|Inca's Original DeSoto Writings|
Garcilaso de la Vega, the "Inca," wrote a History of the Conquest of Florida based on interviews with DeSoto Expedition survivors. This translation was made by Charmion Shelby in 1935 and Published in the DeSoto Chronicles. (Trails to this Point)
BY STATE: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia,
Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas,
Louisiana, Texas, Retreat, Arkansas, Escape to Mexico
GLOSSARY TABLE of INDIAN PLACE NAMES used by the DESOTO CHRONICLERS
1 LEAGUE = 2.6 STATUATE MILES
Florida of the Inca
Garcilaso de la Vega, el Inca 1539-1616
WHERE AN ACCOUNT IS GIVEN OF A SPANIARD WHO REMAINED AMONG THE INDIANS;
THE EFFORTS THAT WERE MADE TO RECOVER HIM; A LONG JOURNEY OF THE
CASTILIANS, IN WHICH THEY TRAVERSED EIGHT PROVINCES;
THE ENMITY AND CRUEL WAR BETWEEN GUACHOYAS
AND ANILKOS; THE LAMENTABLE DEATH OF
GOVERNOR HERNANDO DE SOTO, AND
TWO BURIALS HIS MEN GAVE
HIM. IT CONTAINS EIGHT
FIRST PART OF THE FIFTH BOOK
in CHAPTERS I and II of this Fifth Book, INCA JUMPS TO NAGUATEX
(in LOUISIANA and TEXAS),
SO THAT PART OF HIS NARRITIVE HAS BEEN MOVED THERE ACCORDINGLY
CHAPTER IIITHE GOVERNOR LEAVES GUANCANE (UTIANGUE), PASSES THROUGH SEVEN
OTHER SMALL PROVINCES, AND REACHES THAT OF ANILCO
The governor left the province of Guancane (Utiangue) with the intention of returning to the Great River, which he had left behind him, not by the same route that he had followed since crossing it but by another, different one, making a large circle so as to discover other new lands and provinces on the way back besides those that he had seen, and he intended to inspect them as he passed.
His motive for so doing was the desire to make a settlement before all the strength of his army was spent, for he saw that of both men and horses diminishing from day to day. Past battles and illnesses had destroyed more than half of both of them, or at least of the horses, and he regretted extremely that there should be lost without benefit to him or anyone else so much labor as they had undertaken and were undertaking in that discovery, and that such extensive and fertile lands should remain unpopulated by the Spaniards, especially those who were with him. For he did not fail to perceive that if he should not succeed, or should die without making a beginning in settling the country, it would be many years before there would be assembled again so many and such good men, and as many horses and arms as he had introduced for the conquest.
Therefore, repenting of his past anger, which had been the cause of not making a settlement in the province and port of Achusi, as he had determined to do, he now wished to remedy it as best he could. Because he was at a distance from the sea and would have to lose time if he should go in search of [a place] to settle on the coast, he proposed (as soon as he arrived at the Great River) to establish a pueblo on the best and most convenient site that he should find on its banks. He would immediately build two brigantines and send them down the river with trustworthy men whom he regarded as most friendly to him, who were to go out by way of the North Sea and give notice in Mexico, Tierra Firme, the islands of Cuba and La Espanola, and in Spain of the large and extensive provinces he had discovered in La Florida, so that Castilian Spaniards could come from all parts with cattle and seeds of the plants that were not found there, to settle, cultivate, and enjoy them. All this could be done very easily, as we shall see later, but death put an end to these ambitious and excellent plans, as it has done to other greater and better ones that have been made in this world.
We said that the governor left Guancane (Utiangue) and went toward the west in search of the Great River, and thus it is that although in this instance and in others of this, our History, we have told the route that the army took when it left one province to go to another, it has not been with a specification of the latitude and longitude of each province nor with a definite statement of the direction that our people took, because as I have already said elsewhere, though I endeavored to ascertain it, it was not possible for me to do so. The one who gave me the account, since he was not a cosmographer or a mariner, did not know it, and the army carried no instruments for determining the latitude, nor was there anyone who would attempt to do so or interest himself in it because they were all so disappointed at not finding gold or silver
that they thought of nothing else. Thus I may be pardoned for this fault, along with many others that my work contains, for which I am happy not to have to ask indulgence.
The governor, having left Guancane (Utiangue), traversed seven provinces, making as long daily marches as possible, without stopping a day in any of them, so as to reach the Great River quickly and carry out the plans that he had made for beginning to settle the land and for forming an establishment in it during that summer. For this reason the names of these provinces were not remembered, except that four of them had fertile lands where our men found plenty of food. They had much umber, rivers that were not very large, and small streams flowing between them. The other three provinces were sparsely populated and their lands were not as fertile or as pleasant as the others, though it was suspected that the guides, who were from that same country, had taken them through the worst part of it. Some of the natives of these seven provinces came out peacefully to receive the governor, and others were hostile, but nothing of consequence or worth relating happened with any of them, except that they managed to keep the peace with those who were friendly and to avoid fighting and warfare with those who were hostile, for our people were now proceeding with all care to escape hostilities. Thus they passed through the seven provinces, which must have been a distance of at least 120 leagues.
At the end of this hasty march they reached the boundaries of a large province that was named Anilco, and they traveled twenty leagues through it to the chief pueblo, which had the same name. It was situated on the banks of a river larger than our Guadalquivir, and had four hundred large and good houses with a handsome plaza in the midst of them. The curaca's houses were on a high man-made hill that overlooked the whole pueblo.
The cacique, whose name was also Anilco, was under arms and had a squadron of fifteen hundred warriors, all chosen men, drawn up in front of the pueblo to meet our army. Seeing the Indians so prepared, the Spaniards halted to wait for the last ones to come up, and all placed themselves in order to fight with them.
While the Spaniards were waiting, the Indians put their women, children, and the property in their houses in safety, some taking them to the other side of the river in rafts and canoes, others placing them in the woods and thickets that were on the banks of the same river.
Having formed themselves into a squadron, the Castilians marched toward the Indians, but the latter dared not wait for them, and without firing a shot, they withdrew to the pueblo and thence to the river. Almost all of them crossed to the other side, some in canoes, some on rafts, and others swimming. They had not intended to fight with the Spaniards but to hold them back and prevent their entering the pueblo so quickly, in order to have time to place what was in it in safety. Seeing the Indians fleeing, our men fell upon them and caught a few who were embarking. In the pueblo they found many women of all ages, and children and boys who had been unable to flee.
The governor immediately and hastily sent messages to the cacique Anilco, offering him peace and friendship and asking for his; he had also sent such messages before entering the pueblo. But the curaca was so strange that he would not reply to the first ones or to the second, nor did he speak a word to the messengers, but made signs to them with his hand as if he were mute, indicating that they were to leave his presence.
The Spaniards lodged in the pueblo, where they remained four days obtaining canoes and building large rafts. When they had a supply of them they crossed the river without opposition from the enemy. They marched four days through some uninhabited country that was very heavily forested [or very mountainous (grandes montanas)], and at the end of that time they entered another province, called Guachoya. We shall recount the notable things that happened there in the next chapter, God willing.
CHAPTER IVTHE SPANIARDS ENTER GUACHOYA. IT IS TOLD HOW
HAVE PERPETUAL WARFARE WITH ONE ANOTHER
After passing through the uninhabited region, the first pueblo that the Spaniards saw in the province of Guachoya was the principal one, which had the same name. It was on the banks of the Great River, which our people were seeking. It was situated on two high hills close together, and had three hundred houses. Half of them were on one hill and half on the other. The level space between the two hills served as a plaza, and the cacique's house was on the higher one of the two.
There was great hatred and enmity between these two provinces of Guachoya and Anilco, and they waged a cruel war. Therefore the Guachoyas could not receive notice of the Spaniards' coming to their pueblo and thus they found them unprepared. But the cacique and his vassals got under arms as best they could to defend the pueblo. Seeing their adversaries' strength and that they could not resist it, they gathered at the Great River and crossed it in very handsome canoes they always had ready for such necessities, being a people with many enemies; taking with them their women, children, and all their possessions that they could carry, and they abandoned the pueblo.
The Castilians entered it, finding there plenty of food in the form of maize and other grains and fruits that the land produces in abundance. They were very pleasantly lodged there.
Because, as we have seen, nearly all the provinces the Spaniards traversed
were at war with one another, it will be well to tell here the kind of warfare that they waged. It must be known, then, that this was not a war of one power against another with armies drawn up and general engagements, except on very rare occasions. Nor was it a war of greed and ambition on the part of some lords to take away the states of others.
The warfare that they waged consisted of ambushes and stratagems, making surprise attacks on the fisheries, hunting grounds, cultivated fields, and roads, wherever they could find their adversaries off guard. Those whom they captured in such assaults were held as slaves, some in perpetual captivity with one foot disabled, as we have seen in some of the provinces, and others as prisoners for ransom, to be exchanged for others.
The enmity among them extended only to inflicting injury on their persons, with death or wounds or imprisonment, without attempting to take away one another's states, and if the war sometimes became general, it would lead to burning the pueblos and laying waste the fields. But as soon as the victors had done as much damage as they wished, they went back to their own country without attempting to take possession of that of others. It appears from this that the war and hostility that exist between them arise more from gallantry and the desire to show the valor and courage of their spirits, and to indulge in military pursuits, than from the desire for the property and territory of others.
The prisoners who are taken on both sides are ransomed easily, being exchanged for one another so that they can go back to their ambushes again. This kind of warfare has now become second nature to them and is the cause of their going about, wherever they may be, with their weapons constantly in readiness, because they are nowhere safe from their enemies. Having such constant practice in this continuous warfare gives them their bellicose nature and their skill with weapons, particularly with bows and arrows, which, since they are missile weapons that are effective at long range, they use more than any others, whether they are hunting men or animals.
The cacique did not carry on this warfare with only one of his neighbors, but with all those whose boundaries touched his, there being two, three, four, or more, all of whom were at war among themselves.
This certainly is a laudable exercise in the military arts, so that none shall be careless and each one can show his personal bravery. In general, this is the nature of the hostility among the Indians of the great kingdom of La Florida. This in itself would be an important reason why that land could be won easily, because "the whole kingdom divided, etc."
After the Spaniards had been in the pueblo Guachoya three days, its lord, who had the same name-having learned what had taken place between the Spaniards and the Indians of the province of Anilco and how that curaca had refused to receive the governor peacefully but on the other hand had disdained his friendship and messages and refused to answer them-did not wish to lose the occasion that he had in his hands for revenging himself on his enemies of Anilco. Being a clever man and full of cunning, he immediately sent a ceremonious embassy to the governor with four Indians who were leading nobles, and many other servants, who came laden with a great deal of fruit and fish. He sent word by them that he begged his lordship to pardon his inadvertence in not having awaited him and having received him in his pueblo, and asked permission to come and kiss his hands. If he should grant it, he would come within four days to greet him personally, and he offered him thenceforth his vassalage and service.
The governor was pleased with the embassy and replied to the messengers that they might tell their curaca that he was gratified by his good will and esteemed his friendship greatly; that he might come without any apprehensions, for he would be well received.
The messengers returned satisfied with this reply, and during the three days that the cacique delayed his arrival, he sent seven or eight messages every day. All contained the same terms, asking that his lordship send word of his health, and whether he could serve him in any way, and other trifling messages of no importance. Guachoya, being a cautious and astute man, sent these messages to see whether he could discover anything new by means of them, or how the adelantado took them.
Having seen that he received them in a friendly manner, he was reassured, and on the last of the four days he arrived, before dinner, as he had announced on the day before. He brought a hundred nobles with him, all very highly adorned after their custom with long plumes and handsome mantles of marten-skins and other very valuable pelts. They all carried the finest of their bows and arrows, which they make for gala occasions.
CHAPTER VHOW GUACHOYA VISITS THE GENERAL, AND BOTH GO
BACK AGAINST ANILCO
The governor, who was lodged in Guachoya's house, on learning that he was approaching, went as far as the door to receive him. He spoke very affectionately to the cacique and all his people, at which they were very f lattered and well satisfied. Then they entered a large sala that was in the house, and the general spoke with the curaca through the many interpreters, who [were] placed like the members of a chorus [como a tenoras]. He informed himself about the things in his country and in the neighboring provinces that were favorable and unfavorable to the conquest.
While this was going on, the cacique Guachoya gave a loud sneeze. The nobles who had come with him-who were standing around the walls of the Sala among the Spaniards who were present-bowing their heads, opening and closing their arms, and making other gestures of great veneration and respect, all saluted him together with various words that had the same meaning, saying, "May the Sun keep you, be with you, enlighten you, aggrandize you, protect you, favor you, defend you, prosper you, save you," and other such expressions, each one as the words came to him. For some time the murmur of these words continued among them. The governor wondered at it and said to the gentlemen and captains who were with him: "Do you not see how the whole world is alike?"
The Spaniards were much impressed by this incident, seeing that the same or even more elaborate formalities were observed among such a barbarous people when someone sneezed than were customary among people who considered themselves highly civilized. Thus it may be believed that this manner of salutation is natural among all peoples and was not caused by a pestilence, according to the common saying usually heard, though there is no lack of those who will affirm it.
The cacique ate with the governor, and his Indians stood all around the table, being unwilling to go and eat until their lord had finished though the Spaniards told them to do so. Our people also noted this incident. Later they gave them dinner in another apartment, for they had prepared food for
all of them.
They cleared one of the rooms in his own house to give the curaca lodgings, and he stayed there with a few servants. The Indian nobles went at sunset to the other side of the river and came back in the morning, and they did this throughout the time that the Castilians were in that pueblo.
Meanwhile the curaca Guachoya persuaded the governor to return to the province of Anilco, offering to go with his men to serve his lordship, and to facilitate the crossing of the Rio de Anilco he ordered eighty large canoes, besides other small ones, to be taken seven leagues down the Great River to the mouth of the Rio de Anilco, which entered the Great River. They would ascend it to the pueblo of Anilco. The whole route that the canoes would have to go by both rivers would be about twenty leagues of navigation. While the canoes were descending the Great River and ascending the Anilco they would go by land, so that they could all arrive together at the pueblo of Anilco at the same time.
The governor was easily persuaded to make this expedition because he wished to see what was in that province that would be of benefit and assistance to his plan of building the brigantines. He also desired to win the devotion of the curaca Anilco by peaceful and friendly methods, so that he could make his settlement and establishment in those two provinces without the hardships and labors of a war. It seemed to him that they had an abundance of food, and that he could await there the completion of the two brigantines that he intended to send down the river.
The governor's purpose in returning to the pueblo of Anilco was what we have seen, but that of the curaca Guachoya was very different, because he intended to avenge himself on his enemy Anilco with foreign help.
During the wars and continual strife that went on between them, the latter [Anilcoj had always kept him in a very ignominious and oppressed condition, and now on this occasion he was endeavoring to take satisfaction for all his past injuries.
Therefore he urged the governor with all possible dissimulation to return to the pueblo of Anilco and ordered with much solicitude and diligence that everything necessary for the journey be made ready.
As soon as all was prepared and they had brought the canoes, the governor ordered that Captain Juan de Guzman and his company go in them to direct and give orders to four thousand Indian warriors who were embarking in them, in addition to the oarsmen. The latter also carried their bows and arrows. They allowed them a period of three full days for their navigation, which seemed time enough for both parties to arrive and join one another at the pueblo of Anilco.
Captain Juan de Guzman set out with these orders down the Great River, and at the same hour the governor left by land with his Spaniards, and Guachoya with two thousand warriors, in addition to another great concourse of Indians who carried the provisions. Without anything of note happening to either party, they all arrived at the same time in sight of the pueblo of Anilco. Though the cacique was absent, its inhabitants sounded the alarm and stationed themselves to defend the crossing of the river with all possible spirit and courage. But they could not resist the fury of the enemy, who were both Indians and Spaniards, so they turned back and abandoned the
The Guachoyas entered it as a pueblo of such hated enemies, and being an affronted people who desired vengeance, they sacked and robbed the temple and burial place of the lords of that state, where, besides the bodies of his dead, the cacique kept his best and richest and most valued possessions, and the spoils and trophies of the greatest victories that he had won over the Guachoyas.
These consisted of numerous heads of the most important Indians that they had killed, placed on the points of lances at the doors of the temple, and many standards, and a large number of weapons that the Guachoyas had lost in the battles they had with the Anilcos.
They took the heads of their Indians down from the lances and put in their places others belonging to the Anilcos. They took away their military insignia and their arms with great satisfaction and joy at recovering them. They threw out on the ground the dead bodies that were in the wooden chests and trampled and kicked them with all the contempt they could show in revenge for their injuries
CHAPTER VITHE CRUELTIES OF THE GUACHOYAS CONTINUE, AND
HOW THE GOVERNOR
PLANS TO ASK FOR HELP
The Guachoyas' rage still not being appeased with what they had done to the property and the dead of Anilco, nor satisfied with the restoration of their standards and arms, their wrath carried them on to other, worse things. They refused to capture alive any person that they found in the pueblo, regardless of sex or age, but killed them all, and they inflicted the greatest cruelties on those most deserving of mercy, such as old women, already in extreme senility, and infants. The stripped the old women of the little clothing they were wearing and killed them with arrows, shooting at the pudenda in preference to other parts of their bodies. The infants, no matter
how small, they grasped by one foot, raised them up, and five or six marksmen or whatever number happened to be present would shoot at them in the air, before they fell to the ground.
With these cruelties and such others as they could commit without the Spaniards seeing them, the Guachoyas showed the hatred and rancor that they felt, as an affronted people, toward the Anilcos. When some of the Castilians saw these things, the Indians, having been unable to conceal [their hatred] as well as they desired, immediately notified the governor of them. He was very angered at their having so injured those of Anilco, since his intention had not been to do them harm or damage, but to win their friendship.
So that the Guachoyas' cruelty should not go further, he ordered the assembly to be sounded at once, and he rebuked the cacique for what his Indians had done. In order to make sure that no further damage would be done, he ordered a decree issued to the effect that on penalty of death no one should dare to set fire to the houses or harm the Indians, and to prevent the Guachoyas from ignoring the decree, he directed the interpreters to announce it in their own language. Because he feared that they would still do as much damage as they could, eluding the Spaniards, he left the pueblo of Anilco as rapidly as possible and went to the river, having ordered the Castilians to send the Indians on ahead of them so that they would not stay to burn the pueblo and kill the people who had hidden themselves in it.
These measures remedied the evil somewhat and prevented its being as great as it might have been. The general embarked with all his men, both Spaniards and Indians, and crossed the river to return to Guachoya.
But they had not traveled a quarter of a league when they saw smoke in the pueblo and many of the houses bursting into flames. The reason was that the Guachoyas, unable to resist burning the pueblo, now that they had been forbidden to set fire to it openly, had attempted to burn it in the best way they could. Thus they left burning sticks under the eaves of the houses, and as they were made of straw and had become dry as tinder during the summer, they needed little wind to burst into flames.
The governor wished to return to the pueblo to prevent its being entirely consumed, but at that moment he saw many of its Indian inhabitants running as quickly as they could to extinguish the fire, and thereupon he left it and continued on his way to the pueblo of Guachoya, concealing his anger in order not to lose the friends he had for the sake of those he could not gain.
Having arrived in the pueblo and settled down there with his army, he left all other affairs to the field officers and devoted himself to the business of building the brigantines. He thought about and worked on them day and night. He ordered the necessary timber to be cut, there being an abundance of it in that province. He collected all the ropes and cords that could be found in the pueblo and its vicinity for rigging. He ordered the Indians to bring him all the resin and gum from pine, plum, and other trees that they could find in that country. He directed that many more nails be made and that those which had been used in constructing the other pirogues and barks be prepared for use.
In his own mind he had already chosen the captains and soldiers whom he regarded as his most loyal friends, upon whom he could depend, to go back in the brigantines when he should send them to request the assistance for which he intended to ask.
When the time should come to send the brigantines, he had determined to cross to the other side of the Great River to a large province called Quigualtanqui. He had learned from certain scouts whom he had sent out, both cavalry and infantry, that it had an abundance of food and was well populated. Its principal pueblo was near the pueblo of Guachoya, with the river between them, and it contained more than five hundred houses. Its lord and cacique, who was also called Quigualtanqui, had replied unfavorably to the messages that the governor had sent him requesting peace and offering his friendship, having uttered very disrespectfully many insults and vituperations and made fierce threats and menaces, saying that he would kill them all
in one battle, as they would see very soon, and put a stop to the evil lives they were leading, lost in foreign lands, robbing and killing like highwaymen and vagabonds, and he uttered other offensive words. He had sworn by the Sun and the Moon not to make friends with them as the other curacas had done through whose lands they had passed, but he would kill them and hang them from the trees.
At this point Alonso de Carmona says the following:
"Shortly before the governor died he ordered all the canoes in that pueblo to be collected. They joined the best ones together two by two and put horses in them, and they put men in the rest and crossed to the other side of the river. There they found very large settlements, though the people had risen up and fled, and thus they returned, without doing anything. The chief men of that country having seen this, they sent a messenger to the governor warning him not to dare to send Spaniards to their lands again, because none of them would come back alive, and saying that he could thank his good reputation and the good treatment that he had given the Indians of the province where he then was, that his people had not gone out to kill all the Spaniards who had passed to his territory. If he had any intentions with regard to his country, he would meet him with equal numbers and let him understand the lack of civility and
prudence he had shown in having sent scouting parties into his territory; he was not to do so again, or he swore by his gods to kill him and all his people or die in the attempt."
All these are Alonso de Carmona's words, which we have copied literally, since they are almost the same as those we have spoken concerning Quigualtanqui.
The governor had always replied very reasonably and amiably to these insults, requesting peace and friendship, and though it is true that because of the general's great courtesy Quigualtanqui had exchanged his ill words for good ones, giving signs of peace and concord, it was always understood that he was false and deceitful and only wished to take the Spaniards off guard. The governor knew through his spies that he was plotting treason and evil and summoning his people and those from the neighboring provinces against the Christians, to kill them treacherously under guise of friendship. The general knew all this and bided his time to punish it when the occasion arose. He still had 150 horses and five hundred Spaniards, with whom, after he had dispatched the brigantines, he intended to cross the Great River and establish himself in the principal pueblo of Quigualtanqui, spending the present summer and coming winter there, until he should receive the aid that he intended to ask for. It could be sent to him very easily from the whole coast and city of Mexico, and from the islands of Cuba and Santo Domingo, ascending by way of the Great River, which was large enough for all the ships that might wish to ascend it, as we shall see below.
CHAPTER VIIWHEREIN THE GOVERNOR'S DEATH IS RECOUNTED,
AND THE SUCCESSOR WHOM HE NAMED
This heroic gentleman was absorbed day and night in the cares and endeavors that we have described, desiring like a good father that the many hardships he and his men had suffered in that discovery and the great expenditures he had made for it might not be lost without producing any result.
Then on the twentieth day of June of the year 1542 he felt a slight fever, which was slow on the first day and extremely severe on the third. The governor, seeing its excessive increase, understood that his illness was mortal. Thus he immediately prepared for death, and as a Catholic Christian made his will, almost in cipher, because there was not a sufficient supply of paper. With grief and repentance for having offended God, he confessed his sins.
He named as his successor in the office of governor and captain-general of the kingdom and provinces of La Florida, Luis de Moscoso de Alvarado, whom he had removed from the office of maese de campo in the province of Chicaca. In this auto he ordered summoned to his presence the gentlemen, captains, and most important soldiers, and in the name of his Imperial Majesty he ordered them, and in his own name he begged and charged them, that in view of the rank, virtue, and merits of Luis de Moscoso they accept him as their governor and captain-general until his Majesty should send new orders, and he received their solemn oaths that they would do so.
This done, he summoned the nobles in the army by twos and threes, and after them he ordered that all the other men enter in groups of twenty, and he took leave of all of them with much sadness on his part and many tears on theirs. He charged them with the conversion of those natives to the Catholic faith, and with the increase of the Crown of Spain, saying that death had stopped him in the attainment of those desires. He requested very affectionately that they maintain peace and love among themselves.
He spent five days in these affairs while the severe fever continued, always increasing, until the seventh day, when it deprived him of this present life. He died like a Catholic Christian, asking mercy of the Most Holy Trinity and invoking on his behalf and favor the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, the intercession of the Virgin and all the Celestial Court, and the faith of the Roman church.
With these words, repeated many times, this magnanimous and unconquered gentleman gave up his soul to God. He was worthy of great estates and seigniories and did not deserve chat his history should be written by an Indian. He died at the age of forty-two.
As we said at the beginning, the adelantado Hernando de Soto was a native of Villanueva de Barcarrota, an hidalgo through all four lines, His Caesarean Majesty, having been informed of this fact, had sent him the habit of Santiago, but he did not enjoy this favor because when the cedula reached the island of Cuba the governor had already entered upon the discovery and conquest of La Florida.
He was of more than medium stature, of good presence, and appeared well both on foot and on horseback. His face was animated and of dark complexion, and he was skillful in riding both a la jineta and a la brida [the two different schools of horsemanship then followed], but more so in the f irst. He was extremely patient in hardships and necessities, to such an extent that the greatest comfort his soldiers had in the midst of them was the sight of their captain-general's patience and endurance.
He was successful in the private exploits that he undertook personally, though in the principal one he was not so, for he expired at the critical moment.
He was the first Spaniard who saw and spoke with Atahuallpa, the tyrant king and the last of those of El Peru, as we shall tell in the history of the discovery and conquest of that empire itself if God, our Lord, is pleased to extend our life, which is now becoming very feeble and weary.
He was severe in punishing military derelictions; the rest he pardoned readily. He honored greatly the soldiers who were virtuous and brave. He was extremely courageous in his own person, to such a degree that wherever he chose to enter a general engagement, fighting, he left behind him place and room for ten of his men to pass, and thus all of them admitted that any ten lances in his army were not equal to his alone.
One notable circumstance concerning this brave captain in warfare, which ought to be remembered, is that when the enemy attacked his camp by day he was always the first or the second to come out armed, and never the third; and in the attacks they made by night he was never the second, but always the first. It seemed that, after having prepared to go out with his arms, he himself ordered the signal given. In time of war he was constantly as prompt and vigilant as this. In short, he was one of the best lancers who have passed to the New World. There were few as good and none better unless it was Gonzalo Pizarro, who by common consent was always given
the honor of the first place.
He spent more than 100,000 ducats in this discovery, which he gained in the first conquest of El Peru from the apportionments of Casamarca, from the rich spoil that the Spaniards had there. He also spent his life and perished in the attempt, as we have seen.
CHAPTER VIIITWO BURIALS THAT THEY GAVE THE ADELANTADO
HERNANDO DE SOTO
The most lamentable death of the governor and captain-general Hernando de Soto inspired great grief and sadness in all his men because of having lost him and because of the bereavement those who regarded him as father suffered, and because they were unable to give him the sepulcher his body deserved or to accord him the honor of funeral rites such as they would have desired to give such a beloved captain and lord.
Their sadness and grief were doubled by the knowledge that they were forced to bury him in silence and secret rather than in public, so that the Indians would not know where he rested. They feared that they would commit such indignities and affronts on his body as they had done in the case of other Spaniards, whom they had disinterred, cut in pieces, and hung in the trees, each joint on a separate limb. It was probable that they would commit even greater affronts and insults on the governor's body, he being the principal leader of the Spaniards, in order to offend them more. Our people said that, inasmuch as he had not received such insults in life, there was no reason why he should receive them in death through their negligence.
Therefore they decided to bury him at night with sentries posted so that the Indians would not know where he was. They chose for a sepulcher one of the many large and broad pits that were on a plain near the pueblo. The Indians had taken earth from these for their buildings. In one of them they interred the famous adelantado Hernando de Soto, with many tears on the part of the priests and gentlemen who attended his sad obsequies.
On the following day, for the purpose of concealing the place where the body was and dissembling their own sadness, they spread the news among the Indians that the governor's health was improved, and to carry out this f iction they mounted their horses and made signs of great celebration and rejoicing, running them across the plain and going at a gallop among the pits and across the grave itself, things much at variance with and contradictory to the feelings in their hearts. While desiring to place him whom they loved and esteemed so much in the mausoleum or obelisk of Julius Caesar, they themselves trod upon him, to their own greater grief, but they did it to prevent the Indians from committing other, greater indignities upon him. So that the
marks of the grave would be entirely destroyed, they had not been content to have the horses tread upon it, but before these celebrations they had ordered a great deal of water to be sprinkled over the plain and the pits under pretext of preventing the horses from raising a dust when they ran over them.
The Spaniards took all these steps to deceive the Indians and conceal their own grief and sorrow, but inasmuch as it is difficult to feign pleasure and dissimulate grief so that he who feels them may not be discerned at a distance, our people could not do so to such an extent that the Indians did not suspect both the death of the governor and the place where they had put him. Walking over the plain and among the pits they went slowly and examined everything attentively. They talked among themselves and nodded their heads and winked their eyes in the direction of the place where the body was.
Since the Spaniards saw and noted these gestures, which increased their first fears and suspicions, they agreed to take the body away from that place and put it in another sepulcher that would be more difficult for the Indians to find if they should look for it. For they said that should the heathen suspect that the governor lay there they would dig up that whole plain to its center and would not stop until they had found him. Therefore it seemed to them that it would be a good thing to give him the Great River for a sepulcher, and before doing so, they wished to see how deep the river was and whether it was sufficient to conceal the body.
The accountant Juan de Aiiasco and Captains Juan de Guzman, Arias Tinoco, Alonso Romo de Cardenosa, and Diego Arias, the alferez general of the army, undertook to examine the river. Taking with them a Biscayan, named loanes de Abbadia, a seaman and a good engineer, they sounded it one afternoon, concealing their purpose as well as possible by making signs as if they were fishing and enjoying themselves on the river so that the Indians would not suspect them. They found that in midchannel it was nineteen fathoms deep and a quarter of a league in breadth. Seeing this, the Spaniards decided to inter the governor there, and inasmuch as there was no stone in the whole region with which to weight the body so that it would go to the bottom, they cut down a very thick oak tree and hollowed out on one side a space equal to the height of a man, into which they could put the body. On the following night they disinterred it as silently as possible and put it into the cut section of the oak tree with planks nailed over the body on the other side, and thus it was as if in a coffin. With many tears and much grief on the part of the priests and gentlemen who attended this second interment, they cast it into the middle of the river's current, commending his soul to God, and they saw it sink immediately to the bottom.
Such were the sad and doleful rites that our Spaniards performed over the body of the adelantado Hernando de Soto, their captain-general and governor of the kingdoms and provinces of La Florida. They were unworthy of such a heroic man, though upon examination they are found to be similar in almost all respects to those which the Goths, the Spaniards' predecessors, accorded t, 13 r years before to their king Alaric in the province of Calabria in Italy, in the river Busento near the city of Cosenza.
I say similar in almost every respect because these Spaniards are descendams of those Goths, and both sepulchers were rivers, and the deceased were the leaders and commanders of their people and much beloved by them. Both were most valiant men who performed great exploits in foreign kingdoms, having left their own lands seeking a place to settle and make
Even the intentions of the two peoples were the same, being to inter their captains where their bodies could not be found, though their enemies might seek them. They differ only in that the rites performed by these arose from piety and fear that the Indians would mistreat the body of their captain-general, and those of the others were born out of presumption and vainglory that they wished to show to the world for the honor and majesty of their king. So that this similarity may be better seen it will be well to give an account here of the burial the Goths gave their king Alaric for the benefit of those who do not know of it.
That fatuous prince-having performed innumerable exploits throughout the world with his men, and having sacked the imperial city of Rome, the first sack that it had experienced in the course of its empire and monarchy, 1,162 years after its foundation and 412 after the virginal delivery of Our Lady - wished to go to Sicily. Having been in Reggio and attempted the crossing, he went back to Cosenza, forced to do so by a very rough sea, where he died within a few days. His Goths, who loved him devotedly, celebrated his funeral rites with many and excessive honors and grandeurs. Among others they invented one that was most impressive and admirable, which was that they ordered the many captives who were with them to divert and turn the river Busento from its bed, and in the middle of its channel they erected an elaborate sepulcher. In it they placed the body of their king, with an infinity of treasure (these are the words of Colenucio, and aside from him all the ancient and modern historians, Spaniards and others, who write of those times say the same thing), and having closed the sepulcher, they ordered that the river be turned back into its old channel. They killed all the captives who had labored in this work so that they would never tell where King Alaric rested.
It seems to me that this history belongs here because of its great similarity to ours, and in order to note that the nobility of these our Spaniards and that which exists today throughout Spain undoubtedly comes from those Goths, because no other nation has entered after them except the Arabs from Barbary when they conquered it in the time of the king Don Rodrigo. But the few remnants of these same Goths who survived drove them little by little out of all Spain and settled it as it is today. Even the descent of the kings of Castilla comes directly from those Gothic kings, whose notable antiquity and majesty gives them an advantage over all the kings of the earth.
All that we have said about the will, death, and funeral rites of the adelan-
tado Hernando de Soto, Alonso de Carmona and Juan Coles tell in exactly
the same way in their accounts. Both add that when the Indians did not see
the governor they asked for him, and that the Christians replied to them that
God had sent to summon him to order him to do great things as soon as he
should return; and that they put off the Indians with these words, which all
of them said.
END - FIRST PART OF THE FIFTH BOOK