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History Of The Conquest Of Peru by William Hickling Prescott

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His early years were passed in his native land, where he was reared in the
Roman Catholic faith, and received the benefit of as good an education
as could be obtained, amidst the incessant din of arms and civil
commotion. In 1560, when twenty years of age, he left America, and
from that time took up his residence in Spain. Here he entered the
military service, and held a captain's commission in the war against the
Moriscos, and, afterwards, under Don John of Austria. Though he
acquitted himself honorably in his adventurous career, he does not seem
to have been satisfied with the manner in which his services were
requited by the government. The old reproach of the father's disloyalty
still clung to the son and Garcilasso assures us that this circumstance
defeated all his efforts to recover the large inheritance of landed property
belonging to his mother, which had escheated to the Crown. "Such were
the prejudices against me," says he, "that I could not urge my ancient
claims or expectations; and I left the army so poor and so much in debt,
that I did not care to show myself again at court; but was obliged to
withdraw into an obscure solitudes where I lead a tranquil life for the
brief space that remains to me, no longer deluded by the world or its

The scene of this obscure retreat was not, however, as the reader might
imagine from this tone of philosophic resignation, in the depths of some
rural wilderness, but in Cordova, once the gay capital of Moslem
science, and still the busy haunt of men. Here our philosopher occupied
himself with literary labors, the more sweet and soothing to his wounded
spirit, that they tended to illustrate the faded glories of his native land,
and exhibit them in their primitive splendor to the eyes of his adopted
countrymen. "And I have no reason to regret," he says in his Preface to
his account of Florida, "that Fortune has not smiled on me, since this
circumstance has opened a literary career which, I trust, will secure to
me a wider and more enduring fame than could flow from any worldly

In 1609, he gave to the world the First Part of his great work, the
Commentarios Reales, devoted to the history of the country under the
Incas; and in 1616, a few months before his death, he finished the
Second Part, embracing the story of the Conquest, which was published
at Cordova the following year. The chronicler, who thus closed his
labors with his life, died at the ripe old age of seventy-six. He left a
considerabe sum for the purchase of masses for his soul, showing that the
complaints of his poverty are not to be taken literally. His remains were
interred in the cathedral church of Cordova, in a chapel which bears the
name of Garcilasso; and an inscription was placed on his monument,
intimating the high respect in which the historian was held both for his
moral worth and his literary attainments.

The First Part of the Commentarios Reales is occupied, as already
noticed, with the ancient history of the country, presenting a complete
picture of its civilization under the Incas,--far more complete than has
been given by any other writer. Garcilasso's mother was but ten years
old at the time of her cousin Atahuallpa's accession, or rather usurpation,
as it is called by the party of Cuzco. She had the good fortune to escape
the massacre which, according to the chroniclers befell most of her
kindred, and with her brother continued to reside in their ancient capital
after the Conquest. Their conversations naturally turned to the good old
times of the Inca rule, which, colored by their fond regrets, may be
presumed to have lost nothing as seen through the magnifying medium of
the past. The young Garcilasso Listened greedily to the stories which
recounted the magnificence and prowess of his royal ancestors, and
though he made no use of them at the time, they sunk deep into his
memory, to be treasured up for a future occasion. When he prepared,
after the lapse of many years, in his retirement at Cordova, to compose
the history of his country, he wrote to his old companions and
schoolfellows, of the Inca family, to obtain fuller information than he
could get in Spain on various matters of historical interest. He had
witnessed in his youth the ancient ceremonies and usages of his
countrymen, understood the science of their quipus, and mastered many
of their primitive traditions. With the assistance he now obtained from
his Peruvian kindred, he acquired a familiarity with the history of the
great Inca race, and of their national institutions, to an extent that no
person could have possessed, unless educated in the midst of them,
speaking the same language, and with the same Indian blood flowing in
his veins. Garcilasso, in short, was the representative of the conquered
race; and we might expect to find the lights and shadows of the picture
disposed under his pencil so as to produce an effect very different from
that which they had hitherto exhibited under the hands of the

Such, to a certain extent, is the fact; and this circumstance affords a
means of comparison which would alone render his works of great value
in arriving at just historic conclusions. But Garcilasso wrote late in life,
after the story had been often told by Castilian writers. He naturally
deferred much to men, some of whom enjoyed high credit on the score
both of their scholarship and their social position. His object, he
professes, was not so much to add any thing new of his own, as to correct
their errors and the misconceptions into which they had been brought by
their ignorance of the Indian languages and the usages of his people. He
does, in fact, however, go far beyond this; and the stores of information
which he has collected have made his work a large repository, whence
later laborers in the same field have drawn copious materials. He writes
from the fulness of his heart, and illuminates every topic that he touches
with a variety and richness of illustration, that leave little to be desired
by the most importunate curiosity. The difference between reading his
Commentaries and the accounts of European writers is the difference that
exists between reading a work in the original and in a bald translation.
Garcilasso's writings are an emanation from the Indian mind.

Yet his Commentaries are open to a grave objection,--and one naturally
suggested by his position. Addressing himself to the cultivated
European, he was most desirous to display the ancient glories of his
people, and still more of the Inca race, in their most imposing form.
This, doubtless, was the great spur to his literary labors, for which
previous education, however good for the evil time on which he was
cast, had far from qualified him. Garcilasso, therefore, wrote to effect a
particular object. He stood forth as counsel for his unfortunate
countrymen, pleading the cause of that degraded race before the tribunal
of posterity. The exaggerated tone of panegyric consequent on this
becomes apparent in every page of his work. He pictures forth a state of
society such as an Utopian philosopher would hardly venture to depict.
His royal ancestors became the types of every imaginery excellence, and
the golden age is revived for a nation, which, while the war of
proselytism is raging on its borders, enjoys within all the blessings of
tranquillity and peace. Even the material splendors of the monarchy,
sufficiently great in this land of gold, become heightened, under the
glowing imagination of the Inca chronicler, into the gorgeous illusions of
a fairy tale.

Yet there is truth at the bottom of his wildest conceptions, and it would
be unfair to the Indian historian to suppose that he did not himself
believe most of the magic marvels which he describes. There is no
credulity like that of a Christian convert,---one newly converted to the
faith. From long dwelling in the darkness of paganism, his eyes, when
first opened to the light of truth, have not acquired the power of
discriminating the just proportions of objects, of distinguishing between
the real and the imaginary. Garcilasso was not a convert indeed, for he
was bred from infancy in the Roman Catholic faith. But he was
surrounded by converts and neophytes,--by those of his own blood, who,
after practising all their lives the rites of paganism, were now first
admitted into the Christian fold. He listened to the teachings of the
missionary, learned from him to give implicit credit to the marvellous
legends of the Saints, and the no less marvellous accounts of his own
victories in his spiritual warfare for the propagation of the faith. Thus
early accustomed to such large drafts on his credulity, his reason lost its
heavenly power of distinguishing truth from error, and he became so
familiar with the miraculous, that the miraculous was no longer a

Yet, while large deductions are to be made on this account from the
chronicler's reports, there is always a germ of truth which it is not
difficult to detect, and even to disengage from the fanciful covering
which envelopes it; and after every allowance for the exaggerations of
national vanity, we shall find an abundance of genuine information in
respect to the antiquities of his country, for which we shall look in vain
in any European writer.

Garcilasso's work is the reflection of the age in which he lived. It is
addressed to the imagination, more than to sober reason. We are dazzled
by the gorgeous spectacle it perpetually exhibits, and delighted by the
variety of amusing details and animated gossip sprinkled over its pages.
The story of the action is perpetually varied by discussions on topics
illustrating its progress, so as to break up the monotony of the narrative,
and afford an agreeable relief to the reader. This is true of the First Part
of his great work. In the Second there was no longer room for such
discussion. But he has supplied the place by garrulous reminiscences,
personal anecdotes, incidental adventures, and a host of trivial details,--
trivial in the eyes of the pedant,--which historians have been too willing
to discard, as below the dignity of history. We have the actors in this
great drama in their private dress, become acquainted with their personal
habits, listen to their familiar sayings, and, in short gather up those
minutiae which in the aggregate make up so much of life and not less of

It is this confusion of the great and the little, thus artlessly blended
together, that constitutes one of the charms of the old romantic
chronicle,--not the less true that, in this respect, it approaches nearer to
the usual tone of romance. It is in such writings that we may look to find
the form and pressure of the age. The wormeaten state-papers, official
correspondence, public records, are all serviceable, indispensable, to
history. They are the framework on which it is to repose; the skeleton of
facts which gives it its strength and proportions. But they are as
worthless as the dry bones of the skeleton, unless clothed with the
beautiful form and garb of humanity, and instinct with the spirit of the
age.--Our debt is large to the antiquarian, who with conscientious
precision lays broad and deep the foundations of historic truth; and no
less to the philosophic annalist who exhibits man in the dress of public
life,--man in masquerade; but our gratitude must surely not be withheld
from those, who, like Garcilasso de la Vega, and many a romancer of the
Middle Ages, have held up the mirror--distorted though it may somewhat
be-to the interior of life, reflecting every object, the great and the mean
the beautiful and the deformed, with their natural prominence and their
vivacity of coloring, to the eye of the spectator. As a work of art, such a
production may be thought to be below criticism. But, although it defy
the rules of art in its composition, it does not necessarily violate the
principles of taste; for it conforms in its spirit to the spirit of the age in
which it was written. And the critic, who coldly condemns it on the
severe principles of art, will find a charm in its very simplicity, that will
make him recur again and again to its pages, while more correct and
classical compositions are laid aside and forgotten.

I cannot dismiss this notice of Garcilasso, though already long
protracted, without some allusion to the English translation of his
Commentaries. It appeared in James the Second's reign, and is the work
of Sir Paul Rycaut, Knight. It was printed at London in 1688, in folio,
with considerable pretension in its outward dress, well garnished with
wood-cuts, and a frontispiece displaying the gaunt and rather sardonic
features, not of the author, but his translator. The version keeps pace
with the march of the original, corresponding precisely in books and
chapters, and seldom, though sometimes, using the freedom, so common
in these ancient versions, of abridgment and omission. Where it does
depart from the original, it is rather from ignorance than intention.
Indeed, as far as the plea of ignorance will avail him, the worthy knight
may urge it stoutly in his defence. No one who reads the book will doubt
his limited acquaintance with his own tongue, and no one who compares
it with the original will deny his ignorance of the Castilian. It contains as
many blunders as paragraphs, and most of them such as might shame a
schoolboy. Yet such are the rude charms of the original, that this ruder
version of it has found considerable favor with readers; and Sir Paul
Rycaut's translation, old as it is, may still be met with in many a private,
as well as public library.

History of the Conquest of Peru

by William Hickling Prescott

Book 3

Chapter 1

Pizarro's Reception At Court--His Capitulation With The Crown -
He Visits His Birthplace--Returns To The New World-
Difficulties With Almagro--His Third Expedition-
Adventures On The Coast--Battles In The Isle Of Puna


Pizarro and his officer, having crossed the Isthmus, embarked at Nombre
de Dios for the old country, and, after a good passage, reached Seville
early in the summer of 1528. There happened to be at that time in port a
person well known in the history of Spanish adventure as the Bachelor
Enciso. He had taken an active part in the colonization of Tierra Firme,
and had a pecuniary claim against the early colonists of Darien, of whom
Pizarro was one. Immediately on the landing of the latter, he was seized
by Enciso's orders, and held in custody for the debt. Pizarro, who had
fled from his native land as a forlorn and houseless adventurer, after an
absence of more than twenty years, passed, most of them, in
unprecedented toil and suffering, now found himself on his return the
inmate of a prison. Such was the commencement of those brilliant
fortunes which, as he had trusted, awaited him at home. The
circumstance excited general indignation; and no sooner was the Court
advised of his arrival in the country, and the great purpose of his
mission, than orders were sent for his release, with permission to proceed
at once on his journey.

Pizarro found the emperor at Toledo, which he was soon to quit, in order
to embark for Italy. Spain was not the favorite residence of Charles the
Fifth, in the earlier part of his reign. He was now at that period of it
when he was enjoying the full flush of his triumphs over his gallant rival
of France, whom he had defeated and taken prisoner at the great battle of
Pavia; and the victor was at this moment preparing to pass into Italy to
receive the imperial crown from the hands of the Roman Pontiff. Elated
by his successes and his elevation to the German throne, Charles made
little account of his hereditary kingdom, as his ambition found so
splendid a career thrown open to it on the wide field of European

He had hitherto received too inconsiderable returns from his transatlantic
possessions to give them the attention they deserved. But, as the recent
acquisition of Mexico and the brilliant anticipations in respect to the
southern continent were pressed upon his notice, he felt their importance
as likely to afford him the means of prosecuting his ambitious and most
expensive enterprises.

Pizarro, therefore, who had now come to satisfy the royal eyes, by visible
proofs, of the truth of the golden rumors which, from time to time, had
reached Castile, was graciously received by the emperor. Charles
examined the various objects which his officer exhibited to him with
great attention. He was particularly interested by the appearance of the
llama, so remarkable as the only beast of burden yet known on the new
continent; and the fine fabrics of woollen cloth, which were made from
its shaggy sides, gave it a much higher value, in the eyes of the sagacious
monarch, than what it possessed as an animal for domestic labor. But
the specimens of gold and silver manufacture, and the wonderful tale
which Pizarro had to tell of the abundance of the precious metals, must
have satisfied even the cravings of royal cupidity.

Pizarro, far from being embarrassed by the novelty of his situation,
maintained his usual self-possession, and showed that decorum and even
dignity in his address which belong to the Castilian. He spoke in a
simple and respectful style, but with the earnestness and natural
eloquence of one who had been an actor in the scenes he described, and
who was conscious that the impression he made on his audience was to
decide his future destiny. All listened with eagerness to the account of
his strange adventures by sea and land, his wanderings in the forests, or
in the dismal and pestilent swamps on the sea-coast, without food, almost
without raiment, with feet torn and bleeding at every step, with his few
companions becoming still fewer by disease and death, and yet pressing
on with unconquerable spirit to extend the empire of Castile, and the
name and power of her sovereign; but when he painted his lonely
condition on the desolate island, abandoned by the government at home,
deserted by all but a handful of devoted followers, his royal auditor,
though not easily moved, was affected to tears. On his departure from
Toledo, Charles commended the affairs of his vassal in the most
favorable terms to the consideration of the Council of the Indies.1

There was at this time another man at court, who had come there on a
similar errand from the New World, but whose splendid achievements
had already won for him a name that threw the rising reputation of
Pizarro comparatively into the shade. This man was Hernando Cortes,
the Conqueror of Mexico. He had come home to lay an empire at the
feet of his sovereign, and to demand in return the redress of his wrongs,
and the recompense of his great services. He was at the close of his
career, as Pizarro was at the commencement of his; the Conqueror of the
North and of the South; the two men appointed by Providence to
overturn the most potent of the Indian dynasties, and to open the golden
gates by which the treasures of the New World were to pass into the
coffers of Spain.

Notwithstanding the emperor's recommendation, the business of Pizarro
went forward at the tardy pace with which affairs are usually conducted
in the court of Castile. He found his limited means gradually sinking
under the expenses incurred by his present situation, and he represented,
that, unless some measures were speedily taken in reference to his suit,
however favorable they might be in the end, he should be in no condition
to profit by them. The queen, accordingly, who had charge of the
business, on her husband's departure, expedited the affair, and on the
twenty sixth of July, 1529, she executed the memorable Capitulation,
which defined the powers and privileges of Pizarro.

The instrument secured to that chief the right of discovery and conquest
in the province of Peru, or New Castile,--as the country was then
called, in the same manner as Mexico had received the name of New
Spain,--for the distance of two hundred leagues south of Santiago. He
was to receive the titles and rank of Governor and Captain-General of
the province, together with those of Adelantado, and Alguacil Mayor, for
life; and he was to have a salary of seven hundred and twenty-five
thousand maravedis, with the obligation of maintaining certain officers
and military retainers, corresponding with the dignity of his station. He
was to have the right to erect certain fortresses, with the absolute
government of them; to assign encomiendas of Indians, under the
limitations prescribed by law; and, in fine, to exercise nearly all the
prerogatives incident to the authority of a viceroy.

His associate, Almagro, was declared commander of the fortress of
Tumbez, with an annual rent of three hundred thousand maravedis, and
with the further rank and privileges of an hidalgo. The reverend Father
Luque received the reward of his services in the Bishopric of Tumbez,
and he was also declared Protector of the Indians of Peru. He was to
enjoy the yearly stipend of a thousand ducats,--to be derived, like the
other salaries and gratuities in this instrument, from the revenues of the
conquered territory.

Nor were the subordinate actors in the expedition forgotten. Ruiz
received the title of Grand Pilot of the Southern Ocean, with a liberal
provision; Candia was placed at the head of the artillery; and the
remaining eleven companions on the desolate island were created
hidalgos and cavalleros, and raised to certain municipal dignities,--in

Several provisions of a liberal tenor were also made, to encourage
emigration to the country. The new settlers were to be exempted from
some of the most onerous, but customary taxes, as the alcabala, or to be
subject to them only in a mitigated form. The tax on the precious metals
drawn from mines was to be reduced, at first, to one tenth, instead of the
fifth imposed on the same metals when obtained by barter or by rapine.

It was expressly enjoined on Pizarro to observe the existing regulations
for the good government and protection of the natives; and he was
required to carry out with him a specified number of ecclesiastics, with
whom he was to take counsel in the conquest of the country, and whose
efforts were to be dedicated to the service and conversion of the Indians;
while lawyers and attorneys, on the other hand, whose presence was
considered as boding ill to the harmony of the new settlements, were
strictly prohibited from setting foot in them.

Pizarro, on his part, was bound, in six months from the date of the
instrument, to raise a force, well equipped for the service, of two
hundred and fifty men, of whom one hundred might be drawn from the
colonies; and the government engaged to furnish some trifling assistance
in the purchase of artillery and military stores. Finally, he was to be
prepared, in six months after his return to Panama, to leave that port and
embark on his expedition.2

Such are some of the principal provisions of this Capitulation, by which
the Castilian government, with the sagacious policy which it usually
pursued on the like occasions, stimulated the ambitious hopes of the
adventurer by high-sounding titles, and liberal promises of reward
contingent on his success, but took care to stake nothing itself on the
issue of the enterprise. It was careful to reap the fruits of his toil, but not
to pay the cost of them.

A circumstance, that could not fail to be remarked in these provisions,
was the manner in which the high and lucrative posts were accumulated
on Pizarro, to the exclusion of Almagro, who, if he had not taken as
conspicuous a part in personal toil and exposure, had, at least, divided
with him the original burden of the enterprise, and, by his labors in
another direction, had contributed quite as essentially to its success.
Almagro had willingly conceded the post of honor to his confederate; but
it had been stipulated, on Pizarro's departure for Spain, that, while he
solicited the office of Governor and Captain-General for himself, he
should secure that of Adelantado for his companion. In like manner, he
had engaged to apply for the see of Tumbez for the vicar of Panama, and
the office of Alguacil Mayor for the pilot Ruiz. The bishopric took the
direction that was concerted, for the soldier could scarcely claim the
mitre of the prelate; but the other offices, instead of their appropriate
distribution, were all concentred in himself. Yet it was in reference to
his application for his friends, that Pizarro had promised on his departure
to deal fairly and honorably by them all.3

It is stated by the military chronicler, Pedro Pizarro, that his kinsman did,
in fact, urge the suit strongly in behalf of Almagro; but that he was
refused by the government, on the ground that offices of such paramount
importance could not be committed to different individuals. The ill
effects of such an arrangement had been long since felt in more than one
of the Indian colonies, where it had led to rivalry and fatal collision.4
Pizarro, therefore, finding his remonstrances unheeded, had no
alternative but to combine the offices in his own person, or to see the
expedition fall to the ground. This explanation of the affair has not
received the sanction of other contemporary historians. The
apprehensions expressed by Luque, at the time of Pizarro's assuming the
mission, of some such result as actually occurred, founded, doubtless, on
a knowledge of his associate's character, may warrant us in distrusting
the alleged vindication of his conduct, and our distrust will not be
diminished by familiarity with his subsequent career. Pizarro's virtue
was not of a kind to withstand temptation,--though of a much weaker sort
than that now thrown in his path.

The fortunate cavalier was also honored with the habit of St. Jago;5 and
he was authorized to make an important innovation in his family
escutcheon,--for by the father's side he might claim his armorial bearings.
The black eagle and the two pillars emblazoned on the royal arms were
incorporated with those of the Pizarros; and an Indian city, with a vessel
in the distance on the waters, and the llama of Peru, revealed the theatre
and the character of his exploits; while the legend announced, that
"under the auspices of Charles, and by the industry, the genius, and the
resources of Pizarro, the country had been discovered and reduced to
tranquillity,"---thus modestly intimating both the past and prospective
services of the Conqueror.6

These arrangements having been thus completed to Pizarro's satisfaction,
he left Toledo for Truxillo, his native place, in Estremadura, where he
thought he should be most likely to meet with adherents for his new
enterprise, and where it doubtless gratified his vanity to display himself
in the palmy, or at least promising, state of his present circumstances. If
vanity be ever pardonable, it is certainly in a man who, born in an
obscure station in life, without family, interest, or friends to back him,
has carved out his own fortunes in the world, and, by his own resources,
triumphed over all the obstacles which nature and accident had thrown in
his way. Such was the condition of Pizarro, as he now revisited the place
of his nativity, where he had hitherto been known only as a poor outcast,
without a home to shelter, a father to own him, or a friend to lean upon.
But he now found both friends and followers, and some who were eager
to claim kindred with him, and take part in his future fortunes. Among
these were four brothers. Three of them, like himself, were illegitimate;
one of whom, named Francisco Martin de Alcantara, was related to him
by the mother's side; the other two, named Gonzalo and Juan Pizarro,
were descended from the father. "They were all poor, and proud as they
were poor," says Oviedo, who had seen them; "and their eagerness for
gain was in proportion to their poverty." 7

The remaining and eldest brother, named Hernando, was a legitimate
son,--'legitimate," continues the same caustic authority, "by his pride, as
well as by his birth." His features were plain, even disagreeably so; but
his figure was good. He was large of stature, and, like his brother
Francis, had on the whole an imposing presence.8 In his character, he
combined some of the worst defects incident to the Castilian. He was
jealous in the extreme; impatient not merely of affront, but of the least
slight, and implacable in his resentment. He was decisive in his
measures, and unscrupulous in their execution. No touch of pity had
power to arrest his arm. His arrogance was such, that he was constantly
wounding the self-love of those with whom he acted; thus begetting an
ill-will which unnecessarily multiplied obstacles in his path. In this he
differed from his brother Francis, whose plausible manners smoothed
away difficulties, and conciliated confidence and cooperation in his
enterprises. Unfortunately, the evil counsels of Hernando exercised an
influence over his brother which more than compensated the advantages
derived from his singular capacity for business.

Notwithstanding the general interest which Pizarro's adventures excited
in his country, that chief did not find it easy to comply with the
provisions of the Capitulation in respect to the amount of his levies.
Those who were most astonished by his narrative were not always most
inclined to take part in his fortunes. They shrunk from the unparalleled
hardships which lay in the path of the adventurer in that direction; and
they listened with visible distrust to the gorgeous pictures of the golden
temples and gardens of Tumbez, which they looked upon as indebted in
some degree, at least, to the coloring of his fancy, with the obvious
purpose of attracting followers to his banner. It is even said that Pizarro
would have found it difficult to raise the necessary funds, but for the
seasonable aid of Cortes, a native of Estremadura like himself, his
companion in arms in early days, and, according to report, his kinsman.9
No one was in a better condition to hold out a helping hand to a brother
adventurer, and, probably, no one felt greater sympathy in Pizarro's
fortunes, or greater confidence in his eventual success, than the man who
had so lately trod the same career with renown.

The six months allowed by the Capitulation had elapsed, and Pizarro had
assembled somewhat less than his stipulated complement of men, with
which he was preparing to embark in a little squadron of three vessels at
Seville; but, before they were wholly ready, he received intelligence that
the officers of the Council of the Indies proposed to inquire into the
condition of the vessels, and ascertain how far the requisitions had been
complied with.

Without loss of time therefore, Pizarro afraid, if the facts were known,
that his enterprise might be nipped in the bud, slipped his cables, and
crossing the bar of San Lucar, in January, 1530, stood for the isle of
Gomera,--one of the Canaries,--where he ordered his brother Hernando,
who had charge of the remaining vessels, to meet him.

Scarcely had he gone, before the officers arrived to institute the search.
But when they objected the deficiency of men, they were easily--perhaps
willingly--deceived by the pretext that the remainder had gone forward in
the vessel with Pizarro. At all events, no further obstacles were thrown
in Hernando's way, and he was permitted, with the rest of the squadron,
to join his brother, according to agreement, at Gomera.

After a prosperous voyage, the adventurers reached the northern coast of
the great southern continent, and anchored off the port of Santa Marta.
Here they received such discouraging reports of the countries to which
they were bound, of forests teeming with insects and venomous serpents,
of huge alligators that swarmed on the banks of the streams, and of
hardships and perils such as their own fears had never painted, that
several of Pizarro's men deserted; and their leader, thinking it no longer
safe to abide in such treacherous quarters, set sail at once for Nombre de

Soon after his arrival there, he was met by his two associates, Luque and
Almagro, who had crossed the mountains for the purpose of hearing
from his own lips the precise import of the capitulation with the Crown.
Great, as might have been expected, was Almagro's discontent at
learning the result of what he regarded as the perfidious machinations of
his associate. "Is it thus," he exclaimed, "that you have dealt with the
friend who shared equally with you in the trials, the dangers, and the cost
of the enterprise; and this, notwithstanding your solemn engagements on
your departure to provide for his interests as faithfully as your own?
How could you allow me to be thus dishonored in the eyes of the world
by so paltry a compensation, which seems to estimate my services as
nothing in comparison with your own?" 10

Pizarro, in reply, assured his companion that he had faithfully urged his
suit, but that the government refused to confide powers which intrenched
so closely on one another to different hands. He had no alternative, but
to accept all himself or to decline all; and he endeavored to mitigate
Almagro's displeasure by representing that the country was large enough
for the ambition of both, and that the powers conferred on himself were,
in fact, conferred on Almagro, since all that he had would ever be at his
friend's disposal, as if it were his own. But these honeyed words did not
satisfy the injured party; and the two captains soon after returned to
Panama with feelings of estrangement, if not hostility, towards one
another, which did not augur well for their enterprise.

Still, Almagro was of a generous temper, and might have been appeased
by the politic concessions of his rival, but for the interference of
Hernando Pizarro, who, from the first hour of their meeting, showed
little respect for the veteran, which, indeed, the diminutive person of the
latter was not calculated to inspire, and who now regarded him with
particular aversion as an impediment to the career of his brother.

Almagro's friends--and his frank and liberal manners had secured him
many--were no less disgusted than himself with the overbearing conduct
of this new ally. They loudly complained that it was quite enough to
suffer from the perfidy of Pizarro, without being exposed to the insults of
his family, who had now come over with him to fatten on the spoils of
conquest which belonged to their leader. The rupture soon proceeded to
such a length, that Almagro avowed his intention to prosecute the
expedition without further cooperation with his partner, and actually
entered into negotiations for the purchase of vessels for that object. But
Luque, and the Licentiate Espinosa, who had fortunately come over at
that time from St. Domingo, now interposed to repair a breach which
must end in the ruin of the enterprise, and the probable destruction of
those most interested in its success. By their mediation, a show of
reconciliation was at length effected between the parties, on Pizarro's
assurance that he would relinquish the dignity of Adelantado in favor of
his rival, and petition the emperor to confirm him in the possession of it;-
-an assurance, it may be remarked, not easy to reconcile with his former
assertion in respect to the avowed policy of the Crown in bestowing this
office. He was, moreover, to apply for a distinct government for his
associate, so soon as he had become master of the country assigned to
himself; and was to solicit no office for either of his own brothers, until
Almagro had been first provided for. Lastly, the former contract in
regard to the division of the spoil into three equal shares between the
three original associates was confirmed in the most explicit manner. The
reconciliation thus effected among the parties answered the temporary
purpose of enabling them to go forward in concert in the expedition. But
it was only a thin scar that had healed ever the wound, which, deep and
rankling within, waited only fresh cause of irritation to break out with a
virulence more fatal than ever.11

No time was now lost in preparing for the voyage. It found little
encouragement, however, among the colonists of Panama, who were too
familiar with the sufferings on the former expeditions to care to
undertake another, even with the rich bribe that was held out to allure
them. A few of the old company were content to follow out the
adventure to its close; and some additional stragglers were collected
from the province of Nicaragua,--a shoot, it may be remarked, from the
colony of Panama. But Pizarro made slender additions to the force
brought over with him from Spain, though this body was in better
condition, and, in respect to arms, ammunition, and equipment generally,
was on a much better footing than his former levies. The whole number
did not exceed one hundred and eighty men, with twenty-seven horses
for the cavalry. He had provided himself with three vessels, two of them
of a good size, to take the place of those which he had been compelled to
leave on the opposite side of the isthmus at Nombre de Dios; an
armament small for the conquest of an empire, and far short of that
prescribed by the capitulation with the Crown. With this the intrepid
chief proposed to commence operations, trusting to his own successes,
and the exertions of Almagro, who was to remain behind, for the present,
to muster reinforcements.12

On St. John the Evangelist's day, the banners of the company and the
royal standard were consecrated in the cathedral church of Panama; a
sermon was preached before the little army by Fray Juan de Vargas, one
of the Dominicans selected by the government for the Peruvian mission;
and mass was performed, and the sacrament administered to every
soldier previous to his engaging in the crusade against the infidel.13
Having thus solemnly invoked the blessing of Heaven on the enterprise,
Pizarro and his followers went on board their vessels, which rode at
anchor in the Bay of Panama, and early in January, 1531, sallied forth on
his third and last expedition for the conquest of Peru.

It was his intention to steer direct for Tumbez, which held out so
magnificent a show of treasure on his former voyage. But head winds
and currents, as usual, baffled his purpose, and after a run of thirteen
days, much shorter than the period formerly required for the same
distance, his little squadron came to anchor in the Bay of St. Matthew,
about one degree north; and Pizarro, after consulting with his officers,
resolved to disembark his forces and advance along the coast, while the
vessels, held their course at a convenient distance from the shore.

The march of the troops was severe and painful in the extreme; for the
road was constantly intersected by streams, which, swollen by the winter
rains, widened at their mouths into spacious estuaries. Pizarro, who had
some previous knowledge of the country, acted as guide as well as
commander of the expedition. He was ever ready to give aid where it
was needed, encouraging his followers to ford or swim the torrents as
they best could, and cheering the desponding by his own buoyant and
courageous spirit.

At length they reached a thick-settled hamlet, or rather town, in the
province of Coaque. The Spaniards rushed on the place, and the
inhabitants, without offering resistance, fled in terror to the neighboring
forests, leaving their effects--of much greater value than had been
anticipated--in the hands of the invaders. "We fell on them, sword in
hand," says one of the Conquerors, with some naivete; "for, if we had
advised the Indians of our approach, we should never have found there
such store of gold and precious stones." 14 The natives, however,
according to another authority, stayed voluntarily; "for, as they had done
no harm to the white men, they flattered themselves none would be
offered to them, but that there would be only an interchange of good
offices with the strangers," 15---an expectation founded, it may be, on
the good character which the Spaniards had established for themselves
on their preceding visit, but in which the simple people now found
themselves most unpleasantly deceived.

Rushing into the deserted dwellings, the invaders found there, besides
stuffs of various kinds, and food most welcome in their famished
condition, a large quantity of gold and silver wrought into clumsy
ornaments, together with many precious stones; for this was the region of
the esmeraldas, or emeralds, where that valuable gem was most
abundant. One of these jewels that fell into the hands of Pizarro, in this
neighborhood, was as large as a pigeon's egg. Unluckily, his rude
followers did not know the value of their prize; and they broke many of
them in pieces by pounding them with hammers.16 They were led to this
extraordinary proceeding, it is said, by one of the Dominican
missionaries, Fray Reginaldo de Pedraza, who assured them that this was
the way to prove the true emerald, which could not be broken. It was
observed that the good father did not subject his own jewels to this wise
experiment; but, as the stones, in consequence of it, fell in value, being
regarded merely as colored glass, he carried back a considerable store of
them to Panama.17

The gold and silver ornaments rifled from the dwellings were brought
together and deposited in a common heap; when a fifth was deducted for
the Crown, and Pizarro distributed the remainder in due proportions
among the officers and privates of his company. This was the usage
invariably observed on the like occasions throughout the Conquest. The
invaders had embarked in a common adventure. Their interest was
common, and to have allowed every one to plunder on his own account
would only have led to insubordination and perpetual broils. All were
required, therefore, on pain of death, to contribute whatever they
obtained, whether by bargain or by rapine, to the general stock; and all
were too much interested in the execution of the penalty to allow the
unhappy culprit, who violated the law, any chance of escape.18

Pizarro, with his usual policy, sent back to Panama a large quantity of
the gold, no less than twenty thousand castellanos in value, in the belief
that the sight of so much treasure, thus speedily acquired, would settle
the doubt of the wavering, and decide them on joining his banner.19 He
judged right. As one of the Conquerors piously expresses it, "It pleased
the Lord that we should fall in with the town of Coaque, that the riches of
the land might find credit with the people, and that they should flock to
it." 20

Pizarro, having refreshed his men, continued his march along the coast,
but no longer accompanied by the vessels, which had returned for
recruits to Panama. The road, as he advanced, was checkered with strips
of sandy waste, which, drifted about by the winds, blinded the soldiers,
and afforded only treacherous footing for man and beast. The glare was
intense; and the rays of a vertical sun beat fiercely on the iron mail and
the thick quilted doublets of cotton, till the fainting troops were almost
suffocated with the heat. To add to their distresses, a strange epidemic
broke out in the little army. It took the form of ulcers, or rather hideous
warts of great size, which covered the body, and when lanced, as was the
case with some, discharged such a quantity of blood as proved fatal to
the sufferer. Several died of this frightful disorder, which was so sudden
in its attack, and attended with such prostration of strength, that those
who lay down well at night were unable to lift their hands to their heads
in the morning.21 The epidemic, which made its first appearance during
this invasion, and which did not long survive it, spread over the country,
sparing neither native nor white man.22 It was one of those plagues
from the vial of wrath, which the destroying angel, who follows in the
path of the conqueror, pours out on the devoted nations.

The Spaniards rarely experienced on their march either resistance or
annoyance from the inhabitants, who, instructed by the example of
Coaque, fled with their effects into the woods and neighboring
mountains. No one came out to welcome the strangers and offer the rites
of hospitality, as on their last visit to the land. For the white men were
no longer regarded as good beings that had come from heaven, but as
ruthless destroyers, who, invulnerable to the assaults of the Indians, were
borne along on the backs of fierce animals, swifter than the wind, with
weapons in their hands, that scattered fire and desolation as they went.
Such were the stories now circulated of the invaders, which, preceding
them everywhere on their march, closed the hearts, if not the doors, of
the natives against them. Exhausted by the fatigue of travel and by
disease, and grievously disappointed at the poverty of the land, which
now offered no compensation for their toils, the soldiers of Pizarro
cursed the hour in which they had enlisted under his standard, and the
men of Nicaragua, in particular, says the old chronicler, calling to mind
their pleasant quarters in their luxurious land, sighed only to return to
their Mahometan paradise.23

At this juncture the army was gladdened by the sight of a vessel from
Panama, which brought some supplies, together with the royal treasurer,
the veedor or inspector, the comptroller, and other high officers
appointed by the Crown to attend the expedition. They had been left in
Spain by Pizarro, in consequence of his abrupt departure from the
country; and the Council of the Indies, on learning the circumstance, had
sent instructions to Panama to prevent the sailing of his squadron from
that port. But the Spanish government, with more wisdom,
countermanded the order, only requiring the functionaries to quicken
their own departure, and take their place without loss of time in the

The Spaniards in their march along the coast had now advanced as far as
Puerto Viejo. Here they were soon after joined by another small
reinforcement of about thirty men, under an officer named Belalcazar,
who subsequently rose to high distinction in this service. Many of the
followers of Pizarro would now have halted at this spot and established a
colony there. But that chief thought more of conquering than of
colonizing, at least for the present; and he proposed, as his first step, to
get possession of Tumbez, which he regarded as the gate of the Peruvian
empire. Continuing his march, therefore, to the shores of what is now
called the Gulf of Guayaquil, he arrived off the little island of Puna,
lying at no great distance from the Bay of Tumbez. This island, he
thought, would afford him a convenient place to encamp until he was
prepared to make his descent on the Indian city.

The dispositions of the islanders seemed to favor his purpose. He had
not been long in their neighborhood, before a deputation of the natives,
with their cacique at their head, crossed over in their balsas to the main
land to welcome the Spaniards to their residence. But the Indian
interpreters of Tumbez, who had returned with Pizarro from Spain, and
continued with the camp, put their master on his guard against the
meditated treachery of the islanders, whom they accused of designing to
destroy the Spaniards by cutting the ropes that held together the floats,
and leaving those upon them to perish in the waters. Yet the cacique,
when charged by Pizarro with this perfidious scheme, denied it with such
an air of conscious innocence, that the Spanish commander trusted
himself and his followers, without further hesitation, to his conveyance,
and was transported in safety to the shores of Puna.

Here he was received in a hospitable manner, and his troops were
provided with comfortable quarters. Well satisfied with his present
position, Pizarro resolved to occupy it until the violence of the rainy
season was passed, when the arrival of the reinforcements he expected
would put him in better condition for marching into the country of the

The island, which lies in the mouth of the river of Guayaquil, and is
about eight leagues in length by four in breadth, at the widest part, was at
that time partially covered with a noble growth of timber. But a large
portion of it was subjected to cultivation, and bloomed with plantations
of cacao, of the sweet potato, and the different products of a tropical
climes evincing agricultural knowledge as well as industry in the
population. They were a warlike race; but had received from their
Peruvian foes the appellation of "perfidious." It was the brand fastened
by the Roman historians on their Carthaginian enemies,--with perhaps no
better reason. The bold and independent islanders opposed a stubborn
resistance to the arms of the Incas; and, though they had finally yielded,
they had been ever since at feud, and often in deadly hostility, with their
neighbors of Tumbez.

The latter no sooner heard of Pizarro's arrival on the island than, trusting,
probably, to their former friendly relations with him, they came over in
some number to the Spanish quarters. The presence of their detested
rivals was by no means grateful to the jealous inhabitants of Puna, and
the prolonged residence of the white men on their island could not be
otherwise than burdensome. In their outward demeanor they still
maintained the same show of amity; but Pizarro's interpreters again put
him on his guard against the proverbial perfidy of their hosts. With his
suspicions thus roused, the Spanish commander was informed that a
number of the chiefs had met together to deliberate on a plan of
insurrection. Not caring to wait for the springing of the mine, he
surrounded the place of meeting with his soldiers and made prisoners of
the suspected chieftains. According to one authority, they confessed
their guilt.24 This is by no means certain. Nor is it certain that they
meditated an insurrection. Yet the fact is not improbable, in itself;
though it derives little additional probability from the assertion of the
hostile interpreters. It is certain, however, that Pizarro was satisfied of
the existence of a conspiracy; and, without further hesitation, he
abandoned his wretched prisoners, ten or twelve in number, to the tender
mercies of their rivals of Tumbez, who instantly massacred them before
his eyes.25

Maddened by this outrage, the people of Puna sprang to arms, and threw
themselves at once, with fearful yells and the wildest menaces of despair,
on the Spanish camp. The odds of numbers were greatly in their favor,
for they mustered several thousand warriors. But the more decisive odds
of arms and discipline were on the side of their antagonists; and, as the
Indians rushed forward in a confused mass to the assault, the Castilians
coolly received them on their long pikes, or swept them down by the
volleys of their musketry. Their ill-protected bodies were easily cut to
pieces by the sharp sword of the Spaniard; and Hernando Pizarro, putting
himself at the head of the cavalry, charged boldly into the midst, and
scattered them far and wide over the field, until, panic-struck by the
terrible array of steel-clad horsemen, and the stunning reports and the
flash of fire-arms, the fugitives sought shelter in the depths of their
forests. Yet the victory was owing, in some degree, at least,--if we may
credit the Conquerors,--to the interposition of Heaven; for St. Michael
and his legions were seen high in the air above the combatants,
contending with the arch-enemy of man, and cheering on the Christians
by their example! 26

Not more than three or four Spaniards fell in the fight; but many were
wounded, and among them Hernando Pizarro, who received a severe
injury in the leg from a javelin. Nor did the war end here; for the
implacable islanders, taking advantage of the cover of night, or of any
remissness on the part of the invaders, were ever ready to steal out of
their fastnesses and spring on their enemy's camp, while, by cutting off
his straggling parties, and destroying his provisions, they kept him in
perpetual alarm.

In this uncomfortable situation, the Spanish commander was gladdened
by the appearance of two vessels off the island. They brought a
reinforcement consisting of a hundred volunteers besides horses for the
cavalry. It was commanded by Hernando de Soto, a captain afterwards
famous as the discoverer of the Mississippi, which still rolls its majestic
current over the place of his burial,--a fitting monument for his remains,
as it is of his renown.27

The reinforcement was most welcome to Pizarro, who had been long
discontented with his position on an island, where he found nothing to
compensate the life of unintermitting hostility which he was compelled to
lead. With these recruits, he felt himself in sufficient strength to cross
over to the continent, and resume military operations in the proper
theatre for discovery and conquest. From the Indians of Tumbez he
learned that the country had been for some time distracted by a civil war
between two sons of the late monarch, competitors for the throne. This
intelligence he regarded as of the utmost importance, for he remembered
the use which Cortes had made of similar dissensions among the tribes of
Anahuac. Indeed, Pizarro seems to have had the example of his great
predecessor before his eyes on more occasions than this. But he fell far
short of his model; for, notwithstanding the restraint he sometimes put
upon himself, his coarser nature and more ferocious temper often
betrayed him into acts most repugnant to sound policy, which would
never have been countenanced by the Conqueror of Mexico.

Book 3

Chapter 2

Peru At The Time Of The Conquest--Reign Of Huayna Capac-
The Inca Brothers--Conquest For The Empire-
Triumph And Cruelties Of Atahuallpa

Before accompanying the march of Pizarro and his followers into the
country of the Incas, it is necessary to make the reader acquainted with
the critical situation of the kingdom at that time. For the Spaniards
arrived just at the consummation of an important revolution,--at a crisis
most favorable to their views of conquest, and but for which, indeed, the
conquest, with such a handful of soldiers, could never have been

In the latter part of the fifteenth century died Tupac Inca Yupanqui, one
of the most renowned of the "Children of the Sun," who, carrying the
Peruvian arms across the burning sands of Atacama, penetrated to the
remote borders of Chili, while in the opposite direction he enlarged the
limits of the empire by the acquisition of the southern provinces of
Quito. The war in this quarter was conducted by his son Huayna Capac,
who succeeded his father on the throne, and fully equalled him in
military daring and in capacity for government.

Under this prince, the whole of the powerful state of Quito, which
rivalled that of Peru itself in wealth and refinement, was brought under
the sceptre of the Incas; whose empire received, by this conquest, the
most important accession yet made to it since the foundation of the
dynasty of Manco Capac. The remaining days of the victorious monarch
were passed in reducing the independent tribes on the remote limits of
his territory, and, still more, in cementing his conquests by the
introduction of the Peruvian polity. He was actively engaged in
completing the great works of his father, especially the high-roads which
led from Quito to the capital. He perfected the establishment of posts,
took great pains to introduce the Quichua dialect throughout the empire,
promoted a better system of agriculture, and, in fine, encouraged the
different branches of domestic industry and the various enlightened plans
of his predecessors for the improvement of his people. Under his sway,
the Peruvian monarchy reached its most palmy state; and under both him
and his illustrious father it was advancing with such rapid strides in the
march of civilization as would soon have carried it to a level with the
more refined despotisms of Asia, furnishing the world, perhaps, with
higher evidence of the capabilities of the American Indian than is
elsewhere to be found on the great western continent.--But other and
gloomier destinies were in reserve for the Indian races.

The first arrival of the white men on the South American shores of the
Pacific was about ten years before the death of Huayna Capac, when
Balboa crossed the Gulf of St. Michael, and obtained the first clear
report of the empire of the Incas. Whether tidings of these adventurers
reached the Indian monarch's ears is doubtful. There is no doubt,
however, that he obtained the news of the first expedition under Pizarro
and Almagro, when the latter commander penetrated as far as the Rio de
San Juan, about the fourth degree north. The accounts which he received
made a strong impression on the mind of Huayna Capac. He discerned
in the formidable prowess and weapons of the invaders proofs of a
civilization far superior to that of his own people. He intimated his
apprehension that they would return, and that at some day, not far
distant, perhaps, the throne of the Incas might be shaken by these
strangers, endowed with such incomprehensible powers.1 To the vulgar
eye, it was a little speck on the verge of the horizon; but that of the
sagacious monarch seemed to descry in it the dark thunder-cloud, that
was to spread wider and wider till it burst in fury on his nation!

There is some ground for believing thus much. But other accounts,
which have obtained a popular currency, not content with this, connect
the first tidings of the white men with predictions long extant in the
country, and with supernatural appearances, which filled the hearts of the
whole nation with dismay. Comets were seen flaming athwart the
heavens. Earthquakes shook the land; the moon was girdled with rings
of fire of many colors; a thunderbolt fell on one of the royal palaces and
consumed it to ashes; and an eagle, chased by several hawks, was seen,
screaming in the air, to hover above the great square of Cuzco, when,
pierced by the talons of his tormentors, the king of birds fell lifeless in
the presence of many of the Inca nobles, who read in this an augury of
their own destruction! Huayna Capac himself, calling his great officers
around him, as he found he was drawing near his end, announced the
subversion of his empire by the race of white and bearded strangers, as
the consummation predicted by the oracles after the reign of the twelfth
Inca, and he enjoined it on his vassals not to resist the decrees of
Heaven, but to yield obedience to its messengers.2

Such is the report of the impressions made by the appearance of the
Spaniards in the country, reminding one of the similar feelings of
superstitious terror occasioned by their appearance in Mexico. But the
traditions of the latter land rest on much higher authority than those of
the Peruvians, which, unsupported by contemporary testimony, rest
almost wholly on the naked assertion of one of their own nation, who
thought to find, doubtless, in the inevitable decrees of Heaven, the best
apology for the supineness of his countrymen.

It is not improbable that rumors of the advent of a strange and
mysterious race should have spread gradually among the Indian tribes
along the great table-land of the Cordilleras, and should have shaken the
hearts of the stoutest warriors with feelings of undefined dread, as of
some impending calamity. In this state of mind, it was natural that
physical convulsions, to which that volcanic country is peculiarly
subject, should have made an unwonted impression on their minds; and
that the phenomena, which might have been regarded only as
extraordinary, in the usual seasons of political security, should now be
interpreted by the superstitious soothsayer as the handwriting on the
heavens, by which the God of the Incas proclaimed the approaching
downfall of their empire.

Huayna Capac had, as usual with the Peruvian princes, a multitude of
concubines, by whom he left a numerous posterity. The heir to the
crown, the son of his lawful wife and sister, was named Huascar.3 At the
period of the history at which we are now arrived, he was about thirty
years of age. Next to the heir-apparent, by another wife, a cousin of the
monarch's, came Manco Capac, a young prince who will occupy an
important place in our subsequent story. But the best-beloved of the
Inca's children was Atahuallpa. His mother was the daughter of the last
Scyri of Quito, who had died of grief, it was said, not long after the
subversion of his kingdom by Huayna Capac. The princess was
beautiful, and the Inca, whether to gratify his passion, or, as the
Peruvians say, willing to make amends for the ruin of her parents,
received her among his concubines. The historians of Quito assert that
she was his lawful wife; but this dignity, according to the usages of the
empire, was reserved for maidens of the Inca blood.

The latter years of Huayna Capac were passed in his new kingdom of
Quito. Atahuallpa was accordingly brought up under his own eye,
accompanied him, while in his tender years, in his campaigns, slept in
the same tent with his royal father, and ate from the same plate.4 The
vivacity of the boy, his courage and generous nature, won the affections
of the old monarch to such a degree, that he resolved to depart from the
established usages of the realm, and divide his empire between him and
his elder brother Huascar. On his death-bed, he called the great officers
of the crown around him, and declared it to be his will that the ancient
kingdom of Quito should pass to Atahuallpa, who might be considered as
having a natural claim on it, as the dominion of his ancestors. The rest
of the empire he settled on Huascar; and he enjoined it on the two
brothers to acquiesce in this arrangement, and to live in amity with each
other. This was the last act of the heroic monarch; doubtless, the most
impolitic of his whole life. With his dying breath he subverted the
fundamental laws of the empire; and, while he recommended harmony
between the successors to his authority, he left in this very division of it
the seeds of inevitable discord.5

His death took place, as seems probable, at the close of 1525, not quite
seven years before Pizarro's arrival at Puna.6 The tidings of his decease
spread sorrow and consternation throughout the land; for, though stern
and even inexorable to the rebel and the long-resisting foe, he was a
brave and magnanimous monarch, and legislated with the enlarged views
of a prince who regarded every part of his dominions as equally his
concern. The people of Quito, flattered by the proofs which he had
given of preference for them by his permanent residence in that country,
and his embellishment of their capital, manifested unfeigned sorrow at
his loss; and his subjects at Cuzco, proud of the glory which his arms and
his abilities had secured for his native land, held him in no less
admiration;7 while the more thoughtful and the more timid, in both
countries, looked with apprehension to the future, when the sceptre of
the vast empire, instead of being swayed by an old and experienced
hand, was to be consigned to rival princes, naturally jealous of one
another, and, from their age, necessarily exposed to the unwholesome
influence of crafty and ambitious counsellors. The people testified their
regret by the unwonted honors paid to the memory of the deceased Inca.
His heart was retained in Quito, and his body, embalmed after the
fashion of the country, was transported to Cuzco, to take its place in the
great temple of the Sun, by the side of the remains of his royal ancestors.
His obsequies were celebrated with sanguinary splendor in both the
capitals of his far-extended empire; and several thousand of the imperial
concubines, with numerous pages and officers of the palace, are said to
have proved their sorrow, or their superstition, by offering up their own
lives, that they might accompany their departed lord to the bright
mansions of the Sun.8

For nearly five years after the death of Huayna Capac, the royal brothers
reigned, each over his allotted portion of the empire, without distrust of
one another, or, at least, without collision. It seemed as if the wish of
their father was to be completely realized, and that the two states were to
maintain their respective integrity and independence as much as if they
had never been united into one. But, with the manifold causes for
jealousy and discontent, and the swarms of courtly sycophants, who
would find their account in fomenting these feelings, it was easy to see
that this tranquil state of things could not long endure. Nor would it
have endured so long, but for the more gentle temper of Huascar, the
only party who had ground for complaint. He was four or five years
older than his brother, and was possessed of courage not to be doubted;
but he was a prince of a generous and easy nature, and perhaps, if left to
himself, might have acquiesced in an arrangement which, however
unpalatable, was the will of his deified father. But Atahuallpa was of a
different temper. Warlike, ambitious, and daring, he was constantly
engaged in enterprises for the enlargement of his own territory, though
his crafty policy was scrupulous not to aim at extending his acquisitions
in the direction of his royal brother. His restless spirit, however, excited
some alarm at the court of Cuzco, and Huascar, at length, sent an envoy
to Atahuallpa, to remonstrate with him on his ambitious enterprises, and
to require him to render him homage for his kingdom of Quito.

This is one statement. Other accounts pretend that the immediate cause
of rupture was a claim instituted by Huascar for the territory of
Tumebamba, held by his brother as part of his patrimonial inheritance. It
matters little what was the ostensible ground of collision between
persons placed by circumstances in so false a position in regard to one
another, that collision must, at some time or other, inevitably occur.

The commencement, and, indeed, the whole course, of hostilities which
soon broke out between the rival brothers are stated with irreconcilable,
and, considering the period was so near to that of the Spanish invasion,
with unaccountable discrepancy. By some it is said, that, in Atahuallpa's
first encounter with the troops of Cuzco, he was defeated and made
prisoner near Tumebamba, a favorite residence of his father in the
ancient territory of Quito, and in the district of Canaris. From this
disaster he recovered by a fortunate escape from confinement, when,
regaining his capital, he soon found himself at the head of a numerous
army, led by the most able and experienced captains in the empire. The
liberal manners of the young Atahuallpa had endeared him to the
soldiers, with whom, as we have seen, he served more than one campaign
in his father's lifetime. These troops were the flower of the great army of
the Inca, and some of them had grown gray in his long military career,
which had left them at the north, where they readily transferred their
allegiance to the young sovereign of Quito. They were commanded by
two officers of great consideration, both possessed of large experience in
military affairs, and high in the confidence of the late Inca. One of them
was named Quizquiz; the other, who was the maternal uncle of
Atahuallpa, was called Chalicuchima.

With these practised warriors to guide him, the young monarch put
himself at the head of his martial array, and directed his march towards
the south. He had not advanced farther than Ambato, about sixty miles
distant from his capital, when he fell in with a numerous host, which had
been sent against him by his brother, under the command of a
distinguished chieftain, of the Inca family. A bloody battle followed,
which lasted the greater part of the day; and the theatre of combat was
the skirts of the mighty Chimborazo.9

The battle ended favorably for Atahuallpa, and the Peruvians were
routed with great slaughter, and the loss of their commander. The prince
of Quito availed himself of his advantage to push forward his march until
he arrived before the gates of Tumebamba, which city, as well as the
whole district of Canaris, though an ancient dependency of Quito, had
sided with his rival in the contest. Entering the captive city like a
conqueror, he put the inhabitants to the sword, and razed it with all its
stately edifices, some of which had been reared by his own father, to the
ground. He carried on the same war of extermination, as he marched
through the offending district of Canaris. In some places, it is said, the
women and children came out, with green branches in their hands, in
melancholy procession, to deprecate his wrath; but the vindictive
conqueror, deaf to their entreaties, laid the country waste with fire and
sword, sparing no man capable of bearing arms who fell into his

The fate of Canaris struck terror into the hearts of his enemies, and one
place after another opened its gates to the victor, who held on his
triumphant march towards the Peruvian capital. His arms experienced a
temporary check before the island of Puna, whose bold warriors
maintained the cause of his brother. After some days lost before this
place, Atahuallpa left the contest to their old enemies, the people of
Tumbez, who had early given in their adhesion to him, while he resumed
his march and advanced as far as Caxamalca, about seven degrees south.
Here he halted with a detachment of the army, sending forward the main
body under the command of his two generals, with orders to move
straight upon Cuzco. He preferred not to trust himself farther in the
enemy's country, where a defeat might be fatal. By establishing his
quarters at Caxamalca, he would be able to support his generals, in case
of a reverse, or, at worst, to secure his retreat on Quito, until he was
again in condition to renew hostilities.

The two commanders, advancing by rapid marches, at length crossed the
Apurimac river, and arrived within a short distance of the Peruvian
capital.--Meanwhile, Huascar had not been idle. On receiving tidings of
the discomfiture of his army at Ambato, he made every exertion to raise
levies throughout the country. By the advice, it is said, of his priests--the
most incompetent advisers in times of danger--he chose to await the
approach of the enemy in his own capital; and it was not till the latter had
arrived within a few leagues of Cuzco, that the Inca, taking counsel of
the same ghostly monitors, sallied forth to give him battle.

The two armies met on the plains of Quipaypan, in the neighborhood of
the Indian metropolis. Their numbers are stated with the usual
discrepancy; but Atahuallpa's troops had considerably the advantage in
discipline and experience, for many of Huascar's levies had been drawn
hastily together from the surrounding country. Both fought, however,
with the desperation of men who felt that every thing was at stake. It was
no longer a contest for a province, but for the possession of an empire.
Atahuallpa's troops, flushed with recent success, fought with the
confidence of those who relied on their superior prowess; while the loyal
vassals of the Inca displayed all the self-devotion of men who held their
own lives cheap in the service of their master.

The fight raged with the greatest obstinacy from sunrise to sunset; and
the ground was covered with heaps of the dying and the dead, whose
bones lay bleaching on the battle-field long after the conquest by the
Spaniards. At length, fortune declared in favor of Atahuallpa; or rather,
the usual result of superior discipline and military practice followed.
The ranks of the Inca were thrown into irretrievable disorder, and gave
way in all directions. The conquerors followed close on the heels of the
flying. Huascar himself, among the latter, endeavored to make his
escape with about a thousand men who remained round his person. But
the royal fugitive was discovered before he had left the field; his little
party was enveloped by clouds of the enemy, and nearly every one of the
devoted band perished in defence of their Inca. Huascar was made
prisoner, and the victorious chiefs marched at once on his capital, which
they occupied in the name of their sovereign.11

These events occurred in the spring of 1532, a few months before the
landing of the Spaniards. The tidings of the success of his arms and the
capture of his unfortunate brother reached Atahuallpa at Caxamalca. He
instantly gave orders that Huascar should be treated with the respect due
to his rank, but that he should be removed to the strong fortress of
Xauxa, and held there in strict confinement. His orders did not stop
here,--if we are to receive the accounts of Garcilasso de la Vega, himself
of the Inca race, and by his mother's side nephew of the great Huayna

According to this authority, Atahuallpa invited the Inca nobles
throughout the country to assemble at Cuzco in order to deliberate on the
best means of partitioning the empire between him and his brother.
When they had met in the capital, they were surrounded by the soldiery
of Quito, and butchered without mercy. The motive for this perfidious
act was to exterminate the whole of the royal family, who might each one
of them show a better title to the crown than the illegitimate Atahuallpa.
But the massacre did not end here. The illegitimate offspring, like
himself, half-brothers of the monster, all, in short, who had any of the
Inca blood in their veins, were involved in it; and with an appetite for
carnage unparalleled in the annals of the Roman Empire or of the French
Republic, Atahuallpa ordered all the females of the blood royal, his
aunts, nieces, and cousins, to be put to death, and that, too, with the most
refined and lingering tortures. To give greater zest to his revenge, many
of the executions took place in the presence of Huascar himself, who was
thus compelled to witness the butchery of his own wives and sisters,
while, in the extremity of anguish, they in vain called on him to protect
them! 12

Such is the tale told by the historian of the Incas, and received by him, as
he assures us, from his mother and uncle, who, being children at the
time, were so fortunate as to be among the few that escaped the massacre
of their house.13 And such is the account repeated by many a Castilian
writer since, without any symptom of distrust. But a tissue of
unprovoked atrocities like these is too repugnant to the principles of
human nature,--and, indeed, to common sense, to warrant our belief in
them on ordinary testimony.

The annals of semi-civilized nations unhappily show that there have been
instances of similar attempts to extinguish the whole of a noxious race,
which had become the object of a tyrant's jealousy; though such an
attempt is about as chimerical as it would be to extirpate any particular
species of plant, the seeds of which had been borne on every wind over
the country. But, if the attempt to exterminate the Inca race was actually
made by Atahuallpa, how comes it that so many of the pure descendants
of the blood royal--nearly six hundred in number--are admitted by the
historian to have been in existence seventy years after the imputed
massacre?14 Why was the massacre, instead of being limited to the
legitimate members of the royal stock, who could show a better title to
the crown than the usurper, extended to all, however remotely, or in
whatever way, connected with the race? Why were aged women and
young maidens involved in the proscription, and why were they
subjected to such refined and superfluous tortures, when it is obvious
that beings so impotent could have done nothing to provoke the jealousy
of the tyrant? Why, when so many were sacrificed from some vague
apprehension of distant danger, was his rival Huascar, together with his
younger brother Manco Capac, the two men from whom the conqueror
had most to fear, suffered to live? Why, in short, is the wonderful tale
not recorded by others before the time of Garcilasso, and nearer by half a
century to the events themselves?15

That Atahuallpa may have been guilty of excesses, and abused the rights
of conquest by some gratuitous acts of cruelty, may be readily believed;
for no one, who calls to mind his treatment of the Canaris,-which his own
apologists do not affect to deny,16--will doubt that he had a full measure
of the vindictive temper which belongs to

"Those souls of fire, and Children of the Sun,
With whom revenge was virtue."

But there is a wide difference between this and the monstrous and most
unprovoked atrocities imputed to him; implying a diabolical nature not to
be admitted on the evidence of an Indian partisan, the sworn foe of his
house, and repeated by Castilian chroniclers, who may naturally seek, by
blazoning the enormities of Atahuallpa, to find some apology for the
cruelty of their countrymen towards him.

The news of the great victory was borne on the wings of the wind to
Caxamalca; and loud and long was the rejoicing, not only in the camp of
Atahuallpa, but in the town and surrounding country; for all now came
in, eager to offer their congratulations to the victor, and do him homage.
The prince of Quito no longer hesitated to assume the scarlet borla, the
diadem of the Incas. His triumph was complete. He had beaten his
enemies on their own ground; had taken their capital; had set his foot on
the neck of his rival, and won for himself the ancient sceptre of the
Children of the Sun. But the hour of triumph was destined to be that of
his deepest humiliation. Atahuallpa was not one of those to whom, in the
language of the Grecian bard, "the Gods are willing to reveal
themselves." 17 He had not read the handwriting on the heavens. The
small speck, which the clear-sighted eye of his father had discerned on
the distant verge of the horizon, though little noticed by Atahuallpa,
intent on the deadly strife with his brother, had now risen high towards
the zenith, spreading wider and wider, till it wrapped the skies in
darkness, and was ready to burst in thunders on the devoted nation.


Chapter 3

The Spaniards Land At Tumbez--Pizarro Reconnoitres The Country--
Foundation Of San Miguel--March Into The Interior-
Embassy From The Inca--Adventures On The March-
Reach The Foot Of The Andes


We left the Spaniards at the island of Puna, preparing to make their
descent on the neighboring continent at Tumbez. This port was but a
few leagues distant, and Pizarro, with the greater part of his followers,
passed over in the ships, while a few others were to transport the
commander's baggage and the military stores on some of the Indian
balsas. One of the latter vessels which first touched the shore was
surrounded, and three persons who were on the raft were carried off by
the natives to the adjacent woods and there massacred. The Indians then
got possession of another of the balsas containing Pizarro's wardrobe;
but, as the men who defended it raised loud cries for help, they reached
the ears of Hernando Pizarro, who, with a small body of horse, had
effected a landing some way farther down the shore. A broad tract of
miry ground, overflowed at high water, lay between him and the party
thus rudely assailed by the natives. The tide was out, and the bottom was
soft and dangerous. With little regard to the danger, however, the bold
cavalier spurred his horse into the slimy depths, and followed by his
men, with the mud up to their saddle-girths, they plunged forward until
they came into the midst of the marauders, who, terrified by the strange
apparition of the horsemen, fled precipitately, without show of fight, to
the neighboring forests.

This conduct of the natives of Tumbez is not easy to be explained;
considering the friendly relations maintained with the Spaniards on their
preceding visit, and lately renewed in the island of Puna. But Pizarro
was still more astonished, on entering their town, to find it not only
deserted, but, with the exception of a few buildings, entirely demolished.
Four or five of the most substantial private dwellings, the great temple,
and the fortress--and these greatly damaged, and wholly despoiled of
their interior decorations--alone survived to mark the site of the city, and
attest its former splendor.1 The scene of desolation filled the conquerors
with dismay; for even the raw recruits, who had never visited the coast
before, had heard the marvellous stories of the golden treasures of
Tumbez, and they had confidently looked forward to them as an easy
spoil after all their fatigues. But the gold of Peru seemed only like a
deceitful phantom, which, after beckoning them on through toil and
danger, vanished the moment they attempted to grasp it.

Pizarro despatched a small body of troops in pursuit of the fugitives;
and, after some slight skirmishing, they got possession of several of the
natives, and among them, as it chanced, the curaca of the place. When
brought before the Spanish commander, he exonerated himself from any
share in the violence offered to the white men, saying that it was done by
a lawless party of his people, without his knowledge at the time; and he
expressed his willingness to deliver them up to punishment, if they could
be detected. He explained the dilapidated condition of the town by the
long wars carried on with the fierce tribes of Puna, who had at length
succeeded in getting possession of the place, and driving the inhabitants
into the neighboring woods and mountains. The Inca, to whose cause
they were attached, was too much occupied with his own feuds to protect
them against their enemies.

Whether Pizarro gave any credit to the cacique's exculpation of himself
may be doubted. He dissembled his suspicions, however, and, as the
Indian lord promised obedience in his own name, and that of his vassals,
the Spanish general consented to take no further notice of the affair. He
seems now to have felt for the first time, in its full force, that it was his
policy to gain the good-will of the people among whom he had thrown
himself in the face of such tremendous odds. It was, perhaps, the
excesses of which his men had been guilty in the earlier stages of the
expedition that had shaken the confidence of the people of Tumbez, and
incited them to this treacherous retaliation.

Pizarro inquired of the natives who now, under promise of impunity,
came into the camp, what had become of his two followers that remained
with them in the former expedition. The answers they gave were obscure
and contradictory. Some said, they had died of an epidemic; others, that
they had perished in the war with Puna; and others intimated, that they
had lost their lives in consequence of some outrage attempted on the
Indian women. It was impossible to arrive at the truth. The last account
was not the least probable. But, whatever might be the cause, there was
no doubt they had both perished.

This intelligence spread an additional gloom over the Spaniards; which
was not dispelled by the flaming pictures now given by the natives of the
riches of the land, and of the state and magnificence of the monarch in
his distant capital among the mountains. Nor did they credit the
authenticity of a scroll of paper, which Pizzaro had obtained from an
Indian, to whom it had been delivered by one of the white men left in the
country. "Know, whoever you may be," said the writing, "that may
chance to set foot in this country, that it contains more gold and silver
than there is iron in Biscay." This paper, when shown to the soldiers,
excited only their ridicule, as a device of their captain to keep alive their
chimerical hopes.2

Pizarro now saw that it was not politic to protract his stay in his present
quarters, where a spirit of disaffection would soon creep into the ranks of
his followers, unless their spirits were stimulated by novelty or a life of
incessant action. Yet he felt deeply anxious to obtain more particulars
than he had hitherto gathered of the actual condition of the Peruvian
empire, of its strength and resources, of the monarch who ruled over it,
and of his present situation. He was also desirous, before taking any
decisive step for penetrating the country, to seek out some commodious
place for a settlement, which might afford him the means of a regular
communication with the colonies, and a place of strength, on which he
himself might retreat in case of disaster.

He decided, therefore, to leave part of his company at Tumbez, including
those who, from the state of their health, were least able to take the field,
and with the remainder to make an excursion into the interior, and
reconnoitre the land, before deciding on any plan of operations. He set
out early in May, 1532; and, keeping along the more level regions
himself, sent a small detachment under the command of Hernando de
Soto to explore the skirts of the vast sierra.

He maintained a rigid discipline on the march, commanding his soldiers
to abstain from all acts of violence, and punishing disobedience in the
most prompt and resolute manner.3 The natives rarely offered
resistance. When they did so, they were soon reduced, and Pizarro, far
from vindictive measures, was open to the first demonstrations of
submission. By this lenient and liberal policy, he soon acquired a name
among the inhabitants which effaced the unfavorable impressions made
of him in the earlier part of the campaign. The natives, as he marched
through the thick-settled hamlets which sprinkled the level region
between the Cordilleras and the ocean, welcomed him with rustic
hospitality, providing good quarters for his troops, and abundant
supplies, which cost but little in the prolific soil of the tierra caliente.
Everywhere Pizarro made proclamation that he came in the name of the
Holy Vicar of God and of the sovereign of Spain, requiring the
obedience of the inhabitants as true children of the Church, and vassals
of his lord and master. And as the simple people made no opposition to
a formula, of which they could not comprehend a syllable, they were
admitted as good subjects of the Crown of Castile, and their act of
homage--or what was readily interpreted as such--was duly recorded and
attested by the notary.4

At the expiration of some three or four weeks spent in reconnoitring the
country, Pizarro came to the conclusion that the most eligible site for his
new settlement was in the rich valley of Tangarala, thirty leagues south
of Tumbez, traversed by more than one stream that opens a
communication with the ocean. To this spot, accordingly, he ordered the
men left at Tumbez to repair at once in their vessels; and no sooner had
they arrived, than busy preparations were made for building up the town
in a manner suited to the wants of the colony. Timber was procured
from the neighboring woods. Stones were dragged from their quarries,
and edifices gradually rose, some of which made pretensions to strength,
if not to elegance. Among them were a church, a magazine for public
stores, a hall of justice, and a fortress. A municipal government was
organized, consisting of regidores, alcaldes, and the usual civic
functionaries. The adjacent territory was parcelled out among the
residents, and each colonist had a certain number of the natives allotted
to assist him in his labors; for, as Pizarro's secretary remarks, "it being
evident that the colonists could not support themselves without the
services of the Indians, the ecclesiastics and the leaders of the expedition
all agreed that a repartimiento of the natives would serve the cause of
religion, and tend greatly to their spiritual welfare, since they would thus
have the opportunity of being initiated in the true faith." 5

Having made these arrangements with such conscientious regard to the
welfare of the benighted heathen, Pizarro gave his infant city the name of
San Miguel, in acknowledgment of the service rendered him by that saint
in his battles with the Indians of Puna. The site originally occupied by
the settlement was afterward found to be so unhealthy, that it was
abandoned for another on the banks of the beautiful Piura. The town is
still of some note for its manufactures, though dwindled from its ancient
importance; but the name of San Miguel de Piura, which it bears, still
commemorates the foundation of the first European colony in the empire
of the Incas.

Before quitting the new settlement, Pizarro caused the gold and silver
ornaments which he had obtained in different parts of the country to be
melted down into one mass, and a fifth to be deducted for the Crown.
The remainder, which belonged to the troops, he persuaded them to
relinquish for the present; under the assurance of being repaid from the
first spoils that fell into their hands.6 With these funds, and other
articles collected in the course of the campaign, he sent back the vessels
to Panama. The gold was applied to paying off the ship-owners, and
those who had furnished the stores for the expedition. That he should so
easily have persuaded his men to resign present possession for a future
contingency is proof that the spirit of enterprise was renewed in their
bosoms in all its former vigor, and that they looked forward with the
same buoyant confidence to the results.

In his late tour of observation, the Spanish commander had gathered
much important intelligence in regard to the state of the kingdom. He
had ascertained the result of the struggle between the Inca brothers, and
that the victor now lay with his army encamped at the distance of only
ten or twelve days' journey from San Miguel. The accounts he heard of
the opulence and power of that monarch, and of his great southern
capital, perfectly corresponded with the general rumors before received;
and contained, therefore, something to stagger the confidence, as well as
to stimulate the cupidity, of the invaders.

Pizarro would gladly have seen his little army strengthened by
reinforcements, however small the amount; and on that account
postponed his departure for several weeks. But no reinforcement
arrived; and, as he received no further tidings from his associates, he
judged that longer delay would, probably, be attended with evils greater
than those to be encountered on the march; that discontents would
inevitably spring up in a life of inaction, and the strength and spirits of
the soldier sink under the enervating influence of a tropical climate. Yet
the force at his command, amounting to less than two hundred soldiers in
all, after reserving fifty for the protection of the new settlement, seemed
but a small one for the conquest of an empire. He might, indeed, instead
of marching against the Inca, take a southerly direction towards the rich
capital of Cuzco. But this would only be to postpone the hour of
reckoning. For in what quarter of the empire could he hope to set his
foot, where the arm of its master would not reach him? By such a course,
moreover, he would show his own distrust of himself. He would shake
that opinion of his invincible prowess, which he had hitherto endeavored
to impress on the natives, and which constituted a great secret of his
strength; which, in short, held sterner sway over the mind than the
display of numbers and mere physical force. Worse than all, such a
course would impair the confidence of his troops in themselves and their
reliance on himself. This would be to palsy the arm of enterprise at
once. It was not to be thought of.

But while Pizarro decided to march into the interior, it is doubtful
whether he had formed any more definite plan of action. We have no
means of knowing his intentions, at this distance of time, otherwise than
as they are shown by his actions. Unfortunately, he could not write, and
he has left no record, like the inestimable Commentaries of Cortes, to
enlighten us as to his motives. His secretary, and some of his
companions in arms, have recited his actions in detail; but the motives
which led to them they were not always so competent to disclose.

It is possible that the Spanish general, even so early as the period of his
residence at San Miguel, may have meditated some daring stroke, some
effective coup-de-main, which, like that of Cortes, when he carried off
the Aztec monarch to his quarters, might strike terror into the hearts of
the people, and at once decide the fortunes of the day. It is more
probable, however, that he now only proposed to present himself before
the Inca, as the peaceful representative of a brother monarch, and, by
these friendly demonstrations, disarm any feeling of hostility, or even of
suspicion. When once in communication with the Indian prince, he
could regulate his future course by circumstances.

On the 24th of September, 1532, five months after landing at Tumbez,
Pizarro marched out at the head of his little body of adventurers from the
gates of San Miguel, having enjoined it on the colonists to treat their
Indian vassals with humanity, and to conduct themselves in such a
manner as would secure the good-will of the surrounding tribes. Their
own existence, and with it the safety of the army and the success of the
undertaking, depended on this course. In the place were to remain the
royal treasurer, the veedor, or inspector of metals, and other officers of
the crown; and the command of the garrison was intrusted to the
contador, Antonio Nayafro.7 Then putting himself at the head of his
troops, the chief struck boldly into the heart of the country in the
direction where, as he was informed, lay the camp of the Inca. It was a
daring enterprise, thus to venture with a handful of followers into the
heart of a powerful empire, to present himself, face to face, before the
Indian monarch in his own camp, encompassed by the flower of his
victorious army! Pizarro had already experienced more than once the
difficulty of maintaining his ground against the rude tribes of the north,
so much inferior in strength and numbers to the warlike legions of Peru.
But the hazard of the game, as I have already more than once had
occasion to remark, constituted its great charm with the Spaniard. The
brilliant achievements of his countrymen, on the like occasions, with
means so inadequate, inspired him with confidence in his own good star;
and this confidence was one source of his success. Had he faltered for a
moment, had he stopped to calculate chances, he must inevitably have
failed; for the odds were too great to be combated by sober reason. They
were only to be met triumphantly by the spirit of the knight-errant.

After crossing the smooth waters of the Piura, the little army continued
to advance over a level district intersected by streams that descended
from the neighboring Cordilleras. The face of the country was shagged
over with forests of gigantic growth, and occasionally traversed by ridges
of barren land, that seemed like shoots of the adjacent Andes breaking up
the surface of the region into little sequestered valleys of singular
loveliness. The soil, though rarely watered by the rains of heaven, was
naturally rich, and wherever it was refreshed with moisture, as on the
margins of the streams, it was enamelled with the brightest verdure. The
industry of the inhabitants, moreover, had turned these streams to the
best account, and canals and aqueducts were seen crossing the low lands
in all directions, and spreading over the country, like a vast network,
diffusing fertility and beauty around them. The air was scented with the
sweet odors of flowers, and everywhere the eye was refreshed by the
sight of orchards laden with unknown fruits, and of fields waving with
yellow grain and rich in luscious vegetables of every description that
teem in the sunny clime of the equator. The Spaniards were among a
people who had carried the refinements of husbandry to a greater extent
than any yet found on the American continent; and, as they journeyed
through this paradise of plenty, their condition formed a pleasing
contrast to what they had before endured in the dreary wilderness of the

Everywhere, too, they were received with confiding hospitality by the
simple people; for which they were no doubt indebted, in a great
measure, to their own inoffensive deportment. Every Spaniard seemed
to be aware, that his only chance of success lay in conciliating the good
opinion of the inhabitants, among whom he had so recklessly cast his
fortunes. In most of the hamlets, and in every place of considerable size,
some fortress was to be found, or royal caravansary, destined for the Inca
on his progresses, the ample halls of which furnished abundant
accommodations for the Spaniards; who were thus provided with
quarters along their route at the charge of the very government which
they were preparing to overturn.8

On the fifth day after leaving San Miguel, Pizarro halted in one of these
delicious valleys, to give his troops repose, and to make a more complete
inspection of them. Their number amounted in all to one hundred and
seventy-seven, of which sixty-seven were cavalry. He mustered only
three arquebusiers in his whole company, and a few crossbow-men,
altogether not exceeding twenty.9 The troops were tolerably well
equipped, and in good condition. But the watchful eye of their
commander noticed with uneasiness, that, notwithstanding the general
heartiness, in the cause manifested by his followers, there were some
among them whose countenances lowered with discontent, and who,
although they did not give vent to it in open murmurs, were far from
moving with their wonted alacrity.

He was aware, that, if this spirit became contagious, it would be the ruin
of the enterprise; and he thought it best to exterminate the gangrene; at
once, and at whatever cost, than to wait until it had infected the whole
system. He came to an extraordinary resolution.

Calling his men together, he told them that "a crisis had now arrived in
their affairs, which it demanded all their courage to meet. No man
should think of going forward in the expedition, who could not do so
with his whole heart, or who had the least misgiving as to its success. If
any repented of his share in it, it was not too late to turn back. San
Miguel was but poorly garrisoned, and he should be glad to see it in
greater strength. Those who chose might return to this place, and they
should be entitled to the same proportion of lands and Indian vassals as
the present residents. With the rest, were they few or many, who chose
to take their chance with him, he should pursue the adventure to the

It was certainly a remarkable proposal for a commander, who was
ignorant of the amount of disaffection in his ranks, and who could not
safely spare a single man from his force, already far too feeble for the
undertaking. Yet, by insisting on the wants of the little colony of San
Miguel, he afforded a decent pretext for the secession of the
malecontents, and swept away the barrier of shame which might have
still held them in the camp. Notwithstanding the fair opening thus
afforded, there were but few, nine in all, who availed themselves of the
general's permission. Four of these belonged to the infantry, and five to
the horse. The rest loudly declared their resolve to go forward with their
brave leader; and, if there were some whose voices were faint amidst the
general acclamation, they, at least, relinquished the right of complaining
hereafter, since they had voluntarily rejected the permission to return.11
This stroke of policy in their sagacious captain was attended with the
best effects. He had winnowed out the few grains of discontent, which,
if left to themselves, might have fermented in secret till the whole mass
had swelled into mutiny. Cortes had compelled his men to go forward
heartily in his enterprise, by burning their vessels, and thus cutting off
the only means of retreat. Pizarro, on the other hand, threw open the
gates to the disaffected and facilitated their departure. Both judged right,
under their peculiar circumstances, and both were perfectly successful.

Feeling himself strengthened, instead of weakened, by his loss, Pizarro
now resumed his march, and, on the second day, arrived before a place
called Zaran, situated in a fruitful valley among the mountains. Some of
the inhabitants had been drawn off to swell the levies of Atahuallpa. The
Spaniards had repeated experience on their march of the oppressive
exactions of the Inca, who had almost depopulated some of the valleys to
obtain reinforcements for his army. The curaca of the Indian town where
Pizarro now arrived, received him with kindness and hospitality, and the
troops were quartered as usual in one of the royal tambos or
caravansaries, which were found in all the principal places.12

Yet the Spaniards saw no signs of their approach to the royal
encampment, though more time had already elapsed than was originally
allowed for reaching it. Shortly before entering Zaran, Pizarro had heard
that a Peruvian garrison was established in a place called Caxas, lying
among the hills, at no great distance from his present quarters. He
immediately despatched a small party under Hernando de Soto in that
direction, to reconnoitre the ground, and bring him intelligence of the
actual state of things, at Zaran, where he would halt until his officer's

Day after day passed on, and a week had elapsed before tidings were
received of his companions, and Pizarro was becoming seriously alarmed
for their fate, when on the eighth morning Soto appeared, bringing with
him an envoy from the Inca himself. He was a person of rank, and was
attended by several followers of inferior condition. He had met the
Spaniards at Caxas, and now accompanied them on their return, to
deliver his sovereign's message, with a present to the Spanish
commander. The present consisted of two fountains, made of stone, in
the form of fortresses; some fine stuffs of woollen embroidered with gold
and silver; and a quantity of goose-flesh, dried and seasoned in a peculiar
manner, and much used as a perfume, in a pulverized state, by the
Peruvian nobles.13 The Indian ambassador came charged also with his
master's greeting to the strangers, whom Atahuallpa welcomed to his
country, and invited to visit him in his camp among the mountains.14

Pizarro well understood that the Inca's object in this diplomatic visit was
less to do him courtesy, than to inform himself of the strength and
condition of the invaders. But he was well pleased with the embassy,
and dissembled his consciousness of its real purpose. He caused the
Peruvian to be entertained in the best manner the camp could afford, and
paid hint the respect, says one of the Conquerors, due to the ambassador
of so great a monarch.15 Pizarro urged him to prolong his visit for some
days, which the Indian envoy declined, but made the most of his time
while there, by gleaning all the information he could in respect to the
uses of every strange article which he saw, as well as the object of the
white men's visit to the land, and the quarter whence they came.

The Spanish captain satisfied his curiosity in all these particulars. The
intercourse with the natives, it may be here remarked, was maintained by
means of two of the youths who had accompanied the Conquerors on
their return home from their preceding voyage. They had been taken by
Pizarro to Spain, and, as much pains had been bestowed on teaching
them the Castilian, they now filled the office of interpreters, and opened
an easy communication with their countrymen. It was of inestimable
service; and well did the Spanish commander reap the fruits of his

On the departure of the Peruvian messenger, Pizarro presented hint with
a cap of crimson cloth, some cheap but showy ornaments of glass, and
other toys, which he had brought for the purpose from Castile. He
charged the envoy to tell his master, that the Spaniards came from a
powerful prince, who dwelt far beyond the waters; that they had heard
much of the fame of Atahuallpa's victories, and were come to pay their
respects to him, and to offer their services by aiding him with their arms
against his enemies; and he might be assured, they would not halt on the
road, longer than was necessary, before presenting themselves before

Pizarro now received from Soto a full account of his late expedition.
That chief, on entering Caxas, found the inhabitants mustered in hostile
array, as if to dispute his passage. But the cavalier soon convinced them
of his pacific intentions, and, laying aside their menacing attitude, they
received the Spaniards with the same courtesy which had been shown
them in most places on their march.

Here Soto found one of the royal officers, employed in collecting the
tribute for the government. From this functionary he learned that the
Inca was quartered with a large army at Caxamalca, a place of
considerable size on the other side of the Cordillera, where he was
enjoying the luxury of the warm baths, supplied by natural springs, for
which it was then famous, as it is at the present day. The cavalier
gathered, also, much important information in regard to the resources
and the general policy of government, the state maintained by the Inca,
and the stern severity with which obedience to the law was everywhere
enforced. He had some opportunity of observing this for himself, as, on
entering the village, he saw several Indians hanging dead by their heels,
having been executed for some violence offered to the Virgins of the
Sun, of whom there was a convent in the neighborhood.17

From Caxas, De Soto had passed to the adjacent town of Guancabamba,
much larger, more populous, and better built than the preceding. The
houses, instead of being made of clay baked in the sun, were many of
them constructed of solid stone, so nicely put together, that it was
impossible to detect the line of junction. A river, which passed through
the town, was traversed by a bridge, and the high road of the Incas,
which crossed this district, was far superior to that which the Spaniards
had seen on the sea-board. It was raised in many places, like a
causeway, paved with heavy stone flags, and bordered by trees that
afforded a grateful shade to the passenger, while streams of water were
conducted through aqueducts along the sides to slake his thirst. At
certain distances, also, they noticed small houses, which, they were told,
were for the accommodation of the traveller, who might thus pass,
without inconvenience, from one end of the kingdom to the other.18 In
another quarter they beheld one of those magazines destined for the
army, filled with grain, and with articles of clothing; and at the entrance
of the town was a stone building, occupied by a public officer, whose
business it was to collect the toils or duties on various commodities
brought into the place, or carried out of it.19 These accounts of De Soto
not only confirmed all that the Spaniards had heard of the Indian empire,
but greatly raised their ideas of its resources and domestic policy. They
might well have shaken the confidence of hearts less courageous.

Pizarro, before leaving his present quarters, despatched a messenger to
San Miguel with particulars of his movements, sending, at the same time,
the articles received from the Inca, as well as those obtained at different
places on the route. The skill shown in the execution of some of these
fabrics excited great admiration, when sent to Castile. The fine woollen
cloths, especially, with their rich embroidery, were pronounced equal to
silk, from which it was not easy to distinguish them. It was probably the
delicate wool of the vicuna, none of which had then been seen in

Pizarro, having now acquainted himself with the most direct route to
Caxamalca,--the Caxamarca of the present day,--resumed his march,
taking a direction nearly south. The first place of any size at which he
halted was Motupe, pleasantly situated in a fruitful valley, among hills of
no great elevation, which cluster round the base of the Cordilleras. The
place was deserted by its curaca, who, with three hundred of its warriors,
had gone to join the standard of their Inca. Here the general,
notwithstanding his avowed purpose to push forward without delay,
halted four days. The tardiness of his movements can be explained only
by the hope, which he may have still entertained of being joined by
further reinforcements before crossing the Cordilleras. None such
appeared, however; and advancing across a country in which tracts of
sandy plain were occasionally relieved by a broad expanse of verdant
meadow, watered by natural streams and still more abundantly by those
brought through artificial channels, the troops at length arrived at the
borders of a river. It was broad and deep, and the rapidity of the current
opposed more than ordinary difficulty to the passage. Pizarro,
apprehensive lest this might be disputed by the natives on the opposite
bank, ordered his brother Hernando to cross over with a small
detachement under cover of night, and secure a safe landing for the rest
of the troops. At break of day Pizarro made preparations for his own
passage, by hewing timber in the neighboring woods, and constructing a
sort of floating bridge, on which before nightfall the whole company
passed in safety, the horses swimming, being led by the bridle. It was a
day of severe labor, and Pizarro took his own share in it freely, like a
common soldier, having ever a word of encouragement to say to his

On reaching the opposite side, they learned from their comrades that the
people of the country, instead of offering resistance, had fled in dismay.
One of them, having been taken and brought before Hernando Pizarro,
refused to answer the questions put to him respecting the Inca and his
army; till, being put to the torture, he stated that Atahuallpa was
encamped, with his whole force, in three separate divisions, occupying
the high grounds and plains of Caxamalca. He further stated, that the
Inca was aware of the approach of the white men and of their small
number, and that he was purposely decoying them into his own quarters,
that he might have them more completely in his power.

This account, when reported by Hernando to his brother, caused the
latter much anxiety. As the timidity of the peasantry, however, gradually
wore off, some of them mingled with the troops, and among them the
curaca or principal person of the village. He had himself visited the
royal camp, and he informed the general that Atahuallpa lay at the strong
town of Guamachucho, twenty leagues or more south of Caxamalca, with
an army of at least fifty thousand men.

These contradictory statements greatly perplexed the chieftain; and he
proposed to one of the Indians who had borne him company during a
great part of the march, to go as a spy into the Inca's quarters, and bring
him intelligence of his actual position, and, as far as he could learn them,
of his intentions towards the Spaniards. But the man positively declined
this dangerous service, though he professed his willingness to go as an
authorized messenger of the Spanish commander.

Pizarro acquiesced in this proposal, and instructed his envoy to assure
the Inca that he was advancing with all convenient speed to meet him.
He was to acquaint the monarch with the uniformly considerate conduct
of the Spaniards towards his subjects, in their progress through the land,
and to assure him that they were now coming in full confidence of
finding in him the same amicable feelings towards themselves. The
emissary was particularly instructed to observe if the strong passes on the
road were defended, or if any preparations of a hostile character were to
be discerned. This last intelligence he was to communicate to the
general by means of two or three nimble-footed attendants, who were to
accompany him on his mission.21

Having taken this precaution, the wary commander again resumed his
march, and at the end of three days reached the base of the mountain
rampart, behind which lay the ancient town of Caxamalca. Before him
rose the stupendous Andes, rock piled upon rock, their skirts below dark
with evergreen forests, varied here and there by terraced patches of
cultivated garden, with the peasant's cottage clinging to their shaggy
sides, and their crests of snow glittering high in the heavens,--presenting
altogether such a wild chaos of magnificence and beauty as no other
mountain scenery in the world can show. Across this tremendous
rampart, through a labyrinth of passes, easily capable of defence by a
handful of men against an army, the troops were now to march. To the
right ran a broad and level road, with its border of friendly shades, and
wide enough for two carriages to pass abreast. It was one of the great
routes leading to Cuzco, and seemed by its pleasant and easy access to
invite the wayworn soldier to choose it in preference to the dangerous
mountain defiles. Many were accordingly of opinion that the army
should take this course, and abandon the original destination to
Caxamalca. But such was not the decision of Pizarro.

The Spaniards had everywhere proclaimed their purpose, he said, to visit
the Inca in his camp. This purpose had been communicated to the Inca
himself. To take an opposite direction now would only be to draw on
them the imputation of cowardice, and to incur Atahuallpa's contempt.
No alternative remained but to march straight across the sierra to his
quarters "Let every one of you," said the bold cavalier, "take heart and
go forward like a good soldier, nothing daunted by the smallness of your
numbers. For in the greatest extremity God ever fights for his own; and
doubt not he will humble the pride of the heathen, and bring him to the
knowledge of the true faith, the great end and object of the Conquest."

Pizarro, like Cortes, possessed a good share of that frank and manly
eloquence which touches the heart of the soldier more than the parade of
rhetoric or the finest flow of elocution. He was a soldier himself, and
partook in all the feelings of the soldier, his joys, his hopes, and his
disappointments. He was not raised by rank and education above
sympathy with the humblest of his followers. Every chord in their
bosoms vibrated with the same pulsations as his own, and the conviction
of this gave him a mastery over them. "Lead on," they shouted, as he
finished his brief but animating address, "lead on wherever you think
best. We will follow with good-will, and you shall see that we can do our
duty in the cause of God and the King!" 23 There was no longer
hesitation. All thoughts were now bent on the instant passage of the

Book 3

Chapter 4

Severe Passage Of The Andes--Embassies From Atahuallpa--
The Spaniards Reach Caxamalca--Embassy To The Inca--
Interview With The Inca--Despondency Of The Spaniards


That night Pizarro held a council of his principal officers, and it was
determined that he should lead the advance, consisting of forty horse and
sixty foot, and reconnoitre the ground; while the rest of the company,
under his brother Hernando, should occupy their present position till they
received further orders.

At early dawn the Spanish general and his detachment were under arms,
and prepared to breast the difficulties of the sierra. These proved even
greater than had been foreseen. The path had been conducted in the
most judicious manner round the rugged and precipitous sides of the
mountains, so as best to avoid the natural impediments presented by the
ground. But it was necessarily so steep, in many places, that the cavalry
were obliged to dismount, and, scrambling up as they could, to lead their
horses by the bridle. In many places, too, where some huge crag or
eminence overhung the road, this was driven to the very verge of the
precipice; and the traveller was compelled to wind along the narrow
ledge of rock, scarcely wide enough for his single steed, where a misstep
would precipitate him hundreds, nay, thousands, of feet into the dreadful
abyss! The wild passes of the sierra, practicable for the half-naked
Indian, and even for the sure and circumspect mule,--an animal that
seems to have been created for the roads of the Cordilleras,--were
formidable to the man-at-arms encumbered with his panoply of mail.
The tremendous fissures or quebradas, so frightful in this mountain
chain, yawned open, as if the Andes had been split asunder by some
terrible convulsion, showing a broad expanse of the primitive rock on
their sides, partially mantled over with the spontaneous vegetation of
ages; while their obscure depths furnished a channel for the torrents, that,
rising in the heart of the sierra, worked their way gradually into light, and
spread over the savannas and green valleys of the tierra caliente on their
way to the great ocean.

Many of these passes afforded obvious points of defence; and the
Spaniards, as they entered the rocky defiles, looked with apprehension
lest they might rouse some foe from his ambush. This apprehension was
heightened, as, at the summit of a steep and narrow gorge, in which they
were engaged, they beheld a strong work, rising like a fortress, and
frowning, as it were, in gloomy defiance on the invaders. As they drew
near this building, which was of solid stone, commanding an angle of the
road, they almost expected to see the dusky forms of the warriors rise
over the battlements, and to receive their tempest of missiles on their
bucklers; for it was in so strong a position, that a few resolute men might
easily have held there an army at bay. But they had the satisfaction to
find the place untenanted, and their spirits were greatly raised by the
conviction that the Indian monarch did not intend to dispute their
passage, when it would have been easy to do so with success.

Pizarro now sent orders to his brother to follow without delay; and, after
refreshing his men, continued his toilsome ascent, and before nightfall
reached an eminence crowned by another fortress, of even greater
strength than the preceding. It was built of solid masonry, the lower part
excavated from the living rock, and the whole work executed with skill
not inferior to that of the European architect.1

Here Pizarro took up his quarters for the night. Without waiting for the
arrival of the rear, on the following morning he resumed his march,
leading still deeper into the intricate gorges of the sierra. The climate
had gradually changed, and the men and horses, especially the latter,
suffered severely from the cold, so long accustomed as they had been to
the sultry climate of the tropics.2 The vegetation also had changed its
character; and the magnificent timber which covered the lower level of
the country had gradually given way to the funereal forest of pine, and,
as they rose still higher, to the stunted growth of numberless Alpine
plants, whose hardy natures found a congenial temperature in the icy
atmosphere of the more elevated regions. These dreary solitudes seemed
to be nearly abandoned by the brute creation as well as by man. The
light-looted vicuna, roaming in its native state, might be sometimes seen
looking down from some airy cliff, where the foot of the hunter dared not
venture. But instead of the feathered tribes whose gay plumage sparkled
in the deep glooms of the tropical forests, the adventurers now beheld
only the great bird of the Andes, the loathsome condor, who, sailing high
above the clouds, followed with doleful cries in the track of the army, as
if guided by instinct in the path of blood and carnage.

At length they reached the crest of the Cordillera, where it spreads out
into a bold and bleak expanse, with scarce the vestige of vegetation,
except what is afforded by the pajonal, a dried yellow grass, which, as it
is seen from below, encircling the base of the snow-covered peaks,
looks, with its brilliant straw-color lighted up in the rays of an ardent
sun, like a setting of gold round pinnacles of burnished silver. The land
was sterile, as usual in mining districts, and they were drawing near the
once famous gold quarries on the way to Caxamalca;

"Rocks rich in gems, and mountains big with mines,
That on the high equator ridgy rise."

Here Pizarro halted for the coming up of the rear. The air was sharp and
frosty; and the soldiers, spreading their tents, lighted fires, and, huddling
round them, endeavored to find some repose after their laborious

They had not been long in these quarters, when a messenger arrived, one
of those who had accompanied the Indian envoy sent by Pizarro to
Atahuallpa. He informed the general that the road was free from
enemies, and that an embassy from the Inca was on its way to the
Castilian camp. Pizarro now sent back to quicken the march of the rear,
as he was unwilling that the Peruvian envoy should find him with his
present diminished numbers. The rest of the army were not far distant,
and not long after reached the encampment.

In a short time the Indian embassy also arrived, which consisted of one
of the Inca nobles and several attendants, bringing a welcome present of
llamas to the Spanish commander. The Peruvian bore, also, the
greetings of his master, who wished to know when the Spaniards would
arrive at Caxamalca, that he might provide suitable refreshments for
them. Pizarro learned that the Inca had left Guamachucho, and was now
lying with a small force in the neighborhood of Caxamalca, at a place
celebrated for its natural springs of warm water. The Peruvian was an
intelligent person, and the Spanish commander gathered from him many
particulars respecting the late contests which had distracted the empire.

As the envoy vaunted in lofty terms the military prowess and resources
of his sovereign, Pizarro thought it politic to show that it had no power to
overawe him. He expressed his satisfaction at the triumphs of
Atahuallpa, who, he acknowledged, had raised himself high in the rank
of Indian warriors. But he was as inferior, he added with more policy
than politeness, to the monarch who ruled over the white men, as the
petty curacas of the country were inferior to him. This was evident from
the ease with which a few Spaniards had overrun this great continent,
subduing one nation after another, that had offered resistance to their
arms. He had been led by the fame of Atahuallpa to visit his dominions,
and to offer him his services in his wars; and, if he were received by the
Inca in the same friendly spirit with which he came, he was willing, for
the aid he could render him, to postpone awhile his passage across the
country to the opposite seas. The Indian, according to the Castilian
accounts, listened with awe to this strain of glorification from the
Spanish commander. Yet it is possible that the envoy was a better
diplomatist than they imagined; and that he understood it was only the
game of brag at which he was playing with his more civilized

On the succeeding morning, at an early hour, the troops were again on
their march, and for two days were occupied in threading the airy defiles
of the Cordilleras. Soon after beginning their descent on the eastern
side, another emissary arrived from the Inca, bearing a message of
similar import to the preceding, and a present, in like manner, of
Peruvian sheep. This was the same noble that had visited Pizarro in the
valley. He now came in more state, quaffing chicha--the fermented juice
of the maize-from golden goblets borne by his attendants, which sparkled
in the eyes of the rapacious adventurers.5

While he was in the camp, the Indian messenger, originally sent by
Pizarro to the Inca, returned, and no sooner did he behold the Peruvian,
and the honorable reception which he met with from the Spaniards, than
he was filled with wrath, which would have vented itself in personal

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