Little is known about the specific ethics of most of the natives in the Americas during this era, since they left no writing. Significant exceptions are the Aztecs and Incas, because they developed powerful empires and were conquered by the Spaniards. Quiché Mayans expanded in the 14th century and reached their maximum power in the mid-15th century; but the Cocom dynasty was massacred as Mayapan was destroyed in a revolt led by Ah Xupan Xiu in 1441. Most of the tribes lived simply and cooperatively, probably with fewer ethical violations. Northwest of the Aztecs, the Hopi and Zuni had large communities and used rock shelters to defend themselves against the more aggressive Apaches. They also used irrigation canals and hillside terracing for their farming. All of the Americas had about a hundred million people, but less than ten million lived north of Mexico.
In the Northeast the Iroquois federation was founded by the legendary Mohawk sachem Hiawatha in the 15th century. The five nations of this original confederation were the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and the Senecas. Hiawatha received his vision from the spirit Dekanawidah so that blood revenge could be replaced by ritualized condolence and a council of fifty chiefs. By using consensus they resolved conflicts between their tribes and negotiated with their Algonquin neighbors over hunting territories. In the Iroquois culture land and property were shared communally, and several families lived together in long houses. Their chiefs were often the poorest, because they were obligated to help those most in need. Iroquois families were matrilineal, and women were influential in a society that promoted individual responsibility rather than authority. The women chose the male chiefs who spoke in the councils, listening to the advice of the women. The chiefs were older warriors, who had renounced the warpath for the council fire. While men were out hunting, women governed their communities; they could veto a war by not providing the necessary supplies for the expedition.
The Iroquois raised their children naturally with a long period of breast-feeding and no pressure to learn toilet training. The young were allowed to explore their sexuality as a natural process. Divorces were decided by the woman when she put the man's belongings outside the long house. Discipline was achieved by shaming those who acted improperly until they learned how to change their behavior. They discussed their dreams as ways of understanding themselves. By the 17th century the Iroquois were using the power of their alliance to subjugate other tribes and in their struggle with the Algonquins.
Aztecs to 1519
The Aztecs were driven from Chapultepec about 1315 by Copil, the son of Huitzilopochtli's sister, whom they had previously abandoned. They soon returned, but four years later they were attacked by a coalition that probably included the Tepanecs; the Mexica ruler Huitzilihuitl was sacrificed in Culhuacan, and they settled just west of there at Tizaapan. The Mexica traded with the Culhuacans and treated them like brothers, intermarrying and becoming Culhua Mexica. Aiding Culhuacan in a war against Xochimilco, they were ordered to take no prisoners and cut their ears off.
After being vassals to the Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco, the Aztec Mexica went south. According to legend they settled in a swampy area where an eagle sat on a cactus with a serpent in its beak, though Mexica had lived there for centuries. Tenochtitlan, an island in a lake, was founded in 1345 and Tlatelolco in 1358; the two cities became rivals. While being ruled by their first king, Acamapichtli (r. 1372-1391), the Mexica served as mercenaries for Tepanec king Tezozomoc (r. 1371-1426), helping them to conquer Tenayuca and Culhuacan. The Tepanec empire collected tribute from the Mexica as well as from others. The closest relatives of the late king selected the next Mexica king-Acamapichtli's son Huitzilihuitl (r. 1391-1417), who was allowed to marry Tezozomoc's granddaughter. The Mexica helped the Tepanecs conquer Tlaxcala in 1395 and were given some of the acquired lands. Three years later they invaded Cuauhtinchan, and in 1411 the Mexica grabbed Chalco but had to give it up to a coalition that included the Tepanecs. Huitzilihuitl died about 1417 and was succeeded by his son Chimalpopoca.
Meanwhile Ixtlilxochitl had become king of Texcoco in 1409; after refusing to have Texcoco make cotton into mantles for the Tepanecs, he claimed to be emperor of the Chichimecs. Ixtlilxochitl further aggravated the Tepanecs by rejecting Tezozomoc's daughter and marrying the sister of Chimalpopoca. Tezozomoc attacked Texcoco in 1415 but was repulsed and was later besieged at Azcapotzalco for several months. The skillful Tezozomoc managed to gain Chalco and Otumba as allies, and together they attacked Texcoco and killed Ixtlilxochitl in 1418. Control of Texcoco was given to the Mexica, but most of the tribute went to the Tepanecs. Ixtlilxochitl's 16-year-old son Nezahualcoyotl with his friend Coyohua managed to survive and lived in Tenochtitlan for a while; the prince was allowed to return to Texcoco in 1424. Tezozomoc tried to get Coyohua to kill his master, but he refused.
When water at Tenochtitlan was becoming polluted, an aqueduct was built from Chapultepec. Conflict over the building materials was said to have caused the death of Tezozomoc in 1426. He was given an elaborate funeral and had chosen as his successor his son Tayauh, who was supported by the Mexica. Chimalpopoca's advice to Tayauh to kill his brother Maxtla was overheard. Maxtla then used the same trick to kill Tayauh, and he had Chimalpopoca captured and killed in Tenochtitlan; his killers also tracked down and murdered Tlacateotl, ruler of Tlatelolco. This story may have been Aztec propaganda to cover up the more probable version that Itzcoatl arranged for Tepanecs from Tacuba to kill Chimalpopoca. Nezahualcoyotl came to Tezozomoc's funeral but was protected by the occasion from Maxtla, who appointed a bastard brother of Nezahualcoyotl to rule Texcoco; this young man's treacherous plot against Nezahualcoyotl failed.
Itzcoatl was the brother of Huitzilihuitl and became Mexica king in 1426. He was greatly aided by his nephews Montezuma (Moteuczoma) and Tlacaelel. As a diplomat Tlacaelel courageously went to Azcapotzalco. Maxtla claimed his Tepanec people were hostile to the Mexica, and war was ritually declared. Tlacaelel managed to escape the Tepanecs and returned to Tenochtitlan. There the nobles and warriors were ready to fight, but the common people wanted peace. According to Aztec history, the lords promised to sacrifice themselves if they lost, and the people agreed to serve them and pay tribute if they won.
Persecuted by the Tepanecs, Nezahualcoyotl joined Itzcoatl in an alliance against them. Maxtla had also alienated Cuauhtitlan by his cruel treatment and transferred the slave-dealing center from there to Azcapotzalco. Montezuma went to Chalco to gain their help; but having been at war with the Mexica for so long, they imprisoned him. He escaped and went on to Huexotzingo, where Cuauhtitlan accounts of Maxtla's excesses so enraged them that they murdered the Tepanec envoys. Huexotzingo and Tlaxcala also helped Nezahualcoyotl regain much of his realm at Texcoco, and together they attacked Azcapotzalco, forcing Maxtla to give up his siege of Tenochtitlan, which enabled Montezuma to take Tacuba. The allies besieged Azcapotzalco for 114 days until the Tepanec general Mazatl was wounded, and his army fled. The unpopular tyrant Maxtla was captured and sacrificed by Nezahualcoyotl. Most of the land went to the nobles and the warriors rather than the people of the clans, who all together only got as much as Tlacaelel and Montezuma.
The lands of the Aztec nobles were farmed by serfs. The state had some lands to supply the government. Some communal lands were farmed by freemen, who had to pay tribute. The Mexica king had about four close relatives of important influence but also a larger council of a dozen or so nobles. Warriors were rewarded for their services. Priests were influential nobles who educated other nobles; others were only given military training. Judges and officials were supposed by the historian Sahagun to be impartial, but merchants had privileges and their own law courts. The common people were not allowed to wear fine cotton clothes, jewelry, feathers, or partake of certain foods and drinks such as cocoa; no one was supposed to drink alcohol much until they were past fifty. People could become enslaved for crimes or be sold into it for debt; apparently most war captives were sacrificed. Slavery was not hereditary, though the poor or starving might sell their children.
Ancient words of advice by Aztec nobles to their children indicate they were motivated by a strong sense of honor and disdained to engage in common trade. They were urged to be clean and pure, and women could avoid poverty by spinning and weaving. Chastity and fidelity to one mate were encouraged, though two or three young men might share a paramour before they were married. Kings and nobles often had more than one wife. Everyone was admonished not to be vain, proud, or praise themselves, which provokes the anger of the Near and Close Lord. Rather one should bow one's head and be truly meek and humble, because the Lord knows one's heart and sees within us what we merit. The ideal was to be pure of vice and filth, and it was considered a blessing to die in war.
All the nobles were educated to be priests in the calmecac (school); the rich could get their sons in with gifts, and it was said those with poor gifts were not excluded. The youths slept in the calmecac, and discipline was strict. Serious offenses like being with a woman or drinking could be punished by death, and minor sins, like not awaking to pray at midnight, were purged with bloodletting. During fasts they got only water and plain corn-cakes once a day either at noon or midnight. Verbal discourse was valued, and songs were studied from books. According to writings inscribed during the Spanish period, priests were expected to be chaste, truthful, moderate, and devout. They also claimed that the chief priest called Quetzalcoatl was not selected by lineage but for being the best person with the purest and most compassionate heart. Aztec artists were inspired by the Toltecs, whom they admired. A good feather artist, for example, should be skillful, a master of oneself, and it was his duty to humanize the desires of the people; but a bad artist ignores how things look, is greedy, and scorns other people. A good painter is wise; God is in his heart, and he puts divinity into things and converses with his own heart.
Tlacaelel served three Aztec kings as cihuacoatl (snake woman); he was an able administrator but may have overseen the book burning under Itzcoatl intended to erase their humiliating Tepanec history. Though Nezahuacoyotl participated in the massacre of Azcapotzalco and the taking of other cities, he codified the laws of Texcoco and was known for his wisdom and justice. He went among the poor incognito to learn from them, and in his realm he only allowed war prisoners to be sacrificed. He supervised the construction of dams and canals that greatly enhanced agriculture. The causeway and aqueduct from Chapultepec to Mexica, began under Itzcoatl, was completed in 1466. He gave prizes in the arts, crafts, music, and poetry. Nezahuacoyotl wrote poetry about human mortality in this world and immortality in the next; yet he believed songs would last. He felt alone and empty of wisdom but praised the Giver of Life who distributes truth and brings joy.
Itzcoatl initiated the Aztec empire by conquering Coyoacan, Xochimilco, Cuitlahuac, and the remaining towns in the valley of Mexico. After conquering Cuernavaca, Itzcoatl died in 1440, and Montezuma I was elected king. Montezuma was a successful general and also a high priest; he expanded the Mexica empire to the Gulf coast and organized botanical and zoological gardens. He had campaigned against Chalca to gain victims for his coronation. When they captured and killed two sons of Nezahualcoyotl and prepared for war, the Mexica mobilized every man and boy in 1444 and gained the Tepanecs and Acolhuas as allies. The final battle was fought on the feast day of the Chalca god Camaxtli so that they would have captives to sacrifice. The victorious Mexica took 500 prisoners and sacrificed them. The long war with the Chalca was suspended when the Mexica suffered a great famine, though the Mexica found cause to make the Cohuixcas tributaries in 1448. The need for sacrificial victims stimulated the Mexica, Tepanecs, and Acolhuas in the valley to take on the Cholultecs, Tlascaltecs, and Huexotxincas in ritual combats to gain captives. A young man was not really recognized as a warrior until he had captured a soldier by himself, and it took four captures before he was considered a veteran.
A plague of locusts had devoured crops in 1446, and floods caused devastation three years later. Nezahualcoyotl oversaw the building of a dike to protect Tenochtitlan. The bad harvest in 1450 was followed by two years in which frosts destroyed the corn (maize) and a year of drought so that in 1454 there was no seed to sow. Famine became extreme as people sold themselves and their children into slavery to people along the coast; Mexica rulers prohibited the selling of a child for less than 400 ears of corn. With a new 52-year cycle rains came in 1455; but the Mexica imperial system had broken down, and in superstitious desperation they increased the number of human sacrifices; Montezuma and his brother Tlacaelel even planned so-called "wars of flowers" with the Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo for the purpose of getting more victims. Montezuma led the campaign against the peoples on the Gulf coast, and tribute was exacted from them. He demanded that the people of Cotaxtla supply them with mantles twice as long as before. After many were killed, the common people denounced their leaders and turned them over to the Mexica, who replaced the chiefs and doubled their tribute. Prisoners were not sacrificed but were given to the nobles with Tlacaelel receiving a large number.
Next the Mexica army turned north and invaded the Huaxtecs, killing and taking captives. Back at Tenochtitlan they were sacrificed at the festival of their own god Xipe Totec after fighting in an arena against better-armed opponents. The captor of the prisoner supervised the ritual. A long war with Chalco finally resulted in their subjugation when three despairing Chalco princes came over to the side of the Mexica in 1465, making it a part of the Aztec empire. The next year Montezuma led an attack against Tepeaca and three other towns, which agreed to pay tribute and accept Mexica's god. Montezuma died in 1468 and left no legitimate sons; his brother Tlacaelel declined to succeed him, and Nezahualcoyotl recommended nineteen-year-old prince Axayacatl. He led the campaign to subdue the Cotaxtla rebellion in 1470.
Nezahualcoyotl died in 1472; though he had sixty sons and 57 daughters from forty wives, he was succeeded by his oldest legitimate son, eight-year-old Nezahualpilli. Three sons challenged him, but Axayacatl and the Tacuba saved Nezahualpilli by bringing him to Tenochtitlan, where he was crowned king of Texcoco. In 1473 some maidens of Tlatelolco complained that they had been ravished by youths from Tenochtitlan. The Tlatelolcan ruler Moquihuix had married Axayacatl's sister but had rejected her for more attractive concubines. She warned her brother, who was able to gather more allies, including Texcoco. Moquihuix was defeated and killed. The Tlatelolcans submitted that they were only merchants and offered tribute; they were put under a military governor from their neighboring city of Tenochtitlan. Axayacatl used his military power to exact unfair trade agreements, such as from the cities of Soconusco in the east. In 1474 a dispute between Toluca and Tenancingo resulted in the latter asking for help from Axayacatl, who took advantage of the conflict to gain tribute from both. Axayacatl was wounded in the thigh, but many captives were gained for the sacrifices to celebrate the inauguration of the Stone of the Sun, which weighed 24 tons and became famous as the Aztec Calendar Stone.
In 1478 the Mexica once again subdued the rebellious Huaxtecs of Tuxpan; but that year they found tougher resistance from the Tarascans in the north. 24,000 Mexica took on 40,000 Tarascans; but after two days of fighting they fled, having lost 20,000 men. Nonetheless Matlaltzinco was brought into the Mexica empire. Axayacatl died in 1481 and was succeeded by his older brother Tizoc. Nezahualpilli advised him to take care of widows, orphans, and the elderly as well as his warriors. Tizoc followed the Mexica custom of launching a war to gain sacrificial victims for his coronation by invading Metztitlan in the north; but his campaign was a dismal failure as they lost 300 men and brought home only forty captives. Tizoc also tried to suppress a rebellion in Toluca, and his battles were commemorated on an extant stone; but he was unpopular and was probably poisoned in 1486 so that his younger brother Ahuitzotl could replace him.
Ahuitzotl was an aggressive king and began his reign by attacking the cities of Xiquipilco, Chiapas, and Xilotepec, providing many victims for his lavish coronation that cost a year's tribute and to which he invited even his enemies. Ahuitzotl insisted that allies join him in quelling the unrest in the coastal province of Huaxtec. The pyramids of the Great Temple in Tenochtitlan were inaugurated in 1487 with four days of sacrifices that were reported by several sources to claim an unbelievable 80,400 lives. These sacrifices were justified by the belief that such rituals were necessary to keep the sun on its course. The captive warriors were mollified by being honored as gods prior to their hearts being cut out. Next the Mexica king ruthlessly devastated the rebellious cities of Teloloapan and Oztoma, killing all the adults and distributing 40,000 children around the empire.
Ahuitzotl wanted to colonize some areas with 400 people taken from each of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tacuba; but Nezahualpilli persuaded him to reduce the numbers to half and let people volunteer. Ahuitzotl sent his daughters to be wives of Nezahualpilli, who later caught his queen with three lovers and had the four executed. Nezahualpilli was severe in his justice, having two rebellious sons also executed. A judge was condemned to death for hearing a case in his home, as was another for favoring a noble over a poor man. His reforms included nullifying a law that made children slaves if their parents were, thus resisting the trend toward more slavery in the late empire.
Ahuitzotl's empire enabled the Mexica to gain cotton from the northern coastal region and gold and cochineal from the Oaxaca Zapotecs, who revolted against the unfair trade in 1496. Ahuitzotl tried to prevent his victorious warriors from plundering, and they resented his limited sharing of booty. When the rulers of Tehuantepec offered to pay much tribute to prevent a slaughter, Ahuitzotl pleased everyone by distributing it to his men. When the people of Tehuantepec tried to trade with the Soconusco, the latter called them cowards for being lackeys of Mexica. Tehuantepec appealed to Ahuitzotl. His armies defeated Soconusco, but once again the warriors complained when they were not allowed to pillage. When the city of Tenochtitlan needed fresh water, Ahuitzotl forced the ruler of Coyoacan to make his springs available. Warned that this would cause flooding, Ahuitzotl went ahead anyway; the springs and heavy rains flooded the lagoon, causing much damage before Nezahualpilli could repair the dikes and remove the new dams with help from divers.
When Ahuitzotl died in 1502, the nobles had several outstanding candidates to choose from for their next king. Nezahualpilli warned that the empire was overextended and that they needed an experienced statesman. They elected Montezuma II, the 34-year-old son of Axayacatl. Montezuma was known for his aristocratic attitudes and may even have promised to favor the nobility; for he began his reign by dismissing all the commoners who had worked in the government under Ahuitzotl. The former king had chosen many commoners for their abilities, but Montezuma refused even to hire his own half-brothers. Children of slave mothers were definitely rejected, and the only other necessary requirement besides nobility seems to have been their height. Montezuma had been found cleaning the temple when he was elected, and he was an ascetic disciplinarian who favored strict punishments. He even sent people to bribe judges and punished those who succumbed to the temptation. Once he was surrounded by the nobility, the new king ordered that all those who had served Ahuitzotl were to be executed.
Montezuma II began his military campaigns by attacking Nopallan on the Oaxaca coast. He warned cities that any rebellion would be crushed. At the usual sacrifices during his coronation the guests ate psychedelic mushrooms. After suppressing a rebellion in distant Soconusco, where he ordered all those over fifty killed, Montezuma made it his policy to consolidate his empire by conquering the independent cities nearest his capital. He bullied the commercial city of Tlatelolco into providing more support for his military expeditions. In 1503 he captured Achiotla in Oaxaca. The next year a war broke out between Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo, usually allies; after the former burned the latter's crops, Montezuma intervened and occupied Huexotzingo but was defeated by the Tlaxcalans. After his army massacred the people of Yanhuitlan, the people of Zozollan fled to the mountains. In 1506 the city of Teuctepec sent out an army that was defeated; though the fortress could not be taken,
Montezuma ordered the many prisoners sacrificed. Threatened with the death of half their population in 1511, the Mixtec city of Tlaxiaco submitted and only had some prisoners sacrificed as gladiators.Mexica fought Tlaxcala and its ally Huexotzingo for several years. During this war Montezuma sent the Acolhua army of Nezahualpilli and let them be ambushed as he watched. In 1512 a new stone was dedicated, and 12,000 Mixtecs were sacrificed. Nezahualpilli died in 1515, and Montezuma chose his own nephew Cacama as the new king of Texcoco. That year Montezuma once again sent his army to occupy Huexotzingo in its battle against Tlaxcala; but most were killed or taken prisoner. Nonetheless Montezuma made many other conquests. The Chichimec prince Ixtilxochitl organized a revolt and took his partisans to independent Meztitlan, while his brother Cacama was being crowned. In 1517 Ixtilxochitl marched south with a hundred thousand men and gained support from several cities. Montezuma sent his general Xochitl, but he was defeated, captured, and burned alive. Ixtilxochitl sent a message to Cacama, and they agreed to divide their kingdom. The Huexotzingo chief captured the Tlascaltec warrior Tlalhuicol and sent him to Montezuma, who offered him freedom and employed him as a general against the Tarascos. Tlalhuicol returned with spoils but volunteered to be a gladiator, killing eight Anahuac warriors before he was sacrificed.
The people of Huexotzingo finally made peace with Tlaxcala and returned to their homes in 1518. Montezuma had been receiving premonitions and disastrous omens along with rumors of invading foreigners; frustrated that they were saying his empire would fall, he had astrologers, magicians, and sorcerers killed. He was sacrificing more victims to inaugurate the refurbishing with gold of a temple to their war god Huitzilopochtli when he received definite news of strangers led by Juan de Grijalva. An embassy was sent with generous gifts; but the Spaniards had departed. The next year the ships of Cortes arrived.
Incas to 1532
Inca origins in the 13th century are explained by the legend of Manco Capac leading a migration to Cuzco, getting rid of his three brothers, and marrying his sister. According to Garcilaso de la Vega, the second king Sinchi Roca drew tribes into the Inca empire by love rather than force and told his people to live in peace and that he would assist them when they were in need. Garcilaso and some chroniclers described the Inca empire expanding through the efforts of several kings; but if so, there must have been setbacks, because the eighth king Viracocha Inca was still fighting the nearby Chanca, Lupaca, and Colla with Cuzco besieged. Viracocha began the historical imperial expansion by garrisoning conquered peoples and placing Inca officials over them. Viracocha wanted his son Urcon to succeed him, but the oldest son Inca Roca wanted the capable third son Cusi Inca Yupanqui to be the next ruler. The Colla attacked the Lupaca and were defeated by them. The Chanca had taken over the Inca neighbor Quechua and invaded Cuzco. Viracocha and Urcon barricaded themselves in the fortress; but Cusi Yupanqui with Roca led a heroic defense against the attacking Chanca. The Incas overcame the Chanca in several battles. When Viracocha died, Urcon became king. However, Cusi Yupanqui, refusing to recognize him, took the throne and the name Pachacuti in 1438.
Pachacuti leveled villages for six miles in every direction in order to build a large city at Cuzco. Pachacuti's armies began their conquest by killing the men of their nearby enemies. The surrounding mountains were taken over next. After the Chanca were subdued at Ichupampa, their skulls and skins were turned into drums. Urcon was declared an outlaw and was hunted down and killed; Viracocha Inca submitted, and Pachacuti was crowned and probably wedded to Urcon's sister and wife. The new Inca emperor set about expanding and integrating his empire. Pachacuti made his oldest son Amaru Inca co-regent, and after a drought he was worshiped for feeding the hungry with corn, potatoes, and quinoa. A Colla coalition was defeated, and its leader Chuchi Capac was sacrificed at Coricancha. However, Amaru Inca was not a strong military leader, and his father deposed him after about five years.
A Chanca contingent led by Hancohuallu accompanied the Inca army under Pachacuti's brother and general Capac Yupanqui. They conquered Aimara, Umasuyu, Cotapampa, and Chilque. Above Huanco, the Chancas deserted and fled into the forest. Pachacuti ordered Capac Yupanqui to kill them. Capac Yupanqui went beyond his orders by invading Cajamarca in the north; even though he was successful there, when he returned to Cuzco, Pachacuti had him and his brother executed for disobedience and for allowing the Chancas to escape. Chanca rebels led by Hastu Huaraca eventually capitulated and were sent to Collao. Rebellion broke out in lands to the north as far as Cajamarca. Incas at this time began moving conquered people to regions with similar climates, where they could adapt and be less rebellious, replacing them with obedient peasants. Next Pachacuti's army quelled revolts near Lake Titicaca encouraged by the Lupaca, whom they also crushed.
Once local enemies were eliminated and Inca power became known, diplomatic means often were successful. Knowing they would be slaughtered if they resisted, leaders could maintain their positions under Inca governors. Subjected towns provided not only supplies but also men for the Inca army, which thus grew as it moved. Pachacuti left behind several sayings criticizing envy, and he declared that judges who allowed a plaintiff to visit them in secret should be considered thieves and be punished with death. He organized the Inca empire so that loyalty to the tribe was combined with loyalty to the emperor, and he promoted a religion for the same purpose. Seeing the limitations of the sun god, Pachacuti proclaimed the Creator Ticci Viracocha Pachayachachi the supreme God. He rewarded the best leaders by giving them the best wives. At Cuzco Pachacuti had the swamp filled and artificial banks constructed. Provincial Inca nobles were required to live in Cuzco for four months each year. Mining operations brought much gold and silver into the capital, but none was allowed to leave without imperial authorization to be used for temples or to reward governors. Those coming into Cuzco were also searched for weapons.
Incas lived in clans called ayllu, were endogamous, patrilineal and did not have totems. Each family had their own land, but the ayllu worked communally, farming the sacred and state lands first and taking care of the land of widows and families of men in public service. Local chiefs were retained, but complete loyalty was demanded by the Inca emperor, who was served directly by the most outstanding young men and women. The most beautiful girls were selected at age ten and educated for four years in spinning, weaving, and domestic tasks. Those not taken by the emperor or nobles as secondary wives were consecrated as "virgins of the sun." The sons of the nobles spent four years learning the Quechua language, Inca religion and history, arithmetic, and record keeping using knotted cords. Discipline was by caning, up to ten blows per day on the soles of the feet. History was memorized by at least three historians for each emperor. Inca nobles related to the emperor governed each of the four quarters of the empire. Local leaders called curacas were hereditary chiefs over villages of a hundred men up to cities of ten thousand. Officers over smaller groups were appointed by their curaca, and their positions were not hereditary.
The state, headed by the Inca emperor and nobles, dominated everyone; but they provided for all the needs of the people. The emperor was called the friend of the poor. Those in distress received food from state storehouses, even if they had just been defeated in war. The aged were given food from state warehouses if they drove birds away from the fields. The emperor's word was law, and judges were expected to follow royal edicts. Crime was rare; if it was motivated by some need, the official responsible for not meeting the need might be punished. Disputes between provinces were settled by royal envoys or by the emperor himself. Treason and disobedience of the emperor were punished with death along with murder, arson, theft from the state, desertion from the army or public service, and breaking into a convent. Only a governor or the emperor could decree a capital punishment, and a curaca who did so was punished. Inca nobles were judged only by the court of twelve judges in Cuzco. Women and the lower class were not allowed to testify. Nobles guilty of adultery were executed, but commoners were only tortured. Another punishment was to be sent to work on the hot coca plantations.
In addition to working the sacred and state lands, the common men also had to serve in the army or perform public works in mines or for bridges, roads, and buildings; the people also had to provide everything the army needed. These services replaced tax or tribute, since there was no money. Roads were so good that relay runners could move a message 150 miles per day, and stations with warehouses provided all the needs of the imperial army in which men from all regions served under Inca officers.
Incas excelled in making and decorating textiles.
The educated considered God the omniscient creator, and worship of the sun and the emperor as his son was spread throughout the empire. As there is only one sun, there was one emperor; people taken into the empire were expected to worship the sun. A storm god was importuned for rain, and the moon goddess was important in periodic festivals. People in the highlands worshiped the earth goddess also, and those along the coast the sea goddess. Sins were confessed to priests, who took measures to make sure confessions were complete. Human sacrifice was rare among the Incas, and a girl so chosen was considered honored and blessed. Illness was thought a punishment for sin; healing was not only by magic but also by using various herbs.
In 1463 Pachacuti made his 15-year-old son Topa Inca his co-regent. His older brothers Auqui Yupanqui, Tillca Yupanqui, and the illegitimate Topa Capac led the army against the rebelling Quechuas and the Chimor. Topa Inca was given credit for conquering Vilcas. After driving off the Chimor, Topa turned Cajamarca into a fortress. Topa was the tenth Inca emperor, and Minchançaman was ninth leader of the Chimor. Wherever they conquered, the Incas collected tribute and imposed their religion, banning cannibalism and sodomy. When their capital Tumibamba was taken, many thousands of the Cañars were transferred south. In 1466 Topa returned to Cuzco in triumph. Next the Inca army invaded as far as Ecuador to capture the great city of Quito, where Topa left Challco Mayta to govern. On the coast the Incas captured the city of Tumbez, which was ruled by a polyandrous female curaca. By 1470 Minchançaman had been captured and taken to Cuzco. Pachacuti was so envious that he had Tillca Yupanqui and other leaders executed. Gold and silver was used to make statues of the gods Viracocha, Inti, and Mama Ocllo. The elderly Pachacuti abdicated, and Topa Inca was crowned.
In the south a hundred thousand Chinchas were prospering in farming, fishing, and commerce. Topa led his army and forced them to pay tribute while granting them autonomy. Others chose to resist, and the Incas gave up after eight months of trying to take Huarco. While campaigning, Topa let the capital be ruled by his brother Amaru Inca. When Topa took his army east toward the Amazon jungles, he learned Collao was revolting because of the forced labor imposed on them by Pachacuti. The rebellion spread in the south and took years for Topa to suppress and reorganize. Once while Topa was away, his older brother Topa Capac returned to Cuzco with his troops. The furious Topa Inca quickly came back and had his brother and many others put to death. Topa Inca popularized the chewing of coca leaves and made coca production a state monopoly. He disliked the provincial huacas (spiritual powers) and had many of their religious shrines burned. Acclaimed for defeating the Collas, Topa Inca went further south to Chile; according to Garcilaso, he spent six years campaigning there and lost fifty thousand men. In his last four years Topa had to go back to fight rebellion in the north as far as Quito.
When Topa Inca died in 1493, his heir apparent Huayna Capac was only five years old. His father's cousin Hualpaya was proclaimed regent; but conspirators supporting him were caught smuggling arms into the capital and were killed. Huayna Capac was forced to grow up quickly and went on a pilgrimage as his illegitimate brother Sinchi Roja governed from Cuzco. Some doubted the paternity of his first son Ninan Cuyochi, since the Emperor was still only ten. Huayna Capac's second son was Atahualpa, and his third son was named Huascar. Viceroy Huaman Achachi led a campaign against an uprising in Quito but returned to govern Cuzco. Huayna Capac persuaded the Colla and Lupaca curacas to support the northern war. Huascar was named heir apparent, and princes Ninan Cuyochi and Atahualpa were sent north to learn military command.
The war against the Carangui people of northern Ecuador began about 1511. Victories by the Carangui forced Huayna Capac to lead his army out of Quito. A mutiny in the Inca army was led by Michi, but Huayna Capac managed to mollify the soldiers with a religious display, sharing of treasure, and orgiastic celebrations. The brave Auqui Toma led the Inca army in battle but was killed. Huayna Capac commented that men are only food for war, but he took command again. The Carangui were finally devastated by 1522. Huayna Capac led his men further into Ecuador but soon encountered a spreading plague that had been brought by the Spanish. Huayna Capac and many others were infected, and the Inca emperor was dead by 1526. Also in the 1520s Huayna Capac sent his relative Guacane southeast of Cochabamba; but Guacane was defeated and killed by 8,000 Guarani warriors from Paraguay. Huayna Capac had to send Yasca to fortify this frontier against the threat of these Chiriguanos.
Ninan Cuyochi was declared emperor, but news came that he had also died in the epidemic. Huascar had already seized power in Cuzco. The queen Rahua Ocllo reluctantly agreed to let Huascar marry his sister Chuqui Huipa, and Huascar was crowned the twelfth and last Inca emperor. His brother Atahualpa sent word, asking to remain as viceroy in Quito; but his embassy was insulted, and he feared going to Cuzco without his troops and stayed at Tumibamba. Huascar plotted and had Atahualpa captured, but a girl helped him escape. Atahualpa prepared for the civil war that killed a hundred thousand people. He ordered a massacre of Cañars at Tumibamba, and the city was razed. He won another bloody battle and took Cajamarca. By 1531 Huascar was trying to defend Cuzco, and he finally tried to negotiate but was mocked by his mother Mama Rocha. From Cajamarca Atahualpa ordered Huascar, his family, and supporters killed, and about 1500 Incas were put to death. Then every fifth or third person within fifteen miles of Cuzco was also killed. This war was abruptly ended, as Atahualpa learned in 1532 that Spaniards led by Pizarro had arrived.
Columbus and the Caribbean
Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), whose name means "Christ-bearing colonizer," was born near Genoa in 1451. He became a sailor, navigator, captain, and mapmaker, and after 1480 he dedicated his life to the audacious venture of leading an expedition to explore eastern Asia by sailing west. His proposal was rejected by the Royal Commission of Portuguese king Joao II (r. 1481-1495), because they were exploring the route around Africa; also they believed that his estimate of the distance to Japan by going west was much too short. His brother Bartolomé Colon appealed to England's Henry VII without success. Finally in 1492 after the Spanish had defeated the Moors at Granada and expelled them and the Jews from Spain, King Fernando (Ferdinand) and Queen Isabel agreed to finance the bold venture.
Three ships left Palos, Spain on August 3, 1492 and departed from Gomera in the Canary Islands on September 6. Columbus told his crew they were going shorter distances than his own estimate so that they would not be so afraid; but modern scholars have calculated that his false reports were actually more accurate than his own estimates. On October 10 the crews resisted going any further west; but Columbus promised them he would turn back if they did not see land in three days. Two days later they landed on an island he called San Salvador, where they found a few naked Tainos (Arawaks). Columbus wanted to win them over to the Christian faith and gave them red caps, glass beads, and hawks' bells, for which they received cotton, parrots, and wooden spears in exchange. The natives had no iron, and one cut himself handling the wrong end of a sword. Columbus observed that they were intelligent and believed they would be good Christians and servants. Noticing a golden ornament worn on a nose, he tried to ask them where they found the gold. Columbus forbade his crew from taking things of value from them. On October 14 he took seven of them with him to learn his language, and he wrote in his logbook that fifty of his men could easily subjugate them.
Columbus explored and claimed many islands. Some of the women wore a piece of cotton over their genitals, but most were naked. Many of the inhabitants ran away when they saw the Spaniards coming. From Cuba they took a dozen people, including a man who wanted to be with his family. On November 21 Captain Martin Alonzo Pinzon took his ship Pinta to search for gold. Columbus named the large island of Haiti Española (Hispaniola). After one of their interpreters told the fleeing natives that the Christians had come from the sky, they were given hospitality. The local cacique (chief) Guacanagari was carried in a litter and shared with his tribe the food they gave him. On December 24 while Columbus was resting, his flagship Santa Maria was wrecked on a reef; but the natives helped his men salvage all they could. Columbus named the new settlement Navidad, and 39 of his men volunteered to stay there while he returned to Spain. Efforts were being made to find gold, and they were warned about the aggressive Caribs, whom they believed were cannibals. Columbus took over the Niña and met up with Martin Pinzon, who denied he had been collecting gold. Before they departed, a group of Indians charged seven Spaniards, who wounded two of them before the fifty-five natives fled.
Columbus went northeast and found favorable winds; but a storm near the Azores caused them to pray and promise pilgrimages. Half his men on the pilgrimage, dressed only in shirts, were captured by the Portuguese; but Columbus managed to get them back and was received by King Joao II at Lisbon before he returned triumphantly to the Spanish court at Barcelona. According to their agreement, Columbus was recognized as Viceroy over the lands he discovered. He promised that they would bring back gold, spices, cotton, mastic, aloes, and slaves. A large expedition with seventeen ships and at least 1200 men was organized. On May 4, 1493 Pope Alexander VI designated a line 100 leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, giving Portugal discoveries east of it, and Castile those to the west; but the next year Spain agreed in the Treaty of Tordesillas to have the line be 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands.
On the second voyage Columbus explored the leeward islands (Antilles), where they found the Caribs treated women cruelly and slaughtered and ate men. When they got back to Navidad, they learned that all the Christians were dead: some died from disease; some seeking gold were killed by Caonabo; and the rest were killed in the village. Guacanagari claimed that he had been wounded, though some doubted his injury. Columbus founded a settlement on the north coast of Española called Isabela. He sent Alonso de Hojeda (Ojeda) with fourteen men to look for gold at Cibao. Captain Antonio de Torres took twelve ships back to Castile with many requests by Columbus. While the Admiral was visiting the gold fields discovered by Hojeda, a plot to overthrow him was organized by Bernal de Pisa, who was caught and imprisoned. The Christians learned that the Tainos had no private property, as they freely took things from each other and shared everything in common. Columbus had Fort Santo Tomas built in the goldfields and put Pedro Margarit in charge.
Many Christians had difficulty adjusting to the tropical diet and became sick; so Columbus left 300 men on the island and sent the rest back to Castile. He put his brother Diego Colon in charge of the council and went off to explore Jamaica and Cuba. Lacking sleep, the Admiral eventually collapsed and returned to Isabela, where he found his brother Bartolomé had arrived. Pedro Margarit, instead of policing the island, let many factions and quarrels spring up in Isabela, where the council would not let him take control. Margarit took a ship back to Castile, allowing the Spaniards to rob and seize whatever women they pleased. In response to these crimes the Magdalena cacique Guatigana executed ten Christians and burned a house with forty sick men. When Columbus came back, he had some of Guatigana's chiefs arrested and sent to Spain; others were punished for having killed Christians.
The four main rulers on the island of Española were Caonabo, Higuanama, Behechio, and Guarionex; under each of these was about seventy caciques. Guacanagari remained loyal to Columbus and asked him to punish Caonabo and Behechio for taking his women. In 1495 the Admiral prepared 200 Christians with twenty horses and hunting dogs for war against about 100,000 Tainos. Bartolomé was appointed adelantado (governor) and commanded half the force. The horses and dogs caused the natives to flee, and many were killed. Most of those captured were executed except for Caonabo and his family; he had been captured earlier by Hojeda, who had tricked him by giving him shiny manacles. Caonabo confessed to murdering the men left at Navidad and died while being shipped to Castile. For a while the Christians were safe, and the natives would even carry them on their shoulders. Columbus believed it was God's providence for so few Christians to dominate the natives in this way. Tainos over age 14 had to pay tribute every three months, either a hawks' bell full of gold or 25 pounds of cotton. In exchange the Spaniards gave them a copper or brass medallion to wear to show they had paid; later the amount of gold required was cut in half. Many Tainos, who failed to pay this tax, had their hands cut off and often bled to death.
Michele de Cuneo reported that in February 1495 Columbus captured 1,600 Tainos and put 550 on ships, though 200 died on the return passage. Columbus claimed that four shiploads sent with Torres that year were cannibal Caribs, and they were sold in Spain as slaves to lessen colonial expenses. According to Peter Martyr, 50,000 Tainos had already died before this from famine, because they destroyed their own crops to discourage the Spaniards from settling on the island. In March 1496 Columbus stopped at the Caribs' islands to plunder food for their voyage back to Spain. On the island of Guadalupe he left some prisoners and gifts to gain good will so that they could use that island for provisions in the future. Las Casas later calculated that by 1496 the Tainos population on Española had been reduced to a third of what it had been. That year Bartolomé Colon recorded that there were more than a million Tainos adults in their domain. Columbus at the port of Cadiz saw three ships led by Pedro Alonso Niño departing in June 1496, and he gave him a letter authorizing him to sell prisoners of war as slaves.
That summer Bartolomé Colon collected 300 "prisoners" and sent them back with Niño's fleet, while they built Santo Domingo on the south coast of Española. Bartolomé visited Behechio in Jaragua and allowed him to pay tribute in cotton, cassava, and hemp, because the region had no gold. Meanwhile alcalde mayor (chief magistrate) Francisco Roldan was leading the hungry, lusty, and greedy in a rebellion, because food had not arrived, they were not allowed to take native women, and they wanted to seek gold. They plotted to assassinate the adelantado Bartolomé Colon when he was going to hang their friend Barahona; but the sentence was commuted. With 65 men Roldan went to Isabela and took supplies without Diego Colon's permission before heading for Jaragua, where the women were most beautiful and friendly. Roldan's men and Tainos led by Guarionex planned to attack Fort Conception by surprise on the full moon as caciques murdered Christians; but one cacique struck early, and thus Bartolomé was warned. Roldan extorted a gourd full of gold from the cacique Manicaotex. Three ships under Carvajal sent by Columbus directly to Española arrived at Jaragua by mistake, and many were won over to Roldan's conspiracy. Bartolomé used force to subdue Guarionex and burned his villages as punishment.
The third voyage of Christopher Columbus had been delayed in Spain for two years by the hostility of Bishop Fonseca. After exploring the coast of South America, a weary Columbus arrived at Santo Domingo, finding 160 men sick with syphilis. This disease was not known in Europe until 1493. Having only seventy men who could fight, the Admiral summoned Roldan, offered him safe conduct, and agreed they could have ships to leave with their gold, women, and slaves within fifty days. When that could not be fulfilled, Columbus agreed to exonerate Roldan, let him resume his office as chief magistrate, and let his men have free land grants in Jaragua. These were called repartimientos and were the beginning of what became the encomienda system by which natives were "commended" to settlers, who could make them work on the plantations they were given; the encomenderos were also supposed to teach them to be good Christians. The caciques agreed to this in order to avoid paying the hated tribute. In 1498 Columbus shipped six hundred slaves and authorized forced labor in the repartimientos but under their caciques. By the end of 1499 Columbus had learned that there were extensive gold fields in Española.
Columbus had already written to the Spanish sovereigns saying he planned to take as many slaves as he could; now he told them of the rebellion and asked them to send a competent judge. Meanwhile they had authorized Hojeda to visit the mainland Columbus had discovered and which Hojeda named Venezuela, where he found valuable pearl fisheries. The natives asked him to attack their enemy Caribs on the islands, and Hojeda's force of 57 men killed many and captured others with only one Spaniard killed and 21 wounded. When Hojeda arrived in Española, he took wood and tried to take over leadership of the rebellion from Roldan, who now was ordered by the Columbus brothers to bring in Hojeda; but the captain avoided capture, filled his ships with slaves, and went back to Spain. Meanwhile Pedro Alonso Niño with one ship managed to get rich taking pearls from Margarita and Cumana. However, Vicente Yañez Pinzon borrowed money at outrageous interest in Palos and discovered Brazil but went broke and almost lost his ships in a lawsuit.
As alcalde, Roldan arrested rebels and condemned Adrian de Mujica to be hanged. This satisfied the Tainos. They obediently went back to digging gold, and many, to please the Admiral, became Christians. The critics of Columbus got King Fernando and Queen Isabel to authorize Francisco de Bobadilla to investigate in Española with power to take over if necessary. When he arrived, he saw hanged Spaniards and stopped Diego Colon from executing other rebels. Diego was put in irons, and Bobadilla took over the governing palace, hearing many testify against the Colons. He tried to gain popularity by reducing the royal share of the gold from one-third to one-eleventh and by letting the Spaniards have their way with the natives. Columbus obeyed his summons and advised Bartolomé to submit also. Bobadilla sent all three Colon brothers back to Spain in chains.
After Columbus was brought to Cadiz, the sovereigns ordered him released from his chains. At their court in Granada they ordered Bobadilla to restore his estate; but Nicolas de Ovando was appointed governor of Española, and Venezuela was assigned to Hojeda and Vicente Yañez Pinzon. Ovando conducted a residencia of Bobadilla, meaning an investigation into his governing in residence, and he arrested chief judge Roldan. Columbus was given permission to go on a fourth voyage of exploration, but he was told to stay away from Española and their enemy, the Portuguese. He took shelter at Santo Domingo from a hurricane and warned Ovando not to send out his fleet. The ships led by Antonio de Torres and carrying Bobadilla were lost; only one ship with Columbus's agent Carvajal and his gold survived the hurricane.
After replacing a ship, Columbus explored what he called Veragua and the Mosquito coast from Panama to the Cape of Honduras. In 1503 he visited a cacique named Quibian, who was captured by Diego Mendez; but he escaped. Their ships became waterlogged from wormholes, and they were marooned at Jamaica. Mendez and Fieschi with six natives managed to take a canoe to Española; but a year went by before Columbus was rescued. Meanwhile the Porras brothers led a mutiny; they tried and failed to leave the island, which they then plundered. To keep the natives providing his men with food, Columbus used an upcoming eclipse of the moon on February 29, 1504 to persuade them that his God would harm them if they did not provide food for them. Columbus returned to Spain, where he died in 1506.
Caribbean and South America 1500-1615
In 1502 captain Hojeda returned to the Gulf of Paria to govern Coquibacoa, where he cut down trees, built a fort, and fought natives. He sent Vergara to Jamaica for supplies; but Vergara and Ocampo resented Hojeda keeping all the gold in a strongbox and took him prisoner to Santo Domingo, where all three were judged. Hojeda appealed to the sovereign and was eventually acquitted.
Governor Ovando arrived in Española in 1502 with 2,500 men on thirty ships. He subjugated the Tainos and strictly disciplined the Spaniards. Although Queen Isabel had instructed Ovando to consider the "Indians" free and not subject to slavery, she wrote they could be compelled to work for wages. Forced labor, diseases such as measles and smallpox, and famine greatly reduced the number of Tainos. Many crops were destroyed as herds of pigs and cattle were brought from Spain. Las Casas described in his history how in Jaragua Behechio's widow Anacaona tried hard to help the Spaniards; but Ovando believed that she was plotting revolt. He had her hanged and burned eighty caciques alive in a house. After dogs killed their cacique, natives in Higuey and Saona killed eight Spaniards in a boat. Juan de Esquivel was sent with four hundred men and slaughtered the natives, killing six hundred in one house. Even Las Casas could not describe the extermination. By the end of 1504 a royal order allowed Spaniards to compel natives to work but for wages, not as slaves.
In 1505 the first Spanish-speaking African slaves were brought to Española. A royal letter in 1509 decreed that natives were only to be compelled to work for one or two years, not for life. That year, before he was succeeded by Diego Columbus, son of the Admiral, Ovando sent Sebastian de Ocampo to reconnoiter Cuba. Only 60,000 Tainos were counted in 1509, and in 1514 a repartimiento, based on a census that recorded 22,726 (not counting slaves), was ordered by treasurer Miguel de Pasamonte. Large grants were given to absentee landlords such as Bishop Fonseca, royal secretary Lope de Conchillos, and others. According to the crown's records, about a ton of gold per year was mined in Española between 1504 and 1519.
On his third voyage Hojeda was paired with the courtier Diego de Nicuesa. In 1509 Nicuesa captured a hundred natives from the island of Santa Cruz and sold them as slaves on Española. Because Hojeda and Nicuesa were using Jamaica to supply Venezuela, Diego Columbus sent Juan de Esquivel to seize it; but Jamaica did not produce gold, and settlers left. Hojeda explored Cartagena with four ships and three hundred men; Juan de la Cosa had been there eight years earlier with Bastides, and he warned Hojeda that the natives were warlike and used poisoned arrows. Hojeda had friars read a proclamation that they were a conquering people of the Catholic faith and that the pope had given their king this land and all its inhabitants; if they did not accept this religion, they would be attacked and made slaves. Hojeda led an expedition inland and alone survived, losing all his men, including the veteran Juan de la Cosa. Nicuesa had fallen out with Hojeda but helped him get revenge against these natives and got enough gold from the venture to give his men 7,000 castellanos each. (100 castellanos were equal to one pound of gold.)
Hojeda founded a colony on the mainland called San Sebastian and built a stockade. Wondering if Hojeda was invincible, natives ambushed him and shot a poisoned arrow into his thigh; but he ordered a doctor to cauterize the wound with a red-hot iron and survived. Men on Española led by Talavera stole a Genoese ship and took Hojeda captive; but they needed him to navigate in a storm. They were not able to make it back to Española and landed on Cuba, where they hiked through swamps and lost half the men. Hojeda prayed to the virgin Mary, using a painting, and built a chapel for the relic at the native village which saved his exhausted men. Eventually Hojeda made it back to Santo Domingo; but Diego Columbus had the pirates arrested in Jamaica and hanged for stealing the ship.
Nicuesa explored the isthmus of Panama. In 1510 Bachelor Enciso sailed to find Hojeda and discovered that debtor Vasco Nuñez de Balboa had stowed away on board. Enciso learned of graveyards at Zenu and went there to steal the gold and gems. He read a proclamation Hojeda had used which had been drawn up by Spanish jurists. The natives replied that they agreed there is one God, but they thought the pope and the Spanish king must have been drunk or mad to think their country was given to them. They warned they would cut off his head if he tried to do this, showing them a row of enemy heads on poles. Enciso attacked them; but two of his men, wounded by arrows, died from the poison. They went back to San Sebastian, where Enciso's ship was wrecked, and he had to join the ship of Francisco Pizarro. Balboa said he had been with Bastides and guided them to the lucrative and fertile Darien, where the warriors did not use poison. The cacique Zemaco with 500 warriors attacked them but was defeated by Enciso and his men. Enciso forbade private trafficking in gold and became so unpopular that he was deposed, as Balboa and Zamudio were elected. When Nicuesa came there and tried to take the gold, he was refused and, given the worst vessel, sailed away in March 1511 never to be heard of again.
Learning of gold, Governor Ovando in 1509 had authorized Juan Ponce de Leon to begin settlements on San Juan (Puerto Rico), where natives were distributed to Spaniards in repartimientos. The cacique Agueybana led a revolt. His sister loved Cristoval de Sotomayor and warned him; but their native guides murdered him and four other Spaniards. Spanish villages were burned, and a hundred inhabitants were massacred. Ponce de Leon had less than a hundred men in a fort; but he was reinforced from Española, and they defeated five thousand warriors, killing Agueybana. Put to work in the mines, eventually most of the natives of Puerto Rico died.
Slave raiding was authorized in the Bahamas to replace the dwindling labor supply on Española. The Spaniards had servants, whom they did not call slaves. In 1511 Diego de Velazquez began the conquest of Cuba. Young Bartolomé de Las Casas accompanied Panfilo de Narvaez on the conquest of the eastern end of Cuba, where chief Hatuey had fled from Spanish oppression. Seven thousand naked natives attacked the forces of Narvaez to steal clothes and other things. Narvaez terrified them with his horse, and they fled. To lessen conflict, parson Las Casas persuaded Narvaez to let the natives abandon half their houses to his settlers. In one incident a hundred Spaniards killed hundreds of natives, but Las Casas managed to save forty porters.
As early as 1509 King Fernando had ordered that no official should prevent anyone from sending him information concerning the welfare of those in the new world. In December 1511 Fray Antonio Montesinos preached a sermon at Santo Domingo in which he warned the conquistadors they were all in mortal sin because of the cruel way they were oppressing innocent people. He asked them,
Tell me, by what right do you hold these Indians
in such cruel and horrible servitude?
By what authority did you make unprovoked war
on these people, living in peace and quiet on their land,
and with unheard-of savagery
kill and consume so great a number of them?
Why do you keep them worn out and down-trodden,
without feeding them or tending their illnesses,
so that they die-or rather you kill them-
by reason of the heavy labor you lay upon them,
to get gold every day?
What care do you take to have them taught
to know their God and Maker, to be baptized,
to hear Mass and keep their Sundays and holy days?
Are they not men? Have they no soul, no reason?
Are you not required to love them as you love yourselves?
Do you understand this? Do you not feel it?
How can you be sunk so deep in unfeeling sleep?1
The audience was affected but not converted, and they complained to Diego Columbus, insisting that the following Sunday the Dominican friar should retract what he had said. Fray Montesinos agreed to try but preached another strong sermon the next week. So they wrote to the king. In March 1512 Fernando ordered governor Diego Columbus to restrain Montesinos, and Dominican superior Alonso de Loaysa commanded the Dominicans to stop preaching that doctrine. A royal response justifying the encomenderos was probably written by Bishop Fonseca.
Montesinos and the Franciscan Alonso del Espinal persuaded King Fernando to order theologians and jurists to formulate new laws. Friar Matias de Paz argued Indians must be free persons; but he believed that wars and enslavement could be used if they refused to become Christians. Palacios Rubios held that Pope Alexander VI in 1493 had given the natives to Spain to make them Christians; but they should not be mistreated. The Laws of Burgos promulgated at the end of 1512 mandated humane treatment of natives but allowed coercion to make them work. The encomienda system was ratified, and the natives were to live in new houses as their old ones were burned. They were to be taught to be Christians, forbidden to dance, but persuaded to marry. They could be allowed to live under their own government but must pay feudal dues to Spain. One-third of them may work in the gold mines. The next year a Clarification to the Laws of Burgos said the natives could be compelled to work nine months each year, and they must also work the other three months for wages or on their own farms.
Factional Spaniards at Darien elected Balboa, who found Enciso guilty and sent him back to Spain with alcalde Zamudio. The Darien cacique Zemaco ambushed the Spaniards; but Francisco Pizarro and his men killed many as the rest fled; Balboa made Pizarro go back to get a wounded man. Two criminals had escaped punishment by Nicuesa and lived with the native Coyba cacique Careta. One told Balboa that Careta was hiding treasure. After the cacique and his family were captured, Careta offered to be Balboa's friend and gave him his daughter. Balboa helped the Coyba defeat their enemy, the Ponca. The Comagre tribe gave Balboa 4,000 ounces of gold and sixty captive slaves; after taking one-fifth of the gold for the crown, Balboa shared the rest with his men. Balboa sent Valdivia to Española for supplies and wrote asking Diego Columbus to send a thousand men for an expedition to discover the southern sea.
After another attack from Zemaco, Balboa had a fortress built at Darien in 1512. A mutiny over gold division was suppressed; but after Balboa was recognized as governor by Diego Columbus, Balboa pardoned them. Learning that Enciso was accusing him in Spain, Balboa took 190 men and a thousand natives with guides to cross the mountains. Ponca foe Quaraqua attacked them, but Spanish firearms, swords, and dogs killed 600 of his men; Balboa had about forty homosexual men in Quaraqua's harem torn apart by dogs for sodomy. On September 25, 1513 Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. The cacique Chiapes gave him 500 pounds of gold, and Tumaco gave him more gold and pearls. Balboa had the chief Poncra and three others killed by dogs, because their enemies said they were plotting against him. Even more gold was extorted from the cacique Tubanama.
King Fernando sent Pedro Arias de Avila (Pedrarias Davila) to govern Golden Castile (as Darien was called) and to investigate Balboa. After learning of Balboa's achievements, two thousand men joined the expedition; but no lawyers were allowed. Franciscan friar Juan de Quevedo was appointed bishop and Gaspar de Espinosa alcalde mayor. The large enterprise was delayed until 1514 while Martin Fernandez de Enciso persuaded the royal council that God had given Spain the Indies just as the Jews had been given the promised land. El Requerimiento was formulated and was later proclaimed by conquistadors to justify their domination of natives. After explaining the Catholic religion, the sovereignty of the king and queen, and promising to treat them with love and charity if they accept their authority, this Requirement threatened the natives as follows:
But if you do not do thus, or maliciously delay to do it,
I certify to you that with the help of God
I will invade your lands with a powerful force,
and will make war upon you in all parts,
and in every manner in my power,
and will subject you to the yoke
and obedience of the Church and their highnesses;
and I will take your persons,
and those of your wives and children,
and will make them slaves,
and as such will sell them and dispose of them
as their highnesses shall order;
and I will take your property,
and I will do you all possible harm and evil,
as to vassals who do not obey or recognize their lord,
but who resist and oppose him.
And I protest that the deaths and damage
which from such conduct may result will be at your charge
and not at that of their highnesses, nor at mine,
nor at that of the gentlemen who come with me.2
Balboa submitted to a residencia in 1515 and had to pay a fine. In one month 700 of the greedy adventurers died of hunger and disease; others were sent back to Spain. The rapacious Juan de Ayores oppressed the natives while trying to find gold. At Dobayba a hundred Spaniards died, and Balboa was wounded. King Fernando proclaimed Balboa adelantado of the South Sea and governor of Panama and Coyba; but the resentful Garabito persuaded Pedrarias to arrest Balboa. Pizarro led an expedition after pearls to the Isla Rica that killed 700 natives in one battle. Bishop Quevedo persuaded Pedrarias not to send Balboa back to Spain but to betroth his daughter to Balboa. In 1516 Balboa managed to transport materials to build ships for exploring the Pacific, though Bishop Quevedo reported that more than 500 Indians died on the journey. Garabito used Balboa's native paramour to turn Pedrarias against him, and Pizarro arrested Balboa at Acla. He was tried before Espinosa for mistreating Enciso and Nicuesa; despite his popularity among his men, Balboa and three other officers were beheaded at the insistence of Pedrarias in 1517.
By 1515 most of the islands of the Caribbean were being exploited, and the Bahamas had been depopulated. Las Casas told how these innocent Lucayos were persuaded to leave their island so they could visit the souls of their ancestors. Many died and were thrown into the sea. Divers were used to gain precious pearls. The need for labor led the Spaniards to import African slaves even though they had to go through Seville because of the Treaty of Alcaçovas with the Portuguese.
When King Fernando died in 1516, Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros became regent for the mad Queen Juana; Las Casas persuaded him to replace Fonseca and appoint three Jeronymite monks to govern the Indies. They attempted to apply the Laws of Burgos that had been formulated in 1512, demanding that Christians injuring the Indians be punished by their judges and that Indians should be accepted as witnesses. Las Casas was appointed Protector of the Indians with a salary and the lawyer Zuazo to conduct residencias of the judges. The only proposal by Las Casas that was implemented was the one he regretted, allowing African slaves to relieve the burden on the Indians. An official inquiry in 1517 concluded that the Indians were not capable of living in freedom, though one Dominican believed they could. Las Casas had to flee Española to avoid being arrested. Jiménez died in 1518. A smallpox epidemic from Europe exterminated the remaining natives on Española and spread to Cuba in 1519. The Jeronymites were recalled, and Bishop Fonseca was again in charge. Rodrigo de Figueroa headed another investigation and in 1520 was instructed to give Indians their freedom; but he found that the natives with little help failed to provide for themselves.
The declining gold industry was replaced mostly by sugar plantations. The first sugar mill had been built on Española in 1516. Water-powered mills called ingenios replaced horse-powered mills, and by 1523 Jamaica had thirty ingenios. Charles V authorized the importation of African slaves from the Portuguese Guinea coast, and slaves revolted on Española in 1522. Puerto Rico also developed sugar plantations and had a slave rebellion in 1527. Diego Columbus was divested of his authority by the Council of the Indies in 1523 and tried to regain it until his death in 1526. That year Dominican cardinal Garcia de Loaysa called a special session of the Indies Council with Charles V at the Alhambra. In their "Ordinances on discoveries and good treatment of the Indians" they ordered conquistadors to read the Requirement and take along two clergy approved by the Council to instruct and protect the natives. Anyone conducting an unjust war against the natives was to lose his contract.
In 1500 Portuguese captain Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered South America by accident on his way to India around Africa. Believing it was an island, the Portuguese began exporting its brazil wood. Exiles called degradados were sent there until Martim Afonso de Sousa founded a royal colony at Sao Vicente in 1530. Brazil was divided into twelve donatory-captaincies, but only Pernambuco succeeded at first. In 1549 Governor Tomé de Sousa established a capital at Salvador in Bahia. The first Jesuit missionaries in the new world opposed enslavement of the natives and came into conflict with the Portuguese settlers, who resented the natives working on the Jesuits' lands. Fernandes Sardanha, the first bishop of Brazil, was forced to move from Bahia to Sao Vicente in 1554, and he established the village that became Sao Paulo. Mem de Sa became governor in 1557 and was more sympathetic to the missionaries. French Protestants led by Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon arrived in 1555, settling in Rio de Janeiro; more Huguenots from Geneva joined them two years later; but they were attacked by the Portuguese in 1558 and driven out of Brazil. European diseases began devastating the native population of Bahia in 1562; famine caused starving natives to sell themselves into slavery.
In 1570 Portuguese king Sebastian decreed that only cannibals and captives in a just war could be enslaved; but the settlers complained so much that this was revoked four years later. Tribes with diminishing numbers withdrew inland. The labor shortage stimulated more importation of African slaves. Sugar replaced brazil wood as the chief export in the 1580s. By 1600 about 14,000 black slaves made up 70% of the plantation workers, though the white population was more than double that. Slave hunters called bandeiras went into the jungle for years at a time, especially in the early 17th century when the Dutch closed Angola to the Portuguese, blocking their slave trade to Brazil.
Jiménez de Quesada encountered the Chibchas and founded the city of Bogota in 1538; he told his 150 men to treat the people of Bochica well, because the land was theirs by natural and divine right, and they owed the Spaniards nothing. This conquest was accomplished in a few days, but according to Las Casas it was not that peaceful. Sebastian de Benalcazar arrived from Peru and was appointed governor, as the German Nikolaus Federmann also yielded. Charles V gave the German Alfinger brothers permission to conquer Maracaibo in Venezuela, and the Welsers of Augsburg provided financing; but Spaniards eventually won the field as Francisco Fajardo and Diego de Losada founded Caracas in the 1560s.
In 1536 Pedro de Mendoza founded a town on the Rio de la Plata named for its "good air." He was succeeded by Juan de Ayolas, who founded Asuncion up the river. Domingo Martinez de Irala was elected governor in 1537. After he ordered its inhabitants to move to Asuncion, natives destroyed Buenos Aires in 1541. Irala developed good relations with the Guarani natives, and this policy was continued in 1542 by his successor, the adventurous Cabeza de la Vaca, who made peace with twenty chief Guaicurus. The natives and common soldiers liked him, but the officers resented his strict discipline. After he refused to let them keep a hundred native girls given them by their parents, they imprisoned Cabeza when he was sick and deported him to Spain, where he was eventually acquitted several years later. Irala resumed the governorship, and in 1545 he led an expedition that killed two thousand hostile natives and enslaved 12,000, mostly women and children. Irala traveled as far as Cuzco in 1548. While he was gone, acting governor Francisco de Mendoza was killed during an insurrection; the revolt was suppressed, and its leader Diego de Abreu was executed. Irala allotted natives as repartimientos to adventurers other than Spaniards and governed Paraguay until he died of fever in 1557.
Paraguay's first bishop arrived in 1555, and a colony was founded at Tucuman in 1564. That year the Chiriguanos destroyed two forts of the Spaniards, and three years later they pillaged Chibcha villages. After being told by thirty Chiriguanos that they had been converted by Santiago (saint James), Peru viceroy Toledo realized it was a ruse and led a large army against them in 1574; but the Spaniards were devastated by hunger and disease and had to retreat. In 1580 Juan de Garay went to the town that had been abandoned forty years before and planned the city of Buenos Aires. In 1584 the Chiriguanos destroyed the fort at La Laguna, and they would continue to resist the Spaniards from their cordillera hideouts for the next three centuries. In 1596 the authority of Tucuman governor Ramirez de Velazco was extended over all of Paraguay, though he delegated this new authority to Hernando Arias de Saavedra. Believing it was better to convert the natives than to exterminate them, Saavedra appealed to King Philip III, who in 1608 authorized the Order of Jesus to enter the province of Gayra. Two Italian Jesuits arrived two years later, and under a new governor they began their work at Loreto in an experiment called a "reduction" in which the natives practice self-government. The Jesuits soon came into conflict with the settlers, who were exploiting native labor.
Cortes in Mexico
Hernan Cortes was born in Medellin in 1484 and went to Española in 1506 to mine gold; but Governor Ovando made him a notary. During the conquest of Cuba led by Diego Velazquez, Cortes was responsible for making sure the king got one-fifth of the profits from gold and slaves. In 1514 Cortes led a group that wanted more natives for the settlers. He became secretary for Governor Velazquez but was arrested for refusing to wed Catalina; after an escape and recapture, he married her. Cortes was appointed alcalde of Santiago.
In 1517 Cuba governor Velazquez sent Hernandez de Cordoba with three ships west to explore Yucatan. The Mayans at Cape Catoche invited the Spaniards to land, and they read the Requirement. Cordoba took two prisoners they named Melchor and Julian to be interpreters. On the western side of Yucatan they were attacked at night by Maya chief Mochcouoh, and twenty Spaniards were killed. Cordoba had 33 wounds and returned to Cuba. The next year Velazquez appointed his nephew Juan de Grijalva to head an expedition that revisited the island of Cozumel. At Champoton near the scene of the previous conquistador defeat, Grijalva demonstrated their cannons but had one man killed. He went further up the coast to the Tabasco region that was part of the Mexica empire. The Totonacs had been defeated by the Texcocans, Montezuma I, and had been paying tribute since Ahuitzotl. They gave the Castilians gold, but Grijalva said he wanted more. He learned of their laws, human sacrifices, and probably about the Mexica empire. Pedro de Alvarado and others wanted more adventure; but Grijalva returned to Cuba, leaving behind only one man by mistake.
Before Grijalva returned, Velazquez asked Cortes to lead a trading expedition; blasphemy, gambling, and sleeping with native women were to be forbidden. Cortes used his money and borrowed even more. Velazquez provided nearly half the expenses but tried to replace Cortes with Luis de Medina; however, the Governor's messenger was stabbed, and the papers were taken to Cortes. Next Cortes had his men seize all the meat in a Santiago slaughterhouse, and he sent Diego de Ordaz to take over a brigantine carrying supplies to Darien. Cortes left Havana with eleven ships and about 530 Europeans, including a few women servants. They had sixteen horses, thirty crossbowmen, twelve arquebuses, fourteen cannons, cotton armor woven by Cuban native women, and steel armor for the knights.
At Cozumel Cortes ordered Alvarado's men to return what they had stolen. The Mayans were friendly and told them two captured Christians had been brought there. Later Cortes found Geronimo de Aguilar, who had been lost with Valdivia after leaving Darien; the bodies of others had been eaten, but Aguilar had learned Chontal Maya and could serve as an interpreter. The Mayans urged Cortes to leave; he refused, and in a battle at Potonchan twenty conquistadors were wounded. The next day Cortes told them he would treat them as brothers if they laid down their arms. At Centla the Spaniards used horses and killed at least 220 Mayans before a truce was made. Cortes gained an interpreter in the young woman they called Marina, who knew both Chontal Maya and Nahuatl. During Easter week of 1519 Cortes visited the Totonacs, exchanging gifts. The slave Cuitlalpitoc arrived with food and jewels from the Mexica, and on Easter Sunday the Mexica governor of Cuetlaxtlan, Teudile, ordered his men to build hundreds of huts for the visitors. The ambassador from Montezuma II brought more treasures and witnessed the Castilian display of cannons and horses. Cortes indicated his men were desperate for gold.
When the latest messengers arrived with news of the strange teules (lords or spirits), Montezuma had two captives sacrificed. He must have thought about Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, because this was 1-Reed, the year in the 52-year cycle in which Quetzalcoatl had arrived and departed to the east; he had also opposed human sacrifices. Montezuma sent Cortes golden treasures and jewels related to Quetzalcoatl; envoys even dressed Cortes and Alvarado like that god. Cortes said he wanted to visit Montezuma, but the Mexica refused and advised him to leave. They stopped supplying food, and the Castilians had to survive on shellfish. Cortes sent Alvarado with a hundred soldiers to take only food, but he was rough on the natives and seized two women himself. Cortes cleverly sent leaders supporting Velazquez away on expeditions and got himself "elected" justicia mayor and captain general of the territory eventually named New Spain. Francisco de Montejo recommended a site at Quiahuiztlan, and they called the new city Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz.
The Totonacs told Cortes that the people of Tlaxcala and Huexotzinco were enemies of the Mexica. When Mexican tribute collectors arrived, Cortes persuaded the Quiahuiztlan chief to arrest them; then the wily Cortes secretly freed two of them, telling them he wanted to be a friend of Montezuma. A helmet Cortes had given Teudile was returned to him filled with gold dust as he had requested. The Totonacs agreed to rebel against Mexica, because the Castilians would fight for them. Cortes had the Cempoallan idols destroyed. He sent Montejo and Portocarrero back to Spain to gain the approval of King Charles. A conspiracy to take a ship and intercept them was discovered, and after a trial Cortes had two leaders hanged. To keep others from leaving, he ordered nine of their twelve ships beached, stripped, and the wood used for building. In August 1519 about three hundred conquistadors accompanied by 800 serving Campoallans began their march toward the Mexica capital with artillery mounted on the first wheeled vehicles used in North America. Cortes gave inspiring speeches, and his slogan was "Conquer or die." He arrested and drafted men, who had landed from a ship under Alvarez de Pineda from Florida. Zautla chief Olintecle had thirty wives and was a tributary to the Mexica; he gave the Spaniards girls.
Cortes sent envoys to the Tlaxcalans, who had their Otomis attack them, killing two horses; but the Tlaxcalans offered to pay for them. The Tlaxcalans regularly sacrificed hundreds of prisoners to their god Camaxtli. Their general Xicotencatl persuaded his father of the same name and Maxixcatzin to attack the foreigners; but the Castilians defeated them, cruelly mutilated prisoners, and threw priests down from the temples. Cortes later reported that 149,000 men attacked him; sixty of his men were wounded, and in revenge they burned towns and killed many. Montezuma sent more gifts and promised to be a vassal of the Spanish king, asking Cortes not to come. Cortes told his men that if they turned back, their Totonac allies would turn against them. The Tlaxcalan council agreed to make peace with the Spaniards, who then entered their city. Cortes accepted three hundred slave girls for his men, and aristocratic daughters were given to his captains; but the Tlaxcalans would not give up their gods. Cortes sent two men ahead to Montezuma. At Cholula the Castilians saw the largest pyramid in the world. The Cholulans believed Quetzalcoatl protected them; when they planned an ambush, Cortes ordered more than a hundred of their leaders killed. This atrocity shattered the rumor that Cortes was Quetzalcoatl returning.
About a thousand Tlaxcalan allies now replaced the Totonacs, who went home. Montezuma II sent a man to impersonate him; but the Tlaxcalans told Cortes that he was an impostor. As the Castilians neared Tenochtitlan by reaching Chalco, Montezuma wept in public and begged the gods to have pity on his people, drawing his own blood to appease the gods. He sent four Mexican chiefs to Cortes, who was allowed to march on the causeways into the island capital in the lake. The Aztec emperor Montezuma greeted Cortes with courtesy, and according to several reports offered to serve the king of Spain. He let his guests stay in the palace of his father Axayacatl. Cortes visited the market of the thriving commercial center of Tlatelolco. When Montezuma personally showed him the most sacred shrines of their religion where human sacrifices occurred daily, Cortes gave the Emperor a lecture on the Christian religion. He got permission to build a chapel in their quarters, and his men discovered a secret passage that led to a room full of treasures; Montezuma let them keep the gold and gems but got the feathers back.
The Castilians tried to find more gold, and golden ornaments were melted into bars. Cortes had two younger brothers of Texcoco king Cacama hanged, because he believed they were conspiring; Cacama was also arrested and held with Montezuma and the lords of Toluca, Itzapalapa, and Tacuba. These captives all agreed to be vassals of Spain, and Montezuma did so weeping. Cortes destroyed idols and let the priests remove others. Effigies of the Virgin Mary and St. Christopher were put in the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Montezuma warned the Christians to leave before they were attacked. Cortes had his men build ships to get across the lake.
Meanwhile Montejo and Portocarrero stopped at Cuba, and word got out. Governor Velazquez failed to stop them but sent Gonzolo de Guzman to Spain to accuse Cortes. Velazquez also chose Panfilo de Narvaez to lead an expedition to discipline Cortes. In Seville the treasures brought by Montejo and Portocarrero were confiscated by the House of Trade; but a lawyer hired by Martin Cortes, Hernan's father, got them back so that they could buy supplies to be sent to Mexico. Judge Vazquez de Ayllon was sent from Santo Domingo in separate ships to prevent conflict between Narvaez and Cortes. Narvaez left Cuba in March 1520 with nine hundred men on eighteen ships and founded a town called San Salvador on the site that is now Veracruz. He proclaimed that Cortes and his men were bad. Narvaez abducted Ayllon and sent him to Cuba; but the judge persuaded his captors to take him to Santo Domingo lest they be hanged. Montezuma's spies brought him messages from Narvaez, and the Mexica emperor told Cortes, urging him to leave. On the coast when men from Narvaez tried to read decrees, Gonzolo de Sandoval declared that Cortes was justicia mayor of New Spain and had them arrested and sent to Cortes at Tenochtitlan. Cortes treated them well, gained information, and sent them back to Narvaez with a load of gold.
Cortes gathered 340 men at Cholula and left Alvarado with 120 in the capital. Messengers went to the camp of Narvaez, and many were won over to Cortes with the help of gold. Sandoval with sixty men attacked Narvaez when he was sleeping in a thatched hut on top of a pyramid. Narvaez lost an eye in the fighting and surrendered after the hut was set on fire. In this first major battle between Europeans in the new world seventeen were killed. Cortes had Narvaez and Salvatierra put in irons, pardoned the prisoners, conscripting them and those in the new town. Resentment from his own men caused Cortes to send about forty, including a dozen of Narvaez's captains, on foot; they were captured or killed by Tepeacans at Quechula.
At Tenochtitlan the Mexicans stopped providing food for Alvarado and his men. Alvarado had relatives of Montezuma tortured and believed that an uprising was imminent. He permitted the festival of Tezcatlipoca, but during the frenzy he struck first, slaughtering the noble dancers and spectators in the sacred precinct. Those guarding Montezuma murdered many of the imprisoned lords. The Mexicans tried to burn the palace and did burn the four ships. Alvarado held a knife to Montezuma and made him tell his people to stop fighting. Several thousand Mexicans had been killed; only a half dozen Castilians had died, but now they were besieged in the palace.
Cortes gathered his forces at Tlaxcala, and from Tacuba marched back into the capital on June 24, 1520. He refused to speak directly to Montezuma, since he had conspired with Narvaez. Cortes allowed his brother Cuitlahuac to leave so they might get food; but he organized resistance. When Diego de Ordaz led three hundred men out of the palace, they were pelted with stones, killing a few and wounding eighty, including Ordaz and Cortes. Spanish cannons killed scores of Mexicans. Montezuma was persuaded to speak again; but the Mexica captains replied that they had elected Cuitlahuac their new lord. Montezuma was hit by stones and died the next morning. That night Cortes had fought on the temple of Yopico, and about twenty Castilians were killed. He ordered the captive Mexica lords executed. At midnight the conquistadors tried to sneak out of the Aztec capital; but after crossing four bridges, the Mexicans were alerted. Most of the gold packed on horses was lost. The Spaniards had to swim across the lake, and many with gold bars inside their armor drowned. At least four hundred conquistadors died, about half of those escaping. Some of the Narvaez men may not have known of the escape and were probably captured and sacrificed.
The wounded Castilians limped back toward Tlaxcala, fighting off guerrilla harassment. Cuitlahuac led a major attack at Otumba but was defeated. Cortes announced that anyone with gold must turn it over to him or Alvarado, causing resentment. Maxixcatzin won a heated argument with the younger Xicotencatl, and Tlaxcala maintained their alliance with the Spaniards; but they demanded Cholula, a fortress in Tenochtitlan, a share of the booty, and no future tribute to anyone. Cortes agreed so that his men could recuperate at Tlaxcala. Resentful soldiers wanted to return to Cuba, but Cortes persuaded them to stay for the sake of honor. He proclaimed that because 870 Castilians and sixty horses had been killed, they would enslave the rebelling Mexicans. They first attacked the Tepeacans, killing more than 2,000 and enslaving at least 4,000 women and children.
Narvaez, or perhaps Alonso de Parada, had brought smallpox to Cozumel, and it quickly spread through the Mayans of Yucatan. An African porter of Narvaez brought the deadly disease to Cempoallan. Unlike the Europeans, the natives had no immunity against smallpox, and many succumbed; in some areas half the people died. By October 1520 smallpox had reached Tenochtitlan; Maxixcatzin and Cuitlahuac died. Cuauhtemoc, son of Ahuitzotl, became Mexica emperor; but as leaders died of smallpox, Cortes often selected the new rulers among his allies. In December Cortes proclaimed in his Tlaxcala military and civil ordinances that the primary motivation for his conquest was for the spiritual salvation of the natives.
Several ships arrived from Cuba, Española, Jamaica, and Spain with supplies, and Cortes managed to incorporate the men into his growing army. Ixtlilxochitl, brother of two Texcoco kings, agreed to fight for the Castilians and proposed their alliance; but when King Coanacochtzin fled, Cortes ordered Texcoco sacked, again killing the men and enslaving the women and children. Coanacochtzin changed his mind. After the Castilians invaded Itzapalapa, the lords of Chalco and Tlamanalco offered to surrender. Fighting in Tacuba lasted six days. Villafaña was hanged for plotting to overthrow Cortes; but the innocent Francisco Verdugo was not blamed for being the intended replacement. In March 1521 Cortes sent Alonso de Mendoza and Diego de Ordaz with a ship of treasures and the first load of corn (maize) from Mexico to Española. Sandoval pacified most of the towns around the lake, and the Castilians attacked Xochimilco on the lake. Tenochtitlan was already suffering from a lack of tribute. Cuauhtemoc complained that their traditional enemies-Tlaxcala, Cholula, and Huexotzinco-had been joined by Texcoco, Chalco, Xochimilco, and Tacuba; but he was determined to fight to a desperate end, ordering even widows to use swords.
Twelve brigantines had been built for use on the lake. Cortes had about nine hundred soldiers and thousands of native allies providing supportive labor and warriors. The spring that supplied Tenochtitlan with an aqueduct was blocked, leaving the city brackish water, which was later captured, and the polluted lake. The battle for Tenochtitlan began on the first day of June in 1521. The Castilian army was divided into three parts and approached the capital on the causeways, aided by the ships and allied canoes. Cortes said he did not want to destroy the city; but to prevent rock throwing from rooftops, they demolished the buildings. When two sons of Montezuma asked to negotiate, Cuauhtemoc had them executed. The Mexican king appealed to the commercial city of Tlatelolco, and their leaders agreed to fight if their city was given control. On the last day of June the Castilians attacked Tlatelolco, but about twenty were killed; 53 were captured and sacrificed on the pyramid in view of Cortes and his officers. In this war few Castilians were killed, because the Mexicans usually sought to capture their enemies. This defeat caused most of the native allies to depart.
Chiefs in Cuernavaca asked Cortes for aid in fighting their enemies, and the general sent Andrés de Tapia to help them defeat the Malinalco. Sandoval's troops helped the Otomi defeat the Matalcingo. Cuauhtemoc did not try to follow up his victory, and a small force of Tlaxcalans raided the city. Thus the Spaniards regained allies as those in the capital suffered starvation and disease from drinking lake water. On July 27 Alvarado's men captured the great marketplace of Tlatelolco. On August 12 the Spaniards and their allies broke through, killing and capturing a reported 40,000. The next day Cuauhtemoc tried to escape in a canoe but was caught and brought before Cortes, who promised he could govern as his vassal and asked about gold.
Cortes established himself in a palace at Coyoacan and appointed his friends and officers to govern various territories in the former Mexica empire. Its tribute rolls indicated how much could be exacted from 370 towns. Local chiefs were required to provide specified amounts of gold, corn, turkeys, and other goods. Fields in the valley of Mexico had not been sown for at least a year. Repression and torture accompanied the search for gold; but most of the Mexicans cooperated in rebuilding Tenochtitlan, singing as they worked and quickly adapting to European technology. Spaniards resented the small amount of gold they received and suspected that Cortes was hoarding millions. Cortes sent them to found new communities. Sandoval went to subdue Coatzacoalcos, Luis Marin to Oaxaca and Chiapas, Cristobal de Olid to Michoacan, and Alvarado to Guatemala. Cortes himself went to Panuco. Cristobal de Tapia arrived from Española with papers from Bishop Fonseca appointing him governor of New Spain. Cortes refused to see him and fired Olid for accepting Tapia. Other officers met with Tapia and said he was not qualified to govern; Sandoval made sure he left.
In Santo Domingo the audiencia gave Cortes permission to conquer all of New Spain, brand slaves, and allot natives to conquistadors in encomiendas. Alonso de Avila helped Cortes gain these concessions and became alcalde mayor of Mexico by April 1522, when he presided over an inquiry. That month the first encomenderos were chosen. Each town was to be protected by a conquistador, who was responsible for making the natives Christians and vassals of the Spanish king. In Europe emperor Charles V confirmed Cortes as governor of New Spain in October 1522; but the new treasurer, factor, accountant, and inspector were to have salaries much larger than his. Cortes was joined by his wife Catalina, who resented his native concubines and died in suspicious circumstances. Some believed Cortes strangled her; the charges were dropped, though her family won a civil suit.
At Panuco Cortes ran into an expedition led by Jamaica governor Francisco de Garay, who had to yield in September 1523 when the royal decree finally arrived. Cortes promulgated the ordinances of New Spain in March 1524. Encomenderos were required to have weapons suitable to the number of Indians under their control, but they also had to make sure thousands of plants were cultivated. Hours of labor were limited from sunrise to one hour before sunset, and attending church on Sundays and holidays was compulsory. Women and boys under twelve could not be made to work on plantations. Labor squads could only be worked for twenty days, and thirty days must pass before they were summoned again. Encomienda Indians could not be used in mines, where slaves worked. Every settler was urged to bring his wife from Spain or get married within eighteen months. Municipal officers were appointed by Cortes and met in town councils at least once a week. Monopolies on imported cargoes were prevented by not allowing anyone to buy more than was needed for domestic use in the first ten days. The India council had tried to forbid encomiendas in 1523; but the outcry was so loud that this was repealed three years later, though no encomendero was to be allowed more than 300 Indians.
Cortes was religious and knelt when twelve Franciscans arrived in the summer of 1524 after walking barefoot 270 miles from Veracruz. One friar took the word for "poor," Motolinia, as his name. They instructed children and began to learn their language. Thousands were baptized, and Cortes helped organize the first council of friars and jurists in 1526. The zealous Franciscans also destroyed five hundred temples and twenty thousand images in seven years while building more than a hundred churches in Mexico City. Miracles were attributed to the faith of saintly Valencia, who died in 1534.
French pirates had stolen previous treasures that Cortes had sent to his king, and in 1524 he sent more gold and a silver cannon to Charles V with gold and silver for his father to buy supplies for the colony. Diego de Soto successfully delivered these gifts to Spain in May 1525, though the money for Martin Cortes was confiscated as stolen from the king, who feared the growing power of Cortes. Sending men to punish Olid for trying to take over Honduras for Cuba governor Velazquez, Cortes went to explore Honduras himself, entrusting his property to mayordomo Rodrigo de Paz, who became alguacil mayor. The general took along Mexica lords, including Cuauhtemoc, as hostages to prevent rebellions but ended up having them hanged for conspiracy.
While Cortes was away, the four officers Charles V had appointed governed New Spain. Treasurer Alfonso de Estrada was put in charge of Mexico and was resented by factor Gonzalo de Salazar, inspector Pedro Almindez Chirinos, and accountant Rodrigo de Albornoz, who fell ill. Salazar and Chirinos tried to win over justicia mayor Zuazo, but he was incorruptible; so they had him imprisoned with help from Paz. Claiming Cortes was dead, Salazar and Chirinos got Estrada and Albornoz to go along with arresting Paz and torturing his feet to find out where the money of Cortes was hidden. Paz was hanged about the same time Cortes had Cuauhtemoc hanged. Salazar sent out agents to extort treasures. When refugees were forced to leave a church, Father Valencia protested the desecration of a sanctuary by excommunicating the city until the prisoners were restored. In January 1526 a messenger from Cortes secretly arrived, stimulating Estrada and Albornoz to put Salazar and Chirinos in cages.
After this misgovernment, Cortes was welcomed back with joy.
Licentiate Luis Ponce de Leon arrived to conduct a residencia of Cortes. He fell ill; but before he died, he appointed Marcos de Aguilar as alcalde mayor. The aged Aguilar also became sick and appointed Estrada governor. Cortes, suspected of poisoning them, refrained from taking over the government. Estrada sent Diego de Figueroa to the south; but he raided graveyards and extorted contributions, meeting his end when the ship carrying these treasures sunk. In August 1527 a royal decree arrived confirming Estrada as governor. Albornoz persuaded him to release Salazar and Chirinos. When Cortes complained angrily after one of his adherent's hand was cut off, Estrada ordered him exiled. Cortes decided to go to Spain.
Central America 1521-1615
After Balboa was executed, the friars of St. Jerome ordered Pedrarias to obey the town council of Darien. In Spain bishop Quevedo testified against both Balboa and Pedrarias. In November 1521 the historian Oviedo was given permission by the Darien council to implement major reforms that included prohibiting gambling, blasphemy, keeping mistresses, employing native women for bearing burdens, and enslaving their children; he promoted construction and increased prosperity. Oviedo also put down a native rebellion. Pedrarias had him arrested and tried; Oviedo paid a fine, but after an attempt on his life he went back to Spain.
Pedrarias disobeyed the royal order to deliver Balboa's ships to Gil Gonzalez for an expedition in the South Sea. Gonzalez had ships built and was able to gain gold and converts mostly by diplomatic means. The chief Nicoya sent him on to Nicaragua, who asked difficult questions. Why did the Christian God not make a better world? Is the soul immortal after it leaves the body? Are the pope and king of Spain immortal? Why do Christians love gold so much? Chief Nicaragua agreed to give up his idols and become a Christian, and thousands followed his example. Diriangen, however, attacked the Spaniards with three thousand men; yet three horses enabled the conquistadors to scatter them. At Panama governor Pedrarias wanted to kill the cacique Urraca, who was invited to Nata and treacherously captured, though he escaped. Urraca then led a war against the invaders that lasted nine years.
After Cortes conquered Mexico in 1521, he sent his lieutenant general Pedro de Alvarado to invade Guatemala with 120 horses, 420 soldiers, and 20,000 natives. The lord of Tehuantepec capitulated right away; but the wealthier lord of Tutupec resented this and attacked his neighbor. Tehuantepec appealed to Cortes, and in 1522 Alvarado helped them defeat the Tutupec. In early 1524 Alvarado moved into Soconusco. Tecum Umam led the ancient Quiché (Mayans); but their army was defeated when Alvarado slew that chief with a lance. Four captured chiefs of Xelahuh were baptized, freed, and sent out to convert others. Quichés in their capital at Utatlan invited the Spaniards to dine and plotted to burn their city; but Alvarado avoided the trap and defeated them, burning their city and destroying their crops as punishment. At the Cakchiquel capital of Patinamit their king Sinacam gave Alvarado gold and festive hospitality, asking him to subjugate the Zutugils, whose ruler at Atitlan had already slain four messengers sent by Alvarado. After capturing a stronghold, the Castilians found Atitlan abandoned. Alvarado fell in love with Sinacam's wife, arrested the king, and extorted more gold.
Next Alvarado and his men invaded the region they called Salvador and exterminated tens of thousands of natives; most towns had to be subjugated more than once. In the summer of 1524 Cakchiquel nobles revolted. Alvarado even tore the golden ornaments from the noses of Sinacam and two princes, demanding more gold and silver within five days. The Quichés and Zutugils were even more devastated by the Castilian oppressors. The Spaniards founded a city called Santiago, and Alvarado appointed his brother Gonzalo alguacil mayor. Gonzalo took charge of conquering Mixco, Chignauta, and the Zacatepecs in 1525. He governed so badly that another revolt by the Cakchiquels had to be suppressed. Pedro de Alvarado returned from Spain to govern Guatemala, Chiapas and other territories; but he was put on trial in 1529 for embezzlement, cruelty, and illegal warfare. They agreed on a compromise, and he continued to govern.
Mexico governor Cortes sent Cristobal de Olid to explore Honduras in 1524, but the latter accepted money and men from Cuba governor Velazquez, who felt Cortes had betrayed him. Gil Gonzalez gave way before the powerful Olid. When Cortes learned about the disloyalty of Olid, he sent Francisco de las Casas to Honduras. Olid arrested Gonzalez and Casas but allowed them to dine with him. One night they grabbed him and stabbed him, executing Olid and his deserting lieutenant Briones before sailing for Mexico. Meanwhile Cortes was leading an expedition in an arduous trek through the forests, building impressive bridges to cross rivers and struggling with starvation as local natives avoided them. When captains on one of his ships at sea fought each other, the natives rebelled and killed the Spaniards, causing many in Mexico to believe that Cortes was dead, especially after Ordaz went and saw the evidence of the slaughter. Cortes was warmly welcomed at Trujillo. When he heard the bad news from Mexico, he sent a messenger, who reversed the situation. Cortes sent Sandoval to open a road to Nicaragua; but soon they went back to Mexico on the ship of Diego Altamirano, leaving Saavedra to govern Honduras.
In the territory of Nicaragua Spaniards came into conflict with each other in 1524 when Gil Gonzalez attacked Hernando de Soto, who had been sent by Hernandez de Cordoba on behalf of Pedrarias. Cordoba thought he could claim Nicaragua for himself and imprisoned Soto, who escaped and reported this to Pedrarias in Panama. This aged governor organized a large fleet and had Cordoba beheaded. Pedrarias sent Hurtado and Rojas into the Olancho valley, where they routed the followers of Saavedra. Natives, reacting to the cruelty of Pedrarias, attacked them and killed sixteen, including Hurtado and Grijalva. In 1526 Pedro de los Rios arrived as the new governor of Golden Castile, seizing the estates and encomiendas of Pedrarias, starting his residencia investigation the following February.
King Charles ordered the Spaniards not to fight each other, and he appointed Diego Lopez de Salcedo governor of Honduras. Saavedra and others were deported; but after a mutiny at sea they escaped to Cuba. When Salcedo ruled harshly by hanging and enslaving natives, they withdrew supplies, destroyed their crops, burned their villages, and fled to the mountains. Salcedo also began ruling Nicaragua in 1527 and alienated the settlers by taking over their slaves. When Rios arrived there, Salcedo ordered him to leave and even had a town destroyed for giving him hospitality. Pedrarias came in 1528 and had Salcedo imprisoned for ten months. Martin Estete supported Pedrarias but treated the natives so cruelly that after he left, they revolted. Historian Oviedo reported that Pedrarias had seventeen caciques torn apart by dogs one at a time in an arena. Estete tried to explore Salvador but was chased out by Guatemala governor Jorge de Alvarado. Pedrarias finally died in 1530.
Factions continued conflicts in Honduras, and Nicaragua governor Francisco de Castañeda promoted slave hunting. Rodrigo de Contreras became governor of Nicaragua in 1532; but reformer Bartolomé de Las Casas and King Charles caused Contreras to cancel an expedition in 1536, although the governor expelled the reformer. In 1542 the New Laws ordered those in Nicaragua to surrender their encomiendas, and two years later Antonio de Valdivieso became bishop of Nicaragua. Contreras had tried to avoid the law by giving his encomiendas to his wife; he and his relatives were accused of owning a third of the province. Complaints mounted up, and in 1548 licentiate Alonso Lopez de Cerrato arrived to investigate with a residencia. Contreras left for Spain and did not return. In 1550 his sons, Hernando and Pedro, aimed to take back power by force of arms, and Hernando murdered Bishop Valdivieso. Pedro Contreras with fifty men seized the ships in the Panama harbor. They tried to steal eleven million castellanos that licentiate Gasca was taking from Peru to Spain; but their forces led by Juan Bermejo were defeated.
Charles V appointed Yucatan governor Francisco de Montejo to rule Honduras, and he suppressed a native rebellion in 1537 that ended when its chief Lempira died. Cristobal de Pedraza became bishop of Honduras and made contracts to gain African slaves for work in the mines; he was strongly criticized for this by Nicaragua bishop Valdiviez.
In Guatemala after Alvarado died in 1541, his widow Beatriz was elected governor. She died, and in 1542 her brother Francisco de la Cueva and Bishop Marroquin were elected co-governors. Marroquin and his relatives and friends held a third of all the encomiendas in the province; so he and Pedrarias resisted the reforms. Bartolomé de Las Casas had recommended that Alonso de Maldonado be appointed president of the new Audiencia of the Confines, and the viceroy of New Spain made Maldonado governor of Guatemala; but in 1545 he got the New Laws repealed, and later the repartimientos were made perpetual for the colonists. Meanwhile Fray Luis Cancer had continued the work of peaceful conversion in Vera Paz since 1541; but in 1546 Spaniards entered the region to impose tribute and make slaves. Cancer complained that 700 slaves were taken from Tuzulutlan alone, and the tributes were intolerable. The next year he and Las Casas returned to Spain. Las Casas threatened bishops Marroquin and Pedrarias with excommunication, and in 1548 he got Alonzo Lopez de Cerrato appointed president of the Audiencia of the Confines to judge a residencia of the removed Maldonado. In 1549 Bishop Maldonado founded a hospital in Santiago. That year a royal cédula decreed that natives should not be used as bearers except in emergencies and for pay.
Reform came in 1555 when Dr. Antonio Rodriguez de Quesada succeeded Cerrato in Guatemala, and licentiate Cavallon became alcalde mayor of Nicaragua. They encountered opposition from the settlers, who pressured them to fight the rebellion of the tribes in Lacandones. When Quesada died in 1558, Pedro Ramirez became commander of the army. A thousand Indians helped them invade the region and take 150 prisoners. Even the native governor of Vera Paz entered Acala to punish those who had murdered two priests. Licentiate Juan de Caballon had crushed a rebellion led by Juan Gaitan in 1554, and six years later he joined with priest Juan de Estrada de Rabago to fight rebelling natives in Nicaragua. In 1562 Juan Vazquez Coronado became alcalde mayor of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and by pacifying the natives he earned the governorship of both provinces. In 1564 the Dominican Laurencio persuaded the Puchutlas to settle in Vera Paz.
Fray Pedro Alonzo de Betanzos learned twelve Indian dialects and helped pacify Nicaragua and Costa Rica by not letting soldiers accompany him; after thirty years of this missionary work he died of fever in 1570. In 1574 Nicaragua bishop Gomez Fernandez de Cordoba transferred to Guatemala and ministered to the natives until his death in 1598. A college opened at Santiago in 1592, and by 1600 Guatemala had 22 Franciscan convents and 14 Dominican. Franciscan Estévan Verdelete also tried peaceful conversion in Nicaragua, but in 1609 he asked for help from Captain Daza. Verdelete bravely entered a burning village to persuade the natives to be less hostile, but in 1612 Diaz and Verdelete were killed at Tologalpa.
Runaway slaves called cimarrones rebelled in Panama led by Bayano in 1554 and fought from the mountains until they were allowed to be free men in 1570. However, another rebellion broke out, and some cimarrones joined buccaneers in 1596. John Hawkins traded slaves and was attacked by Spaniards at San Juan de Ulua in 1568. Francis Drake got revenge at Nombre de Dios in 1572; after being informed by cimarrones, he marched to the city of Panama. He shared the gold they captured with his French allies and returned to England the next year. In 1576 John Oxenham captured Spanish ships in the Gulf of Panama; but Loarte defeated him, and most of his men were hanged. Commerce in Panama declined, because Spain protected its own monopolies on wine and tobacco. Africans had been imported to dive for pearls, but these treasures were exhausted. Mining reached its peak in 1570, but by 1580 only four mines remained in Panama. Efforts to build defenses culminated by the end of the century after the death of Drake, though Captain William Parker attacked and captured Portobello in 1602. Many diseases and a poor economy took their toll, and by 1610 the population of Panama was one-third of what it had been in 1585.
Pizarro and Peru
Captain Francisco Pizarro formed a partnership in Panama with Diego de Almagro and the priest Hernando de Luque in order to explore the Pacific coast, looking for a Biru tribe that became the name Peru. His first expedition began in November 1524 with eighty men and four horses; but they suffered starvation, and Almagro lost an eye fighting natives. In 1526 they took two ships and captured a balsa raft with rich ornaments of silver and gold. Pizarro kept three captured natives to learn Spanish and be interpreters. The next year only thirteen men stayed with Pizarro on the Isla del Gallo; but in 1528 Pizarro discovered the Inca city of Tumbez. He went to Spain and at Toledo persuaded the Queen to appoint him governor and captain-general of Peru; Almagro was named commandant of Tumbez and Luque protector of the Indians. In 1532 Pizarro explored the coast of Ecuador but found Tumbez in ruins because of the Inca civil war. He killed the local chief Amotape, left sixty Spaniards in a new town called San Miguel, and invaded the Inca empire with only 168 men and 62 horses.
An envoy invited Pizarro to come to Cajamarca to meet the dominant Inca emperor Atahualpa. Hernando de Soto found five hundred women from a convent in a square and gave many of them to his men. Pizarro sent Soto and his brother Hernando Pizarro ahead with fifteen horseman and the interpreter Martin; Atahualpa complained that they had treated chiefs badly by chaining them but offered them houses on the square. When Francisco Pizarro arrived and planned a treacherous attack, Atahualpa asked the Spaniards to return what they had stolen and threw down a prayer book that Friar Vicente de Valverde gave him. The Dominican shouted it was an outrage, and Pizarro ordered the cannons fired. Horseman rode out and slaughtered the unarmed Incas, as Pizarro tried to grab Atahualpa, who was captured. In two hours about 7,000 natives were killed in Cajamarca. Pizarro had Atahualpa instruct the Incas to surrender, and Soto gathered men, women, llamas, gold, silver, and clothing. Governor Pizarro said they wanted only gold, and so Atahualpa promised to fill a room with gold in exchange for his freedom. Some caciques came and obeyed their captive Inca emperor. His rival brother Huascar was killed on the road, and Atahualpa also had two half-brothers murdered.
In 1533 Hernando Pizarro led an expedition that searched for gold at Pachacamac. Atahualpa had the general Quisquis at Cuzco, Chalcuchima at Jauja, and Rumiñavi at Quito. Hernando Pizarro persuaded Chalcuchima to accompany him to Cajamarca. To learn of gold, Soto tortured Chalcuchima with fire in front of Atahualpa. In April 1533 Almagro arrived at Cajamarca with 153 Spaniards. Francisco Pizarro ordered gold and silver ornaments melted down, and his brother Hernando left with 100,000 castellanos for the king of Spain. The furnaces at Cajamarca turned out 13,420 pounds of "good gold" and 26,000 pounds of good silver. The Cajamarca chief told Governor Pizarro that Atahualpa had ordered his men from Quito to attack. Pizarro and royal officials condemned the Inca emperor to be burned; but because he agreed to be baptized, Atahualpa was strangled. Then Soto's reconnaissance patrol learned that there was no threat after all. Many caciques accepted Huascar's younger brother Tupac Huallpa as the next Inca emperor. Governor Pizarro proclaimed the Requirement of capitulation, and the Incas celebrated Tupac Huallpa's coronation.
In August 1533 Governor Pizarro, Almagro, and Soto marched out of Cajamarca with the captive Chalcuchima, who was blamed for the empty storehouses along the way. Spaniards entered Jauja, as it was burning, and slaughtered fleeing warriors. Inca Tupac Huallpa died of illness at Jauja in October. Leaving a garrison, Pizarro left for Cuzco with 130 men and a hundred horses. By killing Atahualpa, the Spaniards had taken the side of the late Huascar in the Inca civil war, and many natives attacked the Quitans, who moved south destroying villages, food stores, bridges, and aqueducts. Soto was sent ahead, and Quitans killed six of his men in an ambush. Young prince Manco, son of Huayna-Capac, arrived and denounced Chalcuchima, who refused to become a Christian and was burned to death. The Castilians entered a quiet Cuzco in November 1533. Governor Pizarro told Manco that he came to Cuzco to "liberate" them from the Quitan tyranny. Manco assembled an army of 20,000 and went with Soto, Almagro, and fifty horsemen to pursue Quisquis, whose men wanted to go home to Quito. Pizarro organized the looting of treasure and found more wealth at Cuzco, mostly in silver, than they had gathered at Cajamarca. Quisquis attacked Jauja, killing one Spaniard but wounding many. By June 1534 Soto had driven the Quitan army into the north.
Governor Francisco Pizarro divided the city of Cuzco and gave it to 88 soldiers, and he distributed the natives at Jauja in encomiendas to 53 Spaniards. He put Soto in charge at Cuzco and instructed him not to let Spaniards demand gold from the natives. In 1535 Pizarro founded a city on the coast that came to be called Lima. At Quito Rumiñavi had Atahualpa's brother Quilliscacha murdered and ruled as a warlord. Meanwhile early in 1534 conquistador Pedro de Alvarado invaded Ecuador with a strong force. Pizarro sent Sebastian de Benalcazar to capture Quito, which Rumiñavi abandoned. Benalcazar also invaded Chibcha territory. Alvarado lost 85 men in the Andean mountains and agreed to sell his ships to Almagro and return to Guatemala, letting his men stay in Peru. Quisquis arrived with his army, which killed fourteen Spaniards; but his officers wanted to go home, mutinied, and killed Quisquis. The Castilians captured and executed Rumiñavi at the square in Quito.
In 1535 the colonists learned that Charles V had given northern Peru to Pizarro and the south to Almagro. After conflict over who was to rule Cuzco, Almagro left in July on an expedition to explore Chile. Manco sent along 12,000 men with his brother Paullu and high priest Villac Umu. Reluctant natives were chained and imprisoned every night. In October disgusted Villac Umu left, and soon all the natives from Cuzco had fled, leaving the Spaniards with no servants. At Cuzco conquistadors insulted, persecuted, and harassed Manco for gold. When he tried to escape, they captured and imprisoned him. Manco's uncle Tiso and Collao chiefs began murdering encomenderos. When Hernando Pizarro returned from Spain, he was put in charge at Cuzco. Manco was released and offered to get a golden statue for Hernando. Instead, he organized a widespread rebellion that began in the spring of 1536. His army was estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000. In Cuzco 190 Spaniards had only eighty horses. The natives set fire to the city and attacked for six days, killing Juan Pizarro; but the Castilians fought their way to take over the citadel at Sacsahuaman, slaughtering 1,500 in the fortress. Cañari auxiliaries brought them food and water. Hernando Pizarro ordered women natives killed, and by August the siege let up.
Francisco Pizarro sent reinforcements; but Gonzalo de Tapia and his seventy horsemen were all killed or captured in a mountain ambush. In a dawn attack led by Quizo Yupanqui, the Incas massacred those left at Jauja except for two men. Quizo Yupanqui attacked the new capital at Lima but was killed with other leaders who bravely fought in the front. Hernando Pizarro went after Manco Inca at Ollantaytambo; but his horses could not fight after the Incas flooded the plain by diverting the Patacancha River. The Spaniards tried to demoralize the natives by cutting off the hands of prisoners in the square at Cuzco. The Pizarros got aid from Spaniards in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, and Española; even Cortes sent weapons from Mexico. Alonso de Alvarado arrived with 350 men and mutilated captured natives.
Almagro returned to Cuzco after an unsuccessful exploration of Chile; 150 Spaniards and 10,000 native allies froze to death. Like the Incas nearly a century before, Almagro could not conquer the Promaucas across the Rio Rapel. He wanted to attack the Pizarros and appealed to Manco, who demanded he execute four of Hernando Pizarro's scouts. This attempted alliance dissolved after the native Paucar attacked Almagro's soldiers at Calca. Nevertheless Almagro used force to take Cuzco from the Pizarrists in April 1537. Manco took refuge in the Vilcabamba valley. In July after Rodrigo Orgoñez defeated Alvarado at Abancay, Almagro sent him in pursuit of Manco, who escaped; but Orgoñez brought back 50,000 llamas and alpacas with 20,000 natives, who were released to go home. Valverde became protector of the natives in 1538, but he had little power to enforce his responsibility.
Gonzalo Pizarro escaped, and his brother Hernando was released in negotiations with Almagro. In April 1538 Hernando Pizarro led the attack on Cuzco that defeated and captured Almagro. Orgoñez was beheaded right away, and Almagro was executed ten weeks later. At Oncoy Manco's Incas ambushed and killed 24 men led by Captain Villadiego. Tiso attacked the Colla for collaborating with the Spaniards, and with 40,000 Chibchas he besieged Gonzalo Pizarro at Cochabamba. In 1539 Francisco Pizarro sent out more troops, and the native chiefs began surrendering. Gonzalo Pizarro fought in the north and became governor of Quito. An attack on Vilcabamba still did not capture Manco, but Spaniards mistreated and executed his sister-queen Cura Ocllo. They captured high priest Villac Umu in October and executed him with Tiso and fifteen commanders the following month. Manco warned the natives of Chile to hide their valuables from the Spaniards, and in 1541 ten thousand natives burned the Spanish settlement at Santiago, which Pedro de Valdivia had founded for 132 encomenderos.
Hernando Pizarro took more treasure to King Charles, but in 1540 he was imprisoned in luxury at Madrid for having executed Almagro. On June 26, 1541 Almagrists assassinated Francisco Pizarro in his palace and proclaimed young Diego de Almagro governor. Bishop Vicente de Valverde escaped on a ship to Panama but was killed and eaten by cannibals. King Charles sent Vaca de Castro to govern Peru, and the army led by Alonso de Alvarado defeated the Almagrists at Chupas in September 1542, as Manco's warriors watched.
Peru now had 480 encomenderos, living in large houses with African slaves and women servants apart from their allotted natives. The New Laws of 1542 abolished slavery of Indians and tried to reform the encomienda system, but the new viceroy Blasco Nuñez Vela became unpopular trying to enforce these laws. Manco was negotiating a reconciliation when he was treacherously murdered by Almagrist fugitives, who were then killed by the Incas. Gonzalo Pizarro had used the threat of Manco to raise an army in Cuzco but marched to Lima, enabling the audiencia to depose and deport the viceroy in 1544. Vela went to Quito; but Gonzalo Pizarro led an army from Lima that defeated and killed him in January 1546. King Charles revoked the new laws, enabling his newly appointed governor, Pedro de la Gasca, to get enough support to overthrow the Gonzalo Pizarro regime, which had executed 340 Spaniards. Gasca defeated and executed this Pizarro in 1548. Gasca took encomiendas away from rebels and gave them to his supporters. Natives had to take large quantities of gold, silver, wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, llamas, pigs, birds, eggs, logs, and crafts to the homes of the encomenderos.
Discrimination against mestizos became official in 1549 when Charles V decreed they could not hold office nor have Indian servants. He also forbade coercing natives to work but allowed it if they were paid. In 1551 the first ecclesiastical council of Lima condemned the use of coca. That year Charles decreed that Indians could be employed in the mines that were providing the Crown with 1,500,000 pesos a year. Rich silver deposits had been discovered at Potosi in 1545, and its mining became a grueling industry in miserable conditions. In 1552 Prince Philip pardoned Manco's young son Sayri-Tupac. After the Audiencia of Lima announced its method for assessing native wages in 1553, Francisco Hernandez Giron led a revolt in Cuzco; but they were defeated at Pucara, and Giron was beheaded in 1554. Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza Cañete became viceroy in 1555 and let Sayri-Tupac leave Vilcabamba two years later. He allowed Cuzco corregidor Juan Polo de Ondegardo to nominate eight natives for alcalde; Polo chose one, but three were elected by natives to administer justice. Cañete removed several corregidors, because they were thieves. A royal decree in 1560 prohibited using forced labor on coca plantations.
When Sayri-Tupac died in 1561, his brother Titu Cusi Yupanqui took charge at Vilcabamba; after long negotiations he signed a peace treaty in 1566, allowing Christian missionaries to convert him and others at Vilcabamba. Titu Cusi objected to the puritanical austerity of Marcos Garcia but had a good relationship with Diego Ortiz and Martin Pando. He was so wary of the Spaniards' greed that when the prospector Romero found gold in Vilcabamba, Titu Cusi had him beheaded. He forbade settlers in Vilcabamba but ordered his people not to raid Spaniards or damage their churches. Some mestizos plotted with Paullu's son Carlos Inca to kill Spaniards; but in 1567 Augustinian prior Juan de Vivero heard of it in a confession and warned the authorities at Lima. Audiencia president Garcia de Castro exiled eight mestizos, confiscated their estates, and kept a close watch on Carlos Inca. As governor, Castro appointed a corregidor de Indios, but church authorities and curacas (chiefs) aroused opposition and petitioned the Audiencia of Lima in 1565 to allow more native self-government. The second ecclesiastical council in 1567 concentrated on suppressing native practices such as drinking, incest, and what they called witchcraft.
European diseases and ruthless exploitation by the Spaniards diminished the native population from about seven million to an estimated 1,800,000 by the end of the 16th century. Conquistadors killed thousands of llamas to eat the marrowfat, throwing away the meat. By 1560 about eight thousand Spaniards lived in Peru; women came from Spain and married the wealthy colonists. A royal commission studied whether to make encomiendas perpetual; but their secret papers were found and showed how corrupt they were. Many local curacas took advantage of the Spanish conquest to take their power back from the Inca empire, often collaborating with the encomenderos in exploiting their people. During the wars many natives died working as porters.
King Philip II appointed Francisco de Toledo viceroy of Peru, and he was welcomed at Lima with great ceremonies in November 1569. The next year a commission headed by Archbishop Jeronimo de Loayza decided unanimously that because mining was in the public interest, natives could be compelled to do that work. In 1571 Fernandez de Velasco developed a process using Huancavelica mercury to mine silver at Potosi, which grew to a city of 150,000 people. The mines at Huancavelica were especially toxic with mercury and arsenic. Loayza and the others soon retracted their proclamation and later denied they had even used the words "compel and force."
Toledo interrogated witnesses and sent the resulting Informaciones to King Philip II in 1571, arguing that the Inca kings had only ruled more than a small part of Peru for a few generations and had been tyrannical, and he commissioned Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa to write a history. When Inca Titu Cusi died of illness at Vilcabamba in 1571 after drinking a concoction given him by Martin Pando, his brother Tupac Amaru was chosen to succeed him. Militant Incas killed Pando and Diego Ortiz for failing to revive the Inca. Tupac Amaru revived the traditional religion and had the churches destroyed. Dominican prior Gabriel de Oviedo tried to arrange a marriage for Titu Cusi's son but was turned away from Vilcabamba, and papal envoy Atilano de Anaya was murdered to prevent the succession from becoming known.
Toledo sent Hurtado de Arbieta to invade Vilcabamba and hunt down the recalcitrant Incas. Tupac Amaru was captured, catechized, and baptized. The Spaniards hanged Curi Paucar and other rebels, and a questionable trial sentenced Tupac Amaru to death. Bishop Coruña begged the Viceroy to spare the Inca king, who on the scaffold confessed that the Inca religion was false as he admitted he spoke for himself, not for God. The death of Tupac Amaru marked the end of the line of Inca kings. A trial found Carlos Inca and other nobles guilty, confiscated their property, and sent them into exile, though in 1574 King Philip reversed these sentences.
Viceroy Toledo appointed inspectors in 1571, and he ordered about 1,500,000 natives moved from small villages into larger towns in a wrenching and unpopular resettlement that took two years. Toledo set minimum wages and insisted that workers be paid in silver every week. In 1574 Toledo organized forced labor (mita) from sixteen provinces in the southern mountains from which 95,000 men had to serve four months every seven years in the mines; 4,500 at a time worked 72-hour weeks, but their pay did not cover their expenses. Four-fifths of the natives in Peru were forced to work, most of them in agriculture. As encomiendas lapsed, the corregidors became the primary oppressors. Toledo divided Peru into 71 provinces, and in 1575 he decreed that the local judges should be of good character and sympathetic to the natives; but by 1578 he realized that most of their "protectors" were robbing the natives and burdening them by means of lawsuits. Native alcaldes heard minor cases and could not punish with death, mutilation or bloodshed; they could fine up to one peso or inflict up to twenty strokes. Toledo left Peru in 1582, and King Philip approved his ordinances two years later.
In 1550 Pedro de Valdivia reached the Bio-Bio River in Chile and founded Concepcion. He fought the fierce Araucanian warriors and with cannons and horses forced them to flee; but after he cut off the hands and noses of their prisoners, they sought revenge. The elder sage Colocolo persuaded the Araucanians to unite against the Spaniards and appoint Caupolican general. Valdivia had made the young Araucanian Lautaro his page, but he went back to his tribe in 1553 and helped Caupolican defeat and kill all the Spaniards at Fort Tucapel; Valdivia was captured, dismembered, and eaten. After the towns of Valdivia and Concepcion were attacked, Peru's viceroy Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza sent his son Garcia with 350 men, who defeated the Araucanians but cut off the hands of a cacique. The Araucanians fought back again, but their prisoners were brutally killed.
After Caupolican was tortured and killed, the war in Chile ended in 1558. In less than a decade a million Araucanians had been reduced to about 400,000 by war, famine, and a smallpox epidemic.
The Araucanians learned how to use horses and continued fighting, forcing Peru to supply Chile with soldiers. Martin Garcia de Loyola became governor in 1592; but he and fifty Spaniards were defeated and killed by three hundred Araucanian horsemen in 1598. This disaster caused church treasurer Melchor Calderon to write a Treatise on the Importance and Usefulness of Enslaving the Rebel Indians of Chile, which persuaded Jesuit rector Luis de Valdivia. He notified the viceroy, and in 1599 Archbishop Reginaldo de Lizarraga recommended this treatment of the Chiriguanos in Paraguay. Peru established a standing army of 2,000 in 1603 to control this frontier. In 1608 King Philip III decreed that all Indians over the age of ten captured in rebellion could be enslaved.
The aristocratic lawyer Nuño de Guzman was appointed governor of Panuco and began confiscating property on legal technicalities. He seized natives and sold them as slaves, allowing settlers to do the same; about 10,000 were transported in more than twenty ships. Next Guzman was appointed president of an audiencia that began at Mexico City in January 1529. There he continued his plundering and punished rebels with torture and slavery. 250 soldiers of Cortes were arrested, and their property was awarded to the wife of Narvaez. Many punishments were avoided with substantial bribes of the audiencia. The residencia of Cortes began in February. Agents of Cortes fled into a church and were attacked, causing the judges to be excommunicated. In Spain Cortes was confirmed as captain-general but not as governor, though he was awarded 22 towns and 23,000 vassals.
In 1530 a royal cedula forbade the taking of slaves, even in war. Next the children of slaves were liberated, and eventually only Africans were held as slaves in America. In 1532 Vasco de Quiroga founded a hospital in Mexico City that combined charity, health, welfare, education, and religious purposes. King Charles appointed Antonio de Mendoza viceroy of Mexico in 1530, but he did not arrive there until 1535. African slaves planned a revolt and elected a king; but the plot leaked out, and 24 conspirators were hanged. To prevent this danger, Viceroy Mendoza asked the king to prohibit the slave trade. Seven Augustinians came to Mexico in 1533, and twelve Dominicans arrived three years later. Dominican missionaries led by Diego Carranza peacefully won over the cannibalistic Chontales in Tabasco that had resisted armed conquest. Churches were built, and indigenous beliefs were suppressed. Millions were converted and baptized, more than 500,000 in the year 1537.
After he returned from Spain and was defended, Guzman decided to lead an expedition to Jalisco with the best-equipped army in America; he and Chirinos cruelly conquered the natives as far as Sonora. After the king revoked Guzman's license to take slaves, many settlers left. In 1533 his authority was limited to Jalisco, and a new audiencia investigated him. The new bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumarraga, exposed the misrule of Guzman's audiencia in a letter. Zumarraga ordered raids of the old religion, and its artifacts were burned in the marketplace. King Charles appointed licentiate Diego Perez de la Torre governor of New Galicia in 1536 and to take the residencia of Guzman, who was imprisoned. Torre with help from friars treated the natives well, and many returned to their homes. In areas beyond his control, atrocities still occurred, and cacique Guajicar led a revolt in the north. In neighboring Michoacan, Bishop Vasco de Quiroga restricted the encomenderos, enabling the natives to make progress. When Torre died, Vazques de Coronado became provisional governor in 1539. Stimulated by stories of seven rich cities, he invaded the north and organized an expedition that explored as far as Kansas. Frustrated fortune hunters disregarded his authority, and he returned to Mexico with only a remnant in 1542.
Cortes organized a muster of troops that failed so badly the natives began killing isolated Spaniards. This emergency, however, enabled him to raise a strong force to quell the rebellion in 1531. Cortes sent Francisco de Montejo to subjugate the Yucatan peninsula as early as 1527; this bloody war dragged on, and in 1535 no Spaniard was left in Yucatan. Finally in 1541 the natives were defeated and were never able to unite their forces again, although sporadic resistance lasted a few more years. More Spaniards died fighting in Yucatan than in the conquest of both the Aztec and Inca empires. The city of Merida was founded in 1542. Bartolomé de Las Casas urged the Spaniards in Yucatan to liberate their slaves in 1545. The Audiencia of Mexico charged Montejo in 1548 with stealing funds and refusing to free slaves as ordered; he had to agree to let missionaries accompany all his future expeditions. Cortes left Mexico in 1540, struggled with legal battles, and died in Spain in 1547.
Pedro de Alvarado tried to help New Galicia lieutenant-governor Cristobal de Oñate fight natives in the Mixton War; but while retreating, he died after his horse fell on him in 1541. Viceroy Mendoza with a force of 450 Spaniards and 30,000 Tlascalan and Mexica allies joined with Oñate to march on Nochistlan. Mendoza ordered the prisoners enslaved; but the local encomendero Ibarra allowed many to escape to protect his income. Nevertheless the total number of slaves taken from the Mixton War was estimated at 5,000. The New Laws of 1542 prohibited viceroys and governors from such enterprises. In 1545 Mexico was devastated by a new plague called matlazahuatl, of which an estimated 800,000 natives died. In 1546 Juan de Tolosa arrived with four Franciscan friars, and by treating the natives kindly they learned of rich silver lodes. The Zapotecas rebelled against Spanish rule in 1550, and two years later the Chichimecs of Zacatecas were led by Maxorro, who was eventually captured.
Luis de Velasco replaced Mendoza as viceroy in 1550. King Charles urged him to develop public education and found a university in Mexico. The next year the crown decreed that 150,000 male slaves and all enslaved women and boys under 14 years of age should be freed. Even the viceroy and audiencias were not allowed to keep servants without paying them fair wages. In 1552 a royal decree allowed encomiendas to be left to the eldest legitimate son, and soon this was extended to future generations, making them perpetual. Yet royal visitador Diego Ramirez reformed the encomienda system by lowering tributes and prosecuting encomenderos for misconduct. Gambling had been prohibited in 1529, but in 1552 a royal monopoly on playing cards began bringing in revenue for the government. In 1557 caciques were ordered not to rob the wages of workers they employed, and the next year the crown prohibited them from inflicting capital punishment or mutilation.
When Velasco died in 1564, the city council of Mexico sent a message they did not want another viceroy. Martin Cortes, the son of the conquistador and the native Marina, was known as the Marques del Valle. Word that the India council did not assent to making encomiendas perpetual stimulated a conspiracy to make New Spain independent under the Marquis. Martin and Luis Cortes were arrested, and the main plotters, brothers Alonso and Gil Gonzales de Avila, were beheaded for treason in 1566. Gaston de Peralta, marques de Falces, arrived as the new viceroy and sent Martin and Luis Cortes to Spain, releasing others. When royal commissioners Alonso Muñoz and Luis Carrillo arrived, they deposed the new viceroy. To avoid torture, Cristobal de Oñate confessed and testified against many innocent people, who were put in newly built dungeons. In 1568 Oñate and two others were hanged, and others were exiled. The elderly Muñoz and Carrillo continued to jail innocent people until petitions sent to Spain resulted in their removal. Martin Cortes regained his property in 1574, but Tehauntepec was taken by the crown to use as a port and navy yard. Francisco de Ibarra brutally conquered the northwest between 1562 and 1575 and called it Nueva Vizcaya.
English corsair John Hawkins with nine armed ships seized the island of Sacrificios in 1568. The audiencia agreed to give him provisions if his men did not enter Veracruz. The new viceroy, Martin Enriquez de Almansa, exchanged hostages, but Hawkins had to avoid treachery; his men were mistreated, and some were even burned to death. Francis Drake attacked Spaniards in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, sacking Huatulco in Oaxaca in 1578. Pirates led by Thomas Cavendish plundered the coasts of South America in 1587 and captured valuable cargo from the Philippines headed for Acapulco. The Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antoneli was hired to design forts for Cartagena, Portobelo, Veracruz, Havana, and San Juan in Puerto Rico; these were expensive but reduced piracy.
Starting in 1576, a worse matlazahuatl epidemic carried off two million natives in Mexico but infected few Spaniards. The Inquisition led by Pedro de Moya began prosecuting heretics in 1574; by 1595 ten inquisitions had been held, and thousands of spectators attended in an amphitheater. The Inquisition punished thousands for "relapsing into Judaism," bigamy, sorcery, and blasphemy, including Portuguese for political reasons; several victims were burned. Moya moved on to become archbishop and viceroy in 1584. He strictly enforced laws, hanged many, and sent 3,300,000 silver ducats and 1,100 gold marks to the royal treasury before he was replaced the following year by the marques de Villamanrique. In 1583 a judge of the audiencia, Diego Garcia de Palacio, wrote in a treatise that soldiers usually leave the moral responsibility of the war to the prince; but if the war is so unjust that even the soldiers see it, they may obey God instead of the prince.
The mestizo son of a Chichimec mother, Captain Miguel Caldera, functioned as a diplomat between the Spaniards and the Chichimecs starting in 1587 and mediated peace treaties, which under Viceroy Luis de Velasco II greatly reduced the Indian wars. Caldera's approach offered protection of pacified natives, provisions to sustain them, and education in agriculture as well as religion. In 1591 his plan of moving Tlaxcalan families into Chichimec country was implemented to stabilize the peace.
King Philip II needed money for his European wars and forced Mexico to give him loans; this doubled the tribute natives had to pay. By the end of the 16th century wars, pestilence, and pushing people off their land had reduced the native population of Mexico from 25 million in 1519 to about one million. By 1615 nearly a hundred thousand Spaniards and their descendants were living in New Spain. Increasing numbers of African slaves were imported; many Africans married native women, producing mestizos called zambos, which some considered unruly. In 1600 the estimated number of these Afromestizos was 140,000. Trade with Mexico flourished, and in the first decade of the 17th century the tax on merchandise yielded the government 2,671,190 pesos.
Juan de Oñate established an outpost at Taos in 1598. Franciscan friars evangelized the Pueblos, and in 1609 Santa Fe was founded. The natives the Spaniards called Pueblos had a feminist society in which women's advice was valued; they grew corn (maize), beans, and squash. In 1602 a cedula advised the public hiring of natives instead of repartimientos; but speculators connived with judges to get many and charge others higher rates, causing the system to be abandoned. To prevent revolts, a 1609 decree ordered that provisions and clothing be sold to natives at reasonable prices. That year black slaves revolted at Veracruz, and in 1610 Indians rebelled at Durango.
Las Casas on the Spanish Conquest
Bartolomé de Las Casas was born in 1484 and grew up in Seville, where he witnessed the triumphant return of Columbus in 1493. His father and three uncles accompanied Columbus on his second voyage; his father returned in 1498 on a ship loaded with slaves, one of whom he gave to Bartolomé during his college years at Salamanca. The slave was returned to Española in accordance with the royal order of 1500. Bartolomé accompanied his father to Española in 1502. After the massacre at Jaragua, Governor Ovando gave Bartolomé a slave. Las Casas later described the misery and early deaths of the slaves who worked in the mines. He went to Spain to assist Bartolomé Columbus and was ordained a priest at Rome in 1507. After studying canon law for two years, Las Casas sailed back to Española with Admiral Diego Columbus, who gave him land in Cibao with a repartimiento (allotment) of Indians. In 1513 he joined Diego Velazquez in the conquest of Cuba under Panfilo de Narvaez, trying to pacify the natives. Las Casas observed Spaniards massacre three thousand natives at Caonao after they had brought food to share with the Christians. He left Narvaez and was given an encomienda near the port of Xagua. Once he was even refused the sacrament by a Dominican, because he held slaves.
While preparing a sermon in 1514 and reading the Wisdom of Sirach 34:18-22 in which denying the laborer his wages is compared to shedding the blood of a neighbor, Las Casas had a change of heart, realizing that the treatment of the natives was unjust and tyrannical. He informed Velazquez that he was renouncing his Indians, and he began to give sermons against the robbery and wrongs of the Spaniards, telling his congregation that it was sinful to make the Indians serve them. Las Casas returned to Spain in 1515 with Antonio Montesinos to report to King Fernando on the evils he witnessed. He presented his Memorial de remedios to Cardinal Cisneros on how Spaniards and Indians could live together. This visionary document was passed from regent Adrian of Utrecht to Erasmus and Thomas More, who applied its ideas in his Utopia.
In 1516 Las Casas was appointed Protector of the Indians and tried to influence the Jeronymite commissioners, but his zeal met determined resistance from the Spaniards who exploited the labor of the natives. When he told the Bishop of Burgos that seven thousand Cuban children had died of starvation in three months, because their parents had been taken to work in the mines, Fonseca asked how that concerned him or the king. The next year Las Casas proposed an experiment to settle Venezuela with farmers that would work all the natives in common under his rules. Twenty African slaves were to be put in the mines in place of the Indians, and only priests properly educated in his methods were allowed. The community was to be assisted by 74 officials with various technical skills, and 6,600 castellanos were to be spent on supplies per year. In 1518 a royal order authorized establishing the villages; but because of opposition Las Casas had trouble getting volunteers. Most of those rounded up by Captain Berrio fell ill, and the attempted colonization was delayed for three years.
The next year Bishop Juan de Quevedo, using Aristotle as his authority, argued that Indians are slaves by nature. The aristocratic Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, the first official historian of the Indies, seemed to agree, but Las Casas kept this history from being printed. Las Casas suggested more Arthurian ideals, dubbed Knights of the Golden Spur. Opposed by Fonseca, Las Casas selected seventy laborers and went to Cumana in 1521; but some soldiers refused to serve under him and went off slave hunting. This caused the Guayqueri on the Venezuela coast to call on Caribs, and they burned the monastery, killed some Dominicans, and massacred the colony while Las Casas was away. Las Casas blamed himself for compromising with the slave-hunters. Drunken natives used poisoned arrows, and in revenge Spaniards enslaved 600 of them in two months. The frustrated Las Casas joined the Dominican order and retreated into a monastery on Española for many years. He became prior of a new monastery on the northern coast in 1526 and observed the dying slaves that were being brought from the Bahamas. He wrote reports to Spain and influenced legislation to suppress slavery.
In 1533 Las Casas persuaded a dying encomendero to free his slaves and leave his goods as reparation. As a result of this, pressure was put on his superior to confine him to the monastery. Las Casas accepted the submission of a "rebel" cacique named Enriquillo, who had been educated in a Franciscan convent. After the encomendero Valenzuela raped his wife, Enriquillo complained to Valenzuela and the governor's agent; but they only threatened him with punishment. He went to the Audiencia, which did no more than send him back with a letter. After more abuses and brutalities, Enriquillo withdrew to the mountains. He and other Indians defended themselves against the soldiers sent against them, taking their weapons. Enriquillo never let his men attack Spaniards first and ordered all prisoners disarmed and released. After thirteen years the colony had spent 80,000 castellanos trying to capture them. Finally Fray Remigio persuaded Enriquillo they could be friends with the Spaniards, and Enriquillo delivered to them gold but had to flee again from their treachery. Soon after Enriquillo agreed to accompany Las Casas to the town of Azua, he died.
Las Casas worked as a missionary in Central America and in 1536 refused to join an expedition under Captain Diego Machuca de Zuazo and denied absolution to those participating, because he believed the conquest ordered by Nicaragua governor Rodrigo de Contreras was wrong; but he offered to pacify the country himself with only fifty men. Contreras banished Las Casas; but King Charles ordered Contreras to suspend his expedition for two years so that Las Casas could use peaceful methods. He attended conferences in Mexico with his allies Fray Julian Garces and Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, urging the doctrine of peaceful conversion. Bernardino de Minaya took these ideas to a conference in Rome in 1536, and the next year Pope Paul III pronounced that American Indians should not be deprived of their liberty or property even if they are outside of the Christian fold; he threatened those who enslave Indians with excommunication. Las Casas wrote a long book, which is mostly lost, entitled The Only Method of Attracting All People to the True Faith. In this treatise he moderated his rhetoric and exhorted preachers to use only peaceful and loving methods of conversion, because any violence repels rather than attracts. Infidels are not moved by those greedy for wealth or desiring dominion over them.
Las Casas was allowed to attempt another experiment to test this thesis in Guatemala with his fellow Dominicans. The province of Tuzutlan was so untamed that it was called the "Land of War." In 1537 acting governor Alonso Maldonado from the second Mexico audiencia was investigating the Alvarado government and agreed to keep other Spaniards out of this region for five years. With three friars Las Casas wrote songs on Christian history, and they taught them to four native merchants who were Christians and began by trading with the natives and singing these songs. Then the Dominican Luis de Barbastro, who knew the Mayan language Quiché, went to live among them. The chief became a Christian and urged his people to follow. Las Casas took the chief to meet Governor Alvarado, and this experiment in peaceful conversion succeeded for several years as the region was renamed Vera Paz, the "Land of True Peace." Meanwhile colonists and ecclesiastics argued over peaceful preaching as a method.
Las Casas returned to Spain in 1539 and for two years lobbied the Council of the Indies to abolish encomiendas. He condemned this system in his Remedies for the Existing Evils, with Twenty Reasons Therefore. The ninth reason was the most simple and obvious, namely that all people in the new world are free. Even the Spanish Cortes (Council) in Valladolid petitioned the king to remedy the cruelties perpetrated against the Indians. After Charles V returned to Spain in 1542, Dominicans persuaded him to abolish encomiendas and promulgate the New Laws. No Indian was to be enslaved, and all existing Indian slaves were to be freed. Encomenderos without proper title were to lose their natives, as were all officials and prelates. No new encomienda was to be granted to anyone, and as encomenderos died, their natives were to revert to the Crown. On the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Española tribute was not to be demanded from Indians, who were to have the same rights as Spaniards. Suspected of taking bribes from Cortes, Pizarro, and others, the Council of the Indies was suspended for a year, and new commissioners were appointed. Later historians have questioned whether abolishing the encomiendas benefited the natives, because they still were considered tribute-paying vassals of the king.
The conquistadors reacted strongly to the New Laws, resulting in the assassination of the viceroy in Peru. Visitador Tello de Sandoval was sent to Mexico to enforce the New Laws; but he heard so many protests, he modified them. Business was badly affected, and hundreds of Spaniards returned to Spain with their wives. Clergy had also profited from encomiendas, and many priests resisted the reform. In 1545 the Council of Mexico advocated suspending the New Laws and making encomiendas perpetual, and Charles V did revoke the New Law on encomiendas later that year.
Las Casas met with hostility at Santo Domingo, but the stern rule of Judge Cerrato prevented violence. After rejecting the lucrative see of Cuzco, Las Casas was consecrated bishop of poor Chiapas in 1544. He met with bishops at Mexico City in 1546 and wrote Advice and Regulations to Confessors, urging the withholding of sacraments from anyone who did not compensate Indians properly for their labor. The rules were to be kept secret; but they leaked out and upset many. Penitents were required to give their slaves freedom instantaneously and irrevocably. They must pay for the wrongs they did, and very unpopular was the call for conquistadors, who had gained all their wealth from exploiting natives, to leave nothing to their sons. Merchants who imported war materials were also guilty and owed restitution. Those confessing must never again participate in a war of conquest against natives.
Having become too unpopular to minister effectively in the colonies, Las Casas resigned his bishopric and returned to Spain for good in 1547. The king's chaplain Juan Ginés de Sepulveda had written a treatise in which he argued that the wars against the Indians were just. Persuaded by Las Casas, university authorities refused to let Sepulveda's book be printed. Las Casas had been working on his History of the Indies for years and responded by writing the massive Defense of Indian Civilization. He argued that the current licenses should be revoked and that all conquest should be stopped. In April 1549 the royal order on "The Manner in which New Discoveries are to be Undertaken" was sent to the Audiencia of Peru.
Sepulveda wrote to Prince Philip in September, and in April 1550 Emperor Charles ordered all conquests stopped until theologians and counselors should decide the issue. Sepulveda wrote A Defense for the Book on the Just Causes of the War, which was printed at Rome in May 1550, and he wrote three other defenses in Spanish, describing the Indians as brutish and cowardly. Fourteen officials and ecclesiastics met for a month during the summer at Valladolid. Sepulveda spoke for three hours and then Las Casas read from his book for five days before the judges began their discussion. Domingo de Soto made a summary, and then Sepulveda wrote a reply to the twelve objections of Las Casas. Sepulveda argued that because of their idolatry and sins against nature, the Indians should be subjugated and protected by the superior Spaniards. He noted that the natives do not have any written laws or even private property. Las Casas responded that the Indians were quite rational and in some respects superior to the Greeks and Romans. He wrote,
No nation exists, no matter how rude, uncultivated,
barbarous, gross, or almost brutal its people may be,
which may not be persuaded and brought to a good order
and way of life and made domestic, mild, and tractable,
provided the method that is proper and natural to men is used;
that is, love and gentleness and kindness.3
The judges argued and made no judgment, but by 1566, the year Las Casas died, King Philip II was issuing licenses for new discoveries. Yet the more humane ordinance of 1573 was surely influenced by the life work of the zealous Dominican, as the concept of conquest was replaced by pacification.
After the debate, in 1552 Las Casas published eight tracts, including his Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies he had written ten years earlier. Unlike most of his writing, this bold criticism was translated in the 16th century into Flemish, English, French, German, and Latin and was thus widely disseminated. In the prolog he explained that it would have been a criminal neglect of his duty to remain silent about the enormous loss of life because of the conquests. He summarized the most egregious violations he was describing in his longer history. The native population of Española had been reduced from three million to two hundred. Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas were similarly devastated. On the mainland Christians had caused the deaths of between twelve and fifteen million people by unjust war and brutal slavery in order to get gold and amass private fortunes. Las Casas repeatedly argued that the natives had done nothing wrong to deserve such ill treatment. They had welcomed the Europeans, believing they came from heaven until they realized what their oppressive purposes were. Only then did some of them take up their inferior weapons to try to defend themselves. Europeans were ruthless and vowed to slaughter one hundred natives for every Spaniard who was killed.
In Panama and Nicaragua Governor Pedrarias led the slaughter in the relentless search for gold. Demands for fifty slaves every few months were made of local leaders, who were burned alive or thrown to dogs if they did not meet their quota. Las Casas described the assaults in Mexico as worse than those of Turks trying to destroy Christians. He accused the Alvarado brothers of killing four million natives in Guatemala between 1524 and 1540. Other "butchers" he left unnamed were Guzman in northern Mexico and Montejo in Yucatan. In only the first ten years Las Casas calculated the number of deaths in Peru at four million. He noted that already the conquistadors in Peru were fighting and killing each other. He saw the Christ in each of the natives and lamented that they had not been given the knowledge of God. He loved Castile and feared his country would be punished for these crimes.
Las Casas wrote a treatise on imperial sovereignty in which he argued that the pope had no coercive authority to force infidels to accept Christianity, and he believed that the natives had their own rightful kings and property, which should be restored by the encomenderos who had robbed them. In Thirty Very Juridical Propositions he argued that everything the Spaniards had done in the new world was illegal and unjust. These writings and his sermons made Las Casas the most hated man in the Spanish empire. Several times the council of Mexico City urged Philip II to restrain the Indian advocate and prohibit the printing of his books. In 1554 licenciado Ribera on behalf of encomenderos in Peru offered Philip four million ducats if he would make encomiendas perpetual; so Las Casas contacted missionaries, and they promised even more money to the bankrupt Spanish government from the Indians themselves for their freedom. This royal commission was so fraught with corruption and fraud that the king dismissed it. In 1564 Las Casas wrote a Solution to the Twelve Doubts in which he asserted that it is right for even infidels to have jurisdiction over their own lives. He questioned the enrichment of the fortune hunters in Peru, and his writing stimulated Viceroy Toledo to research the history of the Incas so that he could prove that they had oppressed other natives.
In his last will and testament Las Casas described his call as:
To act here at home on behalf of all those people
out in what we call the Indies,
the true possessors of those kingdoms, those territories.
To act against the unimaginable, unspeakable violence
and evil and harm they have suffered from our people,
contrary to all reason, all justice,
so as to restore them to the original liberty
they were lawlessly deprived of,
and get them free of death by violence, death they still suffer.4
Then in the same will he left behind a disturbing prophecy:
I think that God shall have to pour out his fury and anger
on Spain for these damnable, rotten, infamous deeds
done so unjustly, so tyrannically, so barbarously
to those people, against those people.
For the whole of Spain has shared in the blood-soaked riches,
some a little, some a lot, but all shared in goods
that were ill-gotten, wickedly taken with violence and genocide-
and all must pay unless Spain does a mighty penance.5
Florida, Canada, and Virginia
Hearing of a fountain that makes people younger, Ponce de Leon discovered Florida on Palm Sunday in 1512. He was sent by King Fernando in 1515 to kill the cannibal Caribs; but most of his own men were killed, as the Caribs carried off the women to the mountains. Ponce de Leon retired from military campaigning but remained governor of Puerto Rico. Learning in 1521 that Florida was part of the mainland, he ventured there again but died on his way back in Cuba. In 1527 Panfilo de Narvaez left Cuba and began exploring Florida with 260 men. He treated the Apalachee natives so badly that they killed many with arrows. Their boats were capsized or wrecked in the Mississippi River, and only four men survived. Cabeza de Vaca and the African Esteban were accepted as medicine men and traveled west as far as the Gulf of California. After eight years they found Spaniards and returned to Mexico. Esteban went with Fray Marcos de Niza to look for the seven cities of Cibao among the Zunis. Because he was black, the Zunis felt Esteban could not be a prophet for a white man and killed him. Niza's account of a Zuni city stimulated Francisco de Coronado to lead an expedition that searched for riches as far north as Kansas. Concurrently Hernando de Soto left Cuba in 1539 with ten ships and a thousand men and explored inland from Florida to the Mississippi valley, searching for gold. Again the Spaniards treated the natives cruelly, killing many times the 170 they lost. After Soto died of fever, his men built boats and were driven down the Mississippi River. In 1549 friar Luis Cancer de Barbastro led a missionary expedition to Florida; but they were landed where Spaniards had previously abused the natives, and they were all massacred.
French admiral Gaspar de Coligny wanted to make the new world a haven for persecuted Protestants and urged Jean Ribaut to lead an expedition of Huguenots to found Port Royal (South Carolina) in 1562. Like most Europeans, they took advantage of native hospitality and failed to provide for themselves. Hunger led to mutiny, abandoning the colony, and a desperate return voyage in which one was eaten by the others. The next year Ribaut sent René de Laudonniere with skilled artisans but still no farmers. They built Fort Caroline, but this time mutiny led to buccaneering. The pirates captured a Spanish vessel but were arrested and taken to Havana. Laudonniere had four other mutineers shot. The French helped the chief Outina fight his enemies but still lacked food. Slave-trader John Hawkins generously traded them a ship for their cannons and other useless items. Then Ribaut arrived with seven ships.
News of French intruders in America motivated Philip II to send Pedro Menendez de Avilés. He financed his own expedition with a thousand men and 500 slaves, and his Spanish fleet showed up one week after Ribaut in 1565. Menendez told the French that he came to kill all the Lutherans. He went to St. Augustine, where the Africans built a fort. They marched north on land and made a surprise attack on Fort Caroline. Laudonniere escaped, but Menendez ordered 142 people killed for being Protestants. Meanwhile the ships of Ribaut were wrecked; 200 of his men surrendered and then were slaughtered by Menendez. Ribaut and most of his 350 remaining men were also murdered by the fanatical Spaniard, and the rest were sent to the galleys by King Philip II. Dominique de Gourgues had previously been a captive in a Spanish galley, and he enlisted 200 men to gain revenge in 1567. Natives led by Satouriona, who had turned hostile to the Spaniards, helped the French massacre the garrison of 400, a few being hanged for being traitors, robbers, and murderers, not Spanish, just as Menendez had executed men for being Lutherans, not French. However, Menendez was in Spain, and he came back to rebuild the fort. Jesuits arrived in 1570; but the next year abused Indians murdered Spaniards, causing even the Jesuits to leave Florida.
Ignoring the papal bull of 1493 that divided the new world between Spain and Portugal, both France and England were claiming North America. In 1524 François I sent to explore the coast Florentine Giovanni da Verrazzano, who the year before had captured treasure Cortes was shipping from Mexico. Fishing by various Europeans had been going on off New Foundland for many years, and in 1534 Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River, naming one place Montreal. The French built a fort on the St. Charles River, but 25 died of scurvy before a native showed them the leaves that provided a cure. In 1536 Cartier abducted Donnacona and other chiefs and took them back to France, where they were baptized and died within two years. Cartier went back to the St. Lawrence in 1541 and was followed by Picardy aristocrat Roberval. A third of the colony died of disease; the rest left when the king recalled Viceroy Roberval two years later. The French kept coming to North America for fish, furs, and walrus tusks.
The French formed the Canada company in 1602, and the next year King Henri IV granted the Huguenot nobleman De Monts a charter for Acadia with trading rights from the 40th latitude to the 46th parallel. He hired navigator Samuel de Champlain, who explored the Maine coast and found little trace of Cartier's colony; even the natives had fled the area. The next year De Monts founded a settlement on an island in the Sainte Croix River, but half the men died of scurvy. The next year they moved the colony to Nova Scotia to another place also named Port Royal. Champlain and the poetic priest Marc Lescarbot led a cooperative community; but it had to be abandoned in 1607 when De Monts's monopoly was rescinded. Baron de Poutrincourt gained the grant and went to Port Royal in 1610, converting the elderly chief Membertou before the Jesuits, sponsored by Madame de Guercheville, arrived the next year. Young Louis XIII granted her all of North America from the St. Lawrence to Florida. Jesuit Pierre Biard quarreled with Poutrincourt.
In 1613 courtier La Saussaye with Jesuits Gilbert du Thet and Jacques Quentin tried to start a settlement near Monts Desert Island (Maine). They were soon captured by Samuel Argall, who had been sent by Virginia's Thomas Dale, even though King James had not granted this region to them but to a separate Plymouth colony. Fourteen were taken prisoners to Jamestown, and the other fifteen French were set adrift in a boat and made it back to France. When Dale proposed hanging them, Argall admitted that he had secretly stolen the French commissions from their ship. Their lives were spared; but Argall was sent to demolish the colony at Port Royal and what was left at Sainte Croix. Argall was investigated for his actions but was acquitted. Biard was considered a traitor by both sides but was eventually returned to France. Poutrincourt's son Biencourt managed to rebuild Port Royal and helped fur traders.
Meanwhile Champlain founded a small settlement at Quebec, surviving one winter with only seven others. He explored the rivers and lakes, including the one named for him. By helping the Algonquins, Hurons, and Montagnais fight those he called Iroquois, he established the alliance that would continue throughout the French-English conflict. Although he did some farming himself, New France would be primarily for soldiers, priests, and traders.
After his half-brother Humphrey Gilbert died at sea in 1583, Walter Raleigh gained a patent from Queen Elizabeth to colonize North America. He persuaded Richard Hakluyt to write "A Discourse on Western Planting" in order to urge Elizabeth to invest in colonies. Hakluyt argued that England could drive the Spanish ships from the Newfoundland fisheries, capture their treasure from Mexico and Peru, discover a northwest passage to China, create a market for English industry, increase customs revenues, build up the royal navy, and provide opportunity for the unemployed. Raleigh sent captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to explore, and they brought back from Roanoke (North Carolina) young Manteo, who spoke Algonquin. The English queen named the new colony Virginia in her own honor and provided the ship Tiger and 400 pounds worth of gunpowder. Raleigh sent out his ship Roebuck to capture other prizes, and he appointed Richard Grenville commander and Ralph Lane governor. The expedition included the scientist Thomas Hariot and the artist John White.
In May 1585 Grenville had his men build a fort on Puerto Rico; the Tiger captured and sold a Spanish ship to buy cattle, horses, swine, and plants before establishing the colony at Roanoke that summer. Because a silver cup was missing, Grenville foolishly destroyed a native cornfield and burned a village. On the way home the Tiger captured more Spanish prizes, netting investors a profit of 40,000 pounds. Hariot designed a fort and reported that the natives considered them divine, because they had no women and refused the native girls. The animals had to be fenced, or they destroyed the natives' corn. When Manteo warned them of enmity and a plot, Lane ordered a pre-emptive attack. While they were fearing a counter-attack, Francis Drake arrived with 23 ships after raiding Santiago in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Cartagena, and St. Augustine. All 103 colonists happily went back to England on Drake's ships in June 1586. The next month Grenville arrived to find no one; he left 15 men in the fort and returned to England also.
Raleigh's next expedition was led by John White and included 89 men, 17 women, and 11 children. They arrived in July 1587 and learned that the 15 men were dead. They tried to forgive and forget, but White's men mistakenly attacked friendly Croatoans. Manteo was christened and made chief of the Roanoke tribe as vassal of White. After only a month in Virginia, the settlers persuaded White to go back to England for more supplies. Because of the war with Spain in 1588 no ship returned to Roanoke until 1590; by then none were left in the colony, though evidence indicated some might have been assimilated into the Croatoan tribe. Lane was the first Englishman to smoke tobacco, and Hariot and Raleigh made smoking a clay pipe fashionable in the English court. In 1594 Raleigh led an expedition himself to explore the Orinoco River in Guiana, looking for El Dorado. He sent Samuel Mace to look for the lost colony again in 1602; but after Elizabeth died the next year, Raleigh was imprisoned for treason; he was executed in 1618.
In 1605 George Waymouth explored the coast from Nantucket to Maine and brought back to England five Abnakis. In April 1606 King James I issued a charter for England's first permanent colony. Virginia was to extend from the 34th latitude to the 45th. To encourage expansion, the first colony might extend as far north as 41 degrees, and the second could go south to the 38th parallel; but neither was to settle closer than one hundred miles from the other. The king appointed a royal council in London, and they elected the original councils that were to govern locally, subject to the crown's veto. Chief Justice John Popham and Attorney General Edward Coke made sure that the liberties of common law were protected. Popham and Ferdinando Gorges were the leaders of the Plymouth company. In August 1606 they sent the Richard of Plimouth that was captured near Puerto Rico. The crew was imprisoned at Seville for three months before some, including John Stoneman who had been with Waymouth, were able to return to England. Popham sent a second ship in October that sailed directly to Maine and brought back an encouraging report.
In May 1607 the Plymouth company sent George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert on the Gift of God and the Mary and John with 120 men and two Indian interpreters. On an island at the mouth of the Kennebec they found the cross that Waymouth had erected. They settled on the Sagadahoc; but the colony suffered from lack of food and internal strife. In October the Mary and John went back to England for supplies. Fearing an attack from the French, the Gift of God did not leave until December; only 45 men remained to keep the settlement going. After Gilbert learned that his brother had died in England, he and the rest decided to abandon the colony. The elderly John Popham died, and others were not interested in investing in a venture without profit. Only the fishing was successful, and that was continued in those waters until 1614.
The London company hired Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnold, and John Ratcliffe to captain the three ships. Helpful Instructions about colonizing were written by Richard Hakluyt based on lessons from his comprehensive Principal Navigations. He warned them how to guard against surprise attacks by Spaniards or natives, advising them they "must have great care not to offend the naturals."6 The ships left England on the first day of 1607; after several stops in the West Indies they reached Chesapeake Bay in April and chose the site for Jamestown on May 13.
John Smith had been baptized as an infant on January 9, 1580. At age fifteen he was bound as an apprentice; but after his parents died, he ran away and became a soldier, fighting the Spaniards for three years in the Netherlands. Traveling to eastern Hungary, he was made a captain by Emperor Rudolph II and claimed that he killed three Turks in single combats. In 1602 he was captured and sold into slavery to a woman at Istanbul; she sent him to her Pasha brother, whom he killed despite the iron collar around his neck. Smith escaped through Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Bohemia before traveling back to England, where he met Newport and Gosnold. On the voyage to America the box with the names of the elected council was kept sealed. Smith quarreled with aristocratic Edward Wingfield and was put in irons. In Virginia the council elected Wingfield president and kept Smith off the council. He explored the river and at Werewocomoco met the chief Powhatan, who ruled over 28 local tribes. Meanwhile Jamestown was attacked by 200 Indians, whom Powhatan said were his enemies; one Englishman was killed. After Smith demanded a trial and was acquitted by a jury, he took his seat on the council. Newport sailed for England with wood and sassafras to get more food.
Jamestown had 105 persons, but that summer about half of them, including Gosnold, died of diseases. In September the council deposed Wingfield and elected Ratcliffe president. He hit and beat the blacksmith James Reed, who struck back and was going to be hanged for it until he accused arrested council member George Kendall of plotting mutiny. Instead, Kendall confessed, was convicted by a jury, and shot. In December while Smith was exploring the Chickahominy River, George Cassen got lost and was killed by Indians. Powhatan's brother Opekankano led 200 warriors in an attack that killed two Englishmen and captured Smith. He showed them his compass and eventually was taken to Werewocomoco. When Smith's head was placed on a stone to be beaten with clubs, Powhatan's 12-year-old daughter Pocahontas begged for his life. So Powhatan asked for cannons and a millstone, offering Smith land as his adopted son. They escorted Smith back to Jamestown the day Newport returned with supplies. With 120 more people in the colony they needed more corn, and during the winter Pocahontas brought them food. Smith was shrewder at trading with the Indians than the trusting Captain Newport.
In the summer of 1608 Captain John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, meeting an Iroquois tribe of Susquehannocks, who had French hatchets. When he returned to Jamestown in September, Ratcliffe had been deposed; Smith was elected president by the council's only other member, Matthew Scrivener. That month Newport brought a second supply shipment with seventy people, making a total of 200. He told them the London company wanted them to find gold, a route to the South Sea, or White's lost colony. They did follow the order of the London council in that Newport crowned Powhatan; but the soil that glittered turned out not to be gold. Before he left again, Newport sent some swords to Powhatan. The lawyer Gabriel Archer had accused Smith of being responsible for those killed by Opekankano. Now Smith sent Archer back to England with Ratcliffe, along with a detailed map of the area, and asking for carpenters, farmers, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers. Smith went on another expedition exploring the Chesapeake Bay area, and he used diplomacy to make peace among the native tribes. Yet he began to threaten them if they did not provide corn. He got permission from his council to punish an Indian for stealing, but they warned him that threatening the natives was against the Instructions.
When Powhatan asked Smith why they had come, Smith lied they had been driven there by Spaniards; he was afraid to tell him that they came to settle. Smith intimidated the Nansemonds into providing corn by burning one of their wigwams. That winter Powhatan asked for swords and stopped trading corn for other things. Smith sent some Germans to help build a house in Werewocomoco, but Powhatan would only trade corn for swords or guns. Suspecting they had come to take over his country, Powhatan offered some grain and then walked out. Surrounded by warriors, Smith and his companion drew their swords and scared them off. They threatened the Indians with a gun to make them load the corn. Pocahontas warned Smith to leave, or he would be killed. Pistols were also used to take corn and venison from Opekankano. The Germans and some malcontents were providing the Indians with weapons, but they escaped execution for treason. Smith kept a hostage in order to make an Indian return a stolen pistol. When the prisoner sealed his jail cell and was asphyxiated by smoke, Smith revived him with brandy.
After the Indian sobered up, this "miracle" inspired the Indians to return stolen goods.
In Jamestown everyone was supposed to work for the community; but John Smith found that thirty or forty men were supporting the rest. As the only surviving member of the council, he told them all that he would enforce discipline and that those who did not work, excepting those who were ill, would not be given food. Houses were built; a well was dug; thirty acres were planted; nets and weirs were arranged for fishing; and a new fortress was begun. Rats from the ships had multiplied and eaten most of the grain. That summer Samuel Argall arrived with news that a second charter had made the company a corporation with 659 shareholders and 56 trade guilds. They were authorized to tax and wage war independently of Parliament, and the local council was replaced by Governor Thomas West, the baron of Delaware. Emigration to Virginia counted as one share, and after seven years shareholders were granted land. About 600 volunteered and sailed on nine ships; but a hurricane sank one and caused the Sea Venture to be wrecked on an abandoned island, named for Juan Bermudez in 1521, where slave-hunters had removed the cannibals, leaving pigs. Because the leaders Thomas Gates and George Somers had not agreed, they had sailed on this ship with all the copies of the new orders; they were stranded there for ten months before they could build ships and get to Jamestown in May 1610.
Meanwhile Captain Smith sent John Martin and George Percy to found a settlement on the Nansemond River and Francis West to settle above the falls. Smith bought some Powhatan land there and criticized the colonists for treating the Indians badly; but the settlers complained that Smith was interfering and threatened him with weapons. Indians attacked the new settlement and killed many colonists. Smith went up there and arrested the ringleaders; but while returning he was badly burned by gunpowder. To get medical treatment he departed for England in October 1609, leaving the unwell George Percy in command of Jamestown.
Ratcliffe and thirty men were killed while trading. Francis West managed to obtain corn, but he took it to England. As food ran out, a gang stole a ship and turned to piracy. Others ate horses, dogs, cats, rats, leather, snakes, and roots. Finally some were reduced to cannibalism and dug up bodies. One man was caught eating his wife; Percy tortured him until he confessed to murdering her and then executed him. By the time Gates and Somers arrived, only sixty people had survived "the starving time." They brought food but after a month decided to abandon the colony. Fortunately Gates prevented burning the buildings, because when Lord Delaware arrived with supplies, they decided to stay. He imposed strict discipline. The next winter about 150 died; Lord Delaware became ill and in March 1611 returned to England.
Thomas Dale was appointed High Marshal of Virginia; he arrived in May 1611 and immediately enforced strict discipline. Thomas Gates replaced Dale later that year and governed the colony until 1614, when Dale returned for two more years. While in Virginia, Dale and Gates drew up a new company code called the Laws Divine, Moral and Martial that was published by council secretary William Strachey. This imposed capital punishment for such minor offenses as not attending church services, blasphemy, speaking badly of the king or the London company, unlicensed trading with Indians, and unauthorized uprooting of crops or slaughtering of livestock. A conspiracy to overthrow Dale was led by Jeffrey Abbot; when the plot was discovered, he and four others were tortured to death. Dale promoted industry and thrift by letting proprietors cultivate three acres for their own use. More settlers brought Jamestown's population to 800. In 1612 King James approved a new charter without the usual oath of allegiance, making it easier to get subscribers. A lottery was approved to raise money for the colonies. That year
Lieutenant-Governor Gates executed several Indians, because he suspected them of spying at Jamestown.
In 1613 Captain Argall kidnapped Pocahontas and held her for ransom to get back several English prisoners and stolen weapons and tools along with corn. Powhatan sent back seven men, a few tools, and a canoe of corn; but the English could not believe he did not still have the weapons, and they kept Pocahontas. John Rolfe was experimenting with growing tobacco. After his wife died, he fell in love with Pocahontas; she was baptized, and they were married in April 1614. Marshal Dale and Captain Argall made peace with the Chickahominies, but each bowman had to provide two measures of corn every harvest. Dale established an annual rent for the farmers and tribute corn from the "barbarians," thus replacing the regional power of Powhatan. Rolfe and Pocahontas visited England in 1616, and she met with John Smith there before she died of illness the next year. Smith worked for the Plymouth company in 1615, renaming North Virginia as New England.
The Bermuda islands were granted to the Virginia company in 1612 and became a successful venture. By the end of 1614 six hundred settlers found it a healthy place, and they got a royal charter as the Somers Islands Company in 1615. In 1609 Henry Hudson had explored the river named for him; but he sold his rights to the Dutch, and the Amsterdam company founded a colony called New Netherlands in 1614.
1. Historia de las Indias by Bartolomé de Las Casas II:176 in New Iberian World, Volume 2 The Caribbean, p. 310.
2. Oviedo III:29 quoted in History of Central America, Volume 1 by Hubert Bancroft, p. 398.
3. Apologetica Historia by Bartolomé de Las Casas p. 127-129 quoted in The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America by Lewis Hanke, p. 126.
4. Indian Freedom: The Cause of Bartolomé de Las Casas ed. Francis Patrick Sullivan, p. 354.
5. Ibid., p. 354.
6. Quoted in Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, Volume 1 by John Fiske, p. 87.