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BREVISSIMA RELACION
OR
SHORT REPORT OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE INDIES

Bartolomé de las Casas
1552
Translated by Francis Augustus MacNutt
1909
Public Domain

1.      The Indies were discovered in the year fourteen hundred and ninety-two. The year following, Spanish Christians went to inhabit them, so that it is since forty-nine years that numbers of Spaniards have gone there: and the first land, that they invaded to inhabit was the large and most delightful Isle of Hispaniola which has a circumference of six hundred leagues.
2.      There are numberless other islands, and very large ones, all around on every side, that were all — and we have seen it — as inhabited and full of their native Indian peoples as any country in the world.
3.      Of the continent, the nearest part of which is more than two hundred and fifty leagues distant from this Island, more than ten thousand leagues of maritime coast have been discovered, and more is discovered every day; all that has been discovered up to the year forty-nine is full of people, like a hive of bees, so that it seems as though God had placed all, or the greater part of the entire human race in these countries.
4.      God has created all these numberless people to be quite the simplest, without malice or duplicity, most obedient, most faithful to their natural Lords, and to the Christians, whom they serve; the most humble, most patient, most peaceful, and calm, without strife nor tumults; not wrangling, nor querulous, as free from uproar, hate and desire of revenge, as any in the world.
5.      They are likewise the most delicate people, weak and of feeble constitution, and less than any other can they bear fatigue, and they very easily die of whatsoever infirmity; so much so, that not even the sons of our Princes and of nobles, brought up in royal and gentle life, are more delicate than they; although there are among them such as are of the peasant class. They are also a very poor people, who of worldly goods possess little, nor wish to possess: and they are therefore neither proud, nor ambitious, nor avaricious.
6.      Their food is so poor, that it would seem that of the Holy Fathers in the desert was not scantier nor less pleasing. Their way of dressing is usually to go naked, covering the private parts; and at most they cover themselves with a cotton cover, which would be about equal to one and a half or two ells square of cloth. Their beds are of matting, and they mostly sleep in certain things like hanging nets, called in the language of Hispaniola hamacas.
7.      They are likewise of a clean, unspoiled, and vivacious intellect, very capable, and receptive to every good doctrine; most prompt to accept our Holy Catholic Faith, to be endowed with virtuous customs; and they have as little difficulty with such things as any people created by God in the world.
8.      Once they have begun to learn of matters per­taining to faith, they are so importunate to know them, and in frequenting the sacraments and divine service of the Church, that to tell the truth, the clergy have need to be endowed of God with the gift of pre-eminent patience to bear with them: and finally, I have heard many lay Spaniards frequently say many years ago, (unable to deny the goodness of those they saw) certainly these people were the most blessed of the earth, had they only knowledge of God.
9.      Among these gentle sheep, gifted by their Maker with the above qualities, the Spaniards entered as soon as they knew them, like wolves, tigers, and lions which had been starving for many days, and since forty years they have done nothing else; nor do they otherwise at the present day, than outrage, slay, afflict, torment, and destroy them with strange and new, and divers kinds of cruelty, never before seen, nor heard of, nor read of, of which some few will be told below: to such extremes has this gone that, whereas there were more than three million souls, whom we saw in Hispaniola, there are to-day, not two hundred of the native population left.
10.      The island of Cuba is almost as long as the dis­tance from Valladolid to Rome; it is now almost entirely deserted. The islands of San Juan [Porto Rico], and Jamaica, very large and happy and pleasing islands, are both desolate. The Lucaya Isles lie near Hispaniola and Cuba to the north and number more than sixty, includ­ing those that are called the Giants, and other large and small Islands; the poorest of these, which is more fertile, and pleasing than the King's garden in Seville, is the healthiest country in the world, and contained more than five hundred thousand souls, but to-day there remains not even a single creature. All were killed in transport­ing them, to Hispaniola, because it was seen that the native population there was disappearing.
11.      A ship went three years later to look for the people that had been left after the gathering in, because a good Christian was moved by compassion to convert and win those that were found to Christ; only eleven persons, whom I saw, were found.
12.      More than thirty other islands, about the Isle of San Juan, are destroyed and depopulated, for the same reason. All these islands cover more than two thousand leagues of land, entirely depopulated and deserted.
13.      We are assured that our Spaniards, with their cruelty and execrable works, have depopulated and made desolate the great continent, and that more than ten Kingdoms, larger than all Spain, counting Aragon and Portugal, and twice as much territory as from Seville to Jerusalem (which is more than two thousand leagues), although formerly full of people, are now deserted.
14.      We give as a real and true reckoning, that in the said forty years, more than twelve million persons, men, and women, and children, have perished unjustly and through tyranny, by the infernal deeds and tyranny of the Christians; and I truly believe, nor think I am deceived, that it is more than fifteen.
15.      Two ordinary and principal methods have the self-styled Christians, who have gone there, employed in extirpating these miserable nations and removing them from the face of the earth. The one, by unjust, cruel and tyrannous wars. The other, by slaying all those, who might aspire to, or sigh for, or think of liberty, or to escape from the torments that they suffer, such as all the native Lords, and adult men; for generally, they leave none alive in the wars, except the young men and the women, whom they oppress with the hardest, most horrible, and roughest servitude, to which either man or beast, can ever be put. To these two ways of infernal tyranny, all the many and divers other ways, which are numberless, of exterminating these people, are reduced, resolved, or sub-ordered according to kind.
16.      The reason why the Christians have killed and destroyed such infinite numbers of souls, is solely be­cause they have made gold their ultimate aim, seeking to load themselves with riches in the shortest time and to mount by high steps, disproportioned to their condition: namely by their insatiable avarice and ambition, the greatest, that could be on the earth. These lands, being so happy and so rich, and the people so humble, so patient, and so easily subjugated, they have had no more respect, nor consideration nor have they taken more account of them (I speak with truth of what I have seen during all the aforementioned time) than, — I will not say of animals, for would to God they had considered and treated them as animals, — but as even less than the dung in the streets.
17.      In this way have they cared for their lives — and for their souls: and therefore, all the millions above mentioned have died without faith, and without sacra­ments. And it is a publicly known truth, admitted, and confessed by all, even by the tyrants and homicides themselves, that the Indians throughout the Indies never did any harm to the Christians: they even es­teemed them as coming from heaven, until they and their neighbours had suffered the same many evils, thefts, deaths, violence and visitations at their hands.

Of Hispaniola

1.      In the island of Hispaniola — which was the first, as we have said, to be invaded by the Christians — the immense massacres and destruction of these people began. It was the first to be destroyed and made into a desert. The Christians began by taking the women and children, to use and to abuse them, and to eat of the substance of their toil and labour, instead of contenting themselves with what the Indians gave them spontaneously, accord­ing to the means of each. Such stores are always small; because they keep no more than they ordinarily need, which they acquire with little labour; but what is enough for three households, of ten persons each, for a month, a Christian eats and destroys in one day. From their using force, violence and other kinds of vexations, the Indians began to perceive that these men could not have come from heaven.
2.      Some hid their provisions, others, their wives and children: others fled to the mountains to escape from people of such harsh and terrible intercourse. The Christians gave them blows in the face, beatings and cudgellings, even laying hands on the lords of the land. They reached such recklessness and effrontery, that a Christian captain violated the lawful wife of the chief king and lord of all the island.
3.      After this deed, the Indians consulted to devise means of driving the Christians from their country. They took up their weapons, which are poor enough and little fitted for attack, being of little force and not even good for defence; For this reason, all their wars are little more than games with sticks, such as children play in our countries.
4.      The Christians, with their horses and swords and lances, began to slaughter and practise strange cruelty among them. They penetrated into the country and spared neither children nor the aged, nor pregnant women, nor those in child labour, all of whom they ran through the body and lacerated, as though they were assaulting so many lambs herded in their sheepfold.
5.      They made bets as to who would slit a man in two, or cut off his head at one blow: or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mothers' breast by the feet, and dashed their heads against the rocks. Others they seized[pg 431] by the shoulders and threw into the rivers, laughing and joking, and when they fell into the water they exclaimed: “boil body of so and so!” They spitted the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers and all who were before them, on their swords.
6.      They made a gallows just high enough for the feet to nearly touch the ground, and by thirteens, in honour and reverence of our Redeemer and the twelve Apostles, they put wood underneath and, with fire, they burned the Indians alive.
7.      They wrapped the bodies of others entirely in dry straw, binding them in it and setting fire to it; and so they burned them. They cut off the hands of all they wished to take alive, made them carry them fastened on to them, and said: “Go and carry letters”: that is; take the news to those who have fled to the mountains.
6.6. Neither 8.      They generally killed the lords and nobles in the following way. They made wooden gridirons of stakes, bound them upon them, and made a slow fire beneath: thus Of6.6. Neither Hispaniolathe victims gave up the spirit by degrees, emitting cries of despair in their torture.
9.      I once saw that they had four or five of the chief lords stretched on the gridirons to burn them, and I think also there were two or three pairs of gridirons, where they were burning others; and because they cried aloud and annoyed the captain or prevented him sleeping, he commanded that they should strangle them: the officer who was burning them was worse than a hangman and did not wish to suffocate them, but with his own hands he gagged them, so Of Hispaniola that they should not make themselves heard, and he stirred up the fire, until they roasted slowly, according to his pleasure. I know his name, and knew also his relations in Seville. I saw all the above things and numberless others.
10.      And because all the people who could flee, hid among the mountains and climbed the crags to escape from men so deprived of humanity, so wicked, such wild beasts, exterminators and capital enemies of all the human race, the Spaniards taught and trained the fiercest boar-hounds to tear an Indian to pieces as soon as they saw him, so that they more willingly attacked and ate one, than if he had been a boar. These hounds made great havoc and slaughter.
10.      And because sometimes, though rarely, the In­dians killed a few Christians for just cause, they made a law among themselves, that for one Christian whom the Indians killed, the Christians should kill a hundred Indians.

The Kingdoms that were in Hispaniola

1.      There were five very large and principal kingdoms in this island of Hispaniola, and five very mighty kings, whom all the other numberless lords obeyed, although some of the lords of certain separate provinces did not recognise any of them as superior. One kingdom was called Maguá, with the last syllable accented, which means the kingdom of the plain.

This plain is one of the most notable and marvellous things in the world, for it stretches eighty leagues from the sea on the south to that on the north. Its width is five leagues, attaining to eight and ten, and it has very high mountains on both sides.

2.      More than thirty thousand rivers, and brooks water it among which there are twelve as large as the Ebro, the Duero, and the Guadalquivir. And all the rivers that flow from the western mountain, which number twenty or twenty-five thousand, are very rich in gold. On that mountain (or mountains) lies the province of Cibao, from which the mines of Cibao are named, whence comes that famous gold, superior in carat, which is held in great esteem here.
3.      The king, and lord of this realm was called Guarionex. He had such great lords as his vassals, that one alone of them mustered sixteen thousand warriors to serve Guarionex; and I knew some of them. This king Guarionex was very obedient, virtuous and, by nature, peaceful and devoted to the king of Castile. And in certain years, every householder amongst his people gave by his orders, a bell full of gold; and after­wards, because they could not fill it, they cut it in two and gave that half full; because the Indians had little or no ability to collect, or dig the gold from the mines.
4.      This prince offered to serve the King of Castile, by having as much land cultivated as would extend from Isabella, which was the first habitation of the Christians to the town of San Domingo, which is a good fifty leagues, in order that gold should not be asked of him; because he said, and with truth, that his vassals knew not how to collect it. I know he was able to do the cultivation he proposed to undertake, most gladly; and it would have rendered the King more than three million crowns yearly, and, owing to this cultivation, there would have been at the present time in this island fifty towns as large as Seville.
5.      The payment they awarded to this great and good king and lord, was to dishonour him; a captain, a bad Christian violating his wife. Although he might have bided his time to assemble his people and revenge him­self, he determined to depart alone, and to hide himself and die exiled from his kingdom and state, in a province called Ciguay, of which the ruler was his vassal.
6.      When the Christians became aware that he was missing, he could not hide himself from them. They made war on that ruler who sheltered him, where, after great slaughter, they found and captured him. When he was taken, they put him on a ship in chains, to bring him to Castile in fetters. The ship was lost at sea, and many Christians were drowned with him, besides a great quantity of gold, including the great nugget, which was as big as a cake and weighed three thousand and six hundred crowns, because God was pleased to avenge such great injustice.
7.      The second kingdom was called Marien, where now is the royal port at the end of The Kingdoms that were in Hispaniolathe plain towards the north. It was larger than the kingdom of Portugal and was certainly much more prosperous, and worthy of being populated; and it has many, and high mountains, and very rich gold, and copper mines. Its king was named Guacanagari (with the last letter accented) under whom there were many and very great lords, many of whom I saw and knew.
8.      In the country of this king, the old Admiral80 who discovered the Indies, first went to stay. When he discovered the island he, and all the Christians who accompanied him, was received the first time by the said Guacanagari with great humanity and charity. He met with such a gentle and agreeable reception, and such help and guidance when the ship in which the Admiral sailed was lost there, that in his own country, and from his own father a better would not have been possible. This I know from the recital and words of the same Admiral. This king, flying from the massacres and cruelty of the Christians, died a wanderer in the mountains, ruined and deprived of his state. All the other lords, his subjects, died under tyranny and servi­tude, as will be told below.
9.      The third kingdom and dominion was Maguana, a country equally marvellous, most healthy and most fertile; where now the best sugar of the island is made. Its king was called Caonabò. In strength, and dignity, in gravity, and pomp he surpassed all the others. They captured this king with great cunning and malice, he being safe in his own house. They put him on a ship to take him to Castile and, as there were six ships in the port ready to leave, God, who wished to show that this, together with the other things, was a great iniquity and injustice, sent a tempest that night that sank all the vessels, drowning all the Christians on board of them. The said Caonabò perished, loaded with chains, and fetters.
10.      This lord had three or four very brave brothers as powerful and valiant as himself. They, seeing the unjust imprisonment of their brother and lord, and witnessing the destruction and slaughter the Christians perpetrated in the other kingdoms, (particularly after they knew that the king their brother was dead) armed themselves to attack the Christians and avenge themselves. The Christians went against them with some horsemen. Horses are the most deadly arm possible among the Indians. They worked such havoc and slaughter, that they desolated, and depopulated half the kingdom.
11.      The fourth kingdom is that which is called Xaragua. This was as the marrow, or the Court of all this island. It surpassed all the other kingdoms in the politeness of its more ornate speech as well as in more cultured good breeding, and in the multitude and generosity of the nobles. For there were lords and nobles in great numbers. In their costumes and beauty, the people were superior to all others.
12.      The king and lord of it was called Behechio and he had a sister called Anacaona. Both rendered great services to the King of Castile, and immense kindnThe Kingdoms that were in Hispaniolaesses to the Christians, delivering them from many mortal dangers: and when the King Behechio died, Anacaona was left mistress of the kingdom.
13.      The governor81 who ruled this island arrived there once, with sixty horsemen and more than three hundred foot. The horsemen alone were sufficient to ruin the whole island and the terra firma. More than three hundred lords were assembled, whom he had summoned and reassured. He lured the principal ones by fraud, into a straw-house, and setting fire to it, he burnt them alive.
14.      All the others, together with numberless people, were put to the sword, and lance. And to do honour to the Lady Anacaona, they hanged her. It happened that some Christians, either out of compassion or avarice, took some children to save them, placing them behind them on their horses, and another Spaniard approached from behind and ran his lance through them. Another, if a child was on the ground, cut off its legs with his sword. Some, who could flee from this inhuman cruelty, crossed to a little island lying eight leagues distant in the sea; and the said governor condemned all such to be slaves, because they had fled from the carnage.
15.      The fifth kingdom was called Higuey: and an old queen called Higuanama ruled it, whom they hanged. And I saw numberless people being burnt alive, torn, and tortured in divers, and new ways, while all whom they took alive were enslaved.
16.      And because so many particulars happened in this slaughter and destruction of people, that they could not be contained in a lengthy description — for in truth I believe that however many I told, I could not express the thousandth part of the whole — I will simply conclude the above mentioned wars by saying and affirming, before God and my conscience, that the In­dians gave no more cause, nor were more to blame for all this injustice done unto them, and for the other said wickedness I could tell, but omit, than a monastery of good and well ordered monks would have given that they should be robbed and killed, and that those who escaped death, should be placed in perpetual captivity and servitude, as slaves.
17.      And furthermore, I attest, that in all the space of time during which the multitudes of the population of this island were being killed and destroyed, as far as I can believe or conjecture, they did not commit a single mortal sin against the Christians that merited punishment by man. And of those which are reserved to God alone, such as the desire of vengeance, hatred and rancour, that these people might harbour against such mortal enemies as were the Christians, I believe very few of the Indians committed any such. They were little more impetuous and harsh, judging from the great experience I have of them, than children or youths of ten or twelve years.
18.      I have certain and infallible knowledge, that the Indians always made most just war on the Christians while the Christians never had a single just one with the Indians; on the contrary, they were all diabolical and most unjust, and much worse than can be said of any tyrant in the world; and I affirm the same of what they have done throughout the Indies.
19.      When the wars were finished, and with them the murder, they divided83 among them all the men, (youths, women, and children being usually spared) giving to one, thirty, to another forty, and to another a hundred and two hundred[pg 431] , according to the favour each enjoyed with the chief tyrant, whom they called governor. Having thus distributed them, they as­signed them to each Christian, under the pretence that the latter should train them in the catholic faith; thus to men who are generally all idiots, and very cruel, avaricious and vicious, they gave the care of souls.
20.      The care and thought these Spaniards took, was to send the men to the mines to dig gold, which is an intolerable labour; and they put the women into dwell­ings, which are huts, to dig and cultivate the land; a strong and robust man's work. They gave food neither to the one, nor the other, except grass, and things that have no substance. The milk dried up in the breasts of nursing women and thus, within a short time, all the infants died.
21.      And as the husbands were separated and never saw their wives, generation diminished among them; the men died of fatigue and hunger in the mines and others perished in dwellings or huts, for the same reason. It was in this way that such multitudes of people were destroyed in this island, as indeed all those in the world might be destroyed by like means.
22.      It is impossible to recount the burdens with which their owners loaded them, more than three and four arobas weight, making them walk a hundred and two hundred leagues. The same Christians had themselves carried by Indians in hamacas, which are like nets; for they always used them as beasts of burden. They had wounds on their shoulders and backs, like animals, all wither-wrung. To tell likewise of the whip-lashings, the beatings, the cuffs, the blows, the curses, and a thousand other kinds of torments to which their masters treated them, while, in truth, they were working hard, would take much time and much paper; and would be something to amaze mankind.
23.      It must be noted, that the destruction of this island and of these lands was begun when the death of the most Serene Queen, Doña Isabella was known here, which was in the year 1504. For up to that time, only some provinces in the island had been ruined by unjust wars, but not entirely: and these were nearly all kept hidden from the Queen. Because the Queen, who is in blessed glory, used great solicitude and marvellous zeal for the health and prosperity of these people, as we ourselves, who have seen the examples of it with our eyes and touched them with our hands, well know.
24.      Another rule to be noted is this; that in all parts of the Indies where the Christians have gone and have passed, they ever did the same murder among the Indians, and used tyranny and abominable oppression against these innocent people; and they added many more and greater and newer ways of torment. They became ever crueller, because God let them precipitate themselves the more swiftly into reprobate judgments and sentiments.

The Two Islands of San Juan and Jamaica

In 1509 the Spaniards passed over to the islands of San Juan and Jamaica, which were so many gardens and hives of bees, with the same object and design they had accomplished in Hispaniola, where they committed the great outrages and iniquities narrated above. They even added to them more notorious ones, and the greatest cruelty; slaying, burning, roasting, and, throwing the Indians to fierce dogs. They oppressed, tormented, and afflicted all those unhappy innocents in the mines, and with other labours, until they were consumed and destroyed, because there were in the said isles more than a million souls, and to-day there are not two hundred in each. All have perished without faith and without sacraments.

The Island of Cuba

1.      In the year 1511 the Spaniards passed over to the island of Cuba,  which as I said, is as long as from Valladolid to Rome, and where there were great and populous provinces. They began and ended in the above manner, only with incomparably greater cruelty. Here many notable things occurred.
2.      A very high prince and lord, named Hatuey, who had fled with many of his people from Hispaniola to Cuba, to escape the calamity and inhuman operations of the Christians, having received news from some Indians that the Christians were crossing over, assembled many or all of his people, and addressed them thus.
3.      “You already know that it is said the Christians are coming here; and you have experience of how they have treated the lords so and so and those people of Hayti (which is Hispaniola); they come to do the same here. Do you know perhaps why they do it?” The people answered no; except that they were by nature cruel and wicked. “They do it,” said he, “not alone for this, but because they have a God whom they greatly adore and love; and to make us adore Him they strive to subjugate us and take our lives.” He had near him a basket full of gold and jewels and he said. “Be­hold here is the God of the Christians, let us perform Areytos before Him, if you will (these are dances in concert and singly); and perhaps we shall please Him, and He will command that they do us no harm.”
4.      All exclaimed; it is well! it is well! They danced before it, till they were all tired, after which the lord Hatuey said; “Note well that in any event if we preserve the gold, they will finally have to kill us, to take it from us: let us throw it into this river.” They all agreed to this proposal, and they threw the gold into a great river in that place.
5.      This prince and lord continued retreating before the Christians when they arrived at the island of Cuba, because he knew them, but when he encountered them he defended himself; and at last they took him. And merely because he fled from such iniquitous and cruel people, and defended himself against those who wished to kill and oppress him, with all his people and offspring until death, they burnt him alive.
6.      When he was tied to the stake, a Franciscan monk, a holy man, who was there, spoke as much as he could to him, in the little time that the executioner granted them, about God and some of the teachings of our faith, of which he had never before heard; he told him that if he would believe what was told him, he would go to heaven where there was glory and eternal rest; and if not, that he would go to hell, to suffer perpetual tor­ments and punishment. After thinking a little, Hatuey asked the monk whether the Christians went to heaven; the monk answered that those who were good went there. The prince at once said, without any more thought, that he did not wish to go there, but rather to hell so as not to be where Spaniards were, nor to see such cruel people. This is the renown and honour, that God and our faith have acquired by means of the Christians who have gone to the Indies.
7.      On one occasion they came out ten leagues from a great settlement to meet us, bringing provisions and gifts, and when we met them, they gave us a great quantity of fish and bread and other victuals, with everything they could supply. All of a sudden the devil entered into the bodies of the Christians, and in my presence they put to the sword, without any motive or cause whatsoever, more than three thousand persons, men, women, and children, who were seated before us. Here I beheld such great cruelty as living man has never seen nor thought to see.
8.      Once I sent messengers to all the lords of the province of Havana, assuring them that if they would not absent themselves but come to receive us, no harm should be done them; all the country was terrorized be­cause of the past slaughter, and I did this by the captain's advice. When we arrived in the province, twenty-one princes and lords came to receive us; and at once the captain violated the safe conduct I had given them and took them prisoners. The following day he wished to burn them alive, saying it was better so because those lords would some time or other do us harm. I had the greatest difficulty to deliver them from the flames but finally I saved them.
9.      After all the Indians of this island were reduced to servitude and misfortune like those of Hispaniola, and when they saw they were all perishing inevitably, some began to flee to the mountains; others to hang themselves in despair; husbands and wives hanged themselves, together with their children, and through the cruelty of one very tyrannical Spaniard whom I knew, more than two hundred Indians hanged them­selves. In this way numberless people perished.
10.      There was an officer of the King in this island, to whose share three hundred Indians fell; and by the end of three months he had, through labour in the mines, caused the death of two hundred and seventy; so that he had only thirty left, which was the tenth part. The authorities afterwards gave him as many again, and again he killed them: and they continued to give, and he to kill, until he came to die, and the devil carried away his soul.
11.      In three or four months, I being present, more than seven thousand children died of hunger, their fathers and mothers having been taken to the mines. Other dreadful things did I see.
12.      Afterwards the Spaniards resolved to go and hunt the Indians who were in the mountains, where they perpetrated marvellous massacres. Thus they ruined and depopulated all this island which we beheld not long ago; and it excites pity, and great anguish to see it deserted, and reduced to a solitude.

The Mainland

1.      In the year 1514 there passed over to the continent an unhappy Governor who was the cruellest of tyrants, destitute of compassion or prudence, almost an instru­ment of divine fury. His intention was to settle large numbers of Spaniards in that country. And although several tyrants had visited the continent, and had robbed and scandalised many people, their stealing and ravaging had been confined to the sea-coast; but this man surpassed all the others who had gone before him, and those of all the Islands; and his villainous operations outdid all the past abominations.
2.      Not only did he depopulate the sea-coast, but also countries and large kingdoms where he killed num­berless people, sending them to hell. This man devast­ated many leagues of country extending above Deldarien to the kingdom and provinces of Nicaragua inclusive, which is more than five hundred leagues; it was the best, the happiest, and the most populous land in the world. There were very many great lords and number­less settlements, and very great wealth of gold: for until that time, never had there been so much seen above ground. For although Spain had been almost filled with gold from Hispaniola, and that of the finest, it had been dug by the labour of the Indians from the bowels of the earth, out of the aforesaid mines, where, as has been said, they perished.
3.      This governor and his people invented new means of cruelty and of torturing the Indians, to force them to show, and give them gold. There was a captain of his who, in an incursion, ordered by him to rob and extirpate the people, killed more than forty thousand persons, putting them to the sword, burning them alive, throwing them to fierce dogs, and torturing them with various kind of tortures: these acts were witnessed by a Fran­ciscan friar with his own eyes, for he went with the captain, and he was called Fray Francisco de San Roman.
4.      The most pernicious blindness of those who have governed the Indies up to the present day, in providing for the conversion and salvation of these people, which (to tell the truth) they have always postponed, although with words they have represented and pretended other­wise, reached such depths that they have commanded notice to be given the Indians to accept the Holy faith and render obedience to the kings of Castile; otherwise war would be made on them with fire and blood, and they would be killed and made slaves etc.
5.      As though the Son of God, who died for each of them, had commanded in his law, when he said Euntes, docete omnes gentes that intimation should be sent to peaceful and quiet infidels, in their own countries, that, if they did not receive it at once, without other teaching or doctrine, and that if they did not subject themselves to the dominion of a king, of whom they had never heard, nor seen, and particularly whose messengers are so cruel, so wicked, and such horrible tyrants, they should therefore, lose their rights, their lands and liberty, their wives and children, with all their lives; such a blunder is stupid and worthy of infamy, obloquy, and hell.
6.      This wretched and unhappy governor, in giving instructions as to the said intimations, the better to justify them — they being of themselves unseemly, unreasonable and most unjust — commanded these thieves sent by him, to act as follows: when they had determined to invade and plunder some province, where they had heard that gold was to be found, they should go when the Indians were in their towns, and safe in their houses; these wretched Spanish assassins went by night and, halting at midnight half a league from the town, they published or read the said intimation among themselves saying: Princes and Indians of such a place in this con­tinent, we make known unto you, that there is one God, one Pope, and one King of Castile, who is Lord of this country; come at once to render him obedience etc. otherwise know that we shall make war on you, kill you, and put you into slavery etc. And towards sunrise, the innocent natives being still asleep with their wives and children, they attacked the town, setting fire to the houses that were usually of straw, burning the children, the women and many others alive, before they awoke. They killed whom they would, and those whom they took alive, they afterwards killed with tortures, to force them to indicate other towns where there was gold, or more than was to be found there; and the others that survived, they put into chains as slaves. Then when the fire was extinguished or low they went to look for the gold that was in the houses.
7.      In this way and with such operations, were this wretched man and all the bad Christians he took with him occupied during the year 1514, till the year 1521 or 1522, sending on these raids six or more servants, who collected for him a certain portion of all the gold and pearls and jewels the Spaniards stole, and of the slaves they captured, besides the share that belonged to him as Captain General. The officersThe Mainland of the king did the same, each sending as many boys or servants as he could. And also the first bishop of that kingdom sent his servants to obtain part of this profit.
8.      As far as I can judge they stole, during that time in the said kingdom, more gold than a million crowns; and I believe I understate it; and it will not be found that, of all they stole, they sent the King more than three thousand crowns. And they destroyed more than eight hundred thousand souls. The other tyrant governors who succeeded them till the year 1533 killed, and allowed to be killed the survivors with the tyrannical servitude that followed the war.
9.      Among the other numberless knaveries he com­mitted and permitted during the time he governed, was this one; a prince, or lord, having of his own will, or more likely out of fear, given him nine thousand crowns, he was not satisfied with this sum so he took the said lord, bound him seated to a stake, with his feet dis­tended and exposed to fire, to force him to give them a larger quantity of gold; and he [the chief] sent to his house and brought other three thousand crowns; they tortured him again, and as he gave no more gold, either because he had none or did not wish to give it, they kept him thus, till the marrow oozed out from the soles of his feet; and thus he died. Numberless times they killed and tortured lords in this way to get gold from them.
10.      Another time a company of Spaniards, while going to assassinate, came to a mountain where a great number of people were sheltered and in hiding, to escape from the pestilential and horrible operations of the Christians; assaulting it unexpectedly they captured seventy or eighty young girls and women; and left many dead whom they had killed.
11.      The next day many Indians assembled and pursued the Christians, driven by their anxiety for their wives and daughters to fight; and the Christians finding themselves at close quarters, and not wishing to dis­order their company of horse, drove their swords into the bodies of the young girls and women, and of all the eighty they left not even one alive. The Indians writhing with grief cried out, and said: “O wretched men, cruel Christians, you kill Iras!” (the women in that country are called Iras). They meant that to kill women is a sign of abominable, cruel and bestial men.
12.      Ten or fifteen leagues from Panama there was a great lord called Paris, who had great wealth of gold. The Christians went thither and he received them as though they were his brothers: he willingly pre­sented the captain with fifty thousand castellanos. It seemed to the captain and to the Christians that one who spontaneously gave that quantity, must have a great treasure; which was the aim and recompense of their effort. They dissimulated, saying they wished to depart: towards sunrise they returned and attacked the unsuspecting town; and they set fire to it and burnt it. They killed and burnt many people, and stole other fifty or sixty thousand castellanos, and the prince, or lord fled to escape death or capture.
13.      He quickly assembled all the people he could, and in two or three days came upon the Christians, who were carrying away his hundred and thirty or forty  thousand castellanos, and fell upon them manfully, killing fifty Christians, recapturing all the gold while the others escaped badly wounded.
14.      Afterwards, many Christians turned on the said lord and destroyed him and many of his people; they killed the rest with the usual servitude, so that to-day there is neither sign nor any vestige whatsoever that there was ever a town or born man where formerly was thirty leagues of dominion well populated. The murders and destruction done by that miserable man and his company in that kingdom which he devastated, are without number.
e beheld not long ago; and it excites pity, and great anguish to see it deserted, and reduced to a solitude.

The Province of Nicaragua

1.      In the year 1522 or 1523 this same tyrant invaded the most delightful province of Nicaragua to subjugate it; it was an unlucky hour when he entered it. Who could adequately set forth the happiness, healthfulness, agreeableness, prosperity, and the number of dwellings and concourse of the people that were there? it was truly a marvellous thing to see how full it was of towns, stretching for a length of nearly three or four leagues, thickly planted with the most marvellous fruit trees; which was the reason that there was such an immense population.
2.      So much injury and assassination, so much cruelty, wickedness and injustice, was done to those people by that tyrant, together with the others, his companions, that human language would not suffice to relate it; for he was accompanied by all those who had helped to destroy all the other kingdom. The land being flat and open, the natives could not hide in the mountains, and their country was so delightful, that it was with difficulty and great grief that they brought themselves to abandon it; for this reason they suffered, and will suffer great persecutions, and they tolerated the tyranny and the slavery of the Christians to the extent of their endurance, and because they are naturally a very humble and pacific people.
3.      He sent fifty mounted soldiers, and had the in­habitants of a whole province, larger than the country of Rusenon killed with lances, without leaving man nor woman, old nor young alive. He did this for a very trifling reason; such as because they did not come as soon as he called them, or because they did not bring him enough loads of maize, (which is the grain of that country) or enough Indians to serve him or some other of his company: the land being flat, no one could escape from their horses and from their infernal wrath.
4.      He sent some Spaniards to invade other provinces, which means to go and murder the Indians; and he let the assassins bring away as many Indians as they pleased from the peaceful settlements, to serve them; they put these Indians in chains so that they should not set down the loads weighing three arobas that they bound on their backs. And it happened sometimes out of the many times he did it, that out of four thou­sand Indians, not six individuals returned alive to their homes, because they were left dead by the way.
5.      And when some became tired, or lame on account of the great weights, or fell ill through hunger, fatigue and weakness, they cut off their heads at the neck so as not to loosen them from their chains, and the head fell to one side, and the body to the other. It may be imagined how their companions would feel. When orders were given for similar expeditions, the Indians, knowing from experience that none who started ever returned, went weeping, and sighing, and saying: “Those are the roads, we trod to serve the Christians; and although we laboured hard, we finally returned after some time to our own homes and to our wives and children; but now we go without hope of ever returning, nor of seeing them again, or of having life any more.”
6.      Once, because it suited his inclination to make a new distribution of Indians, and also, they say, to take them from his enemies and give them to his friends, the Indians were unable to plant their crops; and as bread ran short, the Christians took from the Indians all the maize they had to maintain themselves and their children; in consequence more than twenty or thirty thousand souls died of hunger; and it happened, that a certain woman was driven by hunger to kill her own son for food.
7.      As each of the towns was a very pleasing garden, as has been said, the Christians settled in them; each one in the place that fell to his share or, (as they say,) was committed to his charge; each one carried on his own cultivation, supporting himself with the meagre provisions of the Indians, thus robbing them of their private lands and inheritances, by which they maintained themselves.
8.      In this wise the Spaniards kept within their own houses all the Indian lords, the aged, the women, and the lads, all of whom they compelled to serve them day and night, without rest. They employed even the children, as soon as they could stand, in excess of thThe Province of Nicaraguaeir powers. And in this way they have wasted, and to-day still waste those few that are left, not allowing them to have either a home or anything of their own. In this they even surpassed the similar injustice they perpetrated in Hispaniola.
9.      They have exhausted and oppressed, and caused the premature death of many people in this Province, making them carry planks and timber to build vessels in the port, thirty leagues distant; also by sending them to seek for honey and wax in the mountains, where they are devoured by tigers; and they have loaded and do still load pregnant and confined women, like animals.
10.      The most horrible pestilence that has principally destroyed this Province, was the license which that governor gave to the Spaniards, to ask slaves from the princes and lords of the towns. Every four or five months, or whenever one obtained the favour or license from the said governor, he asked the lord for fifty slaves threatening, if he did not give them, to burn him alive or to deliver him to fierce dogs.
11.      As the Indians usually do not keep slaves and, at most a lord has two or three or four, the lords went through their towns and took, first all the orphans; next, of those who had two children they asked one, and of those who had three, two: and in this way the lord completed the number demanded by the tyrant, amidst great wailing and weeping in the town, for they seem, more than any other people, to love their children.
12.      By such conduct from the year 1523 to 1533, they ruined all this kingdom. During six or seven years, five or six vessels carried on this traffic, taking all this multitude of Indians to sell them as slaves in Panama and Peru, where they all died. It has been verified and experienced a thousand times that, by taking the Indians away from their native country, they at once die more easily: because the Spaniards habitually give them little to eat and never relieve them from labour, for they are only sold by some and bought by others, to make them work. In this way they have carried off more than five hundred thousand souls from this province making slaves of people who were as free as I am.
13.      In their infernal wars and the horrible captivity into which they put the Indians up to the present time, the Spaniards have killed more than another five or six hundred thousand persons, and they still continue. All these massacres have occurred in the space of four­teen years. At present they kill daily in the said province of Nicaragua, from four to five thousand persons, with servitude and continual oppression; it being, as was said, one of the most populous in the world.

New Spain

1.      New Spain was discovered in the year 1517.  And the discoverers gave serious offence to the Indians in that discovery, and committed several homicides. In the year 1518 men calling themselves Christians went there to ravage and to kill; although they say that they go to populate. And from the said year 1518, till the present day (and we are in 1542) all the iniquity, all the injustice, all the violence and tyranny that the Christians have practised in the Indies have reached the limit and overflowed: because they have entirely lost all fear of God and the King, they have forgotten themselves as well. So many and such are the massacres and cruelty, the murder and destruction, the pillage and theft, the violence and tyranny throughout the numerous king­doms of the great continent, that everything told by me till now is nothing compared The Province of Nicaraguato what was practised here.
2.      Yet, even had we related everything, including what we have omitted, it would not be comparable, either in number or magnitude, to the acts which, from the said year 1518 till the present day of this year 1542 have been committed. In this day of the month of September the gravest and most abominable acts are done and committed; because the rule we have men­tioned above verifies itself, that from the commencement onwards they have ever been increasing in greater wickedness and infernal works.
3.      Consequently, from the invasion of New Spain which was on April 18th of the said year 1518 till the year 1530, which was twelve entire years, the murders and the massacres lasted. With bloody hands and cruel swords the Spaniards continually wrought in nearly four hundred and fifty leagues of country belong­ing to the City of Mexico and its surroundings, which numbers four or five great kingdoms, as large and much more delightful than Spain.
4.      All these countries were more populous than Toledo, Seville, Valladolid, and Zaragoza, together with Barcelona; because these cities have not, nor did they ever have so many inhabitants when they were at their fullest, as God placed, and as are to be found in all the said leagues; to go around which, one must walk more than a thousand and eight hundred leagues.
5.      In the said twelve years more than four million souls have been killed by the Spaniards with swords and lances, and by burning alive women and children, young and old in the said extent of 450 leagues, during the time what they call “conquests” lasted. In fact, they were violent invasions by cruel tyrants, condemned not only by the divine law, but by all human laws; they were much worse than those of the Turks to destroy the Christian Church. Besides all this, there are the deaths they have caused, and cause every day by the tyrannical servitude, the daily afflictions and oppressions above described.
6.      Neither language, nor knowledge, nor human industry could suffice to relate in detail the dreadful operations of those public and mortal enemies of the human race, acting in concert in some places and singly in others, within the aforesaid circuit. In truth, respecting the circumstances and conditions that rendered certain deeds more grievous, no exercise of diligence and time and writing could hardly explain them suf­ficiently. However I will recount something of some of the countries, protesting on my oath, that I believe I am not telling the thousandth part.

1.      Among other massacres there was one took place in a town of more than thirty thousand inhabitants called Cholula; all the lords of the land, and its surroundings, and above all the priests, with the high priest came out in procession to meet the Christians, with great sub­mission and reverence, and conducted them in their midst to lodge in the town in the dwelling houses of the prince, or principal lords; the Spaniards determined on a massacre here or, as they say, a chastisement to sow terror and the fame of their valour throughout that country, because in all the lands the Spaniards have invaded, their aim has always been to make them­selves feared of those meek lambs, by a cruel and signal slaughter.
2.      To accomplish this, they first sent to summon all the lords and nobles of the town and of all its depen­dencies, together with the principal lord; and when they came, and began to speak to the captain of the Spaniards, they were promptly captured, without any one who could give the alarm, noticing it.
3.      They had asked for five or six thousand Indians to carry their baggage, all of whom immediately came and were confined in the courtyards of the houses. To see these Indians when they prepared themselves to carry the loads of the Spaniards, was a thing to excite great compassion for they come naked, with only the private parts covered, and with some little nets on their shoulders containing their meagre food; they all sit down on their heels, like so many meek lambs.
4.      Being all collected and assembled in the court­yard, with other people who were there, some armed Spaniards were stationed at the gates of the courtyard to guard them: thereupon all the others seized their swords and lances, and butchered all those lambs, not even one escaping.
5.      Two or three days later, many Indians who had hidden, and saved themselves under the dead bodies (so many were they) came out alive covered with blood, and they went before the Spaniards, weeping and asking for mercy, that they should not kill them: no mercy nor any compassion was shown them; on the contrary, as they came out, the Spaniards cut them to pieces.
6.      More than one hundred of the lords whom they had bound, the captain commanded to be burned, and impaled alive on stakes stuck in the ground. One lord however, perhaps the chief and king of that country, managed to free himself, and with twenty or thirty or forty other men, he escaped to the great temple, which was like a fortress and was called Quu, where they defended themselves during a great part of the day.
7.       But the Spaniards, from whom nothing is safe, especially among these people destitute of weapons, set fire to the temple and burned them, they crying out: “wretched men! what have we done unto you? why do you kill us? go then! in Mexico you will find our universal lord Montezuma who will take vengeance upon you for us.” It is said, that while those five, or six thousand men were being put to the sword in the courtyard, the captain of the Spaniards stood singing.
Mira Nero de Tarpeya
A Roma como se ardia.
Gritos dan niños y viejos,
Y el de nada se dolia.

8.      They perpetrated another great slaughter in the town of Tepeaca, which was much larger and more popu­lous than Cholula; they put numberless people to the sword with great and particular kinds of cruelty.
9.      From Cholula they took their way towards Mexico; and the great king Montezuma sent them thousands of presents; and lords and people came to meet them with festivities while on their arrival at the paved road to Mexico, which is two leagues long, his own brother ap­peared, accompanied by many great lords bearing many presents of gold, silver and clothing. At the entrance of the city he himself descended from a golden litter, with all his great court to receive them and to accompany them to the palaces, where he had given orders they should be lodged; on that same day, according to what was told me by some of those present, they managed by some feint, while he suspected nothing, to take the great king Montezuma prisoner; and then they put him in fetters and placed a guard of eighty men over him.
10.      But leaving all this, of which there would be many, and great things to say, I only wish to relate a notable thing that those tyrants did here. When the captain of the Spaniards went to capture a certain other captain,  who came to attack him, he left one of his captains with, I think, a hundred men or more, to keep guard over the king Montezuma; these Spaniards decided to do another extraordinary thing to increase the fear of them throughout the land, a practice, as I have said, to which they often resorted.
11.      All the Indians, plebeians as well as nobles of Montezuma's capital and court, thought of nothing else but to give pleasure to their captive monarch. Among other festivals they celebrated for him, one was the performance in all the quarters and squares of the city of those customary dances, called by them mitotes, and in the islands, areytos. In these dances they wear all their richest ornaments, and as this is their principal enjoyment and festivity, all take part in it. The greatest nobles and knights and those of royal blood, according to their rank, performed their dances and ceremonies nearest the buildings where their sovereign was a prisoner.
12.      More than 2000 sons of lords were assembled in the place nearest to the said palaces who were the flower and the best nobility of all Montezuma's empire. The captain [Alvarado] of the Spaniards went thither with a squadron of his men and he sent other squadrons to all the other parts of the city, where they were performing the said dances, pretending that they went to witness them; and he commanded that at a certain hour all should fall upon them.
13.      And while the Indians were intent on their dances in all security he cried, Santiago! and fell upon them; with their drawn swords the Spaniards pierced those naked and delicate bodies, and shed that generous blood, so that not even one was left alive. The same was done by the others in the other squares.
14.      This was a thing that filled all those king­doms and people with amazement, anguish, lamentation bitterness and grief. And until the end of the world, or till they are entirely destroyed, they will not cease in their dances, to lament and sing — as we say here in romances, — that calamity and the destruction of all their hereditary nobility, in whom they had gloried for so many years back.
15.      Upon witnessing such injustice and unheard of cruelty, inflicted upon so many innocent and inoffensive people, the Indians, who had tolerated with patience the equally unjust imprisonment of their supreme monarch, because he himself had commanded them to refrain from attacking or making war on the Christians, now took up arms throughout the city and attacked the Spaniards, many of whom were wounded and with difficulty found safety in flight.
16.      Threatening the captive Montezuma with a dagger at his breast, they forced him to show himself on the battlements, and to command the Indians to cease besieging the house and calm themselves. His subjects had no mind to obey him any further, but on the contrary, they conferred about electing another sovereign and commander who would lead them in their battles.
17.      As the captain [Cortes] who had gone to the port, was already returning victorious, and had announced his approach and was bringing with him many more Christians, the fighting ceased for three or four days, until he entered the city. When he had entered and numberless people were assembled, from all the country, the fighting became so general and lasted for so many days that the Spaniards, fearing they would all perish, decided to leave the city by night.
18.      Learning their intention, the Indians killed a great number of Christians on the bridges of the lagoon, in what was a most just and holy war; for their cause was most just, as has been said, and will be approved by any reasonable and fair man. After the fighting in the city, the Christians were re-inforced and executed strange and marvellous slaughter among the Indians, killing numberless people and burning many alive including great lords.
19.      After the greatest and abominable tyranny practised by these men in the City of Mexico, and in the towns throughout the country for ten, fifteen and twenty leagues in those parts, during which numberless people were killed, this, their tyrannical pestilence passed onwards, spreading into, infecting and ruining the province of Panuco, where there was a marvellous multitude of people: equally marvellous were the massa­cres and slaughter that they performed there.
20.      Afterwards they destroyed the province of Tututepeche in the same way; then the province of Spilcingo; then that of Colima; each of which is larger than the kingdoms of Leon and of Castile. To describe the massacres, slaughter, and cruelty which they practised in each, would doubtless be a most difficult thing, impossible to confirm and disagreeable to listen to.
21.      Here it must be noted, that the pretext with which they invaded and began to destroy all those innocent beings and to depopulate those lands which, on account of their numberless populations should have caused such joy and contentment to true Christians, was, that they came to subject them to the King of Spain; otherwise, they must kill them and make slaves of them. And those, who did not promptly yield obedience to such an unreasonable and stupid commission, and refused to place themselves in the hands of such iniqui­tous, cruel and brutal men, they declared were rebels, who had risen against the service of His Majesty; and thus they wrote from here to our lord the King.
22.      And the blindness of those who govern the Indians, did not understand nor attend to what is expressed in their laws, and is clearer than any of their first principles whatsoever, namely; that no one can be called rebel, if he be not first a subject.
23.      Let Christians and those that have some know­ledge of God, and of reason, and also of human laws, consider to what state can be reduced the hearts of whatsoever people who live in security in their own country ignorant of having obligations towards any one, and who have their own rightful rulers, upon being thus unexpectedly ordered to yield obedience to a foreign King whom they have never seen, nor heard of, otherwise be it known to you, that we must at once cut you to pieces; especially when they actually see the threat put into execution.
24.      More dreadful is it that those who obey volun­tarily, are put into onerous servitude; in which, under incredible labour and tortures that last longer than those of death by the sword, they and their wives and children and all their race perish.
25.      And although these people, or any other in the world are moved by fear or the said threats to yield obedience and to recognise the dominion of a foreign King, our blinded people, unbalanced by ambitious and diabolical avarice, do not perceive that they thereby acquire not a single atom of right, these fears being truly such as discourage the firmest men.
26.      To say that natural, human and divine right permits their acts because the intention justifies them is all wind: but their crime condemns them to infernal fire, as do also the offences and injuries done to the Kings of Castile, by destroying these their kingdoms and annihilating (as far as they possibly can) their rights over all the Indies. These, and none other, are the services the Spaniards have rendered, and do render to-day to the said sovereign kings in these countries.
27.      By this just and approved title, did this tyrant captain send two other tyrant captains, much more cruel and ferocious and more destitute of compassion and mercy than himself, to the vast, most flourishing, most happy and densely populated kingdoms, namely to that of Guatemala, on the South Sea; and to that of Naco and Honduras or Guaymura, on the North Sea. They lie opposite one another, bordering, but separate, and each three hundred leagues distant from Mexico. He sent one expedition by land and the other with ships by sea, each provided with many horsemen and foot-soldiers.
28.      I state the truth: Out of the evil done by both, and especially by him who went to the kingdom of Guatemala, — because the other soon died a bad death — I could collect and recount so much wickedness, so many massacres, so many deaths, so much extermination, so much and such frightful injustice, that they would strike terror to present and future ages: and I could fill a big book with them, for this man surpassed all the past and the present in the kind and multitude of abominations he committed; in the people he destroyed and in the countries he devastated, for they were infinite.
29.      The one who commanded the expedition by sea, committed great robberies and scandal; destroying many people in the towns along the coast. Some natives came out to receive him with presents in the kingdom of Yucatan, which is on the road to the above mentioned kingdom of Naco and Guaymura, where he was going; when he arrived there, he sent captains and many people throughout that country, who robbed, killed and destroyed everything and everybody they found.
30.      One especially of these captains who had mutinied with three hundred men, and had entered the country towards Guatemala, advanced destroying and burning every place he found, robbing and killing the people; he did this diligently for more than a hundred and twenty leagues, so that if others were sent in pursuit of him, they would find the country depopulated and in rebellion, and would be killed by the Indians in revenge for the damage and destruction he had done.
31.      A few days later they [the Spaniards] killed the principal captain who had sent him and against whom he had mutinied. Afterwards there succeeded other most cruel tyrants who, with slaughter and dreadful cruelty, and with the capture of slaves and the selling them to the ships that brought their wine, clothing and other things, and with the usual tyrannical servitude from the year 1524 till 1535, ruined those provinces and that kingdom of Naco and Honduras, which truly seemed a paradise of delight, and was better peopled than the most populous land in the world. We have now gone through these countries on foot and have beheld such desolation and destruction as would wring the vitals of the hardest-hearted of men.

In these eleven years they have killed more than two million souls, and in more than a hundred leagues square, they have not left two thousand persons, whom they are now daily exterminating by the said servitude.

32.      Let us again speak of the great tyrant captain,  who went to the kingdom of Guatemala, who, as has been said, surpassed all past and equalled all present tyrants. The provinces surrounding Mexico are, by the route he took (according to what he himself writes in a letter to his chief who sent him), four hundred leagues distant from the kingdom of Guatemala: he advanced killing, ravaging, burning, robbing and destroying all the country wherever he came, under the above men­tioned pretext, namely, that the Indians should sub­ject themselves to such inhuman, unjust, and cruel men, in the name of the unknown King of Spain, of whom they had never heard and whom they considered to be much more unjust and cruel than his representatives. He also gave them no time to deliberate but would fall upon them, killing and burning almost at the same in­stant that his envoy arrived.

The Province and Kingdom of Guatemala

1.      When he reached this kingdom, he began with a great massacre. Nevertheless the principal lord, accompanied by many other lords of Ultatlan, the chief town of all the kingdom went forth with trumpets, tambourines and great festivity to receive him with litters; they served him with all that they possessed, and especially by giving him ample food and everything else they could.
2.      The Spaniards lodged outside the town that night because it seemed to them to be strong, and that they might run some risk inside it. The following day, the captain called the principal lord and many others, and when they came like tame lambs, he seized them and demanded so many loads of gold. They replied that they had none, because that country does not produce it. Guiltless of other fault and without trial or sentence, he immediately ordered them to be burned alive.
3.      When the rulers throughout all those provinces saw that the Spaniards had burnt that one and all those chief lords, only because they gave them no gold, they all fled from their towns and hid in the mountains; they commanded all their people to go to the Spaniards and serve them as their lords, but that they should not, however, reveal to them their hiding place.
4.      All the inhabitants came to offer themselves to his men and to serve them as their lords. This compassion­ate captain replied that he would not receive them; on the contrary, he would kill them all, if they did not disclose the whereabouts of their chiefs. The Indians answered that they knew nothing about them but that the Span­iards should make use of them, of their wives and children whom they would find in their houses, where they could kill them or do with them what they wished. And this the Indians declared and offered many times.
5.      Stupefying to relate, the Spaniards went to the houses where they found the poor people working in safety at their occupations with their wives and children, and there they wounded them with their lances and cut them to pieces. They also went to a quiet, large and important town, where the people were ignorant of what had happened to the others and were safe in their innocence; within barely two hours they destroyed it, putting women, children, and the aged to the sword, and killing all who did not save themselves by flight.
6.      Seeing that with such humility, submission, pa­tience and suffering they could not break nor soften hearts so inhuman and brutal, and that they were thus cut to pieces contrary to every show or shadow of right, and that they must inevitably perish, the Indians determined to summon all their people together and to die fighting, avenging themselves as best they could on such cruel and infernal enemies; they well knew, however, that being not only unarmed but also naked and on foot, they could not prevail against such fierce people, mounted and so well armed, but must in the end be destroyed.
7.      They constructed some pits in the middle of the streets, covered over with broken boughs of trees and grass, completely concealing them: they were filled with sharp stakes hardened by fire which would be driven into the horses's bellies if they fell into the pits. Once, or twice, did some horses fall in but not often, because the Spaniards knew how to avoid them. In revenge, the Spaniards made a law, that all Indians of whatsoever rank and age whom they captured alive, they would throw into the pits. And so they threw in pregnant and confined women, children, old men and as many as they could capture who were left stuck on the stakes, until the pits were filled: It excited great compassion to see them, particularly the women with their children.
8.      They killed all the others with lances and knives; they threw them to savage dogs, that tore them to pieces and ate them; and when they came across some lord, they accorded him the honour of burning in live flames. This butchery lasted about seven years from 1524 to 1531. From this may be judged what numbers of people they destroyed.
9.      Among the numberless horrible operations that this unhappy and accursed tyrant performed in this kingdom, together with his brothers, (for his captains and the others who helped him, were not less unhappy and senseless than he) was one very notorious one. He went to the province of Cuzcatan, in which, or not far distant, there is the town of San Salvador, which is a most delightful place extending all along the coast of the South Sea from forty to fifty leagues: and the town of Cuzcatan, which was the capital of the province, gave him the kindest of welcomes, sending him more than twenty or thirty Indians loaded with fowls and other provisions.
10.      When he arrived, and had received the gift, he commanded that each Spaniard should take from that multitude of people, as many Indians as he pleased for his service during their stay there, whose duty should be to bring them everything they needed. Each Spaniard took a hundred, or fifty or as many as he reckoned would be sufficient for his service, and those innocent lambs bore with the distribution, and served with all their strength, and almost adored them.
11.      In the meantime this captain asked the lords to bring him much gold, because it was principally to that end that they came. The Indians replied that they were happy to give all the gold they had, and they collected a very great quantity of the hatchets they use, which are made of gilded copper and look like gold, though there is little on them. The captain ordered that they should be tested and because he saw they were of copper, he said to the Spaniards: “to the devil with such a country! let us leave it since there is no gold and let each one put the Indians who serve him, in chains, and I will order that they be branded as his slaves.” This was done, and they marked as slaves with the King's brand, all they could bind. And I saw the son of the prince of that town thus branded.
12.      When those Indians who escaped and the others throughout the land beheld such great iniquity, they be­gan to collect and to arm themselves. The Spaniards did the greatest slaughter and massacre among them, after which they returned to Guatemala where they built a town; and it is that one which has now been by righteous decree of divine justice, destroyed by three deluges together: the one of water, the other of earth and the third of stones much bigger than ten, and twenty oxen.
13.      Having thus killed all the lords and the men who could have made war, they put all the others into the aforesaid infernal slavery; they demanded slaves as tribute, so the Indians gave their sons and daughters as they have no other slaves, all of whom they loaded into ships and sent to be sold in Peru. By other mas­sacres and murders, besides the above, they have destroyed and devastated a kingdom more than a hundred leagues square, one of the happiest in the way of fertility and population in the world. This same tyrant wrote that it was more populous than the kingdom of Mexico; and he told the truth.
14.      He and his brothers, together with the others, have killed more than four or five million people in fifteen or sixteen years, from the year 1524 till 1540, and they continue to kill and destroy those who are still left; and so they will kill the remainder.
15.      It was his custom when he went to make war on some town or province, to take with him as many of the Indians as he could, to fight against the others; and as he led ten or twenty thousand and gave them nothing to eat, he allowed them to eat the Indians they captured. And so a solemn butchery of human flesh took place in his army where, in his presence, children were killed and roasted; and they would kill a man only to eat his hands and feet, which were esteemed the best bits. And all the people of the other countries, hearing of these villainies, were so terror stricken they knew not where to hide themselves.
16.      They killed numberless people with the labour of building boats. From the South Sea to the North, a distance of a hundred and thirty leagues, they led the Indians loaded with anchors weighing seventy and eighty pounds each — some of which wore into their should­ers and loins. They also carried much artillery in this way on the shoulders of those poor naked creatures; and I saw many of them loaded with artillery, suffering along the roads.
17.      They deprived the husbands of their wives and daughters, and gave them to the sailors and soldiers, to keep them contented and bring them on board the ships. They crowded Indians into the ships, where they all perished of hunger and thirst. And in truth, were I to recount his cruelties one by one, I could make a big book that would astonish the world.
18.      He built two fleets, each composed of many ships, with which he burnt, as though with fire from heaven, all those countries. Of how many did he make orphans! Of how many did he take away the children! How many did he deprive of their wives! how many wives did he leave without husbands! Of what adulteries, rapes and violence was he the cause! how many did he deprive of liberty! what anguish and calamity were suffered by many people because of him! what tears did he cause to be shed! what sighs! what groans! what solitude in this life and of how many has he caused the eternal damnation in the next! not only of the Indians — who were numberless — but of the unhappy Christians, of whose company he made himself worthy, with such outrages, most grave sins and execrable abominations. And I pray God, that he may have had compassion on him and be appeased with the bad death to which he at last brought him.

New Spain and Panuco and Xalisco

1.      After the great cruelties and massacres, that have been described (besides those not mentioned) had been com­mitted in the provinces of New Spain and that of Panuco another senseless and cruel tyrant arrived in Panuco in the year 1525. By committing great cruelty and putting many in irons, and enslaving great numbers of freemen in the ways above told, and sending shiploads of them to the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, where they could best he sold, he finished devastating all that province. Eighty Indians, reasonable beings, were given in ex­change for a horse.
2.      From Panuco, he was sent to govern the city of Mexico and all New Spain as President, with other great tyrants as Auditors: and the great evils, many sins and the amount of cruelty, robbery, and abomination he and they together committed, are beyond belief. They thus reduced all that country to such extreme ruin, that in two years they would have brought New Spain to the condition of the island of Hispaniola, had God not pre­vented them by the resistance of the Franciscan friars and afterwards, by the appointment of a Royal Audiencia composed of good men, friendly to all virtue.
3.      One of this man's companions forced eight thou­sand Indians to work, without any payment or food, at building a wall around his great garden; they dropped dead from hunger but he showed no concern whatever.
4.      When this president, of whom I said he finished devastating Panuco, learned that the said good royal Audiencia was coming, he found an excuse to go inland to discover some place where he might tyrannise; he forced fifteen, or twenty thousand men of the province of Mex­ico to carry the baggage of his expedition, of whom not two hundred returned, all the rest having perished under his tyranny.
5.      He arrived in the province of Mechuacan, which is forty leagues distant from Mexico and similar to it, both in prosperity, and in the number of its people. The king and ruler came out to receive him with a procession of numberless people, rendering a thousand services and making him presents; he at once took the said king prisoner because he was reputed to have great riches of gold and silver: to force him to surrender his many treasures, the tyrant began to put him to the following tortures.
6.      Having put his feet in stocks, with his body stretched and his hands tied to pieces of wood, they placed a pan of fire near his feet, and a boy with a sprinkler soaked in oil, sprinkled them every now and then to burn the skin well. On the one side there stood a cruel man with a loaded arbalist aimed at his heart: on the other stood another holding a terrible and fierce dog which, had he let it, would have torn the king to pieces in a moment; and thus they tortured him to make him disclose the treasures; until a Franciscan monk, being informed of it, delivered him from their hands, though he died at last of his tortures. They tortured and killed many lords and princes of the provinces in like fashion, to make them give up their gold and silver.
7.      At this time a certain tyrant, going as inspector rather of the purses and the property of the Indians than of their souls and bodies, found that some Indians had hidden their idols, as the Spaniards had never taught them about another better God. He took the lords prisoner till they gave him the idols, thinking they would be of gold or silver, and because they were not, he punished them cruelly and unjustly.
8.      And not to be defrauded of this purpose, which was to rob, he compelled the said lords to buy back the idols from him: they bought them with such gold and silver as they could find, to adore them as their God like they were accustomed. These are the works these wretched Spaniards perform, and the example that they give, and the honour they procure for God in the Indies.
9.      This great tyrant passed from the province of Mechuacan into that of Xalisco, which was as full of people as a hive is of bees, most populous and most prosperous, because it is one of the most fertile and mar­vellous in the Indies. There was a certain town whose houses extended nearly seven leagues. On his arrival there, the lords and people came joyfully forth, bearing gifts, as all the Indians are in the habit of doing when they go to receive any one.
10.      He began to commit the usual cruelties and wickedness as all there are in the habit of doing, and much more besides, to obtain the object they hold as God, which is gold.
11.      He bNew Spain and Panuco and Xaliscournt the towns, captured the lords, tortured them — made slaves of everybody he captured and led numbers away in chains. Women just confined were loaded down with the baggage they carried for the wicked Christians and, not being able to carry their infants for fatigue and the weakness of hunger, they threw them by the roadside where numbers perished.
12.      One wicked Christian having seized a maid by force, to sin with her, the mother sprang to tear her away from him, but he seized a dagger, or sword, and cut off the mother's hand; and because the maid would not consent, he stabbed her and killed her.
13.      Among many other free people he unjustly caused to be marked as slaves, were four thousand five hundred men, women, and nursing children of a year old; others also of two, three, four and five years old, although they went forth peacefully to meet him; there were numberless others that were not counted.
14.      When the countless iniquitous and infernal wars and massacres were terminated, he laid all that country under the usual, pestilential and tyrannical servitude to which all the tyrant Christians of the Indies are in the habit of reducing these peoples. In which he consented that his own majordomos and all the others, should use cruelty and unheard of tortures to extract gold and tribute from the Indians.
15.      One majordomo of his killed many peaceable Indians, by hanging, burning them alive, throwing them to fierce dogs, and cutting off their feet and hands and tearing out their tongues and hearts, for no other reason than to frighten them into submission and into giving him gold and tribute, as soon as they recognised him as the same celebrated tyrant. He also gave them many cruel beatings, cudgellings, blows and other kinds of cruelty every day and every hour.
16.      It is told of him that he destroyed and burnt eight hundred towns in that kingdom of Xalisco: he goaded the Indians to rebellion out of sheer desperation, and after they saw such numbers perish so cruelly, they killed some Spaniards, in which they were perfectly justified, and then retreated to the mountains.
17.      Afterwards, the injustice and oppression of other recent tyrants who passed that way to destroy other provinces — which they called discovering them, — drove many Indians to unite and to fortify themselves among certain cliffs: against them the Spaniards have again perpetrated such cruelty, killing numberless people, that they have almost finished depopulating and destroying all that large country.
18.      These wretched, blind men whom God has per­mitted to yield to reprobate appetite, do not perceive the Indians' cause, or rather the many causes sanctioned by every justice, and by the laws of nature, of God and of man, to cut them to pieces, whenever they have the strength and weapons, and to drive them from their countries: nor do they perceive the iniquity and great injustice of their own pretensions, which are condemned by all laws, not to mention the many outrages, tyran­nies and grave and inexpiable sins they have com­mitted against the Indians, by repeatedly making war on them: seeing nothing of this, they think and say and write, that the victories they obtain over the innocent Indians by destroying them, are all conceded to them by their God, because their iniquitous wars are just. Almost as though they rejoiced, and glorified, and rendered thanks to God for their tyranny: like those tyrant bandits did of whom the prophet Zacharias says in chapter eleven Pasce pecora occisionis, quæ qui occidebant non dolebant, sed dicebant: Benedictus Deus, quia divites facti sumus.

The Kingdom of Yucatan

1.      In the year 1526, by lying and deceiving and by mak­ing offers to the King, as all the other tyrants have done till now to obtain offices and positions, so as to rob, another unhappy man was elected governor of the king­dom of Yucatan.
2.      This kingdom possessed a dense population, be­cause the country is very healthy and abounding much more than Mexico in provisions and fruit: and honey was particularly abundant, more so than in any other part of the Indies thus far discovered.
2.      The said kingdom has a circumference of about three hundred leagues. Its people were famous among all those of the Indies for prudence and cleanliness, and for having fewer vices and sins than any other; and they were very willing and worthy of being brought to the knowledge of God. A great town might have been built there by the Spaniards where they might have lived as in a terrestrial paradise had they been worthy; but, on account of their great avarice, stupidity and grave sins they were not; just as they have not been worthy to possess the many other countries that God has disclosed to them, in the Indies.
4.      This tyrant, with three hundred men whom he brought with him, began by making cruel war on those good and innocent people, who kept within their houses without offending any one; and they killed and destroyed countless people.
5.      The country produces no gold, and if it had he would have used up the people by working them in the mines; to coin gold therefore out of the bodies and souls of those for whom Jesus Christ died, he made slaves indifferently of all whom he did not kill; many ships were attracted thither by the news that slaves were to be had, all of which he sent back loaded with human beings whom he sold for wine, oil, vinegar, pork, clothing, horses and whatever else he and his men thought they needed.
6.      He selected the most beautiful maid from fifty or a hundred, and gave her to him who chose her, in ex­change for an aroba of wine, or oil, or for a pig: and similarly a handsome boy, chosen from among two hundred or three hundred, for the same amount. One boy, who seemed to be the son of a prince was given in exchange for a cheese; and a hundred people for a horse.
7.      He continued with these operations from the year 1526 to 1533 which were seven years, ruining and depopu­lating those countries, and killing those people without pity, till news of the riches of Peru reached the place and the Spaniards left him, and that hell ceased for some days.
8.      Afterwards, however, his ministers returned to commit more great evils, robbery, wickedness, and great offence against God: and neither have they ceased at the present time. Thus have they almost entirely depopulated all those three hundred leagues that were, as has been said, so densely peopled.
9.      No one could believe, neither could the particular cases of cruelty that were done here, be related. I will only tell of two or three, that I remember.
10.      On one occasion these wretched Spaniards set out with fierce dogs to hunt Indians, both women and men, and an Indian woman who was too ill to escape, took a cord and, so that the dogs should not tear her to pieces as they tore the others, she tied her little son of one year to one foot, and then hanged herself on a beam; she was not quick enough before the dogs came up and tore the child limb from limb, although a friar baptised it before it expired.
11.      When the Spaniards were leaving the kingdom, one of them asked the son of a lord of a certain town or province to go with him; the child answered, that he did not wish to leave his country: the Spaniard replied, “come along with me, or I will cut off your ears”; as the boy said that he would not, the man seized a dagger and cut off one of hThe Kingdom of Yucatanis ears, and then the other; and on the boy still saying that he would not leave his country, he slit his nostrils, laughing as though he were only giving him a pinch.
12.      This lost soul lauded himself, and shamelessly boasted before a venerable monk that he tried his best to get many Indian women with child, because when they were pregnant he got a better price on selling them for slaves.
13.      In this kingdom, or possibly in a province of New Spain, a Spaniard went hunting game, or rabbits, with his dogs; one day, not finding anything to hunt, it seemed to him that the dogs were hungry, so he seized a little child from its mother and cut off its arms and legs with a dagger, giving each dog its portion and when they had eaten these pieces he threw that little body on the ground for all of them together.
14.      Consider only the inhumanity of the Spaniards in these parts and how God has let them fall into repro­bate appetite; consider of what account they hold these people who are created in God's image and redeemed by His blood. But we shall see worse things below.
15.      Leaving the infinite and unheard of cruelties perpetrated by those who call themselves Christians, in this kingdom where there is no justice worth speaking of, I will conclude with this only: that when all the infernal tyrants had left, eager for and blinded by the riches of Peru, Fray Jacomo proceeded, with four monks of his Order of St. Francis, to that kingdom, to pacify it, and to preach and bring to Jesus Christ the remnant of people left from the infernal harvesting and the tyrannical massacres committed by the Spaniards during seven years; and I think that these monks went there in the year thirty-four.
16.      They sent ahead certain Indians from the pro­vince of Mexico as messengers, to inquire whether the natives were satisfied that the said monks should enter their country, to bring them news of the one only God, who is God and true Lord of all the world.
17.      They [the Indians] assembled many times and consulted about the thing, having first made many in­quiries as to what sort of men these were, who called themselves
fathers and brothers , and as to what they laid claim; and in what they were different from the Christians from whom they had suffered so many offences and such injustice.
18.      They resolved at last to receive them, on the condition that they came alone with no Spaniards. The monks promised this because the Viceroy of New Spain had granted them this privilege and had given orders that no more Spaniards except the monks were to be allowed to enter the country, nor should the Indians suffer any harm from the Christians.
19.      The friars, as is their custom, preached to those people the gospel of Christ, and the holy intentions of the king of Spain towards them. With such love and pleasure did they receive the doctrine and example of the monks, and so greatly did they rejoice over the news of the kings of Castile, of whom in all the past seven years the Spaniards had never given them information nor that there was any king other than he, who tyran­nised and destroyed here, that after the monks had preached there forty days, the lords of the country brought and consigned to them all their idols that they might burn them.
20.      And afterwards they gave them their own chil­dren, whom they love more than the light of their eyes, that they might train them. And they built them churches, monasteries and houses: and friars, were invited to other provinces, to preach and bring the natives to the knowledge of God and of him whom they called the great king of Castile.
21.      And, persuaded by the monks, the Indians did a thing never done again up to the present day; and all that some of those Tyrants pretend about those king­doms being destroyed by the friars, is falsehood and lies.
22.      Twelve or fifteen lords, each ruling many vassals and large territories, assembled their people and, after taking their votes and consent, subjected themselves of their own will to the dominion of the kings of Castile, receiving the Emperor, as King of Spain, for their supreme and universal sovereign; and they made some sinas, like signatures, which I have in my possession, together with the attestations of the said friars.
23.      Just when this growth of faith inspired the friars with great joy and hope of drawing to Jesus Christ the still numerous people of that kingdom who survived the murders and unjust wars, eighteen Spanish tyrants on horse entered a certain part of the country with twelve others on foot, which makes thirty, and they brought with them many loads of idols taken from the Indians in other provinces.
24.      And the captain of the said thirty summoned a lord of the country where he had entered, and told him that he must take those loads of idols and distribute them throughout his country, trading each idol for an Indian man or woman, to make them slaves; he threat­ened to make war on the chief if he refused.
25.      Forced by fear, the said lord distributed the idols throughout all this territory and commanded all his vassals that they should accept and adore them, and give him Indian men and women as slaves for the Spaniards. In alarm, the Indians who had two children gave one of them, and those who had three gave two; and in this way they concluded that sacrilegious com­merce and the lord, or prince satisfied the Spaniards.
26.      One of these impious and infernal bandits, called Juan Garcia, when ill and near death, had under his bed two loads of idols and he commanded an Indian woman who served him, to be very careful not to exchange those idols for fowls, but each one for a slave because they were very valuable. And finally with this testament and occupied with this thought the unhappy man died. And who doubts that he is buried in hell?
27.      Consider therefore of what profit are the religion and the examples of Christianity of the Spaniards who go to the Indies; what honour they procure for God; how they work that he may be known and adored by those people; what care they take that His holy faith be sown, grow and expand in those souls. And judge whether this be a less sin than Jeroboam's qui peccare fecit Israel by making two golden calves, for the people to adore. Or whether it equals that of Judas or causes more scandal.
28.      These then are the deeds of the Spaniards who go to the Indies; in their desire for gold they have numberless times sold, and do sell, and have forsworn Jesus Christ.
29.      When the Indians saw that the promise the monks made them that the Spaniards should not enter those provinces did not come true, and that the same Spaniards brought their idols from other countries to sell, after they had given all their own gods to the monks to be burned, so that they might adore the one true God, they became tumultuous and the whole country was enraged with the friars, to whom they said:
30.      Why have you lied and deceived us saying that Christians could not enter this country? And why have you burnt our gods when your Christians bring gods from other provinces to sell to us? Were perhaps our gods not better than those of other nations?
31.      The friars having nothing to reply, calThe Kingdom of Yucatanmed them as best they could. They sought out the thirty Span­iards, telling them the harm they had done and beseech­ing them to depart, but they would not go; on the contrary they gave the Indians to understand, that it was the friars themselves who had made them come there, — which was the height of all malice.
32.      At last the Indians determined to kill the friars; being warned by some Indian, the latter escaped one night. And when the friars had left, and the Indians perceived their innocence and virtue and the malice of the Spaniards, they sent messengers a distance of fifty leagues after them, praying them to return, and asking their pardon for the anxiety they had caused them.
33.      The friars, being servants of God and zealous for those souls, gave them credence, and returned to the country where they were received like angels, the In­dians rendering them a thousand services; and they stayed there four or five months longer.
34.      As that country was so distant from New Spain, the Viceroy's efforts to expel those Christians from it were fruitless, and they persisted in remaining there although he had them proclaimed traitors; and because they never ceased their outrages and habitual oppres­sion of the Indians, it seemed to the monks that, sooner or later the natives would become disgusted with such perverse works, and that perhaps the evil consequences would fall on them, especially as the evil deeds of the Spaniards constantly disturbed the Indians and prevented them from preaching to them in tran­quillity. They therefore determined to abandon the kingdom.
35.      Thus the country was left without the light and help of doctrine; and those souls were abandoned to the obscurity of ignorance and misery, in which they for­merly were. The Indians were deprived, till better times should come, of assistance and the diffusion of the knowledge of God, which they had been already receiv­ing with eagerness; it was just as though we were to deprive plants of water a few days after planting them: and this was brought about by the inexpiable fault and consummate malice of those Spaniards.

The Province of Santa Maria

1.      The province of Santa Marta was a country where the Indians had a great deal of gold because both it and the places round about have rich mines which were diligently worked. And for this reason, from the year 1498 till the present 1542, numberless Spanish tyrants have continually gone there with ships to ravage and kill those people and to steal their gold. They afterwards returned in the ships with which they made numerous expeditions, murdering and massa­cring, with notorious cruelty; this commonly occurred along the seacoast and a few leagues inland, till the year 1523.
2.      In the year 1523 some Spanish tyrants went to take up their abode here. And because the country, as has been said, was rich, divers captains succeeded one another, each crueller than the other, so that it seemed as though each had made a vow to practise more exorbi­tant evils and cruelty than the other, in verification of the rule we have given above.
3.      In the year 1529 there arrived a great tyrant accompanied by many men, devoid of any fear of God or any mercy on mankind; so great were the massacres, slaughter and impiety he perpetrated, that he surpassed all his predecessors. During the space of six, or seven years that he lived, he and his men stole much treasure.
4.      He died without sacraments after also avoiding the commission of investigation met on his account; and afterwards, other murderous and thieving tyrants succeeded, who continued to destroy those people who had survived the treatment and cruel swords of their predecessors.
5.      They marched far inland, ruining and exterminat­ing large and numerous provinces; killing, and making slaves of their people in the ways above told of the others, putting lords and their vassals to grievous tortures to force them to disclose the gold and the town where it was to be had: as has been said they surpassed, both in number and quality, the operations of all their pre­decessors so that from the said year 1529, till to-day, they have devastated in those parts more than four hundred leagues of country, which was as densely peopled as the other.
6.      I truthfully declare that if I had to relate singly the evil, the massacres, the destruction, injustice, violence, slaughter, and the great sins the Spaniards have committed in this Kingdom of Santa Marta, against God, against the King, and against those innocent nations, I would compose a very long history; I shall relate all this however in due time, if God gives me life.
7.      Here I wish only to quote some few of the words that the lord bishop of that province now writes to the King: and the date of his letter is the 20th of May, 1541, in which among other words he says thus:
8.      “I assert, oh Sacred Cæsar, that the way to rem­edy the ills of this country is for Your Majesty to now take it out of the hands of step-fathers and to give it a husband, who will treat it justly, and as it deserves; and this as soon as possible because otherwise I am certain that the way these tyrants who now have the govern­ment, crush and harass it, will very soon destroy it,” etc.
9.      And further on he says: “therefore Your Majesty will clearly discern that those who govern in these parts, deserve to be destroyed, to relieve the republics. And if this is not done, their infirmities are, in my opinion, without remedy. And Your Majesty will know in like manner that in these parts there are no Christians but demons; neither are there servants of God nor of the King, but traitors to His law, and to the King.”
10.      “Because in truth, the greatest obstacle I find to winning the Indians from war to peace, and from peace to the knowledge of our Holy Faith, is the harsh and cruel treatment that the peaceable ones receive from the Christians.”
11.      “They have on this account become so fierce and enraged, that nothing is more hated or abhorred by them, than the name of Christians, whom in all this country they call in their language Yares, which means demons; and without doubt they are right, because the deeds they do here are not those of Christians nor of reasonable men, but of devils.”
12.      “From which it arises, that the Indians, seeing these perverse operations are general, and that both the commanders and the subordinates are so devoid of mercy, think that such is the law of the Christians, of which their God and their King are the authors. And to try to persuade them to the contrary is like trying to dry up the sea, and only makes them laugh and jeer at Jesus Christ and His law.”
13.      “And the Indian warriors, seeing the treatment shown the peaceable people, count it better to die once, than many times in the power of the Spaniards; I know this most invincible Caesar from experience” etc.
14.      And in a chapter further on he says: “Your Ma­jesty has more servants in these parts than is supposed; because there is not a soldier among those here who, while he is assassinating, or robbing, or destroying, or killing, or burning Your Majesty's vassals to force their gold from them, does not make bold to claim that he is serving Your Majesty. It would therefore be well, Most Christian Cæsar, that Your Majesty should make known by rigorously punishing some of them, that such services as are contrary to the service of God, are not accepted.”
15.      All the above are formal words of the said Bishop of Santa Marta, and from them it will be clearly seen what is done to-day in these unfortunate countries, and to these innocent people.
16.      By "Indian warriors" he means those who live in the mountains and have been able to escape from massacres perpetrated by the unhappy Spaniards. And he terms “peaceable” those Indians whom the Spaniards, after having killed numberless people, condemn to the aforesaid tyrannical and horrible slavery, in which they then finish destroying and killing them, as appears from the quoted words of the bishop: and in truth very little indeed does he express, of what they suffer.
17.      When the Spaniards make them labour, carrying loads over the mountains, they kick and beat them, and knock out their teeth with the handles of their swords, to force them to get up when they fall, fainting from weak­ness, and to go on without taking breath; and the In­dians commonly exclaim; “go to, how wicked you are: I am worn out so kill me here, for I would rather die now and here.” And they say this with many sighs and gasps, showing great anguish and grief.
18.      Oh! who could express the hundredth part of the affliction and calamity that these innocent people suffer from the unhappy Spaniards! May God make it known to those who can, and ought to remedy it.

The Province of Cartagena

1.      This province of Cartagena lies westward and fifty leagues below that of Santa Marta, and bordering on that of Cenù as far as the Gulf of Urabà: it comprises about a hundred leagues of seacoast and a large territory inland towards the south.
2.      These provinces have been as badly treated as those of Santa Marta, distressed, killed, depopulated and devastated, from the year 1498 or 99 until to-day, and in them many notorious cruelties, murders, and robberies have been committed by the Spaniards; but in order to finish this brief compendium quickly and to recount the wickedness done by them elsewhere, I will not describe the details.

The Pearl Coast

Paria, and the Island of Trinidad

1.      Great and notorious have been the destruction that the Spaniards have worked along the Coast of Paria,  extending for two hundred leagues as far as the Gulf of Venezuela, assassinating the inhabitants and capturing as many as they could alive, to sell them as slaves.
2.      They frequently took them by violating their pledged word and friendship, the Spaniards failing to keep faith, while the Indians received them in their houses, like fathers receive their children, giving them all they possessed and serving them to the best of their ability.
3.      Certainly it would not be easy to relate, or describe minutely the variety and number of the injustices, wrongs, oppressions, and injury practised upon the peo­ple of this coast by the Spaniards from the year 1510 up to the present day. I will relate but two or three in­stances from which the villany and number of the others, worthy of punishment by every torment and fire may be judged.
4.      In the island of Trinidad which joins the conti­nent at Paria, and is much larger and more prosperous than Sicily, there are as good and virtuous people as in all the Indies; an assassin going there in the year 1516, with sixty or seventy other habitual robbers, gave the Indians to understand that they had come to dwell and live in that island along with them.
5.      The Indians received them as though they were children of their own flesh and blood, the lords and their subjects serving them with the greatest affection and joy, bringing them every day double the amount of food required; for it is the usual disposition and liberality of all the Indians of this new world to give the Spaniards in excess of all they need and as much as they themselves possess.
6.      In accordance with the Spaniards' wish, they built one great house of timber, where all might live: they needed no more than one in order to carry out what they had in mind and afterwards accomplished.
7.      When they were putting the straw over the timbers and had covered about the height of two paces so that those inside no longer saw those without, the Spaniards, under pretence of hurrying on the completion of the house, induced many people to go inside; meanwhile they divided, some surrounding the house outside, with their weapons ready for the Indians who should come out, and the others stationing themselves inside the house. The latter drew their swords and threatening the naked Indians with death if they moved, they began to bind them, while some who ran out seeking to escape were cut to pieces with swords.
8.      Some who got out, wounded, and others sound, joined with one or two hundred natives who had not entered the house, and arming themselves with bows and arrows they retired to another house of the community's to defend themselves; while they defended the door however, the Spaniards set fire to the house, and burnt them alive; they then took the prey they had captured, amounting to perhaps a hundred and eighty or two hundred men, and carried them bound to their ship. Hoisting sail they departed for the island of San Juan, where they sold one half as slaves, and afterwards to Hispaniola, where they sold the remainder.
9.      When I at the time reproved the captain in the same island of San Juan for such infamous treachery and malice, he replied “Go to, Senor, thus was I commanded, and instructions were given me by those who sent me, that if I could not capture them in war, I should take them under pretext of peace.”
10.      And in truth he told me that in all his life he had found neither father nor mother, if not in the island of Trinidad; such were the good services the Indians had rendered him. This he said to his greater shame and the aggravation of his sins.
11.      Numberless times have they done these things on this continent, capturing people and making them slaves under promise of safe conduct. Let it be seen what sort of acts these are: and whether those Indians taken in such a way, are justly made slaves.
12.      Another time the friars of our Order of St. Dominic determined to go and preach to those people and convert them, for they were without the hope or the light of doctrine by which to save their souls, as they still are to-day in the Indies; they sent a monk, who was a theological scholar of great virtue and sanctity, accom­panied by a serving friar as his companion; his object was to see the country, become intimate with the people, and seek convenient sites to build monasteries.
13.      When the monks arrived, the Indians received them as angels from heaven, and listened with great affection, attention, and joy to those words which they could make them understand more by signs than speech, as they did not know the language.
14.      It happened that after the departure of the vessel that had brought the monks, another ship arrived there; the Spaniards on board of it practising their infernal custom, deceitfully enticed the lord of that land, named Don Alonso, on board without the monks per­ceiving it; either the friars or some other Spaniards, had given him this name, for the Indians like and desire Christian names and at once ask to have them, even before they know enough to be baptised. So they deceived the said Don Alonso, to make him come aboard their ship, with his wife and certain other persons, by telling him they would prepare a feast there for him.
15.      At last seventeen persons went on board with the lord and his wife, confident that as the monks were in the country, out of respect for them, the Spaniards would not do anything wicked; because otherwise they would not have trusted them. Once the Indians were on the ship, the traitors set sail and were off to Hispaniola, where they sold them for slaves.
16.      On seeing their lord and his wife carried off, all the Indians came to the friars intending to kill them. The friars were like to die for sorrow on beholding such great villany, and it may be believed they would have rather given their lives than that such injustice should have been done; especially as it impeded those souls from ever hearing or believing the word of God.
17.      They called the Indians as best they could and told them that by the first ship that passed there, they would write to Hispaniola and bring about the restoration of their lord and of the others who were with him. For the greater confirmation of the damnation of those who were governing, God caused a ship to come at once to hand. The monks wrote to their brethren in Hispaniola lamenting and protesting repeatedly. The auditors never would do justice, because they themselves had divided a share of the Indians so barbarously and unjustly carried off by the tyrants.
18.      The two monks who had promised the Indians that their lord, Don Alonso, together with the others, should return in four months' time, seeing that they did not come, neither in four, nor in eight months prepared for death, and to give their lives to those to whom they had consecrated them before they left. And so the Indians took vengeance upon them, killing them justly, although they were innocent: because it was believed that the monks had been the cause of that treachery, and because they saw that what had been faithfully promised them within four months was not fulfilled; and also because up to that time and up to the present day they neither knew, nor know, that there is a difference between the friars and the Spanish tyrants, bandits, and assassins of all that country.
19.      The blessed friars suffered unjustly, and by that injustice there is no doubt that, according to our holy faith, they are true martyrs, and reign blissfully to-day with God in the heavens; for they were sent to that land under obedience, and their intention was to preach and spread the holy faith, to save all those souls and to suffer every kind of affliction and death that might be offered them for Jesus Christ crucified.
20.      Another time, through the great tyranny and execrable works of the wicked Spaniards, the Indians killed two monks of St. Dominic and one of St. Francis, of which I myself am a witness, for I escaped the same death by divine miracle; so serious and horrible was the case I might have much to say that would amaze mankind, but on account of the length of the narration I will not relate it here nor until the time comes. The last day will disclose all more clearly, for God will then avenge such horrible and abominable outrages as are done in the Indies by those who bear the name of Christians.
21.      Another time there was a town in the provinces called Capo della Codera, the lord of which was called Nigoroto; this is either a personal name or else one com­mon to all the lords of that country.
22.      He was so kind and his people so virtuous, that when the Spanish ships passed there the Spaniards found comforts, provisions, rest, and every consolation and re­freshment, and many did he deliver from death, who, wasted with hunger, took refuge there from other provinces where they had assassinated, and practised evil and tyranny. He gave them food and sent them safe to the Pearl Island [Cubagua], where some Christians dwelt, whom he could have slain, without any one knowing it, and did not: all the Christians finally called Nigoroto's town the mansion and home of everybody.
23.      An ill-starred tyrant deliberated within himself to attack this place, as the people felt so safe: so he went there with a ship and invited many people to come on board, as they were used to, trusting the Spaniards. When many men, women, and children were gathered in the ship, he set sail and came to the island of San Juan, where he sold them all as slaves. And I arrived just then at the said island and saw that tyrant and heard what he had done.
24.      He left all that country ruined; and all those Spanish tyrants, who robbed and assassinated along those coasts took it ill, and detested so dreadful a deed because they lost the asylum and dwelling place they had had there as though in their own houses.
25.      To abbreviate, I omit the narration of the tremendous wickedness and fearful deeds that have been committed, and are committed to-day in these countries.
26.      They have taken more than two million ruined souls from that populous seacoast to the island of Hispaniola, and to that of San Juan, where they have like­wise caused their death in the mines and other works, of which there were many, as has been said above. And it excites great compassion and sorrow to see all that most delightful coast deserted and depopulated.
27.      It is certainly true, that never does a ship sail loaded with kidnapped and ruined Indians (as I have told) without the third part of those that embarked, being thrown dead into the sea, besides those that they kill in effecting their capture.
28.      The reason of this is, that as they need many men to accomplish their aim of making more money from a greater number of slaves, they carry but little food and water, so as to save expense to the tyrants, who call themselves privateers; they have enough for only a few more people than the Spaniards who man the ships to make the raids; as these miserable Indians are in want and die of hunger and thirst, the remedy is to throw them in the sea.
29.      And in truth, one of them told me, that from the Lucayan Islands, where very great havoc of this sort was made, to the Island of Hispaniola, which is more than sixty or seventy leagues, a ship is supposed to have gone without compass or nautical chart, finding its course by the trail of dead Indians who had been thrown out of ships and left in the sea.
30.      When they are afterwards disembarked at the island where they are taken to be sold, it is enough to break the heart of whomsoever has some spark of compassion to see naked, starving children, old people, men, and women falling, faint from hunger.
31.      They then divide them like so many lambs, the fathers separated from the children, and the wives from the husbands, making droves of ten or twenty persons and casting lots for them, so that each of the unhappy privateers who contributed to fit out a fleet of two or three vessels, and the tyrant villains who go to capture and prey upon the natives in their homes, receives his share.
32.      And when the lot falls on a drove in which there is some old or ill person, the tyrant who gets it, says: “Why in the devil do you give this old man to me? That I shall bury him? Why should I take this ill one? To nurse him?” It may be seen how the Spaniards despise the Indians and whether they carry out the precept of divine love to one's neighbour, upon which rest the law and the prophets.
33.      The tyranny exercised by the Spaniards upon the Indians in fishing pearls, is as cruel, and reprehensible a thing as there can be in the world. Upon the land there is no life so infernal and hopeless as to be compared to it, although that of digging gold in the mines is the hardest and worst.
34.      They let them down into the sea three and four and five fathoms deep, from the morning till sunset. They are always swimming under water without respite, gathering the oysters, in which the pearls grow.
35.      They come up to breathe bringing little nets full of them; there is a hangman Spaniard in a boat and if they linger resting, he beats them with his fists, and, taking them by the hair, throws them in the water to go on fishing.
36.      Their food is fish and the fish that contain the pearls, and a little cazabi or maize bread, which are the kinds of native bread: the one gives very little sus­tenance and the other is very difficult to make, so with such food they are never sufficiently nourished. In­stead of giving them beds at night, they put them in stocks on the ground, to prevent them from escaping.
37.      Many times the Indians throw themselves into the sea while fishing or hunting pearls and never come up again, because dolphins and sharks, which are two kinds of very cruel sea animals that swallow a man whole, kill and eat them.
38.      From this it may be seen, whether the Spaniards who thus seek profit from the pearls, observe the divine precepts of love to God and one's neighbour; out of avarice, they put their fellow creatures in danger of death to the body and also to the soul; because they die without faith and without sacraments.
39.      They lead the Indians such a wretched life that they ruin and waste them in a few days; for it is impos­sible for men to live much under water without respira­tion, especially because the cold of the water penetrates their bodies and so they generally all die from hæmorrhages, oppression of the chest caused by staying such long stretches of time without breathing; and from dysentery caused by the frigidity.
40.      Their hair, which is by nature black, changes to an ashen colour like the skin of seals, and nitre comes out from their shoulders so that they resemble human monsters of some species.
41.      With this insupportable toil, or rather, infernal trade, the Spaniards completed the destruction of all the Indians of the Lucayan Islands who were there when they set themselves to making these gains; each one was worth fifty and a hundred crowns, and they were sold publicly, although it had been prohibited by the magistrates themselves; it was even more unjust elsewhere for the Lucayans were great swimmers. They have caused the death of numberless others here, from other provinces, and other regions.

The Yuyapari River

On a river called the Yuyapari, which flows for more than two hundred leagues through the province of Paria, a wretched tyrant sailed a great distance in the year 1539, accompanied by four hundred or more men; and he did very great slaughter, burning alive and putting to the sword numberless innocent and inoffensive people who were in their towns or houses, unsuspicious of danger; and he left immense tracts of country burnt, terrorized, and the inhabitants scattered. He finally died a bad death and his fleet was dispersed. Other tyrants suc­ceeded him and continued this wickedness and tyranny: and to-day they go through those regions destroying, killing, and sending to hell those souls that were redeemed by the son of God with His own blood.

The Kingdom of Venezuela

1.      The Spaniards have always exercised diligent care to hide the truth from our lord the King about injuries and losses to God, to human souls, and to his State; and in the year 1526, he was deceived and perniciously per­suaded into giving and conceding to some German merchants, the great kingdom of Venezuela which is much larger than all Spain; the entire management of the government and all jurisdiction were conceded under a certain agreement and compact, or condition that was made with them.
2.      These men invaded these countries with a force of three hundred or more and found the people the same gentle lambs, (and much more so), as they usually find them everywhere in the Indies before the Spaniards injure them.
3.      More cruel beyond comparison than any of the other tyrants we have told of, was their invasion; and more irrational and furious were they than the cruellest tigers, or raging wolves and lions. Their liberty of action was the greater because they held all the jurisdiction of the country; with greater eagerness and blind greediness of avarice, and with ways and arts for stealing and accumulating gold and silver more exquisite than their predecessors, they abandoned all fear of God and the King and all shame of men, forgetting that they were mortal beings.
4.      These devils incarnate have devastated, destroyed, and depopulated more than four hundred leagues of most delightful country containing large and marvellous provinces, valleys extending for forty leagues, pleasant regions, very large towns, most rich in gold.
5.      They have killed and entirely cut to pieces divers large nations and destroyed many languages, so that not a person who speaks them remains, except a few, who have hidden in caverns and in the bowels of the earth to escape from the pestilential sword of the foreigners.
6.      They have killed, destroyed, and sent to hell, (according to my belief), more than four or five millions of those innocent races by means of various strange and new kinds of cruel iniquity and impiety; nor do they, at the present day, cease sending them there.
7.      I will relate no more than three or four instances of the endless injustice, outrages, and slaughter they have done, and are doing to-day; it may be imagined from these what they must have done to accomplish the great destruction and depopulation we have described.
8.      They took the supreme lord of all the province, putting him to torture, for no other reason than to obtain his gold. He escaped and fled to the mountains, where he remained in hiding amongst the rocks, with his en­raged and terrified people. The Spaniards attacked them in their search for him; they recaptured him and, after cruel slaughter, they sold at auction all whom they took alive.
9.      Before they captured that ruler, they had been received in many, nay in all the provinces, wherever they went, with singing and dances and many gifts of large quantities of gold; the payment they made the Indians was to put them to the sword and cut them to pieces in order to terrorise the whole country.
10.      Once, when the inhabitants had come out to meet him in the aforesaid way, the tyrant German captain put a great number of people into a large straw louse and cut them to pieces. As the house had some beams at the top and many climbed up to escape from the bloody hands and swords of those men or pitiless beasts, this infernal man caused fire to be set to the house; thus all who remained were burnt alive. This action caused the depopulation of a great number of towns as all the people fled to the mountains where they hoped to be safe.
11.      They came to another large province on the borders of the province and kingdom of Santa Marta, where they found the Indians in their towns and houses, peaceably occupied with their affairs. They stayed with them a long time, eating their substance while the Indians served them as though it were their duty to give them life and succour; they bore with their continual oppressions and usual exactions, which are intolerable, for one parasite Spaniard eats as much in one day as would be sufficient for an Indian household of ten persons for a month.
12.      During this time, the Indians spontaneously gave them great quantities of gold, besides the best of treatment. At last when the tyrants wished to depart, they determined to repay their hospitality in this follow­ing manner.
13.      The German governor, who was a tyrant and, for what we know also a heretic — for he never attends mass neither does he let many others go, besides which, other signs mark him as a Lutheran, — ordered his men to capture all the Indians they could, with their wives and children, and to confine them in a large yard or wooden enclosure prepared for the purpose; he then announced that whoever wished to go out and be free, must ransom himself according to the will of the iniqui­tous governor, giving so much gold for himself, so much for his wife and for each of his children; and to force them the more, he commanded that nothing whatever should be given them to eat, until they brought him the gold he demanded as ransom.
14.      Many who were able, sent to their houses for gold and redeemed themselves. They were set free, and returned to their occupations and to their houses to provide themselves with the necessaries of life. The tyrant sent certain villainous Spanish thieves to recapture these miserable Indians, who had once ransomed themselves; they brought them back to the enclosure and tortured them with hunger and thirst to make them ransom themselves again.
15.      Many who were captured were ransomed two and three times. Others who could not, because they had given all the gold they possessed and had not enough left, he left languishing in the enclosure till they died of hunger.
16.      By this deed, he left ruined, desolate, and depopu­lated, a most populous province most rich in gold, which has a valley of forty leagues, where he burnt a town that had a thousand houses.
17.      This infernal tyrant determined to go inland, as he eagerly desired to discover the hell of Peru in those parts. To make this unhappy journey, he, and the others brought numberless Indians, chained to one another, carrying loads of sixty, and seventy pounds each.
18.      If one tired, or fainted from hunger, fatigue, and weakness, they at once cut off his head at the collar of the chain so as not to stop to loosen the others in the line; and the head fell to one side and the body to the other, and they distributed his load among the other bearers.
19.      To tell of the provinces he destroyed, the towns, and places he burnt (for all the houses are built of straw) — the people he killed, the cruelty he displayed in the several massacres during this journey, would make an incredible and terrifying story, but it would be true, nevertheless.
20.      These journeys were afterwards undertaken by other tyrants who followed in the same Venezuela, and others from the province of Santa Marta, animated by the same holy intention of discovering this holy house of gold in Peru; and they found all the country for more than two hundred leagues, so much burnt, depop­ulated, and deserted, from formerly being most popu­lous and prosperous, as has been said, that though they themselves were cruel tyrants, they marvelled and were horrified to behold the traces of such lamentable devastation.
21.      Many witnesses have proved these things before the chancellor of the exchequer of the India Council and the proofs are in the possession of the same Council but they have never burnt alive any of these nefarious tyrants.
22.      But what has been proven is as nothing com­pared to the massacres and great wickedness that have been committed, because all the officers of justice in the Indies are so mortally blind that they do not investigate the crimes, destruction, and slaughter that have been, and are to-day wrought by all the tyrants of the Indies, beyond declaring that as such and such a one has used cruelty towards the Indians, the King's revenue has lost so many thousand crowns; they are satisfied with little proof, and that of a very general and confused character.
23.      And even this they do not verify, nor make it as clear as they should; for if they did their duty to God and the king, they would discover that the said German tyrants have robbed the king of more than three million crowns' worth of gold, because that province of Venezu­ela, with the others they have ruined, devastated, and depopulated for an extent of more than four hundred leagues, (as I have said) was the most prosperous, the richest in gold, and the most populous of the universe.
24.      During the sixteen years those tyrants, enemies of God, devastated it, they have wasted and caused the loss of more than two millions of revenue that the king of Spain would have drawn from that kingdom. Nor is there hope of repairing this damage between now and the end of the world, unless God, through a miracle, should resuscitate so many million persons.
25.      These are the temporal injuries to the king. It would be well to consider what, and how many are the injuries, the dishonour, blasphemies, and insults to God and His law, and with what will be requited so many numberless souls, burning in hell, because of the avarice and cruelty of these tyrant animals or Germans.
26.      To sum up this wickedness and ferocity, I will only say that from the day the Germans entered the coun­try till the present time, that is in these sixteen years, the Indians they have transported in their ships amount to more than a million who were sold as slaves in Santa Marta, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and the island of San Juan.
27.      And even now, in the year 1542, the traffic con­tinues, for the royal Audiencia of Hispaniola dissembled — nay favoured this and all the other numberless acts of tyranny and destruction done along all that coast of the continent, which is more than four hundred leagues from Venezuela to Santa Marta, and is under their jurisdiction, though they could have prevented and corrected them.
28.      There has been no other reason to make slaves of all these Indians except the perverse, blind, obstinate will of these most avaricious tyrants, and to satisfy their insatiable avarice for money; just as all the others have always done everywhere in the Indies, taking those lambs and sheep away from their houses, their wives, and their children in the said cruel and wicked ways, marking them with the king's brand to sell them as slaves.

The Provinces of that Part of the Continent which is Called Florida

1.      These provinces have been visited at divers times since the year 1510 or 1511 by three tyrants who imi­tated the deeds done by the others, and also by two of them in other parts of the Indies seeking to advance to a degree disproportioned to their merit, at the cost of the blood and destruction of their fellow creatures.
2.      And all three died a bad death, and their families and properties established in human blood, perished, for I am witness of all three, whose very memory is already as extinct in the world as though they had never lived.
3.      The infamy and horror of their names scandalised all the land because of some massacres they perpetrated: these were not many, however, for God killed them before they did more, for He had reserved till that hour the punishment for the wickedness that I know and saw they committed in other parts of the Indies.
4.      The fourth tyrant went there recently, in the year 1538, with his plans made and with great preparations. Since three years nothing has been seen or heard of him.
5.      We are sure, that as soon as he landed he com­mitted cruel deeds and at once disappeared: and that, if he be alive, he and his men have destroyed numbers of people in these three years, if he encountered any on his march, for he is one of the notorious, and experienced ones who, together with his other companions, has done the most harm and wickedness, and has destroyed many provinces, and kingdoms. But we rather believe that God has given him the same end as the others.
6.      Three or four years after the above things were written, three of the other tyrants returned from the land called Florida; they had accompanied the chief tyrant whom they left dead, and we learned from them what cruelty and unheard of wickedness, these inhu­man men committed there against those innocent and harmless Indians, principally during the life of their commander and also after his unhappy death: therefore what I foretold above has not turned out wrong.
7.      And so many things confirm the rule I laid down at the beginning: that the more they continue to dis­cover, ruin, and destroy both peoples and countries, the more notorious are the cruelties and iniquities they commit against God and their fellow creatures.
8.      It is already wearisome to us to relate so many, and such execrable, horrible, blood-thirsty operations, not by men, but by ferocious beasts, hence I will not stop to relate any but the following.
9.      They found large towns full of people who were friendly, intelligent, politic, and orderly. They did great slaughter among them, according to their custom, in order to impregnate the hearts of those people with fear of them.
10.      They tormented and killed them, loading them like animals. When one became tired, or fainted, they cut off his head at the neck, in order not to free those in front from the chain that bound them, and the body fell to one side and the head to the other, as we have told elsewhere above.
11.      In one town where they went they were received with joy, and over-abundant food was given them, while more than six hundred Indians carried their loads, like beasts of burden, and cared for their horses; when the tyrants had left there, a captain who was a relative of the chief tyrant, turned back to rob the entire town whose people felt themselves safe; and with a lance, he killed the lord and king of the town, and did other cruel deeds.
12.      Because the inhabitants of another large town seemed to them to be a little more on their guard, on account of the infamous and horrible deeds of which they had heard, they put to the sword large and small children and old people, subjects and lords, without sparing any one.
13.      It is said that the chief tyrant had the faces of many Indians cut, so that they were shorn of nostrils and lips, down to the beard; and in particular of a group of two hundred whom he either summoned or who came voluntarily from a certain town. Thus he despatched these mutilated, suffering creatures dripping with blood to carry the news of the deeds and miracles done by those baptised Christians, preachers of the Holy Catholic faith.
14.      It may be judged in what state those people must be, how they must love the Christians, and how they will believe that their God is good and just, and that the law and religion they profess and praise, is immaculate.
15.      Most great and outlandish are the evils done here by those unhappy men, sons of perdition. And thus the wickedest of captains died miserably and without confession; and we doubt not that he is buried in hell, unless by chance, God out of His divine mercy has mysteriously succoured him despite his guiltiness for such execrable wickedness.

Rio della Plata

1.      Three or four times since the year 1522 some captains have visited Rio della Plata,  where there are large kingdoms and provinces, and very friendly and intelli­gent people.
2.      We know, in general, that they have committed many homicides and much injury. In particular, as it is so distant from the Indies, we have nothing signal to tell.
3.      We have no doubt at all, however, but that they have and do carry on the same practices as in other places; because they are the same Spaniards, and some among them have visited other regions, and because they go to get wealth and power just like the others; it is impossible for this to come about, except by de­struction, massacres, robbery, and the extermination of the Indians by the adoption of the perverse rule and system they have all alike followed.
4.      After writing the above, we have learned, with ample proof, that they have destroyed and depopulated great provinces and kingdoms of that country, murder­ing, and cruelly treating those unfortunate people; they have thereby made themselves even more notorious than the others, because, being at a greater distance from Spain, they could do more as they pleased and con­sequently lived in greater disorder and with less justice. As for justice, however, there has never been any in all the Indies, as is seen from what has been related above.
5.      Among infinite other cases, the three following have been read before the Council of the Indies. A tyrant governor commanded certainThe Provinces of that Part of the Continent which is Called Florida of his people, to go to some Indian town and, if food was not given them, to kill all the inhabitants. Thus authorised, they started and, because the Indians considered them their enemies and more out of fear and the desire to escape from them, than from a want of generosity, refused to supply them, the Spaniards put more than five thousand persons to the sword.
6.      Another time a certain number of people presented themselves peaceably for their service, or perhaps they had been summoned by the Spaniards; and because they did not come quickly enough, or because, as is their habit and common usage, they wished to inspire them with fear and horrible fright, the Governor commanded that they should all be consigned into the hands of their Indian enemies.
7.      They wept and cried, praying that the Spaniards would kill them, rather than deliver them to their ene­mies.  And as they would not leave the house where they were, they were cut to pieces there, weeping, and cry­ing out: “We came peaceably to serve you and you kill us? May our blood, remain on these walls as testimony of our unjust death and of your cruelty!” This was, in truth, a notorious action, and worthy of consideration, but much more of being lamented.

The Vast Kingdoms and Great Provinces of Peru

1.      In the year 1531 another great tyrant went with cer­tain people to the kingdoms of Peru, which he invaded by virtue of the same title, intentions, and principles as all the former ones, because he was one of the most experienced, and since a long time had taken part in all the cruelties and massacres that had been committed on the continent since the year 1510; he was devoid of faith and honour, and he did more cruelty and slaughter, destroying towns, killing and exterminating the people of them and causing such great mischief in these coun­tries that, I am certain, it would be impossible for any one to recount and describe them till we shall see and know them clearly in the day of judgment. I could not, nor should I know how to describe the deformity, the character, and the circumstances of some incidents that I would relate, and which greatly aggravate their hideousness.
2.      From his unhappy landing, he killed and destroyed some peoples and robbed them of a large quantity of gold. In an island near the same province called Pugna which is very populous and pleasing, they were received by the lord and people like angels from heaven and, after having eaten all their provisions in six months, the Indians again uncovered the store of corn they had laid up for themselves and their families in time of drought and barrenness, tearfully offering it for their con­sumption. The payment that was finally awarded the na­tives, was to put them to the sword, for they killed great numbers with lances, and those whom they captured alive, they made slaves; in consequence of this and the other great notorious cruelties done there, they left this island almost deserted.
3.      From there the Spaniards went to the province of Tumbala, which is on the continent, where they killed and destroyed everything they could. And because all the people fled from their fearful and horrible operations, they declared they had revolted and were in rebellion against the king.
4.      This tyrant employed the following artifice. He demanded still more from all who either offered or whom he asked to present him with gold, silver, and their other possessions, until he saw that they either had no more, or brought no more: he then declared that he received them as vassals of the king of Spain and embraced them; he caused two trumpets to be sounded, giving them to understand that for the future he would take nothing more from them, nor do them any harm; he esteemed it permissible to rob them or to take all they gave, out of fear inspired by the abominable reports they heard of him, before he received them under the shelter and protection of the king, as though after they were received under the royal pro­tection he would no more oppress, rob, desolate, and destroy them.
5.      A few days later came the universal king and emperor of those kingdoms, who was called Atabaliba with many naked people armed with ridiculous weapons and ignorant of how swords cut, and lances wound, and horses run; nor did they know the Spaniards, who would assault the very devils if they had gold, to rob them of it. He arrived at the place where they were, and said: “Where are these Spaniards? let them come forward, for I shall not stir from here till satisfaction is rendered me for my vassals whom they have killed, for the town they have desolated, and for the riches they have stolen from me.”
6.      The Spaniards attacked him — killing infinite num­bers of his people; they took him prisoner from the litter in which he was carried and after they had captured him, they negotiated with him for his ransom: he pro­mised to give four million crowns, and paid them fifteen, after which they promised to set him free.
7.      They ended by keeping no faith nor truth, for they have never been kept by the Spaniards in their dealings with the Indians: they calumniated him, saying that by his orders the people were assembling, and he replied that not a leaf moved in all the country save by his will and that if the people were assembling, they might believe that he was the cause of it: as he was their prisoner, they might therefore kill him.
8.      In spite of all this they condemned him to be burned alive, although later, some of them begged the captain, to have him strangled and to burn him after­wards. When he learned this he said: “Why do you wish to burn me? What have I done to you? Have you not promised to free me, after my ransom was paid? Have I not given you more than what I promised you? Send me, as thus you wish it, to your King of Spain.” He said many other things showing condemnation and de­testation of the great injustice of the Spaniards: and at last they burnt him.
9.      Let the justice of these deeds be considered: the reason of this war: the imprisonment, death sentence, and execution of this monarch; and how conscientiously these tyrants hold the great treasures they steal in those kingdoms from such a great king and from num­berless other lords and private people.
10.      Of the countless notoriously wicked and cruel acts committed in the extirpation of these people by those who call themselves Christians, I will relate some few that a friar of St. Francis witnessed in the beginning; and he signed depositions with his name, sending some of the copies to those regions and others to the kingdoms of Castile: and I have one of the copies in my possession with his own signature, in which he makes the following statements.
11.      “I, Fray Marcus de Nizza of the Order of St. Francis, commissary of the friars of the same Order in the provinces of Peru, who were among the first monks who entered the said provinces with the first Christians, speak to render truthful testimony of some of the things that I saw with my own eyes in that country; chiefly concerning the treatment of the Indians and the acquisi­tion of property taken from the natives.”
12.      “First of all I am eye-witness, and from actual experience know, that these Indians of Peru are the most affable people that have been seen among the Indians, and were very well inclined and friendly towards the Christians.”
13.      “And I saw that they gave gold abundantly to the Spaniards, and silver and precious stones and all that was asked of them, and that they rendered them every good service; and the Indians never went forth in war fashion, but always peaceably, as long as no cruelty and ill-treatment provoked them; on the contrary, they received the Spaniards with all benevolence and honour in their towns, giving them provisions and as many male and female slaves for their service, as they asked.”
14.      “I am also witness, and I testify, that without the Indians giving them any cause or occasion, the Span­iards, as soon as they entered their country, and after the chief lord Atabaliba had paid them more than two millions of gold and had left all the country in their power, without resistance, immediately burnt the said Atabaliba, who was ruler of all the country: and after him, they burnt alive his captain-general Cochilimaca who had come peaceably to the governor, accompanied by other high personages.”
15.      “Within a few days after these executions they likewise burned Chamba another very high lord of the province of Quito, without him giving them any cause.”
16.      “Thus too they burnt unjustly Chapera lord of the Canaries.”
17.      “Likewise they burnt the feet of Luis who was one of the great lords in Quito, and tortured him in many other ways, to force him to reveal the hiding place of Atabaliba's gold, of which treasure it was known that he knew nothing whatever.”
18.      “They likewise burnt in Quito, Cozzopanga, who was governor of all the provinces of Quito and who had responded to the intimations of Sebastian de Benalcazza, the governor's captain, by coming peaceably; but because he did not give them as much gold as they asked, they burnt him, with many other lords and principal persons. As far as I could understand, it was the intention of the Spaniards that no lord should survive in all the country.”
19.      “The Spaniards assembled a large number of Indians, and shut up as many as could enter, in three large houses which they then set on fire and burnt them all, although they had never done the slightest thing against any Spaniard, nor given the least cause.”
20.      “It once happened, that when a priest called Ocana, pulled a child out of the fire in which it was burning, another Spaniard snatched it out of his hands and threw it back in the middle of the flames, where it became ashes together with the others; while the afore­said Spaniard, who had thus thrown the Indian into the fire was returning to his dwelling the same day, he suddenly fell dead in the road; and it was my opinion, that they should not give him [Christian] burial.”
21.      “Moreover I affirm, that I myself saw the Span­iards cut off the hands, noses, and ears of the Indian men and women, for no purpose whatever but just because the fancy struck them; and in so many places and regions did this occur that it would be a long story to tell.”
22.      “I also saw the Spaniards setting dogs onto the Indians, to tear them to pieces; and thus I saw many of them torn to pieces.”
23.      “I likewise saw so many houses and towns burned that I could not tell the number, so great was their multitude.”
24.      “It is likewise true that they took nursing children by the arms and hurled them in the air as high as they could; and their other injustice and aimless cruelties terrified me, besides innumerable other things that I saw, and which it would take long to tell.”
25.      “I saw moreover that they called the Indian lords and chiefs, to come peaceably, promising them safety, but as soon as they arrived they burnt them. And in my presence they burnt two, one from Andon and the other in Tumbala, nor was I able for all I preached to them, to prevent them burning them.”
26.      “I call God and my own conscience to witness that, as far as I can understand, the Indians only revolted on account of this ill treatment which sufficiently justified their action as may be clearly seen by everybody.”
27.      “The Spaniards have never dealt honestly with them nor kept their word but, contrary to all reason and justice, they have tyrannically ruined them and all their country, doing such things against them, that they [the Indians] have resolved sooner to die, than suffer such deeds.”
28.      “I say moreover, that the Indians are right in affirming that there is more gold hidden, than has been discovered, for they have refused to disclose it because of the injustice and cruelty shown them by the Spaniards; nor will they disclose it as long as such treatment con­tinues, but rather will they die like the others.”
29.      “God our Lord has been much offended by these deeds, and His Majesty very badly served and de­frauded, for they have made him lose countries that could very well provide food for the whole of Castile, and in my opinion, it will be very difficult and expensive to recover them.”
30.      All these are the formal words of the said monk; and bear the signature also of the Bishop of Mexico, testifying that everything was affirmed by the said Father, Fray Marcus.
31.      What this Father says he has seen, should be considered here: because this happened throughout fifty or a hundred leagues of country and during nine or ten years, at the beginning, when there were very few Span­iards: afterwards the sound of gold drew thither four or five thousand Spaniards, who spread through many large kingdoms and provinces, covering more than five hund­red or seven hundred leagues, all of which they have destroyed by practising the same deeds and others still more ferocious and cruel.
32.      Truly, from that time to the present day, a thousand times more people have been destroyed and dispersed than he was told of; being devoid of mercy and the fear of God and the King, the Spaniards have de­stroyed a very large part of the human race.
33.      Within the space of ten years they have killed, up to the present day, more than four millions of per­sons; and they are still killing.
34.      A short time since they pursued and killed a great queen, wife of Elingue, he who was left king of those kingdoms which the Christians had tyrannically seized and provoked to rise in the present rebellion. They captured the queen, his wife who, it is said, was pregnant and, contrary to all justice, they killed her, only to grieve her husband.
35.      If the cruelties and different murders committed by the Christians, and their daily deeds in those king­doms of Peru were to be told, they would doubtless be so horrible and so numerous that what we have re­counted of the other countries would fade, and seem little, compared with their number and their gravity.

Of the New Kingdom of Granada

1.      In the year 1539 many tyrants joined together and started from Venezuela, Santa Marta, and Cartagena for Peru: and others came back from the same Peru to explore those countries. Three hundred leagues inland behind Santa Marta and Cartagena, they found some very delightful and marvellous provinces, full of num­berless people, as mild and kind as the others, and very rich in gold, and in those precious stones called emeralds.
2.      To these provinces they gave the name of the new kingdom of Granada; because those tyrants who first came to these countries were natives of the kingdom of Granada in Spain.
3.      As many iniquitous and cruel men among those who gathered from all parts, were notorious butchers and shedders of human blood who were very inured to, and experienced in the great sins that we have said were committed in many parts of the Indies, it follows that their fiendish operations, and the circumstances and qualities that blackened and aggravated them, were such that they have surpassed very many, or indeed all, that the others and they themselves have committed elsewhere in the Indies.
4.      Of the multitude they have committed in these three years, and continue without ceasing to commit, I will briefly relate a few. As a man who was robbing and murdering in the said kingdom would not allow a gover­nor to also rob and kill, the latter brought a suit against him, calling many witnesses to prove the slaughter, injustice, and massacres he had done, and is doing; this evidence was read, and is to be found in the Council of the Indies.
5.      The witnesses in the said law-suit affirm that all the kingdom was quiet, and subject to the Spaniards; the Indians continually laboured to furnish them pro­visions, and to accumulate property for them; they brought them all the gold and precious emeralds they possessed or could obtain: the lords and inhabitants of the towns had been divided among the Spaniards, who lay claim to them as the means for obtaining their final object, which is gold. Having thus reduced everybody to the usual tyranny and slavery, the principal tyrant captain commanding them, captured the sovereign of all that country, without any cause or reason, and kept him for six or seven months, demanding gold and emer­alds of him.
6.      The said king, who was called Bogota, being over­come by fear said that he would give a house of the gold they demanded, hoping to free himself from the hands of his tormenters: he sent some Indians to bring him the treasure, and several times they brought a large quantity of gold and stones: because he did not give the house of gold, the Spaniards declared that he should be killed, because he did not fulfil his promise.
7.      The tyrant said that he should be tried by process of law, so they prosecuted him, accusing the said king of the country. The tyrant gave sentence, condemning him to tortures, if he did not give the house of gold.
8.      They tortured him with the cord: they threw burning fat on his belly; they put his feet in irons fas­tened to a stake, tied his neck to another, while two men held his hands; and in this position they put fire to his feet.
9.      Every now and then, the tyrant entered and told him, that they would kill him by inches with tortures if he did not give the gold. And thus they did, and killed this lord with tortures. While they were tor­menting him, God gave a sign of destestation of that cruelty, by causing all that town, where it was com­mitted to be burnt.
10.      The other Spaniards imitated their good captain and, since they only know how to rend these people, they did the same; torturing the lord of the town or towns, that had been confided to them, with divers and fierce tortures while those lords and their people felt themselves safe, and were giving them all the gold and emeralds they could: the Spaniards tortured them only to extort more gold and jewels. And in this way they burnt and cut to pieces all the lords of that country.
11.      Terror-stricken by the excessive cruelty prac­tised upon the Indians by one of those particular tyrants a great lord called Daytama fled, with many of his people from such inhumanity, and retreated to the mountains. This, if it did but avail, they conceive to be the remedy and refuge, and this is what the Spaniards call revolt and rebellion.
12.      The principal tyrant captain hearing this, sent a force to that cruel man, whose ferocity and wickedness towards the peaceful and submissive Indians had driven them to the mountains; the latter went in pursuit of the natives, and because it sufficed not to hide in the bowels of the earth, they found a large number of people whom they killed, cutting to pieces more than five hundred men, women, and children, and sparing no one.
13.      The witnesses also say that before his death, the same Prince Daytama had been to see that cruel man and had taken him four or five thousand crowns, but notwithstanding this, he committed the said slaughter.
14.      Another time a great number of people having come to serve the Spaniards, and feeling themselves safe, serving with their humility and simplicity, the captain entered the town one night where the Indians were and commanded that all those Indians should be put to the sword while some of them were sleeping, and some supping and resting from the labours of the day.
15.      He perpetrated this massacre because it seemed good to him to make himself feared by all the people of the country.
16.      Another time the captain put all the Spaniards on oath, to lead at once as many lords and chiefs and common people as each had in his household service, to the square, where he had all their heads cut off, thus killing four or five hundred people. And the witnesses say that he thought in this way to pacify the country.
17.      The witnesses depose that one particular tyrant did great cruelty, killing, and cutting off the hands and noses of many men and women, and destroying many people.
18.      Another time the captain sent the afore-named cruel man, with certain Spaniards to the province of Bogota, to make inquiry as to who had succeeded to that dominion since they had tortured the universal lord to death: he marched through many leagues of coun­try, capturing as many Indians as he could.
19.      And because the people did not show him the lord who had succeeded, he cut off the hands of some and gave others to ferocious dogs, which tore them to pieces both men, and women; and in this way he killed, and destroyed many Indian men and women.
20.      One day, near sunrise, he went to attack some lords, or captains and many Indians who felt tranquil and secure, because he had assured them and given them his word that they should receive no hurt or harm; con­fiding in this assurance they had come down from the mountains, where they were hidden, to dwell in this town on the plain; thus he captured a great many of these unsuspecting and confiding people, women and men, and making Of the New Kingdom of Granadathem put their hands flat on the ground he himself cut them off with a scimitar, saying that he punished them because they would not tell where the new lord, who had succeeded to that kingdom, was hidden.
21.      Another time, because the Indians did not give a coffer full of gold that this cruel captain demanded, he sent people to make war on them, in which they killed numberless persons, and cut off the hands and noses of so many women and men that they could not be counted: they gave others to fierce dogs that tore them to pieces and ate them.
22.      Another time, the Indians of a province of that kingdom, seeing that the Spaniards had burnt three or four principal lords, retreated in fear to a strong rock to defend themselves from enemies so devoid of hu­manity; and according to the witnesses, there may have been four or five thousand Indians on the rock.
23.      The above-named captain sent a great and notori­ous tryant, who surpassed many of those who have charge of destroying those countries, with a certain number of Spaniards, to punish those Indians who had fled from such a great pestilence and butchery: and he declared they were in revolt, seeking to make it appear that they had done something wrong, for which the Spaniards must punish them and take vengeance: they themselves, however, merit any most cruel torture whatsoever, without mercy, because they are so deprived of mercy and compassion towards those innocent creatures.
24.      The Spaniards went to the rock and forced their way up, the Indians being naked and without arms; then the Spaniards called the Indians with professions of peace, assuring them that no harm should be done them, if they did not fight; the Indians at once ceased, whereupon that most cruel man commanded the Span­iards, to seize all the strong positions of the rock, and when taken, to surround the Indians. These tigers and lions surrounded the tame lambs, and disembowelled and put to the sword so many, that they stopped to rest, so many had they cut to pieces.
25.      When they had rested a little, the captain or­dered that they should kill and throw down from the rock, which was very high, all the survivors; and so they did. And the witnesses say, that they beheld such a mass of Indians thrown from the rock, that there might have been seven hundred men together, who were crushed to pieces where they fell.
26.      To complete their great cruelty, they sought out all the Indians who had hidden in the thicket, and he commanded all to be put to the sword; and thus they killed them, and threw them down from the rock.
27.      Nor would he rest satisfied with the cruel things that have been related, but wished to distinguish him­self still more and increase the horribleness of his sins, by commanding that all the Indians, men and women, save those he kept for his own service, who had been captured alive (because in these massacres each usually chooses a few men, women and children for his own use) should be put in a straw house to which he set fire: some forty or fifty were thus burnt alive, while others were thrown to fierce dogs that tore them to pieces and ate them.
28.      Another time, this same tyrant captured many Indians in a certain town called Cota which he visited; he had fifteen or twenty lords and principal persons torn by dogs; and he cut off the hands of many men and women, tied them to cords and hung about seventy pairs of hands along a beam, so that the other Indians should see what had been done to these people; and he cut off the noses of many women and children.
29.      Nobody could explain the actions, and cruelty of this man, God's enemy, because they are innumerable, nor have such deeds as he did in those countries and in the province of Guatemala, ever been witnessed or heard of since then: during many years he went about those countries doing these deeds, burning and destroying the inhabitants and their property.
30.      The witnesses in the trial further say, that the cruelties and massacres perpetrated in the said new kingdom of Granada by the captain himself and, with his consent, by all those tyrants and destroyers of the human race who were with him, were such that they have wasted and exterminated all the country. And that unless His Majesty arrests the massacring done among the Indians to extort gold which, as they had already given all they had, they no longer possess, the destruction will shortly be complete, and no Indians of any sort will be left to sustain the country, which will be left depopulated and desolate.
31.      It should be considered how great and furious has been the cruelty and pestilential tyranny of unhappy tyrants, in the space of two or three years, since the discovery of this kingdom which, as all who have been there, and the witnesses at the trial say, was as thickly populated as any in the world; they have desolated it with massacres, so devoid of mercy, of the fear of God and the King, that they say, not a single person will be left alive unless His Majesty shortly prevents these in­fernal operations. And so I believe it to be, for with my own eyes I have seen many, and large countries in those parts, which they have destroyed and completely depopulated within a brief period.
32.      There are other large provinces, bordering the said new kingdom of Granada, called Popayan and Cali: also three, or four others that extend for more than five hundred leagues; the Spaniards have rendered them deso­late, and destroyed them like the others, unjustly rob­bing and torturing to death the numberless inhabitants of that most delightful country.
33.      People coming now from there declare that it excites compassion to see so many large towns burnt and destroyed; towns where formerly there were a thousand or two thousand families, are reduced to hardly fifty, while others are entirely burned and abandoned.
34.      In other places, from one to three hundred leagues of country are found completely deserted; large towns having been burnt and destroyed.
35.      Great and cruel tyrants penetrated into New Granada from the direction of the province of Quito in the kingdom of Peru, and into Popayan and Cali from the direction of Cartagena and Uraba, while from Car­tagena, other ill-starred tyrants marched through to Quito; afterwards others, came from the direction of Rio de San Juan, which is on the South coast. All of these men united together and they have devastated and depopulated more than six hundred leagues of country, sending innumerable souls to hell. They are doing the same at the present day to the miserable survivors, although they are innocent.
36.      And to prove the axiom I laid down in the beginning, namely that the tyranny, violence, and injus­tice of the Spaniards towards these gentle lambs, ac­companied by cruelty, inhumanity, and wickedness, most worthy of all fire and torture, which continue in the said provinces, go on increasing, I cite the following.Of the New Kingdom of Granada
37.      After the massacres and slaughter of the war, the people are condemned, as was said, to the horrible slavery described above. To one of the devils, two hundred Indians were given, to another, three. The devil commandant ordered a hundred Indians to be called before him and when they promptly came like so many lambs, he had the heads of thirty or forty cut off; and said to the others: “I will do the same to you, if you do not serve me well, and if you leave without my permission.”
38.      Now in God's name consider, you, who read this, what sort of deeds are these, and whether they do not surpass every imaginable cruelty and injustice, and whether it squares well with such Christians as these to call them devils; and whether it could be worse to give the Indians into the charge of the devils of hell than to the Christians of the Indies.
39.      I will also tell of another such operation; I do not know which is the more cruel, the more infernal, and nearer the ferocity of wild beasts, this one or that one just told.
40.      It has already been said, that the Spaniards of the Indies have tamed and trained the strongest and most ferocious dogs to kill and tear the Indians to pieces.
41.      Listen and see, all you who are true Christians and also you who are not, whether such deeds have ever been heard of in the world; to feed the said dogs they take many Indians in chains with them on their journeys, as though they were herds of swine; and they kill them, making public butchery of human flesh; and one says to the other; “lend me a quarter of one of these villeins to give to my dogs to eat, until I kill.” It is as though they were lending a quarter of pork or of mutton.
42.      There are others, who go hunting with their dogs in the morning and when one is asked on his return for dinner how it has fared with him, he replies; “it has fared well with me, because I have left perhaps fifteen or twenty villeins killed by my dogs.”
43.      All these and other diabolical things are being proved now in law-suits started by some tyrants against others. What can be filthier, fiercer, and more inhuman?
44.      I will finish with this, till news comes of other deeds of more eminent wickedness, if any such there can be: or until, on our return there, we again behold them, as we continually have with our own eyes since forty-two years.
45.      I protest before God on my conscience that, as I believe and hold certain, such are the perdition, harm, destruction, depopulation, slaughter, deaths, and great and horrible cruelties, and most foul ways of violence, injustice, robbery, and massacre, done among those people and in all those countries of the Indies, that with all I have described, and those upon which I have en­larged, I have not told nor enlarged upon, in quality and quantity, a ten thousandth part of what has been done and is being done to-day.
46.      And that all Christians may have greater com­passion on those innocent nations, and that they may more sincerely lament their loss and doom, and blame and abominate the detestible avarice, ambition, and cruelty of the Spaniards, let them all hold this truth for certain, in addition to what I have affirmed above; namely, that from the time the Indies were discovered down to the present, nowhere did the Indians harm any Christians, before they had sustained harm, robbery, and treachery from them. Nay, they always esteemed them immortal, and come from Heaven; and as such they received them, until their deeds manifested their charac­ter and intentions.
47.      It is well to add something else, that from the beginning till the present day the Spaniards have given no more thought to providing for the preaching of the faith of Jesus Christ to these people than if they were dogs or other animals: nay, they have persistently afflicted and persecuted the monks, to prevent them from preaching, because it seemed to them an impedi­ment to the acquisition of the gold and wealth they promised themselves in their greedy desires.
48.      And to-day there is not in all the Indies more knowledge of God among these people, as to whether He is of wood, or in heaven or on earth, than there was a hundred years ago, except in new Spain, where monks have gone and which is but a very little corner of the Indies. And so all have perished and are perishing, without faith and without Sacraments.

1.      I was induced to write this work I, Fray Bartolomeus de las Casas, or Casaus, friar of St. Dominic, who by God's mercy do go about this Court of Spain, trying to drive the hell out of the Indies, and to bring about that all those numberless multitudes of souls, redeemed with the blood of Jesus Christ, shall not hopelessly perish forever; moved also by the compassion I feel for my fatherland, Castile, that God may not destroy it for such great sins, committed against His faith and honour and against fellow creatures. A few persons of quality who reside at this Court and are jealous of God's honour and compassionate towards the afflictions and calamities of others, urged me to this work although it was my own intention which my continual occupations had never allowed me to put into effect.
2.      I brought it to a close at Valencia the 8th of De­cember 1542, when all the violence was more terrible, and the oppression, tyranny, massacres, robberies, de­structions, slaughter, depopulation, anguish, and calam­ity aforesaid, are actually at their height in all the regions where the Christians of the Indies are; although in some places they are fiercer, and more abominable than in others.
3.      Mexico and its neighbourhood are a little less badly off; there, at least, such things dare not be done publicly, because there is somewhat more justice than elsewhere, although very little, for they still kill the people with infernal burdens.
4.      I have great hope, for the Emperor and King of Spain our Lord Don Carlos, Fifth of this name is get­ting to understand the wickedness and treachery that, contrary to the will of God, and of himself, is and has been done to those people and in those countries; hereto­fore the truth has been studiously hidden from him, that it is his duty to extirpate so many evils and bring succour to that new world, given him by God, as to one who is a lover and observer of justice, whose glorious, and happy life and Imperial state may God Almighty long prosper, to the relief of all his universal Church, and for the final salvation of his own Royal soul. Amen.

1.      Since the above was written, some laws and edicts have been published by His Majesty, who was then in the town of Barcelona, in the month of November 1542 and in the town of Madrid the following year; these con­tain such provisions as now seem suitable to bring about the cessation of the great wickedness and sin committed against God and our fellow creatures, to the total ruin and destruction of that world.
2.      After many conferences and debates amongst conscientious and learned authorities, who were assem­bled in the town of Valladolid, His Majesty made the said laws; acting finally on the decision and opinion of the greater part of all those who gave their votes in writing, and who drew nearer to the law of Jesus Christ, as true Christians. They were likewise free from the corruption and foulness of the treasures stolen from the Indies that soiled the hands, and still more the souls of many in authority who, in their blindness, had com­mitted unscrupulous destruction.
3.      When these laws were published, the agents of the tyrants, then at Court, made many copies of them; they displeased all these men who considered that they shut the doors to their participation in what was robbed and taken by tyranny: and they sent the copies to divers parts of the Indies.
4.      None of those who there had charge of robbing the Indians, and of finishing their destruction by their tyranny, had ever observed any order, but such disorder as might have been made by Lucifer; when they saw the copies, before the arrival of the new judges who were to execute them, it is said and believed that they had been warned of what was coming by those in Spain, who have till now encouraged their sins and violence. They were so agitated, that when the good judges who were to carry out the laws arrived, they resolved to set aside shame and obedience to the King, just as they had al­ready lost all love and fear of God.
5.      They thus determined to let themselves be called traitors, for they are cruel and unbridled tyrants, par­ticularly in the kingdoms of Peru, where at present, in this year of 1546, such horrible, frightful, and execrable deeds are committed, as have never been done, either in the Indies or in the world; not only do such things happen among the Indians whom they have already all or nearly all killed, but among themselves. In the absence of the King's justice to punish them, God's justice has come from heaven to bring dissension amongst them and to make one to be the executioner of the other.
6.      Shielded by the rebellion of these tyrants, those in all the other regions, would not obey the laws and, under pretext of appealing against them, have also re­volted; they resent having to abdicate the dignities and power they have usurped, and to losing the Indians whom they hold in perpetual slavery.
7.      Where they have ceased to kill quickly by the sword, they kill slowly by personal servitude and other unjust and intolerable vexations. And till now the King has not succeeded in preventing them because all, small and great, go there to pilfer, some more, some less, some publicly and openly, others secretly and under disguise; and with the pretext that they are serving the king, they dishonour God, and rob and destroy the King.

The present work was printed in the most noble, and faithful town of Seville, at the house of Sebastian Truxillo book-printer. To our Lady of Grace. The Year M.D.LII


What follows is part of a letter and report, written by one of those very men who went to these regions, recounting the deeds the captain did, and allowed to be done, in the countries he visited. When the said letter and report was given with other things to be bound, the bookseller either forgot or lost one or more pages con­taining frightful things, that had all been given me by one of those who did them, all of which I had in my possession; what follows is therefore without beginning or end. But as this piece that is left, is full of notorious things, it seemed well to me not to leave it unprinted: because I believe it will not excite less compassion and horror in Your Highness, than some of the irregularities already related, as well also as the desire to correct them.

LETTER

1.      He allowed the Indians to be chained and put in prisons, and so it was done. And the said captain took three or four in chains for himself; by so doing and by robbing the Indians of their supplies instead of providing for necessary sowing and populating, the natives of the country were reduced to such want, that great numbers of them were found in the streets starved to death.
2.      He killed about ten thousand souls by making the Indians carry the Spaniards' baggage to and from the beach, because all who reached the coast died of the heat.
3.      After this he followed the same trail and road as Juan de Ampudia, sending the Indians he had brought from Quito, a day in front, to discover the Indian towns and to sack them so that he and his people might avail themselves of them on their arrival. Those Indians belonged to him and his companions, one of whom had two hundred, another three hundred, according to the number each brought with him, and they carried whatever their masters robbed. And in this they treated children and women most cruelly.
4.      He followed the same course in Quito, burning all the country and the stores of maize belonging to the lords; he consented to the killing of great numbers of sheep, all of which form the principal provision and main­tenance of the natives and of the Spaniards; for the latter use two or three hundred just to eat the brains and fat alone, and waste the meat.
5.      His friendly Indians who went with him, killed great numbers of sheep, just to eat the hearts, not eating anything else. And so two men in a province called Purua killed twenty-five sheep and pack-sheep, just to eat the brains and fat, although among the Spaniards they cost twenty and twenty-five pesos each.
6.      By such excessive disorder, they killed more than a hundred thousand head of animals, which reduced the country to very great want, while the natives died of starvation in great numbers. Although there was more maize in Quito than can be told, this bad order of things brought such penury on the people that a measure of maize came to cost ten pesos, and a sheep the same.
7.      When the said captain returned from the coast, he determined to leave Quito, to go in search of Captain Juan de Ampudia. He took more than two hundred foot and horsemen, among whom he led many inhab­itants of the country of Quito. The said captain per­mitted the colonists who accompanied him to draw the lords from their departments and as many Indians as they liked, and this they did.
8.      Alonso Sanchez Nuyta took a lord and more than a hundred Indians with their wives; Pedro Cobo and his cousin, more than a hundred and fifty with their wives and many of the children, who otherwise all died of starvation. And so likewise Moran, an inhabitant of Popayan, had more than two hundred persons; and all the other inhabitants and soldiers also took as many as each could.
9.      And the said soldiers asked him if he would give them licence to put the Indians they brought with them, in prison; and he said yes, until they died, and when these were dead, also others; for if the Indians were vassals of His Majesty, they were also of the Spaniards, and they died in war.
10.      In this way the said captain left Quito and went to a town called Otabalo, which he owned at that time by virtue of the distribution, and he demanded five hundred men for the war from its lord, who gave them to him with some Indian chiefs. He distributed some of these people among the soldiers and the rest he took with himself, some with packs, and others in chains, and some, who served him and brought him food, were free; the soldiers also took them, bound in this way with chains and cords.
11.      When they left the province of Quito they took away more than six thousand Indians, men and women of whom not twenty men returned to their country: because they all died of the great and excessive labours imposed on them, in countries far from their native land.
12.      It happened at this time, that one Alonso Sanchez was sent by the said captain in command of certain people in a province; on the way, he met a number of women and boys loaded with provisions who, instead of fleeing, waited for him, to give them to him; and he had them all put to the sword.
13.      And a miracle happened when a soldier was stabbing an Indian woman; at the first blow the sword broke in half, and at the second only the handle was left, without his being able to wound her. Another soldier with a double bladed dagger wanted to stab another Indian woman, but at the first blow four fingers' length of the point broke off, and at the second nothing remained but the handle alone.
14.      When the said captain left Quito, leading away such a quantity of natives, separating them from their wives, giving some of the young girls to those Indians he took with him, and others to those who were left behind on account of their old age, a woman came behind him, with a little child in her arms, weeping and begging him not to take her husband away from her, because she had three little children whom she would not be able to bring up, and who would die of starvation; and seeing that he answered her roughly the first time, she came back a second with louder cries saying, that her children would die of starvation: and when she saw, that he commanded she should be driven away and that he would not release her husband, she threw the child on some stones and killed it.
15.      When the said captain arrived in the province of Lili at a town called Palo near the great river, he found there the Captain Juan de Ampudia, who had gone in advance to explore and pacify the country; the said Ampudia had founded a town called Ampudia, in the name of His Majesty and of the Marquis Francisco Pizarro, and had appointed Pedro Solano de Quiñones and eight rulers as ordinary judges; and the greater part of the country was at peace, and divided. As soon as he knew that the said captain was at the river, he went to see him accompanied by many of the inhabitants and peaceful Indians, loaded with provisions and fruit; and from thenceforward all the Indians in the neighbourhood went toOf the New Kingdom of Granada visit the said captain, and to bring him food.
16.      These were the Indians from Namudi, Palo, Soliman, and Bolo; but because they did not bring as much maize as he wanted, he ordered many Spaniards to go with their Indians, men and women to get maize, wherever they found it. So they went to Bolo and to Palo, where they found the Indians, tranquil in their houses; and the said Spaniards and those who went with them, stole and carried off the maize, gold, stuffs, and all the Indians possessed, and they bound many of them.
17.      When the Indians saw that they were treated so badly, they went to complain to the said captain of what had been done, and to request that the Spaniards should restore all they had taken from them. He would not have anything restored, but told them that his men would not go there a second time.
18.      Within three or four days the Spaniards returned for maize, and to rob the Indians of the town. The Indians having seen that the said captain kept and observed his word so little, all the country revolted, which did much harm and disservice to God Our Lord, and to His Majesty.
19.      So the whole country is left deserted, because the people have been destroyed by their enemies the Olomas and Manipos: these are a warlike people from the moun­tains, who descended every day to the plains to capture and despoil them, seeing that their towns and native country were left abandoned; and the most powerful among them ate the weaker, because they were all dying of starvation.
20.      Having done this, the said captain returned to the said country of Ampudia, where he was received as General and seven days later he again left to go to the places called Lili and Peti, accompanied by more than two hundred men on foot and on horse.
21.      Afterwards the said commander sent his captain in all directions, making cruel war on the natives; and so they killed great numbers of Indians, men and women, and burnt their houses and stole their goods: this lasted many days.
22.      The lords of the country seeing that they were killing and destroying them, sent some peaceable Indi­ans, with provisions. And the said captain having left for a settlement called Yce, he at once sent some Span­iards to rob, capture, and kill as many Indians as they could, commanding that many houses should be burnt; and so they burnt more than a hundred.
23.      From there he went to another town, called Tolilicuy,  where the lord at once came forth peaceably with many Indians: and the said captain demanded gold of him and of his Indians. The lord said he had but little, but that he would give him what he had. They all immediately began to bring him what they could.
24.      The said captain gave each of the Indians a ticket bearing the name of the said Indian who had given him gold, threatening that any Indian who did not pay and was without this ticket, should be thrown to the dogs. Terrified by this, all the Indians who had gold, gave him all that they could; and those who had none fled to the mountain and to other towns, for fear of being killed; for which reason a great number of natives perished.
25.      The said captain forthwith ordered the lords to send two Indians to another town, called Dagua, to order the inhabitants to come peaceably to him, and bring him a quantity of gold.
26.      On arriving at another town, he sent a number of Spaniards, and Indians from Tolilicuy to capture many Indians, and so the following day they brought back more than a hundred persons with them. He took all those capable of carrying loads, for himself and the soldiers, and put them in chains so that they all died; and the said captain gave the infants to the said lords of Tolilicuy to be eaten. And to-day in the house of the said Lord Tolilicuy there are the skins of the infants full of ashes.
27.      Without saying anything, he departed from there for the provinces of Calili, where he joined Captain Juan de Ampudia, who had been sent by him to explore the country by another route; both the one and the other did much slaughter and much injury to the native people wherever they went.
28.      The said Juan de Ampudia arrived at a place, the lord of which was called Bitacon; he had prepared some pits for his defence, into which two horses belonging to Antonio Redondo and Marcus Marquez fell; the latter died but the other not. In consequence of this the said Ampudia ordered as many as possible of the Indians, men and women, to be captured; more than a hundred persons were captured whom they threw into those pits alive where they killed them, and they burnt more than a hundred houses in that town.
29.      Thus they joined one another at a large town and, without calling the Indians pacifically, nor sending interpreters to summon them, they made cruel war on them, and persecuted them, and killed great numbers of them. And as soon as they joined one another as has been said, the aforenamed Ampudia told the captain what he had done at Bitacon, and how he had thrown so many people into the pits; and the said captain replied that he had done very well; and that he himself had done the same at Riobamba, which is in the province of Quito, where he threw more than two hundred persons into the pits; both stayed here, making war throughout the country.
30.      After this he entered the province of Birù or Anzerma, making cruel war of fire and blood, from this province to the salt ponds. From there he sent Fran­cisco Garcia Tobar forward, making cruel war on the natives as is told above; and the Indians went to him two by two, making signs that they sought peace in the name of all the country, and asking what the Spaniards wished; for if they wanted gold or women or provisions, they should be given them, and begging that they should not be killed in this way: and this the Spaniards them­selves have confessed to be true.
31.      And the said Francisco Garcia told them to go away, that they were drunk, and that he did not under­stand them, after which he returned to where the said captain was and they set out to march through all the province, making most cruel war on the natives, plunder­ing and killing them; and more than two thousand souls were carried off from there between him and his sol­diers, all of whom died in chains.
32.      Before they left the inhabited country, they killed more than five hundred persons. Thus he returned to the province of Calili; and if on the way some Indian, man or woman, became so tired that he could not walk, they stabbed him; if he was in chains they cut off his head, so as not to undo them and so that the others seeing this, should not feign being ill.
33.      In this way they all died, and on this journey all the people he had brought from Quito, Pasto, Quilla, Cagua, Paria, Popayan, Lili, Cali, and Anzerma, per­ished in very great numbers. On his return march, as soon as he entered the large town, they killed all they could. And they captured three hundred persons in that day.
34.      From the province of Lili, he sent the said cap­tain, Juan de Ampudia, with many people to the place and dwellings of Lili, in order to capture all the Indians, men and women, that he could, for carrying the packs; because all the numerous people he had brought from Anzerma, had already died. And the said Juan de Ampudia brought more than a thousand persons, many of whom he killed.
35.      The said captain took all the people he needed, giving the rest to the soldiers, who at once put them in chains, where they all died: after depriving the said country of the Spaniards, and of the natives in such great numbers, as is seen by the few that are left, he set out for Popayan.
36.      On the way he left behind a live Spaniard, whose name was Martin de Aguirre, because he could not walk as much as the healthy ones. On his arrival at Popa­yan he dwelt in that town, and began to destroy, and rob the Indians of the surrounding country, with the same disorder as he had done in the others.
37.      He made a royal stamp here and melted all the gold he had gathered, and that Juan de Ampudia had gathered before he came; and without any accounting or explanation, and without giving any part to any soldier, he took it all for himself, except that he gave what he chose to some whose horses were dead. This done, and after taking the fifths of His Majesty he said he was going to Cuzco to report to his Governor; so he set out for Quito, taking a great number of Indians, men, and women, all of whom died on the journey and in that place. And further the said captain returned to destroy the royal stamp he had made.
38.      It is well at this point to relate a word that this man said of himself, showing that he very well knew the evil and cruelty that he did. He spoke thus: “In fifty years, those that pass by here and hear of these things, will say: ‘It was here that the tyrant so and so marched.’ ”
39.      These in-comings and out-goings of this captain in those kingdoms, and this way of visiting those people living safely in their country, and these operations prac­tised by him against them, Your Highness should know and be convinced, have always been done by the Span­iards everywhere in the same way, from the discovery of the Indies till the present day.


THE BULL SUBLIMIS DEUS

Latin Text

Paulus Papa tertius universis Christi fidelibus præsentes litteras inspecturis salutem et Apostolicam benedictionem. Sublimis Deus sic dilexit humanum genus, ut hominem talem condiderit qui non solum boni sicut cæteræ creaturæ particeps esset, sed ipsum Summum Bonum inaccesibile et invisibile attingere et facie ad faciem videre posset; et cum homo ad vitam et beatitudinem æternam obeundam, etiam sacrarum literarum testimonio, creatus sit, et hanc vitam et beati­tudinem æternam, nemo consequi valeat, nisi per fidem Domini nostri Jesu Christi fateri necesse est, hominem talis conditionis et naturæ esse, ut Fidem Christi recipere possit, et quemqunque, qui naturam hominis fortitus est, ad ipsam Fidem recipiendam habilem esse. Nec enim quisque adeò desipere creditur, ut se secredat Fidem obtinere posse, et medium summe necessarium, nequaquam attingere.

Hinc veritas ipsa quæ nec falli, nee fallere potest, cum prædicatores fidei ad officium prædicationis destinaret, dixisse dignoscitur. Euntes, Docete Omnes Gentes. Omnes dixit, absque omni deletu, cum omnes fidei disciplinæ capaces existant. Quod videns ipsius humani generis emulus qui bonis operibus, ut pereant semper adversatur, modum excogavit ac temis in auditum, quo impediret, ne verbum Dei gentibus salve fierent, predicaretur, ac quosdam suos satelites commovit, qui suam cupiditatem ad implere, cupientes occidentales, et meridionales Indos, et alias gentes, quas temporibus istis ad nostram notitiam pervenerunt, sub prætextu, quod Fidei Catolicæ expertes existant, uti muta animalia ad nostra obsequia redigendos esse passim asserere præsumat.

Nos igitur qui eiusdem Domini Nostri vices, licet immeriti, gerimus in terris, et oves gregis sui nobis commissas, quæ extra eius ovile sunt, ad ipsum ovile toto nixu exquirimus. Attendentes Indos ipsos, ut potè veros homines, non solum Christianæ Fidei capaces existere, sed ut nobis innotuit, ad fidem ipsam promptissimè currere. Ac volentes super his congruis remediis providere, prasdictos Indos et omnes alias gentes ad notitiam Christianorum imposterum deventuras, licet extra Fidem Christi existant sua libertate àc rerum suarum dominio privatos, seù privandos non esse. Imò libertate et dominio huiusmodi, uti et potiri, et gaudere, liberè et licitè posse, nee in servitutem redigi debere. Ac si secùs fieri contigerit irritum et innane. Ipsosque Indos et alias gentes verbi Dei prædicatione et exemplo bonæ vitæ ad dictam Fidem Christi invitandos fore, et præsentium literarum transumptis manu alicuius Notarii publici subscriptis, àc sigillo alicuius personæ in dignitate Ecclesiastica constitutæ munitis, eamdem fidem adhibendam esse, quas originalibus adhiberetur auctoritate Apostolice per præsentes litteras decernimus et declaramus. Non obstantibus præmissis, cæterisque contrariis quibuscumque.

Datum Romæ Anno Domini millessimo quingentessimo trigessimo septimo. Quarto nonas Junii Pontificatus nostri, Anno tertio.

The Bull Sublimis Deus

Translation

Paul III Pope To all faithful Christians to whom this writing may come, health in Christ our Lord and the apostolic benediction.

The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man, according to the testimony of the sacred scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith; and that whoever is thus endowed should be capable of receiving that same faith. Nor is it credible that any one should possess so little understanding as to desire the faith and yet be destitute of the most necessary faculty to enable him to receive it. Hence Christ, who is the Truth itself, that has never failed and can never fail, said to the preachers of the faith whom He chose for that office “Go ye and teach all nations.” He said all, without exception, for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith.

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God's word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satel­lites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pre­tending that they are incapable of receiving the catholic faith.

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside, into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the catholic faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desir­ing to provide ample remedy for these evils, we define and declare by these our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and of no effect.

By virtue of our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.

Given in Rome in the year of our Lord 1537. The fourth of June and of our Pontificate, the third year.


Scenes of Las Casas' Labours

Scenes of Las Casas's Labours


Bartolomé de las Casas

Fray Bartholomew de Las Casas
From the portrait drawn and engraved by Enguidanos.

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