While these preparations were going forward, the judges of the Audience arrived at Lima. They had shown, throughout their progress, no great respect either for the ordinances, or the will of the viceroy; for they had taxed the poor natives as freely and unscrupulously as any of the Conquerors. We have seen the entire want of cordiality subsisting between them and their principal in Panama. It became more apparent, on their landing at Lima. They disapproved of his proceedings in every particular; of his refusal to suspend the ordinances,—although, in fact, he had found no opportunity, of late, to enforce them; of his preparations for defence, declaring that he ought rather trust to the effect of negotiation; and, finally, of his imprisonment of so many loyal cavaliers, which they pronounced an arbitrary act, altogether beyond the bounds of his authority; and they did not scruple to visit the prison in person, and discharge the captives from their confinement.13
This bold proceeding, while it conciliated the good-will of the people, severed, at once, all relations with the viceroy. There was in the Audience a lawyer, named Cepeda, a cunning, ambitious man, with considerable knowledge in the way of his profession, and with still greater talent for intrigue. He did not disdain the low arts of a demagogue to gain the favor of the populace, and trusted to find his own account in fomenting a misunderstanding with Blasco Nunez. The latter, it must be confessed, did all in his power to aid his counsellor in this laudable design.
A certain cavalier in the place, named Suarez de Carbajal, who had long held an office under government, fell under the viceroy's displeasure, on suspicion of conniving at the secession of some of his kinsmen, who had lately taken part with the malecontents. The viceroy summoned Carbajal to attend him at his palace, late at night; and when conducted to his presence, he bluntly charged him with treason. The latter stoutly denied the accusation, in tones as haughty as those of his accuser. The altercation grew warm, until, in the heat of passion, Blasco Nunez struck him with his poniard. In an instant, the attendants, taking this as a signal, plunged their swords into the body of the unfortunate man, who fell lifeless on the floor.14
Greatly alarmed for the consequences of his rash act,—for Carbajal was much beloved in Lima,—Blasco Nunez ordered the corpse of the murdered man to be removed by a private stairway from the house, and carried to the cathedral, where, rolled in his bloody cloak, it was laid in a grave hastily dug to receive it. So tragic a proceeding, known to so many witnesses, could not long be kept secret. Vague rumors of the fact explained the mysterious disappearance of Carbajal. The grave was opened, and the mangled remains of the slaughtered cavalier established the guilt of the viceroy.15
From this hour Blasco Nunez was held in universal abhorrence; and his crime, in this instance, assumed the deeper dye of ingratitude, since the deceased was known to have had the greatest influence in reconciling the citizens early to his government. No one knew where the blow would fall next, or how soon he might himself become the victim of the ungovernable passions of the viceroy. In this state of things, some looked to the Audience, and yet more to Gonzalo Pizarro, to protect them.
That chief was slowly advancing towards Lima, from which, indeed, he was removed but a few days' march. Greatly perplexed, Blasco Nunez now felt the loneliness of his condition. Standing aloof, as it were from his own followers, thwarted by the Audience, betrayed by his soldiers, he might well feel the consequences of his misconduct. Yet there seemed no other course for him, but either to march out and meet the enemy, or to remain in Lima and defend it. He had placed the town in a posture of defence, which argued this last to have been his original purpose. But he felt he could no longer rely on his troops, and he decided on a third course, most unexpected.
This was to abandon the capital, and withdraw to Truxillo, about eighty leagues distant. The women would embark on board the squadron, and, with the effects of the citizens, be transported by water. The troops, with the rest of the inhabitants, would march by land, laying waste the country as they proceeded. Gonzalo Pizarro, when he arrived at Lima, would find it without supplies for his army, and, thus straitened he would not care to take a long march across a desert in search of his enemy.16
What the viceroy proposed to effect by this movement is not clear, unless it were to gain time; and yet the more time he had gained, thus far, the worse it had proved for him. But he was destined to encounter a decided opposition from the judges. They contended that he had no warrant for such an act, and that the Audience could not lawfully hold its sessions out of the capital. Blasco Nunez persisted in his determination, menacing that body with force, if necessary. The judges appealed to the citizens to support them in resisting such an arbitrary measure. They mustered a force for their own protection, and that same day passed a decree that the viceroy should be arrested.
Late at night, Blasco Nunez was informed of the hostile preparations of the judges. He instantly summoned his followers, to the number of more than two hundred, put on his armour, and prepared to march out at the head of his troops against the Audience. This was the true course; for in a crisis like that in which he was placed, requiring promptness and decision, the presence of the leader is essential to insure success. But, unluckily, he yielded to the remonstrances of his brother and other friends, who dissuaded him from rashly exposing his life in such a venture.
What Blasco Nunez neglected to do was done by the judges. They sallied forth at the head of their followers, whose number, though small at first, they felt confident would be swelled by volunteers as they advanced. Rushing forward, they cried out,—"Liberty! Liberty! Long live the king and the Audience! " It was early dawn, and the inhabitants, startled from their slumbers, ran to the windows and balconies, and, learning the object of the movement, some snatched up their arms and joined in it, while the women, waving their scarfs and kerchiefs, cheered on the assault.
When the mob arrived before the viceroy's palace, they halted for a moment, uncertain what to do. Orders were given to fire on them from the windows, and a volley passed over their heads. No one was injured; and the greater part of the viceroy's men, with most of the officers, including some of those who had been so anxious for his personal safety, —now openly joined the populace. The palace was then entered, and abandoned to pillage. Blasco Nunez, deserted by all but a few faithful adherents, made no resistance. He surrendered to the assailants, was led before the judges, and by them was placed in strict confinement. The citizens, delighted with the result, provided a collation for the soldiers; and the affair ended without the loss of a single life. Never was there so bloodless a revolution.17
The first business of the judges was to dispose of the prisoner. He was sent, under a strong guard, to a neighboring island, till some measures could be taken respecting him. He was declared to be deposed from his office; a provisional government was established, consisting of their own body, with Cepeda at its head, as president; and its first act was to pronounce the detested ordinances suspended, till instructions could be received from Court. It was also decided to send Blasco Nunez back to Spain with one of their own body, who should explain to the emperor the nature of the late disturbances, and vindicate the measures of the Audience. This was soon put in execution. The Licentiate Alvarez was the person selected to bear the viceroy company; and the unfortunate commander, after passing several days on the desolate island, with scarcely any food, and exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather, took his departure for Panama.18
A more formidable adversary yet remained in Gonzalo Pizarro, who had now advanced to Xauxa, about ninety miles from Lima. Here he halted, while numbers of the citizens prepared to join his banner, choosing rather to take service under him than to remain under the selfconstituted authority of the Audience. The judges, meanwhile, who had tasted the sweets of office too short a time to be content to resign them, after considerable delay, sent an embassy to the Procurator. They announced to him the revolution that had taken place, and the suspension of the ordinances. The great object of his mission had been thus accomplished; and, as a new government was now organized, they called on him to show his obedience to it, by disbanding his forces, and withdrawing to the unmolested enjoyment of his estates. It was a bold demand, though couched in the most courteous and complimentary phrase,—to make of one in Pizarro's position. It was attempting to scare away the eagle just ready to stoop on his prey. If the chief had faltered, however, he would have been reassured by his lion-hearted lieutenant. "Never show faint heart," exclaimed the latter, "when you are so near the goal. Success has followed every step of your path. You have now only to stretch forth your hand, and seize the government. Every thing else will follow."— The envoy who brought the message from the judges was sent back with the answer, that "the people had called Gonzalo Pizarro to the government of the country, and, if the Audience did not at once invest him with it, the city should be delivered up to pillage." 19
The bewildered magistrates were thrown into dismay by this decisive answer. Yet loth to resign, they took counsel in their perplexity of Vaca de Castro, still detained on board of one of the vessels. But that commander had received too little favor at the hands of his successors to think it necessary to peril his life on their account by thwarting the plans of Pizarro. He maintained a discreet silence, therefore, and left the matter to the wisdom of the Audience.
Meanwhile, Carbajal was sent into the city to quicken their deliberations. He came at night, attended only by a small party of soldiers, intimating his contempt of the power of the judges. His first act was to seize a number of cavaliers, whom he dragged from their beds, and placed under arrest. They were men of Cuzco, the same already noticed as having left Pizarro's ranks soon after his departure from that capital. While the Audience still hesitated as to the course they should pursue, Carbajal caused three of his prisoners, persons of consideration and property, to be placed on the backs of mules, and escorted out of town to the suburbs, where, with brief space allowed for confession, he hung them all on the branches of a tree. He superintended the execution himself, and tauntingly complimented one of his victims, by telling him, that, "in consideration of his higher rank, he should have the privilege of selecting the bough on which to be hanged!"20 The ferocious officer would have proceeded still further in his executions, it is said, had it not been for orders received from his leader. But enough was done to quicken the perceptions of the Audience as to their course, for they felt their own lives suspended by a thread in such unscrupulous hands. Without further delay, therefore, they sent to invite Gonzalo Pizarro to enter the city, declaring that the security of the country and the general good required the government to be placed in his hands.21
That chief had now advanced within half a league of the capital, which soon after, on the twenty-eighth of October, 1544, he entered in battle- array. His whole force was little short of twelve hundred Spaniards, besides several thousand Indians, who dragged his heavy guns in the advance.22 Then came the files of spearmen and arquebusiers, making a formidable corps of infantry for a colonial army; and lastly, the cavalry, at the head of which rode Pizarro himself, on a powerful charger, gaily caparisoned. The rider was in complete mail, over which floated a richly embroidered surcoat, and his head was protected by a crimson cap, highly ornamented,—his showy livery setting off his handsome, soldierlike person to advantage.23 Before him was borne the royal standard of Castile; for every one, royalist or rebel, was careful to fight under that sign. This emblem of loyalty was supported on the right by a banner, emblazoned with the arms of Cuzco, and by another on the left, displaying the armorial bearings granted by the Crown to the Pizarros. As the martial pageant swept through the streets of Lima, the air was rent with acclamations from the populace, and from the spectators in the balconies. The cannon sounded at intervals, and the bells of the city— those that the viceroy had spared rang out a joyous peal, as if in honor of a victory!
The oaths of office were duly administered by the judges of the Royal Audience, and Gonzalo Pizarro was proclaimed Governor and Captain General of Peru, till his Majesty's pleasure could be known in respect to the government. The new ruler then took up his quarters in the palace of his brother,—where the stains of that brother's blood were not yet effaced. Fetes, bull-fights, and tournaments graced the ceremony of inauguration, and were prolonged for several days, while the giddy populace of the capital abandoned themselves to jubilee, as if a new and more auspicious order of things had commenced for Peru! 24
Measures Of Gonzalo Pizarro—Escape Of Vaca De Castro— Reappearance Of The Viceroy—His Disastrous Retreat— Defeat And Death Of The Viceroy—Gonzalo Pizarro Lord Of Peru
The first act of Gonzalo Pizarro was to cause those persons to be apprehended who had taken the most active part against him in the late troubles. Several he condemned to death; but afterwards commuted the sentence, and contented himself with driving them into banishment and confiscating their estates.1 His next concern was to establish his authority on a firm basis. He filled the municipal government of Lima with his own partisans. He sent his lieutenants to take charge of the principal cities. He caused galleys to be built at Arequipa to secure the command of the seas; and brought his forces into the best possible condition, to prepare for future emergencies.
The Royal Audience existed only in name; for its powers were speedily absorbed by the new ruler, who desired to place the government on the same footing as under the marquess, his brother. Indeed, the Audience necessarily fell to pieces, from the position of its several members. Alvarez had been sent with the viceroy to Castile. Cepeda, the most aspiring of the court, now that he had failed in his own schemes of ambition, was content to become a tool in the hands of the military chief who had displaced him. Zarate, a third judge, who had, from the first, protested against the violent measures of his colleagues, was confined to his house by a mortal illness;2 and Tepeda, the remaining magistrate, Gonzalo now proposed to send back to Castile with such an account of the late transactions as should vindicate his own conduct in the eyes of the emperor. This step was opposed by Carbajal, who bluntly told his commander that "he had gone too far to expect favor from the Crown; and that he had better rely for his vindication on his pikes and muskets!" 3
But the ship which was to transport Tepeda was found to have suddenly disappeared from the port. It was the same in which Vaca de Castro was confined; and that officer, not caring to trust to the forbearance of one whose advances, on a former occasion, he had so unceremoniously repulsed, and convinced, moreover, that his own presence could profit nothing in a land where he held no legitimate authority, had prevailed on the captain to sail with him to Panama. He then crossed the Isthmus, and embarked for Spain. The rumors of his coming had already preceded him, and charges were not wanting against him from some of those whom he had offended by his administration. He was accused of having carried measures with a high hand, regardless of the rights, both of the colonist and of the native; and, above all, of having embezzled the public moneys, and of returning with his coffers richly freighted to Castile. This last was an unpardonable crime.
No sooner had the governor set foot in his own country than he was arrested, and hurried to the fortress of Arevalo; and, though he was afterwards removed to better quarters, where he was treated with the indulgence due to his rank, he was still kept a prisoner of state for twelve years, when the tardy tribunals of Castile pronounced a judgment in his favor. He was acquitted of every charge that had been brought against him, and, so far from peculation, was proved to have returned home no richer than he went. He was released from confinement, reinstated in his honors and dignities, took his seat anew in the royal council, and Vaca de Castro enjoyed, during the remainder of his days, the consideration to which he was entitled by his deserts.4 The best eulogium on the wisdom of his administration was afforded by the troubles brought on the colonies by that of his successor. The nation became gradually sensible of the value of his services; though the manner in which they were requited by the government must be allowed to form a cold commentary on the gratitude of princes.
Gonzalo Pizarro was doomed to experience a still greater disappointment than that caused by the escape of Vaca de Castro, in the return of Blasco Nunez. The vessel which bore him from the country had hardly left the shore, when Alvarez, the judge, whether from remorse at the part which he had taken, or apprehensive of the consequences of carrying back the viceroy to Spain, presented himself before that dignitary, and announced that he was no longer a prisoner. At the same time he excused himself for the part he had taken, by his desire to save the life of Blasco Nunez, and extricate him from his perilous situation. He now placed the vessel at his disposal, and assured him it should take him wherever he chose.
The viceroy, whatever faith he may have placed in the judge's explanation, eagerly availed himself of his offer. His proud spirit revolted at the idea of returning home in disgrace, foiled, as he had been, in every object of his mission. He determined to try his fortune again in the land, and his only doubt was, on what point to attempt to rally his partisans around him. At Panama he might remain in safety, while he invoked assistance from Nicaragua, and other colonies at the north. But this would be to abandon his government at once; and such a confession of weakness would have a bad effect on his followers in Peru. He determined, therefore, to direct his steps towards Quito, which, while it was within his jurisdiction, was still removed far enough from the theatre of the late troubles to give him time to rally, and make head against his enemies.
In pursuance of this purpose, the viceroy and his suite disembarked at Tumbez, about the middle of October, 1544. On landing, he issued a manifesto setting forth the violent proceedings of Gonzalo Pizarro and his followers, whom he denounced as traitors to their prince, and he called on all true subjects in the colony to support him in maintaining the royal authority. The call was not unheeded; and volunteers came in, though tardily, from San Miguel, Puerto Viejo, and other places on the coast, cheering the heart of the viceroy with the conviction that the sentiment of loyalty was not yet extinct in the bosoms of the Spaniards.
But, while thus occupied, he received tidings of the arrival of one of Pizarro's captains on the coast, with a force superior to his own. Their number was exaggerated; but Blasco Nunez, without waiting to ascertain the truth, abandoned his position at Tumbez, and, with as much expedition as he could make across a wild and mountainous country half- buried in snow, he marched to Quito. But this capital, situated at the northern extremity of his province, was not a favorable point for the rendezvous of his followers; and, after prolonging his stay till he had received assurance from Benalcazar, the loyal commander at Popayan, that he would support him with all his strength in the coming conflict, he made a rapid countermarch to the coast, and took up his position at the town of San Miguel. This was a spot well suited to his purposes, as lying on the great high road along the shores of the Pacific, besides being the chief mart for commercial intercourse with Panama and the north.
Here the viceroy erected his standard, and in a few weeks found himself at the head of a force amounting to nearly five hundred in all, horse and foot, ill provided with arms and ammunition, but apparently zealous in the cause. Finding himself in sufficient strength to commence active operations, he now sallied forth against several of Pizarro's captains in the neighborhood, over whom he obtained some decided advantages, which renewed his confidence, and flattered him with the hopes of reestablishing his ascendency in the country.5
During this time, Gonzalo Pizarro was not idle. He had watched with anxiety the viceroy's movements; and was now convinced that it was time to act, and that, if he would not be unseated himself, he must dislodge his formidable rival. He accordingly placed a strong garrison under a faithful officer in Lima, and, after sending forward a force of some six hundred men by land to Truxillo, he embarked for the same port himself, on the 4th of March, 1545, the very day on which the viceroy had marched from Quito.
At Truxillo, Pizarro put himself at the head of his little army, and moved without loss of time against San Miguel. His rival, eager to bring their quarrel to an issue, would fain have marched out to give him battle; but his soldiers, mostly young and inexperienced levies, hastily brought together, were intimidated by the name of Pizarro. They loudly insisted on being led into the upper country, where they would be reinforced by Benalcazar; and their unfortunate commander, like the rider of some unmanageable steed, to whose humors he is obliged to submit, was hurried away in a direction contrary to his wishes. It was the fate of Blasco Nunez to have his purposes baffled alike by his friends and his enemies.
On arriving before San Miguel, Gonzalo Pizarro found, to his great mortification, that his antagonist had left it. Without entering the town, he quickened his pace, and, after traversing a valley of some extent, reached the skirts of a mountain chain, into which Blasco Nunez had entered but a few hours before. It was late in the evening; but Pizarro, knowing the importance of despatch, sent forward Carbajal with a party of light troops to overtake the fugitives. That captain succeeded in coming up with their lonely bivouac among the mountains at midnight, when the weary troops were buried in slumber. Startled from their repose by the blast of the trumpet, which, strange to say, their enemy had incautiously sounded,6 the viceroy and his men sprang to their feet, mounted their horses, grasped their arquebuses, and poured such a volley into the ranks of their assailants, that Carbajal, disconcerted by his reception, found it prudent, with his inferior force, to retreat. The viceroy followed, till, fearing an ambuscade in the darkness of the night, he withdrew, and allowed his adversary to rejoin the main body of the army under Pizarro.
This conduct of Carbajal, by which he allowed the game to slip through his hands, from mere carelessness, is inexplicable. It forms a singular exception to the habitual caution and vigilance displayed in his military career. Had it been the act of any other captain, it would have cost him his head. But Pizarro, although greatly incensed, set too high a value on the services and well-tried attachment of his lieutenant, to quarrel with him. Still it was considered of the last importance to overtake the enemy, before he had advanced much farther to the north, where the difficulties of the ground would greatly embarrass the pursuit. Carbajal, anxious to retrieve his error, was accordingly again placed at the head of a corps of light troops, with instructions to harass the enemy's march, cut off his stores, and keep him in check, if possible, till the arrival of Pizarro.7
But the viceroy had profiled by the recent delay to gain considerably on his pursuers. His road led across the valley of Caxas, a broad, uncultivated district, affording little sustenance for man or beast. Day after day, his troops held on their march through this dreary region, intersected with barrancas and rocky ravines that added incredibly to their toil. Their principal food was the parched corn, which usually formed the nourishment of the travelling Indians, though held of much less account by the Spaniards; and this meagre fare was reinforced by such herbs as they found on the way-side, which, for want of better utensils, the soldiers were fain to boil in their helmets.8 Carbajal, meanwhile, pressed on them so close, that their baggage, ammunition, and sometimes their mules, fell into his hands. The indefatigable warrior was always on their track, by day and by night, allowing them scarcely any repose. They spread no tent, and lay down in their arms, with their steeds standing saddled beside them; and hardly had the weary soldier closed his eyes, when he was startled by the cry that the enemy was upon him.9
At length, the harassed followers of Blasco Nunez reached the depoblado, or desert of Paltos, which stretches towards the north for many a dreary league. The ground, intersected by numerous streams, has the character of a great quagmire, and men and horses floundered about in the stagnant waters, or with difficulty worked their way over the marsh, or opened a passage through the tangled underwood that shot up in rank luxuriance from the surface. The wayworn horses, without food, except such as they could pick up in the wilderness, were often spent with travel, and, becoming unserviceable, were left to die on the road, with their hamstrings cut, that they might be of no use to the enemy; though more frequently they were despatched to afford a miserable banquet to their masters.10 Many of the men now fainted by the way from mere exhaustion, or loitered in the woods, unable to keep up with the march. And woe to the straggler who fell into the hands of Carbajal, at least if he had once belonged to the party of Pizarro. The mere suspicion of treason sealed his doom with the unrelenting soldier.11
The sufferings of Pizarro and his troop were scarcely less than those of the viceroy; though they were somewhat mitigated by the natives of the country, who, with ready instinct, discerned which party was the strongest, and, of course, the most to be feared. But, with every alleviation, the chieftain's sufferings were terrible. It was repeating the dismal scenes of the expedition to the Amazon. The soldiers of the Conquest must be admitted to have purchased their triumphs dearly.
Yet the viceroy had one source of disquietude, greater, perhaps, than any arising from physical suffering. This was the distrust of his own followers. There were several of the principal cavaliers in his suite whom he suspected of being in correspondence with the enemy, and even of designing to betray him into their hands. He was so well convinced of this, that he caused two of these officers to be put to death on the march; and their dead bodies, as they lay by the roadside, meeting the eye of the soldier, told him that there were others to be feared in these frightful solitudes besides the enemy in his rear.12
Another cavalier, who held the chief command under the viceroy, was executed, after a more formal investigation of his case, at the first place where the army halted. At this distance of time, it is impossible to determine how far the suspicions of Blasco Nunez were founded on truth. The judgments of contemporaries are at variance.13 In times of political ferment, the opinion of the writer is generally determined by the complexion of his party. To judge from the character of Blasco Nunez, jealous and irritable, we might suppose him to have acted without sufficient cause. But this consideration is counterbalanced by that of the facility with which his followers swerved from their allegiance to their commander, who seems to have had so light a hold on their affections, that they were shaken off by the least reverse of fortune. Whether his suspicions were well or ill founded, the effect was the same on the mind of the viceroy. With an enemy in his rear whom he dared not fight, and followers whom he dared not trust, the cup of his calamities was nearly full.
At length, he issued forth on firm ground, and, passing through Tomebamba, Blasco Nunez reentered his northern capital of Quito. But his reception was not so cordial as that which he had before experienced. He now came as a fugitive, with a formidable enemy in pursuit; and he was soon made to feel that the surest way to receive support is not to need it.
Shaking from his feet the dust of the disloyal city, whose superstitious people were alive to many an omen that boded his approaching ruin,14 the unfortunate commander held on his way towards Pastos, in the jurisdiction of Benalcazar. Pizarro and his forces entered Quito not long after, disappointed, that, with all his diligence, the enemy still eluded his pursuit. He halted only to breathe his men, and, declaring that "he would follow up the viceroy to the North Sea but he would overtake him," 15 he resumed his march. At Pastos, he nearly accomplished his object. His advance-guard came up with Blasco Nunez as the latter was halting on the opposite bank of a rivulet. Pizarro's men, fainting from toil and heat, staggered feebly to the water-side, to slake their burning thirst, and it would have been easy for the viceroy's troops, refreshed by repose, and superior in number to their foes, to have routed them. But Blasco Nunez could not bring his soldiers to the charge. They had fled so long before their enemy, that the mere sight of him filled their hearts with panic, and they would have no more thought of turning against him than the hare would turn against the hound that pursues her. Their safety, they felt, was to fly, not to fight, and they profited by the exhaustion of their pursuers only to quicken their retreat.
Gonzalo Pizarro continued the chase some leagues beyond Pastos; when, finding himself carried farther than he desired into the territories of Benalcazar, and not caring to encounter this formidable captain at disadvantage, he came to a halt, and, notwithstanding his magnificent vaunt about the North Sea, ordered a retreat, and made a rapid countermarch on Quito. Here he found occupation in repairing the wasted spirits of his troops, and in strengthening himself with fresh reinforcements, which much increased his numbers; though these were again diminished by a body that he detached under Carbajal to suppress an insurrection, which he now learned had broken out in the south. It was headed by Diego Centeno, one of his own officers, whom he had established in La Plata, the inhabitants of which place had joined in the revolt and raised the standard for the Crown. With the rest of his forces, Pizarro resolved to remain at Quito, waiting the hour when the viceroy would reenter his dominions; as the tiger crouches by some spring in the wilderness, patiently waiting the return of his victims.
Meanwhile Blasco Nunez had pushed forward his retreat to Popayan, the capital of Benalcazar's province. Here he was kindly received by the people; and his soldiers, reduced by desertion and disease to one fifth of their original number, rested from the unparalleled fatigues of a march which had continued for more than two hundred leagues.16 It was not long before he was joined by Cabrera, Benalcazar's lieutenant with a stout reinforcement, and, soon after, by that chieftain himself. His whole force now amounted to near four hundred men, most of them in good condition, and well trained in the school of American warfare. His own men were sorely deficient both in arms and ammunition; and he set about repairing the want by building furnaces for manufacturing arquebuses and pikes.17—One familiar with the history of these times is surprised to see the readiness with which the Spanish adventurers turned their hands to various trades and handicrafts usually requiring a long apprenticeship. They displayed the dexterity so necessary to settlers in a new country, where every man must become in some degree his own artisan. But this state of things, however favorable to the ingenuity of the artist, is not very propitious to the advancement of the art; and there can be little doubt that the weapons thus made by the soldiers of Blasco Nunez were of the most rude and imperfect construction.
As week after week rolled away, Gonzalo Pizarro, though fortified with the patience of a Spanish soldier, felt uneasy at the protracted stay of Blasco Nunez in the north, and he resorted to stratagem to decoy him from his retreat. He marched out of Quito with the greater part of his forces, pretending that he was going to support his lieutenant in the south, while he left a garrison in the city under the command of Puelles, the same officer who had formerly deserted from the viceroy. These tidings he took care should be conveyed to the enemy's camp. The artifice succeeded as he wished. Blasco Nunez and his followers, confident in their superiority over Puelles, did not hesitate for a moment to profit by the supposed absence of Pizarro. Abandoning Popayan, the viceroy, early in January, 1546, moved by rapid marches towards the south. But before he reached the place of his destination, he became appraised of the snare into which he had been drawn. He communicated the fact to his officers; but he had already suffered so much from suspense, that his only desire now was, to bring his quarrel with Pizarro to the final arbitrament of arms.
That chief, meanwhile, had been well informed, through his spies, of the viceroy's movements. On learning the departure of the latter from Popayan, he had reentered Quito, joined his forces with those of Puelles, and, issuing from the capital, had taken up a strong position about three leagues to the north, on a high ground that commanded a stream, across which the enemy must pass. It was not long before the latter came in sight, and Blasco Nunez, as night began to fall, established himself on the opposite bank of the rivulet. It was so near to the enemy's quarters, that the voices of the sentinels could be distinctly heard in the opposite camps, and they did not fail to salute one another with the epithet of "traitors." In these civil wars, as we have seen, each party claimed for itself the exclusive merit of loyalty.18
But Benalcazar soon saw that Pizarro's position was too strong to be assailed with any chance of success. He proposed, therefore, to the viceroy, to draw off his forces secretly in the night; and, making a detour round the hills, to fall on the enemy's rear, where he would be least prepared to receive them. The counsel was approved; and, no sooner were the two hosts shrouded from each other's eyes by the darkness, than, leaving his camp-fires burning to deceive the enemy, Blasco Nunez broke up his quarters, and began his circuitous march in the direction of Quito. But either he had been misinformed, or his guides misled him; for the roads proved so impracticable, that he was compelled to make a circuit of such extent, that dawn broke before he drew near the point of attack. Finding that he must now abandon the advantage of a surprise, he pressed forward to Quito, where he arrived with men and horses sorely fatigued by a night-march of eight leagues, from a point which, by the direct route, would not have exceeded three. It was a fatal error on the eve of an engagement.19
He found the capital nearly deserted by the men. They had all joined the standard of Pizarro; for they had now caught the general spirit of disaffection, and looked upon that chief as their protector from the oppressive ordinances. Pizarro was the representative of the people. Greatly moved at this desertion, the unhappy viceroy, lifting his hands to heaven, exclaimed, —"Is it thus, Lord, that you abandonest thy servants?" The women and children came out, and in vain offered him food, of which he stood obviously in need, asking him, at the same time, "Why he had come there to die?" His followers, with more indifference than their commander, entered the houses of the inhabitants, and unceremoniously appropriated whatever they could find to appease the cravings of appetite.
Benalcazar, who saw the temerity of giving battle, in their present condition, recommended the viceroy to try the effect of negotiation, and offered himself to go to the enemy's camp, and arrange, if possible, terms of accommodation with Pizarro. But Blasco Nunez, if he desponded for a moment, had now recovered his wonted constancy, and he proudly replied,—"There is no faith to be kept with traitors. We have come to fight, not to parley; and we must do our duty like good and loyal cavaliers. I will do mine," he continued, "and be assured I will be the first man to break a lance with the enemy." 20
He then called his troops together, and addressed to them a few words preparatory to marching. "You are all brave men," he said, "and loyal to your sovereign. For my own part, I hold life as little in comparison with my duty to my prince. Yet let us not distrust our success; the Spaniard, in a good cause, has often overcome greater odds than these. And we are fighting for the right; it is the cause of God,—the cause of God," 21 he concluded, and the soldiers, kindled by his generous ardor, answered him with huzzas that went to the heart of the unfortunate commander, little accustomed of late to this display of enthusiasm.
It was the eighteenth of January, 1546, when Blasco Nunez marched out at the head of his array, from the ancient city of Quito. He had proceeded but a mile,22 when he came in view of the enemy, formed along the crest of some high lands, which, by a gentle swell, rose gradually from the plains of Anaquito. Gonzalo Pizarro, greatly chagrined on ascertaining the departure of the viceroy, early in the morning, had broken up his camp, and directed his march on the capital, fully resolved that his enemy should not escape him.
The viceroy's troops, now coming to a halt, were formed in order of battle. A small body of arquebusiers was stationed in the advance to begin the fight. The remainder of that corps was distributed among the spearmen, who occupied the centre, protected on the flanks by the horse drawn up in two nearly equal squadrons. The cavalry amounted to about one hundred and forty, being little inferior to that on the other side, though the whole number of the viceroy's forces, being less than four hundred, did not much exceed the half of his rival's. On the right, and in front of the royal banner, Blasco Nunez, supported by thirteen chosen cavaliers, took his station, prepared to head the attack.
Pizarro had formed his troops in a corresponding manner with that of his adversary. They mustered about seven hundred in all, well appointed, in good condition, and officered by the best knights in Peru.23 As, notwithstanding his superiority of numbers, Pizarro, did not seem inclined to abandon his advantageous position, Blasco Nunez gave orders to advance. The action commenced with the arquebusiers, and in a few moments the dense clouds of smoke, rolling over the field, obscured every object; for it was late in the day when the action began, and the light was rapidly fading.
The infantry, now leveling their pikes, advanced under cover of the smoke, and were soon hotly engaged with the opposite files of spearmen. Then came the charge of the cavalry, which—notwithstanding they were thrown into some disorder by the fire of Pizarro's arquebusiers, far superior in number to their own—was conducted with such spirit that the enemy's horse were compelled to reel and fall back before it. But it was only to recoil with greater violence, as, like an overwhelming wave, Pizarro's troopers rushed on their foes, driving them along the slope, and bearing down man and horse in indiscriminate ruin. Yet these, in turn, at length rallied, cheered on by the cries and desperate efforts of their officers. The lances were shivered, and they fought hand to hand with swords and battle-axes mingled together in wild confusion. But the struggle was of no long duration; for, though the numbers were nearly equal, the viceroy's cavalry, jaded by the severe march of the previous night,24 were no match for their antagonists. The ground was strewn with the wreck of their bodies; and horses and riders, the dead and the dying, lay heaped on one another. Cabrera, the brave lieutenant of Benalcazar, was slain, and that commander was thrown under his horse's feet, covered with wounds, and left for dead on the field. Alvarez, the judge, was mortally wounded. Both he and his colleague Cepeda were in the action, though ranged on opposite sides, fighting as if they had been bred to arms, not to the peaceful profession of the law.
Yet Blasco Nunez and his companions maintained a brave struggle on the right of the field. The viceroy had kept his word by being the first to break his lance against the enemy, and by a well-directed blow had borne a cavalier, named Alonso de Montalvo, clean out of his saddle. But he was at length overwhelmed by numbers, and, as his companions, one after another, fell by his side, he was left nearly unprotected. He was already wounded, when a blow on the head from the battle-axe of a soldier struck him from his horse, and he fell stunned on the ground. Had his person been known, he might have been taken alive, but he wore a sobre-vest of Indian cotton over his armour, which concealed the military order of St. James, and the other badges of his rank.25
His person, however, was soon recognized by one of Pizarro's followers, who, not improbably, had once followed the viceroy's banner. The soldier immediately pointed him out to the Licentiate Carbajal. This person was the brother of the cavalier whom, as the reader may remember, Blasco Nunez had so rashly put to death in his palace at Lima. The licentiate had afterwards taken service under Pizarro, and, with several of his kindred, was pledged to take vengeance on the viceroy. Instantly riding up, he taunted the fallen commander with the murder of his brother, and was in the act of dismounting to despatch him with his own hand, when Puelles remonstrating on this, as an act of degradation, commanded one of his attendants, a black slave, to cut off the viceroy's head. This the fellow executed with a single stroke of his sabre, while the wretched man, perhaps then dying of his wounds, uttered no word, but with eyes imploringly turned up towards heaven, received the fatal blow.26 The head was then borne aloft on a pike, and some were brutal enough to pluck out the grey hairs from the beard and set them in their caps, as grisly trophies of their victory.27 The fate of the day was now decided. Yet still the infantry made a brave stand, keeping Pizarro's horse at bay with their bristling array of pikes. But their numbers were thinned by the arquebusiers; and, thrown into disorder, they could no longer resist the onset of the horse, who broke into their column, and soon scattered and drove them off the ground. The pursuit was neither long nor bloody; for darkness came on, and Pizarro bade his trumpets sound, to call his men together under their banners.
Though the action lasted but a short time, nearly one third of the viceroy's troops had perished. The loss of their opponents was inconsiderable.28 Several of the vanquished cavaliers took refuge in the churches of Quito. But they were dragged from the sanctuary, and some —-probably those who had once espoused the cause of Pizarro—were led to execution, and others banished to Chili. The greater part were pardoned by the conqueror. Benalcazar, who recovered from his wounds, was permitted to return to his government, on condition of no more bearing arms against Pizarro. His troops were invited to take service under the banner of the victor, who, however, never treated them with the confidence shown to his ancient partisans. He was greatly displeased at the indignities offered to the viceroy; whose mangled remains he caused to be buried with the honors due to his rank in the cathedral of Quito. Gonzalo Pizarro, attired in black, walked as chief mourner in the procession.—-It was usual with the Pizarros, as we have seen, to pay these obituary honors to their victims.29
Such was the sad end of Blasco Nunez Vela, first viceroy of Peru. It was less than two years since he had set foot in the country, a period of unmitigated disaster and disgrace. His misfortunes may be imputed partly to circumstances, and partly to his own character. The minister of an odious and oppressive law, he was intrusted with no discretionary power in the execution of it.30 Yet every man may, to a certain extent, claim the right to such a power; since, to execute a commission, which circumstances show must certainly defeat the object for which it was designed, would be absurd. But it requires sagacity to determine the existence of such a contingency, and moral courage to assume the responsibility of acting on it. Such a crisis is the severest test of character. To dare to disobey from a paramount sense of duty is a paradox that a little soul can hardly comprehend. Unfortunately, Blasco Nunez was a pedantic martinet, a man of narrow views, who could not feel himself authorized under any circumstances to swerve from the letter of the law. Puffed up by his brief authority, moreover, he considered opposition to the ordinances as treason to himself; and thus, identifying himself with his commission, he was prompted by personal feelings, quite as much as by those of a public and patriotic nature.
Neither was the viceroy's character of a kind that tended to mitigate the odium of his measures, and reconcile the people to their execution. It afforded a strong contrast to that of his rival, Pizarro, whose frank, chivalrous bearing, and generous confidence in his followers, made him universally popular, blinding their judgments, and giving to the worse the semblance of the better cause. Blasco Nunez, on the contrary, irritable and suspicious, placed himself in a false position with all whom he approached; for a suspicious temper creates an atmosphere of distrust around it that kills every kindly affection. His first step was to alienate the members of the Audience who were sent to act in concert with him. But this was their fault as well as his, since they were as much too lax, as he was too severe, in the interpretation of the law.31 He next alienated and outraged the people whom he was appointed to govern. And, lastly, he disgusted his own friends, and too often turned them into enemies; so that, in his final struggle for power and for existence, he was obliged to rely on the arm of the stranger. Yet in the catalogue of his qualities we must not pass in silence over his virtues. There are two to the credit of which he is undeniably entitled,—a loyalty, which shone the brighter amidst the general defection around him, and a constancy under misfortune, which might challenge the respect even of his enemies. But with the most liberal allowance for his merits, it can scarcely be doubted that a person more incompetent to the task assigned him could not have been found in Castile.32
The victory of Anaquito was received with general joy in the neighboring capital; all the cities of Peru looked on it as sealing the downfall of the detested ordinances, and the name of Gonzalo Pizarro was sounded from one end of the country to the other as that of its deliverer. That chief continued to prolong his stay in Quito during the wet season, dividing his time between the licentious pleasures of the reckless adventurer and the cares of business that now pressed on him as ruler of the state. His administration was stained with fewer acts of violence than might have been expected from the circumstances of his situation. So long as Carbajal, the counsellor in whom he unfortunately placed greatest reliance, was absent, Gonzalo sanctioned no execution, it was observed, but according to the forms of law.33 He rewarded his followers by new grants of land, and detached several on expeditions, to no greater distance, however, than would leave it in his power readily to recall them. He made various provisions for the welfare of the natives, and some, in particular, for instructing them in the Christian faith. He paid attention to the faithful collection of the royal dues, urging on the colonists that they should deport themselves so as to conciliate the goodwill of the Crown, and induce a revocation of the ordinances. His administration, in short, was so conducted, that even the austere Gasca, his successor, allowed "it was a good government,—for a tyrant." 34
At length, in July, 1546, the new governor bade adieu to Quito, and, leaving there a sufficient garrison under his officer Puelles, began his journey to the south. It was a triumphal progress, and everywhere he was received on the road with enthusiasm by the people. At Truxillo, the citizens came out in a body to welcome him, and the clergy chanted anthems in his honor, extolling him as the "victorious prince," and imploring the Almighty "to lengthen his days, and give him honor."35 At Lima, it was proposed to clear away some of the buildings, and open a new street for his entrance, which might ever after bear the name of the victor. But the politic chieftain declined this flattering tribute, and modestly preferred to enter the city by the usual way. A procession was formed of the citizens, the soldiers, and the clergy, and Pizarro made his entry into the capital with two of his principal captains on foot, holding the reins of his charger, while the archbishop of Lima, and the bishops of Cuzco, Quito, and Bogota, the last of whom had lately come to the city to be consecrated, rode by his side. The streets were strewn with boughs, the walls of the houses hung with showy tapestries, and triumphal arches were thrown over the way in honor of the victor. Every balcony, veranda, and house-top was crowded with spectators, who sent up huzzas, loud and long, saluting the victorious soldier with the titles of "Liberator, and Protector of the people." The bells rang out their joyous peal, as on his former entrance into the capital; and amidst strains of enlivening music, and the blithe sounds of jubilee, Gonzalo held on his way to the palace of his brother. Peru was once more placed under the dynasty of the Pizarros.36
Deputies came from different parts of the country, tending the congratulations of their respective cities; and every one eagerly urged his own claims to consideration for the services he had rendered in the revolution. Pizarro, at the same time, received the welcome intelligence of the success of his arms in the south. Diego Centeno, as before stated, had there raised the standard of rebellion, or rather, of loyalty to his sovereign. He had made himself master of La Plata, and the spirit of insurrection had spread over the broad province of Charcas. Carbajal, who had been sent against him from Quito, after repairing to Lima, had passed at once to Cuzco, and there, strengthening his forces, had descended by rapid marches on the refractory district. Centeno did not trust himself in the field against this formidable champion. He retreated with his troops into the fastnesses of the sierra. Carbajal pursued, following on his track with the pertinacity of a bloodhound; over mountain and moor, through forests and dangerous ravines, allowing him no respite, by day or by night. Eating, drinking, sleeping in his saddle, the veteran, eighty years of age, saw his own followers tire one after another, while he urged on the chase, like the wild huntsman of Burger, as if endowed with an unearthly frame, incapable of fatigue! During this terrible pursuit, which continued for more than two hundred leagues over a savage country, Centeno found himself abandoned by most of his followers. Such of them as fell into Carbajal's hands were sent to speedy execution; for that inexorable chief had no mercy on those who had been false to their party.37 At length, Centeno, with a handful of men, arrived on the borders of the Pacific, and there, separating from one another, they provided, each in the best way he could, for their own safety. Their leader found an asylum in a cave in the mountains, where he was secretly fed by an Indian curaca, till the time again for him to unfurl the standard of revolt.38
Carbajal, after some further decisive movements, which fully established the ascendency of Pizarro over the south, returned in triumph to La Plata. There he occupied himself with working the silver mines of Potosi, in which a vein, recently opened, promised to make richer returns than any yet discovered in Mexico or Peru;39 and he was soon enabled to send large remittances to Lima, deducting no stinted commission for himself,- -for the cupidity of the lieutenant was equal to his cruelty.
Gonzalo Pizarro was now undisputed master of Peru. From Quito to the northern confines of Chili, the whole country acknowledged his authority. His fleet rode triumphant on the Pacific, and gave him the command of every city and hamlet on its borders. His admiral, Hinojosa, a discreet and gallant officer, had secured him Panama, and, marching across the Isthmus, had since obtained for him the possession of Nombre de Dios,—the principal key of communication with Europe. His forces were on an excellent footing, including the flower of the warriors who had fought under his brother, and who now eagerly rallied under the name of Pizarro; while the tide of wealth that flowed in from the mines of Potosi supplied him with the resources of an European monarch.
The new governor now began to assume a state correspondent with his full-blown fortunes. He was attended by a body-guard of eighty soldiers. He dined always in public, and usually with not less than a hundred guests at table. He even affected, it was said, the most decided etiquette of royalty, giving his hand to be kissed, and allowing no one, of whatever rank, to be seated in his presence.40 But this is denied by others. It would not be strange that a vain man like Pizarro, with a superficial, undisciplined mind, when he saw himself thus raised from an humble condition to the highest post in the land, should be somewhat intoxicated by the possession of power, and treat with superciliousness those whom he had once approached with deference. But one who had often seen him in his prosperity assures us, that it was not so, and that the governor continued to show the same frank and soldierlike bearing as before his elevation, mingling on familiar terms with his comrades, and displaying the same qualities which had hitherto endeared him to the people.41
However this may be, it is certain there were not wanting those who urged him to throw off his allegiance to the Crown, and set up an independent government for himself. Among these was his lieutenant, Carbajal, whose daring spirit never shrunk from following things to their consequences. He plainly counselled Pizarro to renounce his allegiance at once. "In fact, you have already done so," he said. "You have been in arms against a viceroy, have driven him from the country, beaten and slain him in battle. What favor, or even mercy, can you expect from the Crown? You have gone too far either to halt, or to recede. You must go boldly on, proclaim yourself king; the troops, the people, will support you." And he concluded, it is said, by advising him to marry the Coya, the female representative of the Incas, that the two races might henceforth repose in quiet under a common sceptre! 42
The advice of the bold counsellor was, perhaps, the most politic that could have been given to Pizarro under existing circumstances. For he was like one who had heedlessly climbed far up a dizzy precipice,—too far to descend safely, while he had no sure hold where he was. His only chance was to climb still higher, till he had gained the summit. But Gonzalo Pizarro shrunk from the attitude, in which this placed him, of avowed rebellion. Notwithstanding the criminal course into which he had been, of late, seduced, the sentiment of loyalty was too deeply implanted in his bosom to be wholly eradicated. Though in arms against the measures and ministers of his sovereign, he was not prepared to raise the sword against the sovereign himself. He, doubtless, had conflicting emotion in his bosom; like Macbeth, and many a less noble nature,
'"Would not play false, And yet would wrongly win."
And however grateful to his vanity might be the picture of the airdrawn sceptre thus painted to his imagination, he had not the audacity —we may, perhaps, say, the criminal ambition—to attempt to grasp it.
Even at this very moment, when urged to this desperate extremity, he was preparing a mission to Spain, in order to vindicate the course he had taken, and to solicit an amnesty for the past, with a full confirmation of his authority, as successor to his brother in the government of Peru.— Pizarro did not read the future with the calm, prophetic eye of Carbajal.
Among the biographical notices of the writers on Spanish colonial affairs, the name of Herrera, who has done more for this vast subject than any other author, should certainly not be omitted. His account of Peru takes its proper place in his great work, the Historia General de las lndias, according to the chronological plan on which that history is arranged. But as it suggests reflections not different in character from those suggested by other portions of the work, I shall take the liberty to refer the reader to the Postscript to Book Third of the Conquest of Mexico, for a full account of these volumes and their learned author.
Another chronicler, to whom I have been frequently indebted in the progress of the narrative, is Francisco Lopez de Gomara. The reader will also find a notice of this author in the Conquest of Mexico, Book 5, Postscript. But as the remarks on his writings are there confined to his Cronica de Nueva Espana, it may be well to add here some reflections on his greater work, Historia de las Indias, in which the Peruvian story bears a conspicuous part.
The "History of the Indies" is intended to give a brief view of the whole range of Spanish conquest in the islands and on the American continent, as far as had been achieved by the middle of the sixteenth century. For this account, Gomara, though it does not appear that he ever visited the New World, was in a situation that opened to him the best means of information. He was well acquainted with the principal men of the time, and gathered the details of their history from their own lips; while, from his residence at court, he was in possession of the state of opinion there, and of the impression made by passing events on those most competent to judge of them. He was thus enabled to introduce into his work many interesting particulars, not to be found in other records of the period. His range of inquiry extended beyond the mere doings of the Conquerors, and led him to a survey of the general resources of the countries he describes, and especially of their physical aspect and productions. The conduct of his work, no less than its diction, shows the cultivated scholar, practised in the art of composition. Instead of the naivete, engaging, but childlike, of the old military chroniclers, Gomara handles his various topics with the shrewd and piquant criticism of a man of the world; while his descriptions are managed with a comprehensive brevity that forms the opposite to the long-winded and rambling paragraphs of the monkish annalist. These literary merits, combined with the knowledge of the writer's opportunities for information, secured his productions from the oblivion which too often awaits the unpublished manuscript; and he had the satisfaction to see them pass into more than one edition in his own day. Yet they do not bear the highest stamp of authenticity. The author too readily admits accounts into his pages which are not supported by contemporary testimony. This he does, not from credulity, for his mind rather leans in an opposite direction, but from a Want, apparently, of the true spirit of historic conscientiousness. The imputation of carelessness in his statements—to use a temperate phrase—was brought against Gomara in his own day; and Garcilasso tells us, that, when called to account by some of the Peruvian cavaliers for misstatements which bore hard on themselves, the historian made but an awkward explanation. This is a great blemish on his productions, and renders them of far less value to the modern compiler, who seeks for the well of truth undefiled, than many an humbler but less unscrupulous chronicle.
There is still another authority used in this work, Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, of whom I have given an account elsewhere; and the reader curious in the matter will permit me to refer him for a critical notice of his life and writings to the Conquest of Mexico, Book 4, Postscript.—His account of Peru is incorporated into his great work, Natural & General Historia de las lndias, MS., where it forms the forty-sixth and forty- seventh books. It extends from Pizarro's landing at Tumbez to Almagro's return from Chili, and thus covers the entire portion of what may be called the conquest of the country. The style of its execution, corresponding with that of the residue of the work to which it belongs, affords no ground for criticism different from that already passed on the general character of Oviedo's writings.
This eminent person was at once a scholar and a man of the world. Living much at court, and familiar with persons of the highest distinction in Castile, he yet passed much of his time in the colonies, and thus added the fruits of personal experience to what he had gained from the reports of others. His curiosity was indefatigable, extending to every department of natural science, as well as to the civil and personal history of the colonists. He was, at once, their Pliny and their Tacitus. His works abound in portraitures of character, sketched with freedom and animation. His reflections are piquant, and often rise to a philosophic tone, which discards the usual trammels of the age; and the progress of the story is varied by a multiplicity of personal anecdotes, that give a rapid insight into the characters of the parties.
With his eminent qualifications, and with a social position that commanded respect, it is strange that so much of his writings-the whole of his great Historia de las Indias, and his curious Quincuagenas—should be so long suffered to remain in manuscript. This is partly chargeable to the caprice of fortune; for the History was more than once on the eve of publication, and is even now understood to be prepared for the press. Yet it has serious defects, which may have contributed to keep it in its present form. In its desultory and episodical style of composition, it resembles rather notes for a great history, than history itself. It may be regarded in the light of commentaries, or as illustrations of the times. In that view his pages are of high worth, and have been frequently resorted to by writers who have not too scrupulously appropriated the statements of the old chronicler, with slight acknowledgments to their author.
It is a pity that Oviedo should have shown more solicitude to tell what was new, than to ascertain how much of it was strictly true. Among his merits will scarcely be found that of historical accuracy. And yet we may find an apology for this, to some extent, in the fact, that his writings, as already intimated, are not so much in the nature of finished compositions, as of loose memoranda, where everything, rumor as well as fact,—even the most contradictory rumors,—are all set down at random, forming a miscellaneous heap of materials, of which the discreet historian may avail himself to rear a symmetrical fabric on foundations of greater strength and solidity.
Another author worthy of particular note is Pedro Cieza de Leon. His Cronica del Peru should more properly be styled an Itinerary, or rather Geography, of Peru. It gives a minute topographical view of the country at the time of the Conquest; of its provinces and towns, both Indian and Spanish; its flourishing sea-coast; its forests, valleys, and interminable ranges of mountains in the interior; with many interesting particulars of the existing population,—their dress, manners, architectural remains, and public works, while, scattered here and there, may be found notices of their early history and social polity. It is, in short, a lively picture of the country in its physical and moral relations, as it met the eye at the time of the Conquest, and in that transition period when it was first subjected to European influences. The conception of a work, at so early a period, on this philosophical plan, reminding us of that of Malte-Brun in our own time,—parva componere magnis,-was, of itself, indicative of great comprehensiveness of mind in its author. It was a task of no little difficulty, where there was yet no pathway opened by the labors of the antiquarian; no hints from the sketch-book of the traveller, or the measurements of the scientific explorer. Yet the distances from place to place are all carefully jotted down by the industrious compiler, and the bearings of the different places and their peculiar features are exhibited with sufficient precision, considering the nature of the obstacles he had to encounter. The literary execution of the work, moreover, is highly respectable, sometimes even rich and picturesque; and the author describes the grand and beautiful scenery of the Cordilleras with a sensibility to its charms, not often found in the tasteless topographer, still less often in the rude Conqueror.
Cieza de Leon came to the New World, as he informs us, at the early age of thirteen. But it is not till Gasca's time that we find his name enrolled among the actors in the busy scenes of civil strife, when he accompanied the president in his campaign against Gonzalo Pizarro. His Chronicle, or, at least, the notes for it, was compiled in such leisure as he could snatch from his more stirring avocations; and after ten years from the time he undertook it, the First Part—all we have—-was completed in 1550, when the author had reached only the age of thirty-two. It appeared at Seville in 1553, and the following year at Antwerp; while an Italian translation, printed at Rome, in 1555, attested the rapid celebrity of the work. The edition of Antwerp—the one used by me in this compilation—is in the duodecimo form, exceedingly well printed, and garnished with wood-cuts, in which Satan,-for the author had a full measure of the ancient credulity,—with his usual bugbear accompaniments frequently appears in bodily presence. In the Preface, Cieza announces his purpose to continue the work in three other parts, illustrating respectively the ancient history of the country under the Incas, its conquest by the Spaniards, and the civil wars which ensued. He even gives, with curious minuteness, the contents of the several books of the projected history. But the First Part, as already noticed, was alone completed; and the author, having returned to Spain, died there in 1560, at the premature age of forty-two, without having covered any portion of the magnificent ground-plan which he had thus confidently laid out. The deficiency is much to be regretted, considering the talent of the writer, and his opportunities for personal observation. But he has done enough to render us grateful for his labors. By the vivid delineation of scenes and scenery, as they were presented fresh to his own eyes, he has furnished us with a background to the historic picture,— the landscape, as it were, in which the personages of the time might be more fitly portrayed. It would have been impossible to exhibit the ancient topography of the land so faithfully at a subsequent period, when old things had passed away, and the Conqueror, breaking down the landmarks of ancient civilization, had effaced many of the features even of the physical aspect of the country, as it existed under the elaborate culture of the Incas.
History of the Conquest of Peru
by William Hickling Prescott
Settlement Of The Country
Great Sensation In Spain—Pedro De La Gasca—His Early Life- His Mission To Peru—His Politic Conduct—His Offers To Pizarro- Gains The Fleet
While the important revolution detailed in the preceding pages was going forward in Peru, rumors of it, from time to time, found their way to the mother-country; but the distance was so great, and opportunities for communication so rare, that the tidings were usually very long behind the occurrence of the events to which they related. The government heard with dismay of the troubles caused by the ordinances and the intemperate conduct of the viceroy; and it was not long before it learned that this functionary was deposed and driven from his capital, while the whole country, under Gonzalo Pizarro, was arrayed in arms against him. All classes were filled with consternation at this alarming intelligence; and many that had before approved the ordinances now loudly condemned the ministers, who, without considering the inflammable temper of the people, had thus rashly fired a train which menaced a general explosion throughout the colonies.1 No such rebellion, within the memory of man, had occurred in the Spanish empire. It was compared with the famous war of the comunidades, in the beginning of Charles the Fifth's reign. But the Peruvian insurrection seemed the more formidable of the two. The troubles of Castile, being under the eye of the Court, might be the more easily managed; while it was difficult to make the same power felt on the remote shores of the Indies. Lying along the distant Pacific, the principle of attraction which held Peru to the parent country was so feeble, that this colony might, at any time, with a less impulse than that now given to it, fly from its political orbit.
It seemed as if the fairest of its jewels was about to fall from the imperial diadem!
Such was the state of things in the summer of 1545, when Charles the Fifth was absent in Germany, occupied with the religious troubles of the empire. The government was in the hands of his son, who, under the name of Philip the Second, was soon to sway the sceptre over the largest portion of his father's dominions, and who was then holding his court at Valladolid. He called together a council of prelates, jurists, and military men of greatest experience, to deliberate on the measures to be pursued for restoring order in the colonies. All agreed in regarding Pizarro's movement in the light of an audacious rebellion; and there were few, at first, who were not willing to employ the whole strength of government to vindicate the honor of the Crown,—to quell the insurrection, and bring the authors of it to punishment.2
But, however desirable this might appear, a very little reflection showed that it was not easy to be done, if, indeed, it were practicable. The great distance of Peru required troops to be transported not merely across the ocean, but over the broad extent of the great continent. And how was this to be effected, when the principal posts, the keys of communication with the country, were in the hands of the rebels, while their fleet rode in the Pacific, the mistress of its waters, cutting off all approach to the coast? Even if a Spanish force could be landed in Peru, what chance would it have, unaccustomed, as it would be, to the country and the climate, of coping with the veterans of Pizarro, trained to war in the Indies and warmly attached to the person of their commander? The new levies thus sent out might become themselves infected with the spirit of insurrection, and cast off their own allegiance.3
Nothing remained, therefore, but to try conciliatory measures. The government, however mortifying to its pride, must retrace its steps. A free grace must be extended to those who submitted, and such persuasive arguments should be used, and such politic concessions made, as would convince the refractory colonists that it was their interest, as well as their duty, to return to their allegiance.
But to approach the people in their present state of excitement, and to make those concessions without too far compromising the dignity and permanent authority of the Crown, was a delicate matter, for the success of which they must rely wholly on the character of the agent. After much deliberation, a competent person, as it was thought, was found in an ecclesiastic, by the name of Pedro de la Gasca,—a name which, brighter by contrast with the gloomy times in which it first appeared, still shines with undiminished splendor after the lapse of ages.
Pedro de la Gasca was born, probably, towards the close of the fifteenth century, in a small village in Castile named Barco de Avila. He came, both by father and mother's side, from an ancient and noble lineage; ancient indeed, if, as his biographers contend, he derived his descent from Casca, one of the conspirators against Julius Caesar!4 Having the misfortune to lose his father early in life, he was placed by his uncle in the famous seminary of Alcala de Henares, rounded by the great Ximenes. Here he made rapid proficiency in liberal studies, especially in those connected with his profession, and at length received the degree of Master of Theology.
The young man, however, discovered other talents than those demanded by his sacred calling. The war of the comunidades was then raging in the country; and the authorities of his college showed a disposition to take the popular side. But Gasca, putting himself at the head of an armed force, seized one of the gates of the city, and, with assistance from the royal troops, secured the place to the interests of the Crown. This early display of loyalty was probably not lost on his vigilant sovereign.5
From Alcala, Gasca was afterwards removed to Salamanca; where he distinguished himself by his skill in scholastic disputation, and obtained the highest academic honors in that ancient university, the fruitful nursery of scholarship and genius. He was subsequently intrusted with the management of some important affairs of an ecclesiastical nature, and made a member of the Council of the Inquisition.
In this latter capacity he was sent to Valencia, about 1540, to examine into certain alleged cases of heresy in that quarter of the country. These were involved in great obscurity; and, although Gasca had the assistance of several eminent jurists in the investigation, it occupied him nearly two years. In the conduct of this difficult matter, he showed so much penetration, and such perfect impartiality, that he was appointed by the Cortes of Valencia to the office of visitador of that kingdom; a highly responsible post, requiring great discretion in the person who filled it, since it was his province to inspect the condition of the courts of justice and of finance, throughout the land, with authority to reform abuses. It was proof of extraordinary consideration, that it should have been bestowed on Gasca; since it was a departure from the established usage - -and that in a nation most wedded to usage—to confer the office on any but a subject of the Aragonese crown.6
Gasca executed the task assigned to him with independence and ability. While he was thus occupied, the people of Valencia were thrown into consternation by a meditated invasion of the French and the Turks, who, under the redoubtable Barbarossa, menaced the coast and the neighboring Balearic isles. Fears were generally entertained of a rising of the Morisco population; and the Spanish officers who had command in that quarter, being left without the protection of a navy, despaired of making head against the enemy. In this season of general panic, Gasca alone appeared calm and self-possessed. He remonstrated with the Spanish commanders on their unsoldierlike despondency; encouraged them to confide in the loyalty of the Moriscos; and advised the immediate erection of fortifications along the shores for their protection. He was, in consequence, named one of a commission to superintend these works, and to raise levies for defending the sea-coast; and so faithfully was the task performed, that Barbarossa, after some ineffectual attempts to make good his landing, was baffled at all points, and compelled to abandon the enterprise as hopeless. The chief credit of this resistance must be assigned to Gasca, who superintended the construction of the defences, and who was enabled to contribute a large part of the requisite funds by the economical reforms he had introduced into the administration of Valencia.7
It was at this time, the latter part of the year 1545, that the council of Philip selected Gasca as the person most competent to undertake the perilous mission to Peru.8 His character, indeed, seemed especially suited to it. His loyalty had been shown through his whole life. With great suavity of manners he combined the most intrepid resolution. Though his demeanor was humble, as beseemed his calling, it was far from abject; for he was sustained by a conscious rectitude of purpose, that impressed respect on all with whom he had intercourse. He was acute in his perceptions, had a shrewd knowledge of character, and, though bred to the cloister, possessed an acquaintance with affairs, and even with military science, such as was to have been expected only from one reared in courts and camps.
Without hesitation, therefore, the council unanimously recommended him to the emperor, and requested his approbation of their proceedings. Charles had not been an inattentive observer of Gasca's course. His attention had been particularly called to the able manner in which he had conducted the judicial process against the heretics of Valencia.9 The monarch saw, at once, that he was the man for the present emergency; and he immediately wrote to him, with his own hand, expressing his entire satisfaction at the appointment, and intimating his purpose to testify his sense of his worth by preferring him to one of the principal sees then vacant.
Gasca accepted the important mission now tendered to him without hesitation; and, repairing to Madrid, received the instructions of the government as to the course to be pursued. They were expressed in the most benign and conciliatory tone, perfectly in accordance with the suggestions of his own benevolent temper.10 But, while he commended the tone of the instructions, he considered the powers with which he was to be intrusted as wholly incompetent to their object. They were conceived in the jealous spirit with which the Spanish government usually limited the authority of its great colonial officers, whose distance from home gave peculiar cause for distrust. On every strange and unexpected emergency, Gasca saw that he should be obliged to send back for instructions. This must cause delay, where promptitude was essential to success. The Court, moreover, as he represented to the council, was, from its remoteness from the scene of action, utterly incompetent to pronounce as to the expediency of the measures to be pursued. Some one should be sent out in whom the king could implicitly confide, and who should be invested with powers competent to every emergency; powers not merely to decide on what was best, but to carry that decision into execution; and he boldly demanded that he should go not only as the representative of the sovereign, but clothed with all the authority of the sovereign himself. Less than this would defeat the very object for which he was to be sent. "For myself," he concluded, "I ask neither salary nor compensation of any kind. I covet no display of state or military array. With my stoic and breviary I trust to do the work that is committed to me.11 Infirm as I am in body, the repose of my own home would have been more grateful to me than this dangerous mission; but I will not shrink from it at the bidding of my sovereign, and if, as is very probable, I may not be permitted again to see my native land, I shall, at least, be cheered by the consciousness of having done my best to serve its interests." 12
The members of the council, while they listened with admiration to the disinterested avowal of Gasca, were astounded by the boldness of his demands. Not that they distrusted the purity of his motives, for these were above suspicion. But the powers for which he stipulated were so far beyond those hitherto delegated to a colonial viceroy, that they felt they had no warrant to grant them. They even shrank from soliciting them from the emperor, and required that Gasca himself should address the monarch, and state precisely the grounds on which demands so extraordinary were founded.
Gasca readily adopted the suggestion, and wrote in the most full and explicit manner to his sovereign, who had then transferred his residence to Flanders. But Charles was not so tenacious, or, at least, so jealous, of authority, as his ministers. He had been too long in possession of it to feel that jealousy; and, indeed, many years were not to elapse, before, oppressed by its weight, he was to resign it altogether into the hands of his son. His sagacious mind, moreover, readily comprehended the difficulties of Gasca's position. He felt that the present extraordinary crisis was to be met only by extraordinary measures. He assented to the force of his vassal's arguments, and, on the sixteenth of February, 1546, wrote him another letter expressive of his approbation, and intimated his willingness to grant him powers as absolute as those he had requested.
Gasca was to be styled President of the Royal Audience. But, under this simple title, he was placed at the head of every department in the colony, civil, military, and judicial. He was empowered to make new repartimientos, and to confirm those already made. He might declare war, levy troops, appoint to all offices, or remove from them, at pleasure. He might exercise the royal prerogative of pardoning offences, and was especially authorized to grant an amnesty to all, without exception, implicated in the present rebellion. He was, moreover, to proclaim at once the revocation of the odious ordinances. These two last provisions might be said to form the basis of all his operations.
Since ecclesiastics were not to be reached by the secular arm, and yet were often found fomenting troubles in the colonies, Gasca was permitted to banish from Peru such as he thought fit. He might even send home the viceroy, if the good of the country required it. Agreeably to his own suggestion, he was to receive no specified stipend; but he had unlimited orders on the treasuries both of Panama and Peru. He was furnished with letters from the emperor to the principal authorities, not only in Peru, but in Mexico and the neighboring colonies, requiring their countenance and support; and, lastly, blank letters, bearing the royal signature, were delivered to him, which he was to fill up at his pleasure.13
While the grant of such unbounded powers excited the warmest sentiments of gratitude in Gasca towards the sovereign who could repose in him so much confidence, it seems—which is more extraordinary—not to have raised corresponding feelings of envy in the courtiers. They knew well that it was not for himself that the good ecclesiastic had solicited them. On the contrary, some of the council were desirous that he should be preferred to the bishopric, as already promised him, before his departure; conceiving that he would thus go with greater authority than as an humble ecclesiastic, and fearing, moreover, that Gasca himself, were it omitted, might feel some natural disappointment. But the president hastened to remove these impressions. "The honor would avail me little," he said, "where I am going; and it would be manifestly wrong to appoint me to an office in the Church, while I remain at such a distance that I cannot discharge the duties of it. The consciousness of my insufficiency," he continued, "should I never return, would lie heavy on my soul in my last moments." 14 The politic reluctance to accept the mitre has passed into a proverb. But there was no affectation here; and Gasca's friends, yielding to his arguments, forbore to urge the matter further.
The new president now went forward with his preparation. They were few and simple; for he was to be accompanied by a slender train of followers, among whom the most conspicuous was Alonso de Alvarado, the gallant officer who, as the reader may remember, long commanded under Francisco Pizarro. He had resided of late years at court; and now at Gasca's request accompanied him to Peru, where his presence might facilitate negotiations with the insurgents, while his military experience would prove no less valuable in case of an appeal to arms.15 Some delay necessarily occurred in getting ready his little squadron, and it was not till the 26th of May, 1546, that the president and his suite embarked at San Lucar for the New World.
After a prosperous voyage, and not a long one for that day, he landed, about the middle of July, at the port of Santa Martha. Here he received the astounding intelligence of the battle of Ariaquito, of the defeat and death of the viceroy, and of the manner in which Gonzalo Pizarro had since established his absolute rule over the land. Although these events had occurred several months before Gasca's departure from Spain, yet, so imperfect was the intercourse, no tidings of them had then reached that country.
They now filled the president with great anxiety; as he reflected that the insurgents, after so atrocious an act as the slaughter of the viceroy, might well despair of grace, and become reckless of consequences. He was careful, therefore, to have it understood, that the date of his commission was subsequent to that of the fatal battle, and that it authorized an entire amnesty of all offences hitherto committed against the government.16
Yet, in some points of view, the death of Blasco Nunez might be regarded as an auspicious circumstance for the settlement of the country. Had he lived till Gasca's arrival, the latter would have been greatly embarrassed by the necessity of acting in concert with a person so generally detested in the colony, or by the unwelcome alternative of sending him back to Castile. The insurgents, moreover, would, in all probability, be now more amenable to reason, since all personal animosity might naturally be buried in the grave of their enemy.
The president was much embarrassed by deciding in what quarter he should attempt to enter Peru. Every port was in the hands of Pizarro, and was placed under the care of his officers, with strict charge to intercept any communications from Spain, and to detain such persons as bore a commission from that country until his pleasure could be known respecting them. Gasca, at length, decided on crossing over to Nombre de Dios, then held with a strong force by Hernan Mexia, an officer to whose charge Gonzalo had committed this strong gate to his dominions, as to a person on whose attachment to his cause he could confidently rely.
Had Gasca appeared off this place in a menacing attitude, with a military array, or, indeed, with any display of official pomp that might have awakened distrust in the commander, he would doubtless have found it no easy matter to effect a landing. But Mexia saw nothing to apprehend in the approach of a poor ecclesiastic, without an armed force, with hardly even a retinue to support him, coming solely, as it seemed, on an errand of mercy. No sooner, therefore, was he acquainted with the character of the envoy, and his mission, than he prepared to receive him with the honors due to his rank, and marched out at the head of his soldiers, together with a considerable body of ecclesiastics resident in the place. There was nothing in the person of Gasca, still less in his humble clerical attire and modest retinue, to impress the vulgar spectator with feelings of awe or reverence. Indeed, the poverty-stricken aspect, as it seemed, of himself and his followers, so different from the usual state affected by the Indian viceroys, excited some merriment among the rude soldiery, who did not scruple to break their coarse jests on his appearance, in hearing of the president himself.17 "If this is the sort of governor his Majesty sends over to us," they exclaimed, "Pizarro need not trouble his head much about it."
Yet the president, far from being ruffled by this ribaldry, or from showing resentment to its authors, submitted to it with the utmost humility, and only seemed the more grateful to his own brethren, who, by their respectful demeanor, appeared anxious to do him honor.
But, however plain and unpretending the manners of Gasca, Mexia, on his first interview with him soon discovered that he had no common man to deal with. The president, after briefly explaining the nature of his commission, told him that he had come as a messenger of peace; and that it was on peaceful measures he relied for his success. He then stated the general scope of his commission, his authority to grant a free pardon to all, without exception, who at once submitted to government, and, finally, his purpose to proclaim the revocation of the ordinances. The objects of the revolution were thus attained. To contend longer would be manifest rebellion, and that without a motive; and he urged the commander by every principle of loyalty and patriotism to support him in settling the distractions of the country, and bringing it back to its allegiance.
The candid and conciliatory language of the president, so different from the arrogance of Blasco Nunez, and the austere demeanor of Vaca de Castro, made a sensible impression on Mexia. He admitted the force of Gasca's reasoning, and flattered himself that Gonzalo Pizarro would not be insensible to it. Though attached to the fortunes of that leader, he was loyal in heart, and, like most of the party, had been led by accident, rather than by design, into rebellion; and now that so good an opportunity occurred to do it with safety, he was not unwilling to retrace his steps, and secure the royal favor by thus early returning to his allegiance. This he signified to the president, assuring him of his hearty cooperation in the good work of reform.18
This was an important step for Gasca. It was yet more important for him to secure the obedience of Hinojosa, the governor of Panama, in the harbor of which city lay Pizarro's navy, consisting of two-and-twenty vessels. But it was not easy to approach this officer. He was a person of much higher character than was usually found among the reckless adventurers in the New World. He was attached to the interests of Pizarro, and the latter had requited him by placing him in command of his armada and of Panama, the key to his territories on the Pacific.
The president first sent Mexia and Alonso de Alvarado to prepare the way for his own coming, by advising Hinojosa of the purport of his mission. He soon after followed, and was received by that commander with every show of outward respect. But while the latter listened with deference to the representations of Gasca, they failed to work the change in him which they had wrought in Mexia; and he concluded by asking the president to show him his powers, and by inquiring whether they gave him authority to confirm Pizarro in his present post, to which he was entitled no less by his own services than by the general voice of the people.
This was an embarrassing question. Such a concession would have been altogether too humiliating to the Crown; but to have openly avowed this at the present juncture to so stanch an adherent of Pizarro might have precluded all further negotiation. The president evaded the question, therefore, by simply stating, that the time had not yet come for him to produce his powers, but that Hinojosa might be assured they were such as to secure an ample recompense to every loyal servant of his country.19