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History Of The Conquest Of Peru by William Hickling Prescott

Part 9 out of 11

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But the great body of the Spaniards, after what they had heard, had
slender confidence in the relief to be obtained from this quarter. They
now turned with more eagerness than ever towards Gonzalo Pizarro; and
letters and addresses poured in upon him from all parts of the country,
inviting him to take on himself the office of their protector. These
applications found a more favorable response than on the former

There were, indeed, many motives at work to call Gonzalo into action. It
was to his family, mainly, that Spain was indebted for this extension of
her colonial empire; and he had felt deeply aggrieved that the
government of the colony should be trusted to other hands than his. He
had felt this on the arrival of Vaca de Castro, and much more so when
the appointment of a viceroy proved it to be the settled policy of the
Crown to exclude his family from the management of affairs. His
brother Hernando still languished in prison, and he himself was now to
be sacrificed as the principal victim of the fatal ordinances. For who had
taken so prominent a part in the civil war with the elder Almagro? And
the viceroy was currently reported--it may have been scandal---to have
intimated that Pizarro would be dealt with accordingly.20 Yet there was
no one in the country who had so great a stake, who had so much to lose
by the revolution. Abandoned thus by the government, he conceived that
it was now time to take care of himself.

Assembling together some eighteen or twenty cavaliers in whom he most
trusted, and taking a large amount of silver, drawn from the mines, he
accepted the invitation to repair to Cuzco. As he approached this capital,
he was met by a numerous body of the citizens, who came out to
welcome him, making the air ring with their shouts, as they saluted him
with the title of Procurator-General of Peru. The title was speedily
confirmed by the municipality of the city, who invited him to head a
deputation to Lima, in order to state their grievances to the viceroy, and
solicit the present suspension of the ordinances.

But the spark of ambition was kindled in the bosom of Pizarro. He felt
strong in the affections of the people; and, from the more elevated
position in which he now stood, his desires took a loftier and more
unbounded range. Yet, if he harbored a criminal ambition in his breast,
he skilfully veiled it from others--perhaps from himself. The only object
he professed to have in view was the good of the people;21 a suspicious
phrase, usually meaning the good of the individual. He now demanded
permission to raise and organize an armed force, with the further title of
Captain-General. His views were entirely pacific; but it was not safe,
unless strongly protected, to urge them on a person of the viceroy's
impatient and arbitrary temper. It was further contended by Pizarro's
friends, that such a force was demanded, to rid the country of their old
enemy, the Inca Manco, who hovered in the neighboring mountains with
a body of warriors, ready, at the first opportunity, to descend on the
Spaniards. The municipality of Cuzco hesitated, as well it might, to
confer powers so far beyond its legitimate authority. But Pizarro avowed
his purpose, in case of refusal, to decline the office of Procurator; and
the efforts of his partisans, backed by those of the people, at length
silenced the scruples of the magistrates, who bestowed on the ambitious
chief the military command to which he aspired. Pizarro accepted it with
the modest assurance, that he did so "purely from regard to the interests
of the king, of the Indies, and, above all, of Peru!" 22

Book 4

Chapter 8

The Viceroy Arrives At Lima--Gonzalo Pizarro Marches From Cuzco--
Death Of The Inca Manco--Rash Conduct Of The Viceroy--
Seized And Deposed By The Audience--
Gonzalo Proclaimed Governor Of Peru


While the events recorded in the preceding pages were in progress,
Blasco Nunez had been journeying towards Lima. But the alienation
which his conduct had already caused in the minds of the colonists was
shown in the cold reception which he occasionally experienced on the
route, and in the scanty accommodations provided for him and his
retinue. In one place where he took up his quarters, he found an ominous
inscription over the door:--"He that takes my property must expect to pay
for it with his life." 1 Neither daunted, nor diverted from his purpose,
the inflexible viceroy held on his way towards the capital, where the
inhabitants, preceded by Vaca de Castro and the municipal authorities,
came out to receive him. He entered in great state, under a canopy of
crimson cloth, embroidered with the arms of Spain, and supported by
stout poles or staves of solid silver, which were borne by the members of
the municipality. A cavalier, holding a mace, the emblem of authority,
rode before him; and after the oaths of office were administered in the
council-chamber, the procession moved towards the cathedral, where Te
Deum was sung, and Blasco Nunez was installed in his new dignity of
viceroy of Peru.2

His first act was to proclaim his determination in respect to the
ordinances. He had no warrant to suspend their execution. He should
fulfil his commission; but he offered to join the colonists in a memorial
to the emperor, soliciting the repeal of a code which he now believed
would be for the interests neither of the country nor of the Crown.3
With this avowed view of the subject, it may seem strange that Blasco
Nunez should not have taken the responsibility of suspending the law
until his sovereign could be assured of the inevitable consequences of
enforcing it. The pacha of a Turkish despot, who had allowed himself
this latitude for the interests of his master, might, indeed, have reckoned
on the bowstring. But the example of Mendoza, the prudent viceroy of
Mexico who adopted this course in a similar crisis, and precisely at the
same period, showed its propriety under existing circumstances. The
ordinances were suspended by him till the Crown could be warned of the
consequences of enforcing them,--and Mexico was saved from
revolution.4 But Blasco Nunez had not the wisdom of Mendoza.

The public apprehension was now far from being allayed. Secret cabals
were formed in Lima, and communications held with the different towns.
No distrust, however, was raised in the breast of the viceroy, and, when
informed of the preparations of Gonzalo Pizarro, he took no other step
than to send a message to his camp, announcing the extraordinary
powers with which he was himself invested, and requiring that chief to
disband his forces. He seemed to think that a mere word from him
would be sufficient to dissipate rebellion. But it required more than a
breath to scatter the iron soldiery of Peru.

Gonzalo Pizarro, meanwhile, was busily occupied in mustering his army.
His first step was to order from Guamanga sixteen pieces of artillery,
sent there by Vaca de Castro, who, in the present state of excitement,
was unwilling to trust the volatile people of Cuzco with these implements
of destruction. Gonzalo, who had no scruples as to Indian labor,
appropriated six thousand of the natives to the service of transporting
this train of ordnance across the mountains.5

By his exertions and those of his friends, the active chief soon mustered
a force of nearly four hundred men, which, if not very imposing in the
outset, he conceived would be swelled, in his descent to the coast, by
tributary levies from the towns and villages on the way. All his own
funds were expended in equipping his men and providing for the march;
and, to supply deficiencies, he made no scruple---since, to use his words,
it was for the public interest--to appropriate the moneys in the royal
treasury. With this seasonable aid, his troops, well mounted and
thoroughly equipped, were put in excellent fighting order; and, after
making them a brief harangue, in which he was careful to insist on the
pacific character of his enterprise, somewhat at variance with its military
preparations, Gonzalo Pizarro sallied forth from the gates of the capital.

Before leaving it, he received an important accession of strength in the
person of Francisco de Carbajal, the veteran who performed so
conspicuous a part in the battle of Chupas. He was at Charcas when the
news of the ordinances reached Peru; and he instantly resolved to quit
the country and return to Spain, convinced that the New World would be
no longer the land for him,--no longer the golden Indies. Turning his
effects into money, he prepared to embark them on board the first ship
that offered. But no opportunity occurred, and he could have little
expectation now of escaping the vigilant eye of the viceroy. Yet, though
solicited by Pizarro to take command under him in the present
expedition, the veteran declined, saying, he was eighty years old, and had
no wish but to return home, and spend his few remaining days in quiet.6
Well had it been for him, had he persisted in his refusal. But he yielded
to the importunities of his friend; and the short space that yet remained to
him of life proved long enough to brand his memory with perpetual

Soon after quitting Cuzco, Pizarro learned the death of the Inca Manco.
He was massacred by a party of Spaniards, of the faction of Almagro,
who, on the defeat of their young leader, had taken refuge in the Indian
camp. They, in turn, were all slain by the Peruvians. It is impossible to
determine on whom the blame of the quarrel should rest, since no one
present at the time has recorded it.7

The death of Manco Inca, as he was commonly called, is an event not to
be silently passed over in Peruvian history; for he was the last of his race
that may be said to have been animated by the heroic spirit of the ancient
Incas. Though placed on the throne by Pizarro, far from remaining a
mere puppet in his hands, Manco soon showed that his lot was not to be
cast with that of his conquerors. With the ancient institutions of his
country lying a wreck around him, he yet struggled bravely, like
Guatemozin, the last of the Aztecs, to uphold her tottering fortunes, or to
bury his oppressors under her ruins. By the assault on his own capital of
Cuzco, in which so large a portion of it was demolished, he gave a check
to the arms of Pizarro, and, for a season, the fate of the Conquerors
trembled in the balance. Though foiled, in the end, by the superior
science of his adversary, the young barbarian still showed the same
unconquerable spirit as before. He withdrew into the fastnesses of his
native mountains, whence sallying forth as occasion offered, he fell on
the caravan of the traveller, or on some scattered party of the military;
and, in the event of a civil war, was sure to throw his own weight into the
weaker scale, thus prolonging the contest of his enemies, and feeding his
revenge by the sight of their calamities. Moving lightly from spot to
spot, he eluded pursuit amidst the wilds of the Cordilleras; and, hovering
in the neighborhood of the towns, or lying in ambush on the great
thoroughfares of the country, the Inca Manco made his name a terror to
the Spaniards. Often did they hold out to him terms of accommodation;
and every succeeding ruler, down to Blasco Nunez, bore instructions
from the Crown to employ every art to conciliate the formidable warrior.
But Manco did not trust the promises of the white man; and he chose
rather to maintain his savage independence in the mountains, with the
few brave spirits around him, than to live a slave in the land which had
once owned the sway of his ancestors.

The death of the Inca removed one of the great pretexts for Gonzalo
Pizarro's military preparations; but it had little influence on him, as may
be readily imagined. He was much more sensible to the desertion of
some of his followers, which took place early on the march. Several of
the cavaliers of Cuzco, startled by his unceremonious appropriation of
the public moneys, and by the belligerent aspect of affairs, now for the
first time seemed to realize that they were in the path of rebellion. A
number of these, including some principal men of the city, secretly
withdrew from the army, and, hastening to Lima, offered their services to
the viceroy. The troops were disheartened by this desertion, and even
Pizarro for a moment faltered in his purpose, and thought of retiring with
some fifty followers to Charcas, and there making his composition with
government. But a little reflection, aided by the remonstrances of the
courageous Carbajal, who never turned his back on an enterprise which
he had once assumed, convinced him that he had gone too far to recede,-
-that his only safety was to advance.

He was reassured by more decided manifestations, which he soon after
received, of the public opinion. An officer named Puelles, who
commanded at Guanuco, joined him, with a body of horse with which he
had been intrusted by the viceroy. This defection was followed by that
of others, and Gonzalo, as he descended the sides of the table-land,
found his numbers gradually swelled to nearly double the amount with
which he had left the Indian capital.

As he traversed with a freer step the bloody field of Chupas, Carbajal
pointed out the various localities of the battle-ground, and Pizarro might
have found food for anxious reflection, as he meditated on the fortunes
of a rebel. At Guamanga he was received with open arms by the
inhabitants, many of whom eagerly enlisted under his banner; for they
trembled for their property, as they heard from all quarters of the
inflexible temper of the viceroy.8

That functionary began now to be convinced that he was in a critical
position. Before Puelles's treachery, above noticed, had been
consummated, the viceroy had received some vague intimation of his
purpose. Though scarcely crediting it, he detached one of his company,
named Diaz, with a force to intercept him. But, although that cavalier
undertook the mission with alacrity, he was soon after prevailed on to
follow the example of his comrade, and, with the greater part of the men
under his command, went over to the enemy. In the civil feuds of this
unhappy land, parties changed sides so lightly, that treachery to a
commander had almost ceased to be a stain on the honor of a cavalier.
Yet all, on whichever side they cast their fortunes, loudly proclaimed
their loyalty to the Crown.

Thus betrayed by his own men, by those apparently most devoted to his
service, Blasco Nunez became suspicious of every one around him.
Unfortunately, his suspicions fell on some who were most deserving of
his confidence. Among these was his predecessor, Vaca de Castro. That
officer had conducted himself, in the delicate situation in which he had
been placed, with his usual discretion, and with perfect integrity and
honor. He had frankly communicated with the viceroy, and well had it
been for Blasco Nunez, if he had known how to profit by it. But he was
too much puffed up by the arrogance of office, and by the conceit of his
own superior wisdom, to defer much to the counsels of his experienced
predecessor. The latter was now suspected by the viceroy of maintaining
a secret correspondence with his enemies at Cuzco,--a suspicion which
seems to have had no better foundation than the personal friendship
which Vaca de Castro was known to entertain for these individuals. But,
with Blasco Nunez, to suspect was to be convinced; and he ordered De
Castro to be placed under arrest, and confined on board of a vessel lying
in the harbor. This high-handed measure was followed by the arrest and
imprisonment of several other cavaliers, probably on grounds equally

He now turned his attention towards the enemy. Notwithstanding his
former failure, he still did not altogether despair of effecting something
by negotiation, and he sent another embassy, having the bishop of Lima
at its head, to Gonzalo Pizarro's camp, with promises of a general
amnesty, and some proposals of a more tempting character to the
commander. But this step, while it proclaimed his own weakness, had no
better success than the preceding.10

The viceroy now vigorously prepared for war. His first care was to put
the capital in a posture of defence, by strengthening its fortifications, and
throwing barricades across the streets. He ordered a general enrolment
of the citizens, and called in levies from the neighboring towns,-a call
not very promptly answered. A squadron of eight or ten vessels was got
ready in the port to act in concert with the land forces. The bells were
taken from the churches, and used in the manufacture of muskets;11 and
funds were procured from the fifths which had accumulated in the royal
treasury. The most extravagant bounty was offered to the soldiers, and
prices were paid for mules and horses, which showed that gold, or rather
silver, was the commodity of least value in Peru.12 By these efforts, the
active commander soon assembled a force considerably larger than that
of his adversary. But how could he confide in it?

While these preparations were going forward, the judges of the Audience
arrived at Lima. They had shown, throughout their progress, no great
respect either for the ordinances, or the will of the viceroy; for they had
taxed the poor natives as freely and unscrupulously as any of the
Conquerors. We have seen the entire want of cordiality subsisting
between them and their principal in Panama. It became more apparent,
on their landing at Lima. They disapproved of his proceedings in every
particular; of his refusal to suspend the ordinances,--although, in fact, he
had found no opportunity, of late, to enforce them; of his preparations
for defence, declaring that he ought rather trust to the effect of
negotiation; and, finally, of his imprisonment of so many loyal cavaliers,
which they pronounced an arbitrary act, altogether beyond the bounds of
his authority; and they did not scruple to visit the prison in person, and
discharge the captives from their confinement.13

This bold proceeding, while it conciliated the good-will of the people,
severed, at once, all relations with the viceroy. There was in the
Audience a lawyer, named Cepeda, a cunning, ambitious man, with
considerable knowledge in the way of his profession, and with still
greater talent for intrigue. He did not disdain the low arts of a
demagogue to gain the favor of the populace, and trusted to find his own
account in fomenting a misunderstanding with Blasco Nunez. The latter,
it must be confessed, did all in his power to aid his counsellor in this
laudable design.

A certain cavalier in the place, named Suarez de Carbajal, who had long
held an office under government, fell under the viceroy's displeasure, on
suspicion of conniving at the secession of some of his kinsmen, who had
lately taken part with the malecontents. The viceroy summoned Carbajal
to attend him at his palace, late at night; and when conducted to his
presence, he bluntly charged him with treason. The latter stoutly denied
the accusation, in tones as haughty as those of his accuser. The
altercation grew warm, until, in the heat of passion, Blasco Nunez struck
him with his poniard. In an instant, the attendants, taking this as a signal,
plunged their swords into the body of the unfortunate man, who fell
lifeless on the floor.14

Greatly alarmed for the consequences of his rash act,--for Carbajal was
much beloved in Lima,--Blasco Nunez ordered the corpse of the
murdered man to be removed by a private stairway from the house, and
carried to the cathedral, where, rolled in his bloody cloak, it was laid in a
grave hastily dug to receive it. So tragic a proceeding, known to so
many witnesses, could not long be kept secret. Vague rumors of the fact
explained the mysterious disappearance of Carbajal. The grave was
opened, and the mangled remains of the slaughtered cavalier established
the guilt of the viceroy.15

From this hour Blasco Nunez was held in universal abhorrence; and his
crime, in this instance, assumed the deeper dye of ingratitude, since the
deceased was known to have had the greatest influence in reconciling the
citizens early to his government. No one knew where the blow would
fall next, or how soon he might himself become the victim of the
ungovernable passions of the viceroy. In this state of things, some
looked to the Audience, and yet more to Gonzalo Pizarro, to protect

That chief was slowly advancing towards Lima, from which, indeed, he
was removed but a few days' march. Greatly perplexed, Blasco Nunez
now felt the loneliness of his condition. Standing aloof, as it were from
his own followers, thwarted by the Audience, betrayed by his soldiers, he
might well feel the consequences of his misconduct. Yet there seemed
no other course for him, but either to march out and meet the enemy, or
to remain in Lima and defend it. He had placed the town in a posture of
defence, which argued this last to have been his original purpose. But he
felt he could no longer rely on his troops, and he decided on a third
course, most unexpected.

This was to abandon the capital, and withdraw to Truxillo, about eighty
leagues distant. The women would embark on board the squadron, and,
with the effects of the citizens, be transported by water. The troops, with
the rest of the inhabitants, would march by land, laying waste the country
as they proceeded. Gonzalo Pizarro, when he arrived at Lima, would
find it without supplies for his army, and, thus straitened he would not
care to take a long march across a desert in search of his enemy.16

What the viceroy proposed to effect by this movement is not clear,
unless it were to gain time; and yet the more time he had gained, thus far,
the worse it had proved for him. But he was destined to encounter a
decided opposition from the judges. They contended that he had no
warrant for such an act, and that the Audience could not lawfully hold its
sessions out of the capital. Blasco Nunez persisted in his determination,
menacing that body with force, if necessary. The judges appealed to the
citizens to support them in resisting such an arbitrary measure. They
mustered a force for their own protection, and that same day passed a
decree that the viceroy should be arrested.

Late at night, Blasco Nunez was informed of the hostile preparations of
the judges. He instantly summoned his followers, to the number of more
than two hundred, put on his armour, and prepared to march out at the
head of his troops against the Audience. This was the true course; for in
a crisis like that in which he was placed, requiring promptness and
decision, the presence of the leader is essential to insure success. But,
unluckily, he yielded to the remonstrances of his brother and other
friends, who dissuaded him from rashly exposing his life in such a

What Blasco Nunez neglected to do was done by the judges. They
sallied forth at the head of their followers, whose number, though small
at first, they felt confident would be swelled by volunteers as they
advanced. Rushing forward, they cried out,--"Liberty! Liberty! Long
live the king and the Audience! " It was early dawn, and the inhabitants,
startled from their slumbers, ran to the windows and balconies, and,
learning the object of the movement, some snatched up their arms and
joined in it, while the women, waving their scarfs and kerchiefs, cheered
on the assault.

When the mob arrived before the viceroy's palace, they halted for a
moment, uncertain what to do. Orders were given to fire on them from
the windows, and a volley passed over their heads. No one was injured;
and the greater part of the viceroy's men, with most of the officers,
including some of those who had been so anxious for his personal safety,
--now openly joined the populace. The palace was then entered, and
abandoned to pillage. Blasco Nunez, deserted by all but a few faithful
adherents, made no resistance. He surrendered to the assailants, was led
before the judges, and by them was placed in strict confinement. The
citizens, delighted with the result, provided a collation for the soldiers;
and the affair ended without the loss of a single life. Never was there so
bloodless a revolution.17

The first business of the judges was to dispose of the prisoner. He was
sent, under a strong guard, to a neighboring island, till some measures
could be taken respecting him. He was declared to be deposed from his
office; a provisional government was established, consisting of their own
body, with Cepeda at its head, as president; and its first act was to
pronounce the detested ordinances suspended, till instructions could be
received from Court. It was also decided to send Blasco Nunez back to
Spain with one of their own body, who should explain to the emperor the
nature of the late disturbances, and vindicate the measures of the
Audience. This was soon put in execution. The Licentiate Alvarez was
the person selected to bear the viceroy company; and the unfortunate
commander, after passing several days on the desolate island, with
scarcely any food, and exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather,
took his departure for Panama.18

A more formidable adversary yet remained in Gonzalo Pizarro, who had
now advanced to Xauxa, about ninety miles from Lima. Here he halted,
while numbers of the citizens prepared to join his banner, choosing
rather to take service under him than to remain under the selfconstituted
authority of the Audience. The judges, meanwhile, who had tasted the
sweets of office too short a time to be content to resign them, after
considerable delay, sent an embassy to the Procurator. They announced
to him the revolution that had taken place, and the suspension of the
ordinances. The great object of his mission had been thus accomplished;
and, as a new government was now organized, they called on him to
show his obedience to it, by disbanding his forces, and withdrawing to
the unmolested enjoyment of his estates. It was a bold demand, though
couched in the most courteous and complimentary phrase,--to make of
one in Pizarro's position. It was attempting to scare away the eagle just
ready to stoop on his prey. If the chief had faltered, however, he would
have been reassured by his lion-hearted lieutenant. "Never show faint
heart," exclaimed the latter, "when you are so near the goal. Success has
followed every step of your path. You have now only to stretch forth
your hand, and seize the government. Every thing else will follow."--
The envoy who brought the message from the judges was sent back with
the answer, that "the people had called Gonzalo Pizarro to the
government of the country, and, if the Audience did not at once invest
him with it, the city should be delivered up to pillage." 19

The bewildered magistrates were thrown into dismay by this decisive
answer. Yet loth to resign, they took counsel in their perplexity of Vaca
de Castro, still detained on board of one of the vessels. But that
commander had received too little favor at the hands of his successors to
think it necessary to peril his life on their account by thwarting the plans
of Pizarro. He maintained a discreet silence, therefore, and left the
matter to the wisdom of the Audience.

Meanwhile, Carbajal was sent into the city to quicken their deliberations.
He came at night, attended only by a small party of soldiers, intimating
his contempt of the power of the judges. His first act was to seize a
number of cavaliers, whom he dragged from their beds, and placed under
arrest. They were men of Cuzco, the same already noticed as having left
Pizarro's ranks soon after his departure from that capital. While the
Audience still hesitated as to the course they should pursue, Carbajal
caused three of his prisoners, persons of consideration and property, to
be placed on the backs of mules, and escorted out of town to the suburbs,
where, with brief space allowed for confession, he hung them all on the
branches of a tree. He superintended the execution himself, and
tauntingly complimented one of his victims, by telling him, that, "in
consideration of his higher rank, he should have the privilege of selecting
the bough on which to be hanged!"20 The ferocious officer would have
proceeded still further in his executions, it is said, had it not been for
orders received from his leader. But enough was done to quicken the
perceptions of the Audience as to their course, for they felt their own
lives suspended by a thread in such unscrupulous hands. Without further
delay, therefore, they sent to invite Gonzalo Pizarro to enter the city,
declaring that the security of the country and the general good required
the government to be placed in his hands.21

That chief had now advanced within half a league of the capital, which
soon after, on the twenty-eighth of October, 1544, he entered in battle-
array. His whole force was little short of twelve hundred Spaniards,
besides several thousand Indians, who dragged his heavy guns in the
advance.22 Then came the files of spearmen and arquebusiers, making a
formidable corps of infantry for a colonial army; and lastly, the cavalry,
at the head of which rode Pizarro himself, on a powerful charger, gaily
caparisoned. The rider was in complete mail, over which floated a richly
embroidered surcoat, and his head was protected by a crimson cap,
highly ornamented,--his showy livery setting off his handsome,
soldierlike person to advantage.23 Before him was borne the royal
standard of Castile; for every one, royalist or rebel, was careful to fight
under that sign. This emblem of loyalty was supported on the right by a
banner, emblazoned with the arms of Cuzco, and by another on the left,
displaying the armorial bearings granted by the Crown to the Pizarros.
As the martial pageant swept through the streets of Lima, the air was rent
with acclamations from the populace, and from the spectators in the
balconies. The cannon sounded at intervals, and the bells of the city--
those that the viceroy had spared rang out a joyous peal, as if in honor of
a victory!

The oaths of office were duly administered by the judges of the Royal
Audience, and Gonzalo Pizarro was proclaimed Governor and Captain
General of Peru, till his Majesty's pleasure could be known in respect to
the government. The new ruler then took up his quarters in the palace of
his brother,--where the stains of that brother's blood were not yet effaced.
Fetes, bull-fights, and tournaments graced the ceremony of inauguration,
and were prolonged for several days, while the giddy populace of the
capital abandoned themselves to jubilee, as if a new and more auspicious
order of things had commenced for Peru! 24

Book 4

Chapter 9

Measures Of Gonzalo Pizarro--Escape Of Vaca De Castro--
Reappearance Of The Viceroy--His Disastrous Retreat--
Defeat And Death Of The Viceroy--Gonzalo Pizarro Lord Of Peru


The first act of Gonzalo Pizarro was to cause those persons to be
apprehended who had taken the most active part against him in the late
troubles. Several he condemned to death; but afterwards commuted the
sentence, and contented himself with driving them into banishment and
confiscating their estates.1 His next concern was to establish his
authority on a firm basis. He filled the municipal government of Lima
with his own partisans. He sent his lieutenants to take charge of the
principal cities. He caused galleys to be built at Arequipa to secure the
command of the seas; and brought his forces into the best possible
condition, to prepare for future emergencies.

The Royal Audience existed only in name; for its powers were speedily
absorbed by the new ruler, who desired to place the government on the
same footing as under the marquess, his brother. Indeed, the Audience
necessarily fell to pieces, from the position of its several members.
Alvarez had been sent with the viceroy to Castile. Cepeda, the most
aspiring of the court, now that he had failed in his own schemes of
ambition, was content to become a tool in the hands of the military chief
who had displaced him. Zarate, a third judge, who had, from the first,
protested against the violent measures of his colleagues, was confined to
his house by a mortal illness;2 and Tepeda, the remaining magistrate,
Gonzalo now proposed to send back to Castile with such an account of
the late transactions as should vindicate his own conduct in the eyes of
the emperor. This step was opposed by Carbajal, who bluntly told his
commander that "he had gone too far to expect favor from the Crown;
and that he had better rely for his vindication on his pikes and muskets!"

But the ship which was to transport Tepeda was found to have suddenly
disappeared from the port. It was the same in which Vaca de Castro was
confined; and that officer, not caring to trust to the forbearance of one
whose advances, on a former occasion, he had so unceremoniously
repulsed, and convinced, moreover, that his own presence could profit
nothing in a land where he held no legitimate authority, had prevailed on
the captain to sail with him to Panama. He then crossed the Isthmus, and
embarked for Spain. The rumors of his coming had already preceded
him, and charges were not wanting against him from some of those
whom he had offended by his administration. He was accused of having
carried measures with a high hand, regardless of the rights, both of the
colonist and of the native; and, above all, of having embezzled the public
moneys, and of returning with his coffers richly freighted to Castile.
This last was an unpardonable crime.

No sooner had the governor set foot in his own country than he was
arrested, and hurried to the fortress of Arevalo; and, though he was
afterwards removed to better quarters, where he was treated with the
indulgence due to his rank, he was still kept a prisoner of state for twelve
years, when the tardy tribunals of Castile pronounced a judgment in his
favor. He was acquitted of every charge that had been brought against
him, and, so far from peculation, was proved to have returned home no
richer than he went. He was released from confinement, reinstated in his
honors and dignities, took his seat anew in the royal council, and Vaca
de Castro enjoyed, during the remainder of his days, the consideration to
which he was entitled by his deserts.4 The best eulogium on the wisdom
of his administration was afforded by the troubles brought on the
colonies by that of his successor. The nation became gradually sensible
of the value of his services; though the manner in which they were
requited by the government must be allowed to form a cold commentary
on the gratitude of princes.

Gonzalo Pizarro was doomed to experience a still greater disappointment
than that caused by the escape of Vaca de Castro, in the return of Blasco
Nunez. The vessel which bore him from the country had hardly left the
shore, when Alvarez, the judge, whether from remorse at the part which
he had taken, or apprehensive of the consequences of carrying back the
viceroy to Spain, presented himself before that dignitary, and announced
that he was no longer a prisoner. At the same time he excused himself
for the part he had taken, by his desire to save the life of Blasco Nunez,
and extricate him from his perilous situation. He now placed the vessel
at his disposal, and assured him it should take him wherever he chose.

The viceroy, whatever faith he may have placed in the judge's
explanation, eagerly availed himself of his offer. His proud spirit
revolted at the idea of returning home in disgrace, foiled, as he had been,
in every object of his mission. He determined to try his fortune again in
the land, and his only doubt was, on what point to attempt to rally his
partisans around him. At Panama he might remain in safety, while he
invoked assistance from Nicaragua, and other colonies at the north. But
this would be to abandon his government at once; and such a confession
of weakness would have a bad effect on his followers in Peru. He
determined, therefore, to direct his steps towards Quito, which, while it
was within his jurisdiction, was still removed far enough from the theatre
of the late troubles to give him time to rally, and make head against his

In pursuance of this purpose, the viceroy and his suite disembarked at
Tumbez, about the middle of October, 1544. On landing, he issued a
manifesto setting forth the violent proceedings of Gonzalo Pizarro and
his followers, whom he denounced as traitors to their prince, and he
called on all true subjects in the colony to support him in maintaining the
royal authority. The call was not unheeded; and volunteers came in,
though tardily, from San Miguel, Puerto Viejo, and other places on the
coast, cheering the heart of the viceroy with the conviction that the
sentiment of loyalty was not yet extinct in the bosoms of the Spaniards.

But, while thus occupied, he received tidings of the arrival of one of
Pizarro's captains on the coast, with a force superior to his own. Their
number was exaggerated; but Blasco Nunez, without waiting to ascertain
the truth, abandoned his position at Tumbez, and, with as much
expedition as he could make across a wild and mountainous country half-
buried in snow, he marched to Quito. But this capital, situated at the
northern extremity of his province, was not a favorable point for the
rendezvous of his followers; and, after prolonging his stay till he had
received assurance from Benalcazar, the loyal commander at Popayan,
that he would support him with all his strength in the coming conflict, he
made a rapid countermarch to the coast, and took up his position at the
town of San Miguel. This was a spot well suited to his purposes, as lying
on the great high road along the shores of the Pacific, besides being the
chief mart for commercial intercourse with Panama and the north.

Here the viceroy erected his standard, and in a few weeks found himself
at the head of a force amounting to nearly five hundred in all, horse and
foot, ill provided with arms and ammunition, but apparently zealous in
the cause. Finding himself in sufficient strength to commence active
operations, he now sallied forth against several of Pizarro's captains in
the neighborhood, over whom he obtained some decided advantages,
which renewed his confidence, and flattered him with the hopes of
reestablishing his ascendency in the country.5

During this time, Gonzalo Pizarro was not idle. He had watched with
anxiety the viceroy's movements; and was now convinced that it was
time to act, and that, if he would not be unseated himself, he must
dislodge his formidable rival. He accordingly placed a strong garrison
under a faithful officer in Lima, and, after sending forward a force of
some six hundred men by land to Truxillo, he embarked for the same
port himself, on the 4th of March, 1545, the very day on which the
viceroy had marched from Quito.

At Truxillo, Pizarro put himself at the head of his little army, and moved
without loss of time against San Miguel. His rival, eager to bring their
quarrel to an issue, would fain have marched out to give him battle; but
his soldiers, mostly young and inexperienced levies, hastily brought
together, were intimidated by the name of Pizarro. They loudly insisted
on being led into the upper country, where they would be reinforced by
Benalcazar; and their unfortunate commander, like the rider of some
unmanageable steed, to whose humors he is obliged to submit, was
hurried away in a direction contrary to his wishes. It was the fate of
Blasco Nunez to have his purposes baffled alike by his friends and his

On arriving before San Miguel, Gonzalo Pizarro found, to his great
mortification, that his antagonist had left it. Without entering the town,
he quickened his pace, and, after traversing a valley of some extent,
reached the skirts of a mountain chain, into which Blasco Nunez had
entered but a few hours before. It was late in the evening; but Pizarro,
knowing the importance of despatch, sent forward Carbajal with a party
of light troops to overtake the fugitives. That captain succeeded in
coming up with their lonely bivouac among the mountains at midnight,
when the weary troops were buried in slumber. Startled from their
repose by the blast of the trumpet, which, strange to say, their enemy had
incautiously sounded,6 the viceroy and his men sprang to their feet,
mounted their horses, grasped their arquebuses, and poured such a volley
into the ranks of their assailants, that Carbajal, disconcerted by his
reception, found it prudent, with his inferior force, to retreat. The
viceroy followed, till, fearing an ambuscade in the darkness of the night,
he withdrew, and allowed his adversary to rejoin the main body of the
army under Pizarro.

This conduct of Carbajal, by which he allowed the game to slip through
his hands, from mere carelessness, is inexplicable. It forms a singular
exception to the habitual caution and vigilance displayed in his military
career. Had it been the act of any other captain, it would have cost him
his head. But Pizarro, although greatly incensed, set too high a value on
the services and well-tried attachment of his lieutenant, to quarrel with
him. Still it was considered of the last importance to overtake the
enemy, before he had advanced much farther to the north, where the
difficulties of the ground would greatly embarrass the pursuit. Carbajal,
anxious to retrieve his error, was accordingly again placed at the head of
a corps of light troops, with instructions to harass the enemy's march, cut
off his stores, and keep him in check, if possible, till the arrival of

But the viceroy had profiled by the recent delay to gain considerably on
his pursuers. His road led across the valley of Caxas, a broad,
uncultivated district, affording little sustenance for man or beast. Day
after day, his troops held on their march through this dreary region,
intersected with barrancas and rocky ravines that added incredibly to
their toil. Their principal food was the parched corn, which usually
formed the nourishment of the travelling Indians, though held of much
less account by the Spaniards; and this meagre fare was reinforced by
such herbs as they found on the way-side, which, for want of better
utensils, the soldiers were fain to boil in their helmets.8 Carbajal,
meanwhile, pressed on them so close, that their baggage, ammunition,
and sometimes their mules, fell into his hands. The indefatigable warrior
was always on their track, by day and by night, allowing them scarcely
any repose. They spread no tent, and lay down in their arms, with their
steeds standing saddled beside them; and hardly had the weary soldier
closed his eyes, when he was startled by the cry that the enemy was upon

At length, the harassed followers of Blasco Nunez reached the
depoblado, or desert of Paltos, which stretches towards the north for
many a dreary league. The ground, intersected by numerous streams, has
the character of a great quagmire, and men and horses floundered about
in the stagnant waters, or with difficulty worked their way over the
marsh, or opened a passage through the tangled underwood that shot up
in rank luxuriance from the surface. The wayworn horses, without food,
except such as they could pick up in the wilderness, were often spent
with travel, and, becoming unserviceable, were left to die on the road,
with their hamstrings cut, that they might be of no use to the enemy;
though more frequently they were despatched to afford a miserable
banquet to their masters.10 Many of the men now fainted by the way
from mere exhaustion, or loitered in the woods, unable to keep up with
the march. And woe to the straggler who fell into the hands of Carbajal,
at least if he had once belonged to the party of Pizarro. The mere
suspicion of treason sealed his doom with the unrelenting soldier.11

The sufferings of Pizarro and his troop were scarcely less than those of
the viceroy; though they were somewhat mitigated by the natives of the
country, who, with ready instinct, discerned which party was the
strongest, and, of course, the most to be feared. But, with every
alleviation, the chieftain's sufferings were terrible. It was repeating the
dismal scenes of the expedition to the Amazon. The soldiers of the
Conquest must be admitted to have purchased their triumphs dearly.

Yet the viceroy had one source of disquietude, greater, perhaps, than any
arising from physical suffering. This was the distrust of his own
followers. There were several of the principal cavaliers in his suite
whom he suspected of being in correspondence with the enemy, and even
of designing to betray him into their hands. He was so well convinced of
this, that he caused two of these officers to be put to death on the march;
and their dead bodies, as they lay by the roadside, meeting the eye of the
soldier, told him that there were others to be feared in these frightful
solitudes besides the enemy in his rear.12

Another cavalier, who held the chief command under the viceroy, was
executed, after a more formal investigation of his case, at the first place
where the army halted. At this distance of time, it is impossible to
determine how far the suspicions of Blasco Nunez were founded on
truth. The judgments of contemporaries are at variance.13 In times of
political ferment, the opinion of the writer is generally determined by the
complexion of his party. To judge from the character of Blasco Nunez,
jealous and irritable, we might suppose him to have acted without
sufficient cause. But this consideration is counterbalanced by that of the
facility with which his followers swerved from their allegiance to their
commander, who seems to have had so light a hold on their affections,
that they were shaken off by the least reverse of fortune. Whether his
suspicions were well or ill founded, the effect was the same on the mind
of the viceroy. With an enemy in his rear whom he dared not fight, and
followers whom he dared not trust, the cup of his calamities was nearly

At length, he issued forth on firm ground, and, passing through
Tomebamba, Blasco Nunez reentered his northern capital of Quito. But
his reception was not so cordial as that which he had before experienced.
He now came as a fugitive, with a formidable enemy in pursuit; and he
was soon made to feel that the surest way to receive support is not to
need it.

Shaking from his feet the dust of the disloyal city, whose superstitious
people were alive to many an omen that boded his approaching ruin,14
the unfortunate commander held on his way towards Pastos, in the
jurisdiction of Benalcazar. Pizarro and his forces entered Quito not long
after, disappointed, that, with all his diligence, the enemy still eluded his
pursuit. He halted only to breathe his men, and, declaring that "he would
follow up the viceroy to the North Sea but he would overtake him," 15
he resumed his march. At Pastos, he nearly accomplished his object.
His advance-guard came up with Blasco Nunez as the latter was halting
on the opposite bank of a rivulet. Pizarro's men, fainting from toil and
heat, staggered feebly to the water-side, to slake their burning thirst, and
it would have been easy for the viceroy's troops, refreshed by repose, and
superior in number to their foes, to have routed them. But Blasco Nunez
could not bring his soldiers to the charge. They had fled so long before
their enemy, that the mere sight of him filled their hearts with panic, and
they would have no more thought of turning against him than the hare
would turn against the hound that pursues her. Their safety, they felt,
was to fly, not to fight, and they profited by the exhaustion of their
pursuers only to quicken their retreat.

Gonzalo Pizarro continued the chase some leagues beyond Pastos; when,
finding himself carried farther than he desired into the territories of
Benalcazar, and not caring to encounter this formidable captain at
disadvantage, he came to a halt, and, notwithstanding his magnificent
vaunt about the North Sea, ordered a retreat, and made a rapid
countermarch on Quito. Here he found occupation in repairing the
wasted spirits of his troops, and in strengthening himself with fresh
reinforcements, which much increased his numbers; though these were
again diminished by a body that he detached under Carbajal to suppress
an insurrection, which he now learned had broken out in the south. It
was headed by Diego Centeno, one of his own officers, whom he had
established in La Plata, the inhabitants of which place had joined in the
revolt and raised the standard for the Crown. With the rest of his forces,
Pizarro resolved to remain at Quito, waiting the hour when the viceroy
would reenter his dominions; as the tiger crouches by some spring in the
wilderness, patiently waiting the return of his victims.

Meanwhile Blasco Nunez had pushed forward his retreat to Popayan, the
capital of Benalcazar's province. Here he was kindly received by the
people; and his soldiers, reduced by desertion and disease to one fifth of
their original number, rested from the unparalleled fatigues of a march
which had continued for more than two hundred leagues.16 It was not
long before he was joined by Cabrera, Benalcazar's lieutenant with a
stout reinforcement, and, soon after, by that chieftain himself. His whole
force now amounted to near four hundred men, most of them in good
condition, and well trained in the school of American warfare. His own
men were sorely deficient both in arms and ammunition; and he set about
repairing the want by building furnaces for manufacturing arquebuses
and pikes.17--One familiar with the history of these times is surprised to
see the readiness with which the Spanish adventurers turned their hands
to various trades and handicrafts usually requiring a long apprenticeship.
They displayed the dexterity so necessary to settlers in a new country,
where every man must become in some degree his own artisan. But this
state of things, however favorable to the ingenuity of the artist, is not
very propitious to the advancement of the art; and there can be little
doubt that the weapons thus made by the soldiers of Blasco Nunez were
of the most rude and imperfect construction.

As week after week rolled away, Gonzalo Pizarro, though fortified with
the patience of a Spanish soldier, felt uneasy at the protracted stay of
Blasco Nunez in the north, and he resorted to stratagem to decoy him
from his retreat. He marched out of Quito with the greater part of his
forces, pretending that he was going to support his lieutenant in the
south, while he left a garrison in the city under the command of Puelles,
the same officer who had formerly deserted from the viceroy. These
tidings he took care should be conveyed to the enemy's camp. The
artifice succeeded as he wished. Blasco Nunez and his followers,
confident in their superiority over Puelles, did not hesitate for a moment
to profit by the supposed absence of Pizarro. Abandoning Popayan, the
viceroy, early in January, 1546, moved by rapid marches towards the
south. But before he reached the place of his destination, he became
appraised of the snare into which he had been drawn. He communicated
the fact to his officers; but he had already suffered so much from
suspense, that his only desire now was, to bring his quarrel with Pizarro
to the final arbitrament of arms.

That chief, meanwhile, had been well informed, through his spies, of the
viceroy's movements. On learning the departure of the latter from
Popayan, he had reentered Quito, joined his forces with those of Puelles,
and, issuing from the capital, had taken up a strong position about three
leagues to the north, on a high ground that commanded a stream, across
which the enemy must pass. It was not long before the latter came in
sight, and Blasco Nunez, as night began to fall, established himself on
the opposite bank of the rivulet. It was so near to the enemy's quarters,
that the voices of the sentinels could be distinctly heard in the opposite
camps, and they did not fail to salute one another with the epithet of
"traitors." In these civil wars, as we have seen, each party claimed for
itself the exclusive merit of loyalty.18

But Benalcazar soon saw that Pizarro's position was too strong to be
assailed with any chance of success. He proposed, therefore, to the
viceroy, to draw off his forces secretly in the night; and, making a detour
round the hills, to fall on the enemy's rear, where he would be least
prepared to receive them. The counsel was approved; and, no sooner
were the two hosts shrouded from each other's eyes by the darkness,
than, leaving his camp-fires burning to deceive the enemy, Blasco Nunez
broke up his quarters, and began his circuitous march in the direction of
Quito. But either he had been misinformed, or his guides misled him; for
the roads proved so impracticable, that he was compelled to make a
circuit of such extent, that dawn broke before he drew near the point of
attack. Finding that he must now abandon the advantage of a surprise, he
pressed forward to Quito, where he arrived with men and horses sorely
fatigued by a night-march of eight leagues, from a point which, by the
direct route, would not have exceeded three. It was a fatal error on the
eve of an engagement.19

He found the capital nearly deserted by the men. They had all joined the
standard of Pizarro; for they had now caught the general spirit of
disaffection, and looked upon that chief as their protector from the
oppressive ordinances. Pizarro was the representative of the people.
Greatly moved at this desertion, the unhappy viceroy, lifting his hands to
heaven, exclaimed, --"Is it thus, Lord, that you abandonest thy servants?"
The women and children came out, and in vain offered him food, of
which he stood obviously in need, asking him, at the same time, "Why he
had come there to die?" His followers, with more indifference than their
commander, entered the houses of the inhabitants, and unceremoniously
appropriated whatever they could find to appease the cravings of

Benalcazar, who saw the temerity of giving battle, in their present
condition, recommended the viceroy to try the effect of negotiation, and
offered himself to go to the enemy's camp, and arrange, if possible, terms
of accommodation with Pizarro. But Blasco Nunez, if he desponded for
a moment, had now recovered his wonted constancy, and he proudly
replied,--"There is no faith to be kept with traitors. We have come to
fight, not to parley; and we must do our duty like good and loyal
cavaliers. I will do mine," he continued, "and be assured I will be the
first man to break a lance with the enemy." 20

He then called his troops together, and addressed to them a few words
preparatory to marching. "You are all brave men," he said, "and loyal to
your sovereign. For my own part, I hold life as little in comparison with
my duty to my prince. Yet let us not distrust our success; the Spaniard,
in a good cause, has often overcome greater odds than these. And we are
fighting for the right; it is the cause of God,--the cause of God," 21 he
concluded, and the soldiers, kindled by his generous ardor, answered him
with huzzas that went to the heart of the unfortunate commander, little
accustomed of late to this display of enthusiasm.

It was the eighteenth of January, 1546, when Blasco Nunez marched out
at the head of his array, from the ancient city of Quito. He had
proceeded but a mile,22 when he came in view of the enemy, formed
along the crest of some high lands, which, by a gentle swell, rose
gradually from the plains of Anaquito. Gonzalo Pizarro, greatly
chagrined on ascertaining the departure of the viceroy, early in the
morning, had broken up his camp, and directed his march on the capital,
fully resolved that his enemy should not escape him.

The viceroy's troops, now coming to a halt, were formed in order of
battle. A small body of arquebusiers was stationed in the advance to
begin the fight. The remainder of that corps was distributed among the
spearmen, who occupied the centre, protected on the flanks by the horse
drawn up in two nearly equal squadrons. The cavalry amounted to about
one hundred and forty, being little inferior to that on the other side,
though the whole number of the viceroy's forces, being less than four
hundred, did not much exceed the half of his rival's. On the right, and in
front of the royal banner, Blasco Nunez, supported by thirteen chosen
cavaliers, took his station, prepared to head the attack.

Pizarro had formed his troops in a corresponding manner with that of his
adversary. They mustered about seven hundred in all, well appointed, in
good condition, and officered by the best knights in Peru.23 As,
notwithstanding his superiority of numbers, Pizarro, did not seem
inclined to abandon his advantageous position, Blasco Nunez gave
orders to advance. The action commenced with the arquebusiers, and in
a few moments the dense clouds of smoke, rolling over the field,
obscured every object; for it was late in the day when the action began,
and the light was rapidly fading.

The infantry, now leveling their pikes, advanced under cover of the
smoke, and were soon hotly engaged with the opposite files of spearmen.
Then came the charge of the cavalry, which--notwithstanding they were
thrown into some disorder by the fire of Pizarro's arquebusiers, far
superior in number to their own--was conducted with such spirit that the
enemy's horse were compelled to reel and fall back before it. But it was
only to recoil with greater violence, as, like an overwhelming wave,
Pizarro's troopers rushed on their foes, driving them along the slope, and
bearing down man and horse in indiscriminate ruin. Yet these, in turn, at
length rallied, cheered on by the cries and desperate efforts of their
officers. The lances were shivered, and they fought hand to hand with
swords and battle-axes mingled together in wild confusion. But the
struggle was of no long duration; for, though the numbers were nearly
equal, the viceroy's cavalry, jaded by the severe march of the previous
night,24 were no match for their antagonists. The ground was strewn
with the wreck of their bodies; and horses and riders, the dead and the
dying, lay heaped on one another. Cabrera, the brave lieutenant of
Benalcazar, was slain, and that commander was thrown under his horse's
feet, covered with wounds, and left for dead on the field. Alvarez, the
judge, was mortally wounded. Both he and his colleague Cepeda were in
the action, though ranged on opposite sides, fighting as if they had been
bred to arms, not to the peaceful profession of the law.

Yet Blasco Nunez and his companions maintained a brave struggle on
the right of the field. The viceroy had kept his word by being the first to
break his lance against the enemy, and by a well-directed blow had borne
a cavalier, named Alonso de Montalvo, clean out of his saddle. But he
was at length overwhelmed by numbers, and, as his companions, one
after another, fell by his side, he was left nearly unprotected. He was
already wounded, when a blow on the head from the battle-axe of a
soldier struck him from his horse, and he fell stunned on the ground.
Had his person been known, he might have been taken alive, but he wore
a sobre-vest of Indian cotton over his armour, which concealed the
military order of St. James, and the other badges of his rank.25

His person, however, was soon recognized by one of Pizarro's followers,
who, not improbably, had once followed the viceroy's banner. The
soldier immediately pointed him out to the Licentiate Carbajal. This
person was the brother of the cavalier whom, as the reader may
remember, Blasco Nunez had so rashly put to death in his palace at
Lima. The licentiate had afterwards taken service under Pizarro, and,
with several of his kindred, was pledged to take vengeance on the
viceroy. Instantly riding up, he taunted the fallen commander with the
murder of his brother, and was in the act of dismounting to despatch him
with his own hand, when Puelles remonstrating on this, as an act of
degradation, commanded one of his attendants, a black slave, to cut off
the viceroy's head. This the fellow executed with a single stroke of his
sabre, while the wretched man, perhaps then dying of his wounds, uttered
no word, but with eyes imploringly turned up towards heaven, received
the fatal blow.26 The head was then borne aloft on a pike, and some
were brutal enough to pluck out the grey hairs from the beard and set
them in their caps, as grisly trophies of their victory.27 The fate of the
day was now decided. Yet still the infantry made a brave stand, keeping
Pizarro's horse at bay with their bristling array of pikes. But their
numbers were thinned by the arquebusiers; and, thrown into disorder,
they could no longer resist the onset of the horse, who broke into their
column, and soon scattered and drove them off the ground. The pursuit
was neither long nor bloody; for darkness came on, and Pizarro bade his
trumpets sound, to call his men together under their banners.

Though the action lasted but a short time, nearly one third of the
viceroy's troops had perished. The loss of their opponents was
inconsiderable.28 Several of the vanquished cavaliers took refuge in the
churches of Quito. But they were dragged from the sanctuary, and some
---probably those who had once espoused the cause of Pizarro--were led
to execution, and others banished to Chili. The greater part were
pardoned by the conqueror. Benalcazar, who recovered from his
wounds, was permitted to return to his government, on condition of no
more bearing arms against Pizarro. His troops were invited to take
service under the banner of the victor, who, however, never treated them
with the confidence shown to his ancient partisans. He was greatly
displeased at the indignities offered to the viceroy; whose mangled
remains he caused to be buried with the honors due to his rank in the
cathedral of Quito. Gonzalo Pizarro, attired in black, walked as chief
mourner in the procession.---It was usual with the Pizarros, as we have
seen, to pay these obituary honors to their victims.29

Such was the sad end of Blasco Nunez Vela, first viceroy of Peru. It was
less than two years since he had set foot in the country, a period of
unmitigated disaster and disgrace. His misfortunes may be imputed
partly to circumstances, and partly to his own character. The minister of
an odious and oppressive law, he was intrusted with no discretionary
power in the execution of it.30 Yet every man may, to a certain extent,
claim the right to such a power; since, to execute a commission, which
circumstances show must certainly defeat the object for which it was
designed, would be absurd. But it requires sagacity to determine the
existence of such a contingency, and moral courage to assume the
responsibility of acting on it. Such a crisis is the severest test of
character. To dare to disobey from a paramount sense of duty is a
paradox that a little soul can hardly comprehend. Unfortunately, Blasco
Nunez was a pedantic martinet, a man of narrow views, who could not
feel himself authorized under any circumstances to swerve from the letter
of the law. Puffed up by his brief authority, moreover, he considered
opposition to the ordinances as treason to himself; and thus, identifying
himself with his commission, he was prompted by personal feelings,
quite as much as by those of a public and patriotic nature.

Neither was the viceroy's character of a kind that tended to mitigate the
odium of his measures, and reconcile the people to their execution. It
afforded a strong contrast to that of his rival, Pizarro, whose frank,
chivalrous bearing, and generous confidence in his followers, made him
universally popular, blinding their judgments, and giving to the worse
the semblance of the better cause. Blasco Nunez, on the contrary,
irritable and suspicious, placed himself in a false position with all whom
he approached; for a suspicious temper creates an atmosphere of distrust
around it that kills every kindly affection. His first step was to alienate
the members of the Audience who were sent to act in concert with him.
But this was their fault as well as his, since they were as much too lax, as
he was too severe, in the interpretation of the law.31 He next alienated
and outraged the people whom he was appointed to govern. And, lastly,
he disgusted his own friends, and too often turned them into enemies; so
that, in his final struggle for power and for existence, he was obliged to
rely on the arm of the stranger. Yet in the catalogue of his qualities we
must not pass in silence over his virtues. There are two to the credit of
which he is undeniably entitled,--a loyalty, which shone the brighter
amidst the general defection around him, and a constancy under
misfortune, which might challenge the respect even of his enemies. But
with the most liberal allowance for his merits, it can scarcely be doubted
that a person more incompetent to the task assigned him could not have
been found in Castile.32

The victory of Anaquito was received with general joy in the
neighboring capital; all the cities of Peru looked on it as sealing the
downfall of the detested ordinances, and the name of Gonzalo Pizarro
was sounded from one end of the country to the other as that of its
deliverer. That chief continued to prolong his stay in Quito during the
wet season, dividing his time between the licentious pleasures of the
reckless adventurer and the cares of business that now pressed on him as
ruler of the state. His administration was stained with fewer acts of
violence than might have been expected from the circumstances of his
situation. So long as Carbajal, the counsellor in whom he unfortunately
placed greatest reliance, was absent, Gonzalo sanctioned no execution, it
was observed, but according to the forms of law.33 He rewarded his
followers by new grants of land, and detached several on expeditions, to
no greater distance, however, than would leave it in his power readily to
recall them. He made various provisions for the welfare of the natives,
and some, in particular, for instructing them in the Christian faith. He
paid attention to the faithful collection of the royal dues, urging on the
colonists that they should deport themselves so as to conciliate the
goodwill of the Crown, and induce a revocation of the ordinances. His
administration, in short, was so conducted, that even the austere Gasca,
his successor, allowed "it was a good government,--for a tyrant." 34

At length, in July, 1546, the new governor bade adieu to Quito, and,
leaving there a sufficient garrison under his officer Puelles, began his
journey to the south. It was a triumphal progress, and everywhere he
was received on the road with enthusiasm by the people. At Truxillo, the
citizens came out in a body to welcome him, and the clergy chanted
anthems in his honor, extolling him as the "victorious prince," and
imploring the Almighty "to lengthen his days, and give him honor."35
At Lima, it was proposed to clear away some of the buildings, and open
a new street for his entrance, which might ever after bear the name of the
victor. But the politic chieftain declined this flattering tribute, and
modestly preferred to enter the city by the usual way. A procession was
formed of the citizens, the soldiers, and the clergy, and Pizarro made his
entry into the capital with two of his principal captains on foot, holding
the reins of his charger, while the archbishop of Lima, and the bishops of
Cuzco, Quito, and Bogota, the last of whom had lately come to the city
to be consecrated, rode by his side. The streets were strewn with
boughs, the walls of the houses hung with showy tapestries, and
triumphal arches were thrown over the way in honor of the victor. Every
balcony, veranda, and house-top was crowded with spectators, who sent
up huzzas, loud and long, saluting the victorious soldier with the titles of
"Liberator, and Protector of the people." The bells rang out their joyous
peal, as on his former entrance into the capital; and amidst strains of
enlivening music, and the blithe sounds of jubilee, Gonzalo held on his
way to the palace of his brother. Peru was once more placed under the
dynasty of the Pizarros.36

Deputies came from different parts of the country, tending the
congratulations of their respective cities; and every one eagerly urged his
own claims to consideration for the services he had rendered in the
revolution. Pizarro, at the same time, received the welcome intelligence
of the success of his arms in the south. Diego Centeno, as before stated,
had there raised the standard of rebellion, or rather, of loyalty to his
sovereign. He had made himself master of La Plata, and the spirit of
insurrection had spread over the broad province of Charcas. Carbajal,
who had been sent against him from Quito, after repairing to Lima, had
passed at once to Cuzco, and there, strengthening his forces, had
descended by rapid marches on the refractory district. Centeno did not
trust himself in the field against this formidable champion. He retreated
with his troops into the fastnesses of the sierra. Carbajal pursued,
following on his track with the pertinacity of a bloodhound; over
mountain and moor, through forests and dangerous ravines, allowing him
no respite, by day or by night. Eating, drinking, sleeping in his saddle,
the veteran, eighty years of age, saw his own followers tire one after
another, while he urged on the chase, like the wild huntsman of Burger,
as if endowed with an unearthly frame, incapable of fatigue! During this
terrible pursuit, which continued for more than two hundred leagues over
a savage country, Centeno found himself abandoned by most of his
followers. Such of them as fell into Carbajal's hands were sent to speedy
execution; for that inexorable chief had no mercy on those who had been
false to their party.37 At length, Centeno, with a handful of men, arrived
on the borders of the Pacific, and there, separating from one another,
they provided, each in the best way he could, for their own safety. Their
leader found an asylum in a cave in the mountains, where he was secretly
fed by an Indian curaca, till the time again for him to unfurl the standard
of revolt.38

Carbajal, after some further decisive movements, which fully established
the ascendency of Pizarro over the south, returned in triumph to La Plata.
There he occupied himself with working the silver mines of Potosi, in
which a vein, recently opened, promised to make richer returns than any
yet discovered in Mexico or Peru;39 and he was soon enabled to send
large remittances to Lima, deducting no stinted commission for himself,-
-for the cupidity of the lieutenant was equal to his cruelty.

Gonzalo Pizarro was now undisputed master of Peru. From Quito to the
northern confines of Chili, the whole country acknowledged his
authority. His fleet rode triumphant on the Pacific, and gave him the
command of every city and hamlet on its borders. His admiral,
Hinojosa, a discreet and gallant officer, had secured him Panama, and,
marching across the Isthmus, had since obtained for him the possession
of Nombre de Dios,--the principal key of communication with Europe.
His forces were on an excellent footing, including the flower of the
warriors who had fought under his brother, and who now eagerly rallied
under the name of Pizarro; while the tide of wealth that flowed in from
the mines of Potosi supplied him with the resources of an European

The new governor now began to assume a state correspondent with his
full-blown fortunes. He was attended by a body-guard of eighty soldiers.
He dined always in public, and usually with not less than a hundred
guests at table. He even affected, it was said, the most decided etiquette
of royalty, giving his hand to be kissed, and allowing no one, of whatever
rank, to be seated in his presence.40 But this is denied by others. It
would not be strange that a vain man like Pizarro, with a superficial,
undisciplined mind, when he saw himself thus raised from an humble
condition to the highest post in the land, should be somewhat intoxicated
by the possession of power, and treat with superciliousness those whom
he had once approached with deference. But one who had often seen
him in his prosperity assures us, that it was not so, and that the governor
continued to show the same frank and soldierlike bearing as before his
elevation, mingling on familiar terms with his comrades, and displaying
the same qualities which had hitherto endeared him to the people.41

However this may be, it is certain there were not wanting those who
urged him to throw off his allegiance to the Crown, and set up an
independent government for himself. Among these was his lieutenant,
Carbajal, whose daring spirit never shrunk from following things to their
consequences. He plainly counselled Pizarro to renounce his allegiance
at once. "In fact, you have already done so," he said. "You have been in
arms against a viceroy, have driven him from the country, beaten and
slain him in battle. What favor, or even mercy, can you expect from the
Crown? You have gone too far either to halt, or to recede. You must go
boldly on, proclaim yourself king; the troops, the people, will support
you." And he concluded, it is said, by advising him to marry the Coya,
the female representative of the Incas, that the two races might
henceforth repose in quiet under a common sceptre! 42

The advice of the bold counsellor was, perhaps, the most politic that
could have been given to Pizarro under existing circumstances. For he
was like one who had heedlessly climbed far up a dizzy precipice,--too
far to descend safely, while he had no sure hold where he was. His only
chance was to climb still higher, till he had gained the summit. But
Gonzalo Pizarro shrunk from the attitude, in which this placed him, of
avowed rebellion. Notwithstanding the criminal course into which he
had been, of late, seduced, the sentiment of loyalty was too deeply
implanted in his bosom to be wholly eradicated. Though in arms against
the measures and ministers of his sovereign, he was not prepared to raise
the sword against the sovereign himself. He, doubtless, had conflicting
emotion in his bosom; like Macbeth, and many a less noble nature,

'"Would not play false,
And yet would wrongly win."

And however grateful to his vanity might be the picture of the airdrawn
sceptre thus painted to his imagination, he had not the audacity --we
may, perhaps, say, the criminal ambition--to attempt to grasp it.

Even at this very moment, when urged to this desperate extremity, he
was preparing a mission to Spain, in order to vindicate the course he had
taken, and to solicit an amnesty for the past, with a full confirmation of
his authority, as successor to his brother in the government of Peru.--
Pizarro did not read the future with the calm, prophetic eye of Carbajal.

Among the biographical notices of the writers on Spanish colonial
affairs, the name of Herrera, who has done more for this vast subject
than any other author, should certainly not be omitted. His account of
Peru takes its proper place in his great work, the Historia General de las
lndias, according to the chronological plan on which that history is
arranged. But as it suggests reflections not different in character from
those suggested by other portions of the work, I shall take the liberty to
refer the reader to the Postscript to Book Third of the Conquest of
Mexico, for a full account of these volumes and their learned author.

Another chronicler, to whom I have been frequently indebted in the
progress of the narrative, is Francisco Lopez de Gomara. The reader
will also find a notice of this author in the Conquest of Mexico, Book 5,
Postscript. But as the remarks on his writings are there confined to his
Cronica de Nueva Espana, it may be well to add here some reflections on
his greater work, Historia de las Indias, in which the Peruvian story bears
a conspicuous part.

The "History of the Indies" is intended to give a brief view of the whole
range of Spanish conquest in the islands and on the American continent,
as far as had been achieved by the middle of the sixteenth century. For
this account, Gomara, though it does not appear that he ever visited the
New World, was in a situation that opened to him the best means of
information. He was well acquainted with the principal men of the time,
and gathered the details of their history from their own lips; while, from
his residence at court, he was in possession of the state of opinion there,
and of the impression made by passing events on those most competent
to judge of them. He was thus enabled to introduce into his work many
interesting particulars, not to be found in other records of the period. His
range of inquiry extended beyond the mere doings of the Conquerors,
and led him to a survey of the general resources of the countries he
describes, and especially of their physical aspect and productions. The
conduct of his work, no less than its diction, shows the cultivated
scholar, practised in the art of composition. Instead of the naivete,
engaging, but childlike, of the old military chroniclers, Gomara handles
his various topics with the shrewd and piquant criticism of a man of the
world; while his descriptions are managed with a comprehensive brevity
that forms the opposite to the long-winded and rambling paragraphs of
the monkish annalist. These literary merits, combined with the
knowledge of the writer's opportunities for information, secured his
productions from the oblivion which too often awaits the unpublished
manuscript; and he had the satisfaction to see them pass into more than
one edition in his own day. Yet they do not bear the highest stamp of
authenticity. The author too readily admits accounts into his pages
which are not supported by contemporary testimony. This he does, not
from credulity, for his mind rather leans in an opposite direction, but
from a Want, apparently, of the true spirit of historic conscientiousness.
The imputation of carelessness in his statements--to use a temperate
phrase--was brought against Gomara in his own day; and Garcilasso tells
us, that, when called to account by some of the Peruvian cavaliers for
misstatements which bore hard on themselves, the historian made but an
awkward explanation. This is a great blemish on his productions, and
renders them of far less value to the modern compiler, who seeks for the
well of truth undefiled, than many an humbler but less unscrupulous

There is still another authority used in this work, Gonzalo Fernandez de
Oviedo, of whom I have given an account elsewhere; and the reader
curious in the matter will permit me to refer him for a critical notice of
his life and writings to the Conquest of Mexico, Book 4, Postscript.--His
account of Peru is incorporated into his great work, Natural & General
Historia de las lndias, MS., where it forms the forty-sixth and forty-
seventh books. It extends from Pizarro's landing at Tumbez to
Almagro's return from Chili, and thus covers the entire portion of what
may be called the conquest of the country. The style of its execution,
corresponding with that of the residue of the work to which it belongs,
affords no ground for criticism different from that already passed on the
general character of Oviedo's writings.

This eminent person was at once a scholar and a man of the world.
Living much at court, and familiar with persons of the highest distinction
in Castile, he yet passed much of his time in the colonies, and thus added
the fruits of personal experience to what he had gained from the reports
of others. His curiosity was indefatigable, extending to every department
of natural science, as well as to the civil and personal history of the
colonists. He was, at once, their Pliny and their Tacitus. His works
abound in portraitures of character, sketched with freedom and
animation. His reflections are piquant, and often rise to a philosophic
tone, which discards the usual trammels of the age; and the progress of
the story is varied by a multiplicity of personal anecdotes, that give a
rapid insight into the characters of the parties.

With his eminent qualifications, and with a social position that
commanded respect, it is strange that so much of his writings-the whole
of his great Historia de las Indias, and his curious Quincuagenas--should
be so long suffered to remain in manuscript. This is partly chargeable to
the caprice of fortune; for the History was more than once on the eve of
publication, and is even now understood to be prepared for the press.
Yet it has serious defects, which may have contributed to keep it in its
present form. In its desultory and episodical style of composition, it
resembles rather notes for a great history, than history itself. It may be
regarded in the light of commentaries, or as illustrations of the times. In
that view his pages are of high worth, and have been frequently resorted
to by writers who have not too scrupulously appropriated the statements
of the old chronicler, with slight acknowledgments to their author.

It is a pity that Oviedo should have shown more solicitude to tell what
was new, than to ascertain how much of it was strictly true. Among his
merits will scarcely be found that of historical accuracy. And yet we
may find an apology for this, to some extent, in the fact, that his writings,
as already intimated, are not so much in the nature of finished
compositions, as of loose memoranda, where everything, rumor as well
as fact,--even the most contradictory rumors,--are all set down at
random, forming a miscellaneous heap of materials, of which the discreet
historian may avail himself to rear a symmetrical fabric on foundations
of greater strength and solidity.

Another author worthy of particular note is Pedro Cieza de Leon. His
Cronica del Peru should more properly be styled an Itinerary, or rather
Geography, of Peru. It gives a minute topographical view of the country
at the time of the Conquest; of its provinces and towns, both Indian and
Spanish; its flourishing sea-coast; its forests, valleys, and interminable
ranges of mountains in the interior; with many interesting particulars of
the existing population,--their dress, manners, architectural remains, and
public works, while, scattered here and there, may be found notices of
their early history and social polity. It is, in short, a lively picture of the
country in its physical and moral relations, as it met the eye at the time of
the Conquest, and in that transition period when it was first subjected to
European influences. The conception of a work, at so early a period, on
this philosophical plan, reminding us of that of Malte-Brun in our own
time,--parva componere magnis,-was, of itself, indicative of great
comprehensiveness of mind in its author. It was a task of no little
difficulty, where there was yet no pathway opened by the labors of the
antiquarian; no hints from the sketch-book of the traveller, or the
measurements of the scientific explorer. Yet the distances from place to
place are all carefully jotted down by the industrious compiler, and the
bearings of the different places and their peculiar features are exhibited
with sufficient precision, considering the nature of the obstacles he had
to encounter. The literary execution of the work, moreover, is highly
respectable, sometimes even rich and picturesque; and the author
describes the grand and beautiful scenery of the Cordilleras with a
sensibility to its charms, not often found in the tasteless topographer, still
less often in the rude Conqueror.

Cieza de Leon came to the New World, as he informs us, at the early age
of thirteen. But it is not till Gasca's time that we find his name enrolled
among the actors in the busy scenes of civil strife, when he accompanied
the president in his campaign against Gonzalo Pizarro. His Chronicle,
or, at least, the notes for it, was compiled in such leisure as he could
snatch from his more stirring avocations; and after ten years from the
time he undertook it, the First Part--all we have---was completed in
1550, when the author had reached only the age of thirty-two. It
appeared at Seville in 1553, and the following year at Antwerp; while an
Italian translation, printed at Rome, in 1555, attested the rapid celebrity
of the work. The edition of Antwerp--the one used by me in this
compilation--is in the duodecimo form, exceedingly well printed, and
garnished with wood-cuts, in which Satan,-for the author had a full
measure of the ancient credulity,--with his usual bugbear
accompaniments frequently appears in bodily presence. In the Preface,
Cieza announces his purpose to continue the work in three other parts,
illustrating respectively the ancient history of the country under the
Incas, its conquest by the Spaniards, and the civil wars which ensued.
He even gives, with curious minuteness, the contents of the several
books of the projected history. But the First Part, as already noticed,
was alone completed; and the author, having returned to Spain, died
there in 1560, at the premature age of forty-two, without having covered
any portion of the magnificent ground-plan which he had thus
confidently laid out. The deficiency is much to be regretted, considering
the talent of the writer, and his opportunities for personal observation.
But he has done enough to render us grateful for his labors. By the vivid
delineation of scenes and scenery, as they were presented fresh to his
own eyes, he has furnished us with a background to the historic picture,--
the landscape, as it were, in which the personages of the time might be
more fitly portrayed. It would have been impossible to exhibit the
ancient topography of the land so faithfully at a subsequent period, when
old things had passed away, and the Conqueror, breaking down the
landmarks of ancient civilization, had effaced many of the features even
of the physical aspect of the country, as it existed under the elaborate
culture of the Incas.

History of the Conquest of Peru

by William Hickling Prescott

Book 5

Settlement Of The Country

Chapter 1

Great Sensation In Spain--Pedro De La Gasca--His Early Life-
His Mission To Peru--His Politic Conduct--His Offers To Pizarro-
Gains The Fleet


While the important revolution detailed in the preceding pages was going
forward in Peru, rumors of it, from time to time, found their way to the
mother-country; but the distance was so great, and opportunities for
communication so rare, that the tidings were usually very long behind the
occurrence of the events to which they related. The government heard
with dismay of the troubles caused by the ordinances and the intemperate
conduct of the viceroy; and it was not long before it learned that this
functionary was deposed and driven from his capital, while the whole
country, under Gonzalo Pizarro, was arrayed in arms against him. All
classes were filled with consternation at this alarming intelligence; and
many that had before approved the ordinances now loudly condemned
the ministers, who, without considering the inflammable temper of the
people, had thus rashly fired a train which menaced a general explosion
throughout the colonies.1 No such rebellion, within the memory of man,
had occurred in the Spanish empire. It was compared with the famous
war of the comunidades, in the beginning of Charles the Fifth's reign.
But the Peruvian insurrection seemed the more formidable of the two.
The troubles of Castile, being under the eye of the Court, might be the
more easily managed; while it was difficult to make the same power felt
on the remote shores of the Indies. Lying along the distant Pacific, the
principle of attraction which held Peru to the parent country was so
feeble, that this colony might, at any time, with a less impulse than that
now given to it, fly from its political orbit.

It seemed as if the fairest of its jewels was about to fall from the imperial

Such was the state of things in the summer of 1545, when Charles the
Fifth was absent in Germany, occupied with the religious troubles of the
empire. The government was in the hands of his son, who, under the
name of Philip the Second, was soon to sway the sceptre over the largest
portion of his father's dominions, and who was then holding his court at
Valladolid. He called together a council of prelates, jurists, and military
men of greatest experience, to deliberate on the measures to be pursued
for restoring order in the colonies. All agreed in regarding Pizarro's
movement in the light of an audacious rebellion; and there were few, at
first, who were not willing to employ the whole strength of government
to vindicate the honor of the Crown,--to quell the insurrection, and bring
the authors of it to punishment.2

But, however desirable this might appear, a very little reflection showed
that it was not easy to be done, if, indeed, it were practicable. The great
distance of Peru required troops to be transported not merely across the
ocean, but over the broad extent of the great continent. And how was
this to be effected, when the principal posts, the keys of communication
with the country, were in the hands of the rebels, while their fleet rode in
the Pacific, the mistress of its waters, cutting off all approach to the
coast? Even if a Spanish force could be landed in Peru, what chance
would it have, unaccustomed, as it would be, to the country and the
climate, of coping with the veterans of Pizarro, trained to war in the
Indies and warmly attached to the person of their commander? The new
levies thus sent out might become themselves infected with the spirit of
insurrection, and cast off their own allegiance.3

Nothing remained, therefore, but to try conciliatory measures. The
government, however mortifying to its pride, must retrace its steps. A
free grace must be extended to those who submitted, and such persuasive
arguments should be used, and such politic concessions made, as would
convince the refractory colonists that it was their interest, as well as their
duty, to return to their allegiance.

But to approach the people in their present state of excitement, and to
make those concessions without too far compromising the dignity and
permanent authority of the Crown, was a delicate matter, for the success
of which they must rely wholly on the character of the agent. After much
deliberation, a competent person, as it was thought, was found in an
ecclesiastic, by the name of Pedro de la Gasca,--a name which, brighter
by contrast with the gloomy times in which it first appeared, still shines
with undiminished splendor after the lapse of ages.

Pedro de la Gasca was born, probably, towards the close of the fifteenth
century, in a small village in Castile named Barco de Avila. He came,
both by father and mother's side, from an ancient and noble lineage;
ancient indeed, if, as his biographers contend, he derived his descent
from Casca, one of the conspirators against Julius Caesar!4 Having the
misfortune to lose his father early in life, he was placed by his uncle in
the famous seminary of Alcala de Henares, rounded by the great
Ximenes. Here he made rapid proficiency in liberal studies, especially in
those connected with his profession, and at length received the degree of
Master of Theology.

The young man, however, discovered other talents than those demanded
by his sacred calling. The war of the comunidades was then raging in the
country; and the authorities of his college showed a disposition to take
the popular side. But Gasca, putting himself at the head of an armed
force, seized one of the gates of the city, and, with assistance from the
royal troops, secured the place to the interests of the Crown. This early
display of loyalty was probably not lost on his vigilant sovereign.5

From Alcala, Gasca was afterwards removed to Salamanca; where he
distinguished himself by his skill in scholastic disputation, and obtained
the highest academic honors in that ancient university, the fruitful
nursery of scholarship and genius. He was subsequently intrusted with
the management of some important affairs of an ecclesiastical nature,
and made a member of the Council of the Inquisition.

In this latter capacity he was sent to Valencia, about 1540, to examine
into certain alleged cases of heresy in that quarter of the country. These
were involved in great obscurity; and, although Gasca had the assistance
of several eminent jurists in the investigation, it occupied him nearly two
years. In the conduct of this difficult matter, he showed so much
penetration, and such perfect impartiality, that he was appointed by the
Cortes of Valencia to the office of visitador of that kingdom; a highly
responsible post, requiring great discretion in the person who filled it,
since it was his province to inspect the condition of the courts of justice
and of finance, throughout the land, with authority to reform abuses. It
was proof of extraordinary consideration, that it should have been
bestowed on Gasca; since it was a departure from the established usage -
-and that in a nation most wedded to usage--to confer the office on any
but a subject of the Aragonese crown.6

Gasca executed the task assigned to him with independence and ability.
While he was thus occupied, the people of Valencia were thrown into
consternation by a meditated invasion of the French and the Turks, who,
under the redoubtable Barbarossa, menaced the coast and the
neighboring Balearic isles. Fears were generally entertained of a rising
of the Morisco population; and the Spanish officers who had command
in that quarter, being left without the protection of a navy, despaired of
making head against the enemy. In this season of general panic, Gasca
alone appeared calm and self-possessed. He remonstrated with the
Spanish commanders on their unsoldierlike despondency; encouraged
them to confide in the loyalty of the Moriscos; and advised the
immediate erection of fortifications along the shores for their protection.
He was, in consequence, named one of a commission to superintend
these works, and to raise levies for defending the sea-coast; and so
faithfully was the task performed, that Barbarossa, after some ineffectual
attempts to make good his landing, was baffled at all points, and
compelled to abandon the enterprise as hopeless. The chief credit of this
resistance must be assigned to Gasca, who superintended the
construction of the defences, and who was enabled to contribute a large
part of the requisite funds by the economical reforms he had introduced
into the administration of Valencia.7

It was at this time, the latter part of the year 1545, that the council of
Philip selected Gasca as the person most competent to undertake the
perilous mission to Peru.8 His character, indeed, seemed especially
suited to it. His loyalty had been shown through his whole life. With
great suavity of manners he combined the most intrepid resolution.
Though his demeanor was humble, as beseemed his calling, it was far
from abject; for he was sustained by a conscious rectitude of purpose,
that impressed respect on all with whom he had intercourse. He was
acute in his perceptions, had a shrewd knowledge of character, and,
though bred to the cloister, possessed an acquaintance with affairs, and
even with military science, such as was to have been expected only from
one reared in courts and camps.

Without hesitation, therefore, the council unanimously recommended
him to the emperor, and requested his approbation of their proceedings.
Charles had not been an inattentive observer of Gasca's course. His
attention had been particularly called to the able manner in which he had
conducted the judicial process against the heretics of Valencia.9 The
monarch saw, at once, that he was the man for the present emergency;
and he immediately wrote to him, with his own hand, expressing his
entire satisfaction at the appointment, and intimating his purpose to
testify his sense of his worth by preferring him to one of the principal
sees then vacant.

Gasca accepted the important mission now tendered to him without
hesitation; and, repairing to Madrid, received the instructions of the
government as to the course to be pursued. They were expressed in the
most benign and conciliatory tone, perfectly in accordance with the
suggestions of his own benevolent temper.10 But, while he commended
the tone of the instructions, he considered the powers with which he was
to be intrusted as wholly incompetent to their object. They were
conceived in the jealous spirit with which the Spanish government
usually limited the authority of its great colonial officers, whose distance
from home gave peculiar cause for distrust. On every strange and
unexpected emergency, Gasca saw that he should be obliged to send
back for instructions. This must cause delay, where promptitude was
essential to success. The Court, moreover, as he represented to the
council, was, from its remoteness from the scene of action, utterly
incompetent to pronounce as to the expediency of the measures to be
pursued. Some one should be sent out in whom the king could implicitly
confide, and who should be invested with powers competent to every
emergency; powers not merely to decide on what was best, but to carry
that decision into execution; and he boldly demanded that he should go
not only as the representative of the sovereign, but clothed with all the
authority of the sovereign himself. Less than this would defeat the very
object for which he was to be sent. "For myself," he concluded, "I ask
neither salary nor compensation of any kind. I covet no display of state
or military array. With my stoic and breviary I trust to do the work that
is committed to me.11 Infirm as I am in body, the repose of my own
home would have been more grateful to me than this dangerous mission;
but I will not shrink from it at the bidding of my sovereign, and if, as is
very probable, I may not be permitted again to see my native land, I
shall, at least, be cheered by the consciousness of having done my best to
serve its interests." 12

The members of the council, while they listened with admiration to the
disinterested avowal of Gasca, were astounded by the boldness of his
demands. Not that they distrusted the purity of his motives, for these
were above suspicion. But the powers for which he stipulated were so
far beyond those hitherto delegated to a colonial viceroy, that they felt
they had no warrant to grant them. They even shrank from soliciting
them from the emperor, and required that Gasca himself should address
the monarch, and state precisely the grounds on which demands so
extraordinary were founded.

Gasca readily adopted the suggestion, and wrote in the most full and
explicit manner to his sovereign, who had then transferred his residence
to Flanders. But Charles was not so tenacious, or, at least, so jealous, of
authority, as his ministers. He had been too long in possession of it to
feel that jealousy; and, indeed, many years were not to elapse, before,
oppressed by its weight, he was to resign it altogether into the hands of
his son. His sagacious mind, moreover, readily comprehended the
difficulties of Gasca's position. He felt that the present extraordinary
crisis was to be met only by extraordinary measures. He assented to the
force of his vassal's arguments, and, on the sixteenth of February, 1546,
wrote him another letter expressive of his approbation, and intimated his
willingness to grant him powers as absolute as those he had requested.

Gasca was to be styled President of the Royal Audience. But, under this
simple title, he was placed at the head of every department in the colony,
civil, military, and judicial. He was empowered to make new
repartimientos, and to confirm those already made. He might declare
war, levy troops, appoint to all offices, or remove from them, at pleasure.
He might exercise the royal prerogative of pardoning offences, and was
especially authorized to grant an amnesty to all, without exception,
implicated in the present rebellion. He was, moreover, to proclaim at
once the revocation of the odious ordinances. These two last provisions
might be said to form the basis of all his operations.

Since ecclesiastics were not to be reached by the secular arm, and yet
were often found fomenting troubles in the colonies, Gasca was
permitted to banish from Peru such as he thought fit. He might even
send home the viceroy, if the good of the country required it. Agreeably
to his own suggestion, he was to receive no specified stipend; but he had
unlimited orders on the treasuries both of Panama and Peru. He was
furnished with letters from the emperor to the principal authorities, not
only in Peru, but in Mexico and the neighboring colonies, requiring their
countenance and support; and, lastly, blank letters, bearing the royal
signature, were delivered to him, which he was to fill up at his

While the grant of such unbounded powers excited the warmest
sentiments of gratitude in Gasca towards the sovereign who could repose
in him so much confidence, it seems--which is more extraordinary--not
to have raised corresponding feelings of envy in the courtiers. They
knew well that it was not for himself that the good ecclesiastic had
solicited them. On the contrary, some of the council were desirous that
he should be preferred to the bishopric, as already promised him, before
his departure; conceiving that he would thus go with greater authority
than as an humble ecclesiastic, and fearing, moreover, that Gasca
himself, were it omitted, might feel some natural disappointment. But
the president hastened to remove these impressions. "The honor would
avail me little," he said, "where I am going; and it would be manifestly
wrong to appoint me to an office in the Church, while I remain at such a
distance that I cannot discharge the duties of it. The consciousness of
my insufficiency," he continued, "should I never return, would lie heavy
on my soul in my last moments." 14 The politic reluctance to accept the
mitre has passed into a proverb. But there was no affectation here; and
Gasca's friends, yielding to his arguments, forbore to urge the matter

The new president now went forward with his preparation. They were
few and simple; for he was to be accompanied by a slender train of
followers, among whom the most conspicuous was Alonso de Alvarado,
the gallant officer who, as the reader may remember, long commanded
under Francisco Pizarro. He had resided of late years at court; and now
at Gasca's request accompanied him to Peru, where his presence might
facilitate negotiations with the insurgents, while his military experience
would prove no less valuable in case of an appeal to arms.15 Some
delay necessarily occurred in getting ready his little squadron, and it was
not till the 26th of May, 1546, that the president and his suite embarked
at San Lucar for the New World.

After a prosperous voyage, and not a long one for that day, he landed,
about the middle of July, at the port of Santa Martha. Here he received
the astounding intelligence of the battle of Ariaquito, of the defeat and
death of the viceroy, and of the manner in which Gonzalo Pizarro had
since established his absolute rule over the land. Although these events
had occurred several months before Gasca's departure from Spain, yet,
so imperfect was the intercourse, no tidings of them had then reached
that country.

They now filled the president with great anxiety; as he reflected that the
insurgents, after so atrocious an act as the slaughter of the viceroy, might
well despair of grace, and become reckless of consequences. He was
careful, therefore, to have it understood, that the date of his commission
was subsequent to that of the fatal battle, and that it authorized an entire
amnesty of all offences hitherto committed against the government.16

Yet, in some points of view, the death of Blasco Nunez might be
regarded as an auspicious circumstance for the settlement of the country.
Had he lived till Gasca's arrival, the latter would have been greatly
embarrassed by the necessity of acting in concert with a person so
generally detested in the colony, or by the unwelcome alternative of
sending him back to Castile. The insurgents, moreover, would, in all
probability, be now more amenable to reason, since all personal
animosity might naturally be buried in the grave of their enemy.

The president was much embarrassed by deciding in what quarter he
should attempt to enter Peru. Every port was in the hands of Pizarro, and
was placed under the care of his officers, with strict charge to intercept
any communications from Spain, and to detain such persons as bore a
commission from that country until his pleasure could be known
respecting them. Gasca, at length, decided on crossing over to Nombre
de Dios, then held with a strong force by Hernan Mexia, an officer to
whose charge Gonzalo had committed this strong gate to his dominions,
as to a person on whose attachment to his cause he could confidently

Had Gasca appeared off this place in a menacing attitude, with a military
array, or, indeed, with any display of official pomp that might have
awakened distrust in the commander, he would doubtless have found it
no easy matter to effect a landing. But Mexia saw nothing to apprehend
in the approach of a poor ecclesiastic, without an armed force, with
hardly even a retinue to support him, coming solely, as it seemed, on an
errand of mercy. No sooner, therefore, was he acquainted with the
character of the envoy, and his mission, than he prepared to receive him
with the honors due to his rank, and marched out at the head of his
soldiers, together with a considerable body of ecclesiastics resident in the
place. There was nothing in the person of Gasca, still less in his humble
clerical attire and modest retinue, to impress the vulgar spectator with
feelings of awe or reverence. Indeed, the poverty-stricken aspect, as it
seemed, of himself and his followers, so different from the usual state
affected by the Indian viceroys, excited some merriment among the rude
soldiery, who did not scruple to break their coarse jests on his
appearance, in hearing of the president himself.17 "If this is the sort of
governor his Majesty sends over to us," they exclaimed, "Pizarro need
not trouble his head much about it."

Yet the president, far from being ruffled by this ribaldry, or from
showing resentment to its authors, submitted to it with the utmost
humility, and only seemed the more grateful to his own brethren, who, by
their respectful demeanor, appeared anxious to do him honor.

But, however plain and unpretending the manners of Gasca, Mexia, on
his first interview with him soon discovered that he had no common man
to deal with. The president, after briefly explaining the nature of his
commission, told him that he had come as a messenger of peace; and that
it was on peaceful measures he relied for his success. He then stated the
general scope of his commission, his authority to grant a free pardon to
all, without exception, who at once submitted to government, and,
finally, his purpose to proclaim the revocation of the ordinances. The
objects of the revolution were thus attained. To contend longer would be
manifest rebellion, and that without a motive; and he urged the
commander by every principle of loyalty and patriotism to support him
in settling the distractions of the country, and bringing it back to its

The candid and conciliatory language of the president, so different from
the arrogance of Blasco Nunez, and the austere demeanor of Vaca de
Castro, made a sensible impression on Mexia. He admitted the force of
Gasca's reasoning, and flattered himself that Gonzalo Pizarro would not
be insensible to it. Though attached to the fortunes of that leader, he was
loyal in heart, and, like most of the party, had been led by accident,
rather than by design, into rebellion; and now that so good an
opportunity occurred to do it with safety, he was not unwilling to retrace
his steps, and secure the royal favor by thus early returning to his
allegiance. This he signified to the president, assuring him of his hearty
cooperation in the good work of reform.18

This was an important step for Gasca. It was yet more important for him
to secure the obedience of Hinojosa, the governor of Panama, in the
harbor of which city lay Pizarro's navy, consisting of two-and-twenty
vessels. But it was not easy to approach this officer. He was a person of
much higher character than was usually found among the reckless
adventurers in the New World. He was attached to the interests of
Pizarro, and the latter had requited him by placing him in command of
his armada and of Panama, the key to his territories on the Pacific.

The president first sent Mexia and Alonso de Alvarado to prepare the
way for his own coming, by advising Hinojosa of the purport of his
mission. He soon after followed, and was received by that commander
with every show of outward respect. But while the latter listened with
deference to the representations of Gasca, they failed to work the change
in him which they had wrought in Mexia; and he concluded by asking the
president to show him his powers, and by inquiring whether they gave
him authority to confirm Pizarro in his present post, to which he was
entitled no less by his own services than by the general voice of the

This was an embarrassing question. Such a concession would have been
altogether too humiliating to the Crown; but to have openly avowed this
at the present juncture to so stanch an adherent of Pizarro might have
precluded all further negotiation. The president evaded the question,
therefore, by simply stating, that the time had not yet come for him to
produce his powers, but that Hinojosa might be assured they were such
as to secure an ample recompense to every loyal servant of his

Hinojosa was not satisfied; and he immediately wrote to Pizarro,
acquainting him with Gasca's arrival and with the object of his mission,
at the same time plainly intimating his own conviction that the president
had no authority to confirm him in the government. But before the
departure of the ship, Gasca secured the services of a Dominican friar,
who had taken his passage on board for one of the towns on the coast.
This man he intrusted with manifestoes, setting forth the purport of his
visit, and proclaiming the abolition of the ordinances, with a free pardon
to all who returned to their obedience. He wrote, also, to the prelates
and to the corporations of the different cities. The former he requested
to cooperate with him in introducing a spirit of loyalty and subordination
among the people, while he intimated to the towns his purpose to confer
with them hereafter, in order to devise some effectual measures for the
welfare of the country. These papers the Dominican engaged to
distribute, himself, among the principal cities of the colony; and he
faithfully kept his word, though, as it proved, at no little hazard of his
life. The seeds thus scattered might many of them fall on barren ground.
But the greater part, the president trusted, would take root in the hearts
of the people; and he patiently waited for the harvest.

Meanwhile, though he failed to remove the scruples of Hinojosa, the
courteous manners of Gasca, and his mild, persuasive discourse, had a
visible effect on other individuals with whom he had daily intercourse.
Several of these, and among them some of the principal cavaliers in
Panama, as well as in the squadron, expressed their willingness to join
the royal cause, and aid the president in maintaining it. Gasca profited
by their assistance to open a communication with the authorities of
Guatemala and Mexico, whom he advised of his mission, while he
admonished them to allow no intercourse to be carried on with the
insurgents on the coast of Peru. He, at length, also prevailed on the
governor of Panama to furnish him with the means of entering into
communication with Gonzalo Pizarro himself; and a ship was despatched
to Lima, bearing a letter from Charles the Fifth, addressed to that chief,
with an epistle also from Gasca.

The emperor's communication was couched in the most condescending
and even conciliatory terms. Far from taxing Gonzalo with rebellion, his
royal master affected to regard his conduct as in a manner imposed on
him by circumstances, especially by the obduracy of the viceroy Nunez
in denying the colonists the inalienable right of petition. He gave no
intimation of an intent to confirm Pizarro in the government, or, indeed,
to remove him from it; but simply referred him to Gasca as one who
would acquaint him with the royal pleasure, and with whom he was to
cooperate in restoring tranquillity to the country.

Gasca's own letter was pitched on the same politic key. He remarked,
however, that the exigencies which had hitherto determined Gonzalo's
line of conduct existed no longer. All that had been asked was conceded.
There was nothing now to contend for; and it only remained for Pizarro
and his followers to show their loyalty and the sincerity of their
principles by obedience to the Crown. Hitherto, the president said,
Pizarro had been in arms against the viceroy; and the people had
supported him as against a common enemy. If he prolonged the contest,
that enemy must be his sovereign. In such a struggle, the people would
be sure to desert him; and Gasca conjured him, by his honor as a
cavalier, and his duty as a loyal vassal, to respect the royal authority, and
not rashly provoke a contest which must prove to the world that his
conduct hitherto had been dictated less by patriotic motives than by
selfish ambition.

This letter, which was conveyed in language the most courteous and
complimentary to the subject of it, was of great length. It was
accompanied by another much more concise, to Cepeda, the intriguing
lawyer, who, as Gasca knew, had the greatest influence over Pizarro, in
the absence of Carbajal, then employed in reaping the silver harvest from
the newly discovered mines of Potosi.20 In this epistle, Gasca affected
to defer to the cunning politician as a member of the Royal Audience,
and he conferred with him on the best manner of supplying a vacancy in
that body. These several despatches were committed to a cavalier,
named Paniagua, a faithful adherent of the president, and one of those
who had accompanied him from Castile. To this same emissary he also
gave manifestos and letters, like those intrusted to the Dominican, with
orders secretly to distribute them in Lima, before he quitted that

Weeks and months rolled away, while the president still remained at
Panama, where, indeed, as his communications were jealously cut off
with Peru, he might be said to be detained as a sort of prisoner of state.
Meanwhile, both he and Hinojosa were looking with anxiety for the
arrival of some messenger from Pizarro, who should indicate the manner
in which the president's mission was to be received by that chief. The
governor of Panama was not blind to the perilous position in which he
was himself placed, nor to the madness of provoking a contest with the
Court of Castile. But he had a reluctance--not too often shared by the
cavaliers of Peru--to abandon the fortunes of the commander who had
reposed in him so great confidence. Yet he trusted that this commander
would embrace the opportunity now offered, of placing himself and the
country in a state of permanent security.

Several of the cavaliers who had given in their adhesion to Gasca,
displeased by this obstinacy, as they termed it, of Hinojosa, proposed to
seize his person and then get possession of the armada. But the president
at once rejected this offer. His mission, he said, was one of peace, and
he would not stain it at the outset by an act of violence. He even
respected the scruples of Hinojosa; and a cavalier of so honorable a
nature, he conceived, if once he could be gained by fair means, would be
much more likely to be true to his interests, than if overcome either by
force or fraud. Gasca thought he might safely abide his time. There was
policy, as well as honesty, in this; indeed, they always go together.

Meantime, persons were occasionally arriving from Lima and the
neighboring places, who gave accounts of Pizarro, varying according to
the character and situation of the parties. Some represented him as
winning all hearts by his open temper and the politic profusion with
which, though covetous of wealth, he distributed repartimientos and
favors among his followers. Others spoke of him as carrying matters
with a high hand, while the greatest timidity and distrust prevailed
among the citizens of Lima. All agreed that his power rested on too
secure a basis to be shaken; and that, if the president should go to Lima,
he must either consent to become Pizarro's instrument and confirm him
in the government, or forfeit his own life.22

It was undoubtedly true, that Gonzalo, while he gave attention, as his
friends say, to the public business, found time for free indulgence in
those pleasures which wait on the soldier of fortune in his hour of
triumph. He was the object of flattery and homage; courted even by
those who hated him. For such as did not love the successful chieftain
had good cause to fear him; and his exploits were commemorated in
romances or ballads, as rivalling--it was not far from truth--those of the
most doughty paladins of chivalry.23

Amidst this burst of adulation, the cup of joy commended to Pizarro's
lips had one drop of bitterness in it that gave its flavor to all the rest; for,
notwithstanding his show of confidence, he looked with unceasing
anxiety to the arrival of tidings that might assure him in what light his
conduct was regarded by the government at home. This was proved by
his jealous precautions to guard the approaches to the coast, and to
detain the persons of the royal emissaries. He learned, therefore, with no
little uneasiness, from Hinojosa, the landing of President Gasca, and the
purport of his mission. But his discontent was mitigated, when he
understood that the new envoy had come without military array, without
any of the ostentatious trappings of office to impose on the minds of the
vulgar, but alone, as it were, in the plain garb of an humble
missionary.24 Pizarro could not discern, that under this modest exterior
lay a moral power, stronger than his own steel-clad battalions, which,
operating silently on public opinion,--the more sure than it was silent,--
was even now undermining his strength, like a subterraneous channel
eating away the foundations of some stately edifice, that stands secure in
its pride of place!

But, although Gonzalo Pizarro could not foresee this result, he saw
enough to satisfy him that it would be safest to exclude the president
from Peru. The tidings of his arrival, moreover, quickened his former
purpose of sending an embassy to Spain to vindicate his late
proceedings, and request the royal confirmation of his authority. The
person placed at the head of this mission was Lorenzo de Aldana, a
cavalier of discretion as well as courage, and high in the confidence of
Pizarro, as one of his most devoted partisans. He had occupied some
important posts under that chief, one secret of whose successes was the
sagacity he showed in the selection of his agents.

Besides Aldana and one or two cavaliers, the bishop of Lima was joined
in the commission, as likely, from his position, to have a favorable
influence on Gonzalo's fortunes at court. Together with the despatches
for the government, the envoys were intrusted with a letter to Gasca from
the inhabitants of Lima; in which, after civilly congratulating the
president on his arrival, they announce their regret that he had come too
late. The troubles of the country were now settled by the overthrow of
the viceroy, and the nation was reposing in quiet under the rule of
Pizarro. An embassy, they stated, was on its way to Castile, not to solicit
pardon, for they had committed no crime,25 but to petition the emperor
to confirm their leader in the government, as the man in Peru best
entitled to it by his virtues.26 They expressed the conviction that
Gasca's presence would only serve to renew the distractions of the
country, and they darkly intimated that his attempt to land would
probably cost him his life.--The language of this singular document was
more respectful than might be inferred from its import. It was dated the
14th of October, 1546, and was subscribed by seventy of the principal
cavaliers in the city. It was not improbably dictated by Cepeda, whose
hand is visible in most of the intrigues of Pizarro's little court. It is also
said, --the authority is somewhat questionable,--that Aldana received
instructions from Gonzalo secretly to offer a bribe of fifty thousand
pesos de oro to the president, to prevail on him to return to Castile; and
in case of his refusal, some darker and more effectual way was to be
devised to rid the country of his presence.27

Aldana, fortified with his despatches, sped swiftly on his voyage to
Panama. Through him the governor learned the actual state of feeling in
the councils of Pizarro; and he listened with regret to the envoy's
conviction, that no terms would be admitted by that chief or his
companions, that did not confirm him in the possession of Peru.28

Aldana was soon admitted to an audience by the president. It was
attended with very different results from what had followed from the
conferences with Hinojosa; for Pizarro's envoy was not armed by nature
with that stubborn panoply which had hitherto made the other proof
against all argument. He now learned with surprise the nature of Gasca's
powers, and the extent of the royal concessions to the insurgents. He had
embarked with Gonzalo Pizarro on a desperate venture, and he found
that it had proved successful. The colony had nothing more, in reason,
to demand; and, though devoted in heart to his leader, he did not feel
bound by any principle of honor to take part with him, solely to gratify
his ambition, in a wild contest with the Crown that must end in inevitable
ruin. He consequently abandoned his mission to Castile, probably never
very palatable to him, and announced his purpose to accept the pardon
proffered by government, and support the president in settling the affairs
of Peru. He subsequently wrote, it should be added, to his former
commander in Lima, stating the course he had taken, and earnestly
recommending the latter to follow his example.

The influence of this precedent in so important a person as Aldana,
aided, doubtless, by the conviction that no change was now to be
expected in Pizarro, while delay would be fatal to himself, at length
prevailed over Hinojosa's scruples, and he intimated to Gasca his
willingness to place the fleet under his command. The act was
performed with great pomp and ceremony. Some of Pizarro's stanchest
partisans were previously removed from the vessels; and on the
nineteenth of November, 1546, Hinojosa and his captains resigned their
commissions into the hands of the president. They next took the oaths of
allegiance to Castile; a free pardon for all past offences was proclaimed
by the herald from a scaffold erected in the great square of the city; and
the president, greeting them as true and loyal vassals of the Crown,
restored their several commissions to the cavaliers. The royal standard
of Spain was then unfurled on board the squadron, and proclaimed that
this stronghold of Pizarro's power had passed away from him for ever.29

The return of their commissions to the insurgent captains was a politic
act in Gasca. It secured the services of the ablest officers in the country,
and turned against Pizarro the very arm on which he had most leaned for
support. Thus was this great step achieved, without force or fraud, by
Gasca's patience and judicious forecast. He was content to bide his time;
and he now might rely with well-grounded confidence on the ultimate
success of his mission.

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