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Ulrich Schmidt and Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

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Title: The Conquest of the River Plate (1535-1555)

Author: Ulrich Schmidt
        Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

Editor: Luis L. Dominguez

Other: The Hakluyt Society

Release Date: January 24, 2015 [EBook #48058]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Chris Curnow, René Anderson Benitz, Joseph
Cooper and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

Transcriber's Note: Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed; therefore, numerous inconsistencies in spelling, diacritical marks, etc., have not been reconciled. However, all spelling changes listed in the Corrigenda have been made in this etext. The cover for this e-book was created by the transcriber and is granted to the public domain.


The Hakluyt Society.








With Notes and Introduction



Published by
514 West 113th Street
New York 25, N. Y.





Introduction xiii
Bibliography xli
Voyage of Ulrich Schmidt 1
The Commentaries of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca:—
Chap. I.—Of the Commentaries of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca 95
Chap. II.—How we departed from the island of Cabo Verde 98
Chap. III.—Which treats of how the governor arrived with his armada at the island of Santa Catalina, in Brazil, and disembarked his troops there 100
Chap. IV.—How nine Christians came to the island 101
Chap. V.—How the governor hastened his journey 104
Chap. VI.—How the governor and his people advanced into the interior 106
Chap. VII.—Which treats of what happened to the governor and his people in his journey, and of the nature of the land 108
Chap. VIII.—Of the troubles that the governor and his people underwent on their way, and of a kind of pine tree, and of the fruits of that land 112
Chap. IX.—How the governor and his people found themselves starving, and appeased their hunger with worms from reeds 114
Chap. X.—Of the fear the Indians had of the horses 117
Chap. XI.—How the governor navigated the river Yguazú in canoes, and how, in order to avoid a cataract of that river, he carried the canoes one league by hand 119
Chap. XII.—Which treats of the rafts that were made to carry the sick 122
Chap. XIII.—How the governor arrived at the Ascension, where the Spaniards lived whom he had come to relieve 124
Chap. XIV.—How the Spaniards, left behind through sickness, on the river Pequiry, arrived at the town of Ascension 126
Chap. XV.—How the governor, wishing to re-people Buenos Ayres, sent reinforcements to those who had come there in the ship ‘Capitana 127
Chap. XVI.—How the natives kill and eat their enemies 129
Chap. XVII.—Of the peace which the governor concluded with the Indian Agazes 131
Chap. XVIII.—Of the complaints addressed to the governor by the pobladores against the officers of His Majesty 134
Chap. XIX.—How the governor received complaints against the Indian Guaycurús 135
Chap. XX.—How the governor informed himself concerning the complaint 136
Chap. XXI.—How the governor and his people crossed the river, and how two Christians were drowned 139
Chap. XXII.—How the spies, by order of the governor, went in search of the Guaycurús 140
Chap. XXIII.—How the governor, pursuing the enemy, was informed that he was marching in front 142
Chap. XXIV.—Of a panic among the Spaniards and Indians, caused by a tiger 143
Chap. XXV.—How the governor and his people overtook the enemy 145
Chap. XXVI.—How the governor pursued the enemy 147
Chap. XXVII.—How the governor and all his people returned to the town of Ascension 149
Chap. XXVIII.—How the Indian Agazes broke the peace 150
Chap. XXIX.—How the governor set at liberty one of the captive Guaycurús, and sent him to summon his fellow tribesmen 152
Chap. XXX.—How the Guaycurús came and submitted to His Majesty 153
Chap. XXXI.—How the governor, after making peace with the Guaycurús, delivered the prisoners to them 154
Chap. XXXII.—How the Apirús came and made a treaty of peace and submitted 156
Chap. XXXIII.—Of the judgment passed on the Agazes by the advice of the monks, captains, and other officers of His Majesty 158
Chap. XXXIV.—How the governor sent relief to Buenos Ayres 159
Chap. XXXV.—How the three Spaniards and the Indians returned from their reconnaissance 161
Chap. XXXVI.—How wood was prepared for the construction of two brigantines and one caravel 162
Chap. XXXVII.—How the Indians came again and offered their services 163
Chap. XXXVIII.—How the settlement of Ascension was burned 166
Chap. XXXIX.—How Domingo de Irala arrived 167
Chap. XL.—What Gonzalo de Mendoza wrote 170
Chap. XLI.—How the governor helped those who were with Gonzalo de Mendoza 172
Chap. XLII.—How four Christians died of their wounds during this war 173
Chap. XLIII.—How the friars took to flight 175
Chap. XLIV.—How the governor took four hundred men on his voyage of discovery 177
Chap. XLV.—How the governor left part of the provisions he had brought with him 179
Chap. XLVI.—How he stopped to speak with the natives of another port and land 180
Chap. XLVII.—How he sent for an interpreter to treat with the Payaguás 182
Chap. XLVIII.—How the horses were embarked in the port 183
Chap. XLIX.—How Juan de Ayolas entered the port where he and his Christians were killed 185
Chap. L.—How the interpreter and those who had promised to come failed to do so 188
Chap. LI.—How the Guaxarapos spoke with the governor 192
Chap. LII.—How the Indians come and establish themselves on the shore of the river 193
Chap. LIII.—How they erected three crosses at the mouth of the river Yguatú 196
Chap. LIV.—How the Indians of the port of Los Reyes cultivate the soil 199
Chap. LV.—How the Indians of Garcia settled in this place 202
Chap. LVI.—How they spoke with the Chaneses 203
Chap. LVII.—How the governor sent to find out the Indians of Garcia 204
Chap. LVIII.—How the governor held a council with his officers and informed them of what was passing 205
Chap. LIX.—How the governor sent an expedition to the Xarayes 207
Chap. LX.—How the interpreters came back from the Xarayes 212
Chap. LXI.—How the governor decided on entering the country 215
Chap. LXII.—How the governor arrived at the Rio Caliente 216
Chap. LXIII.—How the governor sent to discover the house which was further on 218
Chap. LXIV.—How the interpreter returned from the Indian habitation 219
Chap. LXV.—How the governor and his people returned to the port of Los Reyes 221
Chap. LXVI.—How the Indians would have killed those who remained at the port of Los Reyes 222
Chap. LXVII.—How the governor sent Captain Mendoza in search of provisions 223
Chap. LXVIII.—How he sent a brigantine to discover the river of the Xarayes with Captain de Ribera 225
Chap. LXIX.—How Captain Francisco de Ribera returned from his exploration 228
Chap. LXX.—How Captain Francisco de Ribera reported of his discovery 229
Chap. LXXI.—How the governor sent for Gonzalo de Mendoza 233
Chap. LXXII.—How Hernando de Ribera returned from his exploration along the river 236
Chap. LXXIII.—What befell the governor and his people in the port of Los Reyes 237
Chap. LXXIV.—How the governor, having arrived with his people at the town of Ascension, was made a prisoner 239
Chap. LXXV.—How the population assembled before the house of Domingo de Irala 243
Chap. LXXVI.—Of the tumults and disturbances that took place in the country 245
Chap. LXXVII.—How the governor was kept in prison 247
Chap. LXXVIII.—How the insurgents ravaged the land and took possession of the property of the inhabitants 249
Chap. LXXIX.—How the monks left the country 250
Chap. LXXX.—How they tortured those who were not on their side 252
Chap. LXXXI.—How they wished to kill a sheriff who had made them a requisition 253
Chap. LXXXII.—How the insurgents gave the Indians permission to eat human flesh 254
Chap. LXXXIII.—How the insurgents had to write to His Majesty and send him a report 256
Chap. LXXXIV.—How they gave arsenic three times to the governor during the voyage 259
Narrative of Hernando de Ribera 263
Index 271


Map of South America in the XVI Century.


Page 1, title, for  Von Straubingen, read  of Straubing.
" 15, line 27, for  lakes ix, read  lake six.
" 16, last line, for  salnaischo, read  saluaischo.
" 24, note, for  for mof, read  form of.
" 32, line 15, for  St. Catherine, read  Sta. Catharina.
" 43, note, for  Guaragos, read  Guarayos.
" 80, line 4, for  Schmiedel, read  Schmidt.
" 83, note, for  Uruguai, read  Uruguay.
" 106, line 18, for  Estropiñan, read  Estopiñan.
" 107, line 4, for  Estropiñan, read  Estopiñan.

- xiii -


I HAVE the pleasure to present to the Hakluyt Society, in the accompanying volume, the first two historians who wrote on the conquest of the Rio de la Plata, which took place in the reign of Charles V, King of Spain and Emperor of Germany.

The first of these was a German, a native of Straubing, in Bavaria, whose name was Ulrich Schmidt. The second was a Spaniard, native of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, named Alvar Nuñez, better known by the surname which he took from his mother, Doña Teresa Cabeza de Vaca. This Alvar Nuñez was a grandson of Don Pedro Vera, who, in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholics, undertook to conquer the Canary Islands at his own cost. As his means, however, were insufficient for so great an enterprise, he borrowed money of a Moorish banker upon pledge. The security given by this inhuman father consisted of his two sons, the younger of whom was the father of Alvar Nuñez; and this transaction, characteristic of a soldier in those semi-barbarous times, seemed to presage the singular adventures in which the son of the latter was destined to take part.

Of the German’s lineage nothing is known. I believe him to have been an obscure individual,- xiv - servant or agent, like the modern commis voyageurs or commercial travellers, for one of the wealthy houses of commerce established at Seville in the time of the Emperor, and concerning which I shall have something to say by-and-by.

Both the German adventurer as well as the Andalusian cavalier gave their names to the narratives of what happened to them in America, in the two books published together in the present volume.

Twelve years after the discovery of the river Plate in 1516, by Juan Diaz de Solis, two Spanish expeditions explored its shores. One of these had been sent out by the Emperor to India, under the orders of Sebastian Cabot, and the other, under the command of the pilot Diego Garcia, to take possession of that river. Cabot altered his course and went up the Paraná till he arrived at the Rio Paraguai in 1527, and Garcia made the same voyage the following year. Both these navigators shortly afterwards returned to Spain, having only left a small colony at Sancti Spiritus, in the neighbourhood of the present city of Rosario, which was soon transferred to Iguape, on the Atlantic coast, very near the limit fixed, by the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, between the possessions of Spain and Portugal.

When Cabot returned to Spain in 1530, and told of the pieces of silver he had seen among the Indians of the Chaco, the King of Portugal sent Martin Affonso de Souza to establish himself in the extreme south of his possessions in Brazil; and this- xv - Portuguese captain, after examining the coast of the ocean as far as the entrance of the Rio de la Plata, founded at the close of the year 1531, in the island of San Vicente, the first regular colony on that coast where now stands the little city of Santos.

The vicinity of these two rival colonies—the much smaller Spanish one of Iguape, and the stronger Portuguese one in San Vicente—endangered the peaceful and tranquil possession of those lands; and for this reason the Spanish Government resolved on sending immediately a formal expedition which should permanently occupy the north of the territory belonging to it, according to the above-mentioned treaty, on that coast. This expedition was placed under the orders of the first Adelantado and Captain-General of the province of Rio de la Plata, Don Pedro de Mendoza.

With him sailed a ship belonging to some Flemish merchants established in Seville, and in this vessel went their servant, or agent, one Ulrich Schmidt, a native of Bavaria, whom the Spaniards called Schmidel, a name which was Latinized, according to the custom of that time, into Uldericus Faber.

This Bavarian remained in the province of the Rio de la Plata some twenty years, taking an active, though obscure, part in the events of the Spanish conquest of that part of America. In December 1552, he returned to his native country, visiting Seville in September of the following year, and Antwerp in January 1554. Thirteen years afterwards- xvi - there appeared in Germany, in a collection of voyages published at Frankfort-on-Maine by Sebastian Franck, a narrative of Schmidt’s voyage under the following title:

“Warhafftige und liebliche Beschreibung etlicher fürnemen Indianischen Landschafften und Insulen, die vormals in keiner Chronicken gedacht, und erstlich in der schiffart Ulrici Schmidts von Straubingen, mit grosser gefahr erkündigt, und von ihm selber auffs fleissigst beschrieben und dargethan.”

This is the book translated into English, for the first time, from the original German, and now published by the Hakluyt Society. It is unnecessary for me to say that the translation is not my work.

The historical period embraced by the voyage of Schmidt extends from 1535 to 1552, and refers to the governorship of Don Pedro de Mendoza, of his successor, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, and to the principal part taken in the events of that period by Captain Domingo Martinez de Irala, under whose orders the author of the narrative continually served. Irala, actuated by personal ambition, defeated the plans of Mendoza, deserted Buenos Ayres, abandoned his second in command in the Chaco, occasioning his death and that of all those who had accompanied him across that great desert to the confines of Peru, and, when the second Adelantado, Alvar Nuñez, arrived, opposed him by intrigues and conspiracy till he contrived to depose and send him in chains to Spain, under the insidious and calumnious accusation of having committed all sorts of crimes.

- xvii -

Alvar Nuñez, after waiting judgment for eight years, was acquitted, and recompensed by the king, and to justify himself before the world he published a narrative of the events that had happened to him during his term of office, viz., from 1541 to 1544.

This record, the first published on the conquest of the Rio de la Plata and Paraguai, appeared in Valladolid in 1555, under the general title “Relacion y Comentarios de Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, de lo acaecido en las dos jornadas que hizo à las Indias.” The Relacion refers to his adventures in Florida, and was first published in 1542,[1] while the Comentarios appeared as a second part of the new edition of his voyages under the title just mentioned. This is the second book contained in the present volume.

[1] This part has been translated into English by Buckingham Smith, and published in Washington in 1851.

The Voyage of Ulrich Schmidt, and the Commentaries of Alvar Nuñez, are, as it were, the flint and steel which, when struck together, produce light.

The work of Schmidt, which in nearly all its details is in manifest contradiction to that of Alvar Nuñez, was published twelve years after the Commentaries, and was apparently written expressly to refute them, taking up the defence of Domingo de Irala, who is the principal figure of the picture, and whose seditious and immoral conduct had been denounced by Alvar Nuñez. The Hakluyt Society, in bringing together these two contemporary records of the Spanish conquest, leaves the reader to pass his own judgment on the issues raised.

- xviii -

This Society had published in 1874 another narrative, similar to that of Ulrich Schmidt, relating to the same historical period, the voyage of Hans Stade, also a German adventurer, who visited the southern coast of Brazil shortly after the sedition against Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca in Paraguai. Though edited with notes and explanations by the gallant Captain, afterwards Sir Richard Burton,[2] these have not thrown the necessary light to show the motive of Stade’s voyage, nor other circumstances essential to form a clear and precise idea how this other German adventurer is entitled to a place in the history of the Province of the Rio de la Plata as well as in that of the conquest of Brazil.

[2] Sir Richard Burton died in Trieste on the 20th October last, while holding the office of H.B.M. Consul.

When Alvar Nuñez returned a prisoner to Spain, the king appointed another Adelantado to replace him and continue the Spanish colonisation from which he had been so violently severed. This new governor of the Rio de la Plata was Don Juan de Sanabria, who died before starting on the voyage, and only after many difficulties his son, Don Diego, sailed from San Lucar de Barrameda in 1549 with three ships. In one of these Hans Stade embarked, on conditions identical with those under which Ulrich Schmidt had gone to America with Don Pedro de Mendoza. The armada of Sanabria was dispersed on the voyage; its chief arrived at the Antilles, and only two of the ships reached their destination.

- xix -

Sanabria, just like Alvar Nuñez, bore the king’s orders to establish himself in the ports of the Atlantic coast, in proximity with the Portuguese colony of San Vicente, to take possession of the island of Santa Catalina, to found in its neighbourhood a colony on the border of the sea, in order to penetrate thence by land, crossing the whole province of Guaira, or Paraná, till he arrived at Paraguai.

The enterprise of Sanabria was, however, very unfortunate. The colonists, when their resources failed them, divided. A considerable number took refuge in the colony of San Vicente, impelled by necessity, and seduced by the Portuguese governor, Thomé de Souza. Hans Stade went with these, and as he understood something of gunnery, abandoned the Spaniards, and entered the Portuguese service as an artilleryman, when his chiefs and companions returned to Spanish territory and founded the colony of San Francisco, in 26° 20′ of south latitude.

The first seventeen chapters of Stade’s book refer to his stay in the province of Sanabria; the remainder to the time he passed in San Vicente, and his captivity among the Tupis who inhabited the surrounding country.

These three books are, as it were, fragments of the history of the first few years of the conquest of one part of South America. The series, arranged chronologically, is as follows:—

- xx -

The special merit of these three works is that their authors were eye-witnesses and actors in the events they narrate.

It has seemed to me interesting and necessary to add to this volume an ethnographical map, which shows what were the indigenous tribes which occupied the country described by Schmidt, and the places in which the Guaraní family lived in that part of the province of Rio de la Plata, colonised in those days by the Spaniards. This map also shows, for the first time in the history of cartography, the demarcation of this same province entrusted by the King of Spain to his Adelantados, or governors, and the route opened by Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca on his journey from the island of Santa Catalina to Asuncion, on the Paraguai.

The name of Rio de la Plata, given by the King of Spain to a territory so vast, and differing so widely now from what it was at the time of the conquest, creates some confusion and uncertainty in the mind of the reader of the events of that period. This can only be removed by a map which shows clearly what territories were held by the Spanish- xxi - and Portuguese by virtue of the treaty of Tordesillas. Those who are cognisant of it are but few in number. When speaking or writing of the conquest of America, it is generally believed that the only title upon which were based the conquests of Spain and Portugal was the famous Papal Bull of partition of the Ocean, of 1493. Few modern authors take into consideration that this Bull was amended, upon the petition of the King of Portugal, by the above-mentioned treaty, signed by both Powers in 1494, augmenting the portion assigned to the Portuguese in the partition made between them of the continent of America. The arc of meridian fixed by this treaty as a dividing line, which gave rise, owing to the ignorance of that age, to so many diplomatic congresses and interminable controversies, may now be traced by any student of elementary mathematics. This line is shown on the accompanying map, and runs along the meridian of 47° 32′ 56″ west of Greenwich. The coast of the South American continent between the equator and the vicinity of the Tropic of Capricorn describes a great curve, closed on the west by the aforesaid dividing line, which enters the sea a little south of San Vicente, or Santos. West of this line were the Spanish possessions. A clear understanding on this point removes the confusion occurring at the present day, when the situation of affairs has undergone so marked a change, and explains how it is that Don Pedro de Mendoza, Alvar Nuñez, and Hans Stade remained- xxii - at points of the coast called of Brazil, mentioned by those travellers; and how Alvar Nuñez, without leaving the province under his jurisdiction and command, marched through Spanish territory, from Santa Catalina, across the whole of Guaira, or province of Paraná, to Asuncion on the Paraguai. The name “Brazil”, or “tierra del Brasil”, at that time referred only to the part of the continent producing the dyewood so-called. Nearly two centuries later the Portuguese advanced towards the south, and the name “Brazil” then covered the new possessions they were acquiring, thus introducing the confusion to which I have referred.

The Voyage of Schmidt went through several editions, all incorrect, and rendered more so by the so-called elucidations and notes by their early editors. It was translated and published in Latin, English, Spanish, and other languages. These translations, however, were not made directly from the German, in which it was written, and thus the inaccuracies contained in the original were increased as they were turned into other idioms by persons who had no knowledge of the history, nor the slightest notion of the language spoken by the natives of America.

The first translation was done into Latin by Professor Gotard Arthus, for Theodore de Bry’s Collection of Voyages, 1597; and when Levinus Hulsius prepared his collection, in 1599, he found so many defects in it, that, instead of adopting it,- xxiii - he preferred translating it afresh. This version, in which there are many alterations and suppressions of the original text, must in justice be described as not less defective than the preceding one, without, however, being quite so bad. The Latin version of Hulsius served for the subsequent translations into modern languages—for instance, for that inserted by Purchas in his Pilgrims.

From the same collection of Hulsius the work of Schmidt was translated from Latin into Spanish by Dr. Andreas Gonzalez de Barcia, and published with his insignificant and incorrect notes in Madrid, 1737, in his Coleccion de Historiadores Primitivos de las Indias Occidentales. This is the version reproduced at Buenos Ayres a century later by Don Pedro de Angelis, compiler and editor of the manuscripts of the Argentine canon, Don Saturnino Segurola.

The translation now published by the Hakluyt Society, done directly from the original German, has the merit of presenting the work genuine and entire as it left the author’s hands. And as he was led into many errors of fact, proper names, geography, and chronology, the Society has done me the honour to ask me to explain them by notes and this brief Introduction.

The expedition of Don Pedro de Mendoza to the Rio de la Plata, and all the events referred to by Ulrich Schmidt, belong to the epoch of Charles V, Emperor of Germany and King of Spain. Although he was the son of a Spanish prince, this monarch- xxiv - was born at Ghent, and had been educated by Flemings. His ministers, his counsellors, the bankers who supplied him with the funds for his wars, were Flemings. Great was the favour enjoyed in Spain and Portugal by those very wealthy bankers and merchants, Fugger and Welzer of Augsburg, and Erasmus Schetzen of Antwerp. The first two had opened branches of their business at Seville, the centre at that time of trade with America, and the third had done the same at Lisbon, the metropolis of the Portuguese colonies in the Indies. The house of Erasmus Schetzen, as Hans Stade tells us, had sugar factories in the recently colonised captaincy of San Vicente, since converted into the province of San Pablo. One of his agents, Peter Rosel, had established himself there, and had acquired, in the name of Erasmus, the great factory established by the grantee, Captain-Major Martin Affonso de Souza, together with other partners.[3] Charles V had made a gift of the whole province of Caracas to the bankers Welzer, and the affairs of the Fuggers were so vast that the family name was adopted into the Castilian vernacular as fucar, explained by the dictionary of the language to signify a person of great wealth.

[3] Fray Gaspar da Madre de Deos, Memorias para a historia da Capitania de S. Vicente, 1797.

Charles V had inaugurated his reign by showing his partiality for the Flemings, by whom he was surrounded, bestowing on the Baron de la Bresa, his counsellor and majordomo mayor, the first contract- xxv - for the exclusive privilege of introducing negro slaves into the West Indies, against the advice of his Spanish counsellors, who rejected the project of the famous protector of the Indians, Bartholomé de las Casas.[4] These favours shown to the Flemings gave rise to that picturesque phrase of Pedro Martyr de Anghiera, that the Flemings had gone with Charles V to Spain to destroy the vine after having gathered the vintage.[5]

[4] Antonio de Herrera, Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos, etc., Década 2, Libro 2, cap. 20; Quintana, Vida de las Casas.

[5] P. Martyr, Opus Epistolarum, carta 703.

This explains how the Spanish Government, exclusive and jealous of all foreign interference in its affairs in the Indies, allowed Germans and Flemings, with their vessels, their merchandise, and their men, to take part in such considerable numbers in the expedition of Don Pedro de Mendoza. The Flemings were at that time as much Charles’s subjects as the Spaniards, and the owners of the ships in which Schmidt and his countrymen sailed, were bankers—allies and favourites of the young Emperor.

It appears that Schmidt was not enlisted among the soldiers of Mendoza, but came as an employé of the house of Welzer and Niedhart, who owned the vessel which took him. Its factor was the Fleming Heinrich Paine, and it was manned by eighty Germans. The cargo was destined to exchange for the silver which Sebastian Cabot, after his recent- xxvi - voyage of discovery, had made it believed in Spain, abounded among the Indians he had encountered on the Paraguai. The Rio de Solis then took the name of Rio de la Plata, and it was this magic word that raised the desires of so many in Spain to take part in the expedition of Don Pedro de Mendoza, that it was necessary to close the lists of applicants and hasten the departure of the armada, in order to calm the fever of emigration which prevailed on this occasion among persons desirous of making their fortunes rapidly. This expedition, as the historian Fernandez de Oviedo, who saw it sail from Seville, expressed it, “was a company fit to make a goodly show in Cæsar’s army and in any part of the world.”

Don Pedro de Mendoza began by establishing himself in the port of Los Patos, at the southern extremity of the island of Santa Catalina, which was included in his jurisdiction, as may be seen on the accompanying map. He then passed to the Rio de la Plata, and, on the 11th June 1535, laid the foundations of the city of Santa Maria de Buenos Aires. Soon afterwards he nominated as his second in command his intimate friend, Juan de Ayolas, and sent him with a detachment to explore the Rio Paraná, and open a road by means of this river to the Pacific Ocean, which was the advance or front limit of his province.

The brigantines, or little feluccas in which the explorer Ayolas set forth, were under the orders of the Biscayan, Domingo Martinez de Irala, and in his- xxvii - company went Schmidt, but it is unknown in what character. In his book he acquaints us with the events that happened to that expedition, and all those in which he took part, almost always in the company of his captain, Irala, with whose fortunes he linked his own from the beginning. Our only authority for this statement is the adventurer himself who has given his name to the book. I know of no document mentioning Schmidt, nor is he noticed by the chronicler Francisco Lopez de Gomara, by his successor, Antonio de Herrera, in his history of the Indies, or by Ruy Diaz de Guzman, himself born on the Paraguai, a grandson of Domingo Martinez de Irala, or, finally, by Alvar Nuñez in his Commentaries.

Schmidt relates that he was present at the foundation of Buenos Aires and its desertion six years afterwards, by order of Irala, who possessed himself of the command after the deaths of Don Pedro de Mendoza and his lieutenant Ayolas. Schmidt was also present at the events which took place during the governorship of the second Adelantado, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, from 1541 to 1544. He assisted at his violent overthrow and deportation under the direction of Irala, made all the journeys of exploration which, starting from Asuncion, ascended the Rio Paraguai to Matto Grosso, and explored all the country of the Cheriguanos, now known by the name of Moxos and Chiquitos, to the confines of Peru. He remained with Irala till the arrival on the Atlantic coast of the expedition of the- xxviii - Adelantado Sanabria, with whom Hans Stade sailed to America.

At the end of twenty years of travels and strange adventures, of combats with Indians, of anarchy, poverty, and disorder among the conquerors of Paraguai, when Domingo de Irala, by force of audacity and machiavelism, had definitely possessed himself of the government of this unfortunate colony, obtaining, a short while afterwards, the royal title of Governor, his faithful and inseparable companion Schmidt received a letter from the banker Niedhart, transmitted to him from Seville by the agent there of the wealthy Fugger, in which he begged him to return to Antwerp. Schmidt obtained leave of absence from his chief, set out on his journey, with six deserters and twenty of his Indian slaves, by the rivers Paraguai and Paraná to the river Iguazú, and thence crossed the province of Guaira by the route opened by Alvar Nuñez, arriving at the Portuguese colony of San Vicente. Here he met with the agent of Erasmus Schetzen, who gave him a passage to Lisbon in a vessel belonging to his principal, which was laden with a cargo of sugar and brazil wood. Schmidt landed at Antwerp on the 25th January 1554, as I have already said.

Hans Stade was a prisoner of the Tapiis, or Tupis, in the immediate vicinity of San Vicente, when Schmidt passed that way on his homeward journey, and only succeeded in obtaining his liberty one year later, embarking at Rio de Janeiro on one of the- xxix - French ships which trafficked with the Indians occupying that magnificent bay. His adventures during his captivity were published at Marburg in 1557. It is very strange, therefore, that Schmidt should not make the slightest mention of his countryman, though he also was acquainted with Peter Rosel, agent of Erasmus Schetzen, in the Portuguese colony. It would seem most natural that they should have spoken on the misfortunes that had befallen Stade, and on the various fruitless efforts made to rescue him from captivity, and as to the means to be employed in order to restore him to his country. Not a word of all this do we find in Schmidt’s narrative.

The voyage of Ulrich Schmidt to the Rio de la Plata was published, as we have seen, at Frankfort-on-Maine in 1567, in the collection of Sebastian Franck, wherein also appeared for the second time that of Stade, side by side with his countryman Schmidt’s. This proves the interest taken in these narratives of travel in those days of theological controversies and religious wars, when the French Protestants were trying to set foot in Brazil, while Villegaignon, under the protection of Coligny, was taking possession of the port of Rio de Janeiro, one year after the abdication of Charles V and the accession to the throne of the sombre Philip II, whose tyranny became very soon insupportable in the Low Countries, which fell under his dominion by inheritance from his father.

- xxx -

The publication of these travels answered to the propaganda against Spain and the religious principles her soldiers were taking to the New World. The work of Stade had been written by Dr. Johann Dryandri, Professor of the University of Marburg, the centre of the ideas of Luther. That of Schmidt was adopted and published by his countryman, Sebastian Franck, who was a vehement Anabaptist, and by the Flemings de Bry and his friend Hulsius, one of the most active advocates of Church Reform, expelled from Ghent, his native place, by decree of the King of Spain during the most critical period of the struggle maintained by the Flemings for their national independence and their religious beliefs.[6]

[6] J. Asher, Bibliographical Essay on the Collection of Voyages and Travels edited and printed by Levinus Hulsius.

In those times there existed no periodical press or newspaper. The Spanish Government did not expose to the criticism of the world its colonial policy; silence was its inviolable rule. Availing himself of the right of his own defence, the Adelantado, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, deposed and accused by Irala and his party, had published, as we have seen, the narrative of his Government of the Rio de la Plata. Immediately afterwards there appeared in Germany the book of Ulrich Schmidt, containing the charges against Alvar Nuñez and the defence of the conduct of his enemy. These conquerors of Paraguai accused one another of disgraceful immorality and incapacity for the enterprize- xxxi - entrusted to them by the King. Ambition, as we gather from these books, overcame in them all feelings of honour and duty; and violence, sedition, perfidy, and bloodshed, were the means by which they sought to attain their ends.

The publication of these recriminations in Protestant Europe, which looked on with fear at the growth of the power of Spain by her conquests in the Indies, was a natural incentive to those who groaned under her yoke. Having no periodical press, they availed themselves of the narratives of voyages, which were awakening curiosity with respect to countries that had fallen under her dominion. Everything for them was new and wonderful. The unknown races, their primitive customs, their savage life, their nakedness, their arms and food, the virgin nature and splendid vegetation of the tropics, the fruits and new animals, the game and fish, differing from those in the old world, all excited the imagination, and, at the same time, opened a vast field for censure, and for inciting the multitude against the enemy who was taking possession with such admirable ease of the new lands which raised the enthusiasm of the first discoverer to such a pitch that he believed they had contained the earthly Paradise.

How could they help devouring with avidity “the veritable historie and description of a country belonging to the wild, naked, savage, man-eating people”, narrated by Hans Stade, who had been their captive? How could they fail to be interested in- xxxii - “the true and agreeable description of some Indian lands and islands which have not been recorded in former chronicles”, by one who, like Schmidt, had first explored them “amid great danger”?

It seems to me impossible that in the class of people to which Schmidt and Stade belonged, there should have been found men capable of writing narratives, though of scant literary merit. The art of writing was very uncommon in the middle of the sixteenth century. We know by whom Stade’s work was prepared; but we have not the same information with regard to that of Schmidt, though there can be no doubt that both were written, not by those who appear as their authors, but by more learned persons, enemies to the Spanish Government,[7] upon data recorded, badly or well, by the adventurers themselves, and from what they heard from their travelling companions.

[7] Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viajes y descubrimientos que hicieron por mar los Españoles desde fines del Siglo XV. Introduccion; Ilustracion 9.

The memory cannot retain for a long time names, and especially foreign names, and details of events happening in the midst of grave anxieties and dangers. For this reason Schmidt and Stade, who could not have taken notes at the time, ran into such great errors, that it is impossible to correct them with accuracy. The Castilian language is difficult to pronounce for men of Northern Europe, and much more is this the case with the Guaraní, which abounds with vowels and inarticulate sounds,- xxxiii - with an accent at times guttural, at others nasal, or both combined. The Spanish Jesuit missionaries found themselves obliged to invent signs to represent these sounds. Nevertheless, there are words which, although pronounced in accordance with these signs, are now unintelligible to the natives.

It seems to me beyond all doubt that Guaraní was the general language of the whole of America to the east of the Cordillera of the Andes, from the sea of the Antilles to the extreme south of the continent. There were various dialects, as might be expected in a language without a literature, spoken by tribes living apart and hostile to one another. Traces of it occur north of the Amazon, as well as in the pampas of Argentina, and especially in Paraguai and in Guaira, the chief centre of the race in the days of the Spanish conquest. In Paraguai and its immediate vicinity the tongue spoken is nearly as pure as in the time of the Spanish missionaries Anchieta and Ruiz de Montoya, who wrote the vocabulary, and tried to adapt the language to grammatical principles and rules.

In the numerous notes I have placed at the foot of the pages, I have corrected the errors of Guaraní nomenclature committed by Schmidt, whenever they bear some resemblance to the true names of tribes and places referred to. Some errors were noticed by L. Hulsius (or Hulse) in 1599, who indicated those of well-known places and names, which in the first German edition appeared disfigured. For instance,- xxxiv - “Demerieffe” for “Tenerife”, and “Petrus Manchossa” for “Don Pedro de Mendoza”. But neither Hulsius nor the other editors could correct them accurately, because they did not know a single word of the language of the natives, nor of that of their Spanish conquerors. These errors are still greater in the Latin version from which the Spanish and other translations were made.

The errors of Schmidt went so far in names of persons that he did not write correctly those of his chiefs, not even that of Domingo Martinez de Irala, under whose immediate orders he served for twenty years. Schmidt repeatedly insists on naming him Martino Domingo de Eyollas. Another of his chiefs was Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, whom he always names Abernunzo Cabessa de Bacha. The most curious thing is, that the editors who attempted to correct these errors, were not free from similar faults; even M. Camus,[8] who, in correcting that of Cabeza de Vaca, rendered it by Alvare Nugnez Cabera di Vacha; and M. Ternaux Compans, who supposed the settlement named “Duechkamin” by Schmidt, to be Tucuman,[9] because he did not know that neither the city nor the province of this name were founded at the moment to which he is referring.

[8] Mémoire sur la Collection des Grands et Petits Voyages, par A. G. Camus, 1802.

[9] Voyages, Relations et Mémoires originaux pour servir à l’histoire de la découverte de l’Amérique, etc., vol. v.

I believe that in my notes I have removed all- xxxv - these blunders, leaving some of them as they are, because they are incomprehensible and have no importance for history or geography.

In all this, and in chronology, the work of Schmidt is extremely defective, so much so, that I am unable to understand how the Spanish geographer Azara, recommending the merits of this adventurer, should have affirmed the following enormity in his Voyages dans l’Amérique Méridionale:—“Je fais grand cas de ce petit ouvrage, à cause de son impartialité et de l’exactitude des distances et des situations, choses en quoi personne ne l’égale.”[10] I do not accept this judgment, and in my notes and observations the reader will see if I have good reason for differing from Azara, whose merits I recognise, as I also know his grave faults.

[10] Voyages dans l’Amérique Méridionale, par Don Felix Azara; Paris, 1809; Introduction, p. 20.

Azara is one of the few who deny that the country was inhabited by a multitude of various nations, as many writers have asserted, and nevertheless enumerates and describes no less than thirty-two nations and more than fifty tribes. I maintain there was only one nation, the Guaraní; and in the province of La Plata, described by Alvar Nuñez and by Schmidt, the Guaranís were divided into twenty-one tribes, who differed only in their habits, or their arms, or in the nature of the country inhabited by them. These are the tribes entered on my ethnographical map. The others, mentioned by the writers in question, would be merely unimportant- xxxvi - groups, designated by the name of their chief, or by some nickname applied to them by their neighbours or enemies. The tribes I record are the following: Quîrandís, Chanás, Charuas, Yarós, Arechanés, Minhuános, Timbús, Tobas, Mocobís or Mbocoys, Abipones, Agaces, Mepenes, Mbaiás, Payaguás, Guaicurús, Cheriguanos, Xarayos, Itatines, Guatós, Cariyós, Tapiis; all these are Guaranís. I do not treat of the other principal tribes, situated in the interior of the country between Paraná and the Andes, because they do not concern the narratives of Schmidt and Alvar Nuñez.

To the errors of Schmidt in nomenclature and distances must be added others of fact, doubtless more important. These also are rectified in the notes, which the reader will find in the corresponding place. In these, however, I have not touched on the subject of cannibalism attributed to the natives, because this deserves separate treatment here.

I believe there is not a single author of history and travel, at the time of the conquest of America, who has not admitted the assertion, and repeated it, that the natives were anthropophagi. Even the name cannibals was invented in the early years of the conquest. When Christopher Columbus established himself in Hayti, he asked the feeble, unarmed, and hospitable Indians he found there, for some information concerning other islands and their inhabitants, and they informed him that further on- xxxvii - there were perverse men who made war upon them to rob and enslave them. These Indians of Hayti gave the name of Carib and Caniba to the islands inhabited by their enemies, called Caribes.

Columbus says, in the unique autograph document that is known concerning his first voyage of discovery,[11] that these Indians are held in all the islands to be very fierce, and that they eat live flesh (carne viva). He considers them, however, on the whole, equal to the others. This is the first origin of the tale of cannibalism, for the letter of Columbus, in which this statement is made, was immediately translated into Latin and published at Rome, and in this translation the Spanish words, comer carne viva, were interpreted by the Latin phrase, carne humana vescuntur. Long afterwards (from 1527 to 1559) the celebrated Bartholomé de las Casas wrote his Historia de las Indias, in which he gave an abstract of the journal of Columbus’ first voyage. In his summary, Las Casas relates what Columbus says, amplifying, correcting, or abridging, as he found convenient; and there the great discoverer appears repeatedly speaking of Indians who ate human flesh.

[11] Letter of the Admiral Christopher Columbus to Luis de Santángel, Contador Mayor de los Reyes Catholicos. (Navarrete Coleccion de Viages, tomo i, p. 167.) An identical letter was addressed by Columbus to the Contador Rafael Sanchez.

This alteration of the text of the letter of Columbus was repeated by the conquistadores and missionaries to justify the enslaving of the Indians- xxxviii - and the horrible cruelty with which they were treated, commending in this way their perils and their labours in the military and spiritual conquest.

Cannibalism, under its name of Anthropophagy, originated with the fable of Polyphemus, and I am convinced that it is a calumny spread abroad from the time of Saint Jerome, when this brutality was attributed to the Scotch, down to the present day, when it is asserted that there are cannibals in Oceania and Africa.

I do not say this in defence of the Indians, but for the honour of human nature, not so bad as the creative genius of poets and authors of fiction have supposed it to be. That barbarous Indians are treacherous; that when they slay their enemies they will tear them to pieces and burn them, is beyond dispute. But that they will eat their flesh is a slander and a despicable falsehood founded on interested motives. I have yet to find the man who will tell me in good faith he has seen the Indians eat human flesh. Schmidt does not say it, nor does Alvar Nuñez, nor any other of the historians of America, though all repeat the tale; and there are some who, even at the present day, believe that the Fuegians, those unhappy savages of the extreme south of the continent, are cannibals.

In my new historical work, shortly to be given to the press, I shall treat of this interesting subject more at large; for the present I limit myself to the denial of a deed which I could only credit were I to see it with my own eyes.

- xxxix -

These tales of cannibals and of Amazons, of giants and of pygmies, met with by certain travellers in unknown countries, are the brilliant spangles wherewith to dazzle the eyes of the vulgar anxious for marvels, and disposed to believe that in other parts there are men with tails, and women warriors who live without men, and monsters which have only existed in mythology and in fable.

I hope the readers of this Introduction, and of the notes, will be indulgent with respect to style, bearing in mind that what they read is a translation from the Spanish language in which I write.

I cannot terminate without giving my thanks to Mr. E. Delmar Morgan, Honorary Secretary of the Hakluyt Society, for the active co-operation he has afforded me in the preparation of this work.

Luis L. Dominguez.

16, Kensington Palace Gardens,
    London, November

- xl -

- xli -



ULRICH SCHMIDT’S voyage to the River Plate was published for the first time, in a Collection of Voyages, edited by the booksellers, Sebastian Franck and Sigismund Feyerabend, in the middle of the 16th century, at Frankfort-on-Main. The title of this collection is:

“Warhafftige Beschreibunge aller theil der Welt, darinn nicht allein etliche alte Landtschafften, Königreich, Provinzen, Insulen, auch fürnehme Stedt und Märckte (so denn allen Welt-beschreibern bekant seind), mit fleiss beschrieben werden, sondern auch sehr viel neuwe, so zu vnsern zeiten zu Wasser durch vil sorgliche und vormals vngebrauchte Schiffarten erfunden seyn, welche im andern disem nachfolgenden Buch von Schiffarten genañt auss rechtem grundt der Cosmography vnd Geometry erfunden, angezeigt werden. Dessgleichen auch etwas von New gefundenen Welten, vnd aller darinn gelegenen Völcker, ihrer Religion vnd Glaubens sachen, ihrem Regiment, Pollicey, Gewerb, handtierung vnd andern gebreuchen mehr, etc., auss etlichen glaubwirdigen (fürnehmer Scribenten) Büchern mit grosse mühe vnd arbeyt, etc.

“Durch Sebastian Franck von Wörd, zum ersten an tag geben, jetst aber mit sondern fleiss auff ein neuwes vbersehen, vnd in ein wolgeformtes Handtbuch verfasset. Anno MDLXVII.”

The book of Schmidt appeared in the second part of this collection under the following title:

- xlii -

“Warhafftige vnd liebliche Beschreibung etlicher fürnemen Indianischen Landtschafften vnd Insulen, die vormals in keiner Chronicken gedacht, vnd erstlich in der Schiffart Vlrici Schmidts von Straubingen, mit grosser gefahr erkündigt, vnd von ihm selber auffs fleissigst beschrieben vnd dargethan.”

The next edition was published, in 1599, by de Bry in his great collection known as Grands et Petits Voyages, which appeared in German and Latin. The Latin title is:

“Collectiones Peregrinationum in Indiam Occidentalem et in Indiam Orientalem 25 partibus comprehensæ a Theodoro, Joann Theodoro de Bry, et à Math. Merian publicatæ. Francofurti et Oppenheimii, De Bry et Merian, 1590, 1634. Americæ Pars VII.—Schmidel, Verissima et jucundissima descriptio præcipuarum quarundam Indiæ regionum et Insularum, quæ quidem nullis ante hæc tempora visæ cognitæque iam primum ab Vlrico Fabro Straubingensi, multo cum periculo inuentæ et ab eodem summa diligentia consignatæ fuerunt, ex germanico in latinum sermonem conuersa, autore M. Gotardo Arthvs Dantiscano. Illustrata verò pulcherrimis imaginibus, et in lucem emissa, studio et opera Theodorici de Bry piæ memoriæ, relictæ viduæ et filiorum. Anno Christi M.D.XCIX.

First edition, Frankfort, 1599; and second edition (three plates printed in the text), 1625.

The title of the German abridged edition of de Bry’s collection is:

“America, das ist Erfindung vnd Offenbahrung der Newen Weldt, deroselbigen Völcker Gestalt, Sitten, Gebräuch, Policey vnd Gottesdienst, in dreissig vornehmtste Schiffahrten kürtzlich vnd ordentlich zusammen gefasset vnd mit seinen Marginalien vnd Register erkläret: Durch M. Philippum Zieglerum von Würzburg, E.C. Vnd vber die Vorigen mit vielen newen vnd nothwendigen Landtaffeln vnd Kupfferstücken auffs schönste gezieret, vnd in Truck gegeben von Johan-Theodoro de Bry, Buchhandlern vnd Bürgern zu Oppenheim. Gedruct zu Franckfurt am Mayn, durch Nicolaum Hoffmann. Anno MDCXVII.”

- xliii -

In 1598 Levinus Hulsius had begun to publish his great collection of voyages, entitled:

“Sammlung von 26 schiffahrten in verschiedene fremde Länder durch Lev. Hulsium und einige andere aus dem Holländischen ins Deutsche übersetz und mit allerhand Anmerkungen versehen.”

Frankfort, Nurnberg, Oppenheim and Hanover, 1598 to 1660.

Schmidt’s voyage appeared in this collection, in 1599, under this title:

“Warhafftige Historien Einer Wunderbaren Schiffart, welche Vlrich Schmidel von Straubing, von anno 1534 biss anno 1554, in Americam oder Newenwelt bey Brasilia und Rio della Plata gethan. Was er in diesen Neuntsehen Jahren aussgestanden vnd was für seltsame Wunderbare Länder vnd Leuter gesehen: durch ermelten Schmidel selbs beschrieben, an jetst aber an Tag geben mit Verbesserung vnd Corrigierung der Stätt, Länder vnd Flussnamen, dessgleichen mit einer nothwendigen Landtaffel, Figuren vnd anderer mehr Erklerung, gezieret Durch Levinvm Hulsivm. Noribergæ, Impensis L. H. 1599.”

This book was reprinted by Hulsius in 1602 at Nurnberg, and in 1612 at Frankfort-on-Main.

There are 16 plates in the British Museum copy, but the map and two plates are missing. In this edition, dedicated to Johann Philip, Bishop of Bamberg, the following epilogue occurs:- xliv - “And so after the lapse of twenty years, through the special grace and providence of Almighty God, I have returned to the place whence I set out; but meanwhiles I have in my peregrination of these Indian nations experienced no little danger to body and life, great hunger and misery, care and anxiety, sufficiently made known and set forth in this historical narrative. I say therefore let praise, honour and thanks be given to Almighty God who has helped me to come back once more so happily to the place whence I full twenty years before had started.”

And in the Latin edition of this same collection, a new version of Schmidt’s book was published under this title:

“Vera historia admirandæ cujusdam navigationis quam Huldericus Schmidel, Straubiugensis, ab anno 1534 usque ad annum 1554 in Americam vel novum mundum justa Brasiliam et Rio della Plata confecit, quid per hoce annos 19 sustinuerit, quam varias et quam mirandas regiones at homines viderit. Ab ipso Schmidelio Germanice descripta: nunc vero, emendatis et correctis urbium, regionum et fluminum, nominibus, Adjecta etiam tabula geographica, figuris et aliis notationibus quibusdam in hanc formam reducta. Noribergæ, 1599. Impensis Levini Hulsii.” 4to.

In 1707 a Dutch translation was published at Leyden in the collection of the bookseller Van der Aa, entitled:

“Naaukeurige versameling der gedenk-waardigste Reysen na Oost en West-Indien, mitsgaders andere Gewesten gedaan; Zedert Jaarhet 1535 tot 1541, Te Leyden, door Pieter van der Aa, 1706-7.” Fol. and small 8vo.

Schmidt’s voyage appears in vol. 48 of the smaller edition under this title:

“Gedenkwaardige Scheeps-Togten na Rio de la Plata in’t Zuyderdeel van America, en Verscheydene andere voorname Americaanische Landschoppen, verrigt onder der Spaanschen Admiraal Pedro de Mendoza, Anno 1535, en de Volgende Jaren.... Bescheven door Ulrich Schmidt van Straubingen.... Nu aldeerst uyt’t Hoogduytsch vertaald.”

The first edition in the Spanish language of the book of Schmidt appeared in the first volume of the collection entitled: Historiadores primitivos de las Indias Occidentales, que juntó, tradujo en parte, y sacó á luz, ilustrados con eruditas notas y copiosos indices, Don Andreas Gonzalez de Barcia. 3 vol., fol., Madrid, 1749. It is entitled:

“Historia y descubrimiento del Rio de la Plata y Paraguay.” (Translated from the Latin edition of Hulsius.)

- xlv -

This version of Barcia was reprinted, with all his notes, in the third volume of the Coleccion de obras y documentos relativos á la Historia antigua y moderna de las provincias del Rio de la Plata, ilustrados con notas y disertaciones, by Pedro de Angelis.—Buenos Aires, 1835-37. 6 vols., fol. The title of Schmidt’s book in this collection is:

“Viaje al Rio de la Plata y Paraguay, por Ulderico Schmidel,” 1836.

A French translation of the Latin edition of Hulsius was published in 1837 in the collection entitled Voyages, Relations et Mémoires originaux pour servir à l’histoire de la découverte de l’Amérique, publiés pour la première fois en français, par H. Ternaux-Compans.—Paris, 1837-41, 20 vols., 8vo.

The work of Schmidt is in the first volume, under this title:

“Histoire véritable d’un voyage curieux fait par Ulrich Schmidel, de Straubing, dans l’Amérique ou le Nouveau Monde, par le Brésil, et le Rio de la Plata, depuis l’année 1534 jusqu’en 1554, ou l’on verra tout ce qu’il a souffert pendant ces dix-neuf ans, et la description des pays et des peuples extraordinaires qu’il a visités. Ouvrage écrit par lui-même, et publié de nouveau après corrections des noms de villes, de pays et de rivières.”


The first edition of this important narrative of the Adelantado Alvar Nuñez was published at Valladolid in 1555, in one small 4to. volume, together with his account of his travels and shipwrecks in Florida, which had been edited some years before. The general title of this book is:

- xlvi -

“La relacion y comentarios del gobernador Alvar Nuñez Cabeça de Vaca, de lo acaecido en las dos jornadas que hizo á las Indias.” Valladolid, 1555. 1 vol. Small 4to.

The second part of this book is entitled:

“Comentarios de Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, por Pedro Hernandez, escribano del Adelantado.”

The second edition of the Comentarios is in the second volume of Historiadores Primitivos, by Barcia. Madrid, 1749.

The third edition is in the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, by Rivadeneyra, vol. 22. Madrid, 1863.

Ternaux-Compans published a translation into French in the third volume of his Voyages et Relations. Paris, 1837-41.

L. L. D.


The dividing line between Spanish and Portuguese territories in the accompanying map differs only in one-and-a-half or two degrees of longitude from that drawn by M. Adolpho de Varnhagen in his Historia Geral do Brazil. The question about the present boundary of those territories has been settled by modern treaties.

It must also be remarked that the boundaries of the ancient Province of Rio de la Plata, in 1534, were very soon modified by the Spanish Government, who did the same thing by the four other Provinces into which the Continent of South America south of the equator was divided in that year.

L. L. D.


(Click on image to enlarge.)

- xlvii -

A  true  and  agreeable  description
of some principal Indian lands and islands,
which have not been recorded in former
chronicles, but have now been first
explored amid great danger during
the voyage of ULRICH SCHMIDT of
Straubing, and most carefully
described by him.

- 1 -

A   true   and   agreeable   description   of
some principal Indian lands and islands, which have not
been recorded in former chronicles, but have now been
first explored amid great danger during the voyage
most carefully described by him.

IN the first place, when setting forth from Antorff,[12] I came in fourteen days to Hispania, to a town called Calles,[13] to which one reckons four hundred miles by sea. I saw before that town a balena, or whale, thirty-five paces long, out of which thirty tuns—of the capacity of herring tuns—of fat had been extracted.

[12] Antwerp.

[13] Cadiz.

Near the said town of Calles there were fourteen great ships, well provided with all ammunitions and necessaries, which intended to voyage to Riodellaplata[14] in India. Also there were two thousand five hundred Spaniards and one hundred and fifty Germans, Netherlanders, and Saxons.[15] And our chief captain was called Petrus Manchossa.[16]

[14] Rio de la Plata.

[15] Antonio de Herrera (Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano, Madrid, 1601-1616, viii, 5), who is the official authority, says that Don Pedro de Mendoza’s expedition was composed of 800 men, very good and distinguished people, and eleven ships. Others state that there were 1,500 and 1,700 men. Schmidt alone states the number as 2,650. By his contract with the Government, Mendoza was bound to take with him one thousand men in two voyages.

[16] Don Pedro de Mendoza.

- 2 -

Among these fourteen ships, one belonged to Messrs. Sebastian Neidhart and Jacob Welser, from Nürnberg, who had sent their factor, Heinrich Paeime, with merchandise to Riodellaplata. With these and others, as Germans and Netherlanders, about eighty men, armed with arquebuses and muskets, I went to Riodellaplata.

As we were now come there,[17] we set out from Sibylla[18] with the said gentlemen and the chief captain, in the aforesaid year, on the day of S. Bartholomew, and came to a town in Spain called S. Lucas[19] which is twenty miles’ distance from Sibylla. There we were compelled, on account of much blustering winds, to stay till the first of September of the year before-named (1534).

[17] i.e., to Spain.

[18] Seville.

[19] San Lucar.

And when we departed from there we fell in with three islands, which lie near to one another, the first of which is called Demerieff, the other Kumero, the third Palman,[20] and from the town of S. Lucas to these islands there is a space of about twenty miles.[21] At these islands the ships parted company. These islands belong to their Imperial Majesties, and are inhabited only by Spaniards, with their wives and children. And there sugar is made. We came with three ships to Palman, and remained there for four weeks, replenishing our store of victual.

[20] Teneriffe, Gomera, and Palma, three of the Canary Islands.

[21] From San Lucar to the Canary Islands there are about 500 English miles.

But afterwards our chief captain, Petrus Manchossa, being at a distance of eight to nine miles from us, and having commanded us to make sail, we having on board our ship our captain’s cousin, Jörg Manchossa,[22] who had fallen in love with the daughter of a burgher of Palma, and inasmuch- 3 - as we were going to leave on the following day, the said Jörg Manchossa went ashore that very night, at twelve o’clock, with twelve of his good companions, and brought secretly with them, out of the island Palma, the said burgher’s daughter and her maid-servant, with all their clothes and jewels, and money also, and came aboard again, but secretly, to the intent that neither our captain, nor the aforesaid agent, nor anybody else on the ship might know aught about it; only the watch saw them, for it was about midnight. And as we were intending to depart from there in the morning, and were only about two or three miles away, a mighty wind sprang up, so that we needs must turn back to the same harbour, where we were lying before. When we there cast anchor, our captain, the aforesaid Heinrich Paine, would go aland in a small vessel, which is called pat or podell (bote). And as he went, and was about to land, there were awaiting him more than thirty men, armed with arquebuses, spears, and halberds with the intention of taking him, the said Heinrich Paine. At the same time one of his crew besought him not to land, but to return to the ship, which advice the captain would have gladly followed, but that he could not, seeing that the men on land had come too near to him in another little ship, which they had in readiness; however, he escaped at length in another ship which was near the land. When the armed men saw that the others did not fire upon, nor could take the captain Heinrich Paine, they caused the town of Palma to sound the alarm, swiftly loaded two great guns, and fired four shots at our ship (which lay not far off from the land). With the first shot they breached our earthen pot, which was on the poop and full of fresh water, whereby five or six pails of water were lost. Secondly, they shot in pieces also the mizzen, that is, the hindmost mast nearest the stern. Thirdly, they shot in the waist of the ship a big hole whereby a man was struck and killed. But with the fourth shot they missed us.

[22] Jorge de Mendoza. No known document mentions this Jorge de Mendoza, nor the rape alluded to by Schmidt. It is not likely that a relative of the chief of the expedition should have been on board a Flemish ship which was not under his immediate command.

- 4 -

There was also another captain, whose ship was lying by our side, and who intended to sail for Nova Hispania, in Mechseckheim[23]; he was on shore with one hundred and fifty men, who, when he knew of our quarrel, made peace between us and those of the town, on condition that Jörg Manchossa[24] and the burgher’s daughter and her maid-servant should certainly be delivered into their hands.

[23] Mexico.

[24] Jorge de Mendoza.

Then the stadthalter, and the judge, our captain, and the captain spoken of above, came aboard our ship, intending to make prisoners Jörg Manchossa and his paramour.[25] Thereupon he answered them that she was his wife, and she did not show herself in another light and they soon got married; the father, however, was very sorry and anxious, and our ship was through them badly treated by the firing at it. After all this, we left Jörg Manchossa and his wife ashore, for our captain would not have them any longer on board his ship.

[25] In orig.: “Bulschafft,” lit. love intrigue.

Now we again made ready our ship, and sailed to an island or land, the name whereof is S. Jacob, or, in Spanish, Sancte Augo (Santiago); there is a town belonging to the King of Portugal; the Portuguese entertain that town, and the Blackamoors are their subjects: this town is at a distance of three hundred miles from the said Island Palman, from which we sailed.[26] We remained there five days, and again furnished our ship with new and fresh victual, as bread, meat, water, and all that necessity demands at sea. The whole fleet, namely, fourteen ships, were now once more together. We then went again to sea and sailed for two whole months,- 5 - and then arrived at an island wherein there was nothing else than birds, in such quantities that we killed them with sticks. Here we lay three days. This island is entirely uninhabited; it is in length and breadth about six miles either way, and is distant from the above-mentioned island, S. Augo, whence we sailed, fifteen hundred miles. In this sea there are flying-fishes and other marvellous great fishes of the balena kind, and great fishes called schaubhut, for that they wear on their heads a large trencher, with which they may become dangerous in fighting with other fishes; it is a wondrous great and evil fish. There are also other fishes which have on their backs a knife of whalebone, and are called in the Spanish tongue Peschespate,[27] and furthermore, other fishes which have on their backs a saw of whalebone, and are also evil fishes; their name is Peschedeferre,[28] and also there are several other rare fishes whose form, size, and other features I cannot at this time describe.

[26] All distances given by Schmidt are erroneous, and it is astonishing that Don Felix de Azara, a geographer, should have written to the contrary. By the distance given in miles between Palma, one of the Canary Islands, and St. Iago, one of the Cape Verd Islands, it may be seen that Schmidt’s miles are more properly Castilian leagues of 17½ in a geographical degree, the legal measure of distance in his time.

[27] Peje-espada, or sword-fish.

[28] Peces-sierras.

Afterwards we sailed from this island to another, named Riogenea,[29] at a distance of five hundred miles from the former, belonging to the King of Portugal; this is the island Riogenea in India, and the Indians are called Toppis.[30] We lay there about fourteen days. There Petrus Manchossa,[31] our chief captain, ordered Hans Ossorig,[32] as his sworn brother, to take the command over us in his stead, forasmuch as he was always melancholy, weak, and ill. But he, Hans Ossorig, very soon was belied and ill-spoken of to Petrus Manchossa, his sworn brother, even as though he had in his mind to cause a mutiny among the people against Petrus- 6 - Manchossa, the chief captain. Thereupon he, Petrus Manchossa, ordered four other captains, named Johann Eyollas, Johan Salleisser, Jörg Luchsam,[33] and Lazarum Salvaischo,[34] that the aforesaid Johan Ossorig should be killed with a dagger or otherwise put to death, and should be exposed in the midst of the place as a traitor; and besides he ordered and proclaimed to the effect that no one should dare to pity Ossorig, for that he himself, whoever he might be, would meet with no better fate. Yet Ossorig was treated wrongly, God Almighty knows it, and may He be merciful to him, for he was a pious, fair-dealing, and valiant warrior, and kept well all the warriors.

[29] The discoverers were Spaniards, and this is proved by the name Rio de Henero, as the word Enero was spelt in the sixteenth century. The h was at the time aspirated (especially by the natives of Andalusia), and hence the name became corrupted into Jenero, changed afterwards into Janeiro by the Portuguese.

[30] Tupys.

[31] Don Pedro de Mendoza.

[32] Juan Osorio.

[33] Juan de Ayolas, Juan Salazar, and Jorge Lujan.

[34] If this name is rightly spelt, it may be one of the Flemish who took part in the expedition. In Barcia’s Spanish translation, Salvaischo is interpreted as Salazar; but there is no mention in any document of a Lazaro Salazar.

From there we sailed to Riodellaplata, and came into a river[35] called Paranau Wassu,[36] which is in width at its mouth, where one leaves the sea,[37] twenty-four miles. And from Riogenea to this river there is the space of five hundred miles. There we came to a haven, the name whereof is S. Gabriel, and there, in the said river Paranau, we anchored the fourteen ships.

[35] In orig.: “süss fliessend wasser.”

[36] Parana Guazú.

[37] Between Cape Santa Maria and Cape San Antonio there are 188 English geographical miles.

As we were constrained to ride at a gunshot’s distance from shore with the great ships, our chief captain, Petrus Manchossa[38] ordered to set the people ashore in the small ships, which are for that purpose intended, and are, therefore, called pat or podel.

[38] Don Pedro de Mendoza.

So by the grace of God we arrived at Riodellaplata, Anno 1535, and found there an Indian place inhabited by about two thousand people, named Zechurias,[39] who have- 7 - nothing to eat but fish and meat. These, on our arrival did leave the place, and fled away with their wives and children, so that we could not find them. This Indian people go quite naked, the women having only their privities covered, from the navel to the knees, with a small piece of cotton cloth.

[39] Charúas.

Now the captain, Petrus Manchossa, commanded to bring the people into the ships again, and to convey them to the other side of the Paranau, where it is not broader than eight miles.[40]

[40] From the Island of San Gabriel to the place where Buenos Ayres was founded there are 29 English miles.

There we built a new town and called it Bonas Aeieres, that is, in German, Guter Wind.

We also brought from Hispania on board the fourteen ships seventy-two horses and mares.

Here, also, we found a place inhabited by Indian folk, named Carendies,[41] numbering about three thousand people, including wives and children, and they were clothed in the same way as the Zechurias, from the navel to the knees. They brought us fish and meat to eat. These Carendies have no houses, but wander about, as do the Gipsies with us at home, and in summer they oftentimes travel upwards of thirty miles on dry land without finding a single drop of water to drink.

[41] Quirandis.

And when they meet with deer or other wild beasts, (when they have killed them) they drink their blood. Also if they find a root, called Cardes,[42] they eat it to slack their thirst. This—namely, that they drink blood—only happens because they cannot have any water, and that they might peradventure die of thirst.

[42] Cardo, i.e., thistles.

These Carendies brought us daily their provision of fish and meat to our camp, and did so for a fortnight, and they did only fail once to come to us. So our captain, Peter- 8 - Manchossa,[43] sent to them, the Carendies, a judge, named Johan Pabon, with two foot-soldiers, for they were at a distance of four miles from our camp. When they came near to them, they were all three beaten black and blue, and were then sent back again to our camp. Petrus Manchossa, our captain, hearing of this from the judge’s report (who for this cause raised a tumult about it in our camp), sent Diego Manchossa, his own brother, against them with three hundred foot-soldiers and thirty well-armed mounted men, of whom I also was one, straightway charging us to kill or take prisoners all these Indian Carendies and to take possession of their settlement. But when we came near them there were now some four thousand men, for they had assembled all their friends. And when we were about to attack them, they defended themselves in such a way that we had that very day our hands full. They also killed our commander, Diego Manchossa, and six noblemen. Of our foot-soldiers and mounted men over twenty were slain, and on their side about one thousand. Thus did they defend themselves valiantly against us, so that indeed we felt it.

[43] Don Pedro de Mendoza.

The said Carendies[44] use for their defence hand-bows and tardes[45] which are made in the shape of half-pikes, and the head of them is made out of flint-stone, like a flash; they have also bullets made out of stone with a long piece of string attached to them, of the size of our leaden bullets at home in Germany.

[44] Quirandis.

[45] Darts.

They throw such bullets round the feet of a horse or a deer, causing it to fall; it is also with these bullets that they killed our commander and the noblemen, as I have seen it done myself, but the foot-soldiers were killed by the aforesaid tardes.

Thus God Almighty graciously gave us the victory, and- 9 - allowed us to take possession of their place; but we did not take prisoner any of the Indians, and their wives and children also fled away from the place before we attacked them.[46] At this place of theirs we found nothing but furrier-work made from marten or so-called otter; also much fish, fish meal, and fish fat. There we remained three days and then returned to our camp, leaving on the spot one hundred of our men, in order that they might fish with the Indians’ nets for the providing of our folk, because there was there very good fishing.

[46] This fight with the Quirandis took place at a few miles’ distance from Buenos Ayres, on the banks of the river which since then is called de la Matanza.

Every one received only six half-ounces of wheaten flour a day, and one fish every third day. The fishing lasted for two months, and if one would eat a fish over and above one’s allowance, one had to go four miles for it.

And when we returned again to our camp, our folk were divided into those who were to be soldiers, and the others workers, so as to have all of them employed. And a town was built there, and an earthern wall, half a pike high, around it, and inside of it a strong house for our chief captain. The town wall was three foot broad, but that which was built to-day fell to pieces the day after, for the people had nothing to eat, and were starved with hunger, so that they suffered great poverty, and it became so bad that the horses could not go. Yea, finally, there was such want and misery for hunger’s sake, that there were neither rats, nor mice, nor snakes to still the great dreadful hunger and unspeakable poverty, and shoes and leather were resorted to for eating and everything else.

It happened that three Spaniards stole a horse, and ate it secretly, but when it was known, they were imprisoned and interrogated under the torture. Whereupon, as soon as- 10 - they admitted their guilt, they were sentenced to death by the gallows, and all three were hanged.

Immediately afterwards, at night, three other Spaniards came to the gallows to the three hanging men, and hacked off their thighs and pieces of their flesh, and took them home to still their hunger.

A Spaniard also ate his brother, who died in the city of Bonas Aeieres.[47]

[47] All this is exaggerated and incredible, though accepted as true by the pseudo-poet, Barco Centenera, in his Argentina poem.

Now our chief captain, Petrus Manchossa,[48] saw that he could not any longer keep his men there, so he ordered and took counsel with his head men that four little ships (called Parchkadienes[49]) should be made ready, which must he rowed, and three more yet smaller ones, which are called podell or patt.

[48] Pedro de Mendoza.

[49] Brigantines.

And when these seven little vessels were ready and equipped, our chief captain ordered all the people to assemble, and sent George Lauchstein[50] with three hundred and fifty armed men up the river Paranau in order to find out the Indians and so obtain victual and provisions. But as soon as the Indians were aware of us, they wrought us the most abominable piece of knavery, by burning and destroying all their victual and provisions and their villages, and then all took to flight; in consequence whereof we had nothing to eat but three ounces of bread a day. One half of our people died during this voyage through hunger, therefore we had to return again to the said place, where was our chief captain.

[50] George Lujan.

Petrus Manchossa desired to have a relation from George Lauchstein, our commander, as to the circumstances of our voyage, why so few of them had returned, since they had only been absent for five months. To whom our commander- 11 - answered thus: the people died for hunger, since the Indians burnt all the provisions, and then took to flight, as has been related before.

After all this we remained still another month together in great poverty in the town of Bonas Aeieres, until the ships were prepared.

At this time the Indians came in great power and force, as many as twenty-three thousand men, against us and our town Bonas Aeieres. There were four nations of them, namely, Carendies, Zechurias, Zechuas, and Diembus.[51] They all meant to go about to destroy us all. But God Almighty preserved the greater part of us, therefore praise and thanks be to Him always and everlastingly, for on our side not more than about thirty men, including commanders and ensign, were slain.

[51] Quirandis, Charúas, and Timbus.

And when they first came to our town, Bonas Aeieres, and attacked us, some of them tried to storm the place, others shot fiery arrows at our houses, which, being covered with straw (only the house of our chief captain, covered with tiles, excepted), were set on fire, and so the whole town was burnt down. Their arrows are made out of cane, and carry fire on their points.

They have also a kind of wood, out of which they also make arrows, which, being lighted and shot off, do not extinguish, but also set fire to all houses made out of straw.

Moreover they burnt down four great ships which were half-a-mile distant from us on the river. The people who were there, and who had no guns, hearing such great tumult of the Indians, fled out of these four ships into three others which were not far from these, and did contain cannon.

But seeing the four ships burning that were lighted by the Indians, the Christians set themselves on defence and fired at the Indians, who becoming aware of this, and- 12 - hearing the firing, soon departed from thence and left the Christians alone. All this happened on St. John’s Day, Anno 1535.

All this having thus happened, our people had to return into the ships again, and Petrus Manchossa,[52] our chief captain, gave the command to Johann Eyollas,[53] and put him in his place to be our commander and rule us. But when Eyollas mustered the people, he found no more than five hundred and sixty men who were yet alive, out of two thousand five hundred, the others being dead and having been starved for hunger. God Almighty be gracious and merciful to them and to us. Amen.

[52] Don Pedro de Mendoza.

[53] Juan de Ayolas.

Johann Eyollas, our commander, now ordered eight small ships, Parchkadienes and Podells, to be made ready, and took with him on these ships four hundred men out of the five hundred and sixty, leaving the others, namely, one hundred and sixty men, in the four great ships to guard them, and he gave them a commander, named Johann Romero, and left them victual for one year, so that each soldier might have four ounces of bread or flour daily; he who wanted more was at liberty to find it.

When all this had been done and arranged as here described, Johann Eyollas[53] and the four hundred men sailed with the Parchkadienes and the Podells[54] up the river Paranau, and Petrus Manchossa,[52] our chief captain, sailed with us, and in two months’ time we reached the Indians, at a distance of eighty-four miles. These people are called Tyembus[55]; they wear on either nostril a small star, made out of white and blue stones. The men are tall of stature and erect, but the women, on the contrary, young and old, are very deformed, having all the lower part of their faces scratched, and always bloody. These people have nothing else to eat, and have all their lives through- 13 - lived upon nothing else but fish and meat. They are reckoned to be fifteen thousand strong, or more. And when we came to about four miles’ distance from this people they took notice of us, and came to meet us in sign of peace, with over four hundred canoes, in each of which were sixteen men.

[54] Brigantines and boats.

[55] Timbus.

Such a skiff is made out of a single tree, eighty feet long and three feet wide, and must be rowed as the fishermen’s boats in Germany, only that the oars are not bound with iron.

When we met them on the water, our commander, Johann Eyollas, presented the chief of the Tyembus Indians, Zchera Wassu,[56] with a shirt, a red cap, a hatchet, and several other things. After this, Zchera Wassu went with us to their place, and gave us there fish and meat in abundance.

[56] Chera Guazú.

But if this said journey of ours had lasted ten more days, we would all have died of hunger, for even without that, fifty men out of four hundred who came in the ships had already died on this journey. But in this danger God mercifully helped us, be He praised and thanked for it.

In this said place we abode four years, but our chief captain, Petrus Manchossa,[57] who was full of infirmities, and was unable to move his hands or his feet, and who had spent during this voyage forty thousand ducats of his own in cash, could not remain any longer with us, and he sailed off in two small Parchkadienes to Bonas Aeieres to the four great ships, and took two of them with fifty men and sailed for Hispania. But when he was come nearly half-way, the hand of the Almighty so smote him that he died miserably. May God be merciful to him!

[57] Pedro de Mendoza.

But before his departure he had promised us to send two other ships to Riodellaplata, as soon as he himself or the ships should arrive in Spain, and this was faithfully laid down in his will. Accordingly, when the two ships arrived in Spain, and the councillors of His Imperial- 14 - Majesty were informed of this, they speedily, in the name of His Majesty, sent two ships with people, provisions, and merchandise, and all necessaries, to Riodellaplata.

The commander of these two ships was called Alvanzo Gabrero,[58] who brought with him also about two hundred Spaniards and provisions for two years. He arrived at Bonas Aeieres (where the two other ships had been left) in the year 1539, with one hundred and sixty men.

[58] Alonso Cabrera.

The said commander, Alvanzo Gabrero, having come to the island Thiembus, to our chief, Johann Eyollas,[59] they ordered a ship to be sent to Spain, according to the will and order of the councillors of His Imperial Majesty, in order to report to them how all things were situated there in that country.

[59] Juan de Ayolas.

Then Johann Eyollas, our chief captain, held a council with Alvanzo Gabrero and Martin Domingo Eyolla,[60] and some other of his officers, and it was resolved to muster the men. And this being done, it was found that, together with those who had come from Spain, there were five hundred and fifty men. Of these they took four hundred men to themselves, leaving the other one hundred and fifty men at Thiembus, because there were not enough ships. They gave these men a commander, named Carolus Doberim,[61] who had been for some time page of His Imperial Majesty.

[60] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

[61] Carlos Dubrin.

After this had been resolved, they sailed with these four hundred men in eight small Parchkadienes up the river Paranau, in order to seek out another river, called Parabor,[62] where the Carios live, who have Turkish corn and a root named Mandeochade,[63] and other roots such as padades[64] and mandeoch parpie, mandioch mandapore, etc. The root padades resembles an apple, and has the same taste. Mandeoch parpie have the taste of chestnuts. Wine is made- 15 - from mandepore,[65] and the Indians drink it. These Carios have fish and meat and great sheep, as big as mules. They also have wild boar, ostriches, and other wild beasts; also very many hens and geese.

[62] Paraguai.

[63] Manioc.

[64] Yams, or sweet potatoes.

[65] Mandioca or algarroba.

So then departing from the haven of Bonesperanso[66] with the said eight Parchkadienes vessels, we reached the first day, after a voyage of four miles, a nation called Curanda,[67] who abstain from fish and meat, and number over twelve thousand men, all of whom are fit for war. These people resemble the Thiembus spoken of before; they have little stones on their noses, and the men are tall, but the women are hideous; young as well as old have their faces scratched and always bloody. They are clothed like the Thiembus, from the navel to the knee with a small cotton cloth, as was described before. These Indians have great plenty of otter skins; also many canoes or skiffs. They liberally parted with us their fish, meat, and skins. We gave them in exchange glasses, paternosters, looking-glasses, combs, knives, and fish-hooks. We remained there two days, and then they gave us two Carios who were their captives, to show us the way, and help us with the language.

[66] Buena Esperanza, also called Corpus Christi, was the name given by Don Pedro de Mendoza, says Herrera, to the settlement founded by him four old Spanish leagues below the abandoned fort of Sebastian Cabot.

[67] Coronda.

Sailing further we came afterwards to another people called Gulgaises,[68] who number forty thousand men of war and abstain from fish and meat. These have also two little stars on their noses; they are situated thirty miles from the Curandas,[69] and speak the same language as the Thiembus[70] and Curandas. They dwell on a lake six miles long and four miles wide, on the left side of the river Paranau.[71] We stayed four days among them, and these- 16 - men imparted to us of their poverty and we did the like by them.

[68] Guaicurús.

[69] Quirandis.

[70] Timbús.

[71] Paraná.

From thence we sailed further, and during eighteen days we did not find any people; then we came to a river flowing inland. And there we found a great multitude of people, called Machkuerendas.[72] These eat nothing but fish and a little meat, number over eighteen thousand men of war, and have many canoes or skiffs.

[72] Perhaps Mocoretás. But the Indians living in those parts were the Agazes and Abipones. The Timbus and Corondas were the same folk.

They received us well, after their manner, sharing with us of their poverty; they live on the other side, i.e., the right side of the Paranaw, speak a different language from the former, wear also two little stars (stones) on their nose, are tall and of a good proportion; but their women are as hideous as those before spoken of; and they are distant sixty-seven miles from the Gulgaises.[73]

[73] Guaicurús.

After having lived among them for four days, we found on the land a marvellous great and monstrous snake five and twenty foot long, and as thick as a man, black and yellow in colour, which we fired at and killed. The Indians marvelled much at seeing such a snake, for they never before had seen such a large one. This snake, so they told us, had done much harm to them, for when they were bathing this snake was also in the water and it would coil its tail around one of them, taking him under water and devouring him there, so that oftentimes the Indians did not know what had become of him. I myself carefully measured the length and thickness of this snake, which the Indians cut up in pieces and carried home with them, and having boiled and roasted it, did afterwards eat thereof.

From thence we sailed up the river Paranaw for four days’ journey, and came to a people called Zchemiaisch Saluaischo,- 17 -[74] who are small and thick set, and eat nothing but fish and honey. These people, both men and women, young and old, go about absolutely naked as they came into the world, so that they have neither linen nor anything else to cover their privities.

[74] It is impossible even to guess at what the author means by these words, which are not Guaraní.

They make war against the Machkuerendas. The flesh they eat consists of deer, wild swine, ostriches, and rabbits, which resemble rats, but without tails. This people is at a distance of sixteen miles from the Machkuerendas, and we made that journey in four days. We only passed the night among them, for they themselves had nothing to eat. They are just like our highwaymen or street-robbers at home.

They dwell about twenty miles away from the water, to the intent that their enemies might not easily fall upon them. But at this time they had come to the water five days before we did, in order to fish and to provide themselves because they were about to make war against the Machkuerendas. They number two thousand men.

We departed thence and came to a people called Mapennis,[75] who number ten thousand men. These people dwell scattered here and there in that country, extending for the space of forty miles either way. Yet they can all be gathered together either on land or water in two days time. They had more canoes or skiffs than any other people we had seen hitherto, and in one such canoe they can carry as many as twenty persons.

[75] Mepenes.

This people received us on the river in a hostile and war-like manner, with five hundred canoes, but with little profit to themselves from us, for we slew a goodly number of them with our guns, they having never in their lives before seen either a gun or a Christian.

But when we came to their houses, we could prevail nothing against them, seeing that they were a whole mile- 18 - distant from the river Paranon[76] where our ships lay; and all their villages were surrounded with deep water from the lake, so that we could do them no harm, nor take anything from them, except that we took two hundred and fifty canoes, which we burnt and destroyed. Neither did we dare to go too far from our ships, for we feared that they might attack the ships from another side, therefore we returned. The Mapennis only fight upon the water, and are distant from the Zchemias Saluaischo, from whom we last came, ninety-five miles.

[76] Paraná.

From thence we sailed in eight days to a river called the Parabor[77] which we ascended and found there a numerous people named Kueremagbas,[78] having nothing to eat but fish and meat and St. John’s bread,[79] or the herb fenugreek, from which also they make wine.[80] This people was very kind to us, and gave us every thing of which we were in need. They are very tall, both men and women.

[77] Paraguai.

[78] These Indians are the Mbaiás.

[79] Algarroba, the seed of the carob tree.

[80] The vegetable from which they made wine was not the fenugreek, but the carrot-bean (Prosopis dulcis mimosa).

The men pierce a little hole in their nose, in which they insert for ornament a small parrot’s feather. The women have long blue stripes on their cheeks which remain all their lives through, and their privities are covered with a small piece of cotton cloth from the navel to the knees. From the Mapennis[81] to these Kueremagbas are forty miles; we remained three days among them.

[81] Mepenes.

Departing thence we came to another people called Aygais,[82] who also live on fish and meat. They are tall and erect. The women are nice-looking, painted, and have their privities covered in the same manner as explained before.

[82] Agazes.

When we came to them, they put themselves on their defence, and wished to make war against us by not allowing- 19 - us to pass through. Finding this to be the case, and that there was no help for it, we put our trust in God, and then made our preparations to attack them by land and water; we fought them and killed a great number—fifteen of our men also being slain. God be merciful to them.

These Aygais are the best warriors that can be found on the water, but they are not so good at fighting on land. Before fighting, they caused their wives and children to flee to a place of safety, and concealed their provisions and other things. What happened to them at the last you will presently hear. Their place is near a river called Jepedij,[83] on the other side of the Parabor. It takes its source in the mountains of Peru, near a town named Duechkamin.[84] From the Kueremagbas to the Aygais there are thirty miles.

[83] Ipiti, the name of this river, signifies “red” in the Guaraní language; hence the Spaniards called it Rio Bermejo (Red River).

[84] Neither at the time of Schmidt, nor afterwards, was there at the head of the Bermejo a people called Duechkamin. This may, perhaps, refer to Tomina, because, though this town is not situated within the system of the river Bermejo, it is not far from it, and this circumstance may have led Schmidt into error. M. Ternaux says in his Collection that this town can be no other than Tucuman, but this proves his incompetency in this matter, as Tucuman was founded many years after Schmidt’s voyage to the River Plate.

Departing from these Aygais we came to a people named Carios, fifty miles distant from the Aygais. There, by God’s grace, we found plenty of Turkish corn and mandeochade, padades, mandeochparpij, mandepore, manduris, wacheku, etc. They have also fish and meat, deer, wild boar, ostriches, Indian sheep, rabbits, hens and geese, also plenty of honey, of which they make wine; and there is much cotton in the land.

These Carios have a large country, nearly three hundred miles in length and breadth; they are men of short stature, and more able to endure work and labour than the other natives.

- 20 -

The men have a little hole in their lips in which they put yellow crystals, called in their language Parabor,[85] two spans long and of the thickness of a quill or reed.

[85] Parabor. In Barcia’s Spanish translation this word thus written by Schmidt was changed into tembetá, which was the one used by the Tapijs (Tupis). Both are Guaraní words, and they represent the same thing; but parabog, or rather paraog, is more picturesque and accurate. It means a cover in various colours.

This people, men and women, young and old, go completely naked as God created them. Among these Indians, the father sells his daughter, the husband his wife if she does not please him, and the brother sells or exchanges his sister. A woman costs a shirt or a bread knife, or a small hoe, or some other thing of that kind.

These Carios also eat man’s flesh if they can get it. For when they make prisoners in war, male or female, they fatten them as we do swine in Germany. But if the woman be somewhat young and good-looking, they keep her for a year or so, and if during that time she does not live after their desires, they put her to death and eat her, making a solemn banquet[86] of it, and oftentimes this is combined with a marriage. Only old persons are put to work until they die.

[86] In orig.: “Pancket.”

These Carios undertake longer journeys than any nation in the country of the Riodellaplata. They are wonderful warriors on land. Their villages or towns are situate on hills upon the river Paraboe[87]; formerly their city was called Lambere.[88]

[87] Paraguai.

[88] Lambaré.

Their town is made with two wooden palisades, each piece of timber being the thickness of a man. And one palisade is separated from the other by a space of twelve feet; the posts are driven down into the earth, six feet deep, and are above the earth nearly as high as one may reach with a sword.

- 21 -

They have also their forts. And at a distance of fifteen feet from this town wall they made pits as deep as the height of three men, one over the other, and put into them (but not above ground) lances of hard wood, with points like that of a needle; and they covered these pits with straw and small gravel, strewing a little earth and grass between, to the intent that when we Christians pursued them, or assaulted their town, we should have fallen blindly into these pitfalls. But at length they digged so many pits that they themselves fell into them.

For when our chief captain Johann Eijollas[89] commanded all our people, except sixty men who were left in the Parchkadienes[90] to guard them, and marched them in good order against their town Lambere, the Carios descried our approach at a gunshot distance, and they numbered forty thousand men armed with bows and arquebuses, and they begged us to go back to our Parchkadienes; if we did so, they would provide us with victuals and other necessaries, but if not they would act as our enemies. But it did not suit us nor our chief captain to do this, for the country and the people pleased us very well, as did also their food, for we had not seen nor eaten better bread during the last four years, fish and meat having been our only sustenance.

[89] Juan de Ayolas.

[90] Brigantines.

So the Carios took their bows and guns and received us therewith, and told us that we were welcome, but we refused to do them any harm. On the contrary, we told them for the third time to keep the peace, and that we wished to be their friends. But they did not take any notice of our words, because they had not yet tried our bows and guns. And when we came near them we fired at them, so that they heard it, and saw their people fall to the ground, although they saw not any bullet or arrow or aught else but a hole in their body; and they wondered and were frightened, and soon all- 22 - took to flight, and fell one upon another like dogs. So they hastened to shelter themselves in their town, after two hundred of them had fallen into the above-mentioned pits.

Afterwards we Christians came to their town and assaulted it, but they resisted as well as they could for three days. Not being able to hold out any longer, and fearing besides for their wives and children whom they had with them in the town, they prayed for mercy, promising that they would do anything for us if only we would spare their lives. Also they gave to our commander, Johann Eijollas, six women, the eldest of whom was only eighteen years old.

They also gave him six deer and other wild beasts, and besought us to remain with them, and they gave to every soldier two women to wait on him, and to wash and cook for him. Besides which they gave us food and all the necessaries of life; so that peace was then concluded between us and our enemies.

After that the Carios were compelled to build us a great house of stone, earth, and wood, in order that if in the meanwhile they were to revolt against us we Christians might have a place of refuge in which to defend ourselves.

We took this town on the feast of the Assumption, in the year 1539, and therefore it is called Noster Signora desumsion.[91]

[91] Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. Schmidt’s chronology is often mistaken. Lambaré, with its population, was taken by Juan de Ayolas on the 15th of August 1536. Asuncion was founded in the following year by Juan de Salazar.

In this skirmish sixteen men fell on our side, and we abode there two months. These Carios are distant from the Aygais[92] thirty miles, and from the island Bone Speranso, i.e., Good Hope, where the Thijembus[93] live, about three hundred and fifty-five miles.[94]

[92] Agazes.

[93] Timbus.

[94] Buena Esperanza was situated about lat. S. 32° 33′; Asuncion is in 25° 17′.

- 23 -

And so we made a covenant with the Carios, they agreeing and promising to make war along with us, and to aid us with eight thousand men against the Aygais.

After our chief captain had decided all this, he took three hundred Spaniards and these Carios, and went down the river, and afterwards by land for thirty miles, to a place where the aforesaid Aygais live, of whom and of their treatment of us we have spoken.

We found them at the same place where we had left them, and we fell upon them by surprise in their houses while they were asleep, between three and four o’clock in the morning, for the Carios had sought them out and watched them, and we killed everybody, young and old, for it is the custom of the Carios, when they make war and are victorious, to kill all without any mercy or pity whatsoever.

We took also more than five hundred canoes or skiffs, and we burnt down all the villages we found, and wrought very much damage besides. Four months afterwards, some Aygais[95], who had not taken part in this skirmish, because they were not then at home, came and asked for mercy, and our commander was obliged to grant it them by order of H. I. Majesty, who gave orders to pardon every Indian up to the third time, but if one of them brake the peace for the third time he should become a prisoner for life or a slave.

[95] Agazes.

After that we continued for six months in this town, Noster Signora Desumsion, in German “Unser Frawen Himmelfahrt”, and had a good rest.

Then our commander Johann Eijollas[96] inquired of the Carios about a people called Peijembas,[97] and they answered: it was from this town Desumsion to the Peijembas[97] one hundred miles distance up the river Parabol.[98]

[96] Juan de Ayolas.

[97] Payaguás.

[98] Paraguai.

Our commander then asked the Carios how the Peijembas[97]- 24 - lived, and what provisions they had, and from what they abstained; also what kind of people they were, and of their habits. Their answer was, that the Peijembas[99] had nothing else but fish and meat, and also St. John’s bread and fenugreek.[100] From this fenugreek they make flour which they eat with their fish; they also make wine of it, and this wine is as sweet as mead in Germany.

[99] Payaguás, vide supra, p. 15.

[100] Algarroba.

Our chief captain Johann Eijollas having heard all this from the Carios, ordered them to load five ships with provisions of Turkish corn and other things which were in the country; this had to be done in two months’ time, and by that time he and his men would also equip themselves, and in the first place go to the Peijembas,[99] and afterwards to a people called Carch Karaisch, and the Carios promised to be always obedient, and to fulfil in all particulars the captain’s orders.

All things having now been arranged, and the ships provided with victual, our commander ordered all the people to assemble, and out of the four hundred men, took three hundred well armed; and the remaining one hundred were left in the aforesaid town Vardellesse,[101] i.e. Noster Signora Desumsion, where the said Carios live. And then we went up the river and found at a distance of five miles from these Carios a village on the river Paraboe. The people here brought to us Christians, victual, in the shape of fish, meat, hens, geese, Indian sheep, and ostriches.

[101] Vardellesse must be a Germanized form of the Spanish word Fortaleza (fortress).

Coming at last near a village of the Carios, which is called Weybingen,[102] and is at a distance of eighty miles from Noster Signora Desumsion, we took from them victual and other things which we could obtain from them.

[102] There is no village of that name in Paraguai.

From there we came to a mountain called S. Fernando,- 25 - which resembles the Bagenberg; there we found the said Peijembas, who are at twelve miles distance from Weybingen, and they met us peaceably, and received us with false hearts, as we shall see hereafter.

They took us into their houses and gave us fish and meat and also fenugreek, and so we abode there for nine days.

Then our commander sent to ask their chief if they knew a folk named Carchkareisso.[103] He replied that they knew nothing indeed of such a people but what they had heard of them by report, and that they dwelt far away in the country, and that they had much gold and silver, but that they (the Peijembas) had never seen any of them.

[103] Guaycurús.

They also told us that these Carchkareisso[103] were wise men, like as we Christians are, and that they had plenty of victuals, such as Turkish corn, manioc, manduis, padades, wachekew, mandeochparpü, mandeochade, mandepare,[104] etc., and several other roots, the flesh of Indian sheep called amne,[105] an animal resembling a donkey, but that it has feet like kine and a thick and coarse skin, and that they had plenty also of deer, rabbits, geese, and hens; but that none of the Peijembas[106] as has been said, had ever seen all this, but only knew it by report of others. But we found afterwards how things were situated.

[104] Manduvis, potatoes, papas, etc.

[105] Anta, or tapir.

[106] Payaguás.

Having learned all this, our chief commander required to have some Peijembas to go with him into that country, whereupon they readily offered themselves, and presently their chief appointed three hundred Peijembas to accompany us to carry our victual and other necessaries. Our commander ordered these people to prepare themselves, for he would be starting in four days, and of the five ships he ordered three to sail, and on the other two he left fifty men of us Christians, whom he ordered to wait there during his five- 26 - months’ absence, and that if within that space of time he returned not unto us, that we should go back with these two vessels to Noster Signora Desumsion. But it so happened that we abode among these Peijembas for six months, and never heard anything in the meanwhile of our commander Johann Eijolla,[107] and we grew short of victual, so that we were compelled to return with our temporary commander Martin Domingo Eijolla[108] to the town Signora, according to the orders of our chief commander.

[107] Juan de Ayolas.

[108] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

How our chief commander Johann Eijollas made his voyage shall be presently recorded.

First, when he departed from the Peijembas,[109] he came to a folk named Naperus,[110] who are on friendly terms with the Peijembas; they have nothing but fish and flesh, and are a people of considerable numbers. Our commander took with him some of these Naperus to show him the way, for they were to pass through divers countries, and many nations, with great difficulty and penury of all things, and meet with much resistance; so much so that nearly one-half of the Christians died during this voyage. Finally, when he had come to a people called the Peijssennas,[111] he could not go any further, but was compelled to turn back again with all his people except three sick Spaniards, whom he left among the Peijssennas.

[109] This word Peiembas is not Guaraní. It must be the Payaguás, one of the tribes occupying the right bank of the river Paraguay, to which Schmidt refers here, or perhaps the Mbaiàs, the tribe adjacent to them.

[110] Yaperús, a tribe of the Payaguás.

[111] The Peyssennas are the same as the Peiembas. I believe the author is referring to the Payaguás.

Our chief commander therefore, Johann Eijollas being salvo mendo, i.e. in good health, had come back with his men to the Naperus, where he stayed until the third day, because- 27 - the men were faint and overtired with the journey, and because they had no further supplies.

But the Naperus, understanding this, resolved with the Peijembas, and made an agreement with them to the effect, that they would kill and make away with the chief commander Johann Eijollas and all his men, and they did so afterwards, for when Johann Eijollas was going with his Christians from the Naperus to the Peijembas, and had gone about half-way, they were attacked unawares, and with loud cries by the Naperus and their allies the Peijembas, who fell upon them like mad dogs, as they were passing through a forest; and they were mercilessly and miserably slaughtered, sick and faint Christians as they were, including their commander Johann Eijollas,[112] so that not one of them escaped. God have mercy on their souls!

[112] Juan de Ayolas.

Now as we fifty men had gone to the town Noster Signora Desumsion, and were waiting there for our commander Johann Eijollas and our soldiers, to know how things had gone, we heard tidings from an Indian who had been a slave to the late Johann Eijollas, and had been brought by him from the Peijssennas, and who had escaped because of his knowledge of the language. But although this man told us minutely all that had happened from beginning to end, we would not believe him.

And having remained during a whole year in the above-named town, Noster Signora, we were unable to gather any certain information as to how it had fared with our soldiers; only the Carios told our commander Martin Domingo Eijolla[113] that the general report was, that our Christians had all perished at the hands of the Peijembas.[114] But we would not- 28 - yet believe it until we should hear from a Peijemba himself that it was true. After two months the Carios brought to our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, two Peijembas whom they had taken captive. These Peijembas being asked if they had really slain them all, denied it most emphatically, and said that our chief commander and his men were not yet gone away from their land.

[113] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

[114] Payaguás. These were the Indians who killed Juan de Ayolas and all his people, according to Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca in his Comentarios, infra, and Ruy Diaz de Guzman in La Argentina; also Herrera, Década, v, libro 7, capitulo 5.

Our commander then obtained permission from the judge and the provost-marshal that the two prisoners should be put to the torture in order that they might tell the truth; and by his order they were tormented in such a manner that they were compelled to confess that they had killed the Christians and their chief.

In consequence thereof our commander Martin Domingo Eijolla had them judged, and ordered the two Peijembas to be tied to a tree around which a great fire was made in order to burn them.

Meanwhile it seemed good to us Christians to elect Martin Domingo Eijolla for our chief commander (especially because he had behaved so well against the war-people), until H. I. Majesty should give further orders.

Then Martin Eijolla ordered to prepare four parchkadienes,[115] and taking one hundred and fifty soldiers, the others being left in the aforesaid town of Noster Signora, he gave us to understand that he would gather together the other people who had been left among the Peijembas for reasons before mentioned,[116] and the one hundred and sixty Spaniards left at Bonas Aeieres[117] in the two ships, and bring them to the town Noster Signora Desumsion. Then he, Martin Domingo Eijolla, departed with these four brigantines down the rivers Parabol and Paranon.[118]

[115] Brigantines.

[116] On account of sickness, cf. ante, p. 26.

[117] Buenos Ayres.

[118] Paraguai and Parana.

- 29 -

Now before we came to the Thijembas,[119] it was resolved by the Christians who waited there for us, namely, by a captain named Franciscus Ruis, and Johann Paban, a priest, and a secretary named Johann Ernandus,[120] governors of the Christians, that they would kill the chief of the Thijembus, and certain other Indians, and they verily performed this impious and mischievous deed, and put from life to death the Indians who had rendered them for so long a time so many services before we came down there with Martin Domingo Eijolla.

[119] Timbus.

[120] These names are Francisco Ruiz Galan, Juan Pavon and Juan Hernandez; Juan Pavon was not a clergyman, but an alcalde.

And when we arrived at these Thijembus and Christians, our commander was alarmed at this murder and at the flight of the Thijembus.[119] But he could do nothing, and therefore he left victuals in the castle of Corpus Christi, also our twenty men, with a commander named Antonius Manchossa,[121] and gave strict orders that he should not trust the Indians in any way, but that he should keep strict watch by day and by night, and if it happened that the Indians should come back and be friendly with him, that he should deal courteously with them, and give them all tokens of friendship, yet to be on his guard and beware lest any misfortune should happen to them or to other Christians.

[121] Antonio de Mendoza.

Now our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla,[122] took down with him those three persons who were the authors of the manslaughter, namely Francisco Ruis, the priest Johann Paban, and Ernandus, the secretary. And when they were about to take their journey and depart from us, a chief of the Thijembus, named Zeicho Lijemii,[123] came; this one was- 30 - the Christians’ friend, who showed good-will towards them, but from a false and treacherous heart (as will be seen hereafter) said falsely that he must pretend to be on good terms with the Indians, for the sake of wife, children, and friends. And he engaged with our commander to take all the Christians with him down the river, because the whole country was up in arms against them to kill them or drive them out. To whom our chief commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla answered, that he would soon be back, that his people were strong enough to resist the Indians, and added, that he, Zeiche Lijemii should come over to the Christians, with wife, children, and friends, and with all his folk; and Zeiche Lijemii replied that he would do so.

[122] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

[123] This is not a Guaraní name; it is undoubtedly an error on the part of the author.

Then our chief commander sailed down the river, leaving us at Corpus Christi. About eight days afterwards, the aforesaid Indian Zeicho Lijemii sent one of his brothers, named Suelapa,[124] treacherously, and requested our commander, Antonius Manchossa, to place at his disposal six Christians armed with guns and other weapons, for he wished to bring his household with his family to us, and henceforth live among us, and he remarked withal that he feared the Thijembus, and that without such help, he could scarcely hope to bring his things out in safety. He showed himself in such a way as though he would bring us victual and all sorts of necessaries, but that was all knavery and deception.

[124] Not a Guaraní name.

Our commander not only promised him six men, but gave him fifty well armed Spaniards, and ordered these fifty men to be watchful and on their guard, in order that they might not suffer any harm at the hands of the Indians.

It was not more than half a mile distance from us Christians to these Thijembus, and when our fifty men came to their settlement, the Thijembus came out to them, and gave them a Judas kiss, and brought them fish and meat to eat.

- 31 -

Now when the Christians began to fall to their meat, these Thijembus, with their allies who were hidden in the houses and in the fields, suddenly fell upon them, and so consecrated the banquet with them, that not a man of them escaped alive, but one lad called Kalderon.[125] God be merciful to them and to us all. Amen.

[125] Calderon.

Afterwards they set upon us with ten thousand men or more, and besieged us, and thought they would vanquish us, but that did not happen, God be praised! although they stayed fourteen days before our place, and attacked us day and night.

They had this time long spears or javelins, which they had learnt how to make from the Christians, with which they drave at us and defended themselves.

And it happened on that same day that the Indians attacked us by night with all their force, and burnt down our houses, that our commander, Antonius Manchossa,[126] armed with a two-handed sword ran out of a gate near which some Indians lay in ambush so that they could not be seen; and the Indians thrust him through with their spears, so that he presently fell down dead without uttering a word. God’s mercy be with him! Now the Indians could not remain any longer because they had nothing to eat, so they broke up half their camp and departed.

[126] Antonio de Mendoza.

After this two brigantines laden with provisions and other necessaries came to us from Bonas Aeieres[127] sent by our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla,[128] in order that we might maintain ourselves where we were until the said commander’s arrival, which cheered us very much indeed. But those who came with the two ships were very sorrowful for the Christians that were slain. We therefore determined by a common council, and found it best to abide no longer in the village of- 32 - Corpus Christi near these Thijembus, but we went all of us down the river and came to Bonas Aeieres to our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla. He was much shocked and very angry about the slaughter of the people, and doubtful how to consult what he should first do, seeing that victual and other necessary things failed us.

[127] Buenos Ayres.

[128] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

But after we had stayed for five days at Bonas Aeieres, a ship called a Carabelle,[129] came from Spain, and brought us fresh tidings to wit, that a ship had arrived at St. Catharina, whose captain was called Albernunzo Gabrero,[130] and he had brought with him two hundred soldiers from Spain.

[129] Caravela.

[130] Alonso Cabrera.

As soon as our commander had heard these tidings, he ordered one of the two lesser ships, which was called a galleon, to be made ready; and sent it along with the first to Sta. Catharina in Priesiell,[131] which is thirty miles[132] from Bonas Aeieres, and appointed for it a commander named Conssaillo Manchossa,[133] to govern the ship, and he charged him, when he arrived with his ship at St. Catherina in Priesiell, to load her with provisions, namely rice, manioc, and other things as he should think fit.

[131] Brazil.

[132] From Buenos Ayres to the Island of Santa Catalina there are 600 miles. Santa Catalina did not then belong to Brazil, but to the Gobernacion del Rio de la Plata (Government of the River Plate), belonging to the Spanish Crown. Schmidt could not have been ignorant of this, since he had been there with the expedition of Don Pedro de Mendoza.

[133] Gonzalo Mendoza.

This commander, Conssaillo Manchossa, asked Martin Domingo Eijolla for six trusty soldiers, whom he could rely upon; and they were promised him. So he took me and six Spaniards, and also twenty more soldiers and seamen.

Departing from Bonas Aeieres, we came in a month’s time to St. Catharina, and finding the above-mentioned ship which had arrived from Spain, and the commander, Albernunzo Gabrero, with all his men, we were greatly rejoiced,- 33 - and stayed there for two months, loading our ship with rice, manioc, and Turkish corn, so full that we could not take any more.

Then having sailed with both ships and the commander, Albernunzo Gabrero, and all his people from S. Catharina towards Bonas Aeieres in India, we arrived at twenty miles from the river Paranaw Wassu.[134] This river is forty miles wide at its mouth, and has the same width for eighty miles, until one reaches a harbour called S. Gabriel, where the river (Parana) has a width of eight miles.

[134] In early times this river was called Rio de Solis, and afterwards also Paraná Guazú. Its mouth, as we have before stated (supra, p. 6), is 188 miles wide between Capes Santa Maria and San Antonio. The width of the Paraná proper, where it empties into the Plate, at the end of the Delta, is twenty-five miles, between the island of Martin Garcia and Point San Fernando.

Having arrived as before said, to within twenty miles of this river, on All Saints’ eve, the two ships approached at night close to one another, and the one spoke the other, asking if we were in the river Paranaw; our seaman said we were in that river, but the other one said we were at a distance of twenty miles from it.

For when two, three, or more ships sail in company, they always come together at sunset, and ask one another how long they have sailed day and night, and what wind they intend taking at night, in order that they may not separate from one another.

After this our skipper again addressed the master of the other ship, asking if he would follow him, but the other said that it was already night, and he would therefore stand out to sea till next morning, and would not make the land by night; this skipper was indeed somewhat wiser than ours as the event afterwards proved.

While our ship continued on its way that night, having parted company with the other, great storm-winds arose at- 34 - sea, so that we saw the land by twelve or one o’clock, before we could anchor.

And when the ship had touched the ground, we having notwithstanding a full mile to make in order to reach land, knew of no other counsel save to appeal to God Almighty that He might be merciful and take pity on us. That same hour our ship was broken into many thousand pieces, and fifteen of our men and six Indians were drowned. Some taking hold of large pieces of timber swam out, and I with five of my companions escaped on the mast. But of the fifteen drowned we could not find one. God bless them and us all. Amen.

We had afterwards to go on foot one hundred miles,[135] having lost all our clothes and victual, and had to sustain ourselves with such roots and fruits as we could find in the fields, until we came to the haven called S. Gabriel, where we found the aforesaid ship with her captain, which had arrived there thirty days before us.

[135] The distance which Schmidt and his companions would have had to walk, in a straight line between Cape Santa Maria, where it is probable that the shipwreck took place, and the island of San Gabriel, would have been 255 English miles.

When this mishap had been reported to our commander, Martino Domingo Eijolla,[136] he and all his men were very sorry, for they thought we had all perished, and they had already caused masses to be said for our souls.

[136] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

As soon as we had arrived at Bonas Aeieres,[137] our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, ordered the captain of our ship and the pilot to come before him; and if there had not been much intercession on behalf of the pilot he would have been hanged. He was, however, condemned to stay for four years on the bergentin ships.

[137] Buenos Ayres.

All the people being together at Bonas Aeieres, our chief captain ordered that the bergentin ships should be made ready,- 35 - and that all the soldiers should be in them together, and that they should burn the great ships; preserving, however, the iron tackling. After this had been done, we sailed once more up the river Paranaw, and came to the town Noster Signora Desumsion, where we remained two years, waiting further orders from H. I. Majesty.

Meanwhile, another chief commander named Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha,[138] came from Spain, appointed by H. I. Majesty, with four hundred men and thirty horses, in four vessels, two of which were large ships, and the other two Karabella.[139] These four ships arrived in Brazil at the haven called Wiessay, or S. Catherina,[140] to seek provision of victual, and when the commander had sent the two Karabella to sail eight miles distance from that port to seek for victuals, such a storm befell them that they were both compelled to remain at sea, and they perished, being broken all to pieces, but the men escaped.[141] When the chief captain heard of this, he durst not put to sea with the other two ships; but, since they were unseaworthy, he had them broken up, and came to us in haste by land to Riodellaplata, to the town Noster Signora desumsion, on the river Paraboe, and brought not more than three hundred out of the four hundred men with him, the remainder having died of hunger and disease.[142]

[138] Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca.

[139] Caravels.

[140] Mbiaçá or Santa Catalina. Mbiaçá was the name of the country opposite the island, and at Schmidt’s time it was not Brazil, but a part of the Government of the River Plate. That is why Barcia’s Spanish translation says that Alvar Nuñez arrived in Brazil and Santa Catalina, which is perfectly correct.

[141] Cabeza de Vaca does not say that the two ships were wrecked, but that they had to put back to S. Catherina on account of bad weather. Cf. his Comentarios, infra.

[142] When the Emperor was made acquainted of Don Pedro de Mendoza’s death, he appointed another Adelantado to take his place, in case the Lieutenant-Governor whom Mendoza had left there had died too. The new Adelantado was Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, famous for his shipwrecks and adventures in Florida. Alvar Nuñez sailed from Spain in November 1540. He brought with him orders to take possession of the sea-coast belonging to Spain, south of the Portuguese Capitania de San Vicente. He first took possession of the ports of Cananea, San Francisco, and Santa Catalina, all pertaining to Spain. This island was given to the Adelantado as a personal gift for the term of twelve years, on condition of maintaining its possession and keeping there the Indians who inhabited it. Alvar Nuñez stopped there several months. In May 1541 he sent out some of his people to Buenos Ayres in one of his ships; but storms forced them to return to the island. The wrecks mentioned by Schmidt did not occur. Towards the end of the same year, Alvar Nuñez with half his people and twenty-six horses started by land for Asuncion, and he gave the name of Province of Vera to the territory of Guaira (now the Brazilian Province of Paraná), which belonged to his Gobernacion. He marched across the province, taking possession of it on behalf of Spain, and arrived at Asuncion on the 11th of March 1542, after a painful journey of four months and a half. The other half of Alvar Nuñez’s people, under the command of his nephew, Pedro Estopiñan, went by sea to Buenos Ayres, and found the town of Don Pedro de Mendoza abandoned and the houses burnt by order of the ambitious Irala.

- 36 -

This Commander was eight whole months on his way, for the distance is reckoned to be five hundred miles from Noster Signora desumsion to this place or harbour of S. Catherina.

He also brought with him from Spain his commission from H. I. Majesty, and required that Martin Domingo Eijolla[143] should yield up the whole government to him, and that all the men should be obedient to him in every respect. The commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, and all the people declared they were ready to obey, but with this understanding, that he, Cabessa de Bacha, should show and lay before them some document to prove that he had received from His Imperial Majesty such powers and authority.

[143] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

But this the whole assembly could not obtain from him; only the priests and two or three of the captains affirmed it, that Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha ruled and commanded; but we shall see hereafter how things went with him.

Now, this said Albernunzo Cabessa passed all the people in- 37 - review, and found that there were eight hundred men. At the same time he made friendship with Martino Domingo Eijolla, and they became sworn brothers, so that he, Martino Domingo Eijolla, no less than before commanded the people.

After this review he, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, ordered nine Bergentines to be prepared, that he might sail up the river Paraboe as far as he could. But at the same time, and before the ships were made ready, he sent out three Bergentines with one hundred and fifteen soldiers, to go as far as they could, in order to find Indians who had manioc and Turkish corn. He appointed them two captains, named Anthonius Gabrero and Diego Tabellino. They came first to a people called Surukufers,[144] who had Turkish corn, manioc, and other roots, such as mandues, which resemble hazel-nuts, and also fish and meat.

[144] Samacosis, says the Spanish translator, in Barcia’s Collection. But the Indians in those parts were the Itatis and Guaycurús, generally known as the Cheriguanos. (Cf. infra, p. 40.)

The men wear in their lips a great blue stone, like a draughtsman, and the women have their privities covered.

Among these people we left our ships, and with them some of our companions to guard them, and went thence into the country. After four days’ journey we came to a village, occupied by the Carios, who were about three thousand men strong, of whom we inquired diligently of the state of that country, and we received honest and peaceable answers from them. Returning thence, we again came back to our ships, and going down the river of Paraboe, we came to a nation called the Achkeres. Here we found a letter from our chief captain, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, to the effect that we should hang the chief of these Indians, named Achkere.[145] Our commander at once complied with this order, out of- 38 - which afterwards a great war broke out, as will be seen hereafter.

[145] Aracaré, according to Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, in the Comentarios, by Pero Hernandez, secretary to the Adelantado, Valladolid, 1555. (See infra.)

Now, when this had happened, to wit, that the above-mentioned Indian had come by his death in this way, we returned down the river to Noster Signora desumsion, and told our commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, what we had done and seen during this voyage. Then he asked the chief Indian who was in the town Noster Signora,[146] that he should appoint him two thousand Indians who should go with us up the river.

[146] La Asuncion.

The Indians promised to be willing and obedient, and added that our commander should first of all think well about it before going into that country,[147] because the whole of it belonged to Dabere,[148] a chief of the Carios, who was prepared to come out in full force against the Christians. For this Dabere, they said, was Achkere’s brother, whom the Christians hanged, and therefore he intended to avenge his brother’s death. So our commander had to refrain from this voyage, and prepare himself to go to war against his enemies. He then ordered his sworn brother, Martino Domingo Eijolla,[149] to take four hundred Christians and two thousand Indians, and go against this Dabere and the Carios, and either drive them out of the whole country or utterly destroy them. The said Eijolla faithfully followed this mandate, and went with these people out of the city Noster Signora, and advanced towards the enemy, having first warned them on behalf of H. I. Majesty.

[147] In orig.: “auss dem Landt”; in the Latin version: “in illam regionem”, and this appears the better reading.

[148] Tabaré.

[149] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

But this Dabere, little regarding the warning, would admit no treaty of peace; for he had gathered a considerable number of people together, and his settlements were very- 39 - strongly fenced with palisadoes, which means wooden walls[150]; and compassed about with three such walls and many wide pits whereof we have already spoken; but we had found all this out before. So we stood still quietly with our army till the fourth day before we proclaimed war against them; the fourth day in the morning, three hours before daybreak, we fell upon the place, slaying all that we found there, and we captured many women, preserving them from slaughter, which was a great help to us afterwards.

[150] I.e., stockades.

In this assault sixteen Christians were slain, and many of us wounded and hurt. Also many of our Indians perished; but they did not gain very much from us, for on their side more than three thousand were slain.

Not very long after Dabere came with his people to ask for mercy, and that we should give him back his wives and children; then he and his people would serve the Christians and obey them. Our commander was compelled by H. I. Majesty to grant them that.

After this peace had been concluded, we again went down the river Paraboe[151] to our chief commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha,[152] and we told him how all had happened.

[151] Paraguai.

[152] Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca.

Then he thought of making his intended voyage, and he asked of Dabere, who was now satisfied, two thousand armed Indians to go with him; and they were willing, and promised to be always obedient. He also commanded the Carios to load the nine little Bergentin ships.[153] All this being done, he took five hundred Christians out of the eight hundred, and he left the remaining three hundred in the town Noster Signora desumsion, and appointed as their commander Johann Salleisser.[154]

[153] Brigantines.

[154] Juan Salazar.

He then sailed up the river Paraboe with this army of five hundred Christians and two thousand Indians.

- 40 -

The Carios had eighty-three canoes, and we Christians had nine Bergentin ships, in every one of which there were two horses; but the horses were conveyed overland one hundred miles, and we went by water unto a mountain called S. Fernando,[155] where the horses were shipped, and then we came to our enemies, the Peijembus,[156] but they did not wait for us, but soon fled away with their wives and children, having first burnt down their houses. After this we travelled together for one hundred miles, and found no people all that way, till at length we came to a nation named the Bachereos,[157] who live on fish and meat. It is a numerous people, who inhabit a large country over one hundred miles in extent, and they have also many canoes. Their women have their privities covered. They would not speak with us, but fled away from us. Afterwards we came to another people called Surukusis, where the three aforesaid ships were.[158] They were at ninety miles distance from the Baschereos, and they received us in a friendly way; each of them has his own lodging, with his wife and children; the men have a rounded piece of wood like draughts, hanging at the end of their ears. The women wear a grey stone of crystal, thick and long as a finger, in their lips; they are nice-looking, and go about quite naked. They have also plenty of Turkish corn, manioc, manduis, padades, etc., fish and meat in abundance; it is a great people.

[155] Cf. ante, p. 24.

[156] Payaguás.

[157] Xaráyos, or Guarayos.

[158] Cf. ante, p. 37.

Our commander asked them about a people named Carchkareos,[159] and also about the Carios. They could not give information about the Carchkareos, but they said that the Carios were with them in their houses; but it was not true.

[159] Charcas.

Having learned this, our commander ordered us to prepare ourselves in order to go further into the country. He appointed one hundred and fifty men to stay with the ships, to whom he gave provision for two years. And he took the- 41 - three hundred and fifty Christians and the eighteen horses, and the two thousand Indians or Carios who went out with us from Noster Signora desumsion, and marched into the country; but he did not do much, because he was not the right sort of man. Besides, all the officers and soldiers hated him for his perverse and rigorous carriage towards the men. We travelled eighteen days’ journey without seeing either Carios or any other people; and food also failing us, our commander was again obliged to return with us to the ships. And when we turned back he sent out a Spaniard, named Franciscus Riefere,[160] with ten other armed Spaniards, and ordered them to go forward ten days’ journey, and if in that time they should not find any other people, they should return to us to the ships, where we would wait for them.

[160] Francisco de Ribera.

It happened that they found a populous nation of Indians, who had plenty of Turkish corn, manioc, and other roots. But the Spaniards durst not show themselves, but returned to us, and told it to our chief captain. He was very desirous to have gone into that country, but was hindered by waters[161] that he could not proceed. He therefore ordered a ship to be furnished, wherein he put eighty men, and gave us Ernando Rieffere[162] for our captain, and sent us up the river Paraboe to discover the nation named Scherues,[163] and ordered that we should go two days’ journey into the interior of the country and no farther, and then report to him of that land and its inhabitants.

[161] Floods.

[162] Hernando de Ribera.

[163] Xarayes; cf. Hernando de Ribera’s narrative, infra.

So departing, on the first day we came on the other side of the country to a people named Surukusis, who live in an island[164] which is thirty miles wide, and encompassed by the river Paraboe; they eat manioc, maize, manduis, padades,- 42 - mandepore, parpii, Bachkeku, and other roots; also fish and meat. The men and women are like the above-mentioned Surukusis in face and figure. We remained one day among them, and the second day we set off again. Ten canoes of these Indians accompanied us and showed us our way, and twice a day they hunted wild beasts and fished to supply us with food. After six days’ journey we came to a people called Achkeres. They are very numerous, men and women, are big and tall, the like whereof were not to be seen in the whole Riodellaplata. These Achkeres are three miles distance from the aforesaid Surukusis; they have nothing to eat but fish and meat; the women have their privities covered. Among these Achkeres[165] we remained one day, and then the above-mentioned Surukusis returned with their ten canoes to their village. Afterwards our commander, Ernando Riefere[166] asked the Achkeres to show us the way to the Scherues, and they were willing to do so, and came with eight canoes out of their place with us, and twice every day fished and hunted, so that we should have plenty to eat. The reason why they are called Achkeres, is as follows.

[164] This island was called Isla del Paraiso (Paradise Island) by the Spaniards. The Indians living there were the Itatis.

[165] Yacaré is the name, in the Guaraní language, of the amphibious animals similar to the crocodile, to which Schmidt alludes hereafter. But there never was a tribe of that name; perhaps it was the name of a cacique.

[166] Hernando de Ribera.

Achkarus is a fish which has a hard skin all over, so that it cannot be wounded with a knife, nor can one shoot it with an Indian dart. It is a big fish, which does great harm to other fishes. Its eggs, which it lays at about two or three paces from the water’s edge, have the taste of musk and are good for eating; the tail is the best part, though the whole fish is harmless; it lives always in the water. In our Germany that fish is reckoned to be noxious and even venomous, and is called a crocodile. And it is said, that if one looks at that fish, and even more, if the fish breathes- 43 - upon any one, that person must by all means die; which is not according to truth, for man must also die without that, and nothing is more certain.

Further it is said that if such a fish is found in a well, there is no other means to kill it than to show it a mirror, in order that it may look at itself therein; it must then die from the sight of its own atrocious face.

But all these sayings are fables, and nothing else, for I should have died a hundred times if it had been true, having caught and eaten over three thousand of these fishes myself, and I would not have written so much about this fish if I had not had such good reason for it.

The ninth day after our departure we came to the Scherues,[167] who are reckoned to be thirty-six miles distant from the Achkeres. This nation is very populous, but these were not the genuine people among whom the king lives. These Scherues to whom we now came wear a moustache, and have a wooden ring in the tips of their ears, and the ear is folded round the wooden ring in a wonderful manner. The men have also a large blue crystal in their lips of the shape and size of a draughtsman. And they are painted blue on their bodies from the head to the knees so as to give them the appearance of wearing breeches.

[167] Xarayos. These and the Itatis were the Indians living near the island of Paraiso, on the left bank of the river Paraguai. According to the best authorities the right name for this tribe is Guarayos.

But the women are painted otherwise, blue from the breast to the privities, and so artistically, that one could not soon find a painter to do it so well. They are absolutely naked, and are beautiful after their manner, and also commit transgressions in the dark.

Among these Scherues we remained one day, and afterwards in three days’ journey we came to a king, who lives at fourteen miles distance, and whose people are also called- 44 - Scherues. His country is only four miles wide, but he has also a settlement on the river Paraboe.

There we left our ship with twelve Spaniards to watch it, that we might use it for our defence on our return. We also ordered these Scherues dwelling there to hold friendly intercourse with the Christians, which they also did.

We remained thus two days in this place, and prepared ourselves for travel, and took all that was wanted and passed over the river Paraboe,[168] and so came to the King who lives there himself.

[168] Paraguai.

And when we were approaching near and were about one mile off, the King of the Scherues came forth to meet us with twelve thousand men, or even more, on a heath, yet in a friendly and peaceable manner. The path they followed was eight feet broad, and was covered entirely with flowers and herbs up to their place, and made so clean that not so much as any little stone, stick, or straw appeared. The King was also accompanied by his musicians, whose instruments resemble our hoboys. His Royal Majesty had also ordered that deer and other wild beasts should be hunted on both sides of the way; so that they caught about thirty deer and twenty ostriches, and it was indeed an agreeable thing to see; and when we came to their place, the King appointed a house to accommodate every two Christians, and our captain with his servants were taken into the Royal House, and I was not very far from the King’s house. Then the King of the Scherues[169] and his subjects resolved to treat us Christians well, and to give us all our necessaries. And the King also held a Court in his own way, like the greatest lord in the country.

[169] Xarayos.

At dinner the musicians must play whenever it is his pleasure. Then the men and the most beautiful women must dance before him, and such a dance is to us Christians- 45 - quite wonderful, so much so that looking upon them one could think of nothing else. These people are like the Scherues, of whom we spoke before.

Their wives make mantles from cotton very subtle, almost like satin, on which they embroider several figures, as deer, ostriches, Indian sheep, or what else they can. In these mantles they sleep when it is cold, or they sit upon them, or use them at their pleasure. These women are very fair and venerous, very amiable, and very hot too, as it seemed to me.

There we remained four days. Meanwhile, the King asked our commander what were our wishes, and whither we intended to go; and our commander replied he was seeking for gold and silver. The King gave him a silver crown, which weighed one and a half mark nearly, and a bar of gold, a span and a half in length and half a span broad; also a bracelet, i.e., a half-harness, and many other things in silver, and then said to our commander: He had no more gold or silver, and that these things were the spoils which in time past he had won in war from the Amazons.

And when he came to speak of the Amazons, and gave us to understand of their great riches, we were very glad to learn of it. And our commander presently asked the King if we could come to them by water; and how far it was to these Amazons.

The King answered we could not reach them by water, but would have to go by land, and travel during two whole months. Thereupon we decided to go to these Amazons, as will be related hereafter.

These women, the Amazons, have only one breast, and the men come to their wives only three or four times in the year; and if the woman, being in child by her husband, bring forth a male child, she sends that boy away to his father.

But if it be a girl, she keepeth it with her, and seareth the right breast, in order that it may grow no more. The reason for this is, that they may be more fit to handle their weapons- 46 - and bows, for they are war-like women, making continual war against their enemies.

These women inhabit an island surrounded by water, and a large island it is too; and there is no access to it but by canoes. But in this island the Amazons have neither gold nor silver, though they are reported to have great riches in the terra firma where the men live. It is a very great nation, and is said to have a King whose name appears to be Iegnis, and they told us where he lived.

Now, our commander, Ernando Rieffere,[170] desired the said King of the Scherues[171] to place at our disposal some of his subjects to carry our plunder and to show us the way, because he intended to enter the interior of the country, and to seek out those above-mentioned Amazons. The King was willing to do so, but he said that at this time of the year the land would be under water, and therefore travelling there would not do at this season. We would not, however, believe his words, but were urgent to have his Indians. He therefore gave our commander for his person twenty men to carry his plunder and victual, and to each of us he gave five Indians to serve us and carry our necessaries, for we would have to go eight days’ journey without finding an Indian.

[170] Hernando de Ribera.

[171] Xarayos. All that precedes about the Amazons is a ridiculous tale which Schmidt could not have heard from any of those poor Indians, who had not the slightest idea about the Scythian mythology or the ancient fables from which this passage of his book is taken, after the fashion for the wonderful, prevalent at this period. The source of this story in the New World is the voyage made in 1540-41 by the Spanish officer, Orellana, who was the first to navigate the great river called of the Amazons, on account of his having related that he met on its banks a tribe of women warriors.

Afterwards we came to a certain nation called Siberis, who resemble the Scherues in their language and in other respects. We advanced for eight whole days and nights in- 47 - water up to the knees, and sometimes as high as the waist; nor could we by any means come out of it. When we wished to make a fire, we heaped big fagot-sticks one on another, and made a fire thereon; and it happened several times that as we were about to cook our meat, both the pot in which we had our food and the fire fell into the water, and then we had to remain without eating. We also could not find any rest either by day or night, because of the small flies, against which we could do nothing.

We therefore asked these Siberis if there were any more water, and they said we would have to wade four more days in the water, and afterwards would have to travel five other days by land; and at length we should come to a people named Orthuses,[172] and they gave us to understand that we were too few in number, and therefore we had better return. But this we would not do for the Scherues sake, for we thought rather of sending them back to their town who were accompanying us. But the said Scherues refused to go, because the King had ordered them not to leave us, but to serve us until we came again out of that country.

[172] Urtuesses; cf. Hernando de Ribera’s narrative, infra.

The aforesaid Siberis then gave us ten men, who, together with the Scherues, should show us the way to the aforesaid Orthuses; so we went along for another seven days through water up to the waist or the knee; this water was quite as hot as if it had been heated on the fire, and we were compelled to drink it, for want of any other water. Some might suppose that it was a flowing water, but this was not so, for at that time rain had fallen so heavily that the whole land was inundated, for it is a flat land; how we suffered from the effects of this water shall be told hereafter.

Thus on the ninth day, between ten and eleven before noon, we came to the place of the Orthuses, and by midday we arrived in the centre of the village, where the chief’s house stands.

- 48 -

But at that very time there was a great mortality among the Orthuses, caused by famine, for they had nothing to eat, the locusts or grasshoppers having twice eaten and destroyed all the corn and the fruits of their trees. When we Christians saw this, and heard how things were going there, we became frightened, and could not remain long in the land, because we also had not much to eat. So our commander asked their chief how many days’ journey we yet had to the Amazons, and he said we must yet travel one full month to reach them, and besides, all the land was full of water, as it indeed appeared.

Now the chief of the Orthuses presented our commander with four Pleynisch[173] of gold, and four silver rings which they wear on the arm; but the Indians wear the plates on their foreheads for ornaments, as our nobles do their gold chains on their necks. For all this, our commander gave the chief of the Indians a hatchet, knives, paternosters, scissors, and other things which are made at Nuremberg. We would have wished more from them, but we durst not ask it, for we Christians were not numerous enough, and therefore had to beware of them. The Indians, on the contrary, were very numerous, and their town so large, that I had hitherto never seen in the whole of India so many people together, nor such a big place, although I have been far and wide. The mortality among the Indians, dying from hunger, certainly was our good luck, for otherwise we Christians might not perhaps have escaped with our lives.

[173] Plates.

When we again returned to the aforesaid Siberis, we were ill-provided with victual, for they had nothing to eat but a tree called a palm, and cardes,[174] and other roots which grow underground. And when we came to the Scherues, our people were half dead for sickness, because of the water and the poverty that we had to undergo during this- 49 - journey, for we never came out of the water for thirty days and nights together, and we were always constrained to drink of that impure water.

[174] Thistles.

So we remained among the Scherues, where the King lives, for four days, and they treated us very well, and waited on us diligently, and the King ordered his subjects to give us all things necessary.

On this journey each of us plundered nearly two hundred ducats’ worth of Indian cotton mantles and silver, having secretly bartered these for knives, paternosters,[175] scissors, and looking-glasses.

[175] Rosaries.

After all this we again went down the river to our chief commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha,[176] and when we arrived, he ordered us on our lives not to come out of the ships, and he came also in person to us and ordered our commander, Ernando Rieffere,[177] to be cast into prison, and took from us soldiers all that we had brought with us from the country; and finally, he would have hanged our commander, Ernando Rieffere, on a tree. But when we heard of this, we being still in the Bergentin,[178] raised a great tumult along with other good friends who were on shore, against our chief commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, demanding that he should set our commander, Ernando Rieffere, free, and restore to us all of that which he had taken away, otherwise we should take measures accordingly. Seeing such an uproar and our wrathful indignation, he was very glad indeed to let our commander go free, and to restore to us all he had taken away, giving us fair words that we might be pacified; how it fared with him afterwards shall presently be told.

[176] Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca.

[177] Hernando de Ribera.

[178] Brigantine.

All this having occurred, and peace being established, he desired our commander, Ernando Rieffere, and us to give him a report on the country we had been to; and explain how- 50 - it happened that we had remained so long absent; and we gave him an answer wherewith he was well satisfied. That he had received us so badly and taken our things away, was the result of our not having obeyed his mandate; for he had only ordered us to go as far as the Scherues,[179] and four days’ journey inland, and then to return and report to him; we on the contrary had gone for eighteen days beyond the country of the Scherues.

[179] Xarayos.

Now our chief commander, after the report we had made of it, would have marched with all his people to that country to which we had just been; but we soldiers would not agree thereto, especially at this very time when the country was quite under water.

Moreover, most of the people were very feeble and ill, besides which our chief commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, commanded no great respect or favour among the soldiers, for he was a man who had never held a command nor any important post whatsoever.

So we remained for two months among the aforesaid Siberis (Surukusis?), during which time our chief commander got a fever, which made him very ill—it would have been no great loss had he died at this time, for he really commanded no great respect among us.

In this country of the Surukusis I did not find a single Indian who was forty or fifty years of age, nor have I ever in my life experienced a more unhealthy country; for it lies under the tropic, i.e., there where the sun is at the highest; it is as unhealthy as Sancte Thome.[180]

[180] The island of San Thomé, off the west coast of Africa.

Being among the Surukusis, I saw the constellation of Ursa Major, of which we had lost sight when we passed the island of S. Augo.[181]

[181] St. Iago, one of the Cape Verd islands, cf. supra, p. 4. Hulsius observes that in the tropic of Capricorn, in which Surukusis is situated, the elevation of the pole is 22½°, and the constellation of Ursa Major would be visible here at its highest elevation in the sky for several hours. The author’s remark that he lost sight of this constellation at the island of St. Iago is, according to the same commentator, wholly erroneous. This island is in N. lat. 15°; the declination of the star α Ursæ Majoris, the northernmost of the group, is 62° 20′ 2″. It would therefore appear on the horizon in S. lat. 27° 40′, or 2,560 miles south of St. Iago.

- 51 -

Now our commander-in-chief ordered, in spite of his illness, one hundred and fifty Christians and two thousand Indian Carios to go with four Bergentin ships,[182] four miles distance to the island of the Surukusis, and commanded them to slay all these Surukusis or to take them prisoners, and that they should principally destroy all persons from forty to fifty years of age. The way these Surukusis had previously entertained us has already been declared,[183] and how we rewarded and thanked them will now appear. God knows that we did them wrong.

[182] Brigantines.

[183] Cf. supra, p. 42.

When, therefore, we arrived at their town unawares, they came out of their houses with bows and arrows to meet us peaceably. But a tumult arising between the Carios and the Surukusis, we Christians fired at them and killed very many, and having made more than two thousand prisoners, men, women, boys, and girls, we afterwards burnt down their town, and took all they possessed that could be carried away, as in such violent assaults is usual; then we turned back again to our commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, who was very well pleased with our deeds.

But our people being for the most part feeble and ill-affected towards our chief commander, the latter could not do anything with them, so he ordered a ship to be prepared, and we all went down the river Paraboe,[184] and came to Noster Signora desumsion,[185] where we had left the other Christians. There our chief commander fell sick again of a fever, and- 52 - kept indoors fourteen days together. It was, however, more out of pride than out of weakness, for he did not please the people; but showed himself unseemly towards them more than it behoved a lord or commander who would govern a country; for such a man should always give good counsel to everyone alike whatever their rank or station, and always be good-hearted to all. Also it seems well that such an one should so behave himself as he would like to appear to others, and should be wiser and cleverer than those whom he commands. For it is very bad and shameful that anyone should try to advance more in honours than in wisdom. And nobody should boast himself of his high position, despising others, like the vain and arrogant Thrasus[186] in Terentius, who thinks that every commander is appointed for the sake of the men, and not the soldiers nominated for the commander’s sake.

[184] Paraguai.

[185] The town of La Asuncion.

[186] Thraso, the soldier in Terence’s play of The Eunuch. A German translation of this comedy, with a commentary by Hans Nythart, was printed at Ulm in 1486.

But here there has been no regard as to persons, but our commander has in all things only followed his arrogant and vain inspiration.

Thereupon it was resolved by all, noble man and commoner, to meet in council, with a view to take prisoner this chief commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, and to send him to H. I. Majesty, and to report to His Majesty about his nice virtue, and how he had behaved towards us, and how, according to his reason, he had governed; and other things besides.

According to the resolution come to, these three gentlemen, namely, the treasurer or judge, the clerk or master of the toll or custom, and the secretary ordained by H. I. Majesty, whose names were Albernunzo Gabrero, Don Francisco Manchossa, Garze Hannego, Philippo de Gastra,[187] etc., taking- 53 - with them two hundred soldiers, went to his lodging, and arrested our commander-in-chief, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, when he least expected it. And this happened on St. Mark’s Day, Anno 1543.[188] They held prisoner the said Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha for a whole year, until a ship called a Carrabella,[189] provided with victual and a crew, had been prepared. And on board this ship the often-mentioned Cabessa de Bacha, with two other officers on behalf of H. I. Majesty, were conveyed to Spain.

[187] Alonzo Cabrera, Francisco de Mendoza, Garcia Vanegas, and Felipe Caceres.

[188] This conspiracy against Alvar Nuñez was the work of Domingo Martinez de Irala to get possession of the Government, in which he succeeded. Schmidt avows himself an accomplice, and this explains his unjust charges against the Adelantado, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, who was the most honest and capable governor that this unfortunate colony had in early times. The imprisonment took place on the 25th of April 1544, and lasted one year, during which Alvar Nuñez suffered the most horrible treatment from his wicked enemies.

[189] Caravel.

After that we had to elect another who should rule and govern the country until H. I. Majesty had time to designate one himself. And we held it for good, as it was the meaning and the will of the community, to nominate as chief Domingo Eijollas,[190] not only because he had formerly governed the country, but especially because most of the soldiers were satisfied with him.

[190] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

However, there were some who had been the special friends of our aforesaid chief commander, Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha, who were not pleased. But we did not care for that.

About this time I was very weak and ill with dropsy, which I, along with my fellow-comrades, had caught in our journey to the Orthuses, when we waded so long in the water, besides suffering want and intolerable hunger, as I have related; for nearly eighty of our people fell ill, and not more than thirty men escaped death.

- 54 -

And when Albernunzo Cabessa de Bacha was sent to Spain there was discord among us Christians, and soon we fought day and night, so that any one would have thought that the devil governed among us; and no man was safe from the other.

We thus made war among ourselves for two whole years, the sending away Cabessa de Bacha being the occasion of it. And when the Carios, who had formerly been our friends, perceived that we Christians were disunited, and had such false and treacherous hearts one towards another, they were not at all pleased, for they thought that every realm that is divided in itself and cannot agree must be destroyed. They therefore held a council, and agreed that they would kill us and drive us out of their country. But God Almighty—praise to Him, always and everlastingly—did not grant these Carios that their designs should prosper; although the whole country of the Carios and other nations, such as the Aygais,[191] were against us Christians.

[191] Agazes.

But when we perceived this state of things we were obliged to make peace among ourselves. And we also entered into a treaty with two other tribes, one named the Jeperis, and the other the Bachacheis,[192] who numbered five thousand men in all. They eat only fish and flesh, are courageous in battle on land and water, but prefer fighting on land. Their weapons are tardes,[193] half a spear in length but not so thick, and the points are tipped with flint. They have also truncheons under their girdles four spans long with a knob at the end.

[192] Yapirús and Mbaiás.

[193] Darts.

Every one of these Indians has also ten or twelve small sticks of wood, or as many in fact as he chooses to carry, a good span long, and on the point of every stick is fixed a broad and long fish’s tooth (named Palmede[194] in Spanish)- 55 - that resembles a sea-tench. This tooth cuts like a razor; but you should know what they do with these teeth, or what use they put them to.

[194] Palometa.

Firstly, they fight with the aforesaid tardes, and in case they are victorious over their enemies, and that these take to flight, they abandon their tardes and run after the enemies and throw their truncheons under their feet, in order to cause them to fall to the ground; then, without looking to see if they are yet half-alive or dead, they cut their heads off with the aforesaid fish-tooth. This is done so quickly that one has scarcely time enough to turn round; afterwards they put this tooth back again under their girdle or their other clothing.

Mark you, now, what he does further with the man’s head, and to what use he puts it, namely, if he has any opportunity for so doing, after such a skirmish. He takes off the skin with all the hair over the ears, then he fills the head out and leaves it to become hard; afterwards he puts this hard and dry skin on a little hoop as a souvenir, in the same way as here in Germany a knight or commander puts a scutcheon in the churches.

But to return to our narrative, and to make it short. It so happened that the Jeperis and Bachacheis[195] came to us with about one thousand men, which pleased us very much; we then went out of the town Noster Signora Desumsion with our chief commander, besides three hundred and fifty Christians and these one thousand Indians, so that every Christian had three men to look after him, whom our commander had ordered for them. And we came afterwards to a distance of three miles from the place where our enemies the Carios, who numbered fifteen thousand, were encamped in the open, in good order. Now when we were only half a mile from them we would do nothing that day for we were tired and it- 56 - was raining; so we remained in the wood, where we passed the night. The following morning we marched against them at six o’clock, and coming upon them by seven, we fought together till ten. Then they were obliged to fly, and ran in haste to a place four miles distant, which they had fortified, and its name was called Froemiliere.[196] The Indian chief was Machkaria. In this skirmish the dead on the enemy’s side who were killed by us numbered two thousand, whose heads the Jeperis[197] carried on their spears. And on our side there fell ten Christians besides the wounded, whom we sent back to Noster Signora Desumsion; but we pursued the enemy with all our army to their place Froemiliere, whither Machkaria their chief had fled. But these Carios had fortified their place with three wooden stockades, like a wall. The wooden posts were as thick as a man in the middle part of his body, or even thicker, three fathoms high, and sunk into the earth the height of a man.

[195] Yapirús and Mbaiás.

[196] It is impossible to interpret this name, which certainly is not Guaraní.

[197] Yapirús.

They had also dug pits or deep holes, and planted in each of them five or six pointed stakes as sharp as needles. So this town of theirs was very strong, and contained many valiant warriors; there can be no doubt about that. And we lay three days before that place without being able to do anything or to win anything from them.

However, at length, by God’s help, we became stronger than they were.

We soon made great Bodelle or Pabesse[198] out of the skins of deer and of the amida.[199] This is a big beast, like a good-sized mule; it has feet like a cow, but on the whole resembles an ass; and its flesh is suitable to be eaten. There are plenty of them in this country; and their skin is half a finger- 57 - thick. Such a pabesse we gave to every Indian of the Jeperis, and to others a good hatchet, and between two such Indians we placed an arquebuss shooter. There were over four hundred of these targets.

[198] Spanish words, rodela or pavés, i.e., shields and targets.

[199] Anta or tapir.

Then we again attacked the enemy’s town from three sides between two and three o’clock in the morning; and, in less than three hours, the three stockades were destroyed and won; we then came with all our people into the town and slew many men, women, and children. But most of them escaped and fled to another place of theirs called Carieba, twenty miles distant from this place Froemiliere. This town they also fortified, and there was a great mass of these Carios there together. This town stood very close to a big forest, in order that if we Christians again conquered it, they might retain the forest as a protection, as will be seen hereafter. Now, when we Christians, along with our Commander Martino Domingo Eijolla,[200] together with the aforesaid Jeperis and Bachacheis, had followed our enemies the Carios up to this place Carieba, at about five o’clock in the evening, we established our army on three sides of the place, on a concealed eminence in the forest. There came also reinforcements to us from Noster Signora Desumsion,[201] two hundred Christians and five hundred Jeperis and Bachacheis,[202] because many of our people, Christians and Indians, had been wounded before the aforesaid place, so that we were compelled to send them back and to have these fresh soldiers instead of them. Now, therefore, we numbered four hundred and fifty Christians and one thousand three hundred Jeperis and Bachacheis. But our enemies the Carios had now fortified their place more strongly than ever, namely with palissadoes (stockades) and very many trenches.

[200] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

[201] Asuncion.

[202] Yapirús and Mbaiás.

- 58 -

They had also prepared iron plates,[203] which were made like rat traps, of which a single one, if it had gone according to their wish, would have each time slain twenty or thirty men. There were plenty of these traps in the place, but God Almighty willed otherwise, so praise be to Him everlastingly. We lay, therefore, before this place, Carieba, four days without being able to do them any harm; but at length, by treachery (such as is to be found everywhere), there came an Indian from our enemies, the Carios, at night to our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla.[204] That Indian was one of the chiefs of the Carios, and to him belonged the town. This man bade us not to burn down his town, nor to destroy it; and if we consented, he was willing to show us the manner in which we could take the place. Our commander promised this to him, and that no harm should be done him. Accordingly this Cario showed us two paths in the forest by which we could penetrate into the place, and said that he would light a fire in his town, and during that time we should break into it. All this having been done, we Christians entered the town and slew a great number of people. Those who took to flight ran right into the hands of their enemies, the Jeperis, by whom the greater part were killed. But this time they had not their wives and children with them, having concealed them in a great wood four leagues distant from that place.

[203] This is a mistake of the author’s; the Indians having no iron.

[204] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

Those among the Carios who had escaped this conflict fled to another Indian chief, named Thabere,[205] and the village which entertained them is called Juberich Sabaije.[206] It is at one hundred and forty miles distance from Carieba, and we could neither pursue them, nor make that journey, because the whole way they had passed they had wasted far and near with fire, in order that we might not find anything- 59 - to eat; but we remained fourteen days at Carieba, where we healed the wounded and rested the while.

[205] Tabaré.

[206] Yeruquihaba.

Then we went again to our town, Noster Signora Desumsion, in order to be enabled to sail up the river and seek out the aforesaid place, Juberich Sabaije, where the Indian chief Thabere lived.

When we came to our town, Noster Signora Desumsion, we also remained there fourteen days, in order to provide ourselves with all sorts of victual and ammunition for the journey. Our commander now took reinforcements with him—Christians and Indians—because many had been wounded and many were ill.

We then went up the river Paraboe[207] to our enemies’ town, Juberich Sabaije, with nine Bergentin ships and two hundred canoes and one thousand five hundred Indians. According to the Jeperis it was forty-six miles distant from Noster Signora desumsion to Juberich Sabaije, whither our enemies, the Carieba, had fled.

[207] Paraguai.

On the way thither the chief of the Carios, the same who had betrayed the town, met us; and he brought with him one thousand Carios to aid us against the aforesaid Thabere.[208] Now, when our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla,[209] had assembled all these people together at two miles distance from Juberich Sabaije, he sent two Carios Indians to their enemies in the town to warn them that the Christians were there again; and to tell them that they should return to their country, each of them to his wife and children, and should be obedient to the Christians and serve them again, as they had done before, and if they refused we would drive them all out of the country.

[208] Tabaré.

[209] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

Thereupon the chief Cario, Thabere,[208] answered that they should tell the Christian chiefs that he knew neither them- 60 - nor the Christians, and would put us Christians to death; indeed they severely beat our two Indians and told them to disappear very quickly out of their camp else they would kill them.

The two messengers came back to our commander, and brought him the tidings how they had been treated. Thereupon Martin Domingo Eijolla was at one accord with us, and we advanced against our enemy, Thabere,[210] and the Carios, in order of battle, dividing our army into four parts.

[210] Tabaré.

We came to a river called Sthuesia,[211] which is as wide as the river Danube in our land, half the height of a man deep, and in some places even deeper, and it becomes at times very great and causes much harm in the country, and by reason of such inundation it is impossible to travel through the country.

[211] This may be the river Xejuy, or the Ipané, affluents of the river Paraguai.

As we had to cross this river, our enemies being on the other side with their camp, they resisted us and did us a great deal of harm in the crossing, so that I even believe that none of us had come out of it with his life but for the grace of God which was beforehand on our side and but for the guns that we had.

So God Almighty gave us His divine grace that we crossed the water by His divine benediction, and landed on the other side. Now, when the enemies saw that we had passed, they fled at once towards their town, which was half a mile from the river, but we, seeing it, pursued them with all our forces and came to the town as quickly as they themselves and besieged it, so that none should enter or come out of it; we also armed ourselves forthwith with our guns and pikes, and by the grace of God Almighty we had only to stay from the morning till night to overpower them, and become masters- 61 - over them. We took the place, and slaughtered much people.

However, before we attacked them, our commander ordered us not to kill the women and children, but to take them prisoners; and we dutifully obeyed his commands. But all the men we could get hold of had to die; yet many escaped by flight, and our friends, the Jeperi,[212] took nearly one thousand heads from our enemies, the Carios.

[212] Yapirús. This word is sometimes rendered in the original “Jeperus”.

After all this had happened, those Carios who had escaped came with their chief, Thaberus,[213] and several other chiefs to our commander, and entreated him for mercy that their wives and children might be restored them, and then they would become friends again with us, and serve us faithfully.

[213] Tabaré.

Thereupon our commander promised them to be merciful, and took them into favour, and ever afterwards they continued our good friends so long as I remained in the country. This war with the Carios lasted for one year and a half, i.e., that we never had peace with one another, and that we were never sure of them; and this happened in the year 1546.

Afterwards we again went to Noster Signora desumsion,[214] and remained there fully two years. But when during all this time no ships or tidings arrived from Spain, our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla,[215] assembled all the people and asked them if it pleased them that he should go with some people into the country to inquire if gold and silver were to be found. The people answered him to do it in God’s name.

[214] The town of La Asuncion.

[215] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

Accordingly he collected together three hundred and fifty Spaniards, and asked them if they would accompany him, provided he found them in all necessaries for the journey, such as Indians, horses, and clothing; they declared- 62 - their willingness to go. Then he had the chiefs of the Carios assembled, and asked them if two thousand of their number would go with him. They declared themselves ready to go and be obedient unto him.

With such friendly accord on both sides our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, in a little more than two months went with this folk in the year 1548 up the river Paraboe,[216] with seven Bergentin ships and two hundred canoes. Those of the people who could not go in the ships or canoes went on foot by land with the one hundred and thirty horses.[217] And coming by land and by water all together to a round and high mountain, called S. Fernando, where the aforesaid Peyembas[218] live, our commander there ordered the five ships and the canoes to go back to Noster Signora Desumsion. The other two Bergentin ships he left there at S. Fernando, with fifty Spaniards, under the command of Peter Diess[219]; he gave them also victuals and other necessaries for one year, and ordered them to wait there till he returned from the country, that the fate which befell the good gentleman Johann Eijollas[220] and his companions, all of whom were so dreadfully killed by the Peyembas,[221] might not also happen to him and his folk. God have mercy upon them all. I have narrated this before.

[216] Paraguai.

[217] The expedition was composed of 250 Spaniards, and twenty-seven of them were cavalry.

[218] Payaguás.

[219] Ruy Diaz.

[220] Juan de Ayolas; cf. supra, p. 24.

[221] Payaguás. The Sierra de San Fernando is a small ridge of mountains extending from 17° to 21° of south lat.

Then our commander went straight on with three hundred Christians, one hundred and thirty horses, and three hundred Carios, for eight full days without finding any people at all. On the ninth day we found a nation called Naperus, who have nothing to eat but meat and fish; they are tall and- 63 - powerful; their wives have their nakedness covered, and are not at all beautiful.

From the aforesaid mountain S. Fernando to this nation the distance is thirty-six miles. Here we passed the night, and then went travelling seven days more, when we came to a people called Maipai.[222] They are a very numerous people, and have subjects who must plough the land and fish for them, and generally do whatever they are ordered, just as at home the peasants are subject to the noble lords. This nation is well provided with Turkish corn, mandeochade, mandepore parpii, padades, mandues,[223] bachkeku, and other roots useful for eating. They also have deer, Indian sheep, ostriches, ducks, geese, poultry, and other fowl.

[222] Mepenes, who are Abipones.

[223] These victuals are: maize, manioc, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pea-nuts, and perhaps bananas, which the author calls “bachkeku”.

Their forests are full of honey out of which wine is prepared and other things are made, and the farther you go into the country the more fertile you will find it. They have all the year round Turkish corn in the fields, and other roots as well. Their sheep, which are in a wild state, they use as we do our horses, for riding and carrying purposes.[224] I myself, having one foot ailing, once rode on such a sheep for more than forty miles, though not in this journey. In Peru goods are conveyed on these sheep as on horses at home.

[224] These are the Peruvian llamas, and guanacos, from which the Indians took the wool, and wove rough cloth.

These Maijeaijs[225] are tall, erect, and warlike, giving all their care to warlike affairs. Their wives are very beautiful and have their nakedness covered. They do no work in the fields; the man has to look after the food. Neither at home does the woman anything else but spin wool, and prepare food, and also what pleases the man and other good companions who pray her to do it, etc. We won’t say anything more- 64 - about it; he who likes to see it, shall go thither, and if he does not otherwise believe it, he will find it out for himself.

[225] Mbaiás.

When we were not above half a mile distant from this people they met us on the way, where there was a small clearing, where they told our commander that we should remain for the night, and they would bring us whatsoever we had need of, but they did this out of malice; and to win more confidence, they presented our commander with four silver crowns to wear on the head, and they gave him besides six silver plates, each of which was one and a half span long and half a span wide.

These plates they bind on the forehead as ornaments, as we have told before. They also presented our commander with three beautiful young women. However, whilst we remained in that place, after supper we stationed sentries, in order that the people might be on the alert for the enemy, and afterwards we went to rest.

About midnight our commander lost his young wenches. In short, there was great excitement in the camp for that reason, and as soon as the morning dawned, our commander ordered that each of us should stand to his quarters with his arms ready.

So the aforesaid Maijeaijs,[226] numbering twenty thousand, came to attack us unawares, but they did not do us much harm. On the contrary, in this conflict, more than one thousand of their men were left dead; and they fled and we pursued them to their town, but we did not find anything therein, not so much as their wives and children. Then our commander, taking with him one hundred and fifty gunners and two thousand five hundred Indian Carios, ordered us to follow the Maijeaijs, which we did for three days and two nights together, taking no more rest than the- 65 - time necessary for our dinner and four or five hours for sleep at night.

[226] Mbaiás.

The third day we suddenly came upon the Maijaijs,[227] with their women and children gathered together in a forest with them; these were not the people we sought, but their friends. They did not fear at all our coming to them. Nevertheless, the innocent had to pay for the guilty, for when we lighted upon them we killed many, and took over three thousand prisoners, men, women, and children; and, if it had been day-time instead of night, none of them would have escaped, for there was a goodly number of people gathered together on the hill, at the summit of which was a great wood.

[227] Mbaiás.

I, for my part, in this skirmish, captured over nineteen persons, men and women, who were not at all old—I have always had more esteem for young than for old people—also I took Indian mantles and other things besides as my share of the booty. Then we returned to our camp and remained there for eight days, because there was now plenty of victual. The distance from these Maijaijs to Mount S. Fernando, where we left our two ships, is seventy miles. Afterwards we went further, to a people called Zchemui,- 66 -[228] who are subject to the aforesaid Maijaijs, as here at home the peasants are subject to their landlords.

[228] Perhaps Chanés. To the tribe which Schmidt calls Zchemui, and to all the other tribes mentioned in his voyage north in search of El Dorado, he gives such queer and extraordinary names, that it is impossible to interpret them. De Barcia, the Spanish translator from the Latin version, who consulted other documents, declares that they are unintelligible, and generally puts down the equivalents as given by the Latin translator. The last named of those tribes is the one that Schmidt calls Machkokios, on arriving at the Salinas del Jaurú in lat. 16° S. Not far from there he finds another river, to which he gives the same name. This was the river Guapay. He goes across it and meets Spaniards, who tell him they belong to the Gobernacion (Government) of Pero Anzures. Irala stops there and sends messengers to the Governor of Peru, La Gasca, to whom he offers his services. La Gasca refuses them, and orders him back to the Gobernacion of the River Plate.

The translators, who in other languages have tried to interpret these names, have done it in an arbitrary manner. The unintelligible names are the following: Peihoni, Tohanna, Symani, Barchkoni, Zeyhanni, Karchkoni, Siberi, Peijesseni, Jeronimus, Maigeni, Karchkockies, Marchkockios and rio Machkasies. None of them are Indian names.

On the way we found many fields sown with Turkish corn and other roots, of which one can eat all the year round, for before one crop is stored another is already ripe for harvest, and when this too is gathered it is time to sow a third, so that there is always abundance of food.

We came to a little open space belonging to the Zchemui,[229] and, when they saw us, they all fled away. We remained there for two days, and found in that place, which is four miles from the Maijaijs,[230] plenty to eat.

[229] Chanés.

[230] Mbaiás.

From thence we went in two days six miles to a nation named Thohonna; we did not find any men here, but plenty to eat. They also are subjects to the Maijaijs. Departing thence, we travelled for six days, and did not find any people; but on the seventh we came to a nation called Peihoni. They were gathered in great numbers, and their chief came to meet us with a great multitude of people in a peaceful way. This chief besought our commander that we should not enter their place, but that we should stay outside in the place where he came to meet us. Our commander, however, would not agree to that, and, will he nill he, straightway entered their town; here we found plenty of meat and food, such as hens, geese, deer, sheep, ostriches, parrots, kuniglin,[231] etc., not to mention Turkish corn and other roots and fruits, all in great abundance. But water is scarce, and- 67 - there is no gold or silver. So we did not ask for that, for fear that the other nations living further up should flee away before we came to them.

[231] These were probably guinea-pigs; cf. Acosta, History of the Indies (Hakl. Soc.), p. 284.

With these Peihoni we stayed four days, and our commander asked them many things about the nature and condition of the country.

From the Thohonna to these Peihoni the distance is twenty-four miles. Departing from there we obtained from the Peihoni an interpreter and guide, who showed us the road, in order that we might get water to drink, for there is great scarcity of water in this country. At four miles distance we came to a people called Maijegoni, and stayed one day there, and again asked for an interpreter and guide to show us the way. They were willing to do this, and they gave us our necessaries.

Departing from these we went further for eight miles and came to a people called Marroni. They are a very numerous people, and received us very well. We abode here two days with them, and received information of the country. They also promised to show us the way. Then we went further for four miles to a nation called Parroni, who have not much to eat. They number three or four thousand fighting-men, and we remained only one day amongst them.

From there we went twelve miles further to a nation named Symanni, where a great multitude of people were gathered together on a high mountain. Their village is surrounded with a thorny wood like a wall.[232] They received us with their bows and arrows, and gave us tardes[233] to eat. But it did not last long with them; they were soon compelled to leave the place, but they burnt all down before leaving. We, however, found enough to eat in the fields, and remained for three days there, seeking for them in the woods and in the fields.

[232] Probably a cactus-hedge.

[233] Darts or javelins.

- 68 -

From there we went four days and came to a people called Barchkonis. These did not await our coming, but as soon as we approached their town betook themselves to flight; yet they could not escape us. We asked them for food, and they brought us hens, geese, sheep, ostriches, deer, and other necessaries, with which we were well satisfied; and we remained four days among them to learn about the country.

From there we went twelve miles in three days to a people called Zeyhannis. These had but little food, for the locusts had eaten up everything; so we remained only one night there, and then went four days’ journey, twenty miles further, to a people called Karchkonis. There also the locusts had been at work, but had not done so much harm as in other places. We only abode one day among them, and took knowledge of the country. They also told us that for a distance of thirty miles we should find no water until we came to a people called Siberis.

We then took two Indians, who showed us the way, and in six days we came to these Siberis; but many of our people died from thirst, although we took water with us, on the journey from the Karchkonis. But in this journey we found in certain places a root above ground, having great, wide leaves[234] wherein the water remains and cannot get out, nor is it consumed by them, exactly as if it were in a vase. One such root contains nearly half a measure of water.

[234] The author uses the word Wurzel here and in other places for plant. Perhaps the Traveller’s tree (Urania speciosa), with its graceful crown of plantain-like leaves, is here referred to.

So we came, at two o’clock in the night, to the aforesaid Siberis, who would at once have fled with their wives and children. But our commander caused them to be told, through an interpreter, that they should remain in peace and quiet in their houses, and that they should not fear us. These Siberis also suffered from a great scarcity of water,- 69 - for they have nothing else to drink. As it had not rained for three months they were preparing a beverage out of a root called mandepore,[235] after this manner: they take the said root and pound it in a mortar, and the juice they obtain from it is like milk; but, if you have water at hand, you may also prepare wine of this root.

[235] Mandioca or Manioc.

In that place there was only one spring, where we had to station a guard in order to look after the water and to give in a report on it. And our commander saw fit to select me for this duty, that I might give out the water after the measure that he had ordered, for the dearth was so great that one would not ask for gold, or silver, or eatables, or anything else, but for water. In this way I gained favour and grace among noblemen and common folk alike, for I was not too sparing of it; at the same time I had to be careful that we did not run short. There is not to be found in all this land a running stream, but all the water is collected in cisterns. These Siberis also wage war with other Indians for the sake of water.

With this people we remained two days, not knowing what to do, whether we should advance or go back; we therefore drew lots to decide the question. Meanwhile our commander asked the Siberis about the country, and they answered that we should have to go six days to reach a people called Peijssenos, and that on our way we should find two rivulets of drinkable water, and also the aforesaid Cardes.[236]

[236] From the Spanish word Cardos—“thistle”—the shoots of which are eaten and quench the thirst.

We then began our journey, and took some Siberis with us to show the way. Three days’ journey from their place these Siberis fled away one night, and we did not see them any more. So we had to find out the way for- 70 - ourselves, and afterwards came to the Peijssenos, who put themselves on their defence, and refused to become friends with us. But this did not help them much; by the grace of God we mastered them and took their town, and put them to flight. However, we made several prisoners in this skirmish, who told us how that they had had in their town three Spaniards, one of whom was named Hieronimus, who had been a drummer of Petro Manchossa.[237] These three Spaniards had been left sick there by the late Johann Eijollas,[238] amongst the aforesaid Peijssenos.

[237] Don Pedro de Mendoza.

[238] Juan de Ayolas.

The Peijssenos killed these three Spaniards four days before we arrived, after they had heard of our coming through the Siberis; they were, however, well punished by us for it, for we remained fourteen days in their town, and sought them out and found them, but not all of them, in a certain wood. We killed all these, and took prisoners the rest, the lesser part, who escaped. Those whom we took prisoners were very willing in showing us the country. Then our commander took note of all their sayings, which were of good avail. Namely, they told us that we would have four days’ journey, or sixteen miles to go, before reaching a people called Maigenos.

When we reached the Maigenos, they put themselves on their defence, and refused to be friendly with us. Their town was on a little hill, surrounded by a thick, thorny hedge, as high as a man might reach with his sword. We Christians attacked this town, along with the Carios, on two sides. But in this assault twelve Christians and several of the Carios were killed before we won the place.

Now, seeing that we were masters of their town, the Maigenos burned it down themselves, and speedily fled away, several of whom, as may be readily believed, had to die. Three days afterwards, five hundred Carios rose secretly, we- 71 - knowing nothing about it, and took their bows and arrows, and having gone two or three miles from our camp, met the Maigenos who were fleeing. And these two people fought so desperately, that the Carios lost over three hundred men, and the Maigenos so many, that it is not possible to describe it, for they covered the space of a whole mile. But the Carios sent messengers to our commander, and besought him to come to their rescue because they were lying in the forest, and were unable to advance or retire, being beleaguered on all sides by the Maigenos.

As soon as our commander heard of this, without a moment’s delay he caused the horses, one hundred and fifty Christians, together with one thousand of our Carios, to be sent, the other people remaining in the camp to defend it, if necessary, in order that our enemies, the Maigenos, might not enter and overthrow it in our absence.

So there went out to help our friends, the Carios, with the abovesaid horses, one hundred and fifty Christians and one thousand Carios. But as soon as the Maigenos saw us coming, they broke up their camp and fled away swiftly, but we pursued them, without, however, being able to overtake them. How it befell them at the last, when we returned to the town whence we had come, will be presently narrated.

So we came to the Carios, and found a wonderful number of them and of their enemies, the Maigenos, lying dead. Our friends, the Carios, those who were still alive, were greatly pleased that we were come to help them.

After that we returned with them to our camp and abode there four days, for we had plenty to eat and all things needful in this town of the Maigenos.

We then resolved to undertake our decisive journey, having now knowledge of the country. So we journeyed for thirteen consecutive days, that is to say, according to our judgment, about seventy-two miles, and came to a nation named Karchkockios; and when we were en route the first nine days- 72 - we came to a region six miles either way, on which there was nothing but good salt as thick as if it had snowed, and that salt remains winter and summer.[239]

[239] This place is the Salinas del Jaurú (salt lakes of Jaurú).

We remained two days in this salt region, not knowing how to come out of it or how to take the right way to continue our journey. But God Almighty gave us His grace that we found the right way, and in four days we came to a people called Karchkockios, and when we were at only four miles distance from their town, our commander sent in advance fifty Christians and five hundred Carios that they might provide lodging for us.

Now when we had entered the town, we found a numerous people together, the like of which we had not as yet seen in all our journey, and we were put somewhat in fear by it. Seeing this, we sent one of our men back to our commander, to tell him how matters were, and that he might come speedily to our help.

And when our commander heard these tidings, he set forward with all his people on the very same night, and by the morning, between three and four o’clock, he was in the midst of us; but the Karchkockios, supposing that there were not more of us than they had seen the evening before, promised themselves the victory.

But when they were aware that our commander had come with more people they were very sad and sorrowful, and showed us all possible kindness and goodwill, for they could have done nothing more, and feared for their wives and children and their village. Meanwhile they brought us venison, geese, sheep, ostriches, ducks, conies, and other game and fowl, as well as Turkish corn, wheat, rice, and other roots which abound in their country. The men wear a round blue stone in their lips, as broad as a draughtsman. Their weapons are darts, bows and arrows, and targets made of amida hide. Their wives have a small hole in their lips in- 73 - which they insert a green or grey crystal. They wear a cotton waistcloth about the size of a shirt, but without sleeves. They are beautiful women, and do nothing but sew and keep house; the men till the fields and provide all kinds of food.

From there we went to the Machkockios[240] and took some of the Karchkockios with us to show us the way. And after three days’ journeying from this place the said Karchkockios[241] left us secretly, but we nevertheless continued our journey and came to a river named Machkasis, one mile and a half broad; and we did not know how to pass over it safely; but with God’s grace we passed it well in the following way: for every two persons we made a raft of wood and branches, whereon being carried down the river they came to the other side; and in this passage four of our people were drowned. God be merciful to them and to us. Amen.

[240] Irala, in his letter to the King, of July 24, 1555, calls the territory where he arrived Tamacoxas; and Ruy Diaz de Guzman calls it Samocosis. This is what Schmidt means.

[241] Tamacoxas.

This river has good fish in it. Many tigers are also found in the neighbourhood. This river is only four miles distant from the Machkockios.

When we had approached within one mile of the Machkasis the inhabitants came forth to meet us, and received us very well, and soon began talking Spanish with us; whereat we were astonished, and asked them whose subjects they were and who was their lord; they answered our commander and us, that they were the subjects of a Spanish nobleman, whose name was Peter Asuelles.[242]

[242] Pero Anzures de Campo Redondo, one of the officers of Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, who was sent to conquer the territory of the Chunchos, east of the river Arumaya, and between the Beni and the Guapay.

Upon entering their village we found their children, and some of the men and women, swarming with very little vermin, like our fleas. These little vermin, if they lay hold- 74 - of the toes, or any other part of the body, gnaw and enter always more and more deeply into the flesh, and at length become worms, such as are found in our filberts. If it be taken in time the mischief may be prevented, but if overlooked too long, it eats the whole toes away. I could write very much about it.[243]

[243] This is the nigua, in Guaraní, called pique in Brazil, where it is very plentiful, and chiefly attacks the negroes. In tropical Africa it is vulgarly known as the “Jigger”.

From our often-mentioned town of Noster Signora Desumsion to this village of the Machkasis the distance by land is three hundred and seventy-two miles.[244]

[244] The city of Asuncion del Paraguai is in lat. 25° 17′ S., and the salt lakes of the Jaurú in lat. 16°. The distance by land between them is about 700 English miles.

Now, when we had stayed twenty days in this place of the Machkasis, we received a letter from a city called Lieme[245] in Peru, from H. I. M. Supreme Stadthalter there named Presende or Licentiat de Cascha,[246] who had caused Consaillo Pisere[247] to be beheaded, besides other noblemen whom he caused to be beheaded along with him, or to be sent to the galleys, because the said Consaillo Pisere would not be obedient to him the Licentiate de Cascha, but was rebellious along with the country against H. I. Majesty.

[245] Lima.

[246] El Presidente Licenciado La Gasca.

[247] Gonzalo Pizarro.

So it often happens that someone makes more, or takes more power than has been delegated to him from his master; and so it is in this world. I certainly think that H. I. Majesty would have granted the said Pisere his life, if H. I. Majesty had himself arrested him. He was vexed that another lord had been placed in authority over his own land, for this country of Peru, before God and man was legitimately Consaillo Pisere’s, because he, along with his- 75 - brethren Margossen and Ernando Piseron,[248] had discovered and conquered it first of all. This land is rightly called the Rich Country, for all riches appertaining to H. I. Majesty come from Peru, Nova Hispania, and Terra firma.

[248] El Marqués Don Francisco and Hernando Pizarro.

But envy and hatred are so great in the world that one man wishes nothing good to another. And so it happened to poor Consaillo Pisero, who formerly had been a King, and afterwards had his head taken off. God be merciful to him. Much could be written about this, but I have no time for it.

Now, the above-mentioned letter was to the effect that, in name of H. I. Majesty, our Commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla,[249] should not, by any means whatever, depart from there, but should remain among the Machkasis, and wait for further orders.

[249] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

But it was really intended to this effect, that the governor, fearing that we might excite a rebellion against him in the country, and associate ourselves with those who had escaped and taken to flight into the forest and mountain (and that would doubtless have happened if we had met together again and we would have chased the governor out of the country), entered into an agreement with our commander, and made him a great present, in order to satisfy him and to get off alive. We soldiers knew nothing about this compact; had we known of it we would have tied our commander hand and foot together, and so transported him to Peru.

After this our commander sent four companions to Peru, whose names were Nueste de Schaieses, Ungnade, Michael de Ruete, Abaije de Korchua.[250] These four persons came to Peru in one month and a half.

[250] The real names of those officers were: Nuflo de Chaves, Agustin de Ocampo, Miguel de Rutia, and Ruy Garcia.

- 76 -

Firstly they came to a people called Poduesis,[251] then to another called Ruessken,[252] thirdly to Riodellaplata, and to the principal town called Lieme.[253] These four are the principal and the richest cities in Peru.

[251] Potosi.

[252] Cuzco.

[253] Lima.

When those four companions came to the first town, Poduesis in Peru, the two named Michael de Ruete and Abaije remained there, because of their weakness, as they had fallen ill on the journey; the two others, Nueste and Ungnade, rode post to Lieme to the governor. He received them well and heard from them a report as to how matters were going on in the country of Riodellaplata; then he ordered that they should be treated in the best possible way, and gave them each two thousand ducats.

Then the governor ordered Nueste de Schaieses[254] to write to his commander that he should remain until further advice with his people among the Machkasis,[255] but he should not take from them anything nor do them any harm, excepting with regard to food, although we knew very well that they had silver, but being the subjects of a Spaniard, we should not do them any injury.

[254] Nuflo de Chaves.

[255] Tamacoxas: cf. supra, p. 73, note.

But this post of the governor was waylaid by a Spaniard named Parnawuie, by order of our commander, who feared that another commander might come from Peru to rule over his people; and indeed another one had already been appointed. Therefore our commander sent out on the roads the said Parnawuie and ordered him, if there were any letters, to bring them with him to where he was staying with the Carios; and this was accordingly done.

Our commander had arranged so badly that owing to the scarcity of victual we could not remain any longer among the Machkasis, for we had only enough provisions to last for one month. If we had only known that we were going to have both victual and a governor, we would not have removed- 77 - from there, and we would have found food and ways and means to remain; but there is nothing but knavery in this world. Afterwards we went back again to the Karchkockios.

I should also have mentioned that the country of the Machkasis is so fertile that I have never seen the like of it before. For if an Indian goes forth into the forest, and makes a hole with an hatchet in the first tree he comes across, five or six measures of honey flow out of it, as pure as our mead. The bees that make this honey are very small and do not sting.[256] Their honey may be eaten with bread, or in any other manner. Good wine is also prepared from it, like the mead here in Germany, and even better.

[256] This description is greatly exaggerated. The bees make their hives (called in Guaraní camoati) on the branches of the trees, and it is from the hive, of course, not from the tree, that the honey is taken.

Now, when we came to the said Karchkockios, these Indians had all fled away with wives and children, and were afraid of us, but it would have been better for them to have remained in their villages; for our commander soon sent other Indians after them, and bade them return, saying that they ought not to fear, that no harm would be done to them; they would not, however, take heed of our request, but invited us to leave their village, threatening in case of our refusal to drive us out of it by force.

Having heard this, we soon made our preparations and went out against them. However, some of us were of opinion to send a message to our commander and advise him not to march against them, because this might bring about a great want in the land; in case we had to move from Peru to Riodellaplata, for then we would have no provisions. But our commander and the whole community would not accept that proposal, but preferred the above-mentioned advice, and went out against the said Karchkockios. And when we arrived at the distance of half-a-mile from them, we found that- 78 - they had pitched their camp between two hills covered with forest; so that, if we conquered them, they might the more easily escape us. But it did not befall them well, for those we reached had to die at our hands or to become our slaves. We enslaved in this skirmish over one thousand, without reckoning those men, women, and children that were killed.

Afterwards we remained two months in this village, which was as great as five or six others joined together. We then went on further, to the place where we left the two aforesaid mentioned ships, and we were one year and a half on the journey, always engaged in one war after another, and took prisoners more than twelve thousand persons, all of whom became our slaves. I had for my share about fifty men, women, and children.

And when we came to the ships, the people that had been left on these bergentines informed us how, during our absence, a commander, Diego Abriego of Sievilla,[257] in Spain, on the one side, and a commander, J. Francisco Manchossa,[258] who had been left in charge of the two ships by our chief commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla,[259] during his absence on the other side, had begun a great quarrel. They told us that Diego de Abriego claimed to rule over them, while Johann Franciscus Manchossa, in his capacity as appointed commander and substitute of Martin Domingo Eijolla, would not consent to let him do this; and so the beggars-dance began between them, until at last Diego de Abriego[260] won the victory, and even took off the head of Johann Francisco Manchossa. From that moment he made much noise in the country, and proposed to march against us.- 79 - First, he fortified himself in the town, and when we came along with our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, before the said town, he refused to let our commander in, or to surrender the town, or even still less to recognise him as his master.

[257] Diego de Abrego of Seville.

[258] Don Francisco de Mendoza.

[259] Domingo Martinez de Irala.

[260] This name is written Abreu and Abrego in different chronicles and documents. I believe the right name is Diego de Abrego.

Our commander having heard this, we beleaguered the town Noster Signora Desumsion. But the soldiers who were in that town, seeing that we meant business, came day after day to us in the open field, and prayed our commander for mercy. Diego de Abriego, having noticed that he could not trust his people, and fearing that we might enter the town by night through treason, which would have certainly happened, took counsel with his best companions and friends, and asked who would go out of the town along with him. About fifty men went out with him; the others came to our commander, as soon as Diego de Abriego had left, and surrendered, and begged for mercy. The commander promised them mercy, and entered the town. But the said Diego de Abriego fled with the fifty Christians thirty miles away, so that we could do them no harm. In this way these two commanders made war one against the other for two full years; so much so, that one was never sure of the other, for Diego de Abriego never remained long in the same place, being here to-day, there to-morrow; and where he was able to do us harm, he did it, for he resembled very much a highway robber—in short, in order to have peace, our commander was compelled to come to terms with him, and arranged a marriage with his two daughters, whom he gave to two cousins of Diego de Abriego, the one of whom was named Albernunzo Richkell, and the other Franciscus Fergere,[261] and when this marriage was arranged we had peace at last.

[261] The names of these two Spaniards, according to Ruy Diaz de Guzman, author of La Argentina (1612), and grandson of Irala, were Alonso Riquelme de Guzman (father of Ruy Diaz), and Francisco Ortiz de Vergara. There were four marriages, and not two, as Schmidt says. The other two Spaniards were Gonzalo de Mendoza and Pedro Segura. Irala’s daughters were by Indian women, his captives.

- 80 -

At the same time I received a letter from Sievilla in Spain, from the agent of Fugger, named Christoff Keyser, to say that Sebastian Neidhart had written to him by order of my late brother, Thomas Schmidt, asking if there was no possibility of my returning to Spain. That was what the said Christoff Keyser had constantly solicited, and caused this letter to be sent to me, in the year 1552, on the second day of July, or St. Jacob’s day.[262]

[262] St. James’s Day is on the 25th of July. I refer the reader to my Introduction for some explanations about the Fuggers, Neidhart, etc.

Having read this letter, I immediately requested our commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, to grant me leave of absence. At first he refused to concede it to me; but at length he was obliged to take into consideration my long services, how I had faithfully served on land H. I. Majesty, having oftentimes offered my life for him (Martin Domingo Eijolla), and had never abandoned him. He considered all this, and gave me leave, at the same time giving me letters for H. I. Majesty, informing H. I. Majesty how matters stood in Riodellaplata, and all that had happened there during that time. These letters were delivered by me at Sievilla to H. I. Majesty’s councillors, to whom I reported also verbally about the country.

And having now made all my preparations for the journey, I took leave of my commander, Martin Domingo Eijolla, and all my good companions and friends, and took with me twenty of the Carios Indians, who had to carry all that I had need of for this long journey (and anyone may judge for himself how many things one must necessarily have for such a journey).

Eight days before my departure a man came from Presilia- 81 -[263] and brought the news that a ship had arrived there from Lisbon, in Portugal, belonging to the honourable and wise gentleman, Johann von Hulst, a merchant at Lisbon, and an agent of Erasmus Schetzen of Anttorff.[264]

[263] Brazil.

[264] Antwerp.

Having heard all that he had to say, I set out on my journey, in the name of God Almighty, in the year 1552, on the twenty-sixth of December, St. Stephen’s Day. And I left Riodellaplata[265] from the town Noster Signora desumsion with twenty Indians in two canoes. We firstly came, after twenty-six miles distance, to a place called Jubericha Sabaija[266]; in that place four other companions joined themselves to me—two Spaniards and two Portuguese, but they were without grant of leave from the commander.

[265] Rio de la Plata was the official name of this country, i.e., Gobernacion del Rio de la Plata. In the year 1618 it was divided into three provinces—Paraguai, Guaira, and Buenos Ayres.

[266] Juberich Sabaije has been identified with Yeruquihaba; cf. supra, p. 58.

From there we went off together, and at the end of fifteen miles came to a place called Gabaretha.[267] After this we went sixteen miles in four days to a place called Bareia,[267] and from there in nine days or fifty-four miles we came to a place called Bareda,[267] where we stayed for two days, in search of victual and canoes, because we had to go up the river Paranaw[268] for a distance of one thousand miles; and then we came to a place called Gienugia,[267] where we remained four days. As far as this place the country belongs to H. I. Majesty, and is peopled by the Carios.

[267] These names are not known, and it is impossible to find out what Schmidt meant.

[268] Paraná.

Beyond it begins the territory of the King of Portugal, or the land of the Tapis.[269] We had now to leave the Paranaw, and- 82 - our canoes, and walk to the Tapis; for six weeks we traversed deserts, mountains, and valleys, and could not sleep for fear of the wild beasts. From the said place, Gienugia, to these Tapis the distance is one hundred and twenty-six miles. This nation of Tapis eat their enemies, have no other occupation but waging war, and when they have conquered their enemies, they bring them to their place as prisoners, with great solemnity, as they do here in Germany at the time of a marriage. And when they prepare to slaughter their captives they make a great ceremony. They give their prisoner all he wishes for or lusts after: women with whom he may have intercourse, and meals to his heart’s content, up to the hour that he has to die. Their delight and joy consist in making war. They drink and eat enormously, are full day and night; they are also fond of dancing, and lead such an Epicurean life that it is not possible to describe it. It is a fierce, ambitious, and arrogant people; they make wine of Turkish corn, becoming as drunk upon it as if they were drinking the best of wines. They speak the same language as the Carios, with only a very slight difference.

[269] Tapis, writes here Schmidt, and this is the Guaraní name of the tribes south of Brazil, as was given by Father Anchieta and others contemporary to the conquest. The true spelling is Tapii. Afterwards this word was corrupted into Tupi, or Tupin, and Tape.

Next we came to a place called Karieseba, where the inhabitants are also Tapis; these wage war against the Christians, whereas those we have spoken of are friends with them.

So we came, on Palm Sunday, at four miles distance from a place, where I became aware that we had to be on our guard against those of Karieseba, for we were by this time in great want of victual. We had, however, intended to go somewhat farther for victual’s sake, but we could not withhold two of our companions, who, despite our warnings, entered the place. We promised them to wait, and did so; but before they could enter the place they were killed and afterwards eaten. God have mercy on them. Amen.

Then these same Indians came as near as thirty paces from- 83 - us, along with fifty men. They wore the clothes of the Christians, and they stood still and began parleying with us. Among these Indians, if anyone stands still at a few paces distance from his enemy and talks to him, he has usually nothing very good in his mind.

Seeing this, we put ourselves on our defence as well as we could, and asked of them what had become of our companions. They told us they were in their town, and invited us also to enter it. But we would not do so, for we perfectly well understood their malice.

Then they shot at us with their bows, but they resisted not long, and soon fled away to their town, whence they came out again with six hundred men against us. We had no other protection than a great wood, our four guns, and the sixty[270] Indians of the Carios who had come with us from Noster Signora desumsion. Nevertheless, we defended ourselves four days and four nights, always shooting one at another, and in the fourth night we secretly left the wood and went off, because we had not much to eat, and our enemies had become too strong for us, as the saying goes: Many dogs cause the death of the hare.

[270] Schmidt speaks of twenty, not sixty, men with whom he set out.

Thence we travelled six days through wild forests, more lonely than any I had ever seen, and I may say that I have travelled far and wide. We had nothing to eat, and had to satisfy ourselves with roots and honey that we found here and there. We could not even afford the necessary time to hunt for game, so fearful were we that the enemy might overtake us by night.

At length we came to a nation called Bijessija,[271] where we remained four days and took victual, but we dared not enter the place because we were so few.

[271] Mbiaçai, the land opposite the island of Santa Catalina.

In this country there is a river called Urquaie,[272] wherein- 84 - we have seen snakes which are called in Spanish Schue Eiiba Thuescha.[273] They are fourteen paces in length and two fathoms thick in the middle of the body. They do great harm, to wit, when a man takes a bath or an animal drinks in a river or would swim across it, such a snake, swimming under water, comes to the man or animal, puts its tail around them under water and there eats them. That animal has always its head above water, in order to watch around for man or beast.

[272] Uruguay.

[273] This extraordinary name is not Spanish. The great snake described by Schmidt must be the Boa, which lives near the watering-places waiting for its prey.

From there we went for a whole month further a distance of one hundred miles, and came to a place called Schelebethueba,[274] where we remained three days, for we were exceedingly tired and had no longer anything to eat, our principal food being honey. We were all consequently very weak, and everyone can imagine what dreadfully poor and miserable lives we passed in such a journey, especially as regards eating and drinking and sleeping. The bed which every one of us took with him weighed four or five pounds; it was of cotton, and made like a net. It is tied to two trees, and one man lies down in it. This is done in the forest, under the blue sky; for if there are not many Christians travelling overland together in India, it is better and safer to remain in the forest than to enter the houses and villages of the Indians.

[274] No place of this name in all Brazil.

We next came to a place which belongs to the Christians, whose chief was called Johann Reinmelle.[275] Fortunately for- 85 - us he was not at home, for this place certainly appeared to me to be a robbers’ haunt. The said chief was at this time gone to another Christian at Vicenda[276] in order to make an agreement. Both are (with eight hundred Christians living in the two villages) subjects of the King of Portugal, and the aforesaid Johann Reinmelle has, according to his own account, lived, ruled, made war, and conquered in India for a period of four hundred (forty) years. Therefore, he may legitimately claim to rule the land for another. And because the Portuguese will not recognise his authority, they wage war. This said Reinmelle can, in one single day, gather around him five thousand Indians, whereas the king is not able to bring two thousand together, so much power and consideration has he got in the country.

[275] Juan Ramallo. This man was an exiled outlaw, left probably by Juan Diaz de Solis and Vicente Yañez Pinzon on the first voyage of discovery, which was made as far as 40° S., in 1508. Many travellers of that time met Ramallo on the coast of San Vicente, living there as a cacique with a large tribe of his children. The travellers called him the bachiller. Hans Staden speaks of two of his sons, calling them Diego de Praga and Domingo de Praga, because Staden made mistakes in all names of persons and places, just as Schmidt did. The translators of his book into Latin interpret Ramallo’s name as Reinuelle, and M. Ternaux Compans makes it French, and spells it Reinvielle. Ramallo’s family was the founder of Piratininga, the origin of the city of San Paulo, in Brazil.

[276] San Vicente, on the coast of the province of San Paulo. It was founded in 1531 by Martin Affonzo de Souza, and was the first Portuguese colony in Brazil.

When we came to the village, the son of the said Reinmelle was there, and he received us very well, though we had to look closer after him than after the Indians. But all went well, and no harm happened to us; therefore we thank God, the eternal Creator, through Jesus Christ, His only Son, who helped us so mercifully there and everywhere.

We then went farther to a little town called S. Vicenda at twenty miles distance, where we arrived on July[277] 13th, 1553, St. Anthony’s day, and found there a Portuguese ship laden with sugar, Brazilian wood and wool, belonging to Erasmus Schetzen. His factor is at Lisbon, and is called- 86 - Johann von Hulsen, and he has another factor in Vicenda whose name is Peter Rössel.[278]

[277] June.

[278] Peter Rossel, or Rösel, is mentioned by Hans Staden; cf. The Captivity of Hans Staden (Hakl. Soc.), p. 169.

Messrs. Schetzen and Johann von Hulsen own a good number of villages and sugar factories in that place, where sugar is made all the year round.

Peter Rössel received me very friendly, and showed me great honour. He introduced me also to the sailors, in order that I might be well treated and leave with the first, and recommended me to them. To their honour be it said, they followed his recommendation. We remained eleven more days in the town of Vicenda in order to prepare and to provide ourselves with all necessaries that are wanted at sea. And we were six months travelling a distance of four hundred and seventy-six miles, from the town Signora desumsion to the town of Vicenda, in Brazil.

Afterwards, when we were ready, we set forth on our journey from the town of St. Vicenda on the 24th day of June, St. John’s Day, 1553. We were fourteen days at sea, because we had never any good wind, but always storms and tempests, so that we did not know where we were. Then the main-top got broken, and, water pouring into the ship, we had to return to land, and came to a seaport named Spiritu Sanctu,[279] situated in Brazil, in India, and belonging to the King of Portugal. There are Christians living in that town with their wives and children, and they make sugar. They also have cotton-wool and Brazilian wood, besides other kinds of wood that are found there.

[279] Espiritu Santo, a small maritime province with a bay and port of the same name, north of Rio de Janeiro.

Between S. Vicenda and Spiritu Sancto there are plenty of whales, which do great harm; for instance, when small ships sail from one port to another (these small ships are anyhow somewhat larger than the greatest ships at home),- 87 - these whales come forward in troops and fight one another, then they drown the ship, taking it down along with the men.

These whales constantly spit water out of their mouth, as much at one time as a Frankish barrel would contain. This the whale does every time that he puts his head under water and comes up again, by day and by night, and he who never saw one before believes that he sees a heap of stones. Much more might be written about this fish. There are many other rare fish and sea wonders of which one could not write too much, but I really cannot speak of all.

There is another great fish, called in Spanish Sumere, and in German straw-fish, of which one cannot say too much. It is such a powerful fish that it does considerable harm to ships in various parts. When there is no wind, and the ships are compelled to lie still, not being able to go forward or backward, then this fish comes with such a tremendous blow on the ships, that all things tremble; when this happens, one has to throw one or two barrels into the sea; then the fishes go to these barrels, play with them, and leave the ships.

Another great fish, called the Peischo Spaide,[280] and in German knife-fish, does a great deal of harm to the other fishes, and when these fishes battle against each other, it is exactly as if two horses ran full tilt together here on land. This is very amusing to watch at sea. But after these fishes thus struggle with one another, a great storm generally follows.

[280] Cf. ante, p. 5.

So there is also another great and bad fish which takes the mastery over all the others of which I have been speaking, in struggling and battling. Its name is Pesche de serre,[281] and in German saw-fish; further, there are a great number more, but I cannot give their names. There are also flying fishes and other great fishes called Toningen.[282]

[281] Ibid.

[282] Tonina (tunny fish).

- 88 -

We sailed for four months together on the sea, without seeing any land at all, and we conveyed goods from the aforesaid Spiritu Sancto. Afterwards we came to an island called Teste de Terzero,[283] where we again took fresh victual and remained there for two days. This island belongs to the King of Portugal.

[283] Terceira, one of the Azores.

From there we sailed to Lisbon in fourteen days, arriving on the 30th September 1553, St. Hieronymus’ day, and remained fourteen days in the town, where two Indians whom I had taken with me died.

Thence I posted to Seville in six days; the distance being seventy-two miles. I remained there four weeks till the ships were prepared, when I left Seville by water, and in two days arrived at the town of S. Lucas,[284] where I passed the night.

[284] San Lucar.

From there I travelled one day by land and arrived at a town called Porta Sancto Maria,[285] and from there a second day also by land to another town, four miles over the water, called Kalles,[286] where there were twenty-five Dutch ships ready to sail to the Netherlands; all great ships called Hulcken.[287]

[285] Puerto de Santa Maria.

[286] Cadiz.

[287] Large merchantmen. The word “hulk” expresses a different meaning, nearer the original, derived from the Greek ὅλκας, a ship which is towed, from ἕλκειν, to draw, drag. Hence the sense of something bulky or unwieldy.

One of these twenty-five ships was a beautiful newly built vessel, which had only made one voyage from Antorff[288] to Spain; the merchants advised me to sail with that ship, of which the captain was named Heinrich Schetz. He was an honest and religious man, with whom I now came to terms as to the payment for the voyage and the victual and other things necessary on sea. I finally agreed with him and provisioned myself during the same- 89 - night, and had my plunder, bread, and several other things, as well as the parrots which I brought from India, all put on board. And, lastly, I arranged with him that he should tell me the time of departure, which he faithfully promised me, and that he would not sail without me, but would certainly let me know.

[288] Antwerp.

However, the said skipper that very night drank somewhat too much, so that he forgot all about me and left me alone in the lodgings. Two hours before daylight the steersman, who had the command of the ship, had the anchor lifted and sailed away, and in the morning when I looked out for the ship it was already a mile off. So I had to see after another and make terms with its skipper, to whom I had to give as much as to the former.

Then we soon sailed away along with the other twenty-four ships and had a fairly good wind the first three days, but afterwards we had a contrary wind, so much so that we were unable to continue our voyage. We remained in great danger for five days and hoped for better weather, but the longer we hoped, the more violent became the sea, so we had to return to where we came from.

Now it is the custom at sea for the mariners and skippers to elect for themselves a chief commander, called in Spanish Almiranda.[289] This commander directs all the ships, and all his orders have to be obeyed. The mariners and skippers have to swear an oath to the effect that they will not separate from one another, for H. I. Majesty had ordered that no less than twenty ships should sail from Spain to the Netherlands, because there was war between H. I. Majesty and the King of France.

[289] The Spanish word is Almirante.

Further, it is also usual at sea that one ship should not separate from another for more than the distance of one mile, and at sunrise and sunset that the ships should all come- 90 - together, and salute the admiral with three or four shots, and this must be done twice a day.

The admiral is bound to have on the stern of his ship two iron lanterns, called farol,[290] which are alight all night through, and the others have to follow the ship that shows this light, and must not separate from each other.

[290] “Farol” is a Spanish word, meaning a box or case with sides of glass or some other transparent substance, for placing a light in, so that it may not be extinguished by the wind.

So also the admiral tells the others every night whither he is sailing, in order that if a storm should blow up, they may know what direction or what wind the admiral has taken, and not lose each other.

When we had to put back to port, as I have said, there was the ship of Heinrich Schetzen (whereon all my plunder was, he who had forgotten me altogether at Kalles[291]) behind all the other ships; and when we had come within one mile of Kalles it was dark and night, and the admiral had to light his lanterns, in order that the ships might follow him.

[291] Cadiz.

When we reached Kalles each skipper laid out his anchor in the sea, and the admiral removed his lanterns.

Then a fire was lit on shore with the best intention, but it was the cause of disaster to Heinrich Schetzen and his ship. The fire was made near a mill within gunshot of Kalles, and Schetzen sailed straight towards it, believing it to be the admiral’s light, and when he had nearly reached it, he struck upon the rocks which stood there in the sea and had his ship shivered into a hundred thousand pieces, and in half a quarter of an hour men and goods had all perished. Twenty-two persons were drowned, only the steersman and skipper escaping death on a thick tree. Six trunks with gold and silver belonging to H. I. Majesty, and a large quantity of merchandise belonging to the merchants, were also lost.

- 91 -

Therefore I say to God be everlasting praise and thanks, because He has once again guided and protected me so mercifully, that I did not go on board that ship.

We afterwards remained for two days at Kalles, and departed thence on S. Andrea’s[292] day for Antorff.[293] On this voyage we had very bad weather and dreadful tempests, so that the mariners said that for twenty years, or for so long a time as they had been at sea, they had never seen such heavy storms nor heard of any storms that had lasted so long.

[292] St. Andrew’s.

[293] Antwerp.

When we came to England, into a port called Wydt,[294] all our yards and top-sails had been carried away. And if this voyage had lasted a little longer, not one of the twenty-four ships would have escaped, but for the special providence of our Lord God.

[294] Isle of Wight.

Moreover, on New Year’s Day, 1554, and on the Holy Three Kings’ Day, eight ships were miserably wrecked with men and goods—an awful sight indeed, for every man on board was drowned.

This happened between France and England. God Almighty be merciful to them all and to us, through Christ His eternal Son. Amen.

We remained four days in that port Wydt in England, and from there we sailed for Brabant, and came in four days to Armuia,[295] which is a town in Seeland,[296] where the great ships lie. It is seventy-four miles from Wydt, and from there we sailed to Antorff, which is twenty-four miles off, and arrived there on January the 26th, 1554.

[295] Armeven.

[296] Zeeland.

God be praised everlastingly, He who so mercifully gave me such a prosperous voyage.

- 92 -

- 93 -


- 95 -

Commentaries of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, governor of the Rio de la Plata.


Of the Commentaries of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca.

SINCE it pleased God to deliver Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca from captivity, and from the troubles that he underwent for ten years in Florida, he came to these kingdoms in the year of our Lord 1537, where he remained till the year 1540; in which year there came to this court of His Majesty some persons from the river La Plata to inform His Majesty of what had happened to the army which Don Pedro de Mendoza had taken there, and of the danger those were in who had survived, and to supplicate that His Majesty would be pleased to aid and succour them before they perished (as but few of them remained). And when His Majesty knew of it, he ordered that a certain arrangement and capitulation should be made with Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, in order that he might go to their relief. This arrangement and capitulation was there effected, the said Cabeza de Vaca offering to go to their assistance, and undertaking to expend for that journey and relief, in horses, arms, apparel and provisions, as well as other things, eight thousand ducats. And in consideration of this treaty thus entered into, His Majesty favoured- 96 - him with the governorship and general captaincy of that land and province, and with the title of Adelantado.[297] It pleased also His Majesty to grant to him the twelfth part of everything that was in that land and province, and of all that entered and went out of it, provided that the aforesaid Alvar Nuñez expended on that expedition the sum of eight thousand ducats as aforesaid. And so, in fulfilment of the agreement entered into with His Majesty, he started immediately for Seville in order to put the agreement into execution, and to make provision for the aforesaid assistance and armament. And to this effect he bought two vessels and a caravel, together with another that was in waiting for him at Canaria. One of these vessels was newly arrived from her first voyage and was of three hundred and fifty tons burden, and the other was of one hundred and fifty tons. He equipped these vessels very well and supplied them with plenty of commodities, and engaged pilots and sailors, and four hundred soldiers well trained to the use of arms, and such as were wanted for that relief; and all that volunteered for that expedition were provided with a double set of arms. In order to complete his purchases and supplies he remained there from the month of May till the end of September, when the ships were ready to sail. But the weather being unfavourable, he was detained in the city of Cadiz from the end of September till the 2nd of November, on which day he set sail and made his voyage, and in nine days arrived at the island of La Palma, where he disembarked with all his people, and remained there twenty-five days, waiting for a favourable wind to continue his voyage. At the end of this time he sailed towards Cape Verde. In this voyage the ship, the Capitana, made so much water that it rose to the height of ten spans in the hold of the vessel. Five hundred- 97 - quintals of biscuits were damaged, and much oil was lost, besides other commodities. This accident caused them great trouble, and they kept at the pumps day and night till they arrived at the island of St. Iago (one of the Cape Verde Islands). Here they disembarked and landed the horses, in order that they might refresh themselves and rest from their fatigues, and because it was necessary to unload the vessel in order to stop the leak. And after she had been unloaded the master stopped the leak (for he was the best diver in Spain). They sailed from La Palma to Cape Verde in ten days, for they are 300 leagues apart. In this island the harbour is very bad because of the many sharp, sunken rocks that fray the cables attached to the anchors, and when they pull on them in order to raise the anchors these remain in the rocks. And for this reason the sailors have a saying that there are many rats in that harbour, which gnaw the cables asunder; and because of this, it is a very dangerous harbour for vessels stationed there in the event of a storm. This island is unhealthy and full of infections in the winter, so much so that the greater part of those who go ashore there die in a few days, soon after their arrival. The armada, however, remained there twenty-five days, during which not a single man died; and the inhabitants were much astonished at this, and took it as a great marvel. And the inhabitants gave them a good reception; and this island is very rich, and there are more doubloons in it than reales,[298] for those who traffic there for negroes were giving a doubloon for twenty reales.

[297] Governor of province on the frontiers and in newly-discovered countries.

[298] The meaning of this is that gold was more plentiful in the island of St. Iago than silver.

- 98 -


How we departed from the island of Cabo Verde.

WHEN we had repaired the leak of the Admiral ship, and purchased the necessary supplies, such as water, meat, and other things, we embarked and pursued our voyage and crossed the equinoctial line, and, continuing our navigation, the master took stock of the water that was on board the Admiral, and, out of a hundred barrels that had been stored, he found no more than three left, and four hundred men and thirty horses had to drink. And the governor, having seen the necessity we were in, ordered the ship to land; and they were in search of it three days, and the fourth day, one hour before dawn, a wonderful thing happened, and as it is not beyond our purpose, I will relate it. It happened, as the vessels were going towards land, they were on the point of striking some very high rocks, and nobody would have seen or been aware of them had not a cock began to crow which one of the soldiers had put on board at Cadiz, being desirous of listening to the music of the cock; during two months and a half, however, we had neither heard it nor known of its existence; and the soldier was grieved at its silence. That morning, however, the bird felt the land and began to crow, and its music woke all the people on the vessel, who saw the rocks an arrow-flight off, and shouted to let go the anchors, as we were drifting towards the rocks. And so they lowered the anchors, and this saved us, for had not the cock crowed our four hundred men and thirty horses would assuredly- 99 - have been drowned; and we all thought it a miracle of God for us. And while we navigated more than one hundred leagues along the coast, the cock gave us his music every night, and so the armada arrived at an harbour which is called Cananea,[299] which lies beyond Cape Frio,[300] and is twenty-four degrees of elevation. It is a good harbour, and there are several islands at its entrance. The water is clear and eleven fathoms deep. Here the governor took possession in the name of His Majesty, and having done so, he left that harbour and passed over the river and the bay called San Francisco,[301] which is twenty-five leagues from Cananea, and thence the armada proceeded to the island of Santa Catalina, which is twenty-five leagues from the Rio de San Francisco, and they anchored at the island of Santa Catalina, after encountering many troubles and reverses on the voyage, arriving there on the 29th of March 1541. The island of Santa Catalina is barely in the twenty-eighth degree of latitude.

[299] Cananea, on the coast of the province San Paulo, Brazil, in lat. 25° 1′ S., long. 47° 51′ W.

[300] Cape Frio is east of Rio de Janeiro, in lat. 23° 1′ S., long. 41° 58′ W., where the coast trends northward.

[301] The river, island, and bay of San Francisco in the province of Santa Catharina.

- 100 -


Which treats of how the governor arrived with his armada at the island of Santa Catalina, in Brazil, and disembarked his troops there.

WHEN the governor had arrived with his army at the island of Santa Catalina, he ordered the disembarkation of all the people that he had brought with him, and the twenty-six horses, being all that had survived the sea voyage of the forty-six taken on board in Spain, in order that they might all recover on land from the hardships they had undergone in their long sea voyage, and that he might take command and inform himself of the native Indians of that land who might, perhaps, know how the Spaniards whom he had come to succour were circumstanced in the province of Rio de la Plata. And he gave the Indians to understand that he was sent by His Majesty to bring help, and he took possession of the land in the name and on behalf of His Majesty, and also of the harbour called Cananea, which is on the coast of Brazil, in twenty-five degrees, more or less. This harbour is fifty leagues from the island of Santa Catalina, and during all the time that the governor remained in that island he treated all the Indians, natives of that and other parts of the coast of Brazil (vassals of His Majesty) with great kindness. By these Indians he was informed that at fourteen leagues from the island, at the place called Mbiaça[302] there were two Franciscan monks, named Friar Bernardo, a native of Cordova, and Friar Alonzo Lebron, a native of Gran Canaria;- 101 - and in a few days these monks came to where the governor and his people were, in great fear of the Indians, who sought to kill them, because certain of the dwellings of the Indians having been burned, these had in revenge killed two Christians living in that land. And the governor, well informed of all that had happened, did his best to appease the Indians, and gave refuge to the monks, and established peace among them; and he charged the monks to teach the Christian doctrine to the Indians of that land and island.

[302] Mbiazá; cf. supra, pp. 35 and 83.


How nine Christians came to the island.

AND the governor, in furtherance of his expedition to succour the Spaniards, in the month of May 1541, sent a caravel with Philip de Caceres, accountant of His Majesty, with orders to enter the river La Plata, and visit the colony founded there by Don Pedro de Mendoza, and called Buenos Ayres. And because the season of the year was winter, and the weather unfavourable to navigation, he was unable to enter that river, and returned to the island of San Catalina, where the governor was.[303] And about this time there arrived nine Spanish Christians, who came in a boat, having fled from the colony of Buenos Ayres because of the ill-treatment used towards them by the captains residing in the province; and from these Spaniards he obtained information of the state in- 102 - which the Spaniards were who lived in that country. They told him that the colony of Buenos Ayres was inhabited and provided with people and commodities; and how Juan de Ayolas, whom Don Pedro de Mendoza had sent on an expedition of discovery into the interior, while returning from his discovery, and intending to take refuge in certain brigantines which he had left in the harbour, named by him Candelaria, in the river Paraguai, had been killed by a certain nation of Indians living on the same river, called Payaguás[304]; and all the Christians, with many other Indians whom he had brought with him from the interior of the country to carry the loads, belonging to the tribe of Chameses, were also slain; and that of all the Christians and Indians only one boy of the Chameses had escaped; and all this had happened because he (Juan de Ayolas) had not found in the said harbour of Candelaria the brigantines which he had left to be guarded till his return, according to the orders he had given a certain Domingo de Irala of the province of Biscay in Spain, whom he had left in the capacity of captain; who, before the return of Juan de Ayolas, had withdrawn and abandoned the harbour of Candelaria, so that Juan de Ayolas, not finding the brigantines as he had expected, had fallen a victim to the Indians, who had stripped and slain all his party because of the fault of the said Domingo de Irala, the Biscayan captain of the brigantines. They also told him that on the shore of the river Paraguai, one hundred and twenty leagues below the harbour of Candelaria, a colony had been formed which was called the town of Ascension,[305] having a good understanding and friendship with a tribe of Indians called Carios, and that most of the Spaniards in that province resided there. They further informed him that in the- 103 - colony and harbour of Buenos Ayres, situated on the rio del Parana, there were seventy Christians, and the distance from that harbour to the city of the Ascension, on the Paraguai, was three hundred and fifty leagues, of very difficult navigation, up the river. Here, in the capacity of locum tenens of the governor of the land and province, resided Domingo de Irala of Biscay, through whose fault happened the death of Juan de Ayolas, and all the Christians whom he had brought with him. They also told him that Domingo de Irala had gone from the town of the Ascension up the river Paraguai with certain brigantines and people, saying that he was going to search out and relieve Juan de Ayolas, and had entered a land, much troubled with rains and marshes, and because of this he had been unable to explore that land, and had returned with six Indian captives of the same tribe of Payaguás as those who had killed Juan de Ayolas and the Christians. From these prisoners he had obtained information and sure knowledge of the death of Juan de Ayolas and of the Christians, as well as from an Indian of the tribe of Chameses, named Gonzalo, who had escaped when his tribesmen and the Christians, whose loads they were carrying, were slain; who had lived ten years in captivity among those Payaguás. And Domingo de Irala had withdrawn from that country, having lost sixty men from sickness and fatigue. And they also told him that the officials of His Majesty, residing in that land and province, had done and were doing great wrongs to the Spaniards, colonists and conquerors, and to the Indian natives, vassals of His Majesty, and that there was much dissatisfaction and disgust. For this reason, and also because of the ill-treatment they had suffered from these captains, they had stolen a boat from the harbour of Buenos Ayres, and had taken to flight with the intention and determination to inform His Majesty of all that had passed in that land and province. To those nine Christians, who came naked, the governor- 104 - gave clothing, and took them under his protection in order to bring them back with him to the province, for they were useful men, good sailors, and one of them was a pilot who knew the navigation of the river.

[303] Schmidt gives a false account of this; cf. supra, p. 35.

[304] Cf. supra, p. 27.

[305] In the original Spanish version the city of Asuncion is always written Ascension.


How the governor hastened his journey.

HAVING listened to the statement of those nine Christians, the governor thought that, in order to succour as speedily as possible the Spaniards residing in the town of the Ascension, as well as those in the port of Buenos Ayres, he would discover a road by terra firma from the island, and so make his way to those parts already mentioned where the Christians were, and that he would send the vessels round by sea to Buenos Ayres. He therefore, against the will and opinion of the accountant Philip de Caceres, and of the pilot Antonio Lopez, who advised that they should all go together to Buenos Ayres, sent from the island of St. Catalina, Pedro Dorantes (the factor) to explore a road by land into the interior of the country where formerly many vassals of the King of Portugal had been killed by the native Indians. This Pedro Dorantes, by order of the governor, started with one hundred Spaniards, and some Indians who acted as guides; and at the end of three months and a half he returned to the island of St. Catalina, where the governor was awaiting him, and this, among other things, was what he reported: having crossed great sierras, and mountains, and much desert country, he had arrived at a place called “el Campo” (the plain), where- 105 - the country began to be inhabited, and that the natives of the island had told him that the route he had taken was the safest to enter that country. He had followed a river called the Ytabucú,[306] which is opposite the point of the island at eighteen or twenty leagues from the harbour. When the governor knew of this, he sent immediately to reconnoitre the country watered by this river, through which he decided to make his journey; and having done this, he determined to enter the country by that route, in order to explore a region that had never before been seen, and carry relief, in the shortest possible time, to the Spaniards in that province. Having thus decided upon his plans, he told the friars, Bernardo de Armenta and Alonzo Lebron his companion, to remain in the island of St. Catalina and instruct the native Indians in the Christian doctrine, directing and confirming those already baptized. But these monks declined to obey, assigning as a pretext that they wished to accompany the governor, in order to establish themselves in the town of the Ascension, where the Spaniards were whom he was going to relieve.

[306] Or Itapucu. This river rises in the coast range, and falls into the ocean south of San Francisco.

- 106 -


How the governor and his people advanced into the interior.

THE governor, having full information concerning those parts through which he had to enter in order to discover the land and relieve the Spaniards, and being supplied with all things necessary for his journey, on the eighteenth of October of the same year ordered the embarkation of the people that were to follow him in the discovery, with the twenty-six horses and mares which had survived the sea voyage; and he ordered them to cross the river Ytabucu and subdue it, and take possession of it in the name of His Majesty, as newly discovered land. He left in the island of St. Catalina one hundred and forty persons, who were to embark and go by sea to the river La Plata, where the port of Buenos Ayres is situated; and he charged Pedro Estopiñan Cabeza de Vaca, whom he left there in the capacity of captain of the said people, that before leaving the island he should supply and furnish the vessel with provisions both for the people he was taking with him, as well as for those in Buenos Ayres; and before his departure he gave many presents to the natives of the island, in order that they might remain, and some of them readily offered their services to accompany the governor and his people, to show the road and be useful in other ways; and their assistance happened to be very handy. On the 2nd November of the said year the governor ordered that all his people, besides the provisions carried by the Indians, should each take what he could carry for the road. And the same day he began his march, with two hundred- 107 - and fifty arquebusiers and crossbowmen, very well trained in arms, twenty-five horses, the two Franciscan friars, and the Indians of the island; then he sent the vessel back to the island of St. Catalina in order that Pedro de Estopiñan Cabeza de Vaca might embark and go with his people to Buenos Ayres; and so the governor went on his way into the interior of the land, where he and his people underwent many troubles. In nineteen days they crossed great mountains, cutting roads through forests, to enable the men and the horses to pass, for all the land was uninhabited. And at the end of these nineteen days, having exhausted the provisions which they had carried when they began their march, and having nothing left to eat, it pleased God that, without the loss of a man, they discovered the first inhabitants, who are called “del campo”, where they found certain villages of Indians, whose chief lord was called Añiriri, and at one day’s journey from this people there was another whose chief was Cipoyay. And beyond this people again there was a third tribe of Indians, whose chief said that he was called Tocanguasú. And when the Indians knew of the arrival of the governor and his people, they went out to meet him laden with plenty of provisions, showing great joy at their arrival. The governor received them affably, and, besides paying the value of the provisions into the hands of the chiefs, he graciously gave them many shirts and other things, with which they remained satisfied. This is a people and tribe called Guaranís; they are cultivators, sowing maize twice in the year, and also cassava. They rear fowls as in our Spain, and geese; keep many parrots in their houses, and occupy much land, and the whole are of one language. They eat human flesh, as well that of their Indian enemies as of Christians; they also eat one another. This people is very fond of war, and they seek it; they are very vindictive. Of this people and their territory the governor took possession, in the name of His Majesty, as- 108 - newly discovered land, and called it the province of Vera,[307] as it appears from the deeds of possession that were drafted before Juan de Aroaz, notary royal. And this being done on the 29th of November, the governor and his people left Tocanguasu. And after two days’ march, on the 1st of December, they arrived at a river called by the Indians Yguazu,[308] which means big water; here the pilots took the depth.

[307] Alvar Nuñez took the name of his mother’s family, ‘Cabeza de Vaca’; the name of his father, a descendant of the Adelantado of the Canary Islands, was ‘de Vera’.

[308] The Iguazu, or Yguassu, a large affluent of the Paraná, rises in the Sierra do Mar, near the city of Curitiba, and flows nearly due west. It forms the boundary of the provinces of Paraná and Santa Catharina.


Which treats of what happened to the governor and his people in his journey, and of the nature of the land.

FROM this river Yguazu the governor and his people advanced on their discovery; and on the 3rd of December they arrived at a river called by the Indians Tibagi.[309] Its bed is paved with large stones, placed in such order and regularity as though by hand. In crossing to the other side of this river there was great trouble, because the people and the horses slipped on the stones and could not keep their footing,- 109 - and to remedy this they joined hands. And although the river was not very deep, the water ran with great force. At about two leagues beyond this crossing the Indians came with great delight, and brought the army provisions, so that they were never short of food, and had sometimes even more than they could take, and left it on the road. This caused the governor to give the Indians much, and to be generous with them, especially with their chief, to whom, besides paying the price of the commodities which they brought, he gave many presents, and did them many favours and treated them so well that the fame went through the land and the province, and all the natives laid aside their fear and came to see and to bring all they had, and they were paid for it as aforesaid. The same day, being near another Indian settlement, whose chief said he was called Tapapirazú, there arrived a newly converted native Indian whose name was Miguel, who came from the town of the Ascension, where the Spaniards resided who were to be relieved. This Indian was returning to the coast of Brazil, as he had been a long time with the Spaniards. The governor conversed for some time with him, and informed himself of the condition in which were the province, the Spaniards and the natives, and of the great danger in which the Spaniards were because of the death of Juan de Ayolas, and of other captains and people killed by the Indians. Having given full information, this Indian, of his own wish, offered to return in company with the governor to the town of the Ascension, whence he had come, to guide and show the Spaniards the road they had to take. Then the governor discharged the Indians that came with him from the island of St. Catalina, and ordered them to return. These Indians, owing to the good treatment and many presents they had received, returned well satisfied and merry. As the people that the governor brought with him were wanting in experience, and for fear lest they should do wrong or mischief to the Indians, he ordered that they should neither traffic nor- 110 - communicate with them, nor visit their houses and villages, for the Indians are of so easily excitable a nature, and shocked at the least thing, that great inconvenience might have resulted in all the land. He therefore ordered that only those persons who understood the Indians should have dealings with them, and buy the provisions for all the people at the governor’s cost. And so every day he distributed the provisions himself, and gave them gratis without any interest. It was curious to see how feared were the horses by the Indians of that land and province, that for the terror they had of them they dropped on the road, and set food for them, such as fowls and honey, saying that, provided they would not be angry, they would give them plenty to eat; and to tranquillize them they said that they would not abandon their settlements. But fearing lest the Christians should use violence with them they fixed their camps at some distance off. Owing to the good order that was kept, and seeing that the governor punished everyone who offended them, all the Indians, with their wives and children, had such confidence that it was a sight to see. And from very distant parts they came, laden with provisions, only to see the Christians and their horses, as a thing that had never before been seen in the land.

[309] The Tibagi, an affluent of the Parana-panéma, rises not far from the Iguassu, and flows N.N.W. with a very rapid course and a total fall of 1,550 feet in 300 miles. Its characteristic rocks are trap and basalt. (See Bigg-Wither in Journal R. G. S., vol. xlvi.)

The governor and his people, continuing their journey through the land and province, arrived at a settlement of Indians of the tribe of Guaranís, and the chief of this tribe went out with all his people in great joy to receive and welcome him. And they brought with them honey, geese, fowls, flour, and maize. And the governor, through the medium of interpreters, spoke to them affably, and told them he was pleased at their coming, and ordered that they should be paid for what they brought, which gave them great satisfaction. Moreover, he sent as a present to the chief of this tribe, whose name was Pupebaie, some presents, such as knives and scissors and other articles. We left the Indians- 111 - of this tribe so merry and pleased that they danced and sang for joy all through the settlement.

On the seventh of December they arrived at a river known to the Indians as the Taquari.[310] This river has a copious stream and a strong current; and they found its banks inhabited by a tribe of Indians whose chief was called Abangobi. This chief, in company with all the Indians of his tribe, together with their wives and children, came out to receive the governor, showing great joy at his arrival; and they brought plenty of provisions, for which they were paid as usual. All these Indians belong to one tribe, and all speak one language. From this place they went on, leaving the natives so well satisfied that they carried the news from place to place of the good treatment used towards them, and showed everything they had received, so that wherever the governor and his people had to pass, the natives were friendly and came to meet them laden with provisions, receiving payment according to their satisfaction. On the 14th December, having passed through some tribes of Guaranís, by whom he was well received and entertained, the governor and his people arrived at a settlement whose chief said he was called Tocangusir. Here they halted one day to rest, because the people were tired; and the direction they were following was west north-west a quarter north. And at this place the pilots observed for latitude in twenty-four and a half degrees, at a distance of one degree from the tropic. Since entering the inhabited region they had found the country to be very pleasant, with large plains, forests, and many rivers, streams and rivulets, with abundance of good drinking water. In fact, it is a land very suitable for cultivation and stock-rearing.

[310] This river Taquari is a tributary of the Paraná-Pané, now called by the Brazilian geographers Paraná-panema. On this river Taquari the Jesuits founded one of their ancient missions of Guaira, under the tropic in the present Brazilian province do Paraná.

- 112 -


Of the troubles that the governor and his people underwent on their way, and of a kind of pine tree, and of the fruits of that land.

FROM the place called Tuguy, the governor and his people continued their journey to the 19th December, without finding any settlements; this circumstance, and the many rivers and bad passages that had to be crossed by men and horses, caused them much trouble. They had to make as many as eighteen bridges in a single day, across rivers as well as over marshes, many of which were dangerous; and they had to pass great sierras and steep mountains and large thickets of reeds that had hard, sharp points, and other jungle. Twenty men had to be constantly in advance, cutting and clearing a road; and it took many days to pass through these forests, which were so thick that the sky could not be seen overhead. And on the said nineteenth day of the said month they arrived at a certain settlement of Guaranís, who with their chief, their wives and children, showing great pleasure, came forth to meet the Spaniards, two leagues from their settlement, bearing many commodities, such as fowls, geese, honey, potatoes and other fruits, maize, and flour of the pine tree, of which they make great quantity.

There are many pine trees in that land so great that four men with their hands joined cannot compass one. They are tall and straight, and very suitable for masts of ships and caracks, according to their length. Their fruit is large, and the kernel about the size of an acorn. The husk is like that- 113 - of chesnuts, yet they differ in flavour from those of Spain. The Indians gather them, and make of them a great quantity of flour for their nourishment. There are many wild boar and monkeys in that country, which feed on those kernels in the following way: the monkeys climb to the tops of the pine trees, and suspend themselves by their tails; then with hands and feet they detach a number of these fruits and let them fall to the ground. And when they have thrown down a quantity of these fruits they descend and eat them; but it often happens that the wild beasts are watching while the monkeys pull down the fruit, and when they have thrown them down, while the monkeys are descending from the pine trees, the boars come out against them; and they steal and eat the fruit, the monkeys all the while uttering cries from the branches of the trees. There are also other fruits, of different kinds and taste, that ripen twice a year. In this place of Tuguy the governor remained during the feast of the nativity, both to celebrate this feast as well as to rest the people. They found here an abundance of provisions, for the Indians supplied them with all commodities. So the Spaniards, partly owing to the festivities, and partly to the good treatment they received from the Indians, were much refreshed, although such repose was very prejudicial to them, because, taking no exercise and eating plentifully, they could not digest what they ate, and they immediately caught fevers, which did not happen while they were marching. As soon as they resumed their march, after the first two days they got rid of the disease, and regained their health. At first the people importuned the governor, entreating that he might stop and rest some days, but he would not consent to it, for he had already experienced what would be the consequence; but the people thought that he declined because he wished to give them more trouble, till at length they were fain to acknowledge he had so acted for their good, since by eating much they suffered; and of this the governor had great experience.

- 114 -


How the governor and his people found themselves starving, and appeased their hunger with worms from reeds.

THE twenty-eighth day of December the governor and his people departed from the village of Tuguy, where they left the Indians well pleased, and, pursuing their route by land the whole day without finding any inhabitants, they came to a wide and deep river with a strong current, and along it were forests of cypress and cedar, and other trees; in crossing this river they had plenty of trouble that and the three following days. Marching through the land, they passed by five villages of the Guaraní Indians, all of whom came forward and greeted us, with their wives and children, bringing plenty of provisions, so that our people were always well supplied, and the Indians very pacific, owing to the good treatment and the payment they received. All this is a very pleasant land, abounding in water and woods. The inhabitants sow maize, cassava and other seeds, and three kinds of potatoes, white, yellow, and reddish, very large and well flavoured. They rear geese and fowls, and gather much honey from the hollows of the trees.

The first of January of the year A.D. 1542, the governor and his people left the Indian settlements, and advanced across a mountainous region, through dense thickets of reeds, where our people underwent much trouble, because, up to the fifth of the month, they met with no settlement, and had to suffer much from hunger; and they kept themselves alive with great difficulty, besides having to open roads- 115 - through the reed jungle. In the hollows of these reeds there were some white worms,[311] about the length and thickness of a finger; the people fried these for food, obtaining sufficient fat from them to fry them in very well; all ate of them, and thought it excellent food. And from the hollows of other reeds they collected good drinking water, and were much comforted by it. They used to search for these worms during their march, in order that they might have enough to eat, and so provide for their necessities and hunger in their journey through that inhospitable region. They crossed, with great difficulty, two wide and very deep rivers, flowing towards the north; and the following day, being the sixth of January, after marching through uninhabited country, they encamped for the night on the bank of another deep river, with a very strong current and with plenty of reed thickets, where the people gathered the worms and subsisted upon them. So they pursued their journey, and the next day they passed through a very good region, well watered and abounding in game, such as boar and deer, and they killed some and divided it among the people. That day they crossed two small rivers, and it pleased God that none of the Christians fell sick, and everybody kept on marching in good condition, cheered by the hope that they would soon reach the town of the Ascension, and the Spaniards whom they were going to relieve. From the sixth to the tenth of January they passed many Indian Guaraní settlements, all of whom received them peacefully, and greeted them joyfully; the inhabitants of each village, with their chief, accompanied by their wives and children, came laden with provisions, from which the Spaniards derived great help.- 116 - But the monks Bernardo de Armenia and Alonzo his companion went in advance to collect provisions; and when the governor and his people arrived, it happened that the Indians had nothing more to give; and the people complained to the governor of this, as they had oftentimes done before, and he warned the monks not to do so, and not to take along with them certain Indians, of all ages, who were of no use, and to whom they gave food; but the monks declined to obey. Then all the people were ill-disposed towards them; but the governor favoured them, as they were engaged in the service of God and His Majesty. At length the monks separated themselves from the people, and, against the will of the governor, took another road. He directed that they should be brought back from the Indian settlements, where they had taken refuge; and had he not so ordered their withdrawal, they would have come to grief. The tenth of January, continuing their march, they passed many rivers and rivulets, and other bad passages, great sierras and mountains, and thickets of reeds abounding with water; every sierra[312] having a fertile valley and a river, besides other streams and forests. In all this land there is plenty of water, because it is under the tropic, and the direction of their route on these days was west.

[311] The “reeds” of the text must certainly be bamboos, and the larva or grub found in them answers to that of the Calandra palmarum, a species of weevil which is still cooked and eaten in the way here described.

[312] Sierra is a chain of mountains.

- 117 -


Of the fear the Indians had of the horses.

THE fourteenth of January, continuing their journey among settlements of Indians of the nation of Guaranís, all of whom came to meet the Spaniards with much pleasure, bringing maize, fowls, honey, and many other commodities; and as the governor always paid them to their contentment, they brought such a profusion that the surplus remained on the road. All their people go naked, men as well as women; they had a great fear of the horses, and asked the governor to tell the horses not to be angry with them; and in order to appease them they brought them food. So they arrived at a wide river of mighty waters called Yguatú,[313] a very noble river, abounding in fish and bordered by forests; on its shore there is a settlement of Guaranís, who sow maize and cassava, as in other parts they had already passed through; and they came out to receive the governor, being aware of his coming, and of the good treatment they would receive; and they brought plenty of provisions. In all that land there are pine trees of many different kinds, with fruits like those I have spoken of. And the Indians waited upon the governor and his people, because he always treated them well. The Yguatú flows due west in the twenty-fifth degree, and may be as large as the Guadalquivir. Its banks (according to the accounts of the natives, and as I saw with my own eyes) are populous, and the inhabitants are the richest people of all that land and- 118 - province, both for agriculture and stock-raising. They rear plenty of fowls, geese, and other birds; and they have abundance of game, such as boar, deer, dantas,[314] partridges, quails, and pheasants; and they have great fisheries in this river. They grow plenty of maize, potatoes, cassava, mandubies, and many other fruits; and from the trees they collect a great quantity of honey. From this settlement the governor decided to write to the officials of His Majesty, and to the captains and people residing in the town of the Ascension, to let them know that by order of His Majesty he was on the way to relieve them, and sent two native Indians of that land with the letter. While staying on the river Pequiry,[315] a dog bit a certain Francisco Orejon, citizen of Avila in Spain, in the leg; and fourteen other Spaniards fell sick because of the long journey. These remained with Orejon, in order to follow by short stages. The governor recommended them to the natives, in order that these might favour them, and guide them on the way to follow him when they recovered their health. And in order that they might do this the more willingly, he gave many presents to the chief and other natives, who were much pleased with them. All this country, through which the governor was marching with his people making his discoveries, is filled with large fields abundantly watered by rivers, rivulets, and springs, well shaded by trees and cultivated. It is the most fertile land in the world, adapted for cultivation and colonization. Many parts of it are conveniently situated for sugar refineries; and the country is full of game. The inhabitants are of the nation of the Guaranís, who eat human flesh, and are all agriculturists and rear geese and fowls. They are a- 119 - domesticated people, friendly towards the Christians, and with a little trouble would accept our holy Catholic faith, as experience has proved. And, judging from the nature of the soil, it is certain that if there are mines of silver anywhere, it is here they may be found.

[313] The Yguatú is an oriental affluent of the Paraná, entering this river at 25° lat. S. The name is not to be found in modern maps.

[314] Anta or tapir.

[315] The Pequiry flows into the Paraná ninety miles north of the Yguassu; the governor of Paraguai founded on its margin the town of Ciudad Real de Guaira in the sixteenth century, destroyed afterwards by the Paulistas.


How the governor navigated the river Yguazú, in canoes, and how, in order to avoid a cataract of that river, he carried the canoes one league by hand.

THE governor having left the Indians of the Pequiry very friendly and peaceful, continued his journey with his people through the interior, passing many settlements of Guaranís, all of whom came to meet him with plenty of provisions, showing great joy at his coming. And to all their chiefs he distributed presents, and even the old women and children came to greet them, laden with maize and potatoes. And the inhabitants of villages which were one and even two days off along his line of march did the same, and all brought commodities; and for some distance before the villages were reached they cleared and swept the road, dancing and making great merriment on seeing the Spaniards. What increases their pleasure and contentment is to see their old women merry, because they are wont to do as these tell them, and are more obedient to them than to the old men. The last day of January, continuing to advance into the interior of the province, they arrived at the river Yguazú, and before arriving at this river they traversed an uninhabited region without finding any settlement of Indians. This is the same river they crossed- 120 - at the beginning of their journey, when they left the coast of Brazil. It is also called in that part Yguazú. It flows from east to west, and there are no settlements on its banks. Here they took the altitude and found it to be twenty-five and a half degrees. Before arriving at the river Yguazú, they learned from the natives that it fell into the Paraná, also called Rio de la Plata; and that between this river Paraná and the Yguazú the Indians killed the Portuguese whom Martin Alfonzo de Sosa[316] had sent to discover that land, who were slaughtered while crossing the river in canoes. Some of these Indians who had so killed the Portuguese warned the governor that the Indians of the Pequiry river were bad people and our enemies, and that they were lying in wait to seize and kill us during our passage of the river. Because of this the governor held a council, and decided to secure both banks of the river, he with part of his people descending the Yguazú in canoes, and entering the Paraná, while the remainder of the people with the horses went by land, and took up a position on the bank in order to overawe the Indians; all the people were then to pass to the other side in the canoes, and this was accordingly effected. The governor himself with eighty men embarked in canoes and descended the Yguazú, the remainder of the people and the horses proceeded by land, as we have said, and all joined on the river Paraná. The current of the Yguazú was so strong that the canoes were carried furiously down the river, for near this spot there is a considerable fall, and the noise made by the water leaping down some high rocks into a chasm may be heard a great distance off, and the spray rises two spears high and more above the fall.[317] It was necessary, therefore,- 121 - to take the canoes out of the water and carry them by hand past the cataract for half a league with great labour. Having left that bad passage behind, they launched their canoes and continued their voyage down to the confluence of this river with the Paraná. And it pleased God that the people and the horses that went by land, as well as those in the canoes with the governor, all arrived at one time. On the bank of the Paraná there had assembled a great number of Indian Guaranís, all decked with parrots’ feathers, painted red and a variety of other colours, holding their bows and arrows and all massed together for battle. The arrival of the governor and his people in the manner we have described caused much fear among them and threw them into confusion. We began to speak with them through interpreters and to distribute a number of presents among their chiefs; and as they were covetous people, delighting in novelties, they began to be appeased and to approach us. And many of them helped us to cross to the opposite bank.[318] When we had passed, the governor ordered rafts to be made by lashing the canoes by twos together; and in two hours they were ready, all the people and the horses reaching the other side without being interfered with by the natives. This river Paraná, at the place where we crossed it, was a long cross-bow shot wide, very deep and rapid; in passing it one of the canoes upset and one Christian was drowned, the current having drawn him under, and he never rose to the surface. The strength of the current and great depth form many whirlpools.

[316] Martim Affonzo de Sousa held a captaincy on the extreme southern part of the coast of Brazil, for the Portuguese Government, in 1531. This was the Capitania de São Vicente.

[317] The Salto do Iguaçu, or fall of the Iguassu, is a succession of leaps made by this river at about eight miles from its mouth. The difference in level above and below the falls is 58 mètres. (Subsidies, etc., to the Physical Map of Brazil, Homem de Mello, Rio de Janeiro, 1876, p. 29; Azara, Viajes; Martin de Moussy, Description de la République Argentine, etc.)

[318] I.e., to the right bank of the Paraná.

- 122 -


Which treats of the rafts that were made to carry the sick.

WHEN the governor had passed the river Paraná he was greatly disappointed at not finding the two brigantines which he had ordered by letter the two captains who were at the Ascension to send, these vessels being much needed to protect the passage for the transport of the sick and those who were fatigued with the long journey. As there were many incapable of marching who could not safely be left behind in the midst of so many enemies, who might soon pluck up courage to attempt some of their treasonable practices, he arranged to send the sick down the Paraná on the rafts, entrusting them to the care of an Indian chief named Yguaron, to whom he gave presents. This man offered to take charge of the sick in person and bring them to the village of Francisco, a servant of Gonzalo de Acosta, in the expectation that by the way they would meet the brigantines, and would be received and entertained by them; meanwhile this Indian, Francisco, who had been brought up among Christians and who lived on the bank of the Paraná, four days’ journey from the point of their departure, according to the information of the natives, would look after them. So the governor ordered them to embark, and they were about thirty men, and he sent with them fifty arquebusiers and crossbowmen for their protection. And as soon as he had sent them, the governor, with the remainder of his people, continued his journey by land towards the town of the Ascension, to reach which he would have to travel nine days according to the information given by the Indians inhabiting- 123 - the banks of the Paraná. Possession was taken of this river in the name of His Majesty, and the pilots took the altitude and found it to be twenty-four degrees.[319]

[319] This is an error. The mouth of the river Yguazú is in 25° 35′ lat.

The governor and his people advanced across the country, passing settlements of the Guaranís, all of whom received him well, and came forth to meet him laden with provisions, as usual. In this march they crossed large marshes, and other bad places, and rivers, and had to build bridges and overcome many difficulties. After the passage of the Paraná the Indians accompanied them from village to village, showing great friendship and goodwill; they did them many good offices, both in serving as guides, and providing them with food. For all this the governor rewarded them generously, and made them well satisfied. During the march a Spaniard came from the town of Ascension to meet the governor, and took back tidings to his fellow-countrymen, and the people there, of his arrival; for, owing to the straits they were in, their desire to see him and his people was very great; and they could hardly believe that he would do them such a service until they had seen him with their own eyes, even though they had read the letters he had written to them. This Christian informed the governor of the situation, and of the danger the people were in, of the deaths that had happened both of those who went with Juan de Ayolas, as well as many others slain by the natives, and of their great tribulation and discouragement, especially since the evacuation of Buenos Ayres; for they had long expected relief from Spain, and when at length that port was abandoned, they had given up all hope of deliverance. He also related many other losses that had been sustained in the country.

- 124 -


How the governor arrived at the Ascension, where the Spaniards lived whom he had come to relieve.

HAVING learned of the above-mentioned Spaniard of the death of Juan de Ayolas and his companions, and of the deaths of other Christians, of the extremity of the survivors in the town of Ascension, and of the abandonment of Buenos Ayres, whither he had left orders that the ship Capitana should proceed with the one hundred and forty men from the island of St. Catalina; considering, too, the danger in which those might be who arrived by sea, when they found that port deserted by the Christians and in the hands of a large number of Indians, he made all the haste he could to reach Ascension in the quickest time possible, in order that he might infuse new courage into those who remained there, and restore confidence among the friendly Indians. All the natives of the parts he was now travelling through make their houses of straw and wood, and many of those from the district round Ascension spoke to the governor in our own Castilian tongue, bidding him and his Spaniards welcome. Their reception of him was as cordial as any met with heretofore. They cleared and swept the road, formed processions with their wives and children, waited his arrival with presents of provisions: maize, wine, bread, potatoes, fowls, fish, honey, and game, all prepared; and they distributed these gifts among his men. In token of peace they raised their hands, and, in their own language, some, too, in ours, welcomed the governor and his people. Along the route they entered into conversation with us, and were as cordial and familiar as though they were our own countrymen, born and bred in Spain.

- 125 -

Travelling in this way, it pleased God that on the eleventh of March, being one Saturday, at nine o’clock in the morning, in the year of grace 1542, we arrived at the city of Ascension, where we found the Spaniards living whom we had come to relieve.

This town is situated on the bank of the Paraguay, in twenty-five degrees south latitude. Before entering it the governor was met by all the captains and people resident there, who showed incredible joy at his arrival, declaring they had never believed, or even expected that they would be relieved, so great were the dangers and difficulties of the road never before explored; as for the sea-route viâ Buenos Ayres, by which they had hoped succour might have reached them, their expectations from this quarter had also vanished since the Indians had taken the aggressive with the idea of soon capturing and making an end of them. Moreover, so long a time had elapsed since any Spaniards had landed there, that they were in despair.

The governor received them all at an interview, spoke very kindly with them, and informed them that he had come by His Majesty’s orders to succour them. Thereupon he showed his credentials and powers to Domingo de Irala, and the officers Alonzo Cabrera, controller, a native of Loja; Philip de Caceres, accountant, of Madrid; Pedro Dorantes, factor, of Bejar, and to other captains and inhabitants of that province. These documents were read out to the clergy and soldiers present, and by virtue of them they recognized him as governor, and signified their obedience as to a captain-general of the province, appointed by His Majesty. The insignia of justice were given up to him, and were redelivered, in the name of His Majesty, to the magistrates who should administer civil and criminal law in the said province.

- 126 -


How the Spaniards, left behind through sickness, on the river Pequiry, arrived at the town of Ascension.

THIRTY days after the arrival of the governor at the town of Ascension, as we have related, the Christians, both sick and sound, whom he had sent on rafts from the river Paraná, arrived at the harbour, one only being missing; and he had been killed by a tiger. They reported to the governor how the Indians of the river assembled in great numbers with their canoes, and while our men were descending on the rafts, came out and attacked them with loud cries and beating of drums, shooting a storm of arrows at them. Two hundred canoes surrounded them at one time, trying to board and take possession of the rafts in order to kill the Spaniards. For fourteen days and nights they never ceased fighting, being exposed all that time to a constant fire of arrows, both from those on shore as well as those in the canoes. The natives tried with long hooks to seize hold of the rafts, and drag them towards the shore, while the incessant shouting and cries of these men made so much din that one would have said the powers of light and darkness were at war with one another. They gave them no rest, for those in the canoes changed places with those on shore, these continuing the fight while the others rested. Twenty Spaniards were wounded, but not seriously; and all this time the rafts kept drifting down stream, borne along by a strong current. They descended so rapidly that rowing was unnecessary, and all their efforts were directed to prevent their being drawn to land, where the danger was greatest. Nevertheless, they were now and then exposed to great peril,- 127 - owing to the whirlpools which caught the rafts and twirled them round; and it required all the skill of those that navigated them to prevent them being taken inshore by the eddies. In this way they continued their voyage for fourteen days without the possibility of finding succour or protection, always pursued by the Indians in their canoes, and a constant target for their arrows. At length they arrived near the village of Francisco, the Indian, who, with some of his men, came out to meet and succour the Christians. He brought them to an island near his village, and gave them food, for they were weary with the fatigues they had undergone, and starving. Here the wounded recovered from their wounds, and all rested, for the enemy had not dared to pursue them farther, and had withdrawn. Meanwhile the two brigantines sent for their relief arrived at the village. In these they embarked and arrived at the Ascension.


How the governor, wishing to re-people Buenos Ayres, sent reinforcements to those who had come there in the ship ‘Capitana’.

ALVAR NUNEZ ordered two brigantines to be equipped with all diligence, and to be loaded with provisions and other commodities; and having manned them with some of the former colonists of Buenos Ayres who were acquainted with the navigation of the Paraná, he sent them to relieve the one hundred and forty Spaniards who were to have embarked at St. Catalina in the ship Capitana for Buenos Ayres; for, owing to the abandonment of this port, these people would be exposed to- 128 - great danger. He ordered that the port should be immediately rebuilt in the most convenient place, as the colony was necessary for the safety and welfare of all the Spaniards in the province, as well for those who might come there in future, ships being obliged to anchor in this part of the river; here, too, brigantines have to be built to navigate the river for three hundred and fifty leagues to the town of Ascension.

The first two brigantines set out on the sixteenth of April. After they had started, the governor ordered two more to be built, and laden with provisions and people, to proceed also to the relief of the Spaniards, and to re-establish the port of Buenos Ayres. He gave special injunctions to the captains of these two vessels to treat the natives of the Paraná with kindness, and induce them by fair means to acknowledge the sovereignty of the King. He, moreover, directed them to take note of everything that occurred, in order that a full report might be sent to His Majesty. Having made these dispositions, Alvar Nuñez turned his attention to the service of God, and His Majesty, and to the pacification of the province. For the better accomplishment of these duties, he summoned a meeting of the monks and clergy residing in that province, as well as those that had come with him, and, in the presence of all the officers, the captains and the people, he entreated them, in kind but earnest words, to bestow special attention to the teaching of the Christian doctrines to the natives, subject to the King, and he caused certain passages of the Royal Charter to be read aloud, in which special mention was made of the treatment of the Indians. He further enjoined the monks, clergy, and other ecclesiastics, to take the Indians under their particular care, and to protect them from ill-treatment, and to inform him of anything done contrary to these orders—promising to supply all things necessary for this holy cause, and for the celebration of the sacraments in the churches- 129 - and monasteries. And for this purpose he supplied them with wine and flour, and distributed among them the vestments he had brought for use in divine service; and he also gave them a barrel of wine for this use.


How the natives kill and eat their enemies.

SOON after the arrival of the governor at the Ascension the natives and conquistadores brought serious charges against the officers of His Majesty. Alvar Nuñez therefore ordered all the native subjects of the king to assemble, and in the presence of the monks and clergy told them he had been sent to protect them, and that they should come to the knowledge of God and accept Christianity at the hands of the monks and clergy who had come as the ministers of God, and should subject themselves to His Majesty. If they did this they would be better treated and protected. He warned them to give up eating human flesh, as that was a sin and grave offence in the sight of God. The monks and the clergy repeated this warning, and the governor concluded by distributing presents among them, such as shirts, stuffs, caps, and other things they delighted in.

These Guaranís speak a language common to all the tribes of this province. They eat the flesh of their enemies whom they take captive in war, bringing them to their settlements and making great merriment and rejoicing with them, dancing and singing till the captive grows fat. They give him their wives and daughters, in order that he may have every pleasure. It is these wives who take the trouble to- 130 - fatten him. Those held in the greatest honour among them admit him to their couches, adorn him in various ways according to their custom, and bedeck him with feathers and necklaces of white beads and stones, which are much prized among them. When he begins to grow fat they redouble their efforts; the dancing, singing, and pleasures of all kinds increase. Then the men come; they adorn and make ready three boys of the age of six or seven, placing a little hatchet in their hands. The Indian considered the bravest among them now takes a wooden sword in his hand, called in their language macana, and leads the captive to a place where he is made to dance for one hour; the Indian then advances, and with both hands deals him a blow in the loins, and another on the spine to knock him down. It happens sometimes that after striking him six blows on the head they cannot kill him, so hard are their heads, though this two-handed sword is made of very tough, heavy, black wood, and the executioner is strong enough to kill an ox with a single blow. When they have knocked him down the three boys come with their hatchets, and the eldest of them, usually the son of the chief, begins striking blows on his head, the others do the same till the blood flows; the Indians meanwhile exhorting them to be brave and learn to kill their enemies and make war upon them, and to remember that this victim has killed many of their own people, and that they should revenge themselves upon him. As soon as he is dead the one that gave him the first blow takes the name of the dead man and keeps it henceforward in token of his bravery. Then the old women cut the body in pieces and cook it in their earthenware pots, distributing the flesh among themselves. They eat it and consider it excellent food. Afterwards they resume their dancing and pleasures, which last several days, saying that now the enemy who had slain their relatives is dead, they will take their rest and make merry.

- 131 -


Of the peace which the governor concluded with the Indian Agazes.

ON the banks of this river Paraguai there is a nation of Indians named Agazes; it is a people most feared in all that country, for besides being valiant they are well practised in war and very treacherous. Under pretext of making a treaty of peace they ravaged other tribes, not sparing even their own relatives, wishing to make themselves masters in the land, so that nobody trusts them. They are men of great size and gigantic limbs; they lead piratical lives in their canoes on the river, landing to pillage and capture the Guaranís, who are their principal enemies. They live by fishing and the chase, and do not cultivate the soil. When they capture the Guaranís they tie their hands together and drag them into the canoes and carry them away. Then they return to the relatives of their captive, who come forth and offer to ransom him; and they strike him cruel blows in the presence of his father, children, or wives, as the case may be, and demand food, threatening to slaughter their prisoner if this is not brought. Having taken as much provisions as their canoes will hold, they return to their houses, carrying their captive along with them. And this is their usual practice, for it rarely happens that the captives are actually ransomed. After they are tired of keeping them in their canoes and beating them, the Agazes cut off their heads and hoist these on poles on the bank of the river. Before the governor’s arrival the Spaniards had made war against these Indians and killed a number of them; peace had afterwards been concluded, but- 132 - this had been broken with characteristic perfidy by the Agazes, who had done much injury to the Guaranís and carried off a quantity of their provisions. A few days before the governor’s arrival at the Ascension the Agazes had violated the peace, having attacked and ravaged certain villages of the Guaranís, besides keeping the town of Ascension daily on the alert. When the Agazes knew of the governor’s arrival, their chiefs, named Abacoten, Tabor, and Alabos, accompanied by a large number of their people, arrived in their canoes, and presented themselves before him, saying they wished to swear allegiance to His Majesty, and to be friendly with the Spaniards; they declared that if they had not kept the peace hitherto, that was owing to the audacious conduct of some foolish youths, who had begun hostilities without their leave, causing it to be supposed that the chiefs had broken the peace, but that they had been well punished for it; and they entreated the governor to receive them into his amity, and make peace between them and the Spaniards, promising they would keep it. This promise they repeated in the presence of the monks, clergy, and officials. Having heard this message, the governor received them kindly, and replied that he was pleased to receive them as vassals of His Majesty, and as friends of the Christians, provided that they would keep the peace, and not break it as heretofore. He gave them to understand that, should they misbehave in future, they would be regarded as enemies, and be made to suffer accordingly. In this way he made peace between them and the Spaniards. He gave orders in the meanwhile that they should be well treated and receive provisions. The conditions of peace were that the said Indians, the chiefs of the Agazes and others of that nation, should agree that whenever they descended the Paraguai in canoes as far as the Ascension, they should not enter upon territory belonging to the Guaranís otherwise than all together, and never separately, nor by night, but always in the daytime;- 133 - that they should only land on the opposite side of the river, not on this side, where the Guaranís and Spaniards have their fields and establishments; that they should not ravage the country and harass the Guaranís, and that they should terminate their war against them, and cease from troubling them any more, as these people were now vassals of His Majesty; that they should deliver up certain of their Guaraní captives, of both sexes, who had been captured during the time of peace, because they were Christians, and their relatives were much distressed at it; that they should not interfere with the Spaniards and Guaranís when they fished in the river and hunted on the land; and, lastly, that such of their wives, daughters, and relatives who had been converted to Christianity should be allowed to persevere in that holy work, and not be carried away or compelled to absent themselves. Provided that these conditions were kept, the Agazes would be treated as friends, but if any article of the treaty were broken they would be proceeded against as enemies. These terms having been well explained and understood by them, they promised to observe them, and thus was peace restored and their submission brought about.

- 134 -


Of the complaints addressed to the governor by the pobladores against the officers of His Majesty.

A FEW days after his arrival at the Ascension, Alvar Nuñez, having seen that there were many poor and needy, supplied them with clothing, shirts, trowsers, and other necessaries. Many of them that were unarmed received arms; and all this at his expense, and without interest. He then begged the officers of His Majesty to discontinue vexing and wronging these unfortunate people, as they had hitherto done, for many complaints had been made by both conquistadores and pobladores. They tried to enforce a new tax lately imposed on fisheries, butter, honey, maize, and other commodities; on the skins with which they clothed themselves, and which they bought of the Indians; and this besides the collection of debts due to His Majesty. The officers urged the governor to allow them to continue these taxes, but he would not consent to it, and in this way incurred their animosity. Prompted by a bad spirit towards him, they strove to do him all the harm they could by indirect means. He therefore had them arrested and thrown into prison, in consequence of evidence brought against them.

- 135 -


How the governor received complaints against the Indian Guaycurús.

THE riparian chiefs, and those inhabiting the vicinity of the Paraguai, near the town of the Ascension, vassals of His Majesty, came and presented themselves before the governor, and complained of a tribe of Indians that dwelt near their borders. These Indians are great warriors, and valiant men, who live on venison, butter, honey, fish, and wild boar, eating nothing besides, neither they nor their wives and children. They go daily to the chase for it is their only occupation. They are nimble and vigorous, swift of foot, and so long-winded that they tire out the deer, and catch them with their hands, besides slaying many more with their arrows, as well as tigers and other fierce animals. They are kind to their wives, and not only to those of their own tribe, who are greatly esteemed by them, but also to women generally; thus, if any fall into their hands when they are making war, they set them at liberty, and do them no wrong. They are much feared by all the other tribes. They never remain more than two days in one place, but quickly remove their houses, made of matting, to distances of one or two leagues when they are in pursuit of game. This tribe, and others that live by fishing, eat of a certain bean[320] that grows in that country; they search for it in the mountains where the trees are that produce this fruit; and the wild boar climb the hills at the same time, and for the same purpose. It ripens in November and the beginning of December, and they make flour of it, and wine strong enough to intoxicate themselves.

[320] Algarroba, the Carob bean (Prosopis dulcis mimosa).

- 136 -


How the governor informed himself concerning the complaint.

THE chiefs of the Indians complained to the governor that the Guaycurús had dispossessed them of their land, and killed their fathers, brothers and relatives, and since they were vassals of His Majesty, they claimed protection and restitution of their property. They had hunted on the mountains, they had fished in the lagoons and rivers, they had collected honey for their own support and that of the Christians. Moreover, the wrongs and murders they complained of had taken place since the governor’s arrival in the country. He examined into the complaints of these chiefs, whose names were Pedro de Mendoza, Juan de Salazar, Cupirati, Francisco Ruis Mayraru, Lorenzo Moquirasi, Gonzalo Mayraru, and other newly converted Christians, in order to satisfy himself of the truth of their allegations, and to proceed according to law; and he said that they must bring good evidence of their alleged wrongs. They then presented as witnesses a large number of Spanish Christians, who had been present, and seen the injuries done by the Guaycurús; how these people had driven them from their lands, and laid waste a large stockaded settlement named Caguazú. Having heard this information, the governor sent for the monks and clergy—friar Bernardo de Armenta, and friar Alonzo Lebron, his companion; the bachelor Martin de Almenza, and Francisco de Andrada, priests; and commanded them to inquire into the affair, and report as to whether war could be justly made against the Guaycurús. They wrote their opinion,- 137 - and signed it with their names, to the effect that he (the governor) might, with armed hand, march against the said Indians, and wage war against them, since they were implacable enemies. The governor then ordered two Spaniards, who knew their language, and Martin de Almenza, with an escort of fifty Spaniards, to go in search of the Guaycurús, and summon them to submit to His Majesty, and desist from making war against the Guaranís, that these might freely go about their land, and enjoy their chase and fisheries. If they would do this, he promised to consider them as friends, but if they refused, he should make war upon them as mortal enemies. So the ambassadors set out, having been specially charged to repeat their message and warning two or three times calmly and deliberately. Eight days afterwards they returned, and declared that they had warned the Indians, but that these had taken up arms against them, saying that they did not choose to obey, or to be friends with the Spaniards and Guaranís, and told them to withdraw immediately from the land. At the same time they shot a number of arrows, and wounded many of them. The governor, having been informed of all that had happened, ordered two hundred arquebusiers and crossbowmen to be in readiness, and twelve horsemen, and with these he left the town of Ascension on Thursday the twelfth of July 1542.

As he had to pass to the other side of the Paraguai, he bade them make ready two brigantines, to ferry the men and horses across, and he ordered all to assemble at a certain village of the Guaranís, called Tapuá,[321] on the bank of the Paraguai. Its chief, Mormosen, is a brave man, much feared in that country, who had already become a Christian, and bore the name of Lorenzo. He had been master of Caguazú- 138 - when the Guaycurús took it. All the soldiers and the horses marched to Tapuá by land, a distance of four leagues from the town of Ascension, passing, on the way, large troops of the Guaranís, who had orders to rendezvous at the same place, and accompany the governor on his expedition. It was wonderful to see the order they kept, and their preparations for war, all of them armed with bows and arrows, adorned with parrots’ feathers, and painted with divers colours. They had musical instruments, which they use in battle, such as timbals and trumpets, cornets, etc. All arrived on the same day at Tapuá, and found here large numbers of the Guaranís, bivouacking under the trees along the river bank. The chief, Mormosen, and his relatives, accompanied by a number of the people, advanced to meet the governor, a bow-shot from the village, and brought with them a large quantity of venison and ostrich-flesh which they had killed on that and the previous day, in such plenty that there was more than sufficient for all the people. The Indian chiefs then held a council, and decided that it would be necessary to send out scouts to reconnoitre the country and position of the enemy, and ascertain if tidings had reached him of the advance of the Spaniards, and whether he kept watch at night. This advice was followed, and two Spaniards, together with Mormosen and other brave Indians who knew the country, went forward. The following day being Friday, they returned before nightfall, and reported that the Guaycurús had gone a-hunting in the plains and mountains, having fired the grass in several places, as is their wont. Our people had seen them moving their camp, accompanied by their wives and children, to settle in a new place, where they might subsist by hunting and fishing, and they seemed to be unaware of our coming. From our camp to the place where the Indians had probably fixed their abode might be five or six leagues, judging from the fires they had kindled to drive the game.

[321] Tapuá, as spelt in the original edition. In later ones the Gothic T has been taken for a C.—The Spaniards founded in this place a fort named Arecutacuá. See map of Oyarvide.

- 139 -


How the governor and his people crossed the river, and how two Christians were drowned.

THAT same Friday the brigantines arrived for the passage of the river, and the Indians brought a number of their canoes. Being now fully informed as to what should be done, and having taken counsel with his captains, the governor arranged that the army should cross the following morning, Saturday, and proceed in quest of the Guaycurús. He ordered rafts to be made of the canoes, to convey the horses over, and as soon as it was daylight the embarkation began in good order, the soldiers in the brigantines, and the Indians in their canoes. The zeal displayed by the Spaniards, and the loud cries of the Indians, were remarkable. From six in the morning to two o’clock in the afternoon the crossing went on, though there were two hundred canoes engaged in the passage.

A sad accident happened at this juncture. As the Spaniards vied with one another who should be first, one of the vessels was overloaded and capsized, the keel floating above water with all her living freight clinging to it. They would certainly all have been drowned, had not a number of Indians who saw the occurrence from the bank jumped at once into the water and righted the vessel. But the current was so strong at this place that two of the Spaniards were swept down the river, whom it was impossible to rescue, their bodies being recovered lower down; and their names were Diego de Ysla, a citizen of Malaga, and Juan de Valdez, a citizen of Palencia.

- 140 -

When all the people and the horses had crossed to the other side, the principal Indians came to the governor, and told him that it was their invariable custom, whenever they were about to make war, to give their captain a present, accordingly they begged him to accept it. The governor, wishing to humour them consented. Then all the chiefs, one after the other, brought him a prettily painted bow and arrow; and all the Indians, one by one, presented a painted arrow adorned with parrots’ feathers; and the remainder of that day was taken up by the presentation of these offerings, so that it was necessary to pass the night on the bank of the river, stationing sentries to keep watch.


How the spies, by order of the governor, went in search of the Guaycurús.

ON Saturday, the governor, with the advice of his captains and monks, arranged that before beginning the march, scouts should be sent in advance to reconnoitre the movements of the Guaycurús, in order that dispositions might be made to attack and drive them from the lands of the Guaranís. So the Indian spies and Christians set forth, and returned at four o’clock in the morning, with the report that the Indians had been hunting the whole day, and that their wives and children were in front of them, and that they did not appear to have any fixed idea of settling anywhere. Upon this being known, it was decided to march at once, as secretly as possible, in pursuit of the enemy, observing the precaution of not- 141 - lighting fires, and not breaking the ranks for the purpose of hunting or any other motive, in order not to give the enemy an inkling of their whereabouts. These dispositions having been taken, they started in good order, on Sunday morning, and marched at the foot of the forested slopes of the mountains, so as to conceal their movements. The Indian scouts, all picked men and swift of foot, led the advance, returning every now and again to report what they could discover of the enemy.

The order of march was as follows: the Indians went together in a troop extending over a league in length, all arrayed in parrots’ feathers, and with bows and arrows. In front of them was the advanced guard, and behind came the main body, the governor and the cavalry, followed by the Spanish infantry, arquebusiers and crossbowmen. After these came the women, bearing the munitions and provisions of the Spaniards. The Indians carried their own supplies. In this order they marched till mid-day, when they rested under some large trees, where they all halted and partook of some refreshment. After this, they resumed the march, led by the Indian guides, along footpaths, where the quantity of deer and ostriches was amazing. Neither Indians nor Spaniards, however, ventured to hunt for fear of discovering themselves to the enemy; but all kept their ranks, the Guaranís in advance numbering some ten thousand men, all painted and bedizened with necklaces of beads and plumes, and plates of copper, which glistened marvellously well in the sun. And many of them had bows, and a great number of arrows.

- 142 -


How the governor, pursuing the enemy, was informed that he was marching in front.

THE governor and his people, marching in this order all day, there happened, shortly after sunset, at the hour of Ave Maria,[322] a tumult among the Indians. And a dispute arose in this wise. A spy came back from the Guaycurús, and brought back word that they were retiring for fear of the Guaranís, and that he had seen them hunting the whole day; and that their wives and children were in advance, and he believed they would settle that evening. The Guaranís had been informed, on the other hand, by some female slaves, whom they had captured a few days previously of another tribe called Merchireses, that the report current among that tribe was that the Guaycurús were engaged in war with the Guatatas, and were about to attack this tribe, and that was why they were advancing with such haste through the country.

[322] Answering to the Angelus in France, and to the Curfew in England.

The scouts continued to follow the enemy closely, in order to see where he would halt, and give the governor information. And he, having heard all this from the last spy, and seeing that it was a fine night, ordered the march to be continued in the same order as before, a strict watch being kept, the archers with their crossbows strung, and the arquebusiers with their arquebuses loaded and fuses lighted, as the occasion required, for although the Guaranís were marching with us and were our allies, it was prudent to observe- 143 - every precaution, and place as little confidence in them as an enemy, for they are wont to be treacherous if too much trusted.


Of a panic among the Spaniards and Indians, caused by a tiger.

THE governor and his army were marching through the skirts of a thick forest, and night was approaching, when a tiger passed through the midst of the Indians, causing a great panic and confusion among them, so that the Spaniards took to their arms, and, thinking the Indians were in revolt, fell upon them, calling on Santiago. In that affray several Indians were wounded, and their companions, seeing the attack made upon them, fled to the mountains. The governor himself narrowly escaped being wounded by two gunshots, the bullets having grazed the skin of his face; and these shots were certainly fired maliciously with intent to kill him, and to please Domingo de Irala, whom he had deprived of the command of the province.

Alvar Nuñez, seeing the Indians had fled, and anxious to put an end to the disorder, dismounted and rushed into the forest after them. He called to them that it was nothing more than a tiger had caused the confusion, that he and his Spaniards were their friends, and that they were all brothers and subjects of His Majesty, and that all should advance together and drive the enemy from the country. The Indians, seeing the governor in person among them, and hearing all he said, became appeased, and descended the hill with him.- 144 - It is certain that things were at one time so critical as to endanger our men, because, if the Indians had fled and returned to their homes, they would never again have had confidence in the Spaniards. The governor then summoned the chiefs by name, and told them to follow him in perfect security, and have no fear. “If the Spaniards were about to kill you,” he added, “you were yourselves to blame, for you took up arms, and made them believe you intended to kill them; let it be clearly understood that the tiger was the cause of this panic, and let us all be friends once more. You know that the war we are about to engage in is in your interest and on your behalf only, for the Guaycurús have never seen the Spaniards, or had any trouble or grievance with them. We are proceeding against them to protect and defend you.”

Yielding to the governor’s entreaties and encouraging words, the Guaranís returned, and placed themselves under his orders, though still frightened. They said they had been thrown into confusion by the fear that the enemy was upon them, and had fled for protection into the midst of the Spaniards, and this was the only cause of their fear. When the chiefs were pacified, all the people came together, without anyone having been killed. When all were re-united, the governor ordered that henceforth the Indians should pass to the rear, and the Spaniards should march in front, the cavalry being in advance of all, so that the Indians might see with what goodwill the Spaniards marched against the enemy, and lay aside any fears they might still have left; for the Spaniards in that province depended entirely upon the Indians for their means of subsistence, and without this would have had to abandon it altogether. So they marched for two hours after sunset, and halted to sup under some trees on the provisions they carried with them.

- 145 -


How the governor and his people overtook the enemy.

AT eleven o’clock at night, when the Indians and Spaniards were resting, without light or fire for fear of betraying their presence to the Guaycurús, one of the spies, who had been sent to observe the enemy’s movements, came into camp, and reported that he had seen them setting up their village. The governor was much pleased on hearing this news, as he had feared that they might have heard the reports of the firing that had taken place in the confusion of the night. Having learned from this spy that the spot they had fixed upon for their settlement was three leagues off, he gave orders to strike the camp, and march slowly forward, in order not to arrive at the place too early, so as to be ready to begin the attack at daybreak. As a security to the friendly Indians, and to distinguish them from the enemy, he ordered them all to paint white crosses on their chests and shoulders, so that the Spaniards might recognise them as friends, and not kill them by mistake for Guaycurús. Although this precaution was adopted, it did not avail much in the obscurity of night, when friend and foe became mixed up in hand to hand fighting, and the quick blows of the sword could not be arrested.

We marched till break of day, and then reached the enemy’s habitations, waiting till daylight before delivering the attack. In order that the horses might not, by their neighing, give the enemy warning, the governor ordered their mouths to be filled with grass; meanwhile the Indians were directed to surround the enemy’s position, leaving a passage- 146 - for his escape to the mountains, so that the carnage might not be too great.

While waiting in expectation, the Guaranís were almost paralysed with fear; nothing would induce them to begin the attack, notwithstanding the entreaties and persuasion of the governor. Soon after the drums of the Guaycurús were heard beating to arms, and challenging anybody to come and fight them, saying they were few in numbers, but more valiant than any other tribe in the land; that they were masters of it, and of all the animals contained in it; they were lords also of the rivers and the fish. These people, who are accustomed to keep watch every night, a little before daybreak came forward and threw themselves on the ground, and in this position saw the host of our army, and the lighted fuses of the arquebuses. And when they saw this they cried aloud, “Who are you that dare come to our houses?” And a Christian who knew their language answered: “I am Hector (this was his name) and I have come with my people to barter (the corresponding word in their language meaning revenge) the death of the Batates[323] whom you slaughtered.” Then they answered, “Cursed be your coming, for you shall be served as they were.” Having thus spoken, they threw the burning logs they held in their hands at the Spaniards, and then rushed into their huts, seized their bows and arrows, and attacked our people with such impetuosity and courage that they appeared to make no account of them. The Indians who had come with the governor showed great cowardice, and would have fled had they dared to do so. Alvar Nuñez, seeing this, entrusted the artillery to Don Diego de Barba; Captain Salazar was placed in command of the Spanish infantry and Indians, these latter being in two divisions. He ordered the breastplates to be put on the horses, and, thus arrayed in order of battle, our forces charged the enemy with cries of “Santiago!” The- 147 - governor, on horseback, led the van, and cut down all that opposed him. When the enemy saw the horses for the first time, a great fear fell upon them, and they fled to the mountains as quickly as they could. Passing through their village, they set fire to their houses, and these being made of mats of rush and grass, caught fire at once, the flames spreading to the others, about twenty in number, all portable, and each having a length of five hundred paces. Their owners, numbering about four thousand warriors, retired behind the smoke caused by the burning houses, and whilst so concealed killed two Christians, and decapitated twelve of our friendly Indians. This operation is performed by the aid of two or three teeth of a fish called the palometa, which bites fish-hooks in two. These teeth are attached to a small stick. The Guaycurús, holding their prisoners by the hair of the head, pass this instrument round their neck, and with a twist or two of the head, completely sever it from the body, and carry it off by the hair. They will perform this operation while they are running, as if it were the easiest thing possible.[324]

[323]? Guatatas, supra, p. 142.

[324] Cf. supra, p. 55.


How the governor pursued the enemy.

HAVING defeated the Guaycurús, the governor pursued them. As one of the horsemen was following him, an Indian of the enemy seized hold of the mare he was riding by the neck, and pierced her through and through with three arrows he held in his hand; nor could they make him loose his hold of the animal before they had killed him.- 148 - If the governor had not been present at this fight the victory would have been doubtful.

These Indians are very tall, swift of foot, valiant and strong. They are Gentiles, having no fixed abode, and subsist by hunting and fishing. No nation had ever conquered them before the Spaniards, and their idea is, if anyone should vanquish them, to serve them as slaves. Their women are allowed the right of delivering a prisoner who has fallen into their hands, so that he shall neither be killed nor enslaved, and if he choose to remain among them, he is treated as one of their own people. These women have certainly more liberty than that bestowed on our women in Spain by Queen Isabella, our Sovereign Lady. The governor and his people, being tired of pursuing the enemy, returned to camp, and having assembled his army, began his march towards Ascension, followed by the Guaycurús a great distance, arms in hand; and the governor had much trouble to keep his men together, and prevent them being cut down by those of the enemy who had escaped in the fighting; for a Guaraní having possessed himself of a feather, an arrow, or a mat of the enemy’s, will return home alone without taking the precaution of waiting for his companions. In this way it happened that one thousand of the Guaranís were caught and killed singly by about twenty Guaycurús. Four hundred prisoners, men, women and children, were made in that expedition.

During the return march the horsemen speared a number of deer, and the Indians were surprised to see the swiftness of the horses, which could overtake the deer. They, too, killed very many with their arrows. At four o’clock in the afternoon a halt was made under some large trees, and they passed the night here, having stationed sentinels to keep a good watch.

- 149 -


How the governor and all his people returned to the town of Ascension.

THE following day, in broad daylight, they set out in good order, hunting as they marched, and a number of deer and ostriches were killed. Some of the former were even killed by the Spaniards with their swords, as they fled from the horsemen and Indians and sought refuge in the ranks of the infantry. It was a strange and very pleasant sight to see the chase that day. One hour-and-a-half before nightfall they arrived on the river Paraguai, where the governor had left the two brigantines and the canoes. And that day they began passing the men and horses over to the other side, and continued this the following day from morn till midday, by which time all had been ferried across, and the governor and his people marched on to the town of Ascension, where he had left a garrison of two hundred and fifty men, under the orders of Gonzalo de Mendoza. This captain had made prisoners six Indians of the tribe of Yapirús,[325] who are tall and valiant men, good warriors and runners. They neither cultivate the land nor rear animals, but live exclusively by the chase and fishing; they are enemies of the Guaranís and Guaycurús. Gonzalo de Mendoza informed the governor that these Indians had arrived the previous day, having crossed the Paraguai; and had said that their tribesmen had heard of the war waged against the Guaycurús, and that they and all the other tribes were dismayed on hearing of this, and that their- 150 - chief had sent them to make it known that they wished to be friendly with the Christians, and to offer their help, should it be wanted, against the Guaycurús. Gonzalo de Mendoza had suspected treachery in all this, and that their real object was to spy out the place; he had therefore detained them prisoners till he could satisfy himself of their sincerity of purpose. The governor ordered them to be brought at once before him, and having sent for a Spanish interpreter who knew their language, questioned them separately as to the objects of their coming. Having seen that it would be to the advantage of His Majesty’s service, he treated them kindly, and gave them many presents for them and their chief, promising he would receive them into his amity as subjects of His Majesty, and would protect and defend them, provided that they desisted from making war on the Guaranís, who were vassals of His Majesty, and that this had been the cause of the war he had made against the Guaycurús; then he dismissed them, well satisfied.

[325] Cf. supra, pp. 54 seqq.


How the Indian Agazes broke the peace.

GONZALO DE MENDOZA, besides what has been related in the previous chapter, also told the governor that the tribe of Agazes with whom a peace had been made, that very night on which he had started on his campaign against the Guaycurús, had come armed to set fire to the town, and make war upon the Spaniards. These Indians, however, had been seen by the sentries, who had sounded the alarm. Perceiving that they- 151 - were discovered, they had then taken to flight, and made a raid upon the cultivated land and establishments of the Spaniards, from whom they had taken a number of Guaraní women newly converted to Christianity. Since then they had come every night to maraud and pillage the land, causing much injury to the natives, and had thus broken the peace. The women of their own tribe, whom they had given as hostages for their good behaviour, had that same night of their arrival escaped, and were believed to have informed their people that the town was short of defenders, and that now was the time to kill the Christians. Following the advice of these women they had begun the war, and, as they are wont to do, had laid waste the dwellings of the Spaniards, where they kept their provisions, and had carried away upwards of thirty Guaraní women. The governor caused an inquiry to be made into this, and convoked the monks, clergy, officers and captains, whom he informed of the acts of the Agazes, and how they had broken faith, ordering them in the name of His Majesty to give their opinion in writing as to what they advised should be done, and to sign it with their names. And all agreed to follow this advice, whatever it might be. Then, having discussed and considered the affair thoroughly, they were all of one accord, that war should be made with fire and sword to punish the Agazes for the wrongs and injuries they had committed, and were still committing, in the country. This opinion was unanimous, and signed by all.

In order still further to establish the criminality of their acts, Alvar Nuñez ordered a judicial inquest to be held, and when this was terminated he added it to four others previously entered against them before his arrival. The Christians formerly resident in that country had slain over one thousand of these Indians because of the losses they were constantly inflicting upon them.

- 152 -


How the governor set at liberty one of the captive Guaycurús, and sent him to summon his fellow tribesmen.

HAVING proceeded against the Guaycurús as we have said, the governor sent for the chiefs of the Guaranís who had marched against the Guaycurús, and ordered them to bring before him all the prisoners they had taken on that expedition, and that none should be concealed, under a severe penalty. The Spaniards also brought theirs, and when all were assembled, he told them His Majesty had ordered that none of those Guaycurús should be enslaved, because all had not been done that ought to have been done to ascertain their condition, and that His Majesty would be rather pleased if these prisoners were given their liberty. Among these captives was one of superior breeding and appearance, whom the governor ordered to be set free, desiring him to summon all his fellow tribesmen, because he had something to say to them in the name of the king, and that if they wished he would protect them, and give them presents, and so he let him go, giving him some presents; and he departed, well satisfied, to his own people. Four days afterwards, he returned accompanied by all his tribe, many of whom were badly wounded; all came, leaving none behind.

- 153 -


How the Guaycurús came and submitted to His Majesty.

FOUR days after the departure of the prisoner, one Monday morning, he arrived on the bank of the river, accompanied by all his tribe; and they halted by a wood on the bank of the Paraguai. When the governor was informed of it he sent several canoes across with some Christians and interpreters to bring them to the town. Twenty of the Guaycurús having crossed in the canoes, came before the governor, and squatted on one foot in his presence, as they are accustomed to do. They spoke through an interpreter, and said as follows: “We are the chiefs of the Guaycurús, and our forefathers have always been at war with all the tribes of this land—Guaranís, Ymperus,[326] Agazes, Guatatas, Naperús, Mayas, and many others, whom we have hitherto always vanquished, and no people has ever conquered us, and we never thought we should be conquered by anyone. Now we have found others more valiant than ourselves, and we have come to place ourselves in their power and be their slaves. You are the chief of the Spaniards, command us and we will obey your orders. The Guaranís know full well that they are not strong enough to make war on us; we fear them not. They would never have dared to interfere with us without the aid of the Spaniards. Our wives and children are on the opposite bank and are ready to make their submission as we have done. We speak in our own name and on behalf of all our tribe. We have come to offer our submission to the King of the Spaniards.”

[326] Yapirús: cf. supra, p. 149.

- 154 -


How the governor, after making peace with the Guaycurús, delivered the prisoners to them.

HAVING heard what the envoys of the Guaycurús had said, the governor, seeing that so redoubtable a people had come to place themselves in his power with so much submission (a thing that caused much surprise throughout the land), desired them to be informed, through interpreters, that he had come by order of His Majesty to bring all the people to the knowledge of Our Lord, to be Christians and vassals of His Majesty, and to be well treated; if they ceased making war upon the Guaranís he would protect and regard them as friends, and would treat them better than other nations, and that he would restore all the captives taken from them without ransom, both those taken by the Spaniards and Guaranís. And this was thereupon done. When the Guaycurús had received them, they affirmed once more their wish to become vassals of His Majesty, promising obedience and submission, and that they would henceforth not molest the Guaranís, and that they would bring whatever they took, to the town for the provisionment of the Spaniards. Alvar Nuñez was much pleased with their promises, and he distributed gifts and jewels among the chiefs, and peace was cemented.

Since then they have always kept the peace, and whenever the governor sent for them, hastened to obey his commands. Every eighth day they came laden with venison and wild boar, roasted on barbacoas.[327] These barbacoas- 155 - are like gridirons, standing two palms high above the ground, and made of light sticks. The flesh is cut into steaks and then laid upon them and roasted. They also brought much fish and plenty of other provisions, such as grease, linen mantles woven of a kind of teasel,[328] dyed in bright colours; and skins of the tiger and tapir, deer and other animals. When they came, the markets for the sale of all these commodities lasted two days. The natives of the other side of the river bartered with them; it was a very great market, and they (the Guaycurús) behaved peacefully towards the Guaranís. These gave them, in exchange for their commodities, maize, manioc, and mandubis; these last are like hazel nuts or chufas, and grow near the ground[329]; they also supplied them with bows and arrows. Two hundred canoes crossed the river together for this market, laden with all these things; and it was the finest thing in the world to see them cross. The celerity of their movements is such that they sometimes collide with one another, and all the merchandise falls into the water. Then the Indians to whom this happens, and those awaiting them on the bank, burst into fits of laughter, and the jokes and merriment continue all the time the market is being held. They come to this market in full paint and in their feathers, and all in this fine plumage are carried down the river, and they vie one with the other who shall be the first across; and this is the cause of their frequent collisions and upsets. In their marketing they talk so loud and so much, that they cannot hear one another for the noise, and all are very gay and jolly.

[327] Barbacoa, i.e., parrillas.

[328] There are several classes of teasel (cardas) in Paraguai. The fibres of one of them (the caraguatá) are used instead of hemp and thread.

[329] Pea-nuts.

- 156 -


How the Apirús came and made a treaty of peace and submitted.

A FEW days after the departure of the six Apirús to return to their tribe in accordance with the instructions of the governor, some of these people arrived one Sunday morning on the bank of the river opposite Ascension, and from the signs they made it was evident they wished to cross. Thereupon Alvar Nuñez sent canoes to the other side to find out what people they were. As the canoes touched the opposite bank the Indians entered them and came over to the city. On presenting themselves to the governor they said they were of the tribe of Apirús, and having seated themselves on one foot in token of their mission being a peaceful one, they stated they were the chiefs of that tribe, and had come to make acquaintance with the chief of the Christians and to be friends with him, and obey his orders.

The expedition against the Guaycurús had been noised through the land, and had caused much fear among all the tribes, inasmuch as these Indians, the most valiant and redoubtable of all in that country, should have been attacked and defeated by the Christians. In proof of the peace and amity they (the Apirús) were desirous of maintaining with the Christians, they had brought some of their daughters, and entreated the governor to accept them as hostages and as proofs of their goodwill and friendship. In the presence of the captains and clergy, the governor replied that he wished them to understand that he had come to that country in order that its people might be brought to the true Christian- 157 - faith and become the subjects of His Majesty; he enjoined them to make peace with the Guaranís, who had become vassals of the king, and he promised if they would keep the peace and live in friendship with all the natives of that land, that he would favour and protect them, and allow them to come whenever they wished to the city of Ascension to barter with the Christians and Indians residing there, as the Guaycurús had been allowed to do since peace had been made with them. To make sure of their loyalty, and to please them by showing the value he set on their friendship, he consented to receive as hostages the women and girls they had brought, entrusting them to the care of the monks and clergy, in order that they might be instructed in the doctrines of Christianity, and be taught good manners and customs. To all this the Indians assented, and showed much pleasure and satisfaction at becoming the king’s vassals. Since that time they have behaved obediently, and shown a readiness to obey the governor’s orders. The interview terminated, the Yapirús received many presents, and took their departure well satisfied. These Indians never remain in one place more than three days, but are continually engaged in hunting and fishing in order to provide subsistence for their wives and families. These habits of life, and their want of a fixed abode, rendered it impossible for the clergy to teach them the Christian religion, for the necessities of their lives prevented them from abandoning their nomadic habits, dependent as they were upon these for the means of procuring food; if, on the other hand, they were to be compelled to give up this mode of livelihood, they might die of hunger. Hence it would be lost labour to teach them, nor could the monks live with them, owing to the insecurity of remaining among a people so little to be trusted.

- 158 -


Of the judgment passed on the Agazes by the advice of the monks, captains, and other officers of His Majesty.

HAVING received the submission of the aforesaid Indians, as related in the previous chapter, Alvar Nuñez desired to be shown the act of accusation drawn up against the Agazes. Having seen this and the former judgments entered against this people, it seemed to him that their guilt had been clearly established for the robberies and murders committed by them in the land. He then summoned the monks and the clergy, the captains and officers, and showed them the act of accusation and the instructions he had received from the king; and having well considered it, they all unanimously advised that he should make war upon the Agazes with fire and sword, for the service of God and His Majesty. In the first place, however, thirteen or fourteen of these Indians, who had been made prisoners, were condemned to death. The Alcalde Mayor,[330] upon whom devolved the carrying out of this sentence, entering the prison with certain others to fetch them out to be executed, was suddenly attacked by them with knives, and might have been killed, had not some persons hastened to succour him, and used their swords to protect him. In the scuffle which ensued two of the prisoners were slain with the sword, and the rest were taken out and hanged.

[330] The Alcalde mayor was the mayor of the city.

- 159 -


How the governor sent relief to Buenos Ayres.

PEACE and tranquillity being now established, the governor sent a party to the relief of Buenos Ayres and Captain Juan Romero, who had been previously despatched with two brigantines and some men with the same purpose. For this new relief the governor decided on sending Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza and two other brigantines with provisions and one hundred men. These dispositions having been taken, he sent for the monks, clergy, and officers, and spoke to them of the measures to be adopted for the discovery of the province, especially with the object of finding a route by land by which the Spaniards might be supplied with provisions in passing through desolate uninhabited tracts, of which there were many in that country. He charged them in His Majesty’s name to give this matter their serious consideration, and advise him in the best way possible. The following are the names of the monks and clergy: the commissary, Friar Bernardo de Armenta, Alonzo Lebron, a Franciscan, Juan de Salazar, of the Order of Mercy, Luiz de Herrezuelo, of the Order of St. Jerome, Francisco d’Andrada, the bachelor Martin d’Almenza, the bachelor Martinez, and Juan Gabriel de Lezcano, clergymen and chaplains of the city of Ascension. He also consulted the captains and officers of His Majesty, and all these, having discussed the question fully, were of opinion that he should with all convenient haste proceed to explore the inhabited country through which the route might lie, into the interior of the country, for the causes and reasons assigned by the governor. And this was the order of the day.

- 160 -

That he might proceed on this discovery in the best way, and as promptly as possible, Cabeza de Vaca sent for the principal Indians and the elders of the Guaranís, and told them of his desire to seek out the tribes in that province of whom they had often spoken to him; but before doing so he wished to send some Christians to reconnoitre the route, and since they (the Guaranís) were Christians and vassals of His Majesty, he asked them kindly to furnish guides from their own people who knew the country, that by doing so they would be rendering good service to the king and advancing their own interests, besides receiving pay and presents for their services. To this the Indian chiefs responded that they would go and prepare the people, who would be ready to start whenever they were required. Many of them offered on the spot to accompany the Christians, foremost among these being Aracaré, a chief of the upper river, and others whom we shall mention by-and-bye. The goodwill of the Indians having thus been manifested, three Christians, who knew the native languages and were experienced men, set out with the Indians who had offered to undertake the discovery. The governor recommended them to use the utmost diligence and fidelity in reconnoitring the road. Meanwhile he ordered three brigantines to be equipped with provisions and other necessaries. In these he sent ninety Christians under the command of Captain Domingo de Irala of Biscay, with orders to ascend the Paraguai as far as he could, and discover as much as possible in the space of three months and a half; to take note of what settlements of natives there were on the banks of the river, collect every information, and report to him on the tribes and inhabitants of that province. The three vessels, with their complement of Christians, set off on November 20th, 1542. With them embarked the three Spaniards and the Indians who were to reconnoitre in advance the route by land from a port on the Paraguai, known as Las Piedras (the rocks), seventy leagues above Ascension.

- 161 -

Eight days after the departure of the ships, Captain Vergara wrote that the three Spaniards, together with 800 Indians, had set out from the port of Las Piedras,[331] in the 24th degree, below the tropic, to prosecute their journey by land, and that the Indians were in good heart, and pleased to show the road. He further wrote that, having recommended the three Spaniards to the care of the Indians, he had resumed his navigation up the river for the purpose of exploring it.

[331] Las Piedras, or Pan de Azúcar, is in 21° 25′.


How the three Spaniards and the Indians returned from their reconnaissance.

TWENTY days after the departure of the three Spaniards from the city of Ascension to reconnoitre the road, they returned and said, that having taken the chief Aracaré as their principal guide, they started from the port of Las Piedras with 800 Indians, more or less, and marched for about four days into the interior, following the guidance of Aracaré, a man much feared and respected by the Indians. He had, however, ordered all the fields where they passed to be set on fire, and this was a signal to their enemies to come and attack them, besides being contrary to the order usually observed in exploring a new country. Moreover, Aracaré openly told the Indians to return, and not to show the country to the Christians, who were evil, and he spoke in this fashion to them, inciting them to rebel. They had begged the Indians to desist from burning the fields, and entreated them- 162 - to follow the road, but they had refused; at the end of the fourth day the Indians had turned back, having abandoned the Spaniards to their fate, who were in danger of being lost in an unknown country, all the Indians and guides having turned and fled.


How wood was prepared for the construction of two brigantines and one caravel.

ABOUT this time the governor sent in search of timber in order to build brigantines for the voyage of discovery he proposed making, and a caravel to send to Spain, to report to His Majesty how things were going in the province with reference to its discovery and conquest. The governor went in person to the forests and plains with the officers, the shipmasters, and sawyers, and within the space of three months sufficient wood had been prepared for the construction of one caravel and ten rowing vessels (i.e., brigantines) for the navigation and exploration of the river. All this wood was transported by the natives to Ascension, and the construction of the brigantines was at once begun.

- 163 -


How the Indians came again and offered their services.

THOSE Christians who had been sent to discover a road by which they might enter the province, having returned (as we have seen) without bringing any report or information of what had to be done, and many other natives having offered to assist the Spaniards in the discovery of the country, the governor was pleased to speak with the principal among them who came from the riparian districts and were newly converted to Christianity, whose names were Juan de Salazar Cupirati, Lorenzo Moquirasi, Timbuay, and Gonzalo Mayraru, besides others, and to accept their services, offered with much alacrity and goodwill, promising them in the name of His Majesty good pay and handsome reward. Four Spaniards, who knew the country well, asked to be allowed to proceed on this discovery with the Indians, promising to use every diligence in this commission. Seeing this, and that they offered their services spontaneously, the governor acceded to their request. Accordingly, these four Spaniards, the Indian chiefs, and 1,500 other natives set out on the 15th December 1542. Some ascended the river Paraguai in canoes, while others went by land to Las Piedras, whence they were to make their entrance into the interior. They were obliged to pass through the lands and villages of Aracaré, but would not be turned from their purpose this time by the words of this chief, and pursued their march in spite of every attempt on his part to stop them. Their journey from Las Piedras led for thirty days through a desolate region, where their sufferings from hunger were very great. Some of the Indians died, while the Spaniards were reduced to such- 164 - straits from hunger and thirst that they lost their way and did not know where to go. They therefore decided on returning by the same way as they came, supporting themselves as well as they could, on the wild thistle and other herbs. At the end of forty-five days they returned to the city of Ascension. Aracaré coming down the river, met them on the road and caused them much trouble, showing himself in all this to be the deadly enemy of the Christians and our friendly Indians. At length the Indians and Christians arrived at Ascension, feeble and tired. The governor having learned of the outrageous conduct of Aracaré, which had now become notorious, ordered an act of accusation to be drawn up against him, and to be notified to this chief—a somewhat dangerous commission, because Aracaré came out with arms in his hands, followed by a number of friends and relations, with the intent to kill the Spaniards sent to him. The process, however, was duly served according to law, and Aracaré was sentenced to death and executed,[332] the natives being made to understand the just cause for which this had been done.

[332] This appears to have been the chief Achkere, whose execution was entrusted to Domingo de Irala. Cf. Schmidt, supra, p. 37.

On the 20th December the four brigantines, sent by the governor to the river Paraná to the relief of the Spaniards who had come by ship from the island of St. Catherine, arrived at Ascension, together with the ship’s boat. In these five craft arrived all the people, who soon disembarked. With them came Pedro de Estopiñan Cabeza de Vaca, who had been left in command of the vessel and the people.[333] He reported that on arriving with his ship in the river Paraná he had gone straight to Buenos Ayres, and at the entrance of that port, near the settlement, he had found a ship’s mast planted in the earth, with an inscription carved- 165 - on it as follows: “Aquí esta una carta” (Here is a letter). On searching, this letter was found in a hole bored in the mast. It was opened, and found to be signed by Alonzo Cabrera, surveyor of foundries, and by Domingo de Irala of Biscay, who styled himself lieut.-governor of the province. Its purport was, that Buenos Ayres had been abandoned, and its inhabitants removed to the city of Ascension, for reasons set forth in the letter. Pedro de Estopiñan found the place in a state of revolt, and his men ran imminent risk of death both from famine and war, for the Guaranís attacked them incessantly. Twenty-five Spaniards, in order to escape starvation, fled to the coast of Brazil to rejoin the ship, and had not timely succour arrived all must have perished. As it was, the day after the arrival of the relieving party, consisting of 150 Spaniards, the Indians attacked them before daybreak, set fire to their camp, killing and wounding five or six Spaniards, and in spite of the resistance from the men on shore, and those on the vessels, their lives were in great jeopardy. He further reported that measures had been promptly taken to re-establish the settlement and port of Buenos Ayres on another site at the confluence of the Rio Paraná with the San Juan, but this work had been much interfered with by the approach of winter, and the floods, which made breaches in the walls as fast as they were erected. They were consequently compelled to desist from their efforts and bring all the people to Ascension.

[333] Cf. supra, p. 106 seq.

On the eve of All Saints, or on this day itself, some disaster always happened to Gonzalo de Mendoza. On this particular occasion, while navigating at the mouth of the river, one of his vessels was wrecked, and a number of his men drowned. It happened in this wise: the vessels were all at anchor, near the shore, under a high bank, his brigantine being moored to a tree, when an earthquake took place. The shore was thrust up, and fell into the river, bringing down with it the tree to which the galley was moored. This- 166 - struck the vessel such a tremendous blow as to cause it to capsize and drift down stream, bottom upwards, for half a league. Fourteen persons, men and women, were drowned on this and the other vessels. According to the report of those who were present, such a terrific thing had never before occurred. After these experiences they arrived at Ascension, and were all comfortably lodged and provided with necessaries. The governor, with all his people, returned thanks to God for His mercy in having brought them into safety, and saved them from so many dangers.


How the settlement of Ascension was burned.

ON the 4th February of the following year, 1543, one Sunday morning, three hours before daybreak, a straw house in the city of Ascension took fire, and the flames spread so rapidly that in a short time the conflagration was awful to see. The Spaniards were greatly dismayed, thinking it was the work of Indian incendiaries, who wished to drive them from the country. In this emergency the governor caused the alarm to be sounded, and all hurriedly took up arms and repaired to their several stations, to be ready to defend their lives and the place. Owing to these measures, the Spaniards escaped with their lives, but their property was all destroyed. Upwards of 200 houses were burnt down, only fifty being saved, these being separated from the rest by a stream of water which ran between them. Upwards of 5,000 measures of maize were burnt in grain, this being the staple production of the country. A quantity of maize-flour, and other- 167 - provisions, such as poultry and pigs, were destroyed, and the Spaniards were reduced to such a state of destitution that they had no clothes to wear. The fire continued for four days, burning everything above and below ground, even to the walls of the town and fortress. It was ascertained that the fire originated with an Indian woman living with a Christian, who was shaking a burning hammock, when a spark fell on the wall of the house; this being of straw, instantly ignited, and burst into flames. The governor, seeing the miserable condition of the Spaniards, whose houses and property had been destroyed, supplied them with his own things, giving food to those who had none. In this way he promptly relieved their necessities, and caused the houses to be rebuilt of less inflammable materials, using for this purpose clay (tapia). In a few days, such was the energy displayed, the rebuilding was completed.


How Domingo de Irala arrived.

ON the 15th February Domingo de Irala, returning from his exploration of the Paraguai, moored his three brigantines in the port of Ascension, and landed to make his report to the governor. He said that from the 20th October, when he departed from Ascension, to the 6th January, the festival of the Three Kings, he was constantly navigating the river Paraguai, holding intercourse with the natives along the banks, and noting down the information they gave him. On that day he arrived at a settlement of Indians, who cultivate the soil and rear fowls and geese: the latter as a protection against- 168 - crickets, which do them much damage, for these insects gnaw and eat their mantles, and breed in the straw of which their houses are built. In order to preserve their garments they keep them and their furs in large earthenware jars, covered with clay lids. In this way they protect their wardrobe. When the crickets fall from the roofs of the houses in large numbers the geese devour them eagerly, and this happens two or three times a day, and is a sight worth seeing. These Indians dwell in the midst of lagoons, and are called Cacocies Chaneses.[334] They told Domingo de Irala that the way into the interior of the country lay through their territory; he travelled for three days by it, and it seemed to him a good land; they had also given him an idea of the regions beyond. There, as he learned, provisions were abundant enough to supply a party of explorers who might enter and take possession of the country. These Indians had shown him specimens of their gold and silver, and had offered to guide him. During the whole of his voyage he did not see a more convenient or better country by which to penetrate into the interior, and he had named the port where he landed, in honour of the day of his arrival, Puerto de los Reyes (Port of the Kings[335]). The inhabitants having expressed a great desire to see the Spaniards, he entreated the governor to go and make their acquaintance.

[334] These Indians are the Xarayos.

[335] This port was situated in 18° latitude.

When Domingo de Irala had made his report concerning all that he had seen and learned, Cabeza de Vaca commanded the monks and the clergy, the officers and the captains, to assemble, and caused to be read to them the report brought by Domingo de Irala. He begged them to give him their opinion and advice as to what should be done for the discovery of this country in the service of God- 169 - and His Majesty, seeing that now the best and most certain route hitherto known into the interior had been found. And all the assembly agreed that it was expedient for the service of God and His Majesty that an entrance into the country should be made from the port of Los Reyes, and their opinion was reduced into writing and signed with their names. They were also of opinion that the discovery should be made without delay, as provisions and other necessaries were to be found there in abundance.

Having seen and approved of the opinion of the monks, the clergy, and the captains, the governor gave orders to equip and make ready the ten brigantines which had been built for the service of His Majesty. He bade the Guaranís supply provisions for the voyage, the fire having destroyed the stores of the Spaniards, and he expended on these preparations his own resources, paying the Indians for the provisions they brought, besides giving them many presents. This he did so as not to delay matters till the next harvest. In order that everything might be prepared with the utmost speed, he sent Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza with three brigantines up the river Paraguai to the lands and villages of the friendly Indians, vassals of His Majesty, to load these vessels there, ordering him to pay for everything, and treat the natives in a kindly way, satisfying them with presents, of which he took a large number, and he charged him to keep a watch and see that the interpreters dealt fairly by the Indians, abstaining from doing them any wrong or compulsion, under threat of punishment. Those were his orders.

- 170 -


What Gonzalo de Mendoza wrote.

A FEW days after Gonzalo de Mendoza had set out with the three brigantines he wrote and informed the governor of his arrival at the port of Giguy,[336] and of his having sent into the interior to those villages where provisions were obtainable, and that many Indian chiefs had been to visit him, and had begun bringing in provisions; that the interpreters had fled from the natives and taken refuge in the brigantines, because an attempt to kill them had been made by the friends and relatives of an Indian who was in revolt and was raising the country against the Christians and against our Indian allies, advising them not to give us provisions, and that many Indian chiefs had come to beg for assistance and help to protect their tribes against two chiefs named Guaçani and Atabare,[337] who with all their relatives and friends were making war upon them with fire and sword, burning their settlements and ravaging their lands, threatening to kill them and destroy them utterly if they would not unite to drive out the Christians. He (Gonzalo de Mendoza) was temporising and parleying with these people till he knew what measures it would be expedient to adopt, and meanwhile the Indians had brought no provisions, because the enemy had blocked the roads, and his Spaniards were starving.

[336] This river is the Jejuy.

[337] Tabaré; cf. supra, p. 38.

Having read Gonzalo de Mendoza’s letter, the governor assembled the monks, clergy, officers, and captains, and caused it to be read to them. He then asked them to give their- 171 - opinion as to what they thought expedient to be done in that emergency, having regard to the king’s instructions, which were also read to them; and they answered, that since the Indians were making war against the Christians and His Majesty’s vassals, their opinion was (and it was recorded in writing and signed with their names) that he should march against them, and, after demanding peace, should exhort them to give in their submission; failing which, and after repeating his request twice, thrice, or as often as was deemed necessary, and warning them that they would be held responsible for any evil consequences that might ensue, that then war should be waged against them as enemies, for the defence and protection of the friendly natives.

A few days after the above occurrences, the said Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza wrote again to the governor, informing him how the Indian chiefs Guaçani and Atabare were making a cruel war against the friendly natives, over-running their land, slaying and robbing them, as far as the port where the Christians were collecting provisions, and that the Indian allies were much harassed, and were daily beseeching him (Gonzalo de Mendoza) for aid, and saying that if he did not soon help them, all the Indians would rise in revolt, reminding him, too, of the cruel losses such a war entailed upon them.

- 172 -


How the governor helped those who were with Gonzalo de Mendoza.

AFTER reading this letter, and becoming aware of the complaints made by the natives, Alvar Nuñez summoned another council of monks, clergy, and officers, and, in pursuance of their advice, commissioned Domingo de Irala to take measures to protect the Indian allies, and put an end to the war that had broken out, aiding in every way those natives who had sustained losses at the hands of the enemy. To this effect he sent four brigantines with 150 men besides those who had already gone under the command of Gonzalo de Mendoza, and ordered Domingo de Irala to proceed at once to the ports and villages of Guaçani and Atabare, and summon them, in the name of His Majesty, to desist from the war and to return to their homes, and live henceforward in peace and amity with the Spaniards. Should these chiefs refuse to listen to these proposals, which were to be repeated as often as possible, that he was then to make war upon them, doing them, however, as little injury as he could, and avoiding murders, robberies, and other evils. He was to compel them to make peace and enter into friendly relations with our Indian allies, for while this fighting was going on there could be no peace in the country, and the service of His Majesty would not be advanced. The governor also sent presents for distribution among those who were inclined to come to terms.

- 173 -


How four Christians died of their wounds during this war.

WHEN Domingo de Irala arrived at the village of the Indians he sent to summon Atabare and Guaçani, the principal instigators of the war. These chiefs had a large number of people with them who were prepared for fighting, and would not listen to the interpreters when they summoned them to make peace. They even defied the friendly Indians, robbed and caused them much injury. While protecting our allies, a number of skirmishes took place, and some Christians were wounded. They were sent to Ascension to be healed, but four or five died of their wounds. It was their own fault, and the consequence of the excesses they committed, for the wounds were light, and would not have caused death. One of them died miserably from a scratch of an arrow on his nose. These arrows are rubbed with poisonous herbs, and when those wounded by them commit excesses with women, they die. In general, however, the herbs of this country are not dangerous.

The governor wrote again to Domingo de Irala, urging him to renew friendly relations with the Indians by every means in his power, because it was advantageous for His Majesty’s service. Indeed, as long as the country was disturbed by war, surprises, revolts, murders, and robberies, troubles would never cease. By bringing about a peace, he wrote, they would be doing their duty towards God and the king. At the same time he sent a quantity of provisions for gratuitous distribution among the Indians who had- 174 - served, adding all that he could think of to strengthen peace and concord.

Under these circumstances Domingo de Irala proceeded to make peace. He found the enemy much harassed and fatigued by the war they had been carrying on with the Spaniards, and desirous of putting an end to it. They were disposed to come to terms with our Indian allies and renew their allegiance to the king. Finally, Guaçani and Atabare, and many other chiefs and people, accepted the conditions offered them, and came before the governor to ratify the peace. He told them that in discontinuing hostilities they had done their duty, that he forgave them their past disobedience, and that if they rebelled again they would be punished without mercy. After this he gave them presents, and dismissed them very happy and contented. Seeing now that the country was at peace, and the natives living in concord, the governor ordered them to hasten bringing in the provisions and other necessaries, in order to equip ten vessels he was preparing for the discovery of the country by the port of Los Reyes, in accordance with the resolution come to. In a few days the natives brought over 3,000 quintals of manioc flour and maize, and with these he completed loading the ships, paying for everything to the satisfaction of the Indians. He also furnished the Spaniards with arms and other necessaries.

- 175 -


How the friars took to flight.

NOW when the brigantines were on the point of sailing, and everything was ready for the voyage of exploration as recommended by the council, the friars Bernaldo de Armenta and Alonso Lebron his companion, were silently and secretly induced to proceed to the coast of Brazil by the route explored by the governor, bearing certain letters for His Majesty, acquainting him with the bad use the governor was making of the powers and authority graciously conferred upon him. This was done out of jealousy and hatred towards the governor, and in order to hinder his exploration and discovery of the country, so that his service to the king might be of no effect. The motive of their conduct was as follows: When he arrived in that country the governor found everything disorganised, the Christians in poor circumstances and without arms, and the inhabitants complaining of the extortionate behaviour of the officers, who, to advance their personal interests, had most unjustly levied tribute and a new tax, contrary to the custom of Spain and the Indies, to which they gave the name of quinto, as we have already stated in the course of this narrative. But Alvar Nuñez not suffering them to continue these exactions, they opposed his discovery, and it was on this account that the monks were induced by them to depart. These friars caused the people to swear on the crucifix that they would not divulge their departure for Brazil. But when the Indian chiefs had notice of it they came before the governor, and demanded the restitution of their daughters, whom they had given up to the monks to be- 176 - taught the Christian religion, as it had reached their ears that the monks were intending to go to the coast of Brazil and carry their daughters along with them; and as they understood that all those who went thither never returned alive, and that the girls did not wish to go, and would have run away were it not that the friars kept them in custody. When the governor heard this the monks had already set out on their journey, so he sent after them, and they were overtaken two leagues from the city and obliged to return. The girls they were carrying off were thirty-five in number, besides other Christian converts, all of whom were brought back. This caused a great tumult among the people, as well Spaniards as Indians, and great complaint was made by the Indians at the abduction of their daughters. They also brought before the governor an Indian named Domingo from the coast of Brazil, a person of great importance in His Majesty’s service. Then Cabeza de Vaca ordered the depositions against the monks and officers to be taken, and proceedings were begun against them for the crime they had committed against His Majesty. In order that he might not be detained in his voyage of exploration, he deputed the cause to a judge, and bade him investigate the whole matter as to the misdeeds of the accused persons and the charges brought against them. Two of them he took with him on bail, leaving the others in prison in the city, suspended from office till such time as His Majesty should ordain as to what should further be done in the matter.

- 177 -


How the governor took four hundred men with him on his voyage of discovery.

ALL preparations being now completed for the voyage of discovery, and the ten brigantines having been laden with provisions, the governor selected 400 arquebusiers and archers to accompany him on that journey. Half of these embarked on the brigantines, the others, together with twelve horsemen, went by land along the river bank as far as the port of Guayviaño, keeping constantly among settlements of the friendly Guaranís, this being the best route. The horses were taken on the vessels, but in order that they should not consume the provisions on board, and might feed themselves on shore, they were sent eight days beforehand. The factor, Pedro Dorantes, and the accountant, Philip de Caceres, went with them. Eight days afterwards the governor embarked, having left as his lieutenant Juan de Salazar de Espinosa, whom he charged to administer the province, and govern peacefully and justly in the name of the king. Two hundred soldiers—arquebusiers and archers—and six horsemen remained behind to protect and defend the city. On the day of Our Lady of September,[338] the church upon which Cabeza de Vaca had himself worked ever since its destruction by fire was handsomely finished. He set out from Ascension with twenty brigantines and 120 canoes. In these were 1,200 Indian warriors, whose strange appearance, armed with bows and arrows,- 178 - produced a wonderful effect, in their war paint adorned with plumes and feathers, and wearing on their brows plates of metal, so that when the sun shone they glittered marvellously. The Indians said they wore these plates in order that they might so glitter and dazzle the eyes of the enemy; and they went forth with loud cries and shouts, all as merry as possible. When the governor departed from the city he left word with Captain Salazar to use every effort to complete the caravel, which he had ordered to be built, and make it ready against his return, so that he might then send his report to Spain of all that had happened in his voyage of exploration. Having made all the necessary dispositions, and the weather being favourable, he reached the port of Tapua,[339] where he was received by the chiefs. These he told that he was about to undertake a voyage of discovery of that land; he therefore begged them always to live in peace and concord with their neighbours. If they obeyed him they would always be as well, and better, treated than heretofore, and he gave presents to be distributed among them, their sons and relatives, and left them well pleased and satisfied.

[338] This is the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, on the 8th of September.

[339] Cf. supra, p. 137.

- 179 -


How the governor left part of the provisions he had brought with him.

BECAUSE the vessels were so heavily laden with provisions that they could not safely carry them, the governor left in Tapuá more than 200 quintals, and then sailed further, and after a prosperous voyage arrived at the port called by the Indians Inriquizava,[340] arriving there at one o’clock in the night. Here he remained three days in order to open intercourse with the natives, who came to see him in large numbers, bringing provisions, which were distributed among the Spaniards, as well as among the friendly Guaranís. All these people were received with kindness by the governor, because they had always been our good friends. He gave presents to the chiefs, told them he was about to discover the country, which would be a good and profitable thing for all of them, and meanwhile he begged them to keep peace with the Spaniards that remained in the city of Ascension. This they promised him they would do, and so having left them well pleased and satisfied, he proceeded on his voyage up the river.

[340] Yeruquihaba. Cf. supra, p. 58.

- 180 -


How he stopped to speak with the natives of another port and land.

ON the 12th of that month he reached another port, called Itaqui, where he moored his brigantines, in order to hold intercourse with the natives, who are Guaranís and vassals of the king. That day a large number of Indians, accompanied by their chiefs, came laden with provisions, whom the governor informed, as he had done the others, of his intended voyage of exploration. These also he exhorted to keep peace with the Spanish Christians at Ascension, and besides paying them for the provisions they brought, he distributed presents among the chiefs and their relatives, leaving them well satisfied. He stayed here two days and then sailed farther, passing by a second port, Itaqui, and afterwards moored at the port of Guaçani—the chief who revolted with Atabare in the war I have spoken of, but who was now living in peace and amity with the Spaniards and their allies. As soon as these chiefs knew of the arrival of the governor they made haste to come and see him, whom he received very lovingly, because they had kept the peace, and all their people were joyous and confident because these chiefs, their masters, having entered into friendly relations with the Christians, all the country was at peace and in tranquillity. The following day they came again, and he showed them much affection, and gave them and their relatives many presents, besides paying for all the provisions they brought, so that they remained well satisfied. And because they were the principal chiefs of those natives, the governor spoke to them in the kindest way, and recommended them to keep peace- 181 - in all that land, and be diligent in serving and visiting the Spaniards at Ascension, obeying the orders of His Majesty. They answered, that since they had made peace they were determined to keep it, as he would see. In proof of their obedience, Atabare offered to accompany them, being a man well experienced in warfare, and Guaçani said he would remain at home and see that peace was not broken. The governor thought well of all this, and liking the offer made by Atabare, he deemed it prudent to accept it, because if this chief went with him there would be additional security for the observance of peace. He therefore agreed to his coming, and gave him richer presents than he had ever done before, for it was certain that by keeping this chief satisfied the whole country would remain at peace, and nobody would dare to raise a rebellion. So the governor earnestly recommended the Christians to the good offices of Guaçani, who promised to accomplish all he had undertaken. The governor remained four days at this place, conferring with those chiefs and their people, and giving them presents.

When they were about to leave this port, the horse of the factor Pedro Dorantes died, so he told the governor he did not feel disposed to continue in the discovery and conquest of that province without a horse, and begged that he might be allowed to return to the city of Ascension, leaving as his deputy his son, Pedro Dorantes, to serve in the office of factor. This youth was admitted to the said office in the place of his father and allowed to accompany the expedition.

Atabare, the Indian chief, set out in company with the governor, together with thirty relatives and dependents, in three canoes. Sailing from the port of Guaçani, the expedition navigated up the Rio Paraguai, and on Friday, the 24th of September, arrived at the port of Ipaneme,[341] where the- 182 - governor ordered the brigantines to be moored in order to communicate with the Indians who were vassals of the king, as well as because he had heard that among those Indians there was a Guaraní who had lived for a long while in captivity with the Payaguás and knew their language, their country, and villages. He wished to take him with him as interpreter to the Payaguás, who had slain Juan de Ayolas and other Christians, and obtain in a peaceful way the gold and silver of which they had robbed that leader.

[341] River Ipané.

As soon as he arrived at the port all the natives came towards him, much pleased and laden with provisions. The governor received them kindly and gave orders that they should be paid for all they brought. To the chiefs he gave many presents, and having spoken and dealt with them, he gave them to understand the necessity he was in of having that Indian as interpreter, so as to bring about friendly relations with the Payaguás, and to guide his army by the best route to the settlements of the interior. Then these Indians immediately sent in search of him, to find him out with the least possible delay.


How he sent for an interpreter to treat with the Payaguás.

THREE days after the natives of Ipaneme had sent in search of the Indian interpreter, he arrived at the port where the governor was staying, and offered to accompany him on his expedition and show him the country of the Payaguás. Then the governor set sail from that port and went further up the river Paraguai, and in four days’ time arrived at the port of Guayviaño, which is the extreme point occupied by the Guaranís. Here he- 183 - ordered his vessels to be moored, in order that he might speak with the natives, who came to see him with their chiefs, laden with provisions, and the governor received them very well, and treated them and their chiefs in the same gracious manner. These natives informed him that his cavalry were marching through the country, and had already passed through some of their settlements, where they had been well received and provisioned, and that they had been directed on the road to Itabitan,[342] where they intended to await the arrival of the brigantines. As soon as he heard these tidings the governor ordered his flotilla to set sail, and departed from the port of Guayviaño, and, having a fair wind, went on navigating up the river. That same day, at nine o’clock in the morning, he reached the port of Itabitan, where he found his cavalry arrived in good condition. They informed him that they had travelled through the country, keeping on good terms with the inhabitants, to whom they had distributed the gifts they had taken with them.

[342] Itapuan.


How the horses were embarked in the port.

CABEZA DE VACA remained two days in the port of Itabitan, during which time the horses were embarked and everything concerning the armada arranged in orderly fashion. The country of the Payaguás being now near at hand, he ordered that the Indian interpreter from Ipaneme should be taken on board the leading vessel and give directions as to what had to be done. He then set sail with a fair wind from that port. In order to protect the Guaranís who were with him from the attacks of the- 184 - Payaguás, he ordered the former to unite their canoes in one body and keep close to the brigantines, and in this way pursue their voyage in good order. At night he directed that all the flotilla should moor alongside the bank, he himself sleeping on shore with a strong guard, the canoes of the Guaranís being attached to the brigantines. The Spaniards and Indians occupied a full league of land along the river, and their numerous camp-fires presented a very pretty sight. During all this navigation the governor provided food for all the people, Spaniards and Guaranís, and supplied them well with everything—fish in great abundance and game, so that they had more than they could eat. In this river there is a kind of wild pig that is constantly in the water, larger than ours in Spain; these animals are aquatic in their habits, remaining on land at night, while in the daytime they are always in the water, and when they see a person they plunge into the river and sink to the bottom, remaining a long time under water.[343] When they reappear on the surface of the water they are at an arrow’s flight from the place where they dived. In the chase of this pig not less than six canoes take part, for, when the animal dives, three go up the river and three go down. The hunters have their bows ready, and, as the animal comes to the surface, they shoot three or four arrows with great rapidity at them before they dive again, and so they pursue them till at length they float on the surface dead of their wounds. Their flesh is considered good to eat by the Spaniards, and there is plenty of it, many parts of this river abounding with these pigs. Our people were so strong and lusty on this voyage that they looked as though they had just arrived from Spain. The horses, too, were in good condition; they were taken on shore several times to hunt deer, tapirs, wild boar, many otters, and other animals.

[343] This amphibious animal is called capibara, i.e., capincho, or water-hog.

- 185 -


How Juan de Ayolas entered the port where he and his Christians were killed.

ON the 12th October the governor arrived at the port of Candelaria, and the country of the Payaguás. It was here that Captain Juan de Ayolas entered with his Spaniards, and hither he returned after his exploration, expecting to find Domingo de Irala, whom he had left in charge of the brigantines, which he had taken with him. Here he remained four months awaiting their arrival, during which time he and his men suffered terribly from hunger. At length the Payaguás, having learned of his weak condition and want of arms, began treating him with familiarity, and offered to receive him and his men into their houses and support them. Then they suddenly fell upon them as they were crossing some marshes full of rushes; every Christian was seized by two Indians armed with poles who struck them several blows on the head, and so they slew Captain Juan de Ayolas and eighty Spaniards, being all that remained of the one hundred and fifty who had gone on that expedition. The blame of their death rests with him who had been left in charge of the brigantines, and who, instead of awaiting their return, abandoned them to their fate, and descended the river to please himself. Had Juan de Ayolas found the brigantines there when he returned, he would have embarked and escaped massacre at the hands of these Indians. But Domingo de Irala acted with bad faith, to the intent that Juan de Ayolas might be slain, and that he might raise a revolt in the land against God and the king. This he- 186 - afterwards succeeded in, and, to the present day, he is actually in revolt, having destroyed and laid waste all that land, and for twelve years he continues to govern it tyrannically.[344]

[344] This is reckoned from the end of Alvar Nuñez’s government, 1543, to the date of publication of this work in Valladolid, 1555.

The pilots observed here to obtain the elevation of the pole, and found the latitude of that port to be in twenty-one degrees less one-third of a degree.[345] Having arrived here, the armada was assembled before opening communications with the Payaguás and ascertaining where their settlements were situated. The following morning, at eight o’clock, seven Payaguás appeared on the bank of the river, and the governor ordered an equal number of Spaniards, together with the interpreter (who proved very useful), to treat with them, as they were desirous of speaking with them, and of coming to a peaceful arrangement, the captain of the expedition having no other object but that of peace. Having conversed a little while, the Indians asked if these Christians, who had now arrived in the brigantines, were the same as those who formerly went about the country. The Spaniards, who had been warned beforehand, answered that they were not the same as those others, but were newly arrived in the country. Upon this, one of the Payaguás came among the Christians, and was immediately brought before the governor. He asked him, through the interpreter, by whose order he had come. The man answered that his chief, having learned of the arrival of the Spaniards, had sent him to inquire if it were true they were the same people as those who went formerly in the country, and to say that his chief wished to be the friend of the governor, and that all that had been taken from Juan de Ayolas and from the Christians was kept together, and placed in security ready to be restored to the chief of- 187 - the Christians, in order that peace might be made with them, and to obtain pardon for the murder of Ayolas and the other Christians who had been slain in war. The governor then asked him how much gold and silver they had taken from Juan de Ayolas and from the Christians, and he showed, by signs, that it would amount to sixty-six loads such as the Chanés Indians are accustomed to carry, and that it was all in plates, bracelets, crowns, and axes; also that there were small vases of gold and silver. Alvar Nuñez charged that Indian, through the interpreter, to tell his chief that His Majesty had sent him to that land to establish peace with them and other tribes that would accept it, and that the past wars would be forgiven. He added that if his chief sought friendship, and would be willing to restore all that had been taken from the Spaniards, he should come in person and speak with him (the governor), as he was very desirous of seeing him, and would treat him well, and receive him as a vassal of the king. In token of peace, he sent him several presents, and gave other things as well to the Indian himself, and asked him when he would return with his chief.

[345] This is an error of one and two-thirds of a degree. The exact latitude of Candelaria was 19 degrees, where now is Corumbá.

This chief, though a fisherman, is lord of this miserable people (for all are fishermen); he is a very grave man, feared and respected by his people, and, if anyone offend him and make him angry, he takes a bow, and shoots two or three arrows into him. If the man be killed, he sends for the wife (if there be one), and gives her a bead to appease her wrath at the murder of her husband. If he have no bead to give her, then a couple of feathers. When this chief wishes to spit, one that is nearest to him joins his hands together so that he should spit into them. These, and such like extravagances, are practised by this chief. All along the river there is no Indian that owns such things as he does. The interpreter promised that he and his chief would be there again the next morning, and so he left the governor in expectation.

- 188 -


How the interpreter and those who had promised to come failed to do so.

THAT day and four more having passed without the return of the Indian Payaguá, the governor sent for the interpreter, and asked him what he thought of this delay. And he said that he believed the chief would certainly never make his appearance, because the Payaguás are very sly and cautious; that the chief’s motive for sending an envoy to treat for peace was only to gain time and prevent the Spaniards and Guaranís from advancing and finding out the settlements of the Payaguás, and that while they (the Spaniards) were waiting the arrival of the chief, the Payaguás were removing their settlements, wives, and children, and that he thought they had fled to some place of concealment higher up the river. He advised the governor to follow, as he was certain that he would overtake them, because he knew they would be heavily loaded. In his opinion, the Payaguás would continue their flight till they reached a lagoon formerly inhabited by a tribe called the Mataraes, whom these Payaguás had slain and destroyed and had taken possession of their land because it abounded in fisheries.

The governor immediately gave orders to raise anchors, and brigantines and canoes went on navigating up the river. Wherever he halted, great numbers of the Payaguás might be seen along the bank, who, as the interpreter had said, were going by land with their wives and children, because the canoes could not contain them. After eight days’ navigation the governor arrived at the lagoon of the Mataraes, and- 189 - entered it, without finding the Indians he was in search of there. He entered with half his people to seek them out and treat with them, but seeing they did not appear, and in order not to waste his provisions, he ordered all the Christians and Guaranís to return. They had found certain canoes with their paddles concealed under the water, and had seen the track by which the Indians had withdrawn; but the governor would not delay any longer, so, reassembling his people and collecting all the brigantines and canoes together, he pursued his navigation up the river, sometimes sailing, at other times rowing and towing, because of the many bends in its course, till he arrived at a part of its banks where many cassia trees grow.

These are very lofty and vigorous trees, yielding a fruit one palm and a half in length and as thick as three fingers. The people ate much of it, and the inside is as sweet as honey. It does not differ the least from that kind which is brought into Spain from other countries, except that it is much larger and rougher to the taste, because it is uncultivated. There are eighty of these trees united together on the bank of the Paraguai. In these parts of the river there was an abundance of wild fruit, which the Spaniards and Indians ate. Among them was one like a lemon of Ceuti in colour, acidity, peel, and smell, but smaller, no larger than the size of a pigeon’s egg. The tree bearing this fruit has leaves like a lemon. There is a great variety of trees and fruits in this country, and a wonderful diversity of fish, the quantity killed by the Indians and Spaniards surpassing belief. Whenever the wind was unfavourable for sailing they hunted the water-pigs and otters (which were also abundant), using for this purpose the light, swift canoes of the natives. This was a great pastime.

As we were now approaching the country of the Guaxarapos Indians, who inhabit the bank of the Paraguai, and are neighbours and traffic with the port of Los Reyes, for which- 190 - we were bound, and as these Indians might have been alarmed at such a multitude of people and canoes, and might have fled inland, the governor, in order to allay their fears and pacify them, divided his flotilla into two parts, and, taking five brigantines and half the canoes, led the advance, leaving Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza to follow with the other vessels, canoes, and people, charging him to govern all the people kindly and not abuse his authority. He particularly warned him not to allow any wrongs or violence to be committed upon the native riverine population, and to pay for all the provisions he took, so as to keep the peace and safeguard His Majesty’s interests in that land. Taking with him the five brigantines and the canoes, the governor continued his voyage as I have stated, and, on the 18th October, arrived at a settlement of Guaxarapos Indians. Here thirty Indians having come out, he halted his flotilla within earshot, and addressed them through the interpreter, repeating what he had said to the other tribes lower down the river, exhorting them to give their submission to the king, and promising, if they did so, he would regard them as friends. They accordingly submitted; one of their number was a chief, to whom the governor gave presents and promised to do what he could for them.

Not far from the place where we met these Indians flowed another river. It is about half the width of the Paraguai, with a violent current, and it falls into this river, which comes from Brazil.[346] This was the river along which, old men tell, Garcia the Portuguese came and made war in that land. He entered it at the head of a large number of Indians, fought many battles, and destroyed many tribes, having only five Christians with him. The Indians say that he was never seen to return. He brought with him a mulatto named Pacheco, who returned to the country of- 191 - Guaçani, who killed him on the spot. Garcia returned to Brazil. Of his Guaraní followers many are said to have been lost in the interior, and the natives told us that we should find many of them there from whom we might obtain information concerning the deeds of Garcia and the nature of the country. Some Indians, called Chaneses, had also sought refuge there, and had allied themselves with the Sococies and Xaquetes, who live near the port of Los Reyes.

[346] This river must have been the Cuyabá.

Having obtained this information from the Indians the governor pushed on to see the river by which Garcia had come, for he was near the place indicated by the Guaxarapos. When he had arrived at the mouth of the river called Iapaneme, he caused soundings to be taken, and the depth was found to be very great. This river has a rapid current, and is bordered on either bank by trees. Cabeza de Vaca ordered one of the brigantines to ascend it for a league and continue the soundings, all of which proved its depth to be great. The Guaxarapos said that along its banks lived various tribes, who cultivated maize and manioc and had large fisheries, obtaining as much fish as they could eat, and extracting oil from these fish, besides killing a quantity of game. The party sent to explore this river reported having seen smoke in several places on the banks—a sign of settlements. It was already late when the exploring party returned, and the governor ordered that the vessels should be moored that night off the mouth of that river, at the foot of a range of hills called Santa Lucia. This sierra was crossed by Garcia. The following morning the pilots observed the elevation, and found the estuary of the river to be in nineteen degrees and one-third.[347] That night a heavy fall of rain, accompanied by a strong wind, caused us great- 192 - inconvenience. Great fires were made on shore, and many of the people slept by them, while the others remained on board the vessel under coverings of mats and skins.

[347] This is an error. The mouth of the river Cuyabá is in 18° lat.


How the Guaxarapos spoke with the governor.

THAT morning the Guaxarapos, who had been the previous day to speak with the governor, came again in two canoes with supplies of fish and meat, which they distributed among our people, and, having spoken once more with the governor, and received promises of friendship and protection, took their departure. He told them of the other vessels, canoes, and soldiers that were behind, and begged them to receive them kindly and treat them well, as in such case they would suffer no injury; this they promised they would do, but did not keep their word. The cause of this was certainly a Christian, who was punished for it, as I shall presently relate.

The governor left those Indians, and continued his navigation of the river all that day with a fair wind, arriving at sunset at certain settlements belonging to the same tribe of Indians on the river shore, near the water’s edge; but in order not to lose time, and favourable weather for the voyage, he passed on without stopping. These people are agriculturists, sowing maize and other roots, hunting and fishing a great deal, both fish and game being abundant. Men and women wear the skins of wild animals, except a few, who only cover their privities. They tattoo their faces in points and lines, and pierce the lips and ears. Their canoes are only large enough to contain two or three persons at a- 193 - time. They are exceedingly light, and the skill with which they manage them is admirable. When going up or down the river, the motions of these canoes are so swift that they appear to be flying. A brigantine (though made of cedar wood), and whether propelled by oars or sail, cannot overtake one of these skiffs, though the latter have only two oars, whereas the brigantines have a dozen. They fight in their canoes on the river as well as on land; nevertheless, they traffic with one another, bartering bows and arrows for canoes, which are supplied to them by the Guaxarapos and Payaguás, besides other things. So they become, by turns, friends and enemies with one another.


How the Indians come and establish themselves on the shore of the river.

WHEN the waters are low, the people from the interior come and live on the banks of the river with their wives and children, and pass their time in fishing, for the fish are abundant and very fat at this season. They lead pleasant lives, dancing and singing day and night, like persons who are relieved from all anxiety about food; but when the water begins to rise, which is in January, they retire inland, because at that season the floods begin, and the waters rise six fathoms above the banks of the river. At such time the country is under water for over one hundred leagues inland, spreading over everything like a sea, so that even tall palms and other trees are covered, and vessels may pass over their summits. This usually happens every year, when the sun crosses one tropic and approaches the other in the latitude of the mouth of the rio del oro. At such times- 194 - the natives keep very large canoes in readiness for this emergency; and in the middle of these canoes they throw two or three loads of mud, and make a hearth. The Indian then enters with his wife, children, and household goods, and floats on the rising tide wherever they like. He lights a fire on the hearth to cook his food and for warmth, and thus he voyages for four months of the year, or as long as the floods last. While the waters are rising he lands at certain spots not yet inundated, and kills deer, tapirs, and other wild animals which have escaped the flood. As these retire into their channels, he returns the same way, hunting and fishing, and not leaving his canoe till the banks whereon he is wont to dwell are uncovered.

It is a sight to see the enormous quantity of fish left on the dry land after the waters have subsided. This happens in the month of March or April, when all that country smells awfully bad, owing to the poisonous mud which covers it. At this period all the natives, and we ourselves, were very ill, so that we thought we should die; and, as it is then summer in these parts, it is barely endurable. In the month of April the sick begin to recover.

All these Indians spin the thread, of which they make their nets, of a kind of teasel. These teasels are pounded and thrown into muddy pools; after leaving them there fifteen days, they take them out and scrape them with mussel-shells; the fibre is then clean and white as snow.

This tribe, unlike others, has no chief; they are all fishers and woodsmen, inhabiting the borders of the country. These, and all the other people living on the river by which we were now passing, would not suffer any Spaniard or Guaraní to land. In order that they should not molest his people, the governor distributed some presents among them, and told them of the other ships that were following with his friends, whom he begged them to receive and entertain well.

- 195 -

Continuing the voyage one Friday morning, we arrived at a rapid, where the river passes between steep rocks. Large quantities of gold-fish (dorados) descend this rapid, and it was the largest rapid we had yet met with. We passed it sailing and rowing. Here the Spaniards and Indians caught in one hour large quantities of gold-fish, as many as forty of them being taken by one man. These fish are so big that they weigh half an arroba[348] each, and some as much as one arroba. They are excellent eating, the head being the best part. A quantity of oil is extracted from these fish, and those who eat of it become fat and sleek. Broth made of them, if taken continuously for a month, cures skin diseases and leprosy.

[348] The arroba is a Spanish weight, equal to twenty-five pounds of sixteen ounces each.

Continuing the voyage with a fair wind, the governor arrived, on the evening of the 25th October, at a place where the river divides into three channels. One arm forms a great lagoon, which the Indians call the Black River; it runs towards the north into the interior of the country. The other arms, in which the water is of a good colour, reunite a little way further down. The governor continued his navigation till he came to the mouth of a river which flows into the interior of the country to the left, towards the west. Here the Paraguai loses itself in a number of other river channels and lagoons. And the navigation is so intricate that the Indians themselves, who are always navigating them, have difficulty in distinguishing one from the other, and often lose their way. The river now entered by the governor is called by the natives Yguatu,[349] meaning “good water.” It flows towards the lagoon in our favour. Hitherto we had been ascending against the current; we now went down stream.

[349] I believe the name is Igatú, now Jaurú.

- 196 -


How they erected three crosses at the mouth of the river Yguatú.

THE governor ordered several sign-posts to be made at the mouth of this river of felled trees. He then had three high crosses erected to serve as signs for vessels, in order that they might not mistake the entrance. During three days we advanced by rowing; then we left the river, and ascended two of its arms which have their source in large lagoons.

On the eighth of the month, one hour before daybreak, we arrived at some high and round craggy rocks in the middle of the river. They are bell-shaped, contracting towards the summit. These rocks are completely barren, producing neither tree nor herb. Their colour is red. We believe they contain much metal, because the country beyond the river is mountainous, forested, and clothed with grass; these rocks, on the other hand, have nothing of the kind, an indication that they contain much metal, because, wherever this is found, neither trees nor grasses grow. The Indians told us that, in bygone times, their forefathers obtained white metal here; but as all our people were ill, and as we had no mining nor founder’s tools with us, nor the implements necessary to probe and search for ore, the governor did not cause search to be made for the metal, leaving it for another time when he passed by that way again, for these rocks are near the port of Los Reyes.

Pursuing our voyage up the river, we entered a lagoon upwards of one league and a half in width at its entrance, and, issuing from it by a second mouth, came to the dry- 197 - land. At ten o’clock in the morning we anchored at the entrance of another lagoon where the Sacosies, Xaqueses, and Chaneses had established their settlements. The governor did not wish to go any further without acquainting the Indians of his arrival. He accordingly sent an interpreter with some Christians in a canoe to speak with them in his name and summon them to an interview. These envoys returned at five o’clock in the evening, and announced that the Indians had come forth to receive them, showing great pleasure, and telling the interpreter that they already knew of their arrival and were desirous of seeing the governor and the Christians. They reported that the waters had fallen a good deal, and by reason of this it had been difficult to take their canoe there; that in order to pass the shallows and arrive at the port of Los Reyes, it would be necessary to lighten the vessels, as the depth was only one span, whereas the draught of the loaded brigantines was five or six. These shallows were near the port of Los Reyes. The following day the governor ordered the departure of the ships and of all the people, Christians and Indians. They rowed till they came to the shallows, when everybody had orders to get into the water, which did not reach to the knee. Then the Indians and Christians ranged themselves round the sides of the brigantine named St. Mark, and pushed with their shoulders, nearly lifting her out of the water by the strength of their arms without unloading her. That shallow was more than an arquebuss shot and a half long, and the difficulty of passing it was very great. When this was over, the other brigantines were passed in the same way with less trouble, because they were smaller. Having floated them into deep water we disembarked at Los Reyes, where we found a great assemblage of natives with their wives and children waiting for us. The governor and all his people landed, and the natives came towards them. He told them that he had- 198 - been sent by His Majesty to warn them to be Christians and receive the Christian doctrine, to believe in God the creator of heaven and earth, and to be the vassals of the king. If they did this they would be protected and defended against their enemies and against all who would injure them, and that they would be well treated and looked after in accordance with His Majesty’s orders; if they conducted themselves well he would not fail to give them presents, as he always did to those who were good. He then convoked the clergy and told them he wished a church built where Mass could be said and other divine rites celebrated for an example and comfort to the other Christians; and he charged them to have a special care of these. He ordered a large wooden cross to be erected on the bank of the river, under some tall palms, in the presence of the officers and many others there present. He took formal possession of the country in the name of His Majesty, and in the presence of the notary, as newly discovered land, and, having conciliated the natives by bestowing presents upon them, he ordered the Spaniards and Guaranís to take up their quarters on the shore of the lagoon, cautioning them to do the natives no injury or violence, because they were friendly, and vassals of the king. Moreover, he gave them strict orders not to enter the native settlements and houses, because what the Indians fear and hate most, and what irritates them more than anything, is to see the Christians, accompanied by Indians, entering their houses, disturbing their things, and taking away the few possessions they have. If they trafficked with them, they were to pay for whatever they bought, or they would be punished.

- 199 -


How the Indians of the port of Los Reyes cultivate the soil.

THE Indians of this port of Los Reyes are agriculturists, and sow maize and manioc (the cassava of the Indies), and an abundance of mandubies (which are like large filberts). They sow twice a year. The land is fertile, abounding in provisions, game, and fisheries. These Indians rear numbers of geese, as a protection against crickets (as I have described). They also rear fowls, and shut these up at night to protect them from bats, which cut off their combs, and, in this way, cause their death. These bats are an evil kind of animal, and numerous on the banks of the river. They are larger than our doves in Spain, with teeth so sharp that their bite is not felt. They never bite a man except in the toes and the tip of the nose. When several persons are together, and this animal has bitten one, he will not touch the others, but never leaves that one he has attacked. They bite at night, but never appear in the day-time. We had great difficulty in protecting our horses’ ears from them. When a bat enters a stable, the horses become so frightened that they waken all the people in the house, and it is impossible to quiet them till the bat has been killed or driven out. The governor was bitten by one of those animals while he was asleep in a brigantine, one of his feet being uncovered. All night the blood kept on flowing, till he woke from feeling his leg cold, and finding the bed soaked with blood, thought somebody had wounded him; but those on board searched for the place where he was wounded, and, when they found what they knew, by experience, to be the bite of a bat, they- 200 - laughed. The governor found that a slice of his toe had been bitten off. These bats always bite where there is a vein. They served us a bad trick on one occasion. When we were starting on our voyage of exploration we had six pregnant sows, and hoped to rear a race of pigs. When the little pigs were born, and tried to suck their mother, they could not find her teats, because these had been bitten off by the bats; so the young pigs died, and we had to eat the sows, because they were unable to rear their young.

There are other bad animals in this country; these are very large ants of two kinds, red and black. It is most pitiable to see a person who has been stung by either of these ants, for he utters loud cries, and rolls on the ground for twenty-four hours, during which the pain lasts; and there is no remedy for it. There are very many rays in this lagoon, and, if a fisherman happen to tread on one, it bends its body up, and inflicts a smart blow with the tip of its tail, which is about the thickness of a finger, and has a saw-like edge. This fish is about the size of a xeme,[350] and, if the blow it delivers strike the foot, it goes right through, and the pain is as intense as that from the ant-stings; but it may be stopped at once by chewing and applying to the wound a certain weed the Indians know of. This takes the pain away completely, though the wound does not heal for a month.

[350] The xeme is the span from the extremity of the thumb to that of the forefinger, when stretched to their utmost, equal to about six inches.

The natives of this country are of average height. They are quite naked, and pierce holes in their ears large enough to pass the fist through; in these they insert gourds of a medium size, afterwards replacing them by larger ones, distending the lobe of the ear till it hangs down to the shoulder. For this reason they are called Orejones, like the Incas of- 201 - Peru. When they fight, they take these gourds or discs out of their ears and roll them up, or else tie their ears behind their heads. The women do not cover their nakedness. Every person lives separately with his wife and children. The occupation of the women is to spin cotton; the men cultivate the fields, returning to their homes in the evening, when they find their meals ready. The women do no other work except at harvest time, when they assist in gathering the maize, and garnering it. From that place the Indians begin to be idolaters; they worship idols made of wood; but, according to the reports brought to the governor, those farther inland have idols of gold and silver.

The governor tried, with kind words, to turn the natives of Los Reyes from idolatry, persuading them to burn their idols, and believe only in God, who created heaven and earth, man, the sea, fish, and every living creature, and that he whom they worshipped was the devil, who deceived them. They burned some of their idols, but their chiefs were frightened, saying the devil would kill them, and that he would be angry with them. As soon as the church was built, and Mass had been said, the devil fled from that country and left the Indians in peace and tranquillity. This was the first settlement of the campo; it was a little over half a league in extent, and contained eight hundred houses of agriculturists.

- 202 -


How the Indians of Garcia settled in this place.

HALF a league off there was a small village of about seventy houses, belonging to the same tribe of Sacocies, and four leagues farther two villages of Chaneses, who settled in this country, and took wives when Garcia came from the interior. A number of them came to see the governor, and said they were friendly with Christians because of the kind treatment they had experienced from Garcia[351] when they followed him from their own country. Some of them had glass beads and other things which they said Garcia had given them. They are all agriculturists, and rear geese and fowls, the latter like those of Spain. The governor treated them well, and gave them presents, receiving them as vassals of His Majesty. He begged them to be faithful to the king, and good to the Christians, adding that, if they conducted themselves well, he would favour and treat them better than they had yet been treated.

[351] Of course, this is not the Pilot Diego Garcia who went at the same time as Sebastian Cabot, nor the fabulous Alejo Garcia mentioned by some writers as having been in Paraguai before them.

- 203 -


How they spoke with the Chaneses.

THE governor informed himself through these Chaneses about the interior of the country, and concerning its settlements, how many days’ journey these were from the port of Los Reyes. The chief of the Chaneses, who was about fifty years of age, said that when Garcia brought them from their country they accompanied him through the lands of the Mayáes[352] to those of the Guaranís, who slew the Indians he brought with him, and this chief and others of his tribe escaped, and fled along the bank of the Paraguai, up this river till they came to the settlement of the Sacosies, who received them. They durst not go home the way they came with Garcia, for fear lest the Guaranís should overtake and kill them. They could not say, therefore, how far it was to the villages of the interior; this circumstance, and their ignorance of the road, prevented them from returning to their country. The Guaranís, however, inhabiting the mountainous region knew the way, and could show it, for they were accustomed to come and go in their wars against the Indians of the interior. In answer to questions put to him about the inhabitants of his country, their manner of life, and mode of making war, he said that all the people in his land obeyed one chief, who was over all, and many of his tribe were at war with Indians, called Chimencos and Carcaracs, and there were numerous other tribes in that land, known as the Gorgototquies, Paysunóes, Esterapecócies and Candirées, who had all their own chiefs, and made war.- 204 - Their weapons are bows and arrows, and they are mostly agriculturists. They rear animals, sow maize, manioc, potatoes and mandubies, and keep geese and fowls like those of Spain. They also rear large sheep (llamas), and make war one upon the other. They barter bows and arrows, mantles, and other things for bows, arrows, and women. Having given this information, these Indians went away well satisfied. Their chief offered to accompany the governor on his expedition of discovery, saying that he would return to his country with his wife and children, and what he most desired was to live in his own country.

[352] Mbaiás: cf. supra, p. 63.


How the governor sent to find out the Indians of Garcia.

HAVING obtained all the information he could from the Indian chief, the governor ordered some Spaniards to go and find out the Guaranís of that land, in order to get information from them and guides for his voyage of discovery. Some Guaranís of those he had brought with him accompanied the Spaniards, who set out preceded by guides. At the end of six days they returned and reported that those Guaranís had left the country, for they had found the villages and houses deserted, and the whole region depopulated since they had gone for ten leagues round it, without finding a living soul. Having heard this, the governor asked the Chaneses if they knew into what part the Guaranís had gone. They answered that the natives of that port and island had joined together, and made war against those Guaranís, and had killed many of- 205 - them; the remainder had fled into the interior. They believed that the Guaranís would join with other tribes of the same nation, who lived near to a people called Xarayes, against whom, and other tribes, they were at war. According to their information, the Xarayes possess gold and silver given to them by the Indians of the interior; in that direction all the country is inhabited, and he might go to those settlements. The Xarayes, they added, are agriculturists: they sow maize and other seeds in large quantities, rear geese and poultry like those of Spain.

The governor asked how many days’ march it was from the port of Los Reyes to the Xarayes’ land, and they answered that the journey could not be made by land, because the road was very bad, owing to the numerous swamps and lakes, but that if he chose to go thither by water in canoes, it would take eight or ten days.


How the governor held a council with his officers and informed them of what was passing.

SOON after this the governor convoked the officers and the clergy, and having told them of the report made concerning the Xarayes and Guaranís living on the frontier, it was decided that two Spaniards and two Guaranís should go with some natives of the port to speak with the Xarayes, and find out what kind of land it was, and collect information concerning the settlements and tribes of the interior, and the road thither; they were also to speak with the Guaranís, as from them they would be more fully and surely informed of the truth. That very day the two- 206 - Spaniards started, and their names were Hector de Acuña and Antonio Correa, interpreters of the Guaraní language, with ten Indian Sacosies, and two Guaranís. The governor ordered them to tell the chief of the Xarayes that they were envoys sent to speak with him, and contract friendship with him and his people; that he begged him to come and see him, as he wished for a personal interview. The Spaniards were moreover desired to obtain information of the tribes and settlements in the interior, and of the route leading thither. Alvar Nuñez gave the Spaniards several presents, and a scarlet cap to present to the chief of the Xarayes, and another one for the chief of the Guaranís, to whom they were to say the same as to the chief of the Xarayes.

The following day Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza arrived with his troops and vessels, and reported that on the eve of All Saints’ day, while navigating past the country of the Guaxarapos, after speaking with this people, who gave themselves out as friends (saying that they had done the same with those who had passed before), the wind being contrary, and the Spaniards about to moor the brigantines, just as the five leading vessels were turning an elbow of the river, under sail, and one brigantine, commanded by Agustin de Campos, was behind, being towed along the shore, the Guaxarapos, seeing that its crew were all ashore, attacked them, and killed five Christians; and that Juan de Bolaños, while trying to swim to the vessel, was drowned. Our people had thought they were so safe, and were so confident, believing the Indians to be friendly, that they were not on their guard. Had not the other Christians escaped to the brigantine, they would all have been killed, because they were entirely unarmed. The death of these Christians did great harm to our reputation, for the Guaxarapos, who were in the habit of coming in their canoes to the port of Los Reyes, spread the news how they had slain the Christians,- 207 - asserting that we were not valiant, and that our heads were soft, that the natives of that port ought to kill us, and that they would help them to do this. From that time these natives began to cherish evil designs against us.


How the governor sent an expedition to the Xarayes.

EIGHT days after Antonio Correa and Hector de Acuña, with their Indian guides, had set out, as we have stated, for the country and villages of the Xarayes, they returned to the port and told the governor what they had seen, done, and learned about the country, the people, and their chief. They brought with them an Indian whom the chief of the Xarayes had sent as a guide for the discovery of the land. Antonio Correa and Hector de Acuña said that, the very day of their departure from the port of Los Reyes, they arrived at a village of Indians called Artaneses, who are big men, and go naked. These people are agriculturists, but they sow little, for they have not much land fit for cultivation, because most of it is inundated, and covered with arid sand. They are poor, and subsist chiefly by fishing in the lagoons near their villages. Their women are very ugly, tattooing their faces with the tip of the ray’s tail, which they keep for this purpose, and they cover their nakedness.

These Indians are also hideous, owing to the habit they have of piercing a hole in the lower lip, and inserting in it the husk of a fruit of a certain tree, which is as large and round as a tortero.[353] This weighs down, and distends the lip in a manner frightful to see. Antonio Correa and his companion reported- 208 - that the Indians had received them well, and had given them what they had to eat. The next day they brought them a guide. They had taken water to drink on their journey in gourds, and had marched all that day through swamps,[354] sinking at each step to the knees in mud, and withdrawing their feet with great difficulty. The mud was so heated by the sun that it scorched their legs, and produced painful wounds on them. That day they certainly thought they would have died of thirst, for the water in the gourds only lasted half the day. They slept on the open ground, between swamps, overcome with fatigue, thirst, and hunger. The following day, at eight in the morning, they came to a small lagoon of very muddy water, where they refilled their gourds, which the Indians carried, and marched the whole day through inundated land, as they had done the day before, except that they found some lagoon water with which to refresh themselves, and a tree with a little shade, where they reposed, and ate the remainder of their provisions, without leaving anything over. The guides told them that they had still a day’s march before them to reach the settlements of the Xarayes.

[353] The knob of a spindle for twisting thread.

[354] Cf. Schmidt, supra, p. 47.

Night having come, they rested, and at daybreak resumed their march. Soon afterwards they came to other swamps, from which they thought they would never extricate themselves, not only because of the painful burning of their legs, but because they sank to the waist, and could hardly get out. These swamps extended for a little over a league, and then they found the way better and firmer. The same day, at one o’clock in the afternoon, having eaten nothing, and not having the wherewithal to satisfy their hunger, they met some twenty Indians who came towards them. These people arrived with pleasure and joy, laden with maize, bread, cooked geese, fish, and maize wine. They told the Spaniards that their chief had learned of their coming to his country, and- 209 - had ordered them to bring food and speak to them on his behalf, and guide them to where he and his people were, who would be glad to receive them. Thanks to this food, Antonio Correa and his companions made up for their previous fasting. The same day, one hour before night, they arrived at the Indian settlements.

When they were a bow-shot off, upwards of five hundred Xarayes came forth to receive them with great joy. All were elegantly attired with parrots’ feathers, and aprons of white beads to cover their nakedness. They placed the Spaniards in their midst, and led them into the village, at the entrance to which large numbers of women and children were waiting for them. The women all had their privities covered, and many of them wore wide cotton dresses, this material being in use among them under the name of tipoes.

When the Spaniards had entered the village they came to where the chief of the Xarayes was. He was surrounded by three hundred Indians of very good appearance, mostly elderly men. This chief was seated on a cotton hammock in the midst of a large open place, all his people standing round him. They formed a lane by which the Spaniards might pass, and when these had come into the presence of the chief, they brought two little wooden stools, on which he signed to them to be seated. He then sent for an Indian Guaraní, who had been long in their country. This Indian had married a woman of their tribe, and was much loved by them, and regarded as one of themselves.

By means of this interpreter, the chief then bade the Spaniards welcome, and said how delighted they all were to see them, for he had long wished to know the Christians. He had heard of them at the time of Garcia’s visit to that country, and looked upon them as friends and relatives; he wished to make acquaintance with the chief- 210 - of the Christians, because he had been told that he was kind and friendly with the Indians, that he gave them presents, and was generous, and he wished to know if the chief had sent them for anything, because he would give it them. The Spaniards told him, through the interpreter, that the governor had sent them to learn from him the route he should follow to reach the settlements in the interior, and to know by what tribes and villages he would have to pass, and in how many days he might arrive at the Indians that had gold and silver. They added that the object of their journey was also to inform him that the governor wished to make his acquaintance and contract an alliance with him. They spoke of all that the governor desired them to say. The Indian replied: “I am rejoiced to have you as my friends; I and my people consider the governor as our master; he has only to command, and we will obey him. Concerning the road leading to the settlements of the interior, I do not know of one, never having been there, because all the country is under water for two months, and when the waters subside the country is impassable. Nevertheless, the Indian Guaraní, who is serving as interpreter, has been in the interior and knows the road; to please the chief of the Christians I will send him to be his guide.” Thereupon, in the presence of all the people, he bade the Guaraní accompany them, which he did very willingly.

The Spaniards having seen that the chief denied that there was a road, for reasons which seemed to them after their experiences to be good and true, believed him. They asked him, however, for guides to lead them to the Guaraní settlements, because they were desirous of seeing and talking with these people. At this request the Indian was much troubled, and yet putting a good face on the matter, he answered, that the Guaranís were his enemies, and he was constantly at war with them, and hardly a day passed that- 211 - they did not kill one another; and that since he was the friend of the Christians, they should not go in search of his enemies and contract an alliance with them. “However,” he added, “if you will go and visit these Guaranís, my people will conduct you there to-morrow morning.” As it was now night, the chief took them into his house, and gave them to eat, and had hammocks prepared for them. He then offered each of them a girl to sleep with, but they declined on the score of fatigue.

The following morning, one hour before daybreak, a great noise of drums beating and trumpets was heard, as though the whole village was falling about their ears. On the square in front of the chief’s house, all the Indians were assembled in their feathers and war-paint, armed with bows and arrows. Immediately the chief ordered the door of the house to be thrown open, in order that they might see his six hundred warriors, and he said to the Spaniards: “Christians, look at my people; it is thus they go to the Guaraní villages; go with them; they will take you there, and bring you back, for if you went alone they would kill you, knowing that you have been with me, and are my friends.” The Spaniards, seeing that in this way they would not have been able to speak with the chief of the Guaranís, and might lose the friendship of the Xarayes, answered that they had made up their minds to return to their chief and inform him of everything, and would see what he ordered, and then return and let him know. In this way the Indians were pacified. All that day they remained in the settlement of the Xarayes, which contained over one thousand inhabitants, and one league off there were four other villages of the same people, all of whom obeyed the said chief, whose name was Camire.

These Xarayes are tall men, and well made; they are agriculturists, sowing and reaping twice a year maize, potatoes, manioc, and mandubies. They rear large numbers- 212 - of geese and fowls like ours in Spain. They pierce the lip like the Artaneses. Everyone lives separately with wife and children; they hoe the ground and sow; the women gather the produce and carry it to their houses; they spin much cotton. These Indians rear geese to devour the crickets, as we have before described.


How the interpreters came back from the Xarayes.

THESE Xarayes have large fisheries, both in the river and lagoons; they also chase the deer. The Spaniards having remained the whole day with the chief, gave him the presents and red cap sent him by the governor. The chief was marvellously well pleased to receive them. He immediately sent for head-dresses of parrots’ feathers, and gave these to the Christians to take to the governor; these ornaments were very elegant. The Christians then took leave of Camire, who ordered twenty of his Indians to accompany them. These men went with them as far as the settlements of the Artaneses, and then returned home, leaving with the Spaniards the guide given them by the chief. The governor received him well, showing him much kindness, and at once asked him through interpreters if he knew the road into the interior, to what tribe he belonged, and about his country. He replied that he was a Guaraní, a native of Itati, on the Paraguai; when he was a boy his tribe made a great league of all the Indians of that country, and marched into the interior. He followed his father and relatives to make war upon the natives, and take from them plates and ornaments of gold and silver.

- 213 -

As soon as they arrived at the first settlements of the interior they began making war, and slew many Indians. A great number of the inhabitants took to flight, and sought refuge in the villages farther inland. Very soon the tribes of that inner land joined together, and came up against the Guaranís, defeated them, and slew many; others fled in various directions. The enemy pursued and blocked the passes, thus cutting off their retreat, and killed all those who were unable to escape. He made signs to show that only two hundred of that great multitude succeeded in making good their escape, and he was of this number. The greater part remained in the forests through which they had passed on their way out, not daring to go farther for fear of being killed by the Guaxarapos, Guatos, and other tribes occupying those parts which they would have to traverse. He did not remain with those who settled in the forest region, but preferred accompanying those of his countrymen who returned. One night, as they were on the march, they were discovered by the tribes, who set upon them, and killed all, he alone escaping into the recesses of the forests, and, continuing his march, arrived at the country of the Xarayes, who spared his life and brought him up. They took a fancy to him, married him to a woman of their own tribe, and treated him as one of themselves. He was asked if he knew the road taken by his people when they went into the interior. But he said it was long ago that his countrymen advanced into that country, and that as they went they opened a road, by cutting down trees and clearing the ground, which was quite wild. He thought that the roads then made would long ere this have been choked with weeds, for he had never been that way since. Nevertheless, he thought that if he once found the road he might continue in it. He added that the road began at a high, round mountain in sight of Port Los Reyes. He was asked in how many days the first settlement would be reached. He answered that, if his memory served him right,- 214 - in five days they would arrive at the first settlement, where provisions were plentiful, and the people great agriculturists; for though his people that went to that war destroyed the inhabitants, and depopulated vast tracts, the country was beginning to recover. Asked if there were large rivers and springs by the way, he answered that the rivers he saw were not large, but there were other copious streams, and there were springs and lakes, deer and tapirs, and plenty of honey and fruits. To the question, if at the time when his people made their expedition into that country he saw much gold and silver among the natives, he answered that from those tribes they had plundered much gold and silver plate, barbotes,[355] ear-rings, bracelets, crowns, hatchets, and small vessels, but that these things had been retaken when they were defeated; that those who escaped carried some away, but that these were afterwards stolen by the Guaxarapos, who killed them as they passed through their territory. A little of the plunder probably remained with those who settled in the forest region, and he had heard that the Xarayes had some also, for when these Indians went to war against other Indians, he had seen them returning with plates of silver which they had captured. He was asked if he would accompany the Christians as guide. He answered yes, that he would gladly do so, and that his master had sent him for that purpose. The governor warned him to speak the truth concerning the road, for otherwise he would have to pay dearly for it, but that if he spoke the truth he would derive much benefit. He answered that what he had said was the truth, as far as he knew, and that he was desirous of going with the Christians to discover and find out the way.

[355] These were the ornaments inserted in the lower lip.

- 215 -


How the governor decided on entering the country.

HAVING obtained this information, the governor determined, in accordance with the advice of the officers and clergy and captains, to penetrate into the interior and discover the settlements there, and for this purpose he chose three hundred arquebusiers and crossbowmen. As the country through which they had to pass before they came to the inhabited districts was deserted, he ordered them to take provisions for twenty days. He ordered one hundred Christians to remain in the port to guard the brigantines, with 200 Guaranís, and appointed Captain Juan Romero to be their commander, for he knew the country. We left the port of Los Reyes on the 26th November 1543. All that day we marched through cool and shady forests, following our guide by a little frequented path. That night we rested by the side of some streams of water, and the following morning, one hour before daybreak, resumed our journey, sending twenty men in advance with the guide to clear the road; for the further we went the more closed we found it by trees and high, thick weeds, rendering it very difficult to penetrate into the interior. That same day, at five o’clock in the evening, we halted to pass the night by the side of a great lagoon, where the Indians and Christians caught fish in their hands. As we advanced, we ordered the guide to climb the trees and hills to reconnoitre, and make certain we were on the right road to the inhabited country.

The Guaranís, whom the governor had brought with him, supported themselves on the provisions they had been allowed to take, on the honey they extracted from trees, and- 216 - by the chase of wild boar, tapirs, and deer. Though game seemed plentiful, the expedition was so numerous, and the noise made on the march was so great, that the wild animals took fright, and not much was killed. The Indians and Spaniards also partook of the wild fruits, found in abundance. None of these did them any harm, except that of a tree resembling the myrtle, with a fruit similar to that of the Spanish myrtle, but a little larger, and with a fine flavour. All those who ate of it vomited, or had diarrhœa. These effects, however, did not last long, and did no further harm. They also made use of the palm-tree, which is common in that country. The date of this palm is not edible, but the nut inside is round, and like a sweet almond. The Indians make flour of it, and find it nourishing; the young shoots of the palm are likewise very good eating.


How the governor arrived at the Rio Caliente.

WE had marched five days in the country, following our guide, always obliged to cut our way with infinite labour, when we came to a rivulet, which falls from a mountain; its water is very warm, clear, and sweet; and the Spaniards caught some fish in it. Here the guide began to be embarrassed, saying that as it was a long time since he passed that way he did not recognise it, and was at a loss how to guide us, the old track having entirely disappeared. The next day the governor left the Rio Caliente (river of warm water); and we followed the guide with great trouble, cutting our way through forest, brushwood, and a multitude of obstacles.

- 217 -

That same day, at ten o’clock in the morning, two Indian Guaranís presented themselves before him, and said they were some of those who had remained in those deserts after the wars waged by their tribesmen against the people in the interior, when they were defeated and massacred. They and their wives and children had concealed themselves in the most inaccessible parts of the forest for fear of the natives, and only fourteen of them survived; that at two days’ journey there was a hamlet of Guaranís, numbering ten persons, one of whom was a relative of theirs, and that there were other Guaranís in the country of the Xarayes, who were at war with this people. As these Indians seemed frightened of the Christians and their horses, the governor ordered the interpreter to reassure them, and asked them where they dwelt; they answered that their homes were close by, and soon their wives and children arrived with others of their relatives, who may have numbered fourteen in all. These confirmed what the first two had said. On being asked how they supported themselves in that country, and how long they had inhabited it, they answered that they cultivated maize, and lived by the chase, on honey and wild fruits, and that when their fathers were killed they were children. The oldest of them might have been about thirty-five years of age. They were asked if they knew the way thence to the settlements of the interior, and how long it would take to arrive at the inhabited land. They answered that as they were very young when they were brought there, and had never made the journey since, they were unable to direct us how to go, nor could they say how long it would take to arrive at that region. But they added, their relatives, who lived in the hamlet, two days’ journey from theirs, had passed several times by that road, and knew it. Perceiving that these Indians did not know the road, the governor told them to go home, and dismissed them with presents, with which they returned to their homes well satisfied.

- 218 -


How the governor sent to discover the house which was further on.

THE following day the governor sent an interpreter with two Spaniards and two Indians to the house of which mention has been made, to ascertain the road and the time it would take to reach the first inhabited parts. He ordered that they should report as promptly as possible to him any information they were able to obtain, in order that he might take measures accordingly. The day after the departure of these scouts he ordered his people to follow by short marches the route they had taken. When they had thus been marching three days an Indian arrived, bearing a letter for the governor from the interpreter, saying that he had arrived at the house of the Indians, and had spoken with the man who knew the road into the interior. This man had told him that the first inhabited place was the summit of a rocky hill called Tapuaguazú, that on reaching it a view might be obtained of a wide extent of inhabited country, and that it might be sixteen days’ journey from his place to Tapuaguazú, and that the road thither was very difficult because of the trees, thickets, and high grass, besides other inconveniences. The interpreter added that since leaving the governor they had found the country thickly forested and so difficult that they had undergone great fatigues. For the greater part of the way they had crawled on hands and feet, and, according to the Indian relative, the road farther on was even worse. They intended bringing this Indian back with them that the governor might obtain information direct from him. Having read this letter, the governor- 219 - followed the path by which the messenger had come, but found it so thickly wooded and beset with difficulties that it took a whole day to clear a passage the length of a slinger’s shot. Heavy rains having now set in, the governor ordered his people to retire to the shelter huts they had left in the morning, for fear of their suffering from wet and damping their ammunition.


How the interpreter returned from the Indian habitation.

THE interpreter returned at three o’clock of the afternoon of the following day, bringing with him the Indian who said he knew the road. The governor received him most kindly and gave him presents, with which he was well pleased. He then ordered the interpreter to ask him in his name to tell him all the truth about the road leading into the interior. This Indian then said that he had not been that way for a long time, though he knew it, and had gone by it several times to Tapuaguazú. From the summit of that rocky hill, he affirmed, one might see the smoke of all the villages. He used to go to Tapuaguazú to fetch arrows that are to be had there, but for many days he had discontinued his visits to that place, because on his way thither he observed the smoke of Indian fires, by which he became aware that new settlements were being formed in that deserted region.

Fearing for his life, he had not dared to go further along the path, which is so obstructed that it can only be followed with much labour. He thought that by cutting down trees and clearing a road they might reach Tapuaguazú in sixteen days. He was asked if he would like to accompany the- 220 - Christians and show them the road; he answered that he would willingly go, though he greatly feared the natives. Having heard the information given by this Indian, and understood the difficulties of the road, the governor convened a meeting of the officers, clergy, and captains to consult with them what should be done to discover the country. Having discussed the matter, they said that most of the Spaniards were in want of provisions and had eaten nothing for three days, and they dared not ask for it because of the disorder and mismanagement that prevailed in its distribution. The first guide we had taken had assured us that on the fifth day we should find provisions and reach an inhabited country with plenty of commodities. Having put faith in these promises, both Christians and Indians had improvidently consumed all they brought with them, though every man had been supplied with two arrobas of flour. The governor had, in their opinion, to consider that there were barely six days’ provisions left, and at the end of that time there would be nothing for the people to eat. Under these circumstances they thought it would be very dangerous to advance further without means of subsistence, the more so because the Indians are not as a rule precise in their indications, and it might happen that, instead of sixteen days estimated by the guide, the time might be greater, and that they might all die of starvation, as had happened before to exploring expeditions in this country. They were, therefore, of opinion that the security and lives of the Christians and Indians depended upon their return to the port of Los Reyes, where they had left their vessels. Once there, it would be easy to take fresh supplies and recommence the discovery. Such was their advice, and, they added, if necessary, they would require the governor in the name of His Majesty to conform with it.

- 221 -


How the governor and his people returned to the Port of Los Reyes.

THE governor seeing the advice of the clergy, officers, and captains, felt obliged to consider the necessities of his people, their difficult position, and the desire all had to return. He nevertheless put before them the inconvenience that would result from adopting such a course. He said that it would be impossible to find sufficient provisions at Los Reyes for so many people; that the maize was not yet ripe for harvest, and that none could be obtained from the natives. He reminded them that the natives had told them that the floods would soon begin, and these would add seriously to their embarrassments. These and other reasons pointed out by him, however, did not deter the Spaniards from persisting in their determination to retire. Considering, therefore, their positive wish, and being loath to give occasion to disturbances, which he would have been obliged to punish, he conceded to their desires, and gave the order to return to the Port of Los Reyes.

The following day he sent to Tapuá Captain Francisco de Ribera, who had volunteered to go thither with six Christians and the guide who knew the road. He furnished him with an escort of eleven Indian chiefs, whom he charged not to leave the captain under threat of punishment. He at the same time started with all his people for Los Reyes, where he arrived in eight days, much dissatisfied at having gone no farther.

- 222 -


How the Indians would have killed those who remained at the Port of Los Reyes.

WHEN the governor had returned to the Port of Los Reyes, Captain Juan Romero, whom he had left there as his lieutenant, reported that a few days after his departure the natives of the island, which is one league from the port, conspired to massacre all the Christians who had been left there, and to obtain possession of the brigantines. To carry this into effect, they summoned all the natives of the country to their assistance. They formed a league with the Guaxarapos and several other tribes, and had arranged to attack the Spaniards by night. Under pretext of bartering they tried to tempt him to come out and buy provisions, they having discontinued their supplies. Whenever they brought any it was for the purpose of spying, and they openly told him they would come and kill the Christians.

The governor having been informed of all this, summoned all the chiefs, and warned them in the name of His Majesty to keep the peace, since he and the Christians had treated them as friends, and were doing them no injury. He reminded them of the presents he had given them, and of his promise to defend and protect them from their enemies; but if they behaved otherwise he would treat them as enemies, and make war upon them. These threats were made in the presence of the clergy and officers; he then distributed coloured caps among them, besides other things. They promised once more to keep friends with the Christians,- 223 - and drive away the Guaxarapos and other tribes who came up against the Christians.

Two days after his arrival at Los Reyes, the governor finding that with so many Spaniards and Indians collected together he might run short of provisions, and having no other store except what was contained in the brigantines moored in the river, and this would only last ten or twelve days, for the Spaniards and Indians together numbered about three thousand, seeing their necessities and the danger of their all being starved, sent all the interpreters to the neighbouring villages to buy provisions in exchange for merchandise, which he gave them in considerable quantities. They went, but found no provisions. Having seen this, the governor sent for the chief Indians of that land, and asked them where he could buy provisions in exchange for his merchandise. They answered that at nine leagues distance, on the shores of certain large lagoons, there lived a people called Arianicosies, who possessed an abundance of provisions, and would supply what was necessary.


How the governor sent Captain Mendoza in search of provisions.

AS soon as the governor had received this information he convoked a meeting of officers, clergy, and captains, and other experienced persons, to concert measures with them, for all the people were crying for food, and he had none to give them. They were about to disband, and go into the interior in search of provisions. The officers and the clergy being assembled, Cabeza de Vaca told them that the danger- 224 - of famine was so urgent that all might die if a remedy were not found. He added that he had been informed that the Arianicosies had provisions, and he asked them to advise him what should be done. They all answered that he should send the greater part of the people to the villages of those Indians, both to sustain themselves and obtain provisions to send to the people that remained in the port with him. Should they decline to supply food for payment, force should be resorted to, and, in case of resistance, they should make war till they obtained what they required, seeing that the necessities were so urgent that the people were dying with hunger, and any measures would be excusable. This was their advice, and they signed their names to it. It was accordingly resolved to send this captain in search of provisions, charged with the following instructions:

- 225 -

“Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza, this is what you have to do in the villages where you have to search for provisions, in order that our people may not die from starvation. You shall pay for these provisions to the full satisfaction of Socorinos and Socosies, as well as all those settled in the province, and you shall say in my name that I am surprised they have not been to see me, as the other tribes of the province have done; that I am informed they are good people, and for this reason I wish to see and receive them into my friendship. You shall give them of my merchandise, and tell them to come and acknowledge the supremacy of the king, as all the other Indians have done. If they obey these orders, I will always favour and protect them against those who would do them wrong. You shall use the utmost diligence and care that, in all places you may pass through inhabited by friendly Indians, none of your men should use violence, or maltreat the natives. All that you take, and all that they give you, must be paid for to their satisfaction, and leave no cause of complaint. When you arrive at the villages you shall ask for the commodities you require for the sustenance of your men, offering payment, and entreating the Indians with kind words. Should they decline to provide you with what you want, you shall repeat your request twice, thrice, or as often as you think right, offering payment beforehand. Should they then refuse to give it, you shall take it by force, and, if resistance be offered you, shall make war upon them, for the hunger we suffer from justifies us in resorting to these extreme measures. In all that may happen afterwards you shall use such moderation as becomes the service of God and His Majesty.”


How he sent a brigantine to discover the river of the Xarayes with Captain de Ribera.

THE governor having sent Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza in conformity with the advice of the clergy, officers, and captains, this officer departed on the 15th December, the same year, with 120 Spaniards and 600 Indian archers, a number more than sufficient for the purpose. The natives of the port of Los Reyes informed the governor that owing to the rising of the waters the river Yguatú might be ascended in brigantines as far as the land of the Xarayes; they told him that these Xarayes, and other tribes inhabiting the banks of that river, had a quantity of provisions, and that there were other navigable rivers flowing from the interior, and discharging into the Yguatú, where there were large settlements of Indians, who had abundance of food. Desirous of exploring the unknown parts of this river, the governor sent Captain Hernando de Ribera in a brigantine with fifty-two men. They had orders to ascend the river to- 226 - the villages of the Xarayes, to speak with the chief of this tribe, and obtain information about the more distant villages, passing on and seeing them with their own eyes. Neither the commander nor any of his men were to land, but the interpreter with two men might endeavour to see and barter with the Indians along the course of the river, giving presents, and making them proposals of peace. For this purpose the governor furnished the commander with instructions, and informed him by word of mouth of everything that he should do for the service of His Majesty and the good of the country. Hernando de Ribera set sail on the 20th December of the said year.

A few days after his departure Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza wrote to say that on his arrival at the villages of the Arianicosies he had sent an interpreter to inform them that he had come to ask them to sell provisions, which he would pay for with merchandise, such as beads, knives, iron wedges, which they esteem highly, and that he would give them a large number of fish-hooks. The interpreter took these articles with him in order that they might see and understand that they had not come to do them wrong, or take anything away by force; but that the interpreter had fled back, for that the natives had tried to kill him, and shot several arrows at him, saying that they would not allow any Christians in their land, and would not give them anything, but would rather kill them all, and that the Guaxarapos, who were brave warriors, had come to help them. These last-named Indians, they added, have killed Christians, and found their heads soft, and that they are not a strong people. The letter went on to say that Gonzalo de Mendoza had sent a second time the same interpreter to beg them to supply him with provisions. He had sent with him some Spaniards to see what passed. All these returned, being pursued by Indians, who had come out with arms to kill them, and had shot a number of arrows at them, shouting to them to leave- 227 - the country, as they would not give them provisions. The captain having seen all this, had gone with all his troop to bring about their submission; on arriving at their village all the Indians had come out against him, and shot arrows at them, intending to kill the Spaniards, declining to listen to him or let him speak. They had consequently, in their own defence, killed two of the natives with their arquebuses. As soon as the enemy saw them dead, they fled into the forest. The Spaniards then went into their houses, and found an abundance of provisions, such as maize, mandubies and other plants, roots, and other comestibles.

Without loss of time, Gonzalo de Mendoza sent an Indian to tell the natives to return to their homes, promising to be friendly with them, and to pay for the provisions he had taken. They had refused, however, to accept his peaceful overtures, had recommenced hostilities, established their camp, fortified their houses, and had even burned a great number of these. They had appealed to many other tribes to come and help them to kill the Christians, and did not desist from doing them all the harm they could. The governor sent orders to the captain to do everything in his power to induce the Indians to return; he enjoined him not to let any of his men do the least harm to the natives, to pay for all the provisions he had taken, to pacify them, and go elsewhere in search of provisions. The captain soon afterwards reported that he had persuaded the Indians to return, had offered them his friendship, and, far from injuring them, would treat them kindly; they had, however, declined his advances, and were continuing hostilities in conjunction with the Guaxarapos, Guatos, and other of our enemies who were in league with them.

- 228 -


How Captain Francisco de Ribera returned from his exploration.

ON the 20th January 1544, Captain Francisco de Ribera returned, accompanied by the six Spaniards whom the governor had sent with him, with the guide and three Guaranís, being all that were left of the eleven Guaranís who had formed part of his expedition. He had been sent, as I have already said, to discover and observe with his own eyes the villages situated in that part where the governor was obliged to turn back. They had advanced towards Tapuaguazú, where the guide had stated the Indian settlements began. On the arrival of the six Spaniards, all of whom were wounded, the people rejoiced greatly and gave thanks to God for their escape from such a perilous journey, for, indeed, the governor thought they were lost, because eight of the eleven Indians that started with them had abandoned them. He was very angry with these men and wished to punish them, and the chiefs, their relatives, begged that they might be hanged for having deserted the Christians, though they had been ordered not to leave them, and to escort them till they returned. These chiefs said that since they had failed to do this they deserved hanging, but as it was the first time they had disobeyed he pardoned them, fearing to excite their tribesmen.

- 229 -


How Captain Francisco de Ribera reported of his discovery.

THE following day Captain Francisco de Ribera appeared before the governor with the six other Spaniards who had accompanied him. He gave an account of his exploration, and said: that after he left him in the forest he marched, following the guide for twenty-one days, without resting, through a country so thickly covered with trees and brushwood that it was impossible to advance without cutting a path. Some days they went one league, on others only half a league in two days, owing to the obstacles they encountered, the dense forests, and projecting rocks. The direction they followed was continually west; all the time they marched they sustained themselves on venison, wild boars’ flesh, and tapirs, which the Indians killed with their arrows; game was so abundant that they knocked down with sticks all they required for food. They found a great supply of honey in cavities of trees, and quantities of wild fruit. After twenty-one days they arrived at a river running to the west, and this river, according to their guide, flowed past Tapuaguazú and the Indian settlements. They caught much fish in it of a kind called by the natives piraputanas, which are a kind of sabalos,[356] and are excellent. The Spaniards crossed this river, and, following their guide, came upon the fresh tracks of Indians; for it had been raining that day, and the ground was moist. It was evident that the Indians were a party of hunters. Following their footprints, they came upon two large stacks of maize which was then being harvested. At this moment an Indian, who had not time to conceal himself,- 230 - came towards them. He spoke a language they could not understand, wore a large silver disc in his lower lip, and gold earrings. He took Francisco de Ribera by the hand and signed to him to accompany him, which he did. They now observed a large house made of straw and wood. On approaching it, they saw women and other Indians carrying out of the house cotton stuffs and other articles, which they placed in front of the stacks. The Indian made them enter the house, where men and women were carrying out all it contained. In order to avoid passing the Christians, they made an opening in the straw, and passed the things out that way. Our people saw them taking from some large vessels full of maize, plates, hatchets, and bracelets of silver which they carried outside the straw walls. This Indian appeared to be the head of the family from the respect shown him. He took them inside, and signed to them to be seated, and ordered two Orejones (Indians with large ears), whom they supposed to be his slaves, to give them maize wine to drink out of some jars, which stood in the house buried up to their necks in the earth. They poured the wine into large gourds, and handed these to the Spaniards. The two Orejones said that at three days’ journey from that place there were Christians living with a tribe called Payzunoes; they then told the way to Tapuaguazú, which is a high mountain. Soon many natives arrived in their war-paint and feathers, with bows and arrows. The Indian spoke very volubly to them, and he also took a bow and arrows; he sent men, who came and went, with messages, by which the Spaniards knew that he was summoning the population from the neighbouring villages, and intended killing them. The captain told the Christians who were with him to come out of the house altogether, and return by the way they came, before more Indians had assembled; by this time there were over three hundred. Ribera gave the natives to understand that he would go and fetch many other Christians who- 231 - were close at hand, and, as they were expecting more to arrive, they had only to wait till he came back. By this ruse our people escaped, but, at a stone’s throw from the house, the Indians, who saw they were escaping, pursued them with cries, and shot many arrows at them. They followed them into the forest, where the Christians defended themselves, and the Indians, thinking there were a larger number of them here, durst not pursue further, but let them go; all the Spaniards, however, were wounded. They came back the way they went, and it took them only twelve days to return to the place where they had left the governor, whence they had marched in twenty-one days. The captain estimated the distance from the Port of Los Reyes to the villages of those Indians at seventy leagues.

[356] Shad.

A lagoon twenty leagues from this port, in crossing which they had the water knee-deep, was, upon their return, so greatly increased that it covered a league of land, and was two pikes deep. They crossed it in rafts with great danger and difficulty. The captain added that, before attempting to enter that country, it would be necessary to wait till the waters subsided. The Indians he had seen were called Tarapecosies; they have plenty of provisions, and they rear geese and poultry like ours. This was the account given by Francisco de Ribera and by the Spaniards who accompanied him, and by the guide, all of whom confirmed what Francisco de Ribera had said.

There were some Indians in the port of Los Reyes belonging to the same tribe of Tarapecosies, from whose village de Ribera had just returned. They had come with Garcia, the interpreter, when he made his journey into the interior and returned defeated by the Guaranís of the Paraguai. These Indians had escaped with the Chaneses, who had also fled and lived all together in the port of Los Reyes. The governor, wishing for further information, sent for them. They immediately recognised the arrows that Francisco de- 232 - Ribera had brought with him, which had been shot at him by the Tarapecosies, as those used in their native country. The governor asked them why their fellow-tribesmen had wished to kill those who had gone to see them. They answered that the Tarapecosies were no enemies of the Christians; on the contrary, they were their friends since Garcia had visited their country and trafficked with them. The reason why they had tried to kill the Spaniards was because these had taken Guaranís with them whom they regarded as enemies; for in former times these people had invaded their territory and sought to destroy them. The Christians, they said, should have taken an interpreter with them who knew their language, to let them know the object of their visit, for they were not in the habit of making war upon those who did them no injury. If they take an interpreter, they added, they will be well treated and supplied with provisions, and gold and silver, which are obtained from the tribes of the interior. Asked from what tribe and how they acquired their gold and silver, they answered that the Payzunos, who lived three days’ journey off, gave them these precious metals in exchange for bows and arrows and slaves, which they took from other tribes; the Payzunos obtained them from the Chaneses, Chimenos, Carcaraes, Candirées, and other Indian nations who possess an abundance of them. They were shown a brass candlestick very bright and shiny, to see if the gold they had in their land was like that. They said that the metal of the candlestick was hard and base, but their metal was soft and without smell, and more yellow. Then they were shown a gold ring, and asked if that were the metal of their country, and they said it was. They were also shown a tin plate, very bright and shiny, and asked if the silver in their country was of that kind. They answered that this metal stank, and was base and soft; theirs was whiter, harder, and had no bad smell. A silver cup was then put in their hands, and they were- 233 - greatly pleased with it, and said that of that metal they had quantities in their land in the form of small vases and other things in use among the Indians, such as plates, bracelets, crowns, small hatchets, and other objects.


How the governor sent for Gonzalo de Mendoza.

THE governor, in order to provide what was necessary for the exploration of this country as it beseemed the service of His Majesty, sent, without delay, for Gonzalo de Mendoza to recall him and his men from the land of the Arianicosies. Before leaving their village, however, he was to endeavour to get the Indians to return to their houses and pacify them.

Soon after the arrival of Francisco de Ribera and his six Spaniards at the port of Los Reyes, all the people there began to suffer from fevers, so that there were not sufficient men to mount guard in camp. Even the Guaranís were sick of this malady, and several died.

Gonzalo de Mendoza wrote that all his people were also ill of the fever, and that he was sending in the brigantines all the sick and infirm. He had not been able to make peace with the Arianicosies, though he had several times made friendly overtures and offered them presents. Yet in spite of this they came every day and attacked him. The country, he said, abounded in provisions, both in the fields and lakes. Besides the provisions he had sent in the brigantines, a large quantity was left for the natives. The sickness that had attacked all the people was attributable to the pollution of the water, which had become brackish as it rose.

- 234 -

About this time the Indians living in an island about one league from port Los Reyes, who are called Socorinos and Xaqueses, seeing how sick and weak the Christians were, began to make war upon them. They no longer came to traffic and barter with the Christians as they had hitherto done, nor informed them of the evil designs of the Guaxarapos; they even joined these latter, and prepared for a campaign against the Spaniards. The Indian Guaranís whom the Spaniards had brought in their armada were in the habit of going out in their canoes, in company with some Christians, to fish in the lagoon, a stone’s-throw from the camp. One morning five Christians, four of whom were boys, had gone in the canoes with these Guaranís, when the Xaqueses, Socorinos, and many other Indians of that island, came out and captured the five Christians, killed the newly-converted among the Guaranís, and brought the rest to their island, where they hacked the five Christians in pieces and distributed them among the Guaxarapos, Guatos, and other natives of the environs of port Viejo (the ancient). Other tribes, who were associated with them for the purpose of making war upon the Christians, had their share of the flesh of these unfortunate people. Not content with this, as the people were ill and weak, they came with great daring to attack the settlement where the Christians were, and set fire to it. These shouted, “To arms, to arms, the Indians are killing the Christians.” As the whole settlement was now under arms, they went out to meet the Indians, who, nevertheless, succeeded in capturing more Christians, and among them one called Pedro Mepen, and some others who were fishing in the lagoon, and ate these as they had done the first five.

The following morning at daybreak a large number of canoes were seen filled by warriors, who were running away to the opposite side of the lagoon; they uttered loud cries, pointed their bows and arrows, and held them up to make us understand that they had made the assault.- 235 - They penetrated into the island situated in the lagoon of Los Reyes, and killed this time fifty-eight Christians. The governor having witnessed this disaster, told the natives of the port of Los Reyes to demand from the Indians of the island the release of the Christians they had captured. These people having gone and demanded their release, were told that the Guaxarapos had taken the prisoners away. From that time they continually came at night, made incursions on the lagoon to see if they might capture any Christians or Indians fishing there, so as to prevent their fishing; for they declared the land was theirs and that the Christians had no right to fish there; that we must leave the country, otherwise they would kill us. The governor sent to try and appease them, and to tell them to keep the peace they had made, and restore the Christian and Indian captives they had taken, promising in such case to treat them as friends, but that if they refused, he would act against them as enemies. He repeated this message several times, but they would not submit, and did not cease hostilities, and doing us all the mischief they could. Seeing these measures were of no avail, the governor ordered that an inquiry should be held, and when this had been done in accordance with the advice of the officers and clergy, these people were proclaimed enemies, war was declared against them, and the country was protected from the ravages daily committed.

- 236 -


How Hernando de Ribera returned from his exploration along the river.

ON the 30th January 1543, Captain Hernando de Ribera returned with the vessel and men entrusted to him for the exploration of the higher reaches of the river. But when he returned he found the governor and all his people sick with fever and shivering fits, so he could not make his report.[357] By that time the water in the river had so swollen that all the land was inundated, and it was impossible to renew the exploration. The natives say that the floods continue for four months, and rise five or six fathoms, and that they then enter their canoes with their houses and provisions, as I have related above, and are not able to land. The natives of this country kill and eat one another. When the waters subside they set up their houses again on shore in the same places as before. The land is about this time infected with malaria, arising from the putrefaction of fish, which are left in large numbers on the dry land, and with the high temperature then prevailing it is impossible to endure the stench.

[357] This report will be found at the end of the Commentaries.

- 237 -


What befell the governor and his people in the port of Los Reyes.

THE governor remained three months in this port of Los Reyes with all his people ill with fever, waiting till God should be pleased to restore them to health, and the waters should subside to enable them to undertake the exploration of the country. But every day the sickness increased and the waters rose. We were, therefore, obliged to withdraw from the port of Los Reyes in great trouble. Besides the illness by which we were attacked, there were so many mosquitoes of various kinds that we could neither sleep nor rest day and night; the sufferings we endured from this plague were even worse than the fever. Because of these inconveniences, and as the officers had requested him to abandon the port and to return to the city of Ascension, where the people could recover, the governor having referred to the clergy and officers, decided on withdrawing. Yet he would not allow the Christians to take with them about a hundred girls, whom the natives of Los Reyes, upon the governor’s arrival, had offered to the captains and officers of distinction, so as to be on good terms with them, leaving them to do what they pleased with the girls. The motive of this refusal was to avoid the offence against God done in this way. He ordered, at the moment of departure, the fathers of these girls to receive them back into their houses till our return, being unwilling that their parents should be dissatisfied and the country scandalised because of this. To give more importance to this action of his, he published a rescript of His Majesty, forbidding, under- 238 - the severest penalty, anybody from removing natives from their homes. The natives were well satisfied with this measure, but the Spaniards were greatly discontented, some of them felt ill-disposed towards him, and from that time he was detested by the majority. This was the motive or pretext for their subsequent conduct, as I shall relate further on. All the people, Christians and Indians, having embarked, he came in twelve days to the port of Ascension, though it had taken two months to ascend the same way. Though sick to death, the people derived strength from their desire to return home. The perils and difficulties of this voyage were certainly not light, for the men were not strong enough to handle their arms to resist the enemy, or make use of an oar to help to steer the vessels; and had it not been for the culverins we carried, our trouble would have been greater. We drew the canoes of the Indians into the midst of the brigantines to protect them from the enemy’s attacks till we came to their homes, and for better security the governor distributed some Christians in the canoes.

We took every precaution, and kept a sharp look-out for the enemy, when, as we were passing the lands of the Guaxarapos, these natives attacked us suddenly with a number of canoes. They assailed some rafts that were being taken in reserve, and wounded a Christian with a dart, which pierced him in the breast, so that he fell dead on the spot. His name was Miranda, and he came from Valladolid. They also wounded some of our Indians, and would have caused us more losses had it not been for our culverins. The weakness of the soldiers was the cause of it.

On the 8th April of the same year we arrived at the town of Ascension with our troops, our Guaranís, and our vessels. The Governor and the Christians that were with him were all sick and weak. On his arrival, Captain Salazar told him that he had assembled over 20,000 Indians and a large number of canoes to go out against the Agaces, for, since the- 239 - departure of the governor, they had not ceased making war upon the Christians and the natives, plundering and slaying them, taking from them wives and children, burning villages and committing every kind of excess. When the governor arrived, the expedition to punish the Agaces had not yet started. We found the caravel ordered by the governor nearly finished. He had intended sending it, as soon as it was ready, to bear information to His Majesty of all that had happened in his voyage of discovery and all that had passed in the country. Orders were now given to complete the caravel.


How the governor, having arrived with his people at the town of Ascension, was made a prisoner.

FIFTEEN days after the arrival of the governor at Ascension, the officers of His Majesty, who hated him because he refused to consent to things done against the service of God and the king, seeing him arrive with the other Christians in this extremity, conspired with their friends on St. Mark’s Day to take him prisoner that night. They had already depopulated the best and principal port of the province, with the intention of rebelling against the sovereign, as they have now done. In order to carry out their plans in the most effective way, they told a hundred men that they knew the governor was about to take from them their property, their houses, and their Indian girls, and would distribute these among the men who had returned from the exploring expedition; that it was a great injustice and contrary to the service of His Majesty. “This night”, they added,- 240 - “we will go and require him, in the name of the king, not to take away your houses, nor your lands, nor your Indian girls, and, as we fear the governor may have us arrested, arm yourselves and bring your friends, for you will be doing a great service to His Majesty in this way.” It was arranged that at the Ave Maria these men should come armed to two houses which would be assigned to them, and should hold themselves in readiness there for further orders. So the insurgents, ten or twelve in number, entered the apartment where the governor was lying on his bed of sickness, with cries of “Liberty, liberty, long live the king!” They were the supervisor Alonso Cabrera, the accountant Philip de Caceres, Garcia Vanegas, acting treasurer, a servant of the governor named Pedro de Oñate (who was in the room with him, opened the door to the conspirators, and was an active promoter of the insurrection), Don Francisco de Mendoza, Jaime Rasquin (who held an arquebus and a poisoned dart at his breast), Diego de Acosta, Portuguese interpreter, and Solorzano, a native of Canaria. These men entered with arms in their hands and seized the governor, dragged him out of the room in his shirt, continuing to cry: “Liberty, liberty!” They called him a tyrant, levelled their arquebuses at him, saying such words as these: “Now you shall pay the penalty of your offences and the losses you have caused us.” When they had come out into the street they were joined by others whom they had enlisted on their side, who, seeing they were carrying the governor off a prisoner in that fashion, said to Pedro Dorantes and the others: “Let the responsibility of this rest with the traitors who did the deed; you brought us here on the pretext that our goods, houses, and Indian girls would be taken from us, but your real object was to make us parties to your treason against the king”; upon this they drew their swords, and there was a serious scrimmage. As the insurgents were now approaching the houses of the officers some took refuge in the house of Garcia Vanegas, dragging the- 241 - governor along with them. Others remained at the door, saying to those who had taken the part of the governor: “You are betraying us; don’t say that you did not know what was going to be done; help us to put him into prison. If you attempt to deliver him we will cut you to pieces and chop off your heads. It is a matter of life and death to you; aid us, therefore, to complete what we have begun, and we will all share the goods, the Indian girls, and furniture of the governor.” The officers then entered the small room in which the governor was confined, placed him in irons, and set a watch upon him. Having done this they repaired to the house of Juan Pavon, alcalde mayor, and to that of the alguazil, Francisco de Peralta. When they had come to the alcalde mayor’s, Martin de Ure, a Biscayan, as leader, seized by force the staff of office. They did the same at the alguazil’s, and, having struck these functionaries several blows with the fist and knocked them about, they called them traitors and took them to the public prison, where they were put in the stocks by the head. They set at liberty the prisoners, among whom was one sentenced to death for having murdered a certain Morales, a gentleman of Seville. Having done this, they took a drum and marched about the streets, exciting the people to rebel, and uttering loud cries of “Liberty, liberty! Long live the king!”

After they had made the circuit of the city in this way, the same individuals went to the house of Pero Hernandez, secretary of the province, who was ill at the time. They arrested him, as well as Bartolomé Gonzales, took possession of his property and documents, and carried him prisoner to the house of Domingo de Irala, where they placed him in chains, and, after insulting him, left him in the hands of the sentinels. Then they published the following proclamation: “The officers of His Majesty prohibit all persons from appearing in the streets; anyone going out of doors will be considered a traitor and condemned to death.” Having done- 242 - this they again shouted, “Liberty, liberty!” While posting this order, they pushed and hustled everyone they met in the streets, forcing people to enter their houses.

They then went to the house of the governor, where he kept his property, papers, and the letters he had received from the king appointing him governor of the province, as well as the acts by which his authority had been recognised. They forced open some chests, extracted all the documents contained in them, and took possession of everything. They also opened a chest, locked with three keys, containing the public indictments against officers charged with crimes referred to the king for final sentence. They took also his goods, stuffs, provisions, oil, steel, and iron, besides a number of other things. Most of these things disappeared, everything being looted. They denounced him as a tyrant, and abused him in every way. The remainder of his property was bestowed upon such as professed to be attached to him, who took them under pretext of deposit; but these so-called friends of the deposed governor really helped the insurgents. His property was said to be worth over 100,000 castellanos,[358] according to the value current then; he had also ten brigantines.

[358] A gold coin formerly in use in Spain. During the reign of the Catholic kings it was worth 490 maravedis of silver, equal to about 4s. 9d. The value of these coins afterwards fluctuated. This sum is undoubtedly grossly exaggerated.

- 243 -


How the population assembled before the house of Domingo de Irala.

THE following day the officers published in the streets, by sound of drum and trumpet, that all the people should assemble in front of the house of Captain Domingo de Irala. Their friends and partisans having gone there armed, a libel was read by the public crier in a loud voice. It stated that the governor had ordered them all to be deprived of their possessions and to be treated as slaves: and that they, in the general interests of liberty, had laid hands on his person. When this libel had been read they called out, “Sirs, cry, Liberty, liberty, long live the king!” And this was accordingly done by their friends. After these proceedings they inveighed against the governor, and many said, “Come what may, let us kill this tyrant who wished to ruin and destroy us.”

When the fury of the population had somewhat calmed down, they elected Domingo de Irala as deputy-governor and captain general of the whole province. This man had already been elected once before in the place of Francisco Ruiz, once Don Pedro de Mendoza’s deputy. Ruiz had been in truth a good deputy-governor; but against all justice, and from envy and malice, he was deposed and Domingo de Irala elected in his stead. Someone having said to the supervisor, Alonso Cabrera, that they had acted badly in that case, because Francisco Ruiz had colonized the country and been at great pains to maintain it, he answered that they had acted thus because Ruiz would not do what they wished, but that Domingo de Irala, whose rank was less than their- 244 - own, would always do what they bade him; and for this reason all the officers elected him. They appointed Pero Diaz del Valle alcalde mayor, because he was a friend of Domingo de Irala, and gave the insignia of alguazil to a certain Bartolomé de la Marilla, a native of Truxillo, a friend of Nuflo de Chaves, and to Sancho de Salinas, a native of Cazalla.

Then the officers and Domingo de Irala made it known that they intended fitting out a new expedition to the country discovered by the governor, to search for gold and silver, and sending it, when found, to His Majesty, in order that they might be pardoned the crime they had committed. Should they not succeed in finding gold, they would not return, as they feared punishment; yet it might happen that they found so much of the precious metal that the king, in return for it, would make them a present of the country. By such means as these they cajoled the people. However, everybody knew enough of their misdeeds and their past and present conduct to decline consenting to the proposed expedition. And since then the majority of the people began to remonstrate against the imprisonment of the governor. Then the officers and newly-appointed magistrates began to maltreat those who showed discontent at the governor’s imprisonment. They imprisoned them, deprived them of all their possessions, and tormented them in every way. When these people took refuge in the church, in order to avoid being arrested, they stationed watchmen at the door, so that no provisions might reach them. They punished those who attempted to relieve them, disarmed all the inhabitants and harassed them by every means in their power. They, moreover, said in public that they would kill any persons who might show discontent at the governor’s imprisonment.

- 245 -


Of the tumults and disturbances that took place in the country.

FROM that time tumults and dissensions frequently arose among the people. Those that were of the party of the king denounced the rebel officers and their partisans as traitors. These, fearing the inhabitants, went armed day and night; they built stockades and other works for their defence, barricaded the streets, and withdrew into five or six houses. The governor was confined in a small room in the house of Garcia Vanegas, so as to have him in their midst. The alcalde and alguazils daily searched the houses immediately surrounding that in which the governor was held a captive, for fear lest an attempt might be made to enter them by means of mines. When the officers saw two or three men of the governor’s party talking together, they would immediately raise the alarm, enter the place in which governor Nuñez was confined, lay their hands on their daggers, and swear that if an attempt were made to rescue him they would cut off his head and throw it to his would-be deliverers. They appointed four men, whom they considered the bravest of their band, to stand ready armed with poniards, and made them swear that on the first attempt to rescue him in the name of His Majesty they would immediately enter and behead him. These men were posted so near the governor that he could hear them talking and sharpening their daggers. These executioners were Garcia Vanegas, Andres Hernandez, el romo, besides others.

Not only was the arrest of the governor the cause of general tumult and dissension, there were also many private disputes- 246 - and lawsuits in consequence of the edicts which had followed. Some said that the officers and their friends were traitors, and had done wrong in arresting Alvar Nuñez; that they had caused the ruin of the country as then appeared, and even now appears to be the case. Others took the contrary view; and they killed, wounded, and maimed one another. The officers and their friends said that the partisans of the governor and those who wished him set at liberty were traitors, and should be punished as such; they forbade suspected persons from talking together. Whenever they saw two men together in the streets they drew out an act of inquest, and arrested them in order to know what they were saying; and if three or four collected together, they fell upon them with their weapons. They had placed sentries on the roof of the house in which the governor was confined, in two sentry-boxes, that they might overlook the whole town and adjacent country. Their spies, too, reported what was being done and said in the town. At night, thirty armed men patrolled the streets, arresting anybody they met, demanding to know whither they were going, and for what purpose. As the tumults and disorders increased, the officers and their partisans became harassed, and begged the governor to give an order to the people to keep the peace and not revolt; and if necessary to fix a penalty for disobedience to this order. The officers drafted this order for him to sign, but when he had signed it they were advised not to publish it, because they pretended that everybody had been in favour of his arrest. For this reason the order was not published.

- 247 -


How the governor was kept in prison.

WHILE these events were happening the governor was very ill in bed, and for the sake of his health chains were fastened round his feet; by his pillow a candle burned, for the prison was dark, no light being admitted, and so damp that the grass grew under his bed; he had the candle because he might want it at any moment. To crown his miseries, they had searched among the whole population for the man most evilly disposed towards him, and they found one named Hernando de Sosa, whom the governor had punished for striking an Indian chief. This man was placed on guard in the same room with him. The prison closed with two sliding doors furnished with padlocks; the officers and their partisans watched him day and night armed to the teeth; and there were upwards of one hundred and fifty of them, all paid with his property.

Notwithstanding this strict watch kept upon him, every night, or every third night, an Indian woman who brought him his supper conveyed him a letter written by one of his friends, informing him of all that happened outside his prison. They begged him to say what he wished them to do, three parts of the people being determined to die with the Indians in order to deliver him. They had feared to do this because of the threats of the officers to kill him should an attempt at a rescue be made. Seventy of those guarding him were ready to join them and make themselves masters of the principal entrance of the prison. They promised to defend him till the arrival of his friends. The governor opposed this project, because it could not easily be accomplished- 248 - without the slaughter of a large number of Christians. Besides, when once the scheme had been put into execution, the Indians would have put an end to the Christians and brought about the final ruin of the country. For these reasons he dissuaded them from their purpose.

The Indian woman who brought him a letter every third night, and took back an answer, passed through the midst of the guards, who stripped her naked, examined her mouth and ears, and cut off her hair, for fear of her concealing anything. They even searched her in parts which modesty compels me not to mention. This woman, as I have stated, passed the guard quite naked, and having come to where the governor was, handed the gaoler what she brought, and then sat down on his bed, for the room was small. She then began to scratch her foot, and while engaged in this way, drew forth a letter which she handed to the governor behind the back of the gaoler. This letter, written on very thin paper, was deftly rolled up and covered with black wax; this was concealed under the lesser toes, and attached to these by two black threads. In this way she brought the letters and the necessary paper for him to write his answer, and a little powder made of a certain black stone of the country, which, moistened with a little saliva or water, made ink. The officers and their friends suspected her, for they had learned that the governor knew what was passing outside the prison, and what they were doing. In order to be sure of this, they chose four of the more youthful of their party to seduce the Indian woman—not a difficult task, for these women are not sparing of their charms, and consider it an affront to deny their favours to anyone; they say, moreover, that they have received them for that purpose. These four youths accordingly intrigued with her and gave her many presents; but they could never make her divulge her secret during the whole of their intercourse, which lasted eleven months.

- 249 -


How the insurgents ravaged the land and took possession of the property of the inhabitants.

WHILE the governor was in this situation, the officers and Domingo de Irala gave public permission to all their friends and partisans to go into the villages and huts of the Indians and take by force their wives, daughters, hammocks, and other of their possessions, a thing contrary to the service of His Majesty and the peace of the country. While this was going on they would scour the country, strike the Indians blows with sticks, carry them off to their houses, and oblige them to labour in their fields without any remuneration. When the Indians came and complained to Domingo de Irala and the officers, these answered that it was no affair of theirs, which pleased the Christians, because they knew that this answer was given to suit their pleasure and secure their support, for they might say that they had full liberty to do what they liked. These replies and bad treatment caused the country to be deserted. The natives withdrew to the mountains, and concealed themselves in places where the Christians could not find them. A large number were Christians, together with wives and children. When they left the settlement they lost the religious teaching of the monks and clergy, the governor having paid great attention to their religious instruction. A few days after his arrest they destroyed the caravel which he had made to send advice to His Majesty of all that was passing in the province; for the insurgents hoped to get the people to undertake a voyage of discovery in that country, where the governor had- 250 - already partly explored; they thought they might obtain gold and silver there, and that they would have the honour of rendering important service to the king.

There being no justice in the land, the inhabitants and colonists suffered many wrongs from the officers and magistrates appointed by the insurgents. They were imprisoned and deprived of their property; at least fifty of them became so indignant that they retreated into the interior towards the coast of Brazil, with the intention of finding means of proceeding to Spain and informing His Majesty of all the wrongs, misdeeds, and disturbances passing in the land. Many others were overtaken and kept in prison a long time; their arms and all their possessions were taken away and distributed among their friends and partisans, in order to engage their support for the party in power.


How the monks left the country.

WHILE this sad state of things was going on without hope of remedy, the monks—friar Bernardo de Armenta[359] thinking the moment opportune for putting into execution their long-conceived project of departing (having already attempted it, as I have said before), spoke about it to the officers and to Domingo de Irala, in order that they should give them permission and the necessary help to reach the coast of Brazil. These- 251 - officers consented, in order to give them satisfaction because they had opposed the governor, who had hindered their taking the route they wished. Permission was accordingly granted to them, and the necessary help to go to Brazil. They took with them some Spaniards and Indian women, to whom they were teaching Christianity.

[359] The name of the other monk is omitted in the text. It was probably Alonzo Lebron; cf. supra, pp. 100, 136.

During his captivity the governor had asked the insurgents several times to let him appoint a deputy to rule the province in the name of His Majesty, in order to terminate the tumults and disorders that were of such constant occurrence, and restore justice and tranquillity in the land. After making this nomination he would have liked to go before the king and render an account of all that had passed, and the actual position of affairs. The officers answered, however, that by his arrest his authority had lost all its force, and that the person they had nominated as governor would serve the purpose. Every day they entered his prison and threatened to put an end to his life. The governor replied that, should they decide upon doing this, he begged, and even if necessary he required, them in God’s name and the king’s to send him a clergyman to confess him. They said that if they gave him a confessor it would be Francisco de Andrada, or another native of Biscay (who were concerned in the insurrection), and if he would have neither of them, he should have none at all, because the others were their enemies and his supporters. In fact, they had arrested Antonio d’Escalera, Rodrigo de Herrera, and Luis de Miranda, because they had said, and were still saying, that the arrest of the governor was a great sin, and contrary to the service of God and His Majesty, and would bring ruin upon the land. The priest, Luis de Miranda, had been imprisoned with the Alcalde mayor for more than eight months without seeing sun or moon all that time. And the insurgents would never consent that any other of the clergy except those we have named should confess him.

- 252 -

A gentleman[360] named Anton Bravo, eighteen years of age, having been heard to say one day that he would form a scheme to release the governor from prison, the officers and Domingo de Irala had him arrested, and applied the torture to him, to find pretext for punishing and ill-treating others whom they hated. They offered him his liberty if he would incriminate others whom he had named in his evidence. These were all taken and disarmed. Anton Bravo was publicly bastinadoed in the street, proclaimed a traitor, and accused of being unfaithful to His Majesty by trying to deliver the governor from prison.

[360] In original, hidalgo, from hijo de algo, i.e., a person of good birth.


How they tortured those who were not on their side.

THIS was the cause of many other cruel torturings to find out if the persons accused had concerted measures for the release of the governor from prison. They sought to know who were the persons concerned in the scheme, how he was to be delivered, and if the ground were mined. Many were deprived of the use of their limbs by these tortures. Inscriptions having been found on the walls, which said, “Thou shalt die for thy king and thy law,” the officers, Domingo de Irala, and the magistrates, took steps to find out who were the authors, swearing and threatening to punish them, and they arrested a number of persons, whom they put to the torture.

- 253 -


How they wished to kill a sheriff who had made them a requisition.

AFFAIRS being in the state I have described, a certain Pedro de Molina, a native of Guadix, and judge of that town, having been witness of the misfortunes and troubles that were taking place in the country, determined, in His Majesty’s interests, to enter the stockaded enclosure where Domingo de Irala and his officers were residing, and in the presence of all, doffing his cap, he asked Martin de Ure, the notary, to read to the officers a requisition that the evils, murders, and injustice occasioned by the arrest of the governor might cease. He demanded that Alvar Nuñez should be set free, and that he should be allowed to invest some fitting person, with his authority, to govern the province in the name of His Majesty, and maintain peace and justice. The notary at first refused to read it because the insurgents were present, but at length he took it, and said to Pedro de Molina that if he wished it read he must pay him his fee. Pedro de Molina drew his sword and handed it to him. The notary declined the sword as a pledge for payment. Then Pedro de Molina took off his woollen hood and gave it to him, saying: “Read it, I have no better pledge to offer.” Martin de Ure took the hood and the requisition, and threw them both down at his feet, declaring that he would not notify it to those gentlemen. Thereupon Garcia Vanegas, the deputy-treasurer, addressed some insulting words to Pedro de Molina, threatening to have him beaten to death, and that he deserved it for- 254 - daring to speak in that way. Pedro de Molina then went out, raising his cap, considering himself fortunate in escaping without further ill-treatment.


How the insurgents gave the Indians permission to eat human flesh.

THE officers and Domingo de Irala, wishing to gain favour among the natives, gave them permission to kill and eat their Indian enemies. Many of those who availed themselves of this license were converted Christians. The insurgents had adopted this expedient, unbecoming to the service of God and His Majesty, and horrible to all who knew of it, in order to prevent the Indians from leaving the country, and attaching them to their party. They told them the governor was a bad man, inasmuch as he would not authorise their killing and eating their enemies, and that he had been arrested on that account, and that they now gave them free permission to do this.

In spite of all their efforts, the officers and Domingo de Irala, seeing that the tumults and quarrels would not cease, but were daily on the increase, decided to remove the governor from the province, while those who took this step chose to remain where they were and not return to Spain; they only desired to expel him and some of his friends. The partisans of the governor, on hearing this resolution, were much excited. They said that since the officers had usurped the power of deposing the governor and arresting him, and had given their supporters to understand that they would go with him to Spain, to explain their conduct to- 255 - His Majesty, they must keep their promise, and if they all refused to go, that two, at all events, should accompany him, and that the other two might remain in the province. So they arranged it in that way, and, in order to take him to Spain, they equipped one of the brigantines which he had built for exploring and conquering the country. This gave rise to serious altercations, owing to the discontent that prevailed at seeing they were about to take Alvar Nuñez from the province. The officers resolved upon arresting the leaders of the malcontents, but durst not carry out their intention. In this dilemma they had again recourse to the governor, conjuring him to put an end to all the scandals and disorders; that if his friends would give their word not to attempt his release, that they on their side, and their magistrates, would promise not to arrest anybody, or do any injury to anybody, and would set those free whom they had arrested, and they swore it. As the governor had now been in prison a long time, and nobody had seen him, it was suspected and feared that they had secretly murdered him. They were accordingly asked to allow two monks and two gentlemen to enter his prison and see him, so that they might certify the people he was still alive. The officers promised they would do this three or four days before it was time for him to embark, but they broke their word.

- 256 -


How the insurgents had to write to His Majesty and send him a report.

AT this juncture the officers prepared several memoirs to send to Spain, accusing the governor and making him odious to everybody. To lend a favourable colour to their own criminal acts, they wrote things that never happened and were entirely untrue. While the brigantine was being equipped for her voyage, the friends of the governor arranged with the carpenters to hollow a timber as big as a man’s thigh, and three spans long, and place inside it a general act of accusation which the governor had addressed to His Majesty, and other important papers collected by his friends when he was arrested. This packet was taken and enveloped in a waxed cloth, and the piece of timber was fastened to the poop of the brigantine with six nails above and six below. The carpenters said that they had placed it there to strengthen the brigantine, and the secret was kept so well that nobody discovered it. The master carpenter told a sailor of it, so that when the vessel arrived in Spain the documents might be taken out. It had been arranged with the officers that the governor should be seen by his friends before he embarked, but neither Captain Salazar nor anybody saw him. One night, towards midnight, Alonso Cabrera, the supervisor, and Pedro Dorantes, his factor, accompanied by a large number of arquebusiers, presented themselves at the prison; and each arquebusier carried three lighted fuses in his hand, so as to make the number appear greater than it was. Then Alonso Cabrera and Pedro Dorantes entered the room in which he lay; they- 257 - seized him by the arm and lifted him out of the bed with the chains round his feet; he was very ill, almost to death. They carried him in this state to the gate leading into the street, and when he saw the sky, which he had not seen till then, he entreated them to let him render thanks to God. When he rose from his knees, two soldiers took him under the arms and carried him on board the brigantine, for he was extremely weak and crippled. When he saw himself in the midst of these people, he said to them: “Sirs, be my witnesses that I appoint, as my deputy, Juan de Salazar de Espinosa, that he may govern this province instead of me, and in the name of His Majesty, maintaining order and justice till the King should have been pleased to make other dispositions.” Hardly had he finished speaking than Garcia Vanegas, deputy treasurer, rushed upon him, dagger in hand, saying: “I do not recognise what you say; retract, or I will tear your soul from your body.” The governor had, however, been advised not to say what he did, because they were determined to kill him, and these words might have occasioned a great disturbance among them, and the party of the King might have snatched him from the hands of the others, everybody being then in the street. Garcia Vanegas having withdrawn a little, the governor repeated the same words; then Garcia sprang with great fury on the governor, and placed a dagger to his temple, saying to him as before: “Withdraw what you have said, or I will tear your soul from your body.” At the same moment he inflicted a slight wound on his temple, and pushed the people who were carrying the governor with so much violence that they fell with him, and one of them dropped his cap. After this they quickly raised him again, and carried him precipitately on board the brigantine. They closed the poop of the vessel with planks, put two chains on him which prevented him from moving; then they unmoored and descended the river.

Two days after the embarkation of the governor and the- 258 - departure of the brigantine, Domingo de Irala, the accountant Philip de Caceres, and the factor Pedro Dorantes assembled their friends and attacked the house of Captain Salazar. They seized him and Pedro de Estopiñan Cabeza de Vaca, put them in irons, and sent them down the river to overtake the brigantine. These two officers were taken to Spain with him, and it is certain that if Captain Salazar had wished it the governor would not have been arrested, and still less would they have been able to take him out of the country and carry him to Castille; but, as he remained deputy governor, his conduct was not altogether frank. Cabeza de Vaca begged that two of his servants might be allowed to accompany him to prepare his food and attend upon him during the voyage. Accordingly they let the two servants go, not however to wait on him, but to row four hundred leagues on the river, for none could be found willing to do this work. They forced some of the people to come, others fled into the interior, and the property of such was confiscated and distributed among those that were pressed for the service. The officers did a very wrong thing during the voyage, and it was this: every two or three days they spread among their partisans and their friends a thousand calumnies against him, and finally said: “We have, as it is manifest, done you a great deal of good and acted for your advantage and that of the king, in consideration for this, sign this paper.” In this way they filled four quires of paper with signatures, and during the voyage down the river composed their calumnious statements while these who had signed their names to the paper remained at Ascension, three hundred leagues up the river. It was upon this document that the charges brought against the governor were framed.

- 259 -


How they gave arsenic three times to the governor during the voyage.

WHILE descending the river the officers ordered a certain Biscayan named Machin to prepare the food for the governor and then to pass it to Lope Duarte, one of the confederates of Domingo de Irala, and guilty, like the rest, of complicity in his arrest. He came from Spain as solicitor to Domingo de Irala and to attend to his affairs. While the governor journeyed in this fashion, arsenic was administered to him three times; but as an antidote against this poison he carried with him a bottle of oil and a piece of the horn of a unicorn. When he felt unwell he made use of these remedies; day and night his sufferings were great. But it pleased God that he escaped safely. He entreated the officers, Alonso Cabrera and Garcia Vanegas, to allow his own servants to cook for him, as he would take his meals from nobody else. To this they replied that he would have to take his food from whomsoever they chose; if he did not take it from the persons commissioned to give it him, he might die of hunger, it mattered little to them. He abstained from food several days, but hunger at length compelled him to take what they gave him. The insurgents had promised several persons to take them on board the caravel (afterwards destroyed) to Spain if they would support their faction and help them to arrest the governor and not oppose them. Two of these were Francisco de Paredes, a native of Burgos, and Friar Juan de Salazar, of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy. They carried as prisoners with them Luis de Miranda, Pedro- 260 - Hernandez, Captain Salazar de Espinosa, and Pedro Vaca. Having descended the river to the island of San Gabriel, they would not allow either Francisco de Paredes or friar Juan de Salazar to remain on board, fearing lest these two persons should support the governor’s cause in Spain, and give a true account of what had happened. For this reason they compelled them to re-embark on the brigantines that returned up the river to Ascension, although they had sold their houses and property for much less than they were worth when they were compelled to leave. This caused them to make such an outcry that it was pitiable to hear them. Here the servants of the governor, who had accompanied him thus far, rowing all the way, were obliged to leave him, a loss he felt more than anything he had yet endured; nor did they feel the separation less acutely. They remained two days at the island of San Gabriel, when some of them left for Ascension, and the others for Spain. The brigantine which bore the governor had eleven banks of rowers, and contained twenty-seven persons altogether.

They pursued their voyage down the river till they entered the sea, when a violent tempest arose. The brigantine became waterlogged, and all the provisions were spoilt; all that they managed to preserve was a little flour, some lard, fish, and a little water. They were all very near being drowned. The officers who had charge of the governor said that God had sent them this terrible tempest as a punishment for the wrongs and injustice they had made their prisoner suffer. They resolved, therefore, to take off his chains and let him out of prison. Alonso de Cabrera filed them asunder, Garcia Vanegas kissed his feet, though Cabeza de Vaca would not allow it. They said openly that God had sent them those four days’ sufferings as a retribution for the wrongs they had done him. They acknowledged they had grievously wronged him, and that all their depositions- 261 - were false; that the malice and jealousy they bore him prompted them to administer two thousand false oaths, and this because in three days he had discovered a country and a route, while those who had lived in the country for twelve years had not been able to accomplish it; and they implored his pardon, and that he would not inform His Majesty how they had arrested him. As soon as they had taken the chains off the governor the sea and wind subsided, and the tempest, which had lasted four days, calmed down. We navigated in the open sea for 2,500 leagues without having sight of land, and seeing nothing but water and sky. All the food we had was a flour-cake fried in a little lard, with a little water to drink. We were obliged to break off the planks of our vessel to make a fire to cook our cake. In this way, with infinite suffering, we arrived at the Azores, belonging to His most serene Majesty of Portugal, the voyage having lasted three months. We should not have suffered so severely from hunger had we touched on the Brazilian coast, or at the island of St. Domingo, in the Indies; but the officers dared not do this, for they felt guilty and dreaded being arrested and brought to justice as rebels against their king. On arriving at the Azores the officers in charge of the governor separated because of the dissensions they had had, and each went his own way; but first they tried to induce the justice of Angra to arrest the governor, so as to prevent him from giving information to His Majesty of the crimes and disorders they had committed. They alleged that when he passed Cape Verd he had pillaged the port and country. The judge having heard their deposition, told them to be gone, for his king would not allow himself to be robbed, and did not keep his ports in such a weak state of defence that anybody might dare to attack them. Having seen that, in spite of their malice, they could do nothing to detain him, they embarked, and arrived in Spain eight days before the governor, who was- 262 - delayed by contrary winds. Being the first to present themselves at court, they gave out that Cabeza de Vaca had gone to the King of Portugal to inform him about those countries beyond the sea. A few days later the governor arrived at court. The night of his arrival all the guilty parties disappeared; they went straight to Madrid, where they hoped to find the court, as, in fact, they did. Meanwhile the Bishop of Cuenca, who presided over the council of the Indies,[361] died. This prelate would have punished the crimes and treason committed against His Majesty in that country. Some days afterwards the officers and the governor were released, on giving bail that they would not leave the jurisdiction of the court. Garcia de Vanegas, who was one of those who had arrested the governor, died a sudden, terrible death, his eyes having fallen out of his head, and he never declared the truth of what had passed. Alonso Cabrera, the supervisor, his accomplice, lost his reason, and in a fit of frenzy he killed his wife at Loxa. The friars who had taken part in the revolt and troubles also died suddenly, which seemed to show the small blame attaching to the governor in his conduct towards them. After keeping him eight years under arrest at court, he was set at liberty and acquitted. He was relieved of his governorship for divers reasons; for his enemies said that if he returned to punish the guilty, he would have occasioned more troubles and dissensions in that country. He therefore lost his appointment, besides other losses, without receiving any compensation for all the money he had spent in relieving the Spaniards, and in his voyage of discovery.

[361] This was a special council for the government of the Spanish possessions in the Indies. It was called Real Consejo de las Indias.

- 263 -

Narrative of Hernando de Ribera.

IN the city of Ascension, which is by the river Paraguai, in the province of Rio de la Plata, on the 3rd March, in the year of Our Lord, 1545, appeared before me, public notary, and the legal witnesses, being in the church and monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, Redeemer of captives, Captain Hernando de Ribera, conquistador in this province, and deposed as follows: When Señor Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, governor and adelantado and captain-general in the name of His Majesty, of the province of Rio de la Plata, was in the port of Los Reyes, whence he started on his exploration last year (1543), he commissioned me to take one brigantine, and a certain number of men, and explore up a certain river called Ygatu, which is an arm of two great rivers, viz., the Yacareati and the Yaiva, flowing, according to the reports of the Indians, through the settlements of the interior; and I, Hernando de Ribera, having arrived at some Indians called Xarayes, in consequence of information received from them, left the brigantine in a safe haven, and entered the interior of the country with forty men, in order to see and examine it with my own eyes. And having pursued my journey past many Indian settlements, and obtained from their inhabitants and other natives who came to see me, full reports touching the land, I examined and- 264 - sifted these statements, in order to learn the truth, being moreover, acquainted with the language of the Carios, and therefore able to hold intercourse with those tribes.

Juan Valderas, royal notary, whom I had with me at this time, wrote down and made a note of certain things relating to that discovery. Yet I would not tell him the whole truth concerning the riches and the settlements of the various tribes inhabiting those regions, lest he should write it in his report. And he, the said notary, did not know, nor did he fully understand the matter, for my intention was at that time to have communicated it directly to the governor, in order that he might forthwith proceed to the conquest of that land, as it beseemed the service of God and His Majesty.

After penetrating several days’ journey into the interior, I was obliged to return to the port of Los Reyes, in compliance with orders sent me by the governor. And because I found him and all his people sick on my arrival, I had no opportunity of reporting my discovery, nor communicating all the information I had collected from the natives. A few days afterwards he was compelled to return to Ascension to save the lives of his people, and having again fallen sick a few days after his arrival in that city, he was arrested by the officers of His Majesty (as everybody knows), so that I was unable to make my statement.

Seeing that the officers of His Majesty are about to return to Spain with the governor, and fearing that he may in the meanwhile die, or be removed to some other place where the report might not be delivered to him, and that His Majesty’s service might in this way suffer loss, and the governor himself be prejudiced, and that I might be held blameworthy—taking all this, I say, into consideration, and for the discharge of my conscience, now I, in order to serve God and the King, and the governor in his name, desire to make a declaration of the said discovery, that His Majesty may know of it and- 265 - the reports I obtained from the natives. I have therefore asked and required the notary to receive my statement, which is as follows:

“I, Captain Hernando de Ribera, say and declare that on the 20th of December last year (1543), I set out from the port of Los Reyes in the brigantine El Golondrino (‘The Swallow’) with fifty-two men, in obedience to the governor’s orders, and went on navigating the river Ygatu, which is an arm of the aforesaid two rivers Yacareati and Yaiva, and is very wide and voluminous; and on the sixth day I entered the parent stream of these two water-courses. According to the reports of the natives where I happened to land, these two rivers come from the interior of the country, the Yaiva most probably from the Sierras of Santa Martha. This river is wide and deep, and greater than the Yacareati, which according to the Indians, flows from the Peruvian Sierras; and between those two water-courses there is a wide expanse of land, and innumerable villages and tribes. According to the natives, the Yaiva and the Yacareati unite in the country of the Indians called Perobazanes, and there they separate again, and seventy leagues lower down they reunite.

“After navigating that river for seventeen days, I passed through the land of the Perobazanes, and arrived at another country, where the inhabitants are called Xarayes. These people are agriculturists, have a quantity of provisions, and rear geese, fowls, and other birds. They fish and hunt, and are a reasonable people, obeying their chief. Being in one of their settlements, consisting of about a thousand houses, and well received by their chief, Camire, I collected information concerning the settlements of the interior. In consequence of that information, I left the brigantine under the care of ten men, and taking a guide from the said Xarayes, advanced three days inland, till I reached the settlements of a tribe of Indians, called Urtueses, a good people, cultivating the soil like the Xarayes. From this- 266 - place, I went on through an inhabited country, till I reached fourteen degrees twenty minutes going westwards.

“While staying in the settlements of the Urtueses and Aburuñes, many chiefs of tribes farther inland came and spoke with me, and brought feathers, like those of Peru, and metal plates in the rough. From them I also obtained information, questioning each individually concerning the settlements and tribes beyond. All these Indians told me that at ten days’ march from there, towards the west-north-west, there were women inhabiting large villages, who possessed a large quantity of white and yellow metal, and all their domestic utensils and vessels were of this metal, and their chief was a woman. They are a warlike people, much feared by the Indians. Before reaching those female warriors it is necessary to pass a tribe of very small Indians, who make war upon the women, and also upon those Indians who gave the information. At a certain time of the year these women unite with their neighbours, and cohabit with them. And if the children born of this intercourse be girls, the mothers keep them; if they are boys, they send them as soon as they are weaned to their fathers. On the other side of the settlements of these women, bordering with them, there are very large villages and tribes of Indians. These statements they made of their own free will, without my asking them. They talked also of a large lake, which they call the House of the Sun, because they say the sun locks himself in there, and said that these women lived there between the flanks of Santa Martha and the lake on the west-north-west, and that beyond the settlements of those women were other large nations of black people. According to the description they gave, these negroes are eagle-faced, with pointed beards like the Moors. We asked them how they knew those people to be black, and they answered that their fathers had seen them and other tribes living in that neighbourhood had reported it. These people- 267 - clothe themselves, and have houses of stone and earth; they are tall, and possess white and yellow metal in such abundance that they make use of no other material for their domestic utensils and vases, and all kinds of great vessels. We asked where those black people lived, and they pointed to the north-west, saying, that should we wish to go there, we might reach their settlements in fifteen days. And it seemed to me, judging from the indications given by the Indians, that those settlements lie in twelve degrees towards the north-west, between the sierras of Santa Martha and Marañon. They are a race of warriors fighting with bows and arrows. The same Indians also gave us to understand that between west-north-west and north-west, one quarter north, there are many tribes of Indians with such large settlements that it is a day’s journey to pass from one end to the other; and all are rich in white and yellow metal, and wear clothes. They may be reached in a short time, always passing through inhabited country.

“Farther to the west there is a large lake, so wide that it is impossible to see from shore to shore, and by its side dwells a nation who wear clothes, and possess much metal and brilliant stones, which they work into the borders of their dress; and they find these stones in the lake. They have large villages, are agriculturists, and have stores of provisions, besides an abundance of geese and other birds. From the place where I was they said I might reach the lake and its settlements in fifteen days, always travelling through inhabited country, abounding in metal, and by good roads. They offered to show us the way thither when the floods subsided, though we were but few Christians, and the settlements we should have to pass were very large and populous.

- 268 -

“I also formally declare that the Indians showed me by signs that in the direction west, one quarter south-west, there are large towns, with houses built of earth, inhabited by a good people, clothed, very rich, and possessing plenty of metal. They rear a large number of great sheep, using these for agriculture and transport. I asked if those people were far off, and they answered that the route thither lay through a thickly inhabited country, and that it was not far. Among those people they said there were other Christians, and great waterless deserts of sand. We asked them how they knew there were Christians on that side, and they answered, that in times gone by the Indians living in that neighbourhood had been heard to say that as they were passing the desert they met many white people, clothed, with beards, and they had certain animals with them (evidently, according to their showing, horses), and riders on their backs, and that owing to the want of water they had returned, and many had died on the way. The Indians thought they had come from the other side of the desert. They showed us also, by signs, that in the direction west, one quarter south, there were high mountains, and an uninhabited country. Having heard that there were people dwelling beyond those deserts, the Indians had attempted to pass that way, but were unable to proceed, because they died of hunger and thirst. We asked them how they came to learn all this, and they answered, that all the Indians of this country communicated with one another, and it had been related how those Indians had seen the Christians and their horses crossing the desert. They said, too, that on the south-west skirt of those mountains there were many large settlements, and people rich in metal; and beyond these again lay the salt water and the great ships. We asked them if those settlements were ruled by separate chiefs, and they answered, that there was only one chief who ruled all the towns, and was obeyed by all. I further declare, that in order to verify their statements I questioned each of them separately for a day and a night, and they always repeated the same story without any variation whatever.”

The above statement was made by Hernando de Ribera,- 269 - who said and declared that he had received it with all clearness, faithfully and loyally, without fraud and deceit; and in order that all credit and faith should be given to it, and that there should not be the slightest doubt concerning it, or any portion thereof, he said he would swear to the truth of it, and he swore in the name of God and Santa Maria, and on the four sacred gospels, upon which he placed his right hand, a missal being held open for that purpose by the reverend father, Francisco Gonzalez Paniagua, at the very place where the sacred gospels are written, and on the sign of the cross, like this: , where he also placed his right hand to testify that the aforesaid statement, according to the form and manner of it, was given, said, and declared by the Indian chiefs of the aforesaid land, and by other aged men whom he had diligently examined and interrogated in order to learn the truth, and have a clear understanding of the interior of the country.

After he had obtained this information, other Indians of different settlements came to see him, especially of a large village, called Uretabere. He went one day’s march in their territory, and collected information wherever he went, and all the statements agreed. He declared, moreover, under the sanctity of his oath, that there was no exaggeration or imagination in anything he had said, nothing but the truth, without fraud or reservation whatsoever. He also declared that the Indians assured him that the river Yacareati has a fall from a high mountain.

This he certifies to be true, so help him God, and if it be otherwise may he pay dear in this world with his body, and in the next with his soul. This oath having been read out to him, he said: “I swear it, Amen.”

The aforesaid captain asked and required me to testify to this statement, as much for his peace of mind as to serve as evidence for the aforesaid governor, and to preserve his rights; the following being witnesses: the aforesaid reverend- 270 - father Paniagua; Sebastian de Valdivieso, valet of the said governor; Gaspar de Hortigosa and Juan de Hoces, citizens of Cordoba, all of whom have signed their names as follows: Francisco Gonzalez Paniagua, Sebastian de Valdivieso, Juan de Hoces, Hernando de Ribera, Gaspar de Hortigosa.

Done before me, Pedro Hernandez, notary.

- 271 -




























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