, tumbled along over rapids with frightful velocity, and
conducted them to the brink of a magnificent cataract, which, to
their wondering fancies, rushed down in one vast volume of foam
to the depth of twelve hundred feet! *7 The appalling sounds
which they had heard for the distance of six leagues were
rendered yet more oppressive to the spirits by the gloomy
stillness of the surrounding forests. The rude warriors were
filled with sentiments of awe. Not a bark dimpled the waters.
No living thing was to be seen but the wild tenants of the
wilderness, the unwieldy boa, and the loathsome alligator basking
on the borders of the stream. The trees towering in wide-spread
magnificence towards the heavens, the river rolling on in its
rocky bed as it had rolled for ages, the solitude and silence of
the scene, broken only by the hoarse fall of waters, or the faint
rustling of the woods, - all seemed to spread out around them in
the same wild and primitive state as when they came from the
hands of the Creator.

[Footnote 7: "Al cabo de este largo camino hallaron que el rio
hazia vn salto de una pena de mas de dozientas bracas de alto:
que hazia tan gran ruydo, que lo oyeron mas de seys leguas antes
que llegassen a el." (Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, nb. 3,
cap. 3.) I find nothing to confirm or to confute the account of
this stupendous cataract in later travellers, not very numerous
in these wild regions. The alleged height of the falls, twice
that of the great cataract of the Tequendama in the Bogota, as
measured by Humboldt, usually esteemed the highest in America, is
not so great as that of some of the cascades thrown over the
precipices in Switzerland. Yet the estimates of the Spaniards,
who, in the gloomy state of their feelings, were doubtless keenly
alive to impressions of the sublime and the terrible, cannot
safely be relied on.]

For some distance above and below the falls, the bed of the river
contracted so that its width did not exceed twenty feet. Sorely
pressed by hunger, the adventurers determined, at all hazards, to
cross to the opposite side, in hopes of finding a country that
might afford them sustenance. A frail bridge was constructed by
throwing the huge trunks of trees across the chasm, where the
cliffs, as if split asunder by some convulsion of nature,
descended sheer down a perpendicular depth of several hundred
feet. Over this airy causeway the men and horses succeeded in
effecting their passage with the loss of a single Spaniard, who,
made giddy by heedlessly looking down, lost his footing and fell
into the boiling surges below.

Yet they gained little by the exchange. The country wore the
same unpromising aspect, and the river-banks were studded with
gigantic trees, or fringed with impenetrable thickets. The
tribes of Indians, whom they occasionally met in the pathless
wilderness, were fierce and unfriendly, and they were engaged in
perpetual skirmishes with them. From these they learned that a
fruitful country was to be found down the river at the distance
of only a few days' journey, and the Spaniards held on their
weary way, still hoping and still deceived, as the promised land
flitted before them, like the rain bow, receding as they
At length, spent with toil and suffering, Gonzalo resolved to
construct a bark large enough to transport the weaker part of his
company and his baggage. The forests furnished him with timber;
the shoes of the horses which had died on the road or been
slaughtered for food, were converted into nails; gum distilled
from the trees took the place of pitch, and the tattered garments
of the soldiers supplied a substitute for oakum. It was a work
of difficulty; but Gonzalo cheered his men in the task, and set
an example by taking part in their labors. At the end of two
months a brigantine was completed, rudely put together, but
strong and of sufficient burden to carry half the company, - the
first European vessel that ever floated on these inland waters.

Gonzalo gave the command to Francisco de Orellana, a cavalier
from Truxillo, on whose courage and devotion to himself he
thought he could rely. The troops now moved forward, still
following the descending course of the river, while the
brigantine kept alongside; and when a bold promontory or more
impracticable country intervened, it furnished timely aid by the
transportation of the feebler soldiers. In this way they
journeyed, for many a wearisome week, through the dreary
wilderness on the borders of the Napo. Every scrap of provisions
had been long since consumed. The last of their horses had been
devoured. To appease the gnawings of hunger, they were fain to
eat the leather of their saddles and belts. The woods supplied
them with scanty sustenance, and they greedily fed upon toads,
serpents, and such other reptiles as they occasionally found. *8

[Footnote 8: "Yeruas y rayzes, y fruta siluestre, sapos, y
culebras, y otras malas sauandijas, si las auia por aquellas
montanas que todo les hazia buen estomago a los Espanoles; que
peor les yua con la falta de cosas tan viles." Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 4 - Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms -
Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 7. - Zarate, Conq.
del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 3, 4. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap.

They were now told of a rich district, inhabited by a populous
nation, where the Napo emptied into a still greater river that
flowed towards the east. It was, as usual, at the distance of
several days' journey; and Gonzalo Pizarro resolved to halt where
he was and send Orellana down in his brigantine to the confluence
of the waters to procure a stock of provisions, with which he
might return and put them in condition to resume their march.
That cavalier, accordingly, taking with him fifty of the
adventurers, pushed off into the middle of the river, where the
stream ran swiftly, and his bark, taken by the current, shot
forward with the speed of an arrow, and was soon out of sight.
Days and weeks passed away, yet the vessel did not return; and no
speck was to be seen on the waters, as the Spaniards strained
their eyes to the farthest point, where the line of light faded
away in the dark shadows of the foliage on the borders.
Detachments were sent out, and, though absent several days, came
back without intelligence of their comrades. Unable longer to
endure this suspense, or, indeed, to maintain themselves in their
present quarters, Gonzalo and his famishing followers now
determined to proceed towards the junction of the rivers. Two
months elapsed before they accomplished this terrible journey, -
those of them who did not perish on the way, - although the
distance probably did not exceed two hundred leagues; and they at
length reached the spot so long desired, where the Napo pours its
tide into the Amazon, that mighty stream, which, fed by its
thousand tributaries, rolls on towards the ocean, for many
hundred miles, through the heart of the great continent, - the
most majestic of American rivers.

But the Spaniards gathered no tidings of Orellana, while the
country, though more populous than the region they had left, was
as little inviting in its aspect, and was tenanted by a race yet
more ferocious. They now abandoned the hope of recovering their
comrades, who they supposed must have miserably perished by
famine or by the hands of the natives. But their doubts were at
length dispelled by the appearance of a white man wandering
half-naked in the woods, in whose famine-stricken countenance
they recognized the features of one of their countrymen. It was
Sanchez de Vargas, a cavalier of good descent, and much esteemed
in the army. He had a dismal tale to tell.

Orellana, borne swiftly down the current of the Napo, had reached
the point of its confluence with the Amazon in less than three
days; accomplishing in this brief space of time what had cost
Pizarro and his company two months. He had found the country
altogether different from what had been represented; and, so far
from supplies for his country men, he could barely obtain
sustenance for himself. Nor was it possible for him to return as
he had come, and make head against the current of the river;
while the attempt to journey by land was an alternative scarcely
less formidable. In this dilemma, an idea flashed across his
mind. It was to launch his bark at once on the bosom of the
Amazon, and descend its waters to its mouth. He would then visit
the rich and populous nations that, as report said, lined its
borders, sail out on the great ocean, cross to the neighbouring
isles, and return to Spain to claim the glory and the guerdon of
discovery. The suggestion was eagerly taken up by his reckless
companions, welcoming any course that would rescue them from the
wretchedness of their present existence, and fired with the
prospect of new and stirring adventure, - for the love of
adventure was the last feeling to become extinct in the bosom of
the Castilian cavalier. They heeded little their unfortunate
comrades, whom they were to abandon in the wilderness! *9

[Footnote 9: This statement of De Vargas was confirmed by
Orellana, as appears from the language of the royal grant made to
that cavalier on his return to Castile. The document is
preserved entire in the Munoz collection of Mss.

"Haviendo vos ido con ciertos companeros un rio abajo a buscar
comida, con la corriente fuistes metidos por el dicho rio mas de
200 leguas donde no pudistes dar la buelta e por esta necesidad e
por la mucha noticia que tuvistes de la grandeza e riqueza de la
tierra, posponiendo vuestro peligro, sin interes ninguno por
servir a S. M. os aventurastes a saber lo que havia en aquellas
provincias, e ansi descubristes e hallastes grandes poblaciones."
Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms.]

This is not the place to record the circumstances of Orellana's
extraordinary expediton. expedition. He succeeded in his
enterprise. But it is marvellous that he should have escaped
shipwreck in the perilous and unknown navigation of that river.
Many times his vessel was nearly dashed to pieces on its rocks
and in its furious rapids; *10 and he was in still greater peril
from the warlike tribes on its borders, who fell on his little
troop whenever he attempted to land, and followed in his wake for
miles in their canoes. He at length emerged from the great
river; and, once upon the sea, Orellana made for the isle of
Cubagua; thence passing over to Spain, he repaired to court, and
told the circumstances of his voyage, - of the nations of Amazons
whom he had found on the banks of the river, the El Dorado which
report assured him existed in the neighbourhood, and other
marvels, - the exaggeration rather than the coinage of a
credulous fancy. His audience listened with willing ears to the
tales of the traveller; and in an age of wonders, when the
mysteries of the East and the West were hourly coming to light,
they might be excused for not discerning the true line between
romance and reality. *11
[Footnote 10: Condamine, who, in 1743, went down the Amazon, has
often occasion to notice the perils and perplexities in which he
was involved in the navigation of this river, too difficult, as
he says, to be undertaken without the guidance of a skilful
pilot. See his Relation Abregee d'un Voyage fait dans
l'Interieur de l'Amerique Meridionale. (Maestricht, 1778.)]

[Footnote 11: It has not been easy to discern the exact line in
later times, with all the lights of modern discovery. Condamine,
after a careful investigation, considers that there is good
ground for believing in the existence of a community of armed
women, once living somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Amazon,
though they have now disappeared. It would be hard to disprove
the fact, but still harder, considering the embarrassments in
perpetuating such a community, to believe it. Voyage dans
l'Amerique Meridionale, p. 99, et seq.]

He found no difficulty in obtaining a commission to conquer and
colonize the realms he had discovered. He soon saw himself at
the head of five hundred followers, prepared to share the perils
and the profits of his expedition. But neither he, nor his
country, was destined to realize these profits. He died on his
outward passage, and the lands washed by the Amazon fell within
the territories of Portugal. The unfortunate navigator did not
even enjoy the undivided honor of giving his name to the waters
he had discovered. He enjoyed only the barren glory of the
discovery, surely not balanced by the iniquitous circumstances
which attended it. *12

[Footnote 12: "His crime is, in some measure, balanced by the
glory of having ventured upon a navigation of near two thousand
leagues, through unknown nations, in a vessel hastily
constructed, with green timber, and by very unskilful hands,
without provisions, without a compass, or a pilot." (Robertson,
America, (ed. London, 1796,) vol. III. p. 84.) The historian of
America does not hold the moral balance with as unerring a hand
as usual, in his judgment of Orellana's splendid enterprise. No
success, however splendid, in the language of one, not too severe
a moralist,

"Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime."]

One of Orellana's party maintained a stout opposition to his
proceedings, as repugnant both to humanity and honor. This was
Sanchez de Vargas and the cruel commander was revenged on him by
abandoning him to his fate in the desolate region where he was
now found by his countrymen. *13
[Footnote 13: An expedition more remarkable than that of Orellana
was performed by a delicate female, Madame Godin, who, in 1769,
attempted to descend the Amazon in an open boat to its mouth.
She was attended by seven persons, two of them her brothers, and
two her female domestics. The boat was wrecked, and Madame Godin,
narrowly escaping with her life, endeavoured with her party to
accomplish the remainder of her journey on foot. She saw them
perish, one after another, of hunger and disease, till she was
left alone in the howling wilderness. Still, like Milton's lady
in Comus, she was permitted to come safely out of all these
perils, and, after unparalleled sufferings, falling in with some
friendly Indians, she was conducted by them to a French
settlement. Though a young woman, it will not be surprising that
the hardships and terrors she endured turned her hair perfectly
white. The details of the extraordinary story are given in a
letter to M. de la Condamine by her husband, who tells them in an
earnest, unaffected way that engages our confidence. Voyage dans
l'Amerique Meridionale, p. 329, et seq.]
The Spaniards listened with horror to the recital of Vargas, and
their blood almost froze in their veins as they saw themselves
thus deserted in the heart of this remote wilderness, and
deprived of their only means of escape from it. They made an
effort to prosecute their journey along the banks, but, after
some toilsome days, strength and spirits failed, and they gave up
in despair!

Then it was that the qualities of Gonzalo Pizarro, as a fit
leader in the hour of despondency and danger, shone out
conspicuous. To advance farther was hopeless. To stay where
they were, without food or raiment, without defence from the
fierce animals of the forest and the fiercer natives, was
impossible. One only course remained; it was to return to Quito.
But this brought with it the recollection of the past, of
sufferings which they could too well estimate, - hardly to be
endured even in imagination. They were now at least four hundred
leagues from Quito, and more than a year had elapsed since they
had set out on their painful pilgrimage. How could they
encounter these perils again! *14
[Footnote 14: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 5. -
Herrera, Hist. General dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 8. - Zarate, Conq.
del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.

One must not expect from these wanderers in the wilderness any
exact computation of time or distance, destitute, as they were,
of the means of making a correct observation of either.]

Yet there was no alternative. Gonzalo endeavoured to reassure
his followers by dwelling on the invincible constancy they had
hitherto displayed; adjuring them to show themselves still worthy
of the name of Castilians. He reminded them of the glory they
would for ever acquire by their heroic achievement, when they
should reach their own country. He would lead them back, he
said, by another route, and it could not be but that they should
meet somewhere with those abundant regions of which they had os
so often heard. It was something, at least, that every step
would take them nearer home; and as, at all events, it was
clearly the only course now left, they should prepare to meet it
like men. The spirit would sustain the body; and difficulties
encountered in the right spirit were half vanquished already!

The soldiers listened eagerly to his words of promise and
encouragement. The confidence of their leader gave life to the
desponding. They felt the force of his reasoning, and, as they
lent a willing ear to his assurances, the pride of the old
Castilian honor revived in their bosoms, and every one caught
somewhat of the generous enthusiasm of their commander. He was,
in truth, entitled to their devotion. From the first hour of the
expedition, he had freely borne his part in its privations. Far
from claiming the advantage of his position, he had taken his lot
with the poorest soldier; ministering to the wants of the sick,
cheering up the spirits of the desponding, sharing his stinted
allowance with his famished followers, bearing his full part in
the toil and burden of the march, ever showing himself their
faithful comrade, no less than their captain. He found the
benefit of this conduct in a trying hour like the present.

I will spare the reader the recapitulation of the sufferings
endured by the Spaniards on their retrograde march to Quito.
They took a more northerly route than that by which they had
approached the Amazon; and, if it was attended with fewer
difficulties, they experienced yet greater distresses from their
greater inability to overcome them. Their only nourishment was
such scanty fare as they could pick up in the forest, or happily
meet with in some forsaken Indian settlement, or wring by
violence from the natives. Some sickened and sank down by the
way, for there was none to help them. Intense misery had made
them selfish; and many a poor wretch was abandoned to his fate,
to die alone in the wilderness, or, more probably, to be
devoured, while living, by the wild animals which roamed over it.

At length, in June, 1542, after somewhat more than a year
consumed in their homeward march, the way-worn company came on
the elevated plains in the neighbourhood of Quito. But how
different their aspect from that which they had exhibited on
issuing from the gates of the same capital, two years and a half
before, with high romantic hope and in all the pride of military
array! Their horses gone, their arms broken and rusted, the
skins of wild animals instead of clothes hanging loosely about
their limbs, their long and matted locks streaming wildly down
their shoulders, their faces burned and blackened by the tropical
sun, their bodies wasted by famine and sorely disfigured by
scars, - it seemed as if the charnel-house had given up its dead,
as, with uncertain step, they glided slowly onwards like a troop
of dismal spectres! More than half of the four thousand Indians
who had accompanied the expedition had perished, and of the
Spaniards only eighty, and many of these irretrievably broken in
constitution, returned to Quito. *15

[Footnote 15: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Zarate, Conq.
del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.
- Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 15. - Herrera,
Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 14.

The last historian, in dismissing his account of the expedition,
passes a panegyric on the courage and constancy of his
countrymen, which we must admit to be well deserved.

"Finalmente, Goncalo Picarro entro en el Quito, triunfando del
valor, i sufrimiento, i de la constancia, recto, e immutable
vigor del animo, pues Hombres Humanos no se hallan haver tanto
sufrido ni padecido tantas desventuras.' Ibid., ubi supra.]

The few Christian inhabitants of the place, with their wives and
children, came out to welcome their countrymen. They ministered
to them all the relief and refreshment in their power; and, as
they listened to the sad recital of their sufferings, they
mingled their tears with those of the wanderers. The whole
company then entered the capital, where their first act - to
their credit be it mentioned - was to go in a body to the church,
and offer up thanksgivings to the Almighty for their miraculous
preservation through their long and perilous pilgrimage. *16 Such
was the end of the expedition to the Amazon; an expedition which,
for its dangers and hardships, the length of their duration, and
the constancy with which they were endured, stands, perhaps,
unmatched in the annals of American discovery.

[Footnote 16: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5.]

Chapter V

The Almagro Faction. - Their Desperate Condition. - Conspiracy
Against Francisco Pizarro. - Assassination Of Pizarro. - Acts Of
The Conspirators. - Pizarro's Character


When Gonzalo Pizarro reached Quito, he received tidings of an
event which showed that his expedition to the Amazon had been
even more fatal to his interests than he had imagined. A
revolution had taken place during his absence, which had changed
the whole condition of things in Peru.
In a preceding chapter we have seen, that, when Hernando Pizarro
returned to Spain, his brother the marquess repaired to Lima,
where he continued to occupy himself with building up his infant
capital, and watching over the general interests of the country.
While thus employed, he gave little heed to a danger that hourly
beset his path, and this, too, in despite of repeated warnings
from more circumspect friends.

After the execution of Almagro, his followers, to the number of
several hundred, remained scattered through the country; but,
however scattered, still united by a common sentiment of
indignation against the Pizarros, the murderers, as they regarded
them, of their leader. The governor was less the object of these
feelings than his brother Hernando, as having been less
instrumental in the perpetration of the deed. Under these
circumstances, it was clearly Pizarro's policy to do one of two
things; to treat the opposite faction either as friends, or as
open enemies. He might conciliate the most factious by acts of
kindness, efface the remembrance of past injury, if he could, by
present benefits; in short, prove to them that his quarrel had
been with their leader, not with themselves, and that it was
plainly for their interest to come again under his banner. This
would have been the most politic, as well as the most magnanimous
course; and, by augmenting the number of his adherents, would
have greatly strengthened his power in the land. But, unhappily,
he had not the magnanimity to pursue it. It was not in the
nature of a Pizarro to forgive an injury, or the man whom he had
injured. As he would not, therefore, try to conciliate Almagro's
adherents, it was clearly the governor's policy to regard them as
enemies, - not the less so for being in disguise, - and to take
such measures as should disqualify them for doing mischief. He
should have followed the counsel of his more prudent brother
Hernando, and distributed them in different quarters, taking care
that no great number should assemble at any one point, or, above
all, in the neighbourhood of his own residence.

But the governor despised the broken followers of Almagro too
heartily to stoop to precautionary measures. He suffered the son
of his rival to remain in Lima, where his quarters soon became
the resort of the disaffected cavaliers. The young man was well
known to most of Almagro's soldiers, having been trained along
with them in the camp under his father's eye, and, now that his
parent was removed, they naturally transferred their allegiance
to the son who survived him.

That the young Almagro, however, might be less able to maintain
this retinue of unprofitable followers, he was deprived by
Pizarro of a great part of his Indians and lands, while he was
excluded from the government of New Toledo, which had been
settled on him by his father's testament. *1 Stripped of all
means of support, without office or employment of any kind, the
men of Chili, for so Almagro's adherents continued to be called,
were reduced to the utmost distress. So poor were they, as is
the story of the time, that twelve cavaliers, who lodged in the
same house, could muster only one cloak among them all; and, with
the usual feeling of pride that belongs to the poor hidalgo,
unwilling to expose their poverty, they wore this cloak by turns,
those who had no right to it remaining at home. *2 Whether true
or not, the anecdote well illustrates the extremity to which
Almagro's faction was reduced. And this distress was rendered
yet more galling by the effrontery of their enemies, who,
enriched by their forfeitures, displayed before their eyes all
the insolent bravery of equipage and apparel that could annoy
their feelings.

[Footnote 1: Carta de Almagro, Ms.]

[Footnote 2: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 6.]
Men thus goaded by insult and injury were too dangerous to be
lightly regarded. But, although Pizarro received various
intimations intended to put him on his guard, he gave no heed to
them. "Poor devils!" he would exclaim, speaking with
contemptuous pity of the men of Chili; "they have had bad luck
enough. We will not trouble them further." *3 And so little did
he consider them, that he went freely about, as usual, riding
without attendants to all parts of the town and to its immediate
environs. *4

[Footnote 3: Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144.]

[Footnote 4: Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6.]
News now reached the colony of the appointment of a judge by the
Crown to take cognizance of the affairs of Peru. Pizarro,
although alarmed by the intelligence, sent orders to have him
well entertained on his landing, and suitable accommodations
prepared for him on the route. The spirits of Almagro's followers
were greatly raised by the tidings. They confidently looked to
this high functionary for the redress of their wrongs; and two of
their body, clad in suits of mourning, were chosen to go to the
north, where the judge was expected to land, and to lay their
grievances before him.

But months elapsed, and no tidings came of his arrival, till, at
length, a vessel, coming into port, announced that most of the
squadron had foundered in the heavy storms on the coast, and that
the commissioner had probably perished with them. This was
disheartening intelligence to the men of Chili, whose "miseries,"
to use the words of their young leader, "had become too grievous
to be borne." *5 Symptoms of disaffection had already begun
openly to manifest themselves. The haughty cavaliers did not
always doff their bonnets, on meeting the governor in the street;
and on one occasion, three ropes were found suspended from the
public gallows, with labels attached to them, bearing the names
of Pizarro, Velasquez the judge, and Picado the governor's
secretary. *6 This last functionary was peculiarly odious to
Almagro and his followers. As his master knew neither how to
read nor write, all his communications passed through Picado's
hands; and, as the latter was of a hard and arrogant nature,
greatly elated by the consequence which his position gave him, he
exercised a mischievous influence on the governor's measures.
Almagro's poverty-stricken followers were the objects of his open
ridicule, and he revenged the insult now offered him by riding
before their young leader's residence, displaying a tawdry
magnificence in his dress, sparkling with gold and silver, and
with the inscription, "For the Men of Chili," set in his bonnet.
It was a foolish taunt; but the poor cavaliers who were the
object of it, made morbidly sensitive by their sufferings, had
not the philosophy to despise it. *7

[Footnote 5: "My sufferings," says Almagro, in his letter to the
Royal Audience of Panama, "were enough to unsettle my reason."
See his Letter in the original, Appendix, No. 12.]

[Footnote 6: "Hizo Picado el secreptario del Marquez mucho dano a
muchos, porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro como no savia ler
ni escrivir fiavase del y no hacia mas de lo que el le aconsejava
y ansi hizo este mucho mal en estos rreinos, porque el que no
andava a su voluntad sirviendole aunque tuviese meritos le
destruya y este Picado fue causa de que los de Chile tomasen mas
odio al marquez por donde le mataron. Porque queria este que
todos lo reverenciasen, y los de chile no hazian caso del, y por
esta causa los perseguia este mucho, y ansi vinieron a hazer lo
que hizieron los de Chile." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. -
Also Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]

[Footnote 7: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Garcilasso,
Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6. - Herrera, Hist. General,
dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 2.]

At length, disheartened by the long protracted coming of Vaca de
Castro, and still more by the recent reports of his loss,
Almagro's faction, despairing of redress from a legitimate
authority, determined to take it into their own hands. They came
to the desperate resolution of assassinating Pizarro. The day
named for this was Sunday, the twenty-sixth of June, 1541. The
conspirators, eighteen or twenty in number, were to assemble in
Almagro's house, which stood in the great square next to the
cathedral, and, when the governor was returning from mass, they
were to issue forth and fall on him in the street. A white flag,
unfurled at the same time from an upper window in the house, was
to be the signal for the rest of their comrades to move to the
support of those immediately engaged in the execution of the
deed. *8
[Footnote 8: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Montesinos,
Annales, Ms., ano 1541. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap.

These arrangements could hardly have been concealed from Almagro,
since his own quarters were to be the place of rendezvous. Yet
there is no good evidence of his having taken part in the
conspiracy. *9 He was, indeed, too young to make it probable that
he took a leading part in it. He is represented by contemporary
writers to have given promise of many good qualities, though,
unhappily, he was not placed in a situation favorable for their
development. He was the son of an Indian woman of Panama; but
from early years had followed the troubled fortunes of his
father, to whom he bore much resemblance in his free and generous
nature, as well as in the violence of his passions. His youth
and inexperience disqualified him from taking the lead in the
perplexing circumstances in which he was placed, and made him
little more than a puppet in the hands of others. *10

[Footnote 9: Yet this would seem to be contradicted by Almagro's
own letter to the audience of Panama, in which he states, that,
galled by intolerable injuries, he and his followers had resolved
to take the remedy into their own hands, by entering the
governor's house and seizing his person. (See the original in
Appendix, No. 12.) It is certain, however, that in the full
accounts we have of the affair by writers who had the best means
of information, we do not find Almagro's name mentioned as one
who took an active part in the tragic drama. His own letter
merely expresses that it was his purpose to have taken part in it
with the further declaration, that it was simply to seize, not to
slay, Pizarro; - a declaration that no one who reads the history
of the transaction will be very ready to credit.]

[Footnote 10: "Mancebo virtuoso, i de grande Animo, i bien
ensenado: i especialmente se havia exercitado mucho en cavalgar a
Caballo, de ambas sillas, lo qual hacia con mucha gracia, i
destreca, i tambien en escrevir, i leer, lo qual hacia mas
liberalmente, i mejor de lo que requeria su Profesion. De este
tenia cargo, como Aio, Juan de Herrada." Zarate, Conq. del Peru,
lib. 4, cap. 6.]

The most conspicuous of his advisers was Juan de Herrada, or
Rada, as his name is more usually spelt, - a cavalier of
respectable family, but who, having early enlisted as a common
soldier, had gradually risen to the highest posts in the army by
his military talents. At this time he was well advanced in
years; but the fires of youth were not quenched in his bosom, and
he burned with desire to avenge the wrongs done to his ancient
commander. The attachment which he had ever felt for the elder
Almagro he seems to have transferred in full measure to his son;
and it was apparently with reference to him, even more than to
himself, that he devised this audacious plot, and prepared to
take the lead in the execution of it.

There was one, however, in the band of conspirators who felt some
compunctions of conscience at the part he was acting, and who
relieved his bosom by revealing the whole plot to his confessor.
The latter lost no time in reporting it to Picado, by whom in
turn it was communicated to Pizarro. But, strange to say, it
made little more impression on the governor's mind than the vague
warnings he had so frequently received. "It is a device of the
priest," said he; "he wants a mitre." *11 Yet he repeated the
story to the judge Velasquez, who, instead of ordering the
conspirators to be seized, and the proper steps taken for
learning the truth of the accusation, seemed to be possessed with
the same infatuation as Pizarro; and he bade the governor be
under no apprehension, "for no harm should come to him, while the
rod of justice," not a metaphorical badge of authority in
Castile, "was in his hands." *12 Still, to obviate every
possibility of danger, it was deemed prudent for Pizarro to
abstain from going to mass on Sunday, and to remain at home on
pretence of illness.

[Footnote 11: "Pues un dia antes un sacerdote clerigo llamado
Benao fue de noche y avisso a Picado el secreptario y dixole
manana Domingo quando el marquez saliere a misa tienen concertado
los de Chile de matar al marquez y a vos y a sus amigos. Esto me
a dicho vno en confision para que os venga a avisar. Pues savido
esto Picado se fue luego y lo conto al marquez y el le
rrespondio. Ese clerigo obispado quiere." Pedro Pizarro, Descub.
y Conq., Ms.]

[Footnote 12: "El Juan Velazquez le dixo. No tema vuestra
senoria que mientras yo tuviere esta vara en la mano nadie se
atrevera." Pedro Pizarro, Descub, y Conq., Ms.]

On the day appointed, Rada and his companions met in Almagro's
house, and waited with anxiety for the hour when the governor
should issue from the church. But great was their consternation,
when they learned that he was not there, but was detained at
home, as currently reported, by illness. Little doubting that
their design was discovered, they felt their own ruin to be the
inevitable consequence, and that, too, without enjoying the
melancholy consolation of having struck the blow for which they
had incurred it. Greatly perplexed, some were for disbanding, in
the hope that Pizarro might, after all, be ignorant of their
design. But most were for carrying it into execution at once, by
assaulting him in his own house. The question was summarily
decided by one of the party, who felt that in this latter course
lay their only chance of safety. Throwing open the doors, he
rushed out, calling on his comrades "to follow him, or he would
proclaim the purpose for which they had met." There was no longer
hesitation, and the cavaliers issued forth, with Rada at their
head, shouting, as they went, "Long live the king! Death to the
tyrant!" *13
[Footnote 13: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6. -
Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru,
lib. 4, cap. 8. - Naharro, Rel. Sumaria, Ms. - Carta del Maestro,
Martin de Arauco, Ms., 15 de Julio, 1541.]

It was the hour of dinner, which, in this primitive age of the
Spanish colonies, was at noon. Yet numbers, roused by the cries
of the assailants, came out into the square to inquire the cause.
"They are going to kill the marquess," some said very coolly;
others replied, "It is Picado." No one stirred in their defence.
The power of Pizarro was not seated in the hearts of his people.

As the conspirators traversed the plaza, one of the party made a
circuit to avoid a little pool of water that lay in their path.
"What!" exclaimed Rada, "afraid of wetting your feet, when you
are to wade up to your knees in blood!" And he ordered the man to
give up the enterprise and go home to his quarters. The anecdote
is characteristic. *14
[Footnote 14: "Gomez Perez por haver alli agua derramada de una
acequia, rodeo algun tanto por no mojarse; reparo en ello Juan de
Rada, y entrandose atrevido por e agua le dijo: i Bamos a
banarnos en sangre humana, y rehusais mojaros los pies en agua?
Ea volveos. hizolo volver y no asistio al hecho.' Montesinos,
Annales, Ms., ano 1541.]
The governor's palace stood on the opposite side of the square.
It was approached by two courtyards. The entrance to the outer
one was protected by a massive gate, capable of being made good
against a hundred men or more. But it was left open, and the
assailants, hurrying through to the inner court, still shouting
their fearful battle-cry, were met by two domestics loitering in
the yard. One of these they struck down. The other, flying in
all haste towards the house, called out, "Help, help! the men of
Chili are all coming to murder the marquess!"

Pizarro at this time was at dinner, or, more probably, had just
dined. He was surrounded by a party of friends, who had dropped
in, it seems, after mass, to inquire after the state of his
health, some of whom had remained to partake of his repast.
Among these was Don Martinez de Alcantara, Pizarro's half-brother
by the mother's side, the judge Velasquez, the bishop elect of
Quito, and several of the principal cavaliers in the place, to
the number of fifteen or twenty. Some of them, alarmed by the
uproar in the court-yard, left the saloon, and, running down to
the first landing on the stairway, inquired into the cause of the
disturbance. No sooner were they informed of it by the cries of
the servant, than they retreated with precipitation into the
house; and, as they had no mind to abide the storm unarmed, or at
best imperfectly armed, as most of them were, they made their way
to the a corridor that overlooked the gardens, into which they
easily let themselves down without injury. Velasquez, the judge,
the better to have the use of his hands in the descent, held his
rod of office in his mouth, thus taking care, says a caustic old
chronicler, not to falsify his assurance, that "no harm should
come to Pizarro while the rod of justice was in his hands"! *15
[Footnote 15: "En lo qual no paresce haver quebrantado su
palabra, porque despues huiendo (como adelante se dira) al
tiempo, que quisieron matar al Marques, se hecho de vna Ventana
abajo, a la Huerta, llevando la Vara en la boca." Zarate, Conq.
del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 7.

Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Naharro, Relacion Sumaria,
Ms. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta de Fray
Vicente de Valverde a la Audiencia de Panama, Ms., desde Tumbez,
15 Nov. 1541. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 145.]

Meanwhile, the marquess, learning the nature of the tumult,
called out to Francisco de Chaves, an officer high in his
confidence, and who was in the outer apartment opening on the
staircase, to secure the door, while he and his brother Alcantara
buckled on their armour. Had this order, coolly given, been as
coolly obeyed, it would have saved them all, since the entrance
could easily have been maintained against a much larger force,
till the report of the cavaliers who had fled had brought support
to Pizarro. But unfortunately, Chaves, disobeying his commander,
half opened the door, and attempted to enter into a parley with
the conspirators. The latter had now reached the head of the
stairs, and cut short the debate by running Chaves through the
body, and tumbling his corpse down into the area below. For a
moment they were kept at bay by the attendants of the slaughtered
cavalier, but these too, were quickly despatched; and Rada and
his companions, entering the apartment, hurried across it,
shouting out, "Where is the marquess? Death to the tyrant!"
Martinez de Alcantara, who in the adjoining room was assisting
his brother to buckle on his mail, no sooner saw that the
entrance to the antechamber had been gained, than he sprang to
the doorway of the apartment, and, assisted by two young men,
pages of Pizarro, and by one or two cavaliers in attendance,
endeavoured to resist the approach of the assailants. A
desperate struggle now ensued. Blows were given on both sides,
some of which proved fatal, and two of the conspirators were
slain, while Alcantara and his brave companions were repeatedly
At length, Pizarro, unable, in the hurry of the moment, to adjust
the fastenings of his cuirass threw it away, and enveloping one
arm in his cloak, with the other seized his sword, and sprang to
his brother's assistance. It was too late; for Alcantara was
already staggering under the loss of blood, and soon fell to the
ground. Pizarro threw himself on his invaders, like a lion
roused in his lair, and dealt his blows with as much rapidity and
force, as if age had no power to stiffen his limbs. "What ho!" he
cried, "traitors! have you come to kill me in my own house?" The
conspirators drew back for a moment, as two of their body fell
under Pizarro's sword; but they quickly rallied, and, from their
superior numbers, fought at great advantage by relieving one
another in the assault. Still the passage was narrow, and the
struggle lasted for some minutes, till both of Pizarro's pages
were stretched by his side, when Rada, impatient of the delay,
called out, "Why are we so long about it? Down with the tyrant!"
and taking one of his companions, Narvaez, in his arms, he thrust
him against the marquess. Pizarro, instantly grappling with his
opponent, ran him through with his sword. But at that moment he
received a wound in the throat, and reeling, he sank on the
floor, while the swords of Rada and several of the conspirators
were plunged into his body. "Jesu!" exclaimed the dying man and,
tracing a cross with his finger on the bloody floor, he bent down
his head to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest,
put an end to his existence. *16
[See Assassination Of Pizarro: He traced a cross with his finger
on the bloody floor and bent his head down to kiss it, when a
stroke, more friendly than the rest, put an end to his

[Footnote 16: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. - Naharro,
Relacion Sumaria, Ms. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. -
Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6. - Carta de la
Justicia y Regimiento de la Ciudad de los Reyes, Ms., 15 de
Julio, 1541. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta
de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de
las Ind., ubi supra. - Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541.

Pizarro y Orellana seems to have no doubt that his slaughtered
kinsman died in the odor of sanctity. - "Alli le acabaron los
traidores enemigos, dandole cruelissimas heridas, con que acabo
el Julio Cesar Espanol, estando tan en si que pidiendo confession
con gran acto de contricion, haziendo la senal de la Cruz con su
misma sangre, y besandola murio." Varones Ilustres, p. 186.

According to one authority, the mortal blow was given by a
soldier named Borregan, who, when Pizarro was down, struck him on
the back of the head with a water-jar, which he had snatched from
the table. (Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6.)
Considering the hurry and confusion of the scene, the different
narratives of the catastrophe, though necessarily differing in
minute details have a remarkable agreement with one another.]

The conspirators, having accomplished their bloody deed, rushed
into the street, and, brandishing their dripping weapons, shouted
out, "The tyrant is dead! The laws are restored! Long live our
master the emperor, and his governor, Almagro!" The men of Chili,
roused by the cheering cry, now flocked in from every side to
join the banner of Rada, who soon found himself at the head of
nearly three hundred followers, all armed and prepared to support
his authority. A guard was placed over the houses of the
principal partisans of the late governor, and their persons were
taken into custody. Pizarro's house, and that of his secretary
Picado, were delivered up to pillage, and a large booty in gold
and silver was found in the former. Picado himself took refuge
in the dwelling of Riquelme, the treasurer; but his hiding-place
was detected, - betrayed, according to some accounts, by the
looks, though not the words, of the treasurer himself, - and he
was dragged forth and committed to a secure prison. *17 The whole
city was thrown into consternation, as armed bodies hurried to
and fro on their several errands, and all who were not in the
faction of Almagro trembled lest they should be involved in the
proscription of their enemies. So great was the disorder, that
the Brothers of Mercy, turning out in a body, paraded the streets
in solemn procession, with the host elevated in the air, in hopes
by the presence of the sacred symbol to calm the passions of the

[Footnote 17: "No se olvidaron de buscar a Antonio Picado, i
iendo en casa del Tesorero Alonso Riquelme, el mismo iba
diciendo: No se adonde esta el Senor Picado, i con los ojos le
mostraba, i le hallaron debaxo de la cama." Herrera, Hist.
General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 7.

We find Riquelme's name, soon after this, enrolled among the
municipality of Lima, showing that he found it convenient to give
in his temporary adhesion, at least, to Almagro. Carta de la
Justicia y Regimiento de la Ciudad de los Reyes, Ms.]

But no other violence was offered by Rada and his followers than
to apprehend a few suspected persons, and to seize upon horses
and arms wherever they were to be found. The municipality was
then summoned to recognize the authority of Almagro; the
refractory were ejected without ceremony from their offices, and
others of the Chili faction were substituted. The claims of the
new aspirant were fully recognized; and young Almagro, parading
the streets on horseback, and escorted by a well-armed body of
cavaliers, was proclaimed by sound of trumpet governor and
captain-general of Peru.

Meanwhile, the mangled bodies of Pizarro and his faithful
adherents were left weltering in their blood. Some were for
dragging forth the governor's corpse to the market-place, and
fixing his head upon a gibbet. But Almagro was secretly prevailed
on to grant the entreaties of Pizarro's friends, and allow his
interment. This was stealthily and hastily performed, in the
fear of momentary interruption. A faithful attendant and his
wife, with a few black domestics, wrapped the body in a cotton
cloth and removed it to the cathedral. A grave was hastily dug
in an obscure corner, the services were hurried through, and, in
secrecy, and in darkness dispelled only by the feeble glimmering
of a few tapers furnished by these humble menials, the remains of
Pizarro, rolled in their bloody shroud, were consigned to their
kindred dust. Such was the miserable end of the Conqueror of
Peru, - of the man who but a few hours before had lorded it over
the land with as absolute a sway as was possessed by its
hereditary Incas. Cut off in the broad light of day, in the
heart of his own capital, in the very midst of those who had been
his companions in arms and shared with him his triumphs and his
spoils, he perished like a wretched outcast. "There was none
even," in the expressive language of the chronicler "to say, God
forgive him!" *18

[Footnote 18: "Murio pidiendo confesion, i haciendo la Cruz, sin
que nadie lijese, Dios te perdone." Gomara, Hist de las Ind.,
cap. 144.
Ms. de Caravantes. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. -
Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta de Fray Vicente
Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]

A few years later, when tranquillity was restored to the country,
Pizarro's remains were placed in a sumptuous coffin and deposited
under a monument in a conspicuous part of the cathedral. And in
1607, when time had thrown its friendly mantle over the past, and
the memory of his errors and his crimes was merged in the
consideration of the great services he had rendered to the Crown
by the extension of her colonial empire, his bones were removed
to the new cathedral, and allowed to repose side by side with
those of Mendoza, the wise and good viceroy of Peru. *19
[Footnote 19: "Sus huesos encerrados en una caxa guarnecida de
terciopelo morado con passamanos de oro que yo he visto." Ms. de
Pizarro was, probably, not far from sixty-five years of age at
the time of his death; though this, it must be added, is but
loose conjecture, since there exists no authentic record of the
date of his birth. *20 He was never married; but by an Indian
princess of the Inca blood, daughter of Atahuallpa and
granddaughter of the great Huayna Capac, he had two children, a
son and a daughter. Both survived him; but the son did not live
to manhood. Their mother, after Pizarro's death, wedded a
Spanish cavalier, named Ampuero, and removed with him to Spain.
Her daughter Francisca accompanied her, and was there
subsequently married to her uncle Hernando Pizarro, then a
prisoner in the Mota del Medina. Neither the title nor estates
of the Marquess Francisco descended to his illegitimate
offspring. But in the third generation, in the reign of Philip
the Fourth, the title was revived in favor of Don Juan Hernando
Pizarro, who, out of gratitude for the services of his ancestor,
was created Marquess of the Conquest, Marques de la Conquista,
with a liberal pension from government. His descendants, bearing
the same title of nobility, are still to be found, it is said, at
Truxillo, in the ancient province of Estremadura, the original
birthplace of the Pizarros. *21

[Footnote 20: Ante, Book 2, chap. 2, note 1.]

[Footnote 21: Ms. de Caravantes. - Quintana, Espanoles Celebres,
tom. II., p. 417.

See also the Discurso, Legal y Politico, annexed by Pizarro y
Orellana to his bulky tome, in which that cavalier urges the
claims of Pizarro. It is in the nature of a memorial to Philip
IV in behalf of Pizarro's descendants, in which the writer, after
setting forth the manifold services of the Conqueror, shows how
little his posterity had profited by the magnificent grants
conferred on him by the Crown. The argument of the Royal
Counsellor was not without its effect.]
Pizarro's person has been already described. He was tall in
stature, well-proportioned, and with a countenance not
unpleasing. Bred in camps, with nothing of the polish of a
court, he had a soldier-like bearing, and the air of one
accustomed to command. But though not polished, there was no
embarrassment or rusticity in his address, which, where it served
his purpose, could be plausible and even insinuating. The proof
of it is the favorable impression made by him, on presenting
himself, after his second expedition - stranger as he was to all
its forms and usages - at the punctilious court of Castile.

Unlike many of his countrymen, he had no passion for ostentatious
dress, which he regarded as an incumbrance. The costume which he
most affected on public occasions was a black cloak, with a white
hat, and shoes of the same color; the last, it is said, being in
imitation of the Great Captain, whose character he had early
learned to admire in Italy, but to which his own, certainly, bore
very faint resemblance. *22
[Footnote 22: Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144. - Zarate,
Conq. del Peru. lib. 4, cap. 9.

The portrait of Pizarro, in the viceregal palace at Lima,
represents him in a citizen's dress, with a sable cloak, - the
capa y espada of a Spanish gentleman. Each panel in the spacious
sala de los Vireyes was reserved for the portrait of a viceroy.
The long file is complete, from Pizarro to Pezuela; and it is a
curious fact, noticed by Stevenson, that the last panel was
exactly filled when the reign of the viceroys was abruptly
terminated by the Revolution. (Residence in South America, vol.
I. p. 228.) It is a singular coincidence that the same thing
should have occurred at Venice, where, if my memory serves me,
the last niche reserved for the effigies of its doges was just
filled, when the ancient aristocracy was overturned.]
He was temperate in eating, drank sparingly, and usually rose an
hour before dawn. He was punctual in attendance to business, and
shrunk from no toil. He had, indeed, great powers of patient
endurance. Like most of his nation, he was fond of play, and
cared little for the quality of those with whom he played;
though, when his antagonist could not afford to lose, he would
allow himself, it is said, to be the loser; a mode of conferring
an obligation much commended by a Castilian writer, for its
delicacy. *23
[Footnote 23: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 9.]
Though avaricious, it was in order to spend and not to hoard.
His ample treasures, more ample than those, probably, that ever
before fell to the lot of an adventurer, *24 were mostly
dissipated in his enterprises, his architectural works, and
schemes of public improvement, which, in a country where gold and
silver might be said to have lost their value from their
abundance, absorbed an incredible amount of money. While he
regarded the whole country, in a manner, as his own, and
distributed it freely among his captains, it is certain that the
princely grant of a territory with twenty thousand vassals, made
to him by the Crown, was never carried into effect; nor did his
heirs ever reap the benefit of it. *25

[Footnote 24: "Hallo, i tuvo mas Oro, i Plata, que otro ningun
Espanol de quantos han pasado a Indias, ni que ninguno de quantos
Capitanes han sido por el Mundo." Gomara Hist. de las Ind., cap.

[Footnote 25: Ms. de Caravantes. - Pizarro y Orellana, Discurso
Leg. y Pol., ap. Varones Ilust. Gonzalo Pizarro, when taken
prisoner by President Gasca, challenged him to point out any
quarter of the country in which the royal grant had been carried
into effect by a specific assignment of land to his brother. See
Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 5, cap. 36.]
To a man possessed of the active energies of Pizarro, sloth was
the greatest evil. The excitement of play was in a manner
necessary to a spirit accustomed to the habitual stimulants of
war and adventure. His uneducated mind had no relish for more
refined, intellectual recreation. The deserted foundling had
neither been taught to read nor write. This has been disputed by
some, but it is attested by unexceptionable authorities. *26
Montesinos says, indeed, that Pizarro, on his first voyage, tried
to learn to read; but the impatience of his temper prevented it,
and he contented himself with learning to sign his name. *27 But
Montesinos was not a contemporary historian. Pedro Pizarro, his
companion in arms, expressly tells us he could neither read nor
write; *28 and Zarate, another contemporary, well acquainted with
the Conquerors, confirms this statement, and adds, that Pizarro
could not so much as sign his name. *29 This was done by his
secretary - Picado, in his latter years - while the governor
merely made the customary rubrica or flourish at the sides of his
name. This is the case with the instruments I have examined, in
which his signature, written probably by his secretary, or his
title of Marques, in later life substituted for his name, is
garnished with a flourish at the ends, executed in as bungling a
manner as if done by the hand of a ploughman. Yet we must not
estimate this deficiency as we should in this period of general
illumination, - general, at least, in our own fortunate country.
Reading and writing, so universal now, in the beginning of the
sixteenth century might be regarded in the light of
accomplishments; and all who have occasion to consult the
autograph memorials of that time will find the execution of them,
even by persons of the highest rank, too often such as would do
little credit to a schoolboy of the present day.

[Footnote 26: Even so experienced a person as Munoz seems to have
fallen into this error. On one of Pizarro's letters I find the
following copy of an autograph memorandum by this eminent
scholar: - Carta de Francisco Pizarro, su letra i buena letra.]

[Footnote 27: "En este viage trato Pizarro de aprender a leer; no
le dio su viveza lugar a ello; contentose solo con saber firmar,
de lo que se veia Almagro, y decia, que firmar sin saber leer era
lo mismo que recibir herida, sin poder darla. En adelante firmo
siempre Pizarro por si, y por Almagro su Secretario." Montesinos,
Annales, Ms., ano 1525.]
[Footnote 28: "Porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro como no
savia ler ni escrivir." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms]

[Footnote 29: "Siendo personas," says the author, speaking both
of Pizarro and Almagro, "no solamente, no leidas, pero que de
todo punto no sabian leer, ni aun firmar, que en ellos fue cosa
de gran defecto. . . . . . Fue el Marques tan confiado de sus
Criados, i Amigos, que todos los Despachos, que hacia, asi de
Governacion, como de Repartimientos de Indios, libraba ha ciendo
el dos senales, en medio de las quales Antonio Picado, su
Secretario, firmaba el nombre de Francisco Picarro." Zarate,
Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 9.]

Though bold in action and not easily turned from his purpose,
Pizarro was slow in arriving at a decision. This gave him an
appearance of irresolution foreign to his character. *30 Perhaps
the consciousness of this led him to adopt the custom of saying
'No," at first, to applicants for favor; and afterwards, at
leisure, to revise his judgment, and grant what seemed to him
expedient. He took the opposite course from his comrade Almagro,
who, it was observed, generally said "Yes," but too often failed
to keep his promise. This was characteristic of the careless and
easy nature of the latter, governed by impulse rather than
principle. *31
[Footnote 30: This tardiness of resolve has even led Herrera to
doubt his resolution altogether; a judgment certainly
contradicted by the whole tenor of his history. "Porque aunque
era astuto, i recatado, por la maior parte fue de animo suspenso,
i no mui resoluto." Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 7, cap. 13.]

[Footnote 31: "Tenia por costumbre de quando algo le pedian dezir
siempre de no. esto dezia el que hazia por no faltar su palabra,
y no obstante que dezia no, correspondia con hazer lo que le
pedian no aviendo inconvenimente. . . . . . Don Diego de Almagro
hera a la contra que a todos dezia si, y con pocos lo cumplia."
Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]

It is hardly necessary to speak of the courage of a man pledged
to such a career as that of Pizarro. Courage, indeed, was a
cheap quality among the Spanish adventurers, for danger was their
element. But he possessed something higher than mere animal
courage, in that constancy of purpose which was rooted too deeply
in his nature to be shaken by the wildest storms of fortune. It
was this inflexible constancy which formed the key to his
character, and constituted the secret of his success. A
remarkable evidence of it was given in his first expedition,
among the mangroves and dreary marshes of Choco. He saw his
followers pining around him under the blighting malaria, wasting
before an invisible enemy, and unable to strike a stroke in their
own defence. Yet his spirit did not yield, nor did he falter in
his enterprise.

There is something oppressive to the imagination in this war
against nature. In the struggle of man against man, the spirits
are raised by a contest conducted on equal terms; but in a war
with the elements, we feel, that, however bravely we may contend,
we can have no power to control. Nor are we cheered on by the
prospect of glory in such a contest; for, in the capricious
estimate of human glory, the silent endurance of privations,
however painful, is little, in comparison with the ostentatious
trophies of victory. The laurel of the hero - alas for humanity
that it should be so! - grows best on the battle-field.
This inflexible spirit of Pizarro was shown still more strongly,
when, in the little island of Gallo, he drew the line on the
sand, which was to separate him and his handful of followers from
their country and from civilized man. He trusted that his own
constancy would give strength to the feeble, and rally brave
hearts around him for the prosecution of his enterprise. He
looked with confidence to the future, and he did not
miscalculate. This was heroic, and wanted only a nobler motive
for its object to constitute the true moral sublime.

Yet the same feature in his character was displayed in a manner
scarcely less remarkable, when, landing on the coast and
ascertaining the real strength and civilization of the Incas, he
persisted in marching into the interior at the head of a force of
less than two hundred men. In this he undoubtedly proposed to
himself the example of Cortes, so contagious to the adventurous
spirits of that day, and especially to Pizarro, engaged, as he
was, in a similar enterprise. Yet the hazard assumed by Pizarro
was far greater than that of the Conqueror of Mexico, whose force
was nearly three times as large, while the terrors of the Inca
name - however justified by the result - were as widely spread as
those of the Aztecs.
It was doubtless in imitation of the same captivating model, that
Pizarro planned the seizure of Atahuallpa. But the situations of
the two Spanish captains were as dissimilar as the manner in
which their acts of violence were conducted. The wanton massacre
of the Peruvians resembled that perpetrated by Alvarado in
Mexico, and might have been attended with consequences as
disastrous, if the Peruvian character had been as fierce as that
of the Aztecs. *32 But the blow which roused the latter to
madness broke the tamer spirits of the Peruvians. It was a bold
stroke, which left so much to chance, that it scarcely merits the
name of policy.
[Footnote 32: See Conquest of Mexico, Book 4, chap 8.]

When Pizarro landed in the country, he found it distracted by a
contest for the crown. It would seem to have been for his
interest to play off one party against the other, throwing his
own weight into the scale that suited him. Instead of this, he
resorted to an act of audacious violence which crushed them both
at a blow. His subsequent career afforded no scope for the
profound policy displayed by Cortes, when he gathered conflicting
nations under his banner, and directed them against a common foe.
Still less did he have the opportunity of displaying the tactics
and admirable strategy of his rival. Cortes conducted his
military operations on the scientific principles of a great
captain at the head of a powerful host. Pizarro appears only as
an adventurer, a fortunate knight-errant. By one bold stroke, he
broke the spell which had so long held the land under the
dominion of the Incas. The spell was broken, and the airy fabric
of their empire, built on the superstition of ages, vanished at a
touch. This was good fortune, rather than the result of policy.

Pizarro was eminently perfidious. Yet nothing is more opposed to
sound policy. One act of perfidy fully established becomes the
ruin of its author. The man who relinquishes confidence in his
good faith gives up the best basis for future operations. Who
will knowingly build on a quicksand? By his perfidious treatment
of Almagro, Pizarro alienated the minds of the Spaniards. By his
perfidious treatment of Atahuallpa, and subsequently of the Inca
Manco, he disgusted the Peruvians. The name of Pizarro became a
by-word for perfidy. Almagro took his revenge in a civil war;
Manco in an insurrection which nearly cost Pizarro his dominion.
The civil war terminated in a conspiracy which cost him his life.
Such were the fruits of his policy. Pizarro may be regarded as a
cunning man; but not, as he has been often eulogized by his
countrymen, as a politic one.
When Pizarro obtained possession of Cuzco, he found a country
well advanced in the arts of civilization; institutions under
which the people lived in tranquillity and personal safety; the
mountains and the uplands whitened with flocks; the valleys
teeming with the fruits of a scientific husbandry; the granaries
and warehouses filled to overflowing; the whole land rejoicing in
its abundance; and the character of the nation, softened under
the influence of the mildest and most innocent form of
superstition, well prepared for the reception of a higher and a
Christian civilization. But, far from introducing this, Pizarro
delivered up the conquered races to his brutal soldiery; the
sacred cloisters were abandoned to their lust; the towns and
villages were given up to pillage; the wretched natives were
parcelled out like slaves, to toil for their conquerors in the
mines; the flocks were scattered, and wantonly destroyed; the
granaries were dissipated; the beautiful contrivances for the
more perfect culture of the soil were suffered to fall into
decay; the paradise was converted into a desert. Instead of
profiting by the ancient forms of civilization, Pizarro preferred
to efface every vestige of them from the land, and on their ruin
to erect the institutions of his own country. Yet these
institutions did little for the poor Indian, held in iron
bondage. It was little to him that the shores of the Pacific
were studded with rising communities and cities, the marts of a
flourishing commerce. He had no share in the goodly heritage.
He was an alien in the land of his fathers.
The religion of the Peruvian, which directed him to the worship
of that glorious luminary which is the best representative of the
might and beneficence of the Creator, is perhaps the purest form
of superstition that has existed among men. Yet it was much,
that, under the new order of things, and through the benevolent
zeal of the missionaries, some glimmerings of a nobler faith were
permitted to dawn on his darkened soul. Pizarro, himself, cannot
be charged with manifesting any overweening solicitude for the
propagation of the Faith. He was no bigot, like Cortes. Bigotry
is the perversion of the religious principle; but the principle
itself was wanting in Pizarro. The conversion of the heathen was
a predominant motive with Cortes in his expedition. It was not a
vain boast. He would have sacrificed his life for it at any
time; and more than once, by his indiscreet zeal, he actually did
place his life and the success of his enterprise in jeopardy. It
was his great purpose to purify the land from the brutish
abominations of the Aztecs, by substituting the religion of
Jesus. This gave to his expedition the character of a crusade.
It furnished the best apology for the Conquest, and does more
than all other considerations towards enlisting our sympathies on
the side of the conquerors.

But Pizarro's ruling motives, so far as they can be scanned by
human judgment, were avarice and ambition. The good
missionaries, indeed, followed in his train to scatter the seeds
of spiritual truth, and the Spanish government, as usual,
directed its beneficent legislation to the conversion of the
natives. But the moving power with Pizarro and his followers was
the lust of gold. This was the real stimulus to their toil, the
price of perfidy, the true guerdon of their victories. This gave
a base and mercenary character to their enterprise; and when we
contrast the ferocious cupidity of the conquerors with the mild
and inoffensive manners of the conquered, our sympathies, the
sympathies even of the Spaniard, are necessarily thrown into the
scale of the Indian. *33

[Footnote 33: The following vigorous lines of Southey condense,
in a small compass, the most remarkable traits of Pizarro. The
poet's epitaph may certainly be acquitted of the imputation,
generally well deserved, of flattery towards the subject of it.

"For A Column At Truxillo.

"Pizarro here was born; a greater name
The list of Glory boasts not. Toil and Pain,
Famine, and hostile Elements, and Hosts
Embattled, failed to check him in his course,
Not to be wearied, not to be deterred,
Not to be overcome. A mighty realm
He overran, and with relentless arm
Slew or enslaved its unoffending sons,
And wealth and power and fame were his rewards.
There is another world, beyond the grave,
According to their deeds where men are judged.
O Reader! if thy daily bread be earned
By daily labor, - yea, however low,
However wretched, be thy lot assigned,
Thank thou, with deepest gratitude, the God
Who made thee, that thou art not such as he."]

But as no picture is without its lights, we must not, in justice
to Pizarro, dwell exclusively on the darker features of his
portrait. There was no one of her sons to whom Spain was under
larger obligations for extent of empire; for his hand won for her
the richest of the Indian jewels that once sparkled in her
imperial diadem. When we contemplate the perils he braved, the
sufferings he patiently endured, the incredible obstacles he
overcame, the magnificent results he effected with his single
arm, as it were, unaided by the government, - though neither a
good, nor a great man in the highest sense of that term, it is
impossible not to regard him as a very extraordinary one.

Nor can we fairly omit to notice, in extenuation of his errors,
the circumstances of his early life; for, like Almagro, he was
the son of sin and sorrow, early cast upon the world to seek his
fortunes as he might. In his young and tender age he was to take
the impression of those into whose society he was thrown. And
when was it the lot of the needy outcast to fall into that of the
wise and the virtuous? His lot was cast among the licentious
inmates of a camp, the school of rapine, whose only law was the
sword, and who looked on the wretched Indian and his heritage as
their rightful spoil.

Who does not shudder at the thought of what his own fate might
have been, trained in such a school? The amount of crime does
not necessarily show the criminality of the agent. History,
indeed, is concerned with the former, that it may be recorded as
a warning to mankind; but it is He alone who knoweth the heart,
the strength of the temptation, and the means of resisting it,
that can determine the measure of the guilt

Chapter VI

Movements Of The Conspirators. - Advance Of Vaca De Castro -
Proceedings Of Almagro. - Progress Of The Governor. - The Forces
Approach Each Other. - Bloody Plains Of Chupas. - Conduct Of
Vaca De Castro.


The first step of the conspirators, after securing possession of
the capital, was to send to the different cities, proclaiming the
revolution which had taken place, and demanding the recognition
of the young Almagro as governor of Peru. Where the summons was
accompanied by a military force, as at Truxillo and Arequipa, it
was obeyed without much cavil. But in other cities a colder
assent was given, and in some the requisition was treated with
contempt. In Cuzco, the place of most importance next to Lima, a
considerable number of the Almagro faction secured the ascendency
of their party; and such of the magistracy as resisted were
ejected from their offices to make room for others of a more
accommodating temper. But the loyal inhabitants of the city,
dissatisfied with this proceeding, privately sent to one of
Pizarro's captains, named Alvarez de Holguin, who lay with a
considerable force in the neighbourhood; and that officer,
entering the place, soon dispossessed the new dignitaries of
their honors, and restored the ancient capital to its allegiance.

The conspirators experienced a still more determined opposition
from Alonso de Alvarado. one of the principal captains of
Pizarro, - defeated, as the reader will remember, by the elder
Almagro at the bridge of Abancay, - and now lying in the north
with a corps of about two hundred men, as good troops as any in
the land. That officer, on receiving tidings of his general's
assassination, instantly wrote to the Licentiate Vaca de Castro,
advising him of the state of affairs in Peru, and urging him to
quicken his march towards the south. *1

[Footnote 1: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 13. - Herrera,
Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 7. - Declaracion de
Uscategui, Ms. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta
de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]

This functionary had been sent out by the Spanish Crown, as
noticed in a preceding chapter, to cooperate with Pizarro in
restoring tranquillity to the country, with authority to assume
the government himself, in case of that commander's death. After
a long and tempestuous voyage, he had landed, in the spring of
1541, at the port of Buena Ventura, and, disgusted with the
dangers of the sea, preferred to continue his wearisome journey
by land. But so enfeebled was he by the hardships he had
undergone, that it was full three months before he reached
Popayan, where he received the astounding tidings of the death of
Pizarro. This was the contingency which had been provided for,
with such judicious forecast, in his instructions. Yet he was
sorely perplexed by the difficulties of his situation. He was a
stranger in the land, with a very imperfect knowledge of the
country, without an armed force to support him, without even the
military science which might be supposed necessary to avail
himself of it. He knew nothing of the degree of Almagro's
influence, or of the extent to which the insurrection had spread,
- nothing, in short, of the dispositions of the people among whom
he was cast.

In such an emergency, a feebler spirit might have listened to the
counsels of those who advised to return to Panama, and stay there
until he had mustered a sufficient force to enable him to take
the field against the insurgents with advantage. But the
courageous heart of Vaca de Castro shrunk from a step which would
proclaim his incompetency to the task assigned him. He had
confidence in his own resources, and in the virtue of the
commission under which he acted. He relied, too, on the habitual
loyalty of the Spaniards; and, after mature deliberation, he
determined to go forward, and trust to events for accomplishing
the objects of his mission.

He was confirmed in this purpose by the advices he now received
from Alvarado; and without longer delay, he continued his march
towards Quito. Here he was well received by Gonzalo Pizarro's
lieutenant, who had charge of the place during his commander's
absence on his expedition to the Amazon. The licentiate was also
joined by Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, who brought a small
reinforcement, and offered personally to assist him in the
prosecution of his enterprise. He now displayed the royal
commission, empowering him, on Pizarro's death, to assume the
government. That contingency had arrived, and Vaca de Castro
declared his purpose to exercise the authority conferred on him.
At the same time, he sent emissaries to the principal cities,
requiring their obedience to him as the lawful representative of
the Crown, - taking care to employ discreet persons on the
mission, whose character would have weight with the citizens. He
then continued his march slowly towards the south. *2
[Footnote 2: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 4. -
Carta de Benalcazar al Emperador, desde Cali, Ms., 20 Septiembre,
Benalcazar urged Vaca de Castro to assume only the title of
Judge, and not that of Governor, which would conflict with the
pretensions of Almagro to that part of the country known as New
Toledo and bequeathed to him by his father "Porque yo le avise
muchas veces no entrase en la tierra como Governador, sino como
Juez de V. M que venia a desagraviar a los agraviados, porque
todos lo rescibirian de buena gana." Ubi supra.]
He was willing by his deliberate movements to give time for his
summons to take effect, and for the fermentation caused by the
late extraordinary events to subside. He reckoned confidently on
the loyalty which made the Spaniard unwilling, unless in cases of
the last extremity, to come into collision with the royal
authority; and, however much this popular sentiment might be
disturbed by temporary gusts of passion, he trusted to the
habitual current of their feelings for giving the people a right
direction. In this he did not miscalculate; for so deep-rooted
was the principle of loyalty in the ancient Spaniard, that ages
of oppression and misrule could alone have induced him to shake
off his allegiance. Sad it is, but not strange, that the length
of time passed under a bad government has not qualified him for
devising a good one.

While these events were passing in the north, Almagro's faction
at Lima was daily receiving new accessions of strength. For, in
addition to those who, from the first, had been avowedly of his
father's party, there were many others who, from some cause or
other, had conceived a disgust for Pizarro, and who now willingly
enlisted under the banner of the chief that had overthrown him.

The first step of the young general, or rather of Rada, who
directed his movements, was to secure the necessary supplies for
the troops, most of whom, having long been in indigent
circumstances, were wholly unprepared for service. Funds to a
considerable amount were raised, by seizing on the moneys of the
Crown in the hands of the treasurer. Pizarro's secretary, Picado,
was also drawn from his prison, and interrogated as to the place

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