History Of The Conquest Of Peru
by William Hickling Prescott
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On the day appointed, a strong corps of arquebusiers was drawn up in the plaza. The guards were doubled over the houses where dwelt the principal partisans of Almagro. The executioner, attended by a priest, stealthily entered his prison; and the unhappy man, after confessing and receiving the sacrament, submitted without resistance to the garrote. Thus obscurely, in the gloomy silence of a dungeon, perished the hero of a hundred battles! His corpse was removed to the great square of the city, where, in obedience to the sentence, the head was severed from the body. A herald proclaimed aloud the nature of the crimes for which he had suffered; and his remains, rolled in their bloody shroud, were borne to the house of his friend Hernan Ponce de Leon, and the next day laid with all due solemnity in the church of Our Lady of Mercy. The Pizarros appeared among the principal mourners. It was remarked, that their brother had paid similar honors to the memory of Atahuallpa.22

Almagro, at the time of his death, was probably not far from seventy years of age. But this is somewhat uncertain; for Almagro was a foundling, and his early history is lost in obscurity.23 He had many excellent qualities by nature; and his defects, which were not few, may reasonably be palliated by the circumstances of his situation. For what extenuation is not authorized by the position of a foundling,—without parents, or early friends, or teacher to direct him,—his little bark set adrift on the ocean of life, to take its chance among the rude billows and breakers, without one friendly hand stretched forth to steer or to save it! The name of "foundling" comprehends an apology for much, very much, that is wrong in after life.24

He was a man of strong passions, and not too well used to control them.25 But he was neither vindictive nor habitually cruel. I have mentioned one atrocious outrage which he committed on the natives. But insensibility to the rights of the Indian he shared with many a better instructed Spaniard. Yet the Indians, after his conviction, bore testimony to his general humanity, by declaring that they had no such friend among the white men.26 Indeed, far from being vindictive, he was placable and easily yielded to others. The facility with which he yielded, the result of good-natured credulity, made him too often the dupe of the crafty; and it showed, certainly, a want of that self-reliance which belongs to great strength of character. Yet his facility of temper, and the generosity of his nature, made him popular with his followers. No commander was ever more beloved by his soldiers. His generosity was often carried to prodigality. When he entered on the campaign of Chili, he lent a hundred thousand gold ducats to the poorer cavaliers to equip themselves and afterwards gave them up the debt.27 He was profuse to ostentation. But his extravagance did him no harm among the roving spirits of the camp, with whom prodigality is apt to gain more favor than a strict and well-regulated economy.

He was a good soldier, careful and judicious in his plans, patient and intrepid in their execution. His body was covered with the scars of his battles, till the natural plainness of his person was converted almost into deformity. He must not be judged by his closing campaign, when, depressed by disease, he yielded to the superior genius of his rival; but by his numerous expeditions by land and by water for the conquest of Peru and the remote Chili. Yet it may be doubted whether he possessed those uncommon qualities, either as a warrior or as a man, that, in ordinary circumstances, would have raised him to distinction. He was one of the three, or, to speak more strictly, of the two associates, who had the good fortune and the glory to make one of the most splendid discoveries in the Western World. He shares largely in the credit of this with Pizarro; for, when he did not accompany that leader in his perilous expeditions, he contributed no less to their success by his exertions in the colonies.

Yet his connection with that chief can hardly be considered a fortunate circumstance in his career. A partnership between individuals for discovery and conquest is not likely to be very scrupulously observed, especially by men more accustomed to govern others than to govern themselves. If causes for discord do not arise before, they will be sure to spring up on division of the spoil. But this association was particularly ill-assorted. For the free, sanguine, and confiding temper of Almagro was no match for the cool and crafty policy of Pizarro; and he was invariably circumvented by his companion, whenever their respective interests came in collision.

Still the final ruin of Almagro may be fairly imputed to himself. He made two capital blunders. The first was his appeal to arms by the seizure of Cuzco. The determination of a boundary-line was not to be settled by arms. It was a subject for arbitration; and, if arbitrators could not be trusted, it should have been referred to the decision of the Crown. But, having once appealed to arms, he should not then have resorted to negotiation,—above all, to negotiation with Pizarro. This was his second and greatest error. He had seen enough of Pizarro to know that he was not to be trusted. Almagro did trust him, and he paid for it with his life.

Book 4

Chapter 3

Pizarro Revisits Cuzco—Hernando Returns To Castile- His Long Imprisonment—Commissioner Sent To Peru- Hostilities With The Inca—Pizarro's Active Administration- Gonzalo Pizarro


On the departure of his brother in pursuit of Almagro, the Marquess Francisco Pizarro, as we have seen, returned to Lima. There he anxiously awaited the result of the campaign; and on receiving the welcome tidings of the victory of Las Salinas, he instantly made preparations for his march to Cuzco. At Xauxa, however, he was long detained by the distracted state of the country, and still longer, as it would seem, by a reluctance to enter the Peruvian capital while the trial of Almagro was pending.

He was met at Xauxa by the marshal's son Diego, who had been sent to the coast by Hernando Pizarro. The young man was filled with the most gloomy apprehensions respecting his father's fate, and he besought the governor not to allow his brother to do him any violence. Pizarro, who received Diego with much apparent kindness, bade him take heart, as no harm should come to his father;1 adding, that he trusted their ancient friendship would soon be renewed. The youth, comforted by these assurances, took his way to Lima, where, by Pizarro's orders, he was received into his house, and treated as a son.

The same assurances respecting the marshal's safety were given by the governor to Bishop Valverde, and some of the principal cavaliers who interested themselves in behalf of the prisoner.2 Still Pizarro delayed his march to the capital; and when he resumed it, he had advanced no farther than the Rio de Abancay when he received tidings of the death of his rival. He appeared greatly shocked by the intelligence, his whole frame was agitated, and he remained for some time with his eyes bent on the ground showing signs of strong emotion.3

Such is the account given by his friends. A more probable version of the matter represents him to have been perfectly aware of the state of things at Cuzco. When the trial was concluded, it is said he received a message from Hernando, inquiring what was to be done with the prisoner. He answered in a few words :—"Deal with him so that he shall give us no more trouble."4 It is also stated that Hernando, afterwards, when laboring under the obloquy caused by Almagro's death, shielded himself under instructions affirmed to have been received from the governor.5 It is quite certain, that, during his long residence at Xauxa, the latter was in constant communication with Cuzco; and that had he, as Valverde repeatedly urged him,6 quickened his march to that capital, he might easily have prevented the consummation of the tragedy. As commander- in-chief, Almagro's fate was in his hands; and, whatever his own partisans may affirm of his innocence, the impartial judgment of history must hold him equally accountable with Hernando for the death of his associate.

Neither did his subsequent conduct show any remorse for these proceedings. He entered Cuzco, says one who was present there to witness it, amidst the flourish of clarions and trumpets, at the head of his martial cavalcade, and dressed in the rich suit presented him by Cortes, with the proud bearing and joyous mien of a conqueror.7 When Diego de Alvarado applied to him for the government of the southern provinces, in the name of the young Almagro, whom his father, as we have seen, had consigned to his protection, Pizarro answered, that "the marshal, by his rebellion, had forfeited all claims to the government." And, when he was still further urged by the cavalier, he bluntly broke off the conversation by declaring that "his own territory covered all on this side of Flanders"!8—intimating, no doubt, by this magnificent vaunt, that he would endure no rival on this side of the water.

In the same spirit, he had recently sent to supersede Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, who, he Was informed, aspired to an independent government. Pizarro's emissary had orders to send the offending captain to Lima; but Benalcazar, after pushing his victorious career far into the north, had returned to Castile to solicit his guerdon from the emperor.

To the complaints of the injured natives, who invoked his protection, he showed himself strangely insensible, while the followers of Almagro he treated with undisguised contempt. The estates of the leaders were confiscated, and transferred without ceremony to his own partisans. Hernando had made attempts to conciliate some of the opposite faction by acts of liberality, but they had refused to accept anything from the man whose hands were stained with the blood of their commander.9 The governor held to them no such encouragement; and many were reduced to such abject poverty, that, too proud to expose their wretchedness to the eyes of their conquerors, they withdrew from the city, and sought a retreat among the neighboring mountains.10

For his own brothers he provided by such ample repartimientos, as excited the murmurs of his adherents. He appointed Gonzalo to the command of a strong force destined to act against the natives of Charcas, a hardy people occupying the territory assigned by the Crown to Almagro. Gonzalo met with a sturdy resistance, but, after some severe fighting, succeeded in reducing the province to obedience. He was recompensed, together with Hernando, who aided him in the conquest, by a large grant in the neighborhood of Porco, the productive mines of which had been partially wrought under the Incas. The territory, thus situated, embraced part of those silver hills of Potosi which have since supplied Europe with such stores of the precious metals. Hernando comprehended the capabilities of the ground, and he began working the mines on a more extensive scale than that hitherto adopted, though it does not appear that any attempt was then made to penetrate the rich crust of Potosi.11 A few years more were to elapse before the Spaniards were to bring to light the silver quarries that lay hidden in the bosom of its mountains.12

It was now the great business of Hernando to collect a sufficient quantity of treasure to take with him to Castile. Nearly a year had elapsed since Almagro's death; and it was full time that he should return and present himself at court, where Diego de Alvarado and other friends of the marshal, who had long since left Peru, were industriously maintaining the claims of the younger Almagro, as well as demanding redress for the wrongs done to his father. But Hernando looked confidently to his gold to dispel the accusations against him.

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

The latter soon after embarked at Lima in the summer of 1539. He did not take the route of Panama, for he had heard that it was the intention of the authorities there to detain him. He made a circuitous passage, therefore, by way of Mexico, landed in the Bay of Tecoantepec, and was making his way across the narrow strip that divides the great oceans, when he was arrested and taken to the capital. But the Viceroy Mendoza did not consider that he had a right to detain him, and he was suffered to embark at Vera Cruz, and to proceed on his voyage. Still he did not deem it safe to trust himself in Spain without further advices. He accordingly put in at one of the Azores, where he remained until he could communicate with home. He had some powerful friends at court, and by them he was encouraged to present himself before the emperor. He took their advice, and shortly after, reached the Spanish coast in safety.14

The Court was at Valladolid; but Hernando, who made his entrance into that city, with great pomp and a display of his Indian riches, met with a reception colder than he had anticipated.15 For this he was mainly indebted to Diego de Alvarado, who was then residing there, and who, as a cavalier of honorable standing, and of high connections, had considerable influence. He had formerly, as we have seen, by his timely interposition, more than once saved the life of Hernando; and he had consented to receive a pecuniary obligation from him to a large amount. But all were now forgotten in the recollection of the wrong done to his commander; and, true to the trust reposed in him by that chief in his dying hour, he had come to Spain to vindicate the claims of the young Almagro.

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

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

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

Hernando Pizarro was in many respects a remarkable character. He was the eldest of the brothers, to whom he was related only by the father's side, for he was born in wedlock, of honorable parentage on both sides of his house. In his early years, he received a good education,—good for the time. He was taken by his father, while quite young, to Italy, and there learned the art of war under the Great Captain. Little is known of his history after his return to Spain; but, when his brother had struck out for himself his brilliant career of discovery in Peru, Hernando consented to take part in his adventures.

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

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

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

His commission was guarded in a way which showed the embarrassment of the government. He was to appear before Pizarro in the capacity of a royal judge; to consult with him on the redress of grievances, especially with reference to the unfortunate natives; to concert measures for the prevention of future evils; and above all, to possess himself faithfully of the condition of the country in all its details, and to transmit intelligence of it to the Court of Castile. But, in case of Pizarro's death, he was to produce his warrant as royal governor, and as such to claim the obedience of the authorities throughout the land.—Events showed the wisdom of providing for this latter contingency.21

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

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

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

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

Among the Indian prisoners was one of the Inca's wives, a young and beautiful woman, to whom he was said to be fondly attached. The governor ordered her to be stripped naked, bound to a tree, and, in presence of the camp, to be scourged with rods, and then shot to death with arrows. The wretched victim bore the execution of the sentence with surprising fortitude. She did not beg for mercy, where none was to be found. Not a complaint, scarcely a groan, escaped her under the infliction of these terrible torments. The iron Conquerors were amazed at this power of endurance in a delicate woman, and they expressed their admiration, while they condemned the cruelty of their commander,—in their hearts.26 Yet constancy under the most excruciating tortures that human cruelty can inflict is almost the universal characteristic of the American Indian.

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

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

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

Pizarro, strengthened by the arrival of fresh adventurers, now turned his attention to the remoter quarters of the country. Pedro de Valdivia was sent on his memorable expedition to Chili; and to his own brother Gonzalo the governor assigned the territory of Quito, with instructions to explore the unknown country towards the east, where, as report said, grew the cinnamon. As this chief, who had hitherto acted but a subordinate part in the Conquest, is henceforth to take the most conspicuous, it may be well to give some account of him.

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

In talent and in expansion of views, he was inferior to his brothers. Neither did he discover the same cool and crafty policy; but he was equally courageous, and in the execution of his measures quite as unscrupulous. He lied a handsome person, with open, engaging features, a free, soldier-like address, and a confiding temper, which endeared him to his followers. His spirit was high and adventurous, and, what was equally important, he could inspire others with the same spirit, and thus do much to insure the success of his enterprises. He was an excellent captain in guerilla warfare, an admirable leader in doubtful and difficult expeditions; but he had not the enlarged capacity for a great military chief, still less for a civil ruler. It was his misfortune to be called to fill both situations.

Book 4

Chapter 4

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


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

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

On descending the eastern slopes, the climate changed; and, as they came on the lower level, the fierce cold was succeeded by a suffocating heat, while tempests of thunder and lightning, rushing from out the gorges of the sierra, poured on their heads with scarcely any intermission day or night, as if the offended deities of the place were willing to take vengeance on the invaders of their mountain solitudes. For more than six weeks the deluge continued unabated, and the forlorn wanderers, wet, and weary with incessant toil, were scarcely able to drag their limbs along the soil broken up and saturated with the moisture. After some months of toilsome travel, in which they had to cross many a morass and mountain stream, they at length reached Canelas, the Land of Cinnamon.3 They saw the trees bearing the precious bark, spreading out into broad forests; yet, however valuable an article for commerce it might have proved in accessible situations, in these remote regions it was of little worth to them. But, from the wandering tribes of savages whom they occasionally met in their path, they learned that at ten days' distance was a rich and fruitful land abounding with gold, and inhabited by populous nations. Gonzalo Pizarro had already reached the limits originally proposed for the expedition. But this intelligence renewed his hopes, and he resolved to push the adventure farther. It would have been well for him and his followers, had they been content to return on their footsteps.

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

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

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

Yet they gained little by the exchange. The country wore the same unpromising aspect, and the river-banks were studded with gigantic trees, or fringed with impenetrable thickets. The tribes of Indians, whom they occasionally met in the pathless wilderness, were fierce and unfriendly, and they were engaged in perpetual skirmishes with them. From these they learned that a fruitful country was to be found down the river at the distance of only a few days' journey, and the Spaniards held on their weary way, still hoping and still deceived, as the promised land flitted before them, like the rainbow, receding as they advanced.

At length, spent with toil and suffering, Gonzalo resolved to construct a bark large enough to transport the weaker part of his company and his baggage. The forests furnished him with timber; the shoes of the horses which had died on the road or been slaughtered for food, were converted into nails; gum distilled from the trees took the place of pitch; and the tattered garments of the soldiers supplied a substitute for oakum. It was a work of difficulty; but Gonzalo cheered his men in the task, and set an example by taking part in their labors. At the end of two months a brigantine was completed, rudely put together, but strong and of sufficient burden to carry half the company,—the first European vessel that ever floated on these inland waters.

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

They were now told of a rich district, inhabited by a populous nation, where the Napo emptied into a still greater river that flowed towards the east. It was, as usual, at the distance of several days' journey; and Gonzalo Pizarro resolved to halt where he was and send Orellana down in his brigantine to the confluence of the waters to procure a stock of provisions, with which he might return and put them in condition to resume their march. That cavalier, accordingly, taking with him fifty of the adventurers, pushed off into the middle of the river, where the stream ran swiftly, and his bark, taken by the current, shot forward with the speed of an arrow, and was soon out of sight.

Days and weeks passed away, yet the vessel did not return; and no speck was to be seen on the waters, as the Spaniards strained their eyes to the farthest point, where the line of light faded away in the dark shadows of the foliage on the borders. Detachments were sent out, and, though absent several days, came back without intelligence of their comrades. Unable longer to endure this suspense, or, indeed, to maintain themselves in their present quarters, Gonzalo and his famishing followers now determined to proceed towards the junction of the rivers. Two months elapsed before they accomplished this terrible journey those of them who did not perish on the way,—although the distance probably' did not exceed two hundred leagues; and they at length reached the spot so long desired, where the Napo pours its tide into the Amazon, that mighty stream, which, fed by its thousand tributaries, rolls on towards the ocean, for many hundred miles, through the heart of the great continent,—the most majestic of American rivers.

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

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

This is not the place to record the circumstances of Orellana's extraordinary expedition. He succeeded in his enterprise. But it is marvellous that he should have escaped shippwreck in the perilous and unknown navigation of that river. Many times his vessel was nearly dashed to pieces on its rocks and in its furious rapids;10 and he was in still greater peril from the warlike tribes on its borders, who fell on his little troop whenever he attempted to land, and followed in his wake for miles in their canoes. He at length emerged from the great river; and, once upon the sea, Orellana made for the isle of Cubagua; thence passing over to Spain, he repaired to court, and told the circumstances of his voyage,—of the nations of Amazons whom he had found on the banks of the river, the El Dorado which report assured him existed in the neighborhood, and other marvels,—the exaggeration rather than the coinage of a credulous fancy. His audience listened with willing ears to the tales of the traveller; and in an age of wonders, when the mysteries of the East and West were hourly coming to light, they might be excused for not discerning the true line between romance and reality.11

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

One of Orellana's party maintained a stout opposition to his proceedings, as repugnant both to humanity and honor. This was Sanchez de Vargas; and the cruel commander was revenged on him by abandoning him to his fate in the desolate region where he was now found by his countrymen.13

The Spaniards listened with horror to the recital of Vargas, and their blood almost froze in their veins as they saw themselves thus deserted in the heart of this remote wilderness, and deprived of their only means of escape from it. They made an effort to prosecute their journey along the banks, but, after some toilsome days, strength and spirits failed, and they gave up in despair!

Then it was that the qualities of Gonzalo Pizarro, as a fit leader in the hour of despondency and danger, shone out conspicuous. To advance farther was hopeless. To stay where they were, without food or raiment, without defence from the fierce animals of the forest and the fiercer natives, was impossible. One only course remained; it was to return to Quito. But this brought with it the recollection of the past, of sufferings which they could too well estimate,—-hardly to be endured even in imagination. They were now at least four hundred leagues from Quito, and more than a year had elapsed since they had set out on their painful pilgrimage. How could they encounter these perils again! 14

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

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

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

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

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

Book 4

Chapter 5

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


When Gonzalo Pizarro reached Quito, he received tidings of an event which showed that his expedition to the Amazon had been even more fatal to his interests than he had imagined. A revolution had taken place during his absence, which had changed the whole condition of things in Peru.

In a preceding chapter we have seen, that, when Hernando Pizarro returned to Spain, his brother the marquess repaired to Lima, where he continued to occupy himself with building up his infant capital, and watching over the general interests of the country. While thus employed, he gave little heed to a danger that hourly beset his path, and this, too, in despite of repeated warnings from more circumspect friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the day appointed, Rada and his companions met in Almagro's house, and waited with anxiety for the hour when the governor should issue from the church. But great was their consternation, when they learned that he was not there, but was detained at home, as currently reported, by illness. Little doubting that their design was discovered, they felt their own ruin to be the inevitable consequence, and that, too, without enjoying the melancholy consolation of having struck the blow for which they had incurred it. Greatly perplexed, some were for disbanding, in the hope that Pizarro might, after all, be ignorant of their design. But most were for carrying it into execution at once, by assaulting him in his own house. The question was summarily decided by one of the party, who felt that in this latter course lay their only chance of safety. Throwing open the doors, he rushed out, calling on his comrades "to follow him, or he would proclaim the purpose for which they had met." There was no longer hesitation, and the cavaliers issued forth, with Rada at their head, shouting, as they went, "Long live the king! Death to the tyrant!" 13

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

As the conspirators traversed the plaza, one of the party made a circuit to avoid a little pool of water that lay in their path. "What!" exclaimed Rada, "afraid of wetting your feet, when you are to wade up to your knees in blood!" And he ordered the man to give up the enterprise and go home to his quarters. The anecdote is characteristic.14

The governor's palace stood on the opposite side of the square. It was approached by two courtyards. The entrance to the outer one was protected by a massive gate, capable of being made good against a hundred men or more. But it was left open, and the assailants, hurrying through to the inner court, still shouting their fearful battle-cry, were met by two domestics loitering in the yard. One of these they struck down. The other, flying in all haste towards the house, called out, "Help, help! the men of Chili are all coming to murder the marquess!"

Pizarro at this time was at dinner, or, more probably, had just dined. He was surrounded by a party of friends, who had dropped in, it seems, after mass, to inquire after the state of his health, some of whom had remained to partake of his repast. Among these was Don Martinez do Alcantara, Pizarro's half-brother by the mother's side, the judge Velasquez, the bishop elect of Quito, and several of the principal cavaliers in the place, to the number of fifteen or twenty. Some of them, alarmed by the uproar in the court-yard, left the saloon, and, running down to the first landing on the stairway, inquired into the cause of the disturbance. No sooner were they informed of it by the cries of the servant, than they retreated with precipitation into the house; and, as they had no mind to abide the storm unarmed, or at best imperfectly armed, as most of them were, they made their way to a corridor that overlooked the gardens, into which they easily let themselves down without injury. Velasquez, the judge, the better to have the use of his hands in the descent, held his rod of office in his mouth, thus taking care, says a caustic old chronicler, not to falsify his assurance, that "no harm should come to Pizarro while the rod of justice was in his hands"! 15

Meanwhile, the marquess, learning the nature of the tumult, called out to Francisco de Chaves, an officer high in his confidence, and who was in the outer apartment opening on the staircase, to secure the door, while he and his brother Alcantara buckled on their armour. Had this order, coolly given, been as coolly obeyed, it would have saved them all, since the entrance could easily have been maintained against a much larger force, till the report of the cavaliers who had fled had brought support to Pizarro. But unfortunately, Chaves, disobeying his commander, half opened the door, and attempted to enter into a parley with the conspirators. The latter had now reached the head of the stairs, and cut short the debate by running Chaves through the body, and tumbling his corpse down into the area below. For a moment they were kept at bay by the attendants of the slaughtered cavalier, but these, too, were quickly despatched; and Rada and his companions, entering the apartment, hurried across it, shouting out, "Where is the marquess? Death to the tyrant!"

Martinez de Alcantara, who in the adjoining room was assisting his brother to buckle on his mail, no sooner saw that the entrance to the antechamber had been gained, than he sprang to the doorway of the apartment, and, assisted by two young men, pages of Pizarro, and by one or two cavaliers in attendance, endeavored to resist the approach of the assailants. A desperate struggle now ensued. Blows were given on both sides, some of which proved fatal, and two of the conspirators were slain, while Alcantara and his brave companions were repeatedly wounded.

At length, Pizarro, unable, in the hurry of the moment, to adjust the fastenings of his cuirass, threw it away, and, enveloping one arm in his cloak, with the other seized his sword, and sprang to his brother's assistance. It was too late; for Alcantara was already staggering under the loss of blood, and soon fell to the ground. Pizarro threw himself on his invaders, like a lion roused in his lair, and dealt his blows with as much rapidity and force, as if age had no power to stiffen his limbs. "What ho!" he cried, "traitors! have you come to kill me in my own house?" The conspirators drew back for a moment, as two of their body fell under Pizarro's sword; but they quickly rallied, and, from their superior numbers, fought at great advantage by relieving one another in the assault. Still the passage was narrow, and the struggle lasted for some minutes, till both of Pizarro's pages were stretched by his side, when Rada, impatient of the delay, called out, "Why are we so long about it? Down with the tyrant!" and taking one of his companions, Narvaez, in his arms, he thrust him against the marquess. Pizarro, instantly grappling with his opponent, ran him through with his sword. But at that moment he received a wound in the throat, and reeling, he sank on the floor, while the swords of Rada and several of the conspirators were plunged into his body. "Jesu!" exclaimed the dying man, and, tracing a cross with his finger on the bloody floor, he bent down his head to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest, put an end to his existence.16

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

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

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

A few years later, when tranquillity was restored to the country, Pizarro's remains were placed in a sumptuous coffin and deposited under a monument in a conspicuous part of the cathedral. And in 1607, when time had thrown its friendly mantle over the past, and the memory of his errors and his crimes was merged in the consideration of the great services he had rendered to the Crown by the extension of her colonial empire, his bones were removed to the new cathedral, and allowed to repose side by side with those of Mendoza, the wise and good viceroy of Peru.19

Pizarro was, probably, not far from sixty-five years of age at the time of his death; though this, it must be added, is but loose conjecture, since there exists no authentic record of the date of his birth.20 He was never married; but by an Indian princess of the Inca blood, daughter of Atahuallpa and granddaughter of the great Huayna Capac, he had two children, a son and a daughter. Both survived him; but the son did not live to manhood. Their mother, after Pizarro's death, wedded a Spanish cavalier, named Ampuero, and removed with him to Spain. Her daughter Francisca accompanied her, and was there subsequently married to her uncle Hernando Pizarro, then a prisoner in the Mota del Medina. Neither the title nor estates of the Marquess Francisco descended to his illegitimate offspring. But in the third generation, in the reign of Philip the Fourth, the title was revived in favor of Don Juan Hernando Pizarro, who, out of gratitude for the services of his ancestor, was created Marquess of the Conquest, Marques de la Conquista, with a liberal pension from government. His descendants, bearing the same title of nobility, are still to be found, it is said, at Truxillo, in the ancient province of Estremadura, the original birthplace of the Pizarros.21

Pizarro's person has been already described. He was tall in stature, well- proportioned, and with a countenance not unpleasing. Bred in camps, with nothing of the polish of a court, he had a soldier-like bearing, and the air of one accustomed to command. But though not polished, there was no embarrassment or rusticity in his address, which, where it served his purpose, could be plausible and even insinuating. The proof of it is the favorable impression made by him, on presenting himself, after his second expedition—stranger as he was to all its forms and usages—at the punctilious court of Castile.

Unlike many of his countrymen, he had no passion for ostentatious dress, which he regarded as an incumbrance. The costume which he most affected on public occasions was a black cloak, with a white hat, and shoes of the same color; the last, it is said, being in imitation of the Great Captain, whose character he had early learned to admire in Italy, but to which his own, certainly, bore very faint resemblance.22

He was temperate in eating, drank sparingly, and usually rose an hour before dawn. He was punctual in attendance to business, and shrunk from no toil. He had, indeed, great powers of patient endurance. Like most of his nation, he was fond of play, and cared little for the quality of those with whom he played; though, when his antagonist could not afford to lose, he would allow himself, it is said, to be the loser; a mode of conferring an obligation much commended by a Castilian writer, for its delicacy.23

Though avaricious, it was in order to spend and not to hoard. His ample treasures, more ample than those, probably, that ever before fell to the lot of an adventurer,24 were mostly dissipated in his enterprises, his architectural works, and schemes of public improvement, which, in a country where gold and silver might be said to have lost their value from their abundance, absorbed an incredible amount of money. While he regarded the whole country, in a manner, as his own, and distributed it freely among his captains, it is certain that the princely grant of a territory with twenty thousand vassals, made to him by the Crown, was never carried into effect; nor did his heirs ever reap the benefit of it.25

To a man possessed of the active energies of Pizarro, sloth was the greatest evil. The excitement of play was in a manner necessary to a spirit accustomed to the habitual stimulants of war and adventure. His uneducated mind had no relish for more refined, intellectual recreation. The deserted foundling had neither been taught to read nor write. This has been disputed by some, but it is attested by unexceptionable authorities.26 Montesinos says, indeed, that Pizarro, on his first voyage, tried to learn to read; but the impatience of his temper prevented it, and he contented himself with learning to sign his name.27 But Montesinos was not a contemporary historian. Pedro Pizarro, his companion in arms, expressly tells us he could neither read nor write;28 and Zarate, another contemporary, well acquainted with the Conquerors, confirms this statement, and adds, that Pizarro could not so much as sign his name.29 This was done by his secretary—Picado, in his latter years- while the governor merely made the customary rubrica or flourish at the sides of his name. This is the case with the instruments I have examined, in which his signature, written probably by his secretary, or his title of Marques, in later life substituted for his name, is garnished with a flourish at the ends, executed in as bungling a manner as if done by the hand of a ploughman. Yet we must not estimate this deficiency as we should in this period of general illumination,—general, at least, in our own fortunate country. Reading and writing, so universal now, in the beginning of the sixteenth century might be regarded in the light of accomplishments; and all who have occasion to consult the autograph memorials of that time will find the execution of them, even by persons of the highest rank, too often such as would do little credit to a schoolboy of the present day.

Though bold in action and not easily turned from his purpose, Pizarro was slow in arriving at a decision. This gave him an appearance of irresolution foreign to his character.30 Perhaps the consciousness of this led him to adopt the custom of saying "No," at first, to applicants for favor; and afterwards, at leisure, to revise his judgment, and grant what seemed to him expedient. He took the opposite course from his comrade Almagro, who, it was observed, generally said "Yes," but too often failed to keep his promise. This was characteristic of the careless and easy nature of the latter, governed by impulse rather than principle.31

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

There is something oppressive to the imagination in this war against nature. In the struggle of man against man, the spirits are raised by a contest conducted on equal terms; but in a war with the elements, we feel, that, however bravely we may contend, we can have no power to control. Nor are we cheered on by the prospect of glory in such a contest; for, in the capricious estimate of human glory, the silent endurance of privations, however painful, is little, in comparison with the ostentatious trophies of victory. The laurel of the hero—-alas for humanity that it should be so!—grows best on the battle-field.

This inflexible spirit of Pizarro was shown still more strongly, when, in the little island of Gallo, he drew the line on the sand, which was to separate him and his handful of followers from their country and from civilized man. He trusted that his own constancy would give strength to the feeble, and rally brave hearts around him for the prosecution of his enterprise. He looked with confidence to the future, and he did not miscalculate. This was heroic, and wanted only a nobler motive for its object to constitute the true moral sublime.

Yet the same feature in his character was displayed in a manner scarcely less remarkable, when, landing on the coast, and ascertaining the real strength and civilization of the Incas, he persisted in marching into the interior at the head of a force of less than two hundred men. In this he undoubtedly proposed to himself the example of Cortes, so contagious to the adventurous spirits of that day, and especially to Pizarro, engaged, as he was, in a similar enterprise. Yet the hazard assumed by Pizarro was far greater than that of the Conqueror of Mexico, whose force was nearly three times as large, while the terrors of the Inca name—however justified by the result—were as widely spread as those of the Aztecs.

It was doubtless in imitation of the same captivating model, that Pizarro planned the seizure of Atahuallpa. But the situations of the two Spanish captains were as dissimilar as the manner in which their acts of violence were conducted. The wanton massacre of the Peruvians resembled that perpetrated by Alvarado in Mexico, and might have been attended with consequences as disastrous, if the Peruvian character had been as fierce as that of the Aztecs.32 But the blow which roused the latter to madness broke the tamer spirits of the Peruvians. It was a bold stroke, which left so much to chance, that it scarcely merits the name of policy.

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

Pizarro was eminently perfidious, Yet nothing is more opposed to sound policy. One act of perfidy fully established becomes the ruin of its author. The man who relinquishes confidence in his good faith gives up the best basis for future operations. Who will knowingly build on a quicksand? By his perfidious treatment of Almagro, Pizarro alienated the minds of the Spaniards. By his perfidious treatment of Atahuallpa, and subsequently of the Inca Manco, he disgusted the Peruvians. The name of Pizarro became a by-word for perfidy. Almagro took his revenge in a civil war; Manco in an insurrection which nearly cost Pizarro his dominion. The civil war terminated in a conspiracy which cost him his life. Such were the fruits of his policy. Pizarro may be regarded as a cunning man; but not, as he has been often eulogized by his countrymen, as a politic one.

When Pizarro obtained possession of Cuzco, he found a country well advanced in the arts of civilization; institutions under which the people lived in tranquillity and personal safety; the mountains and the uplands whitened with flocks; the valleys teeming with the fruits of a scientific husbandry; the granaries and warehouses filled to overflowing; the whole land rejoicing in its abundance; and the character of the nation, softened under the influence of the mildest and most innocent form of superstition, well prepared for the reception of a higher and a Christian civilization. But, far from introducing this, Pizarro delivered up the conquered races to his brutal soldiery; the sacred cloisters were abandoned to their lust; the towns and villages were given up to pillage; the wretched natives were parcelled out like slaves, to toil for their conquerors in the mines; the flocks were scattered, and wantonly destroyed, the granaries were dissipated; the beautiful contrivances for the more perfect culture of the soil were suffered to fall into decay; the paradise was converted into a desert. Instead of profiting by the ancient forms of civilization, Pizarro preferred to efface every vestige of them from the land, and on their ruin to erect the institutions of his own country. Yet these institutions did little for the poor Indian, held in iron bondage. It was little to him that the shores of the Pacific were studded with rising communities and cities, the marts of a flourishing commerce. He had no share in the goodly heritage. He was an alien in the land of his fathers.

The religion of the Peruvian, which directed him to the worship of that glorious luminary which is the best representative of the might and beneficence of the Creator, is perhaps the purest form of superstition that has existed among men. Yet it was much, that, under the new order of things, and through the benevolent zeal of the missionaries, some glimmerings of a nobler faith were permitted to dawn on his darkened soul. Pizarro, himself, cannot be charged with manifesting any overweening solicitude for the propagation of the Faith. He was no bigot, like Cortes. Bigotry is the perversion of the religious principle; but the principle itself was wanting in Pizarro. The conversion of the heathen was a predominant motive with Cortes in his expedition. It was not a vain boast. He would have sacrificed his life for it at any time; and more than once, by his indiscreet seal, he actually did place his life and the success of his enterprise in jeopardy. It was his great purpose to purify the land from the brutish abominations of the Aztecs, by substituting the religion of Jesus. This gave to his expedition the character of a crusade. It furnished the best apology for the Conquest, and does more than all other considerations towards enlisting our sympathies on the side of the conquerors.

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

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

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

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

Book 4

Chapter 6

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


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

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

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

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

He was confirmed in this purpose by the advices he now received from Alvarado; and without longer delay, he continued his march towards Quito. Here he was well received by Gonzalo Pizarro's lieutenant, who had charge of the place during his commander's absence on his expedition to the Amazon. The licentiate was also joined by Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, who brought a small reinforcement, and offered personally to assist him in the prosecution of his enterprise. He now displayed the royal commission, empowering him, on Pizarro's death, to assume the government. That contingency had arrived, and Vaca de Castro declared his purpose to exercise the authority conferred on him. At the same time, he sent emissaries to the principal cities, requiring their obedience to him as the lawful representative of the Crown, —taking care to employ discreet persons on the mission, whose character would have weight with the citizens. He then continued his march slowly towards the south.2

He was willing by his deliberate movements to give time for his summons to take effect, and for the fermentation caused by the late extraordinary events to subside. He reckoned confidently on the loyalty which made the Spaniard unwilling, unless in cases of the last extremity, to come into collision with the royal authority; and, however much this popular sentiment might be disturbed by temporary gusts of passion, he trusted to the habitual current of their feelings for giving the people a right direction. In this he did not miscalculate; for so deeprooted was the principle of loyalty in the ancient Spaniard, that ages of oppression and misrule could alone have induced him to shake off his allegiance. Sad it is, but not strange, that the length of time passed under a bad government has not qualified him for devising a good one.

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

The first step of the young general, or rather of Rada, who directed his movements, was to secure the necessary supplies for the troops, most of whom, having long been in indigent circumstances, were wholly unprepared for service. Funds to a considerable amount were raised, by seizing on the moneys of the Crown in the hands of the treasurer. Pizarro's secretary, Picado, was also drawn from his prison, and interrogated as to the place where his master's treasures were deposited. But, although put to the torture, he would not—-or, as is probable, could not —give information on the subject; and the conspirators, who had a long arrear of injuries to settle with him, closed their proceedings by publicly beheading him in the great square of Lima.3

Valverde, Bishop of Cuzco, as he himself assures us, vainly interposed in his behalf. It is singular, that, the last time this fanatical prelate appears on the stage, it should be in the benevolent character of a supplicant for mercy.4 Soon afterwards, he was permitted, with the judge, Velasquez, and some other adherents of Pizarro, to embark from the port of Lima. We have a letter from him, dated at Tumbez, in November, 1541; almost immediately after which he fell into the hands of the Indians, and with his companions was massacred at Puna. A violent death not unfrequently closed the stormy career of the American adventurer. Valverde was a Dominican friar, and, like Father Olmedo in the suite of Cortes, had been by his commander's side throughout the whole of his expedition. But he did not always, like the good Olmedo, use his influence to stay the uplifted hand of the warrior. At least, this was not the mild aspect in which he presented himself at the terrible massacre of Caxamalca. Yet some contemporary accounts represent him, after he had been installed in his episcopal office, as unwearied in his labors to convert the natives, and to ameliorate their condition; and his own correspondence with the government, after that period, shows great solicitude for these praiseworthy objects. Trained in the severest school of monastic discipline, which too often closes the heart against the common charities of life, he could not, like the benevolent Las Casas, rise so far above its fanatical tenets as to regard the heathen as his brother, while in the state of infidelity; and, in the true spirit of that school, he doubtless conceived that the sanctity of the end justified the means, however revolting in themselves. Yet the same man, who thus freely shed the blood of the poor native to secure the triumph of his faith, would doubtless have as freely poured out his own in its defence. The character was no uncommon one in the sixteenth century.5

Almagro's followers, having supplied themselves with funds, made as little scruple to appropriate to their own use such horses and arms, of every description, as they could find in the city. And this they did with the less reluctance, as the inhabitants for the most part testified no good- will to their cause. While thus employed, Almagro received intelligence that Holguin had left Cuzco with a force of near three hundred men, with which he was preparing to effect a junction with Alvarado in the north. It was important to Almagro's success that he should defeat this junction. If to procrastinate was the policy of Vaca de Castro, it was clearly that of Almagro to quicken operations, and to bring matters to as speedy an issue as possible; to march at once against Holguin, whom he might expect easily to overcome with his superior numbers; then to follow up the stroke by the still easier defeat of Alvarado, when the new governor would be, in a manner, at his mercy. It would be easy to beat these several bodies in detail, which, once united, would present formidable odds. Almagro and his party had already arrayed themselves against the government by a proceeding too atrocious, and which struck too directly at the royal authority, for its perpetrators to flatter themselves with the hopes of pardon. Their only chance was boldly to follow up the blow, and, by success, to place them, selves in so formidable an attitude as to excite the apprehensions of government. The dread of its too potent vassal might extort terms that would never be conceded to his prayers.

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