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      



Florida of the Inca

Garcilaso de la Vega, el Inca 1539-1616

SIXTH BOOK (con't)




As we said, the Spaniards spent three days in repairing their caravels and in recovering their own strength, their chief need being for sleep, as they were very fatigued. On the last day, after noon, they saw seven canoes emerge from among some rushes and come toward them. In the first one came an Indian as large as a Philistine and as black as an Ethiopian, very different in color and appearance from those that they had left in the interior.

The reason why the coast Indians are so black is because they constantly go about in the salt water fishing, for because of the sterility of the country they depend upon fishing for their subsistence. The heat of the sun also helps to make them black, as it is more intense on the coast than in the interior. Standing in the bow of his canoe, the Indian said to the Castilians in a gruff and haughty voice: "Thieves, vagabonds, idlers without honor or shame, who go along this shore disturbing its natives, you are to leave this place immediately by one of those two mouths of this river, if you do not want me to kill all of you and burn your boats. See that I do not find you here tonight, or not a man of you will escape with his life."

They could understand what the Indian said by the gestures that he made with his arms and his body, pointing to the two mouths of the Rio Grande that the island formed, which we said was ahead of them, and by many words that the Spaniards' Indian servants explained. Having said this, he went back into the rushes without waiting for a reply.

Here Juan Coles adds the following words that the Indian spoke, besides those already given: "If we had large canoes like yours (he meant the ships), we would follow you to your country and take it, for we also are men like you."

The Spaniards, having considered the Indian's words and the arrogance that he had shown in them and in his appearance, and seeing that canoes appeared from time to time among the rushes and then went back, as if they were in ambush, agreed that it would be a good thing to make the Indians understand that they were not afraid of them, so that they would not be encouraged to come and shoot arrows at them and set fire to the caravels. They could do this better at night than in the daytime, being a people who were well acquainted with the sea and the land thereabouts and who could attack and run away safely, while the Castilians were ignorant of it.

Having so decided, a hundred men entered the five canoes that remained for the service of the brigantines, and, taking Gonzalo Silvestre and Alvaro Nieto as commanders, they went in search of the Indians. They found large numbers of them behind some rushes, ready with more than sixty small canoes that they had brought together against our men.

The latter, although they saw so many Indians and canoes, were not dismayed, but on the contrary they engaged them with all good spirit and courage. By good fortune they capsized three canoes in the first encounter, wounded many Indians, and killed ten or twelve, because they carried twenty-two crossbowmen and three archers. One of these was a Spaniard who had lived in England from infancy to the age of twenty years, and the other was a native Englishman. Being skillful with the weapons of that kingdom and expert in the use of bows and arrows, they had been unwilling to use any other arms except these throughout the discovery, and thus they were carrying them on this occasion. The other archer was an Indian who had been the servant of Captain Juan de Guzman, having been captured soon after he entered La Florida. He had become so fond of his master and of the Spaniards that he always fought with his bow and arrows as one of them against his own people.

With the skill and dexterity of the marksmen and with the courage of the whole party, they scattered the enemy canoes and made them run away. But our men did not come out of the battle so well that most of them were not wounded, the two captains among them. One Spaniard was wounded by a weapon that the Castilians in the Indies call a long arrow [tiradera], which we shall call more accurately a dart [bohordo] because it is shot with a strip [amiento] of wood or a cord. The Spaniards had not seen this weapon in all the places they had been in La Florida until that day. In El Peru the Indians use it a great deal. It is a weapon a fathom long made of a firm rush, though spongy in the center, of which they also make arrows. They make heads for them of deer horn, fashioned in all perfection with four points or harpoons of palm or other wood that they have, as strong and heavy as iron. So that the part of the arrow or dart made of the rush will not be split by the barb when it hits its mark, they make a knot where the head or harpoon joins it, and another one at the other end, which the crossbowmen call batalla on their darts, where it receives the cord of the bow or the stock with which they shoot it. The stock is of wood two tercias long, and they shoot the dart with it with extreme force, so that it has been known to pass through a man armed in a coat of mail. The Spaniards in El Peru feared this weapon more than any other the Indians had, for their arrows were not so terrible as those of La Florida.

The dart or long arrow with which they wounded our Spaniard of whom we were speaking had three barbs in the place of one, similar to the three largest fingers of the hand. The barb in the center was a handbreadth longer than the two on the sides, and thus it went through the thigh from one side to the other. The two side barbs were lodged in the middle of the thigh, and in order to get them out, it was necessary to cut away a great deal of flesh from the poor Spaniard's leg, because they were harpoons and not smooth points. The butchery was such that he expired before they dressed his wound, the poor fellow not knowing whether to complain more of the enemy who had wounded him or of the friends who had hastened his death.



Since we have not yet left the Rio Grande, whose canoes we have described at length in the past chapters, it will be well to tell here of the dexterity and skill that the natives of the whole country of La Florida show in righting a canoe when it is turned bottom up in naval battles or in their fishing or in some other manner; we neglected to note this in the proper place. In such cases, since they are most expert swimmers, they take it between twelve or thirteen Indians, more or less, according to the size of the canoe, and again set it right side up. As it comes up full of water, all the Indians together tilt the canoe to one side, the water thus beginning to run out in that direction, and then they quickly tilt it to the opposite side, thus throwing the water out, so that after two such movements not a drop of water remains in the canoe, and the Indians again get into it. They do all this so quickly and easily that the canoe has scarcely capsized when they have it righted again. Our men admired this skill greatly, for however they tried they never managed to imitate it.

While the hundred Spaniards went in the canoes to fight the Indians, those who remained loaded the caravels with the things that they had taken out of them. They could do so without the aid of the canoes because the brigantines were tied up to the driftwood that we said formed an island, which made no other movement except to rise and fall with the motion of the sea.

The Spaniards who had gone to the fight came back to their people victorious, having driven the enemy out of the rushes, but fearing that they might return at night and set fire to them or do some other damage, they all embarked in the caravels and went to the uninhabited island at the mouth of the Rio Grande. They anchored and went ashore, and walked over all of it, but found nothing remarkable there.

That night they slept in the anchored caravels, and at daylight they decided to set sail and go toward the west in the direction of the coast of Mexico, always keeping the mainland of La Florida to their right, not drawing away from it. When they hoisted the anchors one of the cables broke; as it had been repaired in many places, very little was needed to break it. The anchor was lost, as they had not thrown out a buoy, and since it was so necessary to them, they did not wish to go without it. The best swimmers among them went into the water, but all their efforts to find it were of no avail until three o'clock in the afternoon, when they found it at the end of nine or ten hours of diving.


At that hour they set sail. They did not dare go out into the gulf because they did not know where they were or in what direction to sail in order to cross to the islands of Santo Domingo or Cuba, as they had no sailing chart or compass or astrolabe with which to take the altitude of the sun, nor a forestaff for finding that of the north star. They only knew that by constantly following the coast toward the west they must eventually reach the coast and territory of Mexico. With this purpose they navigated all that evening and the following night, and until nearly sunset of the second day. In all that distance they found fresh water from the Rio Grande, and our people were amazed that it should be found so far out at sea.

At this point Alonso de Carmona says the following, which is copied literally: "Thus we navigated, following the coast more or less closely, for the Indians had burned our instruments of navigation, or we ourselves had done so, when we set fire to Maubila. Captain Juan de Anasco was a very careful man and he had recovered the astrolabe and kept it. As it was of metal it had not been much damaged. He made a sailing chart on a piece of deerskin and fashioned a forestaff from a ruler, and we set course by it. The mariners and others with them who knew that he was not a seaman and had never been at sea in his life until he embarked for this journey ridiculed him, and when he learned how they were jeering at him he threw all the instruments except the astrolabe into the sea. Another brigantine that was coming behind picked them up because the chart and the forestaff were fastened together. Thus we traveled, or rather navigated, seven or eight days, when we took shelter from a storm in a cove." Thus far Alonso de Carmona.


Our Castilians navigated fifteen days more with good weather for their voyage, without anything of note happening except that during these fifteen days they went ashore five times to get water. They had no large vessels in which to carry it, only small jars and pitchers that were soon emptied. This was one of the chief causes, along with the lack of navigating nstruments, for their not having dared to cross to the islands or to separate themselves from the mainland, because they needed water every three days.

When they found no river or spring from which to take it they dug in the ground ten or twelve paces from the sea and found at a depth of less than a vara a plentiful supply of fresh water. Thus they were never without water throughout their voyage.

Matagorda Bay

At the end of the fifteen days of navigation they reached a place where there were four or five islets not far from the mainland, where they found innumerable waterfowl. These bred there and had their nests on the ground, and they were so numerous and so close together that our men could not find a place to set foot. When they returned to the brigantines they were loaded down with eggs and with fledglings, which were so fat that they could not eat them. Both they and the eggs tasted very much like fish.

On the following day they anchored to take water on a very pleasant beach that was clear of rushes, there being on it only many large trees separated from one another, which formed a beautiful open forest without shrubs or any kind of undergrowth.

Some of the Spaniards went ashore to gather shellfish on the beach, and they found there some slabs of black bitumen almost like pitch, which the sea washed up among its refuse. It might have come from some fountain of that liquid that entered the sea or had its origin in it. The slabs weighed eight, ten, twelve, or fourteen pounds, and there were large numbers of them.

The Castilians, seeing this assistance that good fortune offered them in their necessity-because the caravels were already leaking, and they feared that they would continue to do so increasingly until they foundered, and as they did not know how much more navigation was before them or have any other hope of reaching Christian lands except by means of the brigantines decided to repair them, since they had the means and a good beach where they could bring them ashore.

With this purpose they spent eight days at that place, and every day they unloaded a brigantine and pulled it ashore by main strength, pitched it, and launched it in the water again in the evening. To soften the bitumen, which was dry, they used the fat from the little bacon that they were bringing to eat, thinking it better to use it on the boats than for their own subsistence, for they knew that they would be the means of saving their lives.



In the eight days that our people occupied in careening their boats, on three different occasions eight Indians came up to them, advancing peace fully, and gave them ears of maize or Indian corn of which they brought a large quantity, and the Spaniards gave them in return some of the deerskins that they had with them. Notwithstanding all these friendly exchanges between them, the Spaniards did not ask them what land that was, or the name of the province, for they had no other desire except to reach the territory of Mexico; thus it is impossible for us to know what region that might have been. All three times the Indians came with their bows and arrows and showed themselves to be very friendly, and they were always the same ones.

After the eight days that they spent in pitching the caravels, our Castilians left that pleasant shore and beach and continued on their voyage, always taking care to go from one point of land to another (i.e. the Rio Grande's eastward point), so that a north wind, such as those that blow very furiously at times on that coast, would not carry them to the high seas. They also did this because, as we have seen, they had to take water every three days.


Where they found a good place they busied themselves in fishing, for after they had repaired the caravels and used up their bacon they had nothing else to eat except maize. Forced by necessity, some of them fished in the water with their hooks, and others went ashore to hunt for shellfish, and they always brought back a good supply. Also they were obliged to rest from their hard labor at the oars by fishing, because whenever the sea would permit, all those who were in the caravels, except the captains, took turns at them. They spent twelve or thirteen days from time to time in fishing, for wherever they found a good supply they stayed two or three days. In this manner these Spaniards sailed many leagues (but we cannot say how many), with great eagerness to sight the Rio de Palmas, which in view of the distance they had sailed it seemed to them could not be far away. Those who prided themselves on being cosmographers and expert mariners held out and affirmed this hope, but as a matter of fact the wisest among them did not know in what sea or what region they were navigating, except that it seemed undeniably true to them that by continuing their voyage from one cape to another they would reach the lands of Mexico, unless the sea should devour them. This certainty was what gave them strength to suffer and endure the excessive hardships that they experienced.

Fifty-three days had passed since our Spaniards had left the Rio Grande (the Mississippi River) and entered the sea. They spent thirty of them in navigation and twenty three in repairing the brigantines and in resting while they fished. On the last day (before reaching their destination, the River of Panico) the north wind rose after noon with the ferocity and force with which it blows on that coast, more than in any other place, and it blew them out to sea, which was what they had always feared.

Five of the caravels that were proceeding together, the governor's being among them, had seen the storm coming, and before it arrived they drew near the shore, and thus they navigated with their oars touching it, looking for a shelter where they could protect themselves from the bad weather. The other two caravels, which were those of the treasurer Juan Gaytan who had remained the sole captain of it after the death of the good Juan de Guzman, and of Captains Juan de Alvarado and Cristobal Mosquera, which had not observed the weather as closely as the other five, were some distance from the shore. Because of this carelessness they passed that whole night [in] a fierce storm, the force of the wind increasing hourly, so that they went with the Creed on their lips. The treasurer's caravel was in greater danger than the other, because a gust of wind displaced the mainmast and it came out of a wooden mortar in the keel in which it was encased, and they put it back in only with much labor and difficulty. Thus the two caravels struggled all night, forcing their way against the storm, so as not to get out of sight of land. At dawn (our people thought the wind would fall when daylight came) it blew even more furiously and strongly, and kept them on the point of drowning without its force abating, until noon. At this hour the two caravels saw that the other five were ascending a creek or river and had now reached a safe place, free from that storm in which they were found. Thereupon they persisted anew in trying to go against the wind to see whether they could reach the place where the others were. But in spite of their efforts they could not do it because the wind blew directly against them and was extremely strong, so that all their attempts to reach the river failed. On the other hand their persistence placed them in greater danger, for the caravels were often on the point of capsizing, but still with all this they struggled against the storm until three o'clock in the afternoon. Seeing that their labors were not only useless but that their peril was increasing, they agreed that it would be less dangerous to allow themselves to run forward along the coast where they might find some help.

Having so decided, they steered the boats toward the west and sailed with a side wind, it not having abated for them at all.

Our Spaniards went without any clothing except trousers, because so much water from the waves fell on the caravels that it kept them half drowned. Some worked to trim the sails, and others to bail out the water, for, as the brigantines had no decks, all that the waves washed in remained, and our men walked in it thigh-deep.



The two caravels ran through the storm for twenty-five or twenty-six hours, as we have said, without its abating in the least; on the contrary it seemed to those who were in it to be increasing hourly. All this time our Spaniards were battling the waves and the wind without sleeping or eating a mouthful, for the fear of death, which was so close to them, drove away hunger and sleep. Nearly at sunset they sighted land ahead, which was found to be of two kinds.

That which was seen ahead and extending to the right of the direction in which our people were going was a white coast that appeared to be of sand, because with the hard wind that was blowing they saw many hillocks of it moving easily and rapidly from one place to another. The coast that extended to their left appeared to be as black as pitch. At this moment a youth named Francisco, twenty years old, who was in the caravel of Captains Juan de Alvarado and Francisco Mosquera, said to them: "Sirs, I know this coast, for I have navigated along it twice while serving as cabin boy on a ship, though I do not know the land, nor whose it is. That black coast that appears on our left is a land of flint and a rough coast that extends a long way until it reaches La Vera Cruz. There is no port on the whole of it nor any haven where we can take shelter; there are only broken cliffs and flint promontories where, if we are cast ashore, we shall all die, pounded to pieces between the waves and the rocks.

"The other land that is ahead extending to the right is a sandy coast and therefore appears white. It is all clear and smooth and thus it will be well for us to endeavor to reach this white coast before night comes on, because if the wind separates us from it and casts us on the black coast we have no hope left of escaping alive."

Captains Juan de Alvarado and Francisco Mosquera ordered that notice be given immediately to Captain Juan Gaytin's caravel of the information given by the youth Francisco, so as to warn them against the impending danger, but the waves were so high that they would not permit those of the two caravels talking to or even seeing each other. They made themselves understood as well as they could by signs, however, and by shouts given at intervals now and again as the caravels happened to come in sight over the waves so that they could see and talk with one another. They agreed by common consent to run ashore on the white coast. Only the treasurer Juan Gaytan, acting in his capacity as treasurer rather than as captain, opposed it, saying that it was not well to lose the caravel, which was valuable. At his words, the soldiers rose up and said all together: "What more do you have in it than any one of us? On the contrary you have less, or nothing at all, for presuming on your position as the emperor's treasurer you would not cut the wood or dress it, or make charcoal for the forges, or help there to beat the iron into nails, or work at the caulking, or at anything else of importance. You evaded all the labor that we endured under pretext of your royal office. This being so, what will you lose if the caravel is lost? Will it be better to lose the fifty men that are in it?" And there was not lacking someone who said, "It is a pity that he who gave you this stab in the neck did not cut it all the way across!"

Having spoken thus very freely, in order to prevent any reply being made or the captain presuming to give orders at that juncture, the chief soldiers busied themselves in trimming the sails, and a Portuguese named Domingos de Acosta grasped the rudder or helm, and they all turned the prow of the boat toward the shore. They made ready with their swords and shields for whatever they might find there, and tacking from side to side so as not to fall upon the black coast, they made the white coast with much danger and labor a little before the sun went down.

Because we mentioned the sword-wound of the treasurer Juan Gaytan, it will be well, though it has nothing to do with our History to tell here how the incident happened. For this purpose it must be known that our Juan Gaytan was the nephew of the captain Juan Gaytan who, because of the marvelous exploits he performed in all parts with his sword and cape, won renown for his excellence in the proverb, "The sword and cape of Juan Gaytan." This one, his nephew, took part in the war in Tunis when our lord the emperor took it from the Turk Barbarossa in the year 153 5 and gave it to the Moor Muley Hacen, who was his friend. In a quarrel over the division of the spoils Juan Gaytan had taken in that sack, he exchanged thrusts with another Spanish soldier whose sword must not have been inferior to that of his uncle. This man gave him a deep wound in the neck from which he nearly died. Finally he recovered, but he was left with a scar two finger-breadths deep. One of those who came up to pacify the quarrel reproached the one who had wounded him, saying that he had done ill in so mistreating the nephew of Captain Juan Gaytan; that he ought to have respected him because of his uncle's reputation. The soldier, unrepentant for his action, replied: "It is too bad that he was not the nephew of the king of France; I would have taken even more pleasure in having wounded or killed him, because it would have meant so much more honor and fame for me." The treasurer Juan Gaytan himself told this as a witty saying of the person who had wounded him.



Returning to our story, it happened that Captain Juan Gaytan, feeling that the caravel had touched bottom, either because of his anger at the opposition the soldiers had made to him, or because he thought he knew from experience that in such situations it was less dangerous to enter the water by way of the stern rather than any other part of the boat, threw himself from it into the water. On coming up, his back struck against the rudder, and as he wore no clothes, he was badly hurt and wounded. All the rest of the soldiers stayed aboard the caravel. The first time it struck the shore, since the waves were so large, it was left more than ten paces beyond the water when they receded back to the sea. But when the waves returned to the combat they turned it on its side.

Those who were on it at once jumped into the water, as they wore no clothing to prevent their moving about in it. Some went on one side and others on the other to right the caravel and turn it so that the force of the waves would not sink it. Others busied themselves in unloading the maize and taking out the cargo. Others carried this ashore. With such activity they had it entirely unloaded within a very short time, and as it was now light they easily got it ashore, aided by the blows of the waves against it. They lifted it almost entirely from the ground and shored it so as to be able to launch it again if it should be necessary.

The same thing that happened to the caravel of the treasurer Juan Gaytan occurred also in that of Captains Juan de Alvarado and Cristobal Mosquera, which was grounded at a distance of about two harquebus-shots from the other one. Its company unloaded it with the same rapidity and diligence and brought it ashore. The captains and soldiers, finding themselves free of the storm and the perils of the sea, immediately sent to visit one another to find out what had happened during their shipwreck. The messengers started out at the same moment, as if by agreement, and they met in the middle of the road. Exchanging their messages, questions, and replies, they both returned to their companions with a good report of everything. At this both parties rejoiced greatly and gave thanks to God for having saved them from so much hardship and danger. But not knowing what had happened to the governor and the rest of their companions gave them new cause for anxiety and care, for it is characteristic of human nature that we have scarcely emerged from one misery when we find ourselves in another.

To discuss what they ought to do in that necessity, the three captains and the chief soldiers of both caravels met at once, and all of them agreed that it would be well for some diligent soldier to go immediately that night to find out about the governor and the caravels that they had seen ascending that creek or river, and tell him what had happened to the two brigantines. But considering the excessive labors that they had undergone during the storm, and that for more than twenty-eight hours since it began they had not eaten or slept, and that since coming out of the sea they still had not rested even half an hour, they did not dare name anyone to go. For it seemed to them a great cruelty to choose him for further labor, and no less reckless to send him when he [would be] in such manifest danger of perishing on the way, because on that same night he would have to travel thirteen or fourteen leagues that apparently lay between them and the place where they had seen the caravels going inland. He would have to go through an unknown country, ignorant of whether there were other rivers or creeks on the road or whether it was safe from enemies, because, as has been said, they did not know in what region they were.

The confusion of our captains and soldiers and the difficulties of the proposed hardships and dangers were overcome by the generous and courageous spirit of Gonzalo Quadrado Xaramillo, whom we mentioned particularly on the day of the great battle of Mauvila. Standing before his companions, he said: "Notwithstanding our past hardships and those in prospect at present, along with imminent risk to my life, I offer to make this journey out of the love that I have for the general, because 1 am his countryman, and in order to bring you out of your present perplexity. I propose to travel all night and not to stop until I reach the governor in the morning, or die in the attempt. If there is anyone who wishes to do so, he may go with me, otherwise I say that I shall go alone."

The captains and soldiers were very gratified to see his good spirit, which was matched by that of another valiant Castilian, named Francisco Munoz, a native of Burgos. Stepping out from among his companions and placing himself at the side of Gonzalo Quadrado Xaramillo he said that he would accompany him on that journey, whether he lived or died. Immediately, without any delay, they gave them some small knapsacks containing a little maize and bacon, both poorly cooked, because they had not even had time to cook it well. With this fine preparation and equipped with their swords and shields, and barefoot, as we have said all of them were, these two courageous soldiers set out at one o'clock that night. They marched all night with the seashore for their guide, because they knew of no other road. We shall leave them there to tell what their companions were doing meanwhile.

As soon as the two soldiers had been sent off, the others returned to their caravels and slept in them with sentries posted because they did not know whether they were in the land of enemies or of friends. As soon as it was light, they assembled again and chose three corporals, each of whom was to go with twenty men in a different direction to explore and see what land that might be. They were called corporals and not captains because of the few men they had with them. One of them was named Antonio de Porras, who went forward along the coast to the south; another, who was named Alonso Calvete, went north along the same coast; and Gonzalo Silvestre went inland toward the west. All carried orders that they were not to go very far so that those who stayed behind could help them if they should need it. Each of them went with a great desire of bringing good news.



The captains who went in either direction along the coast, each having marched more than a league over it, returned to their people. One party brought half of a white earthen plate, of the very fine sort that is made in Talavera, and the others brought a broken crock of gilded and painted earthenware such as is made in Malasa [Malaga?]. They said that they had not found anything else, and that these were very good signs and indications of their being in a Spanish country, for both pieces of earthenware were from Spain and were a proof of their statement. All our people rejoiced greatly at this and were extremely happy, holding these signs to be certain and propitious, according to their desires.

Gonzalo Silvestre and his party, who went into the interior, were more fortunate. Having advanced a little more than a quarter of a league from the sea and crossed over a little hilt, they saw a lagoon of fresh water that extended for more than a league. On it were four or five canoes of Indians who were fishing, and so that the Indians would not see them and raise an alarm the Spaniards got behind some trees and marched through them a quarter of a league parallel with the lagoon, spread out in a line as if they were hunting hares. They advanced in this manner, looking carefully and attentively on all sides. They saw two Indians ahead (about the distance of two harquebusshots from where they were going) who were gathering fruit under a large tree called a guayavo in the language of the island of Espanola and savintu in my language of El Peru.

When the Spaniards saw them they passed the word along to drop down on the ground so as not to be seen, and gave orders to surround them, some on one side and some on the other. They were to go like lizards, crawling along the ground, and encircle the Indians so they could not get away, and those who stayed behind were not to raise up from the ground until the ones ahead had got on the other side of the Indians.

With these orders they all went with their chests to the ground, and the ones ahead went on all fours almost three harquebus-shots to come in ahead of the Indians. Each one of the Spaniards was put on his honor not to let the quarry get past him. When they had them surrounded all raised up at the same time and charged at them, but for all their trouble one of the Indians got away, jumped into the water, and escaped by swimming.

The Indian who remained a captive shouted loudly, repeating many times the word brezos. The Spaniards, in their haste to return to their people before the Indians should come to take away their prisoner, paid no attention to what the Indian was saying, but were concerned only with leaving that place quickly. They hastily picked up the two baskets of guayavas that the Indians had gathered, and a little maize that they found in a hut, and a turkey such as are found in Mexico-which they do not have in El Peraand a cock and two hens like those of Spain, and a small quantity of conserve made from the prickly leaves of a tree called maguey, which are like the spikes of a thistle. The Indians of New Spain make many things from this tree, such as wine, vinegar, and syrup made from a sweet liquor that the leaves yield when taken from the stalk at a certain time of the year. The tender spikes when cooked and put in the sun are good to eat and similar in appearance to preserved pumpkin, though they do not equal its flavor. Of these same spikes, which are like those of a thistle, when they mature on the tree, the Indians make a fiber that is very strong and good. The maguey stalk, only one of which grows on each plant after the manner of the giant fennel of Spain, and which has a spongy wood like it though the outside is hard, they use to roof their houses where better wood is lacking.

The Castilians took with them everything we have said they found in the hut, and they took the captured Indian well bound so that he would not escape them. They questioned him by signs and with Spanish words, asking him what land this was and what his name was. The Indian understood from the gestures they made to him, as if he were mute, that they were questioning him, but he did not understand from their words what they were asking him. Not knowing how to reply, he repeated the word brezos, and many times; pronouncing it badly, he said "bredos."

As he did not answer to the purpose, the Spaniards said to him: "Go to the devil, you dog, what would we want with bledos [amaranth]?" The Indian was trying to say that he was the vassal of a Spaniard named Cristobal de Brezos, and as in his disturbed state he could not manage to say Cristobal, and sometimes said brezos and again bredos, the Castilians could not understand him. Thus they carried him off hurriedly, before he should be taken away from them, in order to ask him later at more leisure the things they wished to find out.

In connection with the Spaniards' questionings and the Indian's unintelligible replies (because they did not understand one another), we had inserted here the derivation of the name Perii, which those Indians do not have in their language. It came from another such incident as this, and inasmuch as the printing of this book has been delayed longer than I had ever imagined, I took it away from here and put it in its proper place [a reference to Garcilaso's Commentarios Reales]. There it will be found in full along with many other names included by way of illustration, because, by Divine favor, in this year 1602 we are now in the last quarter of it and expect to finish it speedily.



Gonzalo Silvestre and the twenty men of his party, along with the Indian whom they had captured, traveled swiftly. They asked questions that were poorly understood by the Indian, and his replies were worse interpreted by the Spaniards. Thus they marched until they reached the coast, where the rest of their companions were holding a great celebration and rejoicing over the pieces of the plate and crock that the other explorers had brought back. But as soon as they saw the turkey and the hens and the fruit and the rest of the loot that Gonzalo Silvestre and his men carried they could not restrain themselves from making signs of extreme joy, jumping and leaping like crazy men. For the greater satisfaction of all of them it happened that the surgeon who had treated them had been in Mexico and knew something about the Mexican language. He spoke to the Indian in it, saying, "What are these?" and indicating some scissors that he had in his hand.

Having recognized that these people were Spaniards, the Indian had now come to himself somewhat and replied in Spanish, "Tiselas" [tiseras, or in modern Spanish, tiseras: scissors]. This word, though badly pronounced proved conclusively to our men that they were in the territory of Mexico, and in their joy at learning it they insisted on embracing and congratulating Gonzalo Silvestre and the members of his party, and they raised them up on their shoulders and marched around with them, extolling and praising them without stint or restraint, as if every one of them had brought the seigniory of Mexico and its whole empire.

This most solemn festival of rejoicing having passed, they questioned the Indian more quietly and to better purpose, asking what land that was and what river or creek the governor had entered with the five caravels.

The Indian said: "This land belongs to the city of Panuco and your captain-general entered the Rio de Panuco, which flows into the sea twelve leagues from here. The city is twelve leagues farther up the river, and it is ten leagues from here by land. I am a vassal of a vecino of Panuco named Cristo bal de Brezos, and about a league from here is an Indian lord of vassals who knows how to read and write, having been brought up from infancy by the priest who instructs us in the Christian doctrine. If you wish that I go summon him, I will go for him; I know he will come at once and will inform you about everything that you wish to know most."

The Spaniards were very pleased with the Indian's intelligent remarks and they entertained him and gave him presents from the things they had with them. They sent him immediately for the cacique and directed him to bring or send a supply of paper and ink for writing.

The Indian traveled with such haste and diligence that he came back with the curaca in less than four hours. The latter, learning that some Spanish ships had been stranded in his country, desired to visit them personally and carry them some present. Thus he brought eight Indians laden with chickens like those of Spain, and bread made of maize, and fruit and fish, as well as ink and paper, because he prided himself on being able to read and write and considered it a great accomplishment.

He presented everything he brought to the Spaniards and very affectionately offered them his person and his house. Our men thanked him for his visit and for the presents, and gave him in return some of the deerskins that they brought. They immediately dispatched an Indian to the governor with a letter in which they told him everything that had happened to them up to that time, and asked him for orders as to their future actions.

The cacique remained with the Spaniards all that day, questioning them about the events and adventures of their discovery, being very pleased to hear of them. He wondered at seeing them so black, spare, and worn in their persons and clothing, which showed clearly the hardships they had endured. When it was nearly night he returned to his house, and in the six days that the Spaniards stayed on that beach he visited them every day, always bringing them presents of the things that were in his country.



Gonzalo Quadrado Xaramillo and his companion Francisco Munoz, whom we left marching along the coast, did not pause all night, and at dawn they reached the mouth of the Rio de Pinuco, where they learned that the governor and his five caravels had entered safely and were going up the river. Encouraged by this good news, they did not want to stop and rest, but though they had marched twelve leagues that night without resting, they hastened their journey still more and traveled three leagues farther. At eight o'clock in the morning they reached the place where the governor and his men were, very sad and anxious in their fears that the two caravels they had left in the great storm at sea had been lost. It was still raging, nor did it cease for another five days thereafter.

But with the presence and the report of these two good companions, their grief and anxiety was changed to content and joy, and they gave thanks to God who had saved them from death. On the following day they received the letter that the Indian brought them, to which the governor replied that after they had rested as long as they wished they were to go to the city of Panuco where he would await them, so they could all put their lives in order.

Eight days after the shipwreck all our Spaniards had assembled with the governor in Panuco, and they numbered almost three hundred.'' They were very well received by the vecinos and inhabitants of that city, who, though they were poor, showed them all the courtesy and good hospitality that they could. For among them were very noble gentlemen, and it aroused their pity to see them so disfigured, black, lean, wasted, barefoot, and unclothed. They wore no other garments except those of deerskin, cowhide, and the skins of bears and lions and other wild animals, so they looked more like wild beasts and brutish animals than human beings. The corregldor at once advised the viceroy Don Antonio de Mendoza, who resided in Mexico, sixty leagues from Panuco, how almost three hundred Spaniards had come out of La Florida, of the thousand who had entered it with the adelantado Hernando de Soto. The viceroy sent to order the corregidor to entertain and treat them as his own person, and that when they were ready to travel he was to supply them with everything they needed and send them to Mexico.

Following this message, he sent shirts and sandals and four pack mules laden with conserves and other delicacies and medicines for the sick, for our Spaniards, in the belief that they were ailing. But they were in perfect health though they lacked everything else necessary for human life. At this point the accounts of Juan Coles and Alonso de Carmona say that the Cofradia de Ia Caridad [Brotherhood of Charity] of Mexico sent these gifts by order of the viceroy.

It must be cold now that when General Luis de Moscoso de Alvarado and his captains and soldiers found themselves reunited and had rested ten or twelve days in that city, the most prudent and informed among them observed attentively the mode of life of its inhabitants, which was then miserable enough, because they had no mines of gold or silver or any other wealth of which to avail themselves. They had only such scanty foods as the land afforded, and raised a few horses to sell to those who came from other places to buy them. Most of them dressed in ordinary cotton cloth, very few wearing clothing from Castilla, and the richest vecinos and principal lords of vassals had no wealth except what we have mentioned, though some were beginning to raise cattle in very small numbers. They busied themselves in planting mulberries for silk-culture and in setting out other fruit trees from Spain in order to enjoy their fruits in the future. The rest of their possessions and household equipment corresponded to the things that have been described. All the houses in which they lived were poor and humble, most of them being made of straw. In short, our Spaniards noted that everything they had seen in the pueblo represented no more than the beginnings of settling and cultivating miserably a country that was not as good as the one that they had left behind them and abandoned. They saw that in place of the cotton clothing that the vecinos of I'Snuco wore, they could have dressed in very fine deerskins of many and varied colors, such as those they brought with them, and could have worn mantles of marten-skins and other very beautiful and elegant pelts, of which as we have said they have most handsome ones in La Florida. They would not have been forced to plant mulberries for growing silk, since they had found them in such quantities as has been seen, along with the other timber such as three varieties of walnuts, plums, live oaks, and oaks, and the abundance of grapevines that grow in the fields.

In thus comparing these things with the others, the memory of the many and fine provinces that they had discovered was emphasized. Those named alone amount to forty, not counting the others that have been forgotten and still others whose names it has been impossible to learn. They remembered the fertility and abundance of all of them, their advantages for producing crops of grain and vegetables that could be introduced from Spain, and their facilities in the form of pasture grounds, commons, woodlands, and rivers for the breeding and increase of the cattle that they might wish to put into them.

Finally, they carried the memory of the great wealth of pearls and seed pearls that they had despised, and the grandeurs that they had dreamed of for themselves, because each one of them had seen himself the lord of a great province. Comparing now, therefore, those abundances and seigniories with the present miseries and poverty, they told one another their imaginings and sad thoughts, and in their great heaviness of heart and pity for themselves, they said: `Could not we have lived in La Florida just as these Spaniards arc living in Panuco? Were not the lands that we left better than these where we are? If we wished to stop and settle, would we not be better off there than are our present hosts here? Perhaps they have more silver and gold mines than we found, and more riches than those we disdained? Is it not a fine thing that we have come to receive alms and hospitality from others who are poorer than we, when we could have entertained everyone from Spain? Is it just or becoming to our honor that, from the lords of vassals that we could have been, we have come to beg? Would it not have been better to die there than to live here?"

With these words and similar ones arising from their regret over the good things they had lost, they became enraged with one another, in such fury and anger that, desperate with grief at having abandoned La Florida where they might have won so much wealth, they fell to stabbing one another in their rage and desire to kill. Their greatest ire and wrath was directed against the officials of the real hacienda and against the captains and soldiers, nobles and others from Sevilla, because these had been the one,. who, after Governor Hernando de Soto's death, had insisted most strongly that they leave La Florida and abandon it. They also had been most persistent in forcing Luis de Moscoso to make that long journey that they made to the province of the Vaqueros. On that road, as was seen at the time, they suffered so many inconveniences and hardships that a third of them and of the horses died.

The lack [of horses) was the final cause of their all being lost, because it forced and impelled them to leave the country quickly. They could not stay or ask for the rcintorcernent, that the adelantado Hernando do Soto had planned to request by dispatching the two brigantines that he had proposed to send down the Rio Grande to give notice in Mexico, in the islands of Cuba and Santo Domingo, and in Tierra Firme of what he had discovered in La Florida, so that they might send him assistance for settling the country.

This aid could have been given them very easily because of the capaciousness of the Rio Grande, by which any ship or fleet could enter and leave. All these things being now clearly seen and considered by those who had held the contrary opinion and had wished to carry forward the proposals of Governor Hernando de Soto and to settle and establish themselves in La Florida, and seeing now from experience that they had been right in desiring to remain, and their present cause for indignation against the officials and those of their faction, their fury blazed up in such manner that, losing all respect for them, they went in pursuit of them with knives, so that some were killed and wounded. The captains and royal officials did not dare come out of their lodgings, and the soldiers were so enraged against one another that all the people of the city were unable to pacify them. These and other results arise from decisions made without prudence or counsel.



The corregidor of Pinuco, seeing such discord among our Spaniards and that it was increasing day by day, being unable to stop it, sent a report to the viceroy Don Antonio dc Mendoza. I le ordered that they be sent immediately to Mexico in bands of ten or twenty, directing that those who went in each group should be of the same party and not opposed, so that they would not kill one another on the way.

In accordance with this order and command, they set out from Pinuco twenty-five days after they had entered it.

Along the road both Castilians and Indians came out in great multitudes to sec them, and they wondered at seeing Spaniards, on foot, dressed in the skins of animals and bare-legged, for the best provided among them had managed to get little more than the sandals that they gave them out of charity. They were astonished to sec them so black and disfigured, and said that their appearance showed clearly the hardships, hunger, misery, and persccutions that they had suffered. Rumor, performing its office, had already spread great reports about these things throughout the kingdom, and therefore Indians and Spaniards entertained them very affectionately and attentively, and served and regaled them all along the road until, proceeding in bands as they did, they entered the most famous city of Mexico, which because of its grandeurs and wonders today, has the name and preeminence of being the best city in the World. They were received and entertained there by the viceroy as well as by the other vecinos, gentlemen, and rich men of the city, who regarded them so highly that they insisted upon taking them in groups of five or six to their houses and entertained them as if they had been their own sons.

Juan Coles says at this point that a leading gentleman and vecino of Mexico, named Xaramillo, took eighteen men to his house, all being from Extremadura, and that he dressed them in fine cloth from Segovia, and gave each one of them a bed with a mattress, sheets, blankets, and pillows, and a comb, brush, and all the rest needed by a soldier. He said that the whole city was moved by compassion at seeing them dressed in deerskin and cowhides, and that they accorded them this honor and charity because of the many hardships that they knew they had endured in La Florida. On the other hand they had been unwilling to do any favors for those who had gone with Captain Juan Vazquez Coronado, a vecino of Mexico to discover the Seven Cities, because they had returned to Mexico without any necessity whatever, not being willing to make a settlement. These people had gone out a little before ours. All these statements are from the account of Juan Coles, a native of Zafra, and that of Alonso de Carmona agrees with it in every respect. He adds that among those whom Xaramillo took to his house was a relative of his; it must have been our Gonzalo Quadrado Xaramillo.

The viceroy, being such a good prince, seated all of our men who came to cat at his table with much attention, making no difference between captain and soldier and between a gentleman and him who was not, because he said that, since all had been equal in exploits and hardships, they ought to be [equal) also in the little honor that he was able to show them. He not only honored them at his table and in his house, but he ordered proclaimed throughout the city that no other magistrate except himself was to take cognizance of the cases that might come up among our people. He did this, aside from wishing to honor and favor them, because he knew that an alcalde ordinarto had arrested and put in the public prison two soldiers of La Florida who had stabbed each other because of the quarrels that had arisen among them all in Pinuco. and that flared up again in Mexico with more smoke and fire of wrath and ill-feeling because they saw the esteem in which the gentlemen and principal men of wealth in that city held the things that they brought out of La Florida, such as the fine deerskins of all colors. For it is true that as soon as they saw them they made very elegant trousers and doublets from them.

They also valued highly the few pearls and some strings of seed pearls that they had brought. because they commanded a high price.

But when they saw the mantles of marten-skins and other pelts that our men brought, they esteemed them above all the rest. Although, because they had been used for mattresses and blankets, for lack of other bed-clothing, they were full of resin and pitch from the ships, and soiled with dust and mud that came from being walked on and dragged on the ground, they had them washed and cleaned, for they were extremely fine. They lined their best clothing with them and wore it to the plaza as very elegant and ornamental attire, and he who was unable to obtain a fur lining for his whole cape or cloak contented himself with a collar of marten-skins or other pelts, which he wore outside with the frill of his shirt as a valued and much prized adornment. All these things were the cause of greater desperation, regret, and anger to our people, seeing that such important and rich men thought so highly of that which they had despised. They remembered that they had inconsiderately abandoned lands that they had discovered at such cost to themselves, where these things and others as good existed in such abundance. They recalled the words that Governor Hernando de Soto had said to them in Quiguate about the mutiny that had been plotted in Mauvila with the intention of going to Mexico, abandoning l.a Florida. Among other things he had said to them: "Why do you wish to go to Mexico.

To show the cowardice and weakness of your spirits, when you could be lords of so great a kingdom where you have discovered and traversed so many and such beautiful provinces, you have thought it better (in abandoning them through your pusillanimity and cowardice) to go and lodge in a strange house and cat at another's table, when you could have your own in which to entertain and do good to many others?" It seems that these words were a very accurate prophecy of the regret and sorrow that tormented them at present, for which reason they stabbed one another to death without regard for or memory of the companionship and brotherhood that had existed among them. In the course of these quarrels there occurred in Mexico also, as well as in Pinuco, some deaths and many wounds.

The viceroy pacified them with all gentleness and suavity, seeing that they were beside themselves, and to console them he promised and gave his word to make the same conquest if they desired to go back to it. And it is true that having heard of the advantages of the kingdom of La Florida he desired to make the expedition, and thus he gave many of our captains and soldiers subsidies and gratuities, and offices and employments with which to maintain and occupy themselves while preparations were made for the expedition. Many accepted these, and many did not wish to do so, in order not to obligate themselves to return to a country they had abhorred, and also because they had fixed their eyes on El Peru, as appears from the following incident that took place about that time. It happened thus:

A soldier named Diego dc Tapia-whom I knew afterward in El Peru, where he served his Majesty very well in the wars against Gonzalo Pizarro, Don Sebastian de Castilla, and Francisco Hernandei Gircin-while they were making him a suit, went about through the city of Mexico dressed entirely in skins, just as he had come out of La Florida. As a wealthy citizen saw him in that garb and as he was of small stature and appeared to be one of the very destitute, he said to him: "Brother, I have an estancia for cattle raising near the city, there, if you wish to serve me, you may live a quiet and peaceful life, and I will give you good wages." Diego de Tapia, with an expression like a lion or a bear, in whose skin he was perchance dressed, replied: "I am going now to El Peru, where I expect to have more than twenty estancias. If you want to go with me and work for me, I will accommodate you with one of them, so that you can come back wealthy in a very short time." The citizen of Mexico departed without saying another word, it seeming to him that, with a few more [words], he would not come out of the business very well.



Among the principal vecinos and gentlemen of Mexico who entertained our men in their houses, it happened that the factor Gonzalo de Salazar, whom we mentioned at the beginning of this History, took Gonzalo Silvcstre to his house. Talking with him about many things that took place during this discovery, they came to discuss the beginning of their navigation and what occurred on the first night after they left San Lucar, and how the two generals found themselves in danger of being sunk. During this conversation the factor learned that Gonzalo Silvestro was the one who had ordered the two cannon-shots bred at his ship tor having gone ahead ut the sleet and placed itself to the windward of the flagship, as we described at length in the First Book of this fliston. For this reason from that time on he honored him even more, saying that he had acted like a good soldier, though he said also that it would have gratified him to see Governor Hernando de Soto in order to talk to him about what happened that night.

The factor learned later, from other soldiers, of the good fortune that Gonzalo Silvestro had had in the province of Tula in cutting an Indian in two at the waist with one stroke, and on seeing the sword, which was an old one of the sort that we now call viejas, he asked for it to place in his cabinet as a very choice ornament. When he learned that he had given the strip or banner of tine marten-skins decorated with pearls and seed pearls-which we said he got in the pueblo where they obtained food on their way down the Rio Grande, where they abandoned the horses because the Indians hurried them so-to his host in Panuco in return for the hospitality that he had accorded him, he was very regretful, saying that he would have given him I' Soo pesos for it, solely for the pleasure of having such a curiosity as this banner in his room, for the factor was truly most interested in such things.

On the other hand, the whole city of Mexico in general and the viceroy and his son Don Francisco de Mendoza in particular enjoyed greatly hearing about the incidents of the discovery of La Florida. and thus they asked that they be told to them as they occurred. They were astonished when they heard of the many cruel torments that his master Hirrihigua had given to Juan Ortiz, of the generosity and admirable spirit of the good slucogo, of the terrible pride and bravado of Vitachuco, and of the constancy and fortitude of his four captains and of the three young sons of lords of vassals whom they pulled out of the lake almost drowned. They noted the ferocity and indomitable spirit that the Indians of the province of Apalache showed, the flight of their crippled cacique, and the strange things that took place in the armed encounters in that province, as well as the very laborious journey that the thirty horsemen made in going from and returning to it.

They marveled at the great wealth of the temple of Cofachiqui, its grandeur and sumptuousness. and the abundance of various kinds of arms, with the multitude of pearls and seed pearls that the Spaniards found in it; and the hunger that they endured in the wilderness before arriving there. It pleased them to hear of the courtesy, discretion, and beauty of the lady of that province of Cofachiqui, and of the curaca Coca's kindness and generosity in offering his state as a site for a Spanish establishtnent. They were astonished to hear of the gigantic size of the cacique Tascalusa and his son, who was like his father, and of the bloody and obstinate battle of Mauvila, and of the surprise of Chicaca and the mortality of men and horses in these two battles and in that of the fort of Alibamo. They were interested in hearing about the laws against adultery. They were grieved by the want of salt that our people experienced, and the horrible deaths caused by lack of it; and by the very long and useless peregrination that they made because of the secret discord that arose among the Spaniards, which was the reason for their not making a settlement. They were very gratified by the adoration of the cross that was performed in the province of Casquin, and by the pleasant and comfortable winter that the Spaniards spent in Utiangue. They abhorred the monstrous deformity that those of Tula gave their heads and faces by artificial means, and the ferocity of their spirit and nature, corresponding to their appearance.

The death of Governor Hernando de Soto grieved them very much, and they mourned over the two burials that his people gave him. On the contrary, they were much gratified to hear of his exploits, his invincible spirit, his promptness in attacks and alarms, his patience in hardships, his courage and valor in fighting, and his discretion, wisdom, and prudence in peace and in war. When they told the viceroy of his death having cut short his plans for sending two brigantines down the Rio Grande to ask assistance from his Excellency, and how (from what they had seen in their navigation to the sea) he could have given it very easily, he was very regretful and blamed greatly the general and captains who remained for not having proceeded with and carried forward the proposals of Governor Hernando de Soto, for they were of such advantage and honor to all of them. tie swore with great oaths that he himself would have gone to the mouth of the Rio Grande with reinforcements so that they would have been better and more promptly aided. And all the gentlemen and principal men of Mexico said the same.

The viceroy was also pleased to hear of the beauty and fine appearance the natives of La Florida usually have; of the Indians' strength and courage, the ferocity and skill they show in shooting with their bows and arrows, the very wonderful and admirable shots that they make with them; the daring spirit that many of them exhibit individually, and that they all have in common; the perpetual warfare that they wage upon each other; the punctiliousness in affairs of honor they found in many of the caciques; the fidelity of the captain-general Anilco; the defiance that the cacique Guachoya made; the league of Quigualtanqui with the ten caciques who conspired with him; the punishment that they gave his ambassadors; the labors that our men underwent in building the seven brigantines; the great flood on the Rio Grande; the Spaniards' entbarkauon; the fine spectacle afforded by the multitude of canoes that appeared before them at dawn; and the cruel persecution that they gave them until they drove them entirely beyond their boundaries.

The viceroy also desired particularly to learn of the nature of the lands of La Florida. He was much pleased to hear that there was such an abundance of fruit trees like those of Spain in them, such as various kinds of plums and three varieties of walnuts, one with nuts so oily that the oil ran out when the kernel was pressed between the fingers; such quantities of acorns from oaks and live oaks; such an abundance of fine mulberries, and so many productive vines bearing very good grapes. Finally, the viceroy was very gratified to hear of the extensiveness of that kingdom. the advantages that it had for raising all kinds of cattle, and the fertility of the soil for crops of grain, fruit, and vegetables. All these things increased the viceroy's desire to make the conquest, but despite his efforts he was unable to induce the men who had come out of La Florida to rcmain in Mexico in order to return there. On the contrary, within a few days after their arrival they were scattered in various places, as we shall soon see.



The accountant Juan de Anasco, the treasurer Juan Gaytan, and Captains Baltasar de Gallegos. Alonso Romo de Cardenosa, Arias Tinoco, and Pedro Calderon, and others of less importance returned to Spain, choosing to go there poor rather than to remain in the Indies, because of their abhorrence of them, as well as because of the hardships they had suffered there and of what they had lost from their estates, they themselves having been the cause in most cases of the one and the other being wasted without any advantage whatever. Gomez Suarez de Figueroa returned to the house and estate of his father, Vasco Porcallo do Figueroa y de la Cerda.

Others who were more discreet entered religious orders, following the good example that Gonzalo Quadrado Xaramillo gave them, he being the first to take the habit. He chose to heighten his nobility and his past exploits by becoming a true soldier and nobleman of Jesus Christ our lord, enlisting under the banner and standard of such a masse de campo and general as the seraphic father St. Francis, in whose Order and profession he died, having shown by his works that the true nobility and consummate courage that please and gratify God are acquired in religion. Because of this action, which as it had been performed by Gonzalo Quadrado, was much more observed and noted than if it had been done by anyone else, many of our Spaniards did the same, entering various religious orders so as to honor all their past lives by making such a good end.

Others, and these were fewest, remained in New Spain. Among them was Luis Moscoso de Alvarado, who married in Mexico a rich and important woman who was a relative of his.

Most of them went to El Peru, where in all the events of the wars against Gonzalo Pizarro and Don Sebastian de Castilla and Francisco Hernandez Giron, they conducted themselves in the service of the Crown of Spain like men who had passed through the hardships we have described. Even so it is true that we have not told a tenth part of what they actually endured.

In El Peru 1 knew many of these gentlemen and soldiers, who were very esteemed and acquired a great deal of property, but I do not know that any of them have managed to obtain rcpartimicntos of Indians such as they could have had in La Florida.

In order to finish our flistor?% which through the favor of the heavenly Creator we see now approaching its end, nothing more remains for us to tell except what Captains Diego Maldonado and G(?mei Arias did after Governor I Iernando de Soto sent them to La Havana with orders as to what they were to do in that summer and the following autumn, as was told in its place. Therefore it will be well to tell here what these two good gentlemen performed in compliance with their orders and their own obligation, so that their generous spirits and the loyalty they showed for their captain-general may not be forgotten, but recorded as an honor to them and an example to others.

Captain Diego Maldonado, as we said above, went with the two brigantines under his orders to La Havana to visit Dona Isabel de Bobadilla, the wife of Governor Hernando dc Soto. tic was to rcturn with Gomcz Arias, who had made the same voyage shortly before, and the two captains were to take between them two brigantines and the caravel and such other ships as they could buy in La Havana, laden with provisions, arms, and munitions. In the following autumn, which was in the year 1540- they were to take them to the port of Achusi which Diego de Maldonado himself had discovered.

Governor Hernando de Soto was to come out there, having made a large circle in exploring the interior country. This was not done, on account of the discord and secret mutiny that the governor discovered his men had plotted. For this reason he withdrew from the sea and went inland, where nearly all of them were lost.

Thus now it must be told that when Gomez Arias and Diego Maldonado had joined one another in La Havana and paid the visit to Dona Isabel de Bobadilla, and sent a report throughout all those islands of what they had discovered in La Florida, and what the governor was asking for to begin a settlement in that country, they purchased three ships and loaded them with food, arms, munitions, calves, goats, colts, mares, sheep, and [seeds of) grain, barley, and vegetables, in order to make a beginning of raising animals and plants. They also loaded the caravel and the two brigantines, and, if they had had two more ships, there would have been enough cargo for all of them, since the inhabitants of the islands of Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Jamaica, because of the good reports they had heard of La Florida and of their love for the governor, and for their own interests, had made an effort to assist him in every way they could. Diego Maldonado and Gomez Arias went to the port of Achusi with these things, to the place designated. Not finding the governor there, the two captains went out in command of the brigantines and coasted along the shore, one in either direction, to see whether the Spaniards might have cone out at some other point to the east or west. Wherever they went they left signs on the trees and wrote letters, which they put into their hollow trunks, giving an account of what they had done and expected to do in the following summer. And when the severity of the winter would permit them to navigate no longer, they returned to La Havana with the sad news that they had none of the governor. But this did not keep them from returning in the summer of the year t S4 t to the coast of La Florida and following it all the way to the lands of Mexico and to Nombrc de Dios, and along the eastern shore to the Tierra dc Bacallaos, to see whether by some means or manner they could get news of Governor Hernando de Soto. Being unable to do so, they went back to La Havana in the winter.

Then in the next summer, of the year 1542, they went back to the same search, and having spent almost seven months in doing the same thing as before. they were forced by the weather to go back and winter in La I lavana. At the beginning of the spring of the year 1543. though they had obtained no news whatsoever for the past three years, they set out again, persisting in their enterprise and search with the determination not to desist from it until they died or got news of the governor. For they could not believe that the land would have consumed them all, but that some of them must have come out somewhere. They traveled on this quest all that summer as in the preceding ones, suffering the hardships and inconveniences that may be imagined. To avoid prolixity, we shall not tell of them in detail.



Traveling thus with such anxiety and care, they arrived at La Vera Cruz in mid-October of the same year 1543, where they learned that their comrades had left La Florida, that less than three hundred of them had escaped, and that Governor Hernando de Soto had died there, along with all the rest who had perished out of nearly a thousand who had entered that kingdom. They learned in detail of all the misfortunes that had befallen the expedition. With this sad and lamentable news those two good and loyal gentlemen returned to La Havana and gave it to Dona Isabel de Bobadilla. As the grief and anxiety that she had felt continuously for three years at not having heard from her husband were now increased by this new sorrow of his death and the failure of the conquest, and by the waste and loss of his property, the fall of his estate, and the ruin of his house, she died soon after learning of it.

This tragedy, lamentable because of the loss of the many and excessive efforts made by the Spanish nation without profit or benefit to the country, was the end and outcome of the discovery of La Florida, which the adelantado Hernando de Soto made at such expense to his own fortune, and with so much equipment of arms and horses and so many noble gentlemen and valiant soldiers as we have told elsewhere. In none of the other conquests of all those that have been made in the New World up to the present has there been assembled such a fine and brilliant company of men, so well armed and disciplined, nor so many horses as were collected for this one. All of this was consumed and lost without any gain for two reasons. First, because of the discord that arose among them, for which reason they did not make a settlement at the beginning. Second, because of the governor's untimely death; if he had lived two years longer, he would have repaired the past damage by means of the reinforcements that he was going to request, and that could have been sent him by way of the Rio Grande, as he had planned.

Thus it was possible that he could have laid the foundations of an empire that could compete today with New Spain and El Peru, because in the extent and fertility of the land and in its advantages for cultivation and cattle raising it is not inferior to any of the others. On the other hand it is believed that it has the advantage of them, for as to wealth we have already seen the incredible quantity of pearls and seed pearls that were found in only one province or temple, and the marten-skins and other rich furs that appertain solely to kings and great princes, aside from the other grandeurs to which we have referred at length.

There may be gold and silver mines, and I do not doubt that they would have been found if they had been sought for carefully. When they were won, neither Mexico nor El Peru had the ones that they now have. Those of the Cerro de Potosi were discovered fourteen years after Governors Don Francisco Pizarro and Don Diego Almagro undertook their enterprise of the conquest of El Peru. The same thing could have been done in La Florida, and meanwhile they could have enjoyed the other wealth that we have seen is there, for gold and silver are not everywhere that people live.

Therefore I shall earnestly and repeatedly supplicate the king, our lord, and the Spanish nation not to permit that a land so good, which their people have traversed and of which they have taken possession, shall remain outside their empire and dominion, but that they make efforts to conquer and settle it in order to establish there the Catholic faith that they profess, as those of their own nation have done in the other kingdoms and provinces of the New World they have conquered and settled, so that Spain may enjoy this kingdom as well as the others, and so that it may not remain without the light of the evangelical doctrine, which is the chief thing that we should desire, and without the other benefits that can be conferred upon it, both in bettering its moral life and in improving it with the arts and sciences that flourish today in Spain. The natives of that country have great aptitude for these things, since without any teaching except that of their natural instincts they have done and said things so excellent as we have seen and heard. Often in the course of this history I have been apprehensive at finding them so civilized, magnificent, and excellent, fearing that it may be suspected that these things were inventions of my own and not virtues of the country. With regard to this, God, our Lord, is my witness that I not only have not added anything to the relation that was given me, but I confess to my own shame and confusion that I have not been able to describe these wonders as they really occurred, as they were recited to me by those who saw them. For this I ask pardon of that whole kingdom and of those who may read this book.

This should be sufficient to cause due credit to be given to him who without claims of interest or hope of rewards from kings or great lords or from anyone else, except that of having told the truth, undertook the labor of writing this History wandering from country to country in ill-health and with excessive discomfort solely in order to give in it an account of what has been discovered in that great kingdom, so that our Catholic faith and the Crown of Spain may be augmented and extended. These are my first and second purposes, and holding to them will assure Divine favor for those who may go on this conquest, which may our Lord direct for the glory and honor of His name, so that the multitude of souls who live in that kingdom without the truth of His doctrine may be converted to it and may not perish.

And may He accord me His favor and protection so that hereafter I may employ what remains of my life in writing the history of the Incas, the former kings of El Peru; their origins and beginnings, their idolatry and sacrifices, laws, and customs-in short, their whole commonwealth as it was before the Spaniards won that empire. All the greater part of this is now set in the loom. I shall tell of the Incas and all the rest mentioned what I have heard from my mother and her uncles and ancient relatives, and all the rest of the common people of the country, and from what I managed to see of those antiquities, which were not yet so entirely destroyed in my childhood that some shadows of them did not remain. I shall tell likewise of the discovery and conquest of El Peru what I heard from my father and his contemporaries, who won it, and from the same sources I shall recount the general uprising of the Indians against the Spaniards and the civil wars that took place over the partition between Pizarros and Almagros, for they gave this name to chose factions that arose among them for the destruction and punishment of them all.

With regard to the rebellions that took place later in El Pcru, I shall state briefly what I heard from those who participated in them on one side or the other, and what I myself saw. Though only a boy, I knew Gonzalo Pizarro and his macsc de campo Francisco de Carvajal and all his captains, and Don Sebastian de Castilla, and Francisco Hernandez Giron, and I am informed of the most important things that the viceroys have done since then in the government of that empire.



... doc 17 ...


About DeSoto and Garcilaso the "Inca"

Real Native Images     A Story for Kids     Conquest for Teens     Native American Conquest