True Relation of the Vicissitudes that Attended The Governor Don Hernando de Soto and Some Nobles of Portugal in the Discovery of the Province of Florida now just Given by a Fidalgo of Elvas viewed by the Lord Inquisitor

An Electronic Edition · The Gentleman of Elvas (16th century)


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Full Colophon Information

Fernando da Silveira, Senhor da Serzedas, great Poet and
very Illustrious, respecting the Material of this Book, and in Praise of the
Author. 1.


He who would see the New World,  
The Golden Pole, the second,  
Other seas, other lands,  
Achievements great, and wars, 4.
And such things attempted  
As alarm and give pleasure,  
Strike terror and lend delight;ߞ 
Read of the author this pleasing story,  
Where nothing fabulous is told, 9.
All worthy of being esteemed,  
Read, considered, used.  





HERNANDO DE SOTO was the son of an esquire of Xeréz de
Badejóz, and went to the Indias of the Ocean Sea, belonging to Castilla, at the
time Pedrárias Davila was the Governor. He had nothing more than blade and
buckler: for his courage and good qualities Pedrarias appointed him to be
captain of a troop of horse, and he went by his order with Hernando Pizarro to
conquer Peru. According to the report of many persons who were there, he
distinguished himself over all the captains and principal personages present,
not only at the seizure of Atabalipa, lord of Peru, and in carrying the City of
Cuzco, but at all other places wheresoever he went and found resistance. Hence,
apart from his share in the treasure of Atabalipa, he got a good amount,
bringing together in time, from portions falling to his lot, one hundred and
eighty thousand cruzados, which he brought with him to Spain. Of this the
Emperor borrowed a part, which was paid; six hundred thousand reals in duties
on the silks of Granada, and the rest at the Casa de Contratacion.2.

In Sevilla, Soto employed a superintendent of household,
an usher, pages, equerry, chamberlain, footmen, and all the other servants
requisite for the establishment of a gentleman. Thence he went to Court, and
while there was accompanied by Juan de Añasco of Sevilla, Luis Moscoso de
Alvarado, Nuño de Tobár, and Juan Rodriguez Lobillo. All, except Añasco, came
with him from Peru; and each brought fourteen or fifteen thousand cruzados.
They went well and costly apparelled; and Soto, although by nature not profuse,
as it was the first time he was to show himself at Court, spent largely, and
went about closely attended by those I have named, by his dependents, and by
many others who there came about him. He married Dona Ysabel de Bobadilla,
daughter of Pedrarias Davila, Count of Punonrostro. The Emperor made him
Governor of the Island of Cuba and Adelantado of Florida, with title of Marquis
to a certain part of the territory he should conquer.3.



AFTER Don Hernando had obtained the concession, a fidalgo
arrived at Court from the Indias, Cabeça de Vaca by name, who had been in
Florida with Narvaez; and he stated how he with four others had escaped, taking
the way to New Spain; that the Governor had been lost in the sea, and the rest
were all dead.4.

He brought with him a written relation of adventures,
which said in some places: Here I have seen this; and the rest which I saw I
leave to confer of with His Majesty: generally, however, he described the
poverty of the country, and spoke of the hardships he had undergone. Some of
his kinsfolk, desirous of going to the Indias, strongly urged him to tell them
whether he had seen any rich country in Florida or not; but he told them that
he could not do so; because he and another (by name Orantes, who had remained
in New Spain with the purpose of returning into Florida) had sworn not to
divulge certain things which they had seen, lest some one might beg the
government in advance of them, for which he had come to Spain; nevertheless, he
gave them to understand that it was the richest country in the world.5.

Don Hernando de Soto was desirous that Cabeça de Vaca
should go with him, and made him favourable proposals; but after they had come
upon terms they disagreed, because the Adelantado would not give the money
requisite to pay for a ship that the other had bought. Baltasar de Gallegos and
Cristobal de Espindola told Cabeça de Vaca, their kinsman, that as they had
made up their minds to go to Florida, in consequence of what he had told them,
they besought him to counsel them; to which he replied, that the reason he did
not go was because he hoped to receive another government, being reluctant to
march under the standard of another; that he had himself come to solicit the
conquest of Florida, and though he found it had already been granted to Don
Hernando de Soto, yet, on account of his oath, he could not divulge what they
desired to know; nevertheless, he would advise them to sell their estates and
go-that in so doing they would act wisely.6.

As soon as Cabeça de Vaca had an opportunity he spoke with
the Emperor; and gave him an account of all that he had gone through with,
seen, and could by any means ascertain. Of this relation, made by word of
mouth, the Marquis of Astorga was informed. He determined at once to send his
brother, Don Antonio Osorio; and with him Francisco and Garcia Osorio, two of
his kinsmen, also made ready to go. Don Antonio disposed of sixty thousand
reals income that he received of the Church, and Francisco of a village of
vassals he owned in Campos. They joined the Adelantado at Seville, as did also
Nuño de Tobár, Luis de Moscoso, and Juan Rodriguez Lobillo. Moscoso took two
brothers; there went likewise Don Carlos, who had married the Governor’s niece,
and he carried her with him. From Badajoz went Pedro Calderon, and three
kinsmen of the Adelantado: Arias Tinoco, Alonso Romo, and Diego Tinoco.7.

As Luis de Moscoso passed through Elvas, André de
Vasconcelos spoke with him, and requested him to speak to Don Hernando de Soto
in his behalf; and he gave him warrants, issued by the Marquis of Vilareal,
conferring on him the captaincy of Ceuta, that he might show them; which when
the Adelantado saw, and had informed himself of who he was, he wrote to him
that he would favour him in and through all, and would give him a command in
Florida. From Elvas went André de ;Vasconcelos, Fernan Pegado, Antonio Martinez
Segurado, Men, Royz Pereyra, Ioam Cordeiro, Estevan Pegado, Bento Fernandez,
Alvaro Fernandez; and from Salamanca, Jaen, Valencia, Albuquerque, and other
parts of Spain, assembled many persons of noble extraction in Sevilla; so much
so that many men of good condition, who had sold their lands, remained behind
in Sanlucar for want of shipping, when for known countries and rich it was
usual to lack men: and the cause of this was what Cabeça de Vaca had told the
Emperor, and given persons to understand who conversed with him respecting that
country. He went for Governor to Rio de la Plata, but his kinsmen followed

Baltasar de Gallegos received the appointment of chief
Castellan, and took with him his wife. He sold houses, vineyards, a rent of
wheat, and ninety geiras of olive-field in the Xarafe of Sevilla. There went
also many other persons of mark. The offices, being desired of many, were
sought through powerful influence: the place of Factor was held by Antonio de
Biedma, that of Comptroller by Juan de Añasco, and that of Treasurer by Juan
Gayton, nephew of the Cardinal of Ciguenza.9.



THE Portugues left Elvas the 15th day of January, and
came to Sevilla on the vespers of Saint Sebastian. They went to the residence
of the Governor; and entering the court, over which were some galleries in
which he stood, he came down and met them at the foot of the stairs, whence
they returned with him; and he ordered chairs to be brought, in which they
might be seated. André de Vasconcelos told him who he was, and who the others
were; that they had all come to go with him, and aid in his enterprise. The
Adelantado thanked him, and appeared well pleased with their coming and
proffer. The table being already laid, he invited them to sit down; and while
at dinner, he directed his major-domo to find lodgings for them near his

From Sevilla the Governor went to Sanlucar, with all the
people that were to go. He commanded a muster to be made, to which the
Portugues turned out in polished armour, and the Castilians very showily, in
silk over silk, pinked and slashed. As such luxury did not appear to him
becoming on such occasion, he ordered a review to be called for the next day,
when every man should appear with his arms; to which the Portugues came as at
first; and the Governor set them in order near the standard borne by his
ensign. The greater number of the Castilians were in very sorry and rusty
shirts of mail; all wore steel caps or helmets, but had very poor lances. Some
of them sought to get among the Portugues. Those that Soto liked and accepted
of were passed, counted, and enlisted; six hundred men in all followed him to
Florida. He had bought seven ships; and the necessary subsistence was already
on board. He appointed captains, delivering to each of them his ship, with a
roll of the people he was to take with him.11.



IN the month of April, of the year 1538 of the Christian
era, the Adelantado delivered the vessels to their several captains, took for
himself a new ship, fast of sail, and gave another to André de Vasconcelos, in
which the Portugues were to go. He passed over the bar of Sanlucar on Sunday,
the morning of Saint Lazarus, with great festivity, commanding the trumpets to
be sounded and many charges of artillery to be fired. With a favourable wind he
sailed four days, when it lulled, the calms continuing for eight days, with
such rolling sea that the ships made no headway.12.

The fifteenth day after our departure we came to Gomera,
one of the Canaries, on Easter Sunday, in the morning. The Governor of the
Island was apparelled all in white, cloak, jerkin, hose, shoes, and cap, so
that he looked like a governor of Gypsies. He received the Adelantado with much
pleasure, lodging him well and the rest with him gratuitously. To Dona Ysabel
he gave a natural daughter of his to be her waiting-maid. For our money we got
abundant provision of bread, wine, and meats, bringing off with us what was
needful for the ships. Sunday following, eight days after arrival, we took our

On Pentecost we came into the harbour of the City of
Santiago, in Cuba of the Antillas. Directly a gentleman of the town sent to the
seaside a splendid roan horse, well caparisoned, for the Governor to mount, and
a mule for his wife; and all the horsemen and footmen in town at the time came
out to receive him at the landing. He was well lodged, attentively visited and
served by all the citizens. Quarters were furnished to every one without cost.
Those who wished to go into the country were divided among the farm-houses,
into squads of four and six persons, according to the several ability of the
owners, who provided them with food.14.



THE City of Santiago consists of about eighty spacious
and well-contrived dwellings. Some are built of stone and lime, covered with
tiles: the greater part have the sides of board and the roofs of dried grass.
There are extensive country seats, and on them many trees, which differ from
those of Spain. The figtree bears fruit as big as the fist, yellow within and
of little flavour: another tree with a delicious fruit, called anane, is of the
shape and size of a small pine-apple, the skin of which being taken off, the
pulp appears like a piece of curd. On the farms about in the country are other
larger pines, of very agreeable and high flavour, produced on low trees that
look like the aloe. Another tree yields a fruit called mamei, the size of a
peach, by the islanders more esteemed than any other in the country. The
guayaba is in the form of a filbert, and is the size of a fig. There is a tree,
which is a stalk without any branch, the height of a lance, each leaf the
length of a javelin, the fruit of the size and form of a cucumber, the bunch
having twenty or thirty of them, with which the tree goes on bending down more
and more as they grow: they are called plantanos in that country, are of good
flavour, and will ripen after they are gathered, although they are better when
they mature on the tree. The stalks yield fruit but once, when they are cut
down, and others, which spring up at the butt, bear in the coming year. There
is another fruit called batata, the subsistence of a multitude of people,
principally slaves, and new grows in the Island of Terceira, belonging to this
kingdom of Portugal. It is produced in the earth, and looks like the ynhame,
with nearly the taste of chestnut. The bread of the country is made from a root
that looks like the batata, the stalk of which is like alder. The ground for
planting is prepared in hillocks; into each are laid four or five stalks, and a
year and a half after they have been set the crop is fit to be dug. Should any
one, mistaking the root for batata, eat any of it, he is in imminent danger; as
experience has shown, in the case of a soldier, who died instantly from
swallowing a very little. The roots being peeled and crushed, they are squeezed
in a sort of press; the juice that flows has an offensive smell; the bread is
of little taste and less nourishment. The fruit from Spain are figs and
oranges, which are produced the year round, the soil being very rich and

There are numerous cattle and horses in the country,
which find fresh grass at all seasons. From the many wild cows and hogs, the
inhabitants everywhere are abundantly supplied with meat. Out of the towns are
many fruits wild over the country; and, as it sometimes happens, when a
Christian misses his way and is lost for fifteen or twenty days, because of the
many paths through the thick woods made by the herds traversing to and fro, he
will live on fruit and on wild cabbage, there being many and large palm-trees
everywhere which yield nothing else available beside.16.

The Island of Cuba is three hundred leagues long from
east to southeast, and in places thirty, in others forty leagues from north to
south. There are six towns of Christians, which are, Santiago, Baracoa, the
Bayamo, Puerto Principe, Sancti Spiritus, and Havana They each have between
thirty and forty householders, except Santiago and Havana, which have some
seventy or eighty dwellings apiece. The towns have all a chaplain to hear
confession, and a church in which to say mass. In Santiago is a monastery of
the order of Saint Francis; it has few friars, though well supported by tithes,
as the country is rich. The Church of Santiago is endowed, has a cura, a
prebend, and many priests, as it is the church of the city which is the

Although the earth contains much gold, there are few
slaves to seek it, many having destroyed themselves because of the hard usage
they receive from the Christians in the mines. The overseer of Vasco Porcallo,
a resident of the Island, having understood that his slaves intended to hang
themselves, went with a cudgel in his hand and waited for them in the place at
which they were to meet, where he told them that they could do nothing, nor
think of any thing, that he did not know beforehand; that he had come to hang
himself with them, to the end that if he gave them a bad life in this world, a
worse would he give them in that to come. This caused them to alter their
purpose and return to obedience.18.



THE Governor sent Don Carlos with the ships, in company
with Dona Ysabel, to tarry for him at Havana, a port in the eastern end of the
Island, one hundred and eighty leagues from Santiago. He and those that
remained, having bought horses, set out on their journey, and at the end of
twenty-five leagues came to Bayamo, the first town. They were lodged, as they
arrived, in parties of four and six, where their food was given to them; and
nothing was paid for any other thing than maize for the beasts; because the
Governor at each town assessed tax on the tribute paid, and the labour done, by
the Indians.19.

A deep river runs near Bayamo, larger than the Guadiana,
called Tanto. The monstrous alligators do harm in it sometimes to the Indians
and animals in the crossing. In all the country there are no wolves, foxes,
bears, lions, nor tigers: there are dogs in the woods, which have run wild from
the houses, that feed upon the swine: there are snakes, the size of a man’s
thigh, and even bigger; but they are very sluggish and do no kind of injury.
From that town to Puerto Principe there are fifty leagues. The roads throughout
the Island are made by cutting out the undergrowth, which if neglected to be
gone over, though only for a single year, the shrubs spring up in such manner
that the ways disappear; and so numerous likewise are the paths made by cattle,
that no one can travel without an Indian of the country for a guide, there
being everywhere high and thick woods.20.

From Puerto Principe the Governor went by sea in a canoe
to the estate of Vasco Porcallo, near the coast, to get news of Dona Ysabel,
who, at the time, although not then known, was in a situation of distress, the
ships having parted company, two or them being driven in sight of the coast of
Florida, and all on board were suffering for lack of water and subsistence. The
storm over, and the vessels come together, not knowing where they had been
tossed, Cape San Antonio was described, an uninhabited part of the Island,
where they got water; and at the end of forty days from the time of leaving
Santiago, they arrived at Havana The Governor presently received the news and
hastened to meet Dona Ysabel. The troops that went by land, one hundred and
fifty mounted men in number, not to be burdensome upon the Islanders, were
divided into two squadrons, and marched to Sancti Spiritus, sixty leagues from
Puerto Principe. The victual they carried was the caçabe bread I have spoken
of, the nature of which is such that it directly dissolves from moisture;
whence it happened that some ate meat and no bread for many days. They took
dogs with them, and a man of the country, who hunted as they journeyed, and who
killed the hogs at night found further necessary for provision where they
stopped; so that they had abundant supply, both of beef and pork. They found
immense annoyance from mosquitos, particularly in a lake called Bog of Pia,
which they had much ado in crossing between midday and dark, it being more than
half a league over, full half a bow-shot of the distance swimming, and all the
rest of the way the water waist deep, having clams on the bottom that sorely
cut the feet, for not a boot nor shoe sole was left entire at half way. The
clothing and saddles were floated over in baskets of palm-leaf. In this time
the insects came in great numbers and settled on the person where exposed,
their bite raising lumps that smarted keenly, a single blow with the hand
sufficing to kill so many that the blood would run over the arms and body.
There was little rest at night, as happened also afterwards at like seasons and

They came to Sancti Spiritus, a town of thirty houses,
near which passes a little river. The grounds are very fertile and pleasant,
abundant in good oranges, citrons, and native fruit. Here one half the people
were lodged; the other half went on twenty-five leagues farther, to a town of
fifteen or twenty householders, called Trinidad. There is a hospital for the
poor, the only one in the Island. They say the town was once the largest of
any; and that before the Christians came into the country a ship sailing along
the coast had in her a very sick man, who begged to be set on shore, which the
captain directly ordered, and the vessel kept on her way. The inhabitants,
finding him where he had been left, on that shore which had never yet been
hunted up by Christians, carried him home, and took care of him until he was
well. The Chief of the town gave him a daughter; and being at war with the
country round about, through the prowess and exertion of the Christian he
subdued and reduced to his control all the people of Cuba. A long time after,
when Diego Velasquez went to conquer the Island, whence he made the discovery
of New Spain, this man, then among the natives, brought them, by his
management, to obedience, and put them under the rule of that Governor.22.

From Trinidad they travelled a distance of eighty leagues
without a town, and arrived at Havana in the end of March. They found the
Governor there, and the rest of the people who had come with him from Spain. He
sent Juan de Añasco in a caravel, with two pinnaces and fifty men, to explore
the harbour in Florida, who brought back two Indians taken on the coast. In
consequence, as much because of the necessity of having them for guides and
interpreters, as because they said, by signs, that there was much gold in
Florida, the Governor and all the company were greatly rejoiced, and longed for
the hour of departure–that land appearing to them to be the richest of any
which until then had been discovered.23.



BEFORE our departure, the Governor deprived Nuño de Tobár
of the rank of Captain General, and conferred it on a resident of Cuba, Vasco
Porcallo de Figueroa, which caused the vessels to be well provisioned, he
giving a great many hogs and loads of caçabe bread. That was done because Nuño
de Tobár had made love to Doña Ysabel’s waiting-maid, daughter of the Governor
of Gomera; and though he had lost his place, yet, to return to Soto’s favour,
for she was with child by him, he took her to wife and went to Florida. Dona
Ysabel remained, and with her the wife of Don Carlos, of Baltasar de Gallegos,
and of Nuño de Tobár. The Governor left, as his lieutenant over the Island,
Juan de Rojas, a fidalgo of Havana24.

On Sunday, the 18th day of May, in the year 1539 the
Adelantado sailed from Havana with a fleet of nine vessels, five of them ships,
two caravels, two pinnaces; and he ran seven days with favourable weather. On
the 25th of the month, being the festival of Espiritu Santo, the land was seen,
and anchor cast a league from shore, because of the shoals. On Friday, the
30th, the army landed in Florida, two leagues from the town of an Indian chief
named Ucita. Two hundred and thirteen horses were set on shore, to unburden the
ships, that they should draw the less water; the seamen only remained on board,
who going up every day a little with the tide, the end of eight days brought
them near to the town.25.

So soon as the people were come to land, the camp was
pitched on the sea-side, nigh the bay, which goes up close to the town.
Presently the Captain-General, Vasco Porcallo, taking seven horsemen with him,
beat up the country half a league about, and discovered six Indians, who tried
to resist him with arrows, the weapons they are accustomed to use. The horsemen
killed two, and the four others escaped, the country being obstructed by bushes
and ponds, in which the horses bogged and fell, with their riders, of weakness
from the voyage. At night the Governor, with a hundred men in the pinnaces,
came upon a deserted town; for, so soon as the Christians appeared in sight of
land, they were descried, and all along on the coast many smokes were seen to
rise, which the Indians make to warn one another. The next day, Luis de
Moscoso, Master of the Camp, set the men in order. The horsemen he put in three
squadrons–the vanguard, battalion, and rearward; and thus they marched that
day and the next, compassing great creeks which run up from the bay; and on the
first of June, being Trinity Sunday, they arrived at the town of Ucita, where
the Governor tarried.26.

The town was of seven or eight houses, built of timber,
and covered with palm-leaves. The Chief’s house stood near the beach, upon a
very high mount made by hand for, on the top of which perched a wooden fowl
with gilded eyes, and within were found some pearls of small value, injured by
fire, such as the Indians pierce for beads, much esteeming them, and string to
wear about the neck and wrists. The Governor lodged in the house of the Chief,
and with him Vasco Porcallo and Luis de Moscoso; in other houses, midway in the
town, was lodged the Chief Castellan, Baltasar de Gallegos, where were set
apart the provisions brought in the vessels. The rest of the dwellings, with
the temple, were thrown down, and every mess of three or four soldiers made a
cabin, wherein they lodged. The ground about was very fenny, and encumbered
with dense thicket and high trees. The Governor ordered the woods to be felled
the distance of a crossbow-shot around the place, that the horses might run,
and the Christians have the advantage, should the Indians make an attack at
night. In the paths, and at proper points, sentinels of foot soldiers were set
in couples, who watched by turns; the horsemen, going the rounds, were ready to
support them should there be an alarm.27.

The Governor made four captains of horsemen and two of
footmen: those of the horse were André de Vasconcelos, Pedro Calderon of
Badajoz, and the two Cardenosas his kinsmen (Arias Tinoco and Alfonso Romo),
also natives of Badajoz; those of the foot were Francisco Maldonado of
Salamanca, and Juan Rodriguez Lobillo. While we were in this town of Ucita, the
Indians which Juan de Añasco had taken on that coast, and were with the
Governor as guides and interpreters, through the carelessness of two men who
had charge of them, got away one night. For this the Governor felt very sorry,
as did every one else; for some excursions had already been made, and no
Indians could be taken, the country being of very high and thick woods, and in
many places was marshy.28.



FROM the town of Ucita the Governor sent the Chief
Castellan, Baltasar de Gallegos, into the country, with forty horsemen and
eighty footmen, to procure an Indian if possible. In another direction he also
sent, for the same purpose, Captain Juan Rodriguez Lobillo, with fifty
infantry: the greater part were of sword and buckler; the remainder were
crossbow and gun men. The command of Lobillo marched over a swampy land, where
horses could not travel; and, half a league from camp, came upon some huts near
a river. The people in them plunged into the water; nevertheless, four women
were secured; and twenty warriors, who attacked our people, so pressed us that
we were forced to retire into camp.29.

The Indians are exceedingly ready with their weapons, and
so warlike and nimble, that they have no fear of footmen; for if these charge
them they flee, and when they turn their backs they are presently upon them.
They avoid nothing more easily than the flight of an arrow. They never remain
quiet, but are continually running, traversing from place to place, so that
neither crossbow nor arquebuse can be aimed at them. Before a Christian can
make a single shot with either, an Indian will discharge three or four arrows;
and he seldom misses of his object. Where the arrow meets with no armour, it
pierces as deeply as the shaft from a crossbow. Their bows are very perfect;
the arrows are made of certain canes, like reeds, very heavy, and so stiff that
one of them, when sharpened, will pass through a target. Some are pointed with
the bone of a fish, sharp and like a chisel; others with some stone like a
point of diamond: of such the greater number, when they strike upon armour,
break at the place the parts are put together; those of cane split, and will
enter a shirt of mail, doing more injury than when armed.30.

Juan Rodriguez Lobillo got back to camp with six men
wounded, of whom one died, and he brought with him the four women taken in the
huts, or cabins. When Baltasar de Gallegos came into the open field, he
discovered ten or eleven Indians, among whom was a Christian, naked and
sun-burnt, his arms tattooed after their manner, and he in no respect differing
from them. As soon as the horsemen came in sight, they ran upon the Indians,
who fled, hiding themselves in a thicket, though not before two or three of
them were overtaken and wounded. The Christian, seeing a horseman coming upon
him with a lance, began to cry out: “Do not kill me, cavalier; I am a
Christian! Do not slay these people; they have given me my life!” Directly he
called to the Indians, putting them out of fear, when they left the wood and
came to him. The horsemen took up the Christian and Indians behind them on
their beasts, and, greatly rejoicing, got back to the Governor at nightfall.
When he and the rest who had remained in camp heard the news, they were no less
pleased than the others.31.



THE name of the Christian was Juan Ortiz, a native of
Sevilla, and of noble parentage. He had been twelve years among the Indians,
having gone into the country with Panphilo de Narvaez, and returned in the
ships to the Island of Cuba, where the wife of the Governor remained; whence,
by her command, he went back to Florida, with some twenty or thirty others, in
a pinnace; and coming to the port in sight of the town, they saw a cane
sticking upright in the ground, with a split in the top, holding a letter,
which they supposed the Governor had left there, to give information of himself
before marching into the interior. They asked it, to be given to them, of four
or five Indians walking along the beach, who, by signs, bade them come to land
for it, which Ortiz and another did, though contrary to the wishes of the
others. No sooner had they got on shore, when many natives came out of the
houses, and, drawing near, held them in such way that they could not escape.
One, who would have defended himself, they slew on the spot; the other they
seized by the hands, and took him to Ucita, their Chief. The people in the
pinnace, unwilling to land, kept along the coast and returned to Cuba.32.

By command of Ucita, Juan Ortiz was bound hand and foot
to four stakes, and laid upon scaffolding, beneath which a fire was kindled,
that he might be burned; but a daughter of the Chief entreated that he might be
spared. Though one Christian, she said, might do no good, certainly he could do
no harm, and it would be an honour to have one for a captive; to which the
father acceded, directing the injuries to be healed. When Ortiz got well, he
was put to watching a temple, that the wolves, in the night-time, might not
carry off the dead there, which charge he took in hand, having commended
himself to God. One night they snatched away from him the body of a little
child, son of a principal man; and, going after them, he threw a dart at the
wolf that was escaping, which, feeling itself wounded, let go its hold, and
went off to die; and he returned, without knowing what he had done in the dark.
In the morning, finding the body of the little boy gone, he became very sober;
and Ucita, when he heard what had happened, determined he should be killed; but
having sent on the trail which Oritz pointed out as that the wolves had made,
the body of the child was found, and a little farther on a dead wolf; at which
circumstance the Chief became well pleased with the Christian, and satisfied
with the guard he had kept, ever after taking much notice of him.33.

Three years having gone by since he had fallen into the
hands of this Chief, there came another, named Mocoço, living two days’ journey
distant from that port, and burnt the town, when Ucita fled to one he had in
another seaport, whereby Ortiz lost his occupation, and with it the favour of
his master. The Indians are worshippers of the Devil, and it is their custom to
make sacrifices of the blood and bodies of their people, or of those of any
other they can come by; and they affirm, too, that when he would have them make
an offering, he speaks, telling them that he is athirst, and that they must
sacrifice to him. The girl who had delivered Ortiz from the fire, told him how
her father had the mind to sacrifice him the next day, and that he must flee to
Mocoço, who she knew would receive him with regard, as she had heard that he
had asked for him, and said he would like to see him: and as he knew not the
way, she went half a league out of town with him at dark, to put him on the
road, returning early so as not to be missed.34.

Ortiz travelled all night, and in the morning came to a
river, the boundary of the territory of Mocoço, where he discovered two men
fishing. As this people were at war with those of Ucita, and their languages
different, he did not know how he should be able to tell them who he was, and
why he came, or make other explanation, that they might not kill him as one of
the enemy. It was not, however, until he had come up to where their arms were
placed that he was discovered, when they fled towards the town; and though he
called out to them to wait, that he would do them no injury, they only ran the
faster for not understanding him. As they arrived, shouting, many Indians came
out of the town, and began surrounding, in order to shoot him with their
arrows, when he, finding himself pressed, took shelter behind trees, crying
aloud that he was a Christian fled from Ucita, come to visit and serve Mocoço.
At the moment, it pleased God that an Indian should come up, who, speaking the
language, understood him and quieted the others, telling them what was said.
Three or four ran to carry the news, when the Cacique, much gratified, came a
quarter of a league on the way to receive him. He caused the Christian
immediately to swear to him, according to the custom of his country, that he
would not leave him for any other master; and, in return, he promised to show
him much honour, and if at any time Christians should come to that land, he
would let him go freely, and give him his permission to return to them,
pledging his oath to this after the Indian usage. Three years from that time,
some people fishing out at sea, three leagues from land, brought news of having
seen ships; when Mocoço, calling Ortiz, gave him permission to depart, who,
taking leave, made all haste possible to the shore, where, finding no vessels,
he supposed the story to be only a device of the Cacique to discover his
inclination. In this way he remained with him nine years, having little hope of
ever seeing Christians more; but no sooner had the arrival of the Governor in
Florida taken place, when it was known to Mocoço, who directly told Ortiz that
Christians were in the town of Ucita. The captive, thinking himself jested
with, as he had supposed himself to be before, said that his thoughts no longer
dwelt on his people, and that his only wish now was to serve him. Still the
Cacique assured him that it was even as he stated, and gave him leave to go,
telling him that if he did not, and the Christians should depart, he must not
blame him, for he had fulfilled his promise.35.

Great was the joy of Ortiz at this news, though still
doubtful of its truth; however, he thanked Mocoço, and went his way. A dozen
principal Indians were sent to accompany him; and on their way to the port,
they met Baltasar de Gallegos, in the manner that has been related. Arrived at
the camp, the Governor ordered that apparel be given to him, good armour, and a
fine horse. When asked if he knew of any country where there was either gold or
silver, he said that he had not been ten leagues in any direction from where he
lived; but that thirty leagues distant was a chief named Paracoxi, to whom
Mocoço, Ucita, and all they that dwelt along the coast paid tribute, and that
he perhaps had knowledge of some good country, as his land was better than
theirs, being more fertile, abounding in maize. Hearing this, the Governor was
well pleased, and said he only desired to find subsistence, that he might be
enabled to go inland with safety; for that Florida was so wide, in some part or
other of it, there could not fail to be a rich country. The Cacique of Mocoço
came to the port, and calling on the Governor, he thus; spoke:36.


Though less able, I believe, to serve you than the
least of these under your control, but with the wish to do more than even the
greatest of them can accomplish, I appear before you in the full confidence of
receiving your favour, as much as though I deserved it, not in requital of the
trifling service I rendered in setting free the Christian while he was in my
power, which I did, not for the sake of my honour and of my promise, but
because I hold that great men should be liberal. As much as in your bodily
perfections you exceed all, and in your command over fine men are you superior
to others, so in your nature are you equal to the full enjoyment of earthly
things. The favour I hope for, great Lord, is that you will hold me to be your
own, calling on me freely to do whatever may be your wish. 37.

The Governor answered him, that although it were true,
in freeing and sending him the Christian, he had done no more than to keep his
word and preserve his honour, nevertheless he thanked him for an act so
valuable, that there was no other for him that could `be compared to it, and
that, holding him henceforth to be a brother, he should in all, and through
all, favour him. Then a shirt and some other articles of clothing were directed
to be given to the Chief, who, thankfully receiving them, took leave and went
to his town.38.



FROM the port of Espiritu Santo, where the Governor was,
he sent the Chief Castellan, with fifty cavalry and thirty or forty infantry,
to the Province of Paracoxi, to observe the character of the country, inquire
of that farther on, and to let him hear by message of what he should discover;
he also sent the vessels to Cuba, that, at an appointed time, they might return
with provisions. As the principal object of Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa in
coming to Florida had been to get slaves for his plantation and mines, finding,
after some incursions, that no seizures could be made, because of dense forest
and extensive bogs, he determined to go back to Cuba; and in consequence of
that resolution, there grow up such a difference between him and’ Soto, that
neither of them treated nor spoke to the other kindly. Still, with words of
courtesy, he asked permission of him to return, and took his leave.39.

Baltasar de Gallegos, having arrived at Paracoxi, thirty
Indians came to him on the part of the absent Cacique, one of whom said: “King
Paracoxi, lord of this Province, whose vassals we are, sends us to ask of you
what it is you seek in his country, and in what he can serve you;” to which
the Chief Castellan replied, that he much thanked the Cacique for his proffer,
and bade them tell him to return to his town, where they would talk together of
a peace and friendship he greatly desired to establish. They went off, and came
again. the next day, reporting that as their lord could not appear, being very
unwell, they had come in his stead to see what might be wanted. They were asked
if they had knowledge or information of any country where gold and silver might
be found in plenty; to which they answered yes; that towards the sunset was a
Province called Cale, the inhabitants of which were at war with those of
territories where the greater portion of the year was summer, and where there
was so much gold, that when the people came to make war upon those of Cale,
they wore golden hats like casques.40.

As the Cacique had not come, Gallegos, reflecting,
suspected the message designed for delay, that he might put himself in a
condition of safety; and fearing that, if those men were suffered to depart,
they might never return, he ordered them to be chained together, and sent the
news to camp by eight men on horseback. The Governor, hearing what had passed,
showed great pleasure, as did the rest who were with him, believing what the
Indians said might be true. He left thirty cavalry and seventy infantry at the
port, with provisions for two years, under command of Captain Calderon,
marching with the others inland to Paracoxi; thence, having united with the
force already there, he passed through a small town named Acela, and came to
another called Tocaste, whence he advanced with fifty of foot and thirty horse
towards Cale; and having gone through an untenanted town, some natives were
seen in a lake, to whom having spoken by an interpreter, they came out and gave
him a guide. From there he went to a river of powerful current, in the midst of
which was a tree, whereon they made a bridge. Over this the people passed in
safety, the horses being crossed swimming to a hawser, by which they were drawn
to the other bank, the first that entered the water having been drowned for the
want of one.41.

The Governor sent two men on horseback, with word to
those in the rear that they should advance rapidly, for that the way was
becoming toilsome and the provisions were short. He came to Cale and found the
town abandoned; but he seized three spies, and tarried there until the people
should arrive, they travelling hungry and on bad roads, the country being very
thin of maize, low, very wet, pondy, and thickly covered with trees. Where
there were inhabitants, some watercresses could be found, which they who
arrived first would gather, and, cooking them in water with salt, ate them
without other thing; and they who could get none, would seize the stalks of
maize and eat them, the ear, being young, as yet containing no grain. Having
come to the river, which the Governor had passed, they got cabbage from the low
palmetto growing there, like that of Andalusia. There they were met by the
messengers, who, reporting a great deal of maize in Cale, gave much

While the people should be coming up, the Governor
ordered all the ripe grain in the fields, enough for three months, to be
secured. In gathering it three Christians were slain. 43.

One of two Indians who were made prisoners stated that
seven days’ journey distant was a large Province, abounding in maize, called
Apalache. Presently’ with fifty cavalry and sixty infantry, he set out from
Cale, leaving Luis de Moscoso, the Field Marshal, in command, with directions
not to move until he should be ordered. Up to that time, no one had been able
to get servants who should make his bread; and the method being to beat out the
maize in log mortars with a one-handed pestle of wood, some also sifting the
flour afterward through their shirts of mail, the process was found so
laborious, that many, rather than crush the grain, preferred to eat it parched
and sodden. The mass was baked in clay dishes, set over fire, in the manner
that I have described as done in Cuba.44.



ON the eleventh day of August, in the year 1539, the
Governor left Cale, and arrived to sleep at a small town called Ytara, and the
next day at another called Potano, and the third at Utinama, and then at
another named Malapaz. This place was so called because one, representing
himself to be its Cacique, came peacefully, saying that he wished to serve the
Governor with his people, and asked that he would cause the twenty-eight men
and women, prisoners taken the night before, to be set at liberty; that
provisions should be brought, and that he would furnish a guide for the country
in advance of us; whereupon, the Governor having ordered the prisoners to be
let loose, and the Indian put under guard, the next day in the morning came
many natives close to a scrub surrounding the town, near which the prisoner
asked to be taken, that he might speak and satisfy them, as they would obey in
whatever he commanded; but no sooner had he found himself close to them, than
he boldly started away, and fled so swiftly that no one could overtake him,
going off with the rest into the woods. The Governor ordered a bloodhound,
already fleshed upon him, to be let loose, which, passing by many, seized upon
the faithless Cacique, and held him until the Christians had come up.45.

From this town the people went to sleep at the one of
Cholupaha, which, for its abundance of maize, received the name of Villafarta;
thence, crossing a river before it, by a bridge they had made of wood, the
Christians marched two days through an uninhabited country.46.

On the seventeenth day of August they arrived at
Caliquen, where they heard of the Province of Apalache, of Narvaez having been
there and embarked, because no road was to be found over which to go forward,
and of there being no other town, and that water was on all sides. Every mind
was depressed at this information, and all counselled the Governor to go back
to the port, that they might not be lost, as Narvaez had been, and to leave the
land of Florida; that, should they go further, they might not be able to get
back, as the little maize that was yet left the Indians would secure: to which
Soto replied, that he would never return until he had seen with his own eyes
what was asserted, things that to him appeared incredible. Then he ordered us
to be in readiness for the saddle. sending word to Luis de Moscoso to advance
from Cale, that he waited for him; and, as in the judgment of the Field
Marshal, and of many others, they should have to return from Apalache, they
buried in Cale some iron implements with other things. They reached Caliquen
through much suffering; for the land over which the Governor had marched lay
wasted and was without maize.47.

All the people having come up, a bridge was ordered to be
made over a river that passed near the town, whereon we crossed, the tenth day
of September, taking with us the Cacique. When three days on our journey, some
Indians arrived to visit their lord; and every day they came out to the road,
playing upon flutes, a token among them that they come in peace. They stated
that further on there was a Cacique named Uzachil, kinsman of the Chief of
Caliquen, their lord, who waited the arrival of the Governor, prepared to do
great services; and they besought them to set their Cacique free, which he
feared to do, lest they should go off without giving him any guides; so he got
rid of them from day to day with specious excuses.48.

We marched five days, passing through some small towns,
and arrived at Napetaca on the fifteenth day of September, where we found
fourteen or fifteen Indians who begged for the release of the Cacique of
Caliquen, to whom the Governor declared that their lord was no prisoner, his
attendance being wished only as far as Uzachil. Having learned from Juan Ortiz,
to whom a native had made it known, that the Indians had determined to assemble
and fall upon the Christians, for the recovery of their Chief, the Governor, on
the day for which the attack was concerted, commanded his men to be in
readiness, the cavalry to be armed and on horseback, each one so disposed of in
his lodge as not to be seen of the Indians, that they might come to the town
without reserve. Four hundred warriors, with bows and arrows, appeared in sight
of the camp; and, going into a thicket, they sent two of their number to demand
the Cacique: the Governor, with six men on foot, taking the Chief by the hand,
conversing with him the while to assure the Indians, went towards the place
where they were, when, finding the moment propitious, he ordered a trumpet to
be sounded: directly, they who were in the houses, foot as well as horse, set
upon the natives, who, assailed unexpectedly, thought only of their safety. Of
two horses killed, one was that of the Governor, who was mounted instantly on
another. From thirty to forty natives fell by the lance; the rest escaped into
two very large ponds, situated some way apart, wherein they swam about; and,
being surrounded by the Christians, they were shot at with crossbow and
arquebuse, although to no purpose, because of the long distance they were

At night, one of the lakes was ordered to be guarded, the
people not being sufficient to encircle both. The Indians, in attempting to
escape in the dark, would come swimming noiselessly to the shore, with a leaf
of water lily on the head, that they might pass unobserved; when those mounted,
at sight of any ruffle on the surface, would dash into the water up to the
breasts of the horses, and the natives would again retire. In such way passed
the night, neither party taking any rest. Juan Ortiz told them that, as escape
was impossible, they would do well to give up; which they did, driven by
extreme chillness of the water; and one after another, as cold overpowered,
called out to him, asking not to be killed–that he was coming straightway to
put himself in the hands of the Governor. At four o’clock in the morning they
had all surrendered, save twelve of the principal men, who, as of more
distinction and valiant than the rest, preferred to die rather than yield: then
the Indians of Paracoxi, who were going about unshackled, went in after them,
swimming, and pulled them out by the hair. They were all put in chains, and, on
the day following, were divided among the Christians for their service.50.

While captives, these men determined to rebel, and gave
the lead to an interpreter, one reputed brave, that when the Governor might
come near to speak with him, he should strangle him; but no sooner was the
occasion presented, and before his hands could be thrown about the neck of
Soto, his purpose was discovered, and he received so heavy a blow from him in
the nostrils, that they gushed with blood. The Indians all rose together. He
who could only catch up a, pestle from a mortar, as well he who could grasp a
weapon, equally exerted himself to kill his master, or the first one he met;
and he whose fortune it was to light on a lance, or a sword, handled it in a
manner as though he had been accustomed to use it all his days. One Indian, in
the public yard of the town, with blade in hand, fought like a bull in the.
arena, until the halberdiers of the Governor, arriving, put an end to him.
Another got up, with a lance, into a maize crib, made of cane, called by
Indians barbacoa, and defended the entrance with the uproar of ten men, until
he was stricken down with a battle-axe. They who were subdued may have been in
all two hundred men: some of the youngest the Governor gave to those who had
good chains and were vigilant; all the rest were ordered to execution, and,
being bound to a post in the middle of the town yard, they were shot to death
with arrows by the people of Paracoxi.51.



ON the twenty-third day of September the Governor left
Napetaca, and went to rest at a river, where two Indians brought him a deer
from the Cacique of Uzachil; and the next day, having passed through a large
town called Hapaluya, he slept at Uzachil. He found no person there; for the
inhabitants, informed of the deaths at Napetaca, dared not remain. In the town
was found their food, much maize, beans, and pumpkins, on which the Christians
lived. The maize is like coarse millet; the pumpkins are better and more
savoury than those of Spain.52.

Two captains having been sent in opposite directions, in
quest of Indians, a hundred men and women were taken, one or two of whom were
chosen out for the Governor, as was always customary for officers to do after
successful inroads, dividing the others among themselves and companions. They
were led off in chains, with collars about the neck, to carry luggage and grind
corn, doing the labour proper to servants. Sometimes it happened that, going
with them for wood or maize, they would kill the Christian. and flee. with the
chain on, which others would file at night with a splinter of stone, in the
place of iron, at which work, when caught, they were punished, as a warning to
others, and that they might not do the like. The women and youths, when removed
a hundred leagues from their country, no longer cared, and were taken along
loose, doing the work, and in a very little time learning the Spanish

From Uzachil the Governor went towards Apalache, and at
the end of two days’ travel arrived at a town called Axille. After that, the
Indians having no knowledge of the Christians, they were come upon unawares,
the greater part escaping, nevertheless, because there were woods near town.
The next day, the first of October, the Governor took his departure in the
morning, and ordered a bridge to be made over a river which he had to cross.
The depth there, for a stone’s throw? was over the head, and afterward the
water came to the waist, for the distance of a crossbow-shot, where was a
growth of tall and dense forest, into which the Indians came, to ascertain if
they could assail the men at work and prevent a passage; but they were
dispersed by the arrival of crossbow-men, and some timbers being thrown in, the
men gained the opposite side and secured the way. On the fourth day of the
week, Wednesday of St. Francis, the Governor crossed over and reached
Uitachuco, a town subject to Apalache, where he slept. He found it burning, the
Indians having set it on fire.54.

Thenceforward the country was well inhabited, producing
much corn, the way leading by many habitations like villages. Sunday, the
twenty-fifth of October, he arrived at the town of Uzela, and on Monday at
Anhayca Apalache, where the lord of all that country and Province resided. The
Camp-master, whose duty it is to divide and lodge the men, quartered them about
the town, at the distance of half a league to a league apart. There were other
towns which had much maize, pumpkins, beans, and dried plums of the country,
whence were brought together at Anhayca Apalache what appeared to be sufficient
provision for the winter. These ameixas are better than those of Spain, and
come from trees that grow in the fields without being planted.55.

Informed that the sea was eight leagues distant, the
Governor directly sent a captain thither, with cavalry and infantry, who found
a town called Ochete, eight leagues on the way; and, coming to the coast, he
saw where a great tree had been felled, the trunk split up into stakes, and
with the limbs made into mangers. He found also the skulls of horses. With
these discoveries he returned, and what was said of Narvaez was believed to be
certain, that he had there made boats, in which he left the country, and was
lost in them at sea. Presently Juan de Añasco made ready to go to the port of
Espiritu Santo, taking thirty cavalry, with orders from the Governor to
Calderon, who had remained there, that he should abandon the town, and bring
all the people to Apalache.56.

In Uzachil, and other towns on the way, Añasco found many
people who had already become careless; still, to avoid detention, no captures
were made, as it was not well to give the Indians sufficient time to come
together. He went through the towns at night, stopping at a distance from the
population for three or four hours, to rest, and at the end of ten days arrived
at the port. He dispatched two caravels to Cuba, in which he sent to Dona
Ysabel twenty women brought by him from Ytara and Potano, near Cale; and,
taking with him the foot-soldiers in the brigantines, from point to point along
the coast by sea, he went towards Palache. Calderon with the cavalry, and some
crossbow-men of foot, went by land. The Indians at several places beset him,
and wounded some of the men. On his arrival, the Governor ordered planks and
spikes to be taken to the coast for building a piragua, into which thirty men
entered well armed from the bay, going to and coming from sea, waiting the
arrival of the brigantines, and sometimes fighting with the natives, who went
up and down the estuary in canoes. On Saturday, the twenty-ninth of November,
in a high wind, an Indian passed through the sentries undiscovered, and set
fire to the town, two portions of which, in consequence, were instantly

On Sunday, the twenty-eighth of December, Juan de Añasco
arrived; and the Governor directed Francisco Maldonado, Captain of Infantry, to
run the coast to the westward with fifty men, and look for an entrance;
proposing to go himself in that direction by land on discoveries. The same day,
eight men rode two leagues about the town in pursuit of Indians, who had become
so bold that they would venture up within two crossbow-shot of the camp to kill
our people. Two were discovered engaged in picking beans, and might have
escaped, but a woman being present, the wife of one of them, they stood to
fight. Before they could be killed, three horses were wounded, one of which
died in a few days. Calderon going along the coast near by, the Indians came
out against him from a wood, driving him from his course, and capturing from
many of his company a part of their indispensable subsistence.58.

Three or four days having elapsed beyond the time set for
the going and return of Maldonado, the Governor resolved that, should he not
appear at the end of eight days, he would go thence and wait no longer; when
the Captain arrived, bringing with him an Indian from a Province called Ochus,
sixty leagues from Apalache, and the news of having found a sheltered port with
a good depth of water. The Governor was highly pleased, hoping to find a good
country ahead; and he sent Maldonado to Havana for provisions, with which to
meet him at that port of his discovery, to which he would himself come by land;
but should he not reach there that summer, then he directed him to go back to
Havana and return there the next season to await him, as he would make it his
express object to march in quest of Ochus.59.

Francisco Maldonado went, and Juan de Guzman remained
instead, Captain of his infantry. Of the Indians taken in Napetuca, the
treasurer, Juan Gaytan, brought a youth with him, who stated that he did not
belong to that country, hut to one afar in the direction of the sun’s rising,
from which he had been a long time absent visiting other lands; that its name
was Yupaha, and was governed by a woman, the town she lived in being of
astonishing size, and many neighbouring lords her tributaries, some of whom
gave her clothing, others gold in quantity. He showed how the metal was taken
from the earth, melted, and refined, exactly as though he had seen it all done,
or else the Devil had taught him how it was; so that they who knew aught of
such matters declared it impossible that he could give that account without
having been an eye-witness; and they who beheld the signs he made credited all
that was understood as certain.60.



ON Wednesday, the third of March, in the year 1540, the
Governor left Anhayca Apalache to seek Yupaha. He had ordered his men to go
provided with maize for a march through sixty leagues of desert. The cavalry
carried their grain on the horses, and the infantry theirs on the back; because
the Indians they brought with them for service, being naked and in chains, had
perished in great part during the winter. On the fourth day of the journey they
arrived at a deep river, where a piragua was made; and, in consequence of the
violence of the current, a cable of chains was extended from shore to shore,
along which the beat passed, and the horses were drawn over, swimming thereto,
by means of a windlass to the other side.61.

A day and a half afterwards, they arrived at a town by
the name of Capachiqui, and on Friday, the eleventh, the inhabitants were found
to have gone off The following day, five Christians, going in the rear of the
camp to search for mortars, in which the natives beat maize, went to some
houses surrounded by a thicket, where many Indians lurked as spies, an equal
number of whom, separating from the rest, set upon our men, one of whom fled
back, crying out to arms. When they who could first answer to the call reached
the spot, they found one of the Christians killed, and the three others badly
wounded, the Indians fleeing into a sheet of water, full of woods, into which
the horses could not go. The Governor left Capachiqui, passing through a
desert; and on Wednesday, the twenty-first Of the month, came to Toalli.62.

The houses of this town were different from those behind,
which were covered with dry grass; thenceforward they were roofed with cane,
after the fashion of tile. They are kept very clean: some have their sides so
made of clay as to look like tapia. Throughout the cold country every Indian
has a winter house, plastered inside and out, with a very small door, which is
closed at dark, and a fire being made within, it remains heated like’ an oven,
so that clothing is not needed during the night-time. He has likewise a house
for summer, and near it a kitchen, where fire is made and bread baked. Maize is
kept in barbacoa, which is a house with wooden sides, like a room, raised aloft
on four posts, and has a floor of cane. The difference between the houses of
the masters, or principal men, and those of the common people is, besides being
larger than the others, they have deep balconies on the front side, with cane
seats, like benches; and about are many barbacoas in which they bring together
the tribute their people give them of maize, skins of deer, and blankets of the
country. These are like shawls, some of them made from the inner bark of trees,
and others of a grass resembling nettle, which, by treading out, becomes like
flax. The women use them for covering, wearing one about the body from the
waist downward, and another over the shoulder, with the right arm left free,
after the manner of the Gypsies: the men wear but one, which they carry over
the shoulder in the same way, the loins being covered with a bragueiro of
deer-skin, after the fashion of the woollen breech-cloth that was once the
custom of Spain. The skins are well dressed, the colour being given to them
that is wished, and in such perfection, that, when of vermilion, they look like
very fine red broadcloth; and when black, the sort in use for shoes, they are
of the purest. The same hues are given to blankets.63.

The Governor left Toalli on the twenty-fourth day of
March, and arrived on Thursday, in the evening, at a little stream where a
small bridge was made, and the people passed to the opposite side. Benito
Fernandes, a Portugues, fell off from it, and was drowned. So soon as the
Governor had crossed, he found a town, a short way on, by the name of Achese,
the people of which, having had no knowledge of the Christians, plunged into a
river; nevertheless, some men and women were taken, among whom was found one
who understood the youth, the guide to Yupaha, which rather confirmed what he
stated, as they had come through regions speaking different languages, some of
which he did not understand. By one of the Indians taken there, the Governor
sent to call the Cacique from the farther side of the river, who, having come
to him, thus spoke:64.


The things that seldom happen bring astonishment.
Think, then, what must be the effect on me and mine, the sight of you and your
people, whom we have at no time seen, astride the fierce brutes, your horses,
entering with such speed and fury into my country, that we had no tidings of
your coming –things so altogether new, as to strike awe and terror to our
hearts, which it was not nature to resist, so that we should receive you with
the sobriety due to so kingly and famous a lord. Trusting to your greatness and
personal qualities, I hope no fault will be found in me, and that I shall
rather receive favours, of which one is that with my person, my country, and my
vassals, you will do as with your own things; and another, that you tell me who
you are, whence you come, whither you go, and what it is you seek, that I may
the better serve you. 65.

The Governor responded, that he greatly thanked him for
his good-will, as much so as though he had given him a great treasure. He told
him that he was the child of the Sun, coming from its abode, and that he was
going about the country, seeking for the greatest prince there, and the richest
province. The Cacique stated that farther on was a great lord, whose territory
was called Ocute. He gave him a guide, who understood the language, to conduct
him thither; and the Governor commanded his subjects to be released. A high
cross, made of wood, was set up in the middle of the town-yard; and, as time
did not allow more to be done, the Indians were instructed that it was put
there to commemorate the suffering of Christ, who was God and man; that he had
created the skies and the earth, and had suffered for the salvation of all, and
therefore that they should revere that sign; and they showed by their manner
that they would do so.66.

The Governor set out on the first day of April, and
advanced through the country of the Chief, along up a river, the shores of
which were very populous. On the fourth he went through the town of Altamaca,
and on the tenth arrived at Ocute. The Cacique sent him a present, by two
thousand Indians, of many conies and partridges, maize bread, many dogs, and
two turkeys. On account of the scarcity of meat, the dogs were as much esteemed
by the Christians as though they had been fat sheep. There was such want of
salt also, that oftentimes, in many places, a sick man having nothing for his
nourishment, and was wasting away to bone, of some ail that elsewhere might
have found a remedy, when sinking under pure debility he would say: “Now, if I
had but a slice of meat, or only a few lumps of salt, I should not thus

The Indians never lacked meat. With arrows they get
abundance of deer, turkeys, conies, and other wild animals, being very skilful
in killing game, which the Christians were not; and even if they had been,
there was not the opportunity for it, they being on the march the greater part
of their time; nor did they, besides, ever dare to straggle off. Such was the
craving for meat, that when the six hundred men who followed Soto arrived at a
town, and found there twenty or thirty dogs, he who could get sight of one and
kill him, thought he had done no little; and he who proved himself so active,
if his Captain knew of it, and he forgot to send him a quarter, would show his
displeasure, and make him feel it in the watches, or in any matter of labour
that came along, with which he could bear upon him.68.

On Monday, the twelfth of April, the Governor took his
departure, the Cacique of Ocute giving him four hundred tamemes, the Indians
that carry burdens. He passed through a town, the lord of which was called
Cofaqui, and came to the province of another, named Patofa, who, being at peace
with the Chief of Ocute and other neighbouring lords, had heard of the Governor
for a long time, and desired to see him. He went to call on him, and made this


Not without reason, now, will I ask that some light
mishap befall me, in return for so great good fortune, and deem my lot a happy
one; since I have come to what I most wished in life, to behold and have the
opportunity in some way to serve you. Thus the tongue casts the shadow of the
thought; but I, nevertheless, am as unable to produce the perfect image of my
feelings as to control the appearances of my contentment. BY what circumstance
has this your land, which I govern, deserved to be seen by one so superior and
excellent that all on earth should obey and serve as prince. And those who here
inhabit being so insignificant, how can they forget, in receiving this vast
enjoyment, that, in the order of things, will follow upon it some great
adversity? If we are held worthy of being yours, we can never be other than
favoured, nor less than protected in whatsoever is reasonable and just; for
they that fail of deserving either, with the name of men can only be considered
brutes. From the depth of my heart, and with the respect due to such a chief, I
make mine offer; and pray that, in return for so sincere good-will, you dispose
of me, my country, and my vassals. 70.

The Governor answered that his offers and good-will,
shown in works, would greatly please him, and which he should ever bear in
memory to honour and favour him as he would a brother. From this Province of
Patofa, back to the first Cacique we found at peace, a distance of fifty
leagues, the country is abundant, picturesque, and luxuriant, well watered, and
having good river margins; thence to the harbour of Espiritu Santo, where we
first arrived, the land of Florida, which may be three hundred leagues in
length, a little more or less, is light, the greater part of it of pine-trees,
and low, having many ponds; and in places are high and dense forest, into which
the Indians that were hostile betook themselves, where they could not be found;
nor could horses enter there, which, to the Christians, was the loss of the
food they carried away, and made it troublesome to get guides.71.



IN the town of Patofa, the youth, whom the Governor
brought with him for guide and interpreter, began to froth at the mouth, and
threw himself on the ground as if he were possessed of the Devil. An exorcism
being said over him, the fit went off. He stated that four days’ journey from
there, towards the sunrise, was the Province he spoke of: the Indians at Patofa
said that they knew of no dwellings in that direction, but that towards the
northwest there was a province called Coça, a plentiful country having very
large towns. The Cacique told the Governor that if he desired to go thither he
would give him a guide and Indians to carry burdens, and if he would go in the
direction pointed out by the youth, he would furnish him with everything
necessary for that also.72.

With words of love, and tendering each other services,
they parted, the Governor receiving seven hundred tamemes. He took maize for
the consumption of four days, and marched by a road that, gradually becoming
less, on the sixth day it disappeared. Led by the youth, they forded two
rivers, each the breadth of two shots of a crossbow, the water rising to the
stirrups of the saddles, and passing in a current so powerful, that it became
necessary for those on horseback to stand one before another, that they on
foot, walking near, might cross along above them: then came to another of a
more violent current, and larger, which was got over with more difficulty, the
horses swimming for a lance’s length at the coming out, into a pine-grove. The
Governor menaced the youth, motioning that he would throw him to the dogs for
having lied to him in saying that it was four days’ journey, whereas they had
travelled nine, each day of seven or eight leagues; and that the men and horses
had become very thin, because of the sharp economy practised with the maize.
The youth declared that he knew not where he was. Fortunately for him, at the
time, there was not another whom Juan Ortez understood, or he would have been
cast to the dogs.73.

The Governor, leaving the camp among the pine-trees,
marched that day, with some cavalry and infantry, five or six leagues, looking
for a path, and came back at night very cast down, not having found any sign of
inhabitants. The next day there was a variety of opinion about the course
proper to take, whether to return or do otherwise. The country through which
they had come remained wasted and without maize; the grain they had so far
brought with them was spent; the beasts, like the men, were become very lean;
and it was held very doubtful whether relief was anywhere to be found:
moreover, it was the opinion that they might be beaten by any Indians
whatsoever who should venture to attack them, so that continuing thus, whether
by hunger or in strife, they must inevitably be overcome. The Governor
determined to send thence in all directions or horseback, in quest of
habitations; and the next day he dispatched four captains to as many points,
with eight of cavalry to each, They came back at night leading their beasts by
the bridle, unable to carry their masters, or driven before them with sticks,
having found no road, nor any sign of a settlement. He sent other four again
the next day, with eight of cavalry apiece, men who could swim, that they might
cross any ponds and rivers in the way, the horses being chosen of the best that
were; Baltasar de Gallegos ascending by the river, Juan de Añasco going down
it, Alfonso Romo and Juan Rodriguez Lobillo striking into the country.74.

The Governor had brought thirteen sows to Florida, which
had increased to three hundred swine; and the maize having failed for three or
four days, he ordered to be killed daily, for each man, half a pound of pork,
on which small allowance, and some boiled herbs, the people with much
difficulty lived. There being no food to give to the Indians of Patofa, they
were dismissed, though they still wished to keep with the Christians in their
extremity, and showed great regret at going back before leaving them in a
peopled country. Juan de Añasco came in on Sunday, in the afternoon, bringing
with him a woman and a youth he had taken, with the report that he had found a
small town twelve or thirteen leagues off; at which the Governor and his people
were as much delighted as though they had been raised from death to live.75.

On Monday, the twenty-sixth of April, the Governor set
out for Aymay, a town to which the Christians gave the name of Socorro. At the
foot of a tree, in the camp, they buried a paper, and in the bark, with a
hatchet, they cut these words: “Dig here; at the root of this pine you will
find a letter;” and this was so fixed that the Captains, who had gone in quest
of an inhabited country, should learn what the Governor had done and the
direction he had taken. There was no other road than the one Juan de Añasco had
made moving along through the woods.76.

On Monday the Governor arrived at the town, with those
the best mounted, all riding the hardest possible; some sleeping two leagues
off, others three and four, each as he was able to travel and his strength held
out. A barbacoa was found full of parched meal and some maize, which were
distributed by allowance. Four Indians were taken, not one of whom would say
any thing else than that he knew of no other town. The Governor ordered one of
them to be burned; and thereupon another said, that two days’ journey from
there was a province called Cutifachiqui.77.

On Wednesday the three Captains came up: they had found
the letter and followed on after the rest. From the command of Juan Rodriguez
two men remained behind, their horses having given out, for which the Governor
reprimanded him severely, and sent him to bring them. While they should be
coming on he set out for Cutifachiqui, capturing three Indians in the road, who
stated that the mistress of that country had already information of the
Christians, and was waiting for them in a town. He sent to her by one of them,
offering his friendship and announcing his approach. Directly as the Governor
arrived, four canoes came towards him, in one of which was a kinswoman of the
Cacica, who, coming near, addressed him in these words:78.


My sister sends me to salute you, and to say, that the
reason why she has not come in person is, that she has thought to serve you
better by remaining to give orders on the other shore; and that, in a short
time, her canoes will all be here, in readiness to conduct you thither, where
you may take your repose and be obeyed. 79.

The Governor thanked her, and she returned to cross the
river. After a little time the Cacica came out of the town, seated in a chair,
which some principal men having borne. to the bank, she entered a canoe. Over
the stern was spread an awning, and in the bottom lay extended a mat where were
two cushions, one above the other, upon which she sate; and she was accompanied
by her chief men, in other canoes, with Indians. She approached the spot where
the Governor was, and, being arrived, thus addressed him:80.


Be this coming to these your shores most happy. My
ability can in no way equal my wishes, nor my services become the merits of so
great a prince; nevertheless, good wishes are to be valued more than all the
treasures of the earth without them. With sincerest and purest good-will I
tender you my person, my lands, my people, and make you these small gifts. 81.

The Cacica presented much clothing of the country, from
the shawls and skins that came in the other boats; and drawing from over her
head a large string of pearls, she threw them about his neck, exchanging with
him many gracious words of friendship and courtesy. She directed that canoes
should come to the spot, whence the Governor and his people passed to the
opposite side of the river. So soon as he was lodged in the town, a great many
turkeys were sent to him. The country was delightful and fertile, having good
interval lands upon the streams; the forest was open, with abundance of walnut
and mulberry trees. The sea was stated to be two days’ travel. About the place,
from half a league to a league off, were large vacant towns, grown up in grass,
that appeared as if no people had lived in them for a long time. The Indians
said that, two years before, there had been a pest in the land, and the
inhabitants had moved away to other towns. In the barbacoas were large
quantities of clothing, shawls of thread, made from the bark of trees, and
others of feathers, white, gray, vermilion, and yellow, rich and proper for
winter. There were also many well-dressed deer-skins, of colours drawn over
with designs, of which had been made shoes, stockings, and hose. The Cacica,
observing that the Christians valued pearls, told the Governor that, if he
should order some sepulchres that were in the town to be searched, he would
find many; and if he chose to send to those that were in the uninhabited towns,
he might load all his horses with them. They examined those in the town, and
found three hundred and fifty pounds’ weight of pearls, and figures of babies
and birds made of them.82.

The inhabitants are brown of skin, well formed and
proportioned. They are more civilized than any people seen in all the
territories of Florida, wearing clothes and shoes. This country, according to
what the Indians stated, had been very populous. It appeared that the youth who
was the guide had heard of it; and what was told him he declared to have seen,
and magnified such parts as he chose, to suit his pleasure. He told the
Governor that they had begun to enter upon the country he had spoken to him
about, which, because of its appearance, with his being able to understand the
language of the people, gained for him some credit He wished to become a
Christian, and asked to be baptized, which was done, he receiving the name of
Pedro; and the Governor commanded the chain to be struck off that he had
carried until then.83.

In the town were found a dirk and beads that had
belonged to Christians, who, the Indians said, had many years before been in
the port, distant two days’ journey. He that had been there was the
Governor-licentiate Ayllon, who came to conquer the land, and, on arriving at
the port, died, when there followed divisions and murders among the chief
personages, in quarrels as to who should command; and thence, without knowing
any thing of the country, they went back to Spain.84.

To all it appeared well to make a settlement there, the
point being a favourable one, to which could come all the ships from New Spain,
Peru, Sancta Marta, and Tierra-Firme, going to Spain; because it is in the way
thither, is a good country, and one fit in which to raise supplies; but Soto,
as it was his object to find another treasure like that of Atabalipa, lord of
Peru, would not be content with good lands nor pearls, even though many of them
were worth their weight in gold (and if the country were divided among
Christians, more precious should those be the Indians would procure than these
they have, being bored with heat, which causes them to lose their hue): so he
answered them who urged him to make a settlement, that in all the country
together there was not support for his troops a single month; that it was
necessary to return to Ochus, where Maldonado was to wait; and should a richer
country not be found, they could always return to that who would, and in their
absence the Indians would plant their fields and be better provided with maize.
The natives were asked if they had knowledge of any great lord farther on, to
which they answered, that twelve days’ travel thence was a province called
Chiaha, subject to a chief of Coça.85.

The Governor then resolved at once to go in quest of
that country, and being an inflexible man, and dry of word, who, although he
liked to know what the others all thought and had to say, after he once said a
thing he did not like to be opposed, and as he ever acted as he thought best,
all bent to his will; for though it seemed an error to leave that country, when
another might have been found about it, on which all the people could have been
sustained until the crops had been made and the grain gathered, there were none
who would say a thing to him after it became known that he had made up his



ON the third day of May the Governor set out from
Cutifachiqui; and, it being discovered that the wish of the Cacica was to leave
the Christians, if she could, giving them neither guides nor tamemes, because
of the outrages committed upon the inhabitants, there never failing to be men
of low degree among the many, who will put the lives of themselves and others
in jeopardy for some mean interest, the Governor ordered that she should be
placed under guard and took her with him. This treatment, which was not a
proper return for the hospitable welcome he had received, makes true the adage,
For well doing . . .; and thus she was carried away on foot with her female

This brought us service in all the places that were
passed, she ordering the Indians to come and take the loads from town to town.
We travelled through her territories a hundred leagues, in which, according to
what we saw, she was greatly obeyed, whatsoever she ordered being performed
with diligence and efficacy. Pedro, the guide, said she was not the suzeraine,
but her niece, who had come to that town by her command to punish capitally
some principal Indians who had seized upon the tributE; but to this no credit
was given, because of the falsehoods in which he had been taken, though all was
put up with, from the necessity of having some one whereby to understand what
the Indians said.88.

In seven days the Governor arrived at the Province of
Chelaque, the country poorest off for maize of any that was seen in Florida,
where the inhabitants subsisted on the roots of plants that the’ dig in the
wilds, and on the animals they destroy with their arrows. They are very
domestic people, are slight of form, and go naked. One lord brought the
Governor two deer-skins as a great gift. Turkeys were abundant; in one town
they presented seven hundred, and in others brought him what they had and could
procure. He was detained in going from this province to that of Xualla five
days, where they found little grain, but remained two days, because of the
weariness of the men and the leanness of the horses.89.

From Ocute to Cutifachiqui are one hundred and thirty
leagues, of which eighty are desert; from Cutifa to Xualla are two hundred and
fifty of mountainous country; thence to Guaxule, the way is over very rough and
lofty ridges.90.

One day while on this journey, the Cacica of Cutifachi,
whom the Governor brought with him, as has been stated, to the end of taking
her to Guaxule, the farthest limit of her territories, conducted by her slaves,
she left the road, with an excuse of going into a thicket, where, deceiving
them, she so concealed herself that for all their search she could not be
found. She took with her a cane box, like a trunk, called petaca, full of
unbored pearls, of which, those who had the most knowledge of their value said
they were very precious. They were carried for her by one of the women; and the
Governor, not to give offence, permitted it so, thinking that in Guaxule he
would beg them of her when he should give her leave to depart; but she took
them with her, going to Xualla, with three slaves who had fled from the camp. A
horseman, named Alimamos, who remained behind, sick of a fever, wandering out
of the way, got lost; and he laboured with the slaves to make them leave their
evil design. Two of them did so, and came on with him to the camp. They
overtook the Governor, after a journey of fifty leagues, in a province called
Chiaha; and he reported that the Cacica remained in Xualla, with a slave of
André ;de Vasconcelos, who would not come with him, and that it was very sure
they lived together as man and wife, and were to go together to

At the end of five days the Governor arrived at Guaxule.
The Christians being seen to go after dogs, for their flesh, which the Indians
do not eat, they gave them three hundred of those animals. Little maize was
found there, or anywhere upon that route. The Governor sent a native with a
message to the Cacique of Chiaha, begging that he would order some maize to be
brought together at his town, that he might sojourn there some time. He left
Guaxule, and after two days’ travel arrived at Canasagua, where twenty men came
out from the town on the road, each laden with a basket of mulberries. This
fruit is abundant and good, from Cutifachique to this place, and thence onward
in other provinces, as are the walnut and the amiexa; the trees growing about
over the country, without planting or pruning, of the size and luxuriance they
would have were they cultivated in orchards, by hoeing and irrigation. Leaving
Canasagua, he marched five days through a desert.92.

Two leagues before coming to Chiaha, fifteen men met the
Governor, bearing loads of maize, with word from the Cacique that he waited for
him, having twenty barbacoas full; that, moreover, himself, his lands, and his
vassals, were subject to his orders. On the fifth day of July the Governor
entered Chiaha. The Cacique received him with great pleasure, and, resigning to
him his dwellings for his residence, thus addressed him:93.


Fortunate am I that you will make use of my services.
Nothing could happen that would give me so great contentment, or which I should
value more. From Guaxule you sent to have maize for you in readiness to last
two months: you have in this town twenty barbacoas ‘full of the choicest and
the best to be found in all this country. If the reception I give is not worthy
of so great a prince, consider my youth, which will relieve me of blame, and
receive my good-will, which, with true loyalty and pure, shall ever be shown in
all things that concern your welfare. 94.

The Governor answered him, that his gifts and his
kindness pleased him greatly, and that he should ever consider him to be his

There was abundance of lard in calabashes, drawn like
olive oil, which the inhabitants said was the fat of bear. There was likewise
found much oil of walnuts, which, like the lard, was clear and of good taste;
and also a honey-comb, which the Christians had never seen before, nor saw
afterwards, nor honey, nor bees, in all the country.96.

The town was isolated, between two arms of a river,
and seated near one of them. Above it, at the distance of two crossbow-shot,
the water divided, and united again a league below. The vale between, from side
to side, was the width in places of a crossbow-shot, and in others of two. The
branches were very wide, and both were fordable: along their shores were very
rich meadow-lands, having many maize-fields.97.

As the Indians remained at home, no houses were taken
save those of the Chief, in which the Governor lodged; the people lived out,
wherever there happened to be shelter, each man having his tree. In this manner
the army lay, the men out of order and far apart. The Governor passed it over,
as the Indians were peaceful, and the weather very calm: the people would have
suffered greatly had they been required to do differently. The horses arrived
so worn out, that they could not bear their riders from weakness; for they had
come all the way having only a little maize to live on, travelling, hungry and
tired, even from beyond the desert of Ocute; so, as the greater part of them
were unfit to be mounted, even in the necessary case of battle, they were
turned out at night to graze, about a quarter of a league from the camp. The
Christians were greatly exposed, so much so that if at that time the Indians
had set upon them, they would have been in bad way to defend themselves.98.

The duration of the sojourn was thirty days, in which
time, the soil being covered with verdure, the horses fattened. At the
departure, in consequence of the importunity of some who wanted more than was
in reason, the Governor asked thirty women of the Chief for slaves, who replied
that he would confer with his principal men; when one night, before giving an
answer, all went off from the town with their women and children. The next day,
having made up his mind to go in search of them, the Cacique arrived, and,
approaching, thus addressed him:99.


Because of my shame, and out of fear of you,
discovering that my subjects, contrary to my wishes, had chosen to absent
themselves, I left without your permission; but, finding the error of my way, I
have returned like a true vassal, to put myself in your power, that you may do
with my person as shall seem best to you. My people will not obey me, nor do
any thing that an uncle of mine does not command: he governs this country, in
my place until I shall be of mature age. If you would pursue and punish them
for disobedience, I will be your guide, since my fete at present forbids me
doing more. 100.

The Governor then, with thirty mounted men and as many
footmen, went in search of the people. Passing by the towns of some of the
chiefs who had gone off, he cut down and destroyed the great maize-fields; and
going along up the stream where the natives were, on an islet, to which the
calvary could not go, he sent word to them, by an Indian, that they should put
away all their fears, and, returning to their abodes, give him tamemes, as had
been done all the way along, since he did not wish to have women, finding how
very dear they were to them. The Indians judged it well to come and make their
excuses to him> so they all went back to the town.101.

A Cacique of Acoste, who came to see the Governor,
after tendering his services, and they had exchanged compliments and proffers
of friendship, was asked if he had any information of a rich land; he answered
yes: that towards the north there was a province called Chisca, and that a
forge was there for copper, or other metal of that colour, though brighter,
having a much finer hue, and was to appearances much better, but was not so
much used, for being softer; which was the statement that had been given in
Cutifachiqui, where we had seen some chopping-knives that were said to have a
mixture of gold. As the country on the way was thinly peopled, and it was said
there were mountains over which the beasts could not go, the Governor would not
march directly thither, but judged that, keeping in an inhabited territory the
men and animals would be in better condition, while he would be more exactly
informed of what there was, until he should turn to it through the ridges and a
region which he could more easily travel. He sent two Christians to the country
of Chisca, by Indians who spoke the language, that they might view it, and were
told that he would await their return at Chiaha for what they should have to



WHEN the Governor had determined to move from Chiaha
towards Coste, he sent for the Cacique to come before him, and with kind words
took his leave, receiving some slaves as a gift, which pleased him. In seven
days the journey was concluded. On the second day of July, the camp being
pitched among the trees, two crossbow-shot distant from the town, he went with
eight men of his guard toward where the Cacique was, who received him evidently
with great friendship. While they were conversing, some infantry went into the
town after maize, and, not satisfied with what they got, they rummaged and
searched the houses, taking what they would; at which conduct the owners began
to rise and arm; some of them, with clubs in their hands, going at five or six
men who had given offence, beat them to their satisfaction. The Governor,
discovering that they were all bent upon some mischief, and himself among them
with but few Christians about him, turned to escape from the difficulty by a
stratagem much against his nature, clear and reliable as it was, and the more
unwillingly as it grieved him that an Indian should presume, either with or
without cause, to offer any indignity to a Christian: he seized a stave and
took part with the assailants against his own people, which while it gave
confidence, directly he sent a message secretly to the camp, that armed men
should approach where he was; then taking the Chief by the hand, speaking to
him with kind words, drew him with some principal men away from the town, out
into an open road in sight of the encampment, where cautiously the Christians
issued and by degrees surrounded them. In this manner they were conducted
within the tents; and when near his marquee the Governor ordered them to be put
under guard. He told them that they could not go thence without giving him a
guide and Indians for carrying loads, nor until the sick men had arrived whom
he had ordered to come down by the river in canoes from Chiaha, and so likewise
those he had sent to the Province of Chisca. He feared that both the one and
the other had been killed by the Indians. In three days they that went to
Chisca got back, and related that they had been taken through a country so
scant of maize, and with such high mountains, that it was impossible the army
should march in that direction; and finding the distance was becoming long, and
that they should be back late, upon consultation they agreed to return, coming
from a poor little town where there was nothing of value, bringing a cow-hide
as delicate as a calf-skin the people had given them, the hair being like the
soft wool on the cross of the merino with the common sheep.103.

The Cacique having furnished the guide and tamemes, by
permission of the Governor he went his way. The Christians left Coste the ninth
day of July, and slept that night at Tali. The Cacique had come from the town
to meet the Governor on the road, and made him this speech:104.


Worthy are you of being served and obeyed by all the
princes of the world, for by the face can one judge far of the inner qualities.
Who you are I knew, and also of your power, before your coming here. I wish not
to draw attention to the lowliness in which I stand before you, to make my poor
services acceptable and agreeable, since, where the strength fails, the will
should instead be praised and taken. Hence, I dare to ask that you will only
consider and attend to what you will command me to do here in your country.

The Governor answered, that his good-will and offer
pleased him as much as though he had tendered him all the treasures of the
earth: that he would always be treated by him as a true brother, favoured and
esteemed. The Cacique ordered provision to be brought for two days’ use, the
time the Governor should be present; and on his departure, gave him the use of
two men and four women, who were wanted to carry burdens.106.

They travelled six days, passing by many towns subject
to the Cacique of Coça; and, as they entered those territories, numerous
messengers came from him on the road every day to the Governor, some going,
others coming, until they arrived at Coça, on Friday, the sixteenth of July.
The Cacique came out to receive him at the distance of two crossbowshot from
the town, borne in a litter on the shoulders of his principal men, seated on a
cushion, and covered with a mantle of martenskins, of the size and shape of a
woman’s shawl: on his head he wore a diadem of plumes, and he was surrounded by
many attendants playing upon flutes and singing. Coming to where the Governor
was, he made his obeisance, and followed it by these words:107.


Although I come but new to meet you, it is a long time
since I have received you in my heart. That was done the first day I heard of
you, with so great desire to serve, please, and give you contentment, that
this, which I express, is nothing in comparison with that which is within me.
Of this you may be sure, that to have received the dominion of the world would
not have interested me so greatly as the sight of you, nor would I have held it
for so great a felicity. Do not look for me to offer you that which is your
own–this person, these lands, these vassals. My only desire is to employ
myself in commanding these people, that, with all diligence and befitting
respect, they conduct you hence to the town in festivity of voices and with
flutes, where you will be lodged and waited upon by me and them, where all I
possess you will do with as with your own, and in thus doing you will confer
favour. 109.

The Governor gave him thanks, and with mutual
satisfaction they walked on toward the place conferring, the Indians giving up
their habitations by order of their Cacique, and in which the General and his
men took lodging. In the barbacoas was a great quantity of maize and beans: the
country, thickly settled in numerous and large towns, with fields between,
extending from one to another, was pleasant, and had a rich soil with fair
river margins. In the woods were many ameixas, as well those of Spain as of the
country; and wild grapes on vines growing up into the trees, near the streams;
likewise a kind that grow on low vines elsewhere, the berry being large and
sweet, but, for want of hoeing and dressing, bad large stones.110.

It was the practice to keep watch over the Caciques
that none should absent themselves, they being taken along by the Governor
until coming out of their territories; for by thus having them the inhabitants
would await their arrival in the towns, give a guide, and men to carry the
loads, who before leaving their country would have liberty to return to their
homes, as sometimes would the tamemes, so soon as they came to the domain of
any chief where others could be got. The people of Coça, seeing their lord was
detained, took it amiss, and, going off, hid themselves in the scrub, as well
those of the town of the Cacique as those of the towns of the principal men his
vassals. The Governor dispatched four captains in as many directions to search
for them: many men and women were taken who were put in chains. Seeing how much
harm they received, and how little they gained by going off, they came in,
declaring that they desired to serve in all that it were possible. Of the
prisoners, some of the chiefs, whom the Cacique interceded for, were let go; of
the rest, each one took away with him as slaves those he had in chains, none
returning to their country save some whose fortune it was to escape, labouring
diligently to file off their irons at night; or, while on the march, could slip
out of the way, observing the carelessness of those who had them in charge,
sometimes taking off with them in their chains the burdens and the clothing
with which they were laded., therry being large and sweet, but, for want of
hoeing and dressing, bad large stones.111.



THE Governor rested in Coça twenty-five days. On Friday,
the twentieth of August, he set out in quest of a province called Tastaluca,
taking with him the Cacique of Coça. The first day he went through
Tallimuchase, a great town without inhabitants, halting to sleep half a league
beyond, near a river-bank. The following day he came to Ytaua, a town subject
to Coça. . He was detained six days, because of a river near by that was then
swollen: so soon as it could be crossed he took up his march, and went towards
Ullibahali. Ten or twelve chiefs came to him on the road, from the Cacique of
that province, tendering his service, bearing bows and arrows and wearing
bunches of feathers., the berry being large and sweet, but, for want of hoeing
and dressing, bad large stones.112.

The Governor having arrived at the town with a dozen
cavalry and several of his guard, he left them at the distance of a
crossbow-shot and entered the town. He found all the Indians with their
weapons, and, according to their ways, it appeared to him in readiness for
action: he understood afterwards that they had determined to wrest the Cacique
of Coça from his power, should that chief have called on them. The place was
enclosed, and near by ran a small stream. The fence, which was like that seen
afterwards to other towns, was of large timber sunk deep and firmly into the
earth, having many long poles the size of the arm, placed crosswise to nearly
the height of a lance, with embrasures, and coated with mud inside and out,
having loop-holes for archery. The Governor ordered all his men to enter the
town. The Cacique, who at the moment was at a town on the opposite shore, was
sent for, and he came at once. After some words between him and the Governor,
proffering mutual service, he gave the tamemes that were requisite and thirty
women as slaves. Mancano, a native of Salamanca, of noble ancestry, having
strayed off in search of the grapes, which are good here, and plenty, was
lost., the berry being large and sweet, but, for want of hoeing and dressing,
bad large stones.113.

The Christians left, and that day they arrived to sleep
at a town subject to the lord of Ullibahali, and the next day they came to pass
the night at the town of Toasi, where the inhabitants gave the Governor thirty
women and the tamemes that were wanted. The amount of travel usually performed
was five or six leagues a day, passing through settled country; and when
through desert, all the haste possible was made, to avoid the want of maize.
From Toasi, passing through some towns subject to the lord of the Province of
Tallise, he journeyed five days, and arrived at the town the eighteenth day of
September., the berry being large and sweet, but, for want of hoeing and
dressing, bad large stones.114.

Tallise was large, situated by the side of a great
river, other towns and many fields of maize being on the opposite shore, the
country on both sides having the greatest abundance of grain. The inhabitants
had gone off. The Governor sent to call the Cacique, who, having arrived, after
an interchange of kind words and good promises, lent him forty men. A chief
came to the Governor in behalf of the Cacique of Tastaluca and made the
following address:, the berry being large and sweet, but, for want of hoeing
and dressing, bad large stones.115.


The grand Cacique of Tastaluca, my master, sends me to
salute you. He bids me say, that he is told how all, not without reason, are
led captive by your perfections and power; that wheresoever lies your path you
receive gifts and obedience, which he knows are all your due; and that he longs
to see you as much as he could desire for the continuance of life. Thus, he
sends me to offer you his person, his lands, his subjects; to say, that
wheresoever it shall please you to go through his territories, you will find
service and obedience, friendship and peace. In requital of this wish to serve
you, he asks that you so far favour him as to say when you will come; for that
the sooner you do so, the greater will be the obligation, and to him the
earlier pleasure.116.

The Governor received and parted with the messenger
graciously, giving him beads (which by the Indians are not much esteemed), and
other articles, that he should take them to his lord. He dismissed the Cacique
of Coça, that he might return to his country: he of Tallise gave him the
tamemes that were needed; and, having sojourned twenty days, the Governor set
out for Tastaluca. He slept the night at a large town called Casiste, and the
next day, passing through another, arrived at a village in the Province of
Tastaluca; and the following night he rested in a wood, two leagues from the
town where the Cacique resided, and where he was then present. He sent the
Field-Marshal, Luis de Moscoso, with fifteen cavalry, to inform him of his

The Cacique was at home, in a piazza. Before his
dwelling, on a high place, was spread a mat for him, upon which two cushions
were placed, one above another, to which he went and sat down, his men placing
themselves around, some way removed, so that an open circle was formed about
him, the Indians of the highest rank being nearest to his person. One of them
shaded him from the sun with a circular umbrella, spread wide, the size of a
target, with a small stem, and having deerskin extended over cross-sticks,
quartered with red and white, which at a distance made it look of taffeta, the
colours were so very perfect. It formed the standard of the Chief, which he
carried into battle. His appearance was full of dignity: he was tall of person,
muscular, lean, and symmetrical. He was the suzerain of many territories, and
of a numerous people, being equally feared by his vassals and the neighbouring

The Field-Marshal, after he had spoken to him,
advanced with his company, their steeds leaping from side to side, and at times
towards the Chief, when he, with great gravity, and seemingly with
indifference, now and then would raise his eyes, and look on as in

The Governor approached him, but he made no movement
to rise; he took him by the hand, and they went together to seat themselves on
the bench that was in the piazza. The Cacique addressed him these words:120.


Your lordship is very welcome. With the sight of you I
receive as great pleasure and comfort as though you were an own brother whom I
dearly loved. It is idle to use many words here, as it is not well to speak at
length where a few may suffice. The greater the will the more estimable the
deed; and acts are the living witnesses of truth. You shall learn how strong
and positive is my will, and how disinterested my inclination to serve you. The
gifts you did me the favour to send I esteem in all their value, but most
because they were yours. See in what you will command me. 121.

The Governor satisfied the Chief with a few brief
words of kindness. On leaving he determined, for certain reasons, to take him
along. The second day on the road he came to a town called Piache: a great
river ran near, and the Governor asked for canoes. The Indians said they had
none, but that they could have rafts of cane and dried wood, whereon they might
readily enough go over, which they diligently set about making, and soon
completed. They managed them; and the water being calm, the Governor and his
men easily crossed.122.

From the port of Espiritu Santo to Palache, a march of
about a hundred leagues, the course was west; from Apalache to Cutifachiqui,
which may be four hundred and thirty leagues, it was northeast; from thence to
Xualla, two hundred and fifty leagues, it was towards the north; and thence to
Tastaluca, which may be some other two hundred and fifty leagues, one hundred
and ninety of them were toward the west, going to the Province of Coça, and the
sixty southwardly, in going thence to Tastaluca.123.

After crossing the river of Piache, a Christian having
gone to look after a woman gotten away from him, he had been either captured or
killed by the natives, and the Governor pressed the Chief to tell what had been
done; threatening, that should the man not appear, he would never release him.
The Cacique sent an Indian thence to Mauilla, the town of a chief, his vassal,
whither they were going, stating that he sent to give him notice that he should
have provisions in readiness and Indians for loads; but which, as afterwards
appeared, was a message for him to get together there all the warriors in his

The Governor marched three days, the last one of them
continually through an inhabited region, arriving on Monday, the eighteenth day
of October, at Mauilla. He rode forward in the vanguard, with fifteen cavalry
and thirty infantry, when a Christian he had sent with a message to the
Cacique, three or four days before, with orders not to be gone long, and to
discover the temper of the Indians, came out from the town and reported that
they appeared to him to be making preparation; for that while he was present
many weapons were brought, and many people came into the town, and work had
gone on rapidly to strengthen the palisade. Luis de Moscoso said that, since
the Indians were so evil disposed, it would be better to stop in the woods; to
which the Governor answered, that he was impatient of sleeping out, and that he
would lodge in the town.125.

Arriving near, the Chief came out to receive him, with
many Indians singing and playing on flutes, and after tendering his services,
gave him three cloaks of marten-skins. The Governor entered the town with the
Caciques, seven or eight men of his guard, and three or four cavalry, who had
dismounted to accompany them; and they seated themselves in a piazza. The
Cacique of Tastaluca asked the Governor to allow him to remain there, and not
to weary him any more with walking; but, finding that was not to be permitted,
he changed his plan, and, under pretext of speaking with some of the chiefs, he
got up from where he sate, by the side of the Governor, and entered a house
where were many Indians with their bows and arrows. The Governor, finding that
he did not return, called to him: to which the Cacique answered that he would
not come out, nor would he leave that town; that if the Governor wished to go
in peace, he should quit at once, and not persist in carrying him away by force
from his country and its dependencies.126.



THE Governor, in view of the determination and furious
answer of the Cacique, thought to soothe him with soft words; to which he made
no answer, but, with great haughtiness and contempt, withdrew to where Soto
could not see nor speak to him. The Governor, that he might send word to the
Cacique for him to remain in the country at his will, and to be pleased to give
him a guide, and persons to carry burdens, that he might see if he could pacify
him with gentle words, called to a chief who was passing by. The Indian
replied, loftily, that he would not listen to him. Baltasar de Gallegos, who
was near, seized him by the cloak of marten-skins that he had on, drew it off
over his head, and left it in his hands; whereupon, the Indians all beginning
to rise, he gave him a stroke with a cutlass, that laid open his back, when
they, with loud yells, came out of the houses, discharging their bows.127.

The Governor, discovering that if he remained there they
could not escape, and if he should order his men, who were outside of the town,
to come in, the horses might be killed by the Indians from the houses and great
injury done, he ran out; but before he could get away he fell two or three
times, and was helped to rise by those with him. He and they were all badly
wounded: within the town five Christians were instantly killed. Coming forth,
he called out to all his men to get farther off, because there was much harm
doing from the palisade. The natives discovering that the Christians were
retiring, and some, if not the greater number, at more than a walk, the Indians
followed with great boldness, shooting at them, or striking down such as they
could overtake. Those in chains having set down their burdens near the fence
while the Christians were retiring, the people of Mauilla lifted the loads on
to their backs, and, bringing them into the town, took off their irons, putting
bows and arms in their hands, with which to fight. Thus did the foe come into
possession of all the clothing, pearls, and whatsoever else the Christians had
beside, which was what their Indians carried. Since the natives had been at
peace to that place, some of us, putting our arms in the luggage, went without
any; and two, who were in the town, had their swords and halberds taken from
them, and put to use.128.

The Governor, presently as he found himself in the
field, called for a horse, and, with some followers, returned and lanced two or
three of the Indians; the rest, going back into the town, shot arrows from the
palisade. Those who would venture on their nimbleness came out a stone’s throw
from behind it, to fight, retiring from time to time, when they were set

At the time of the affray there was a friar, a
clergyman, a servant of the Governor, and a female slave in the town, who,
having no time in which to get away, took to a house, and there remained until
after the Indians became masters of the place. They closed the entrance with a
lattice door; and there being a sword among them, which the servant had, he put
himself behind the door, striking at the Indians that would have come in;
while, on the other side, stood the friar and the priest, each with a club in
hand, to strike down the first that should enter. The Indians, finding that
they could not get in by the door, began to unroof the house: at this moment
the cavalry were all arrived at Mauilla, with the infantry that had been on the
march, when a difference of opinion arose as to whether the Indians should be
attacked, in order to enter the town; for the result was held doubtful, but
finally it was concluded to make the assault.130.



So soon as the advance and the rear of the force were
come up, the Governor commanded that all the best armed should dismount, of
which he made four squadrons of footmen. The Indians, observing how he was
going on arranging his men, urged the Cacique to leave, telling him, as was
afterwards made known by some women who were taken in the town, that as he was
but one man, and could fight but as one only, there being many chiefs present
very skilful and experienced in matters of war, any one of whom was able to
command the rest, and as things in war were so subject to fortune, that it was
never certain which side would overcome the other, they wished him to put his
person in safety; for if they should conclude their lives there, on which they
had resolved rather than surrender, he would remain to govern the land: but for
all that they said, he did not wish to go, until, from being continually urged,
with fifteen or twenty of his own people he went out of the town, taking with
him a scarlet cloak and other articles of the Christians’ clothing, being
whatever he could carry and that seemed best to him.131.

The Governor, informed that the Indians were leaving the
town, commanded the cavalry to surround it; and into each squadron of foot he
put a soldier, with a brand, to set fire to the houses, that the Indians might
have no shelter. His men being placed in full concert, he ordered an arquebuse
to be shot off: at the signal the four squadrons, at their proper points,
commenced a furious onset, and, both sides severely suffering, the Christians
entered the town. The friar, the priest, and the rest who were with them in the
house, were all saved, though at the cost of the lives of two brave and very
able men who went thither to their rescue. The Indians fought with so great
spirit that they many times drove our people back out of the town. The struggle
lasted so long that many Christians, weary and very thirsty, went to drink at a
pond near by, tinged with the blood of the killed, and returned to the combat.
The Governor, witnessing this, with those who followed him in the returning
charge of the footmen, entered the town on horseback, which gave opportunity to
fire the dwellings; then breaking in upon the Indians and beating them down,
they fled out of the place, the cavalry and infantry driving them back through
the gates, where, losing the hope of escape, they fought valiantly; and the
Christians getting among them with cutlasses, they found themselves met on all
sides by their strokes, when many, dashing headlong into the flaming houses,
were smothered, and, heaped one upon another, burned to death.132.

They who perished there were in all two thousand five
hundred, a few more or less: of the Christians there fell eighteen, among whom
was Don Carlos, brother-in-law of the Governor; one Juan de Gamez, a nephew;
Men, Rodriguez, a Portugues; and Juan Vasquez, of Villanueva de Barcarota, men
of condition and courage; the rest were infantry. Of the living, one hundred
and fifty Christians had received seven hundred wounds from the arrow; and God
was pleased that they should be healed in little time of very dangerous
injuries. Twelve horses died, and seventy were hurt. The clothing the
Christians carried with them, the ornaments for saying mass, and the pearls,
were all burned there; they having set the fire themselves, because they
considered the loss less than the injury they might receive of the Indians from
within the houses, where they had brought the things together.133.

The Governor learning in Mauilla that Francisco
Maldonado was waiting for him in the port of Ochuse, six days’ travel distant,
he caused Juan Ortiz to keep the news secret, that he might not be interrupted
in his purpose; because the pearls he wished to send to Cuba for show, that
their fame might raise the desire of coming to Florida, had been lost, and he
feared that, hearing of him without seeing either gold or silver, or other
thing of value from that land, it would come to have such reputation that no
one would be found to go there when men should be wanted: so he determined to
send no news of himself until he should have discovered a rich country.134.



FROM the time the Governor arrived in Florida until he
went from Mauilla, there died one hundred and two Christians, some of sickness,
others by the hand of the Indians.135.

Because of the wounded, he stopped in that place
twenty-eight days, all the time remaining out in the fields. The country was a
rich soil, and well inhabited: some towns were very large, and were picketed
about. The people were numerous everywhere; the dwellings :standing a
crossbow-shot or two apart. 136.

On Sunday, the eighteenth of November, the sick being
found to be getting on well, the Governor left Mauilla, taking with him a
supply of maize for two days. He marched five days through a wilderness,
arriving in a province called Pafallaya, at the town Taliepataua; and thence he
went to another, named Cabusto, near which was a large river, whence the
Indians on the farther bank shouted to the Christians that they would kill them
should they come over there. He ordered the building of a piragua within the
town, that the natives might have no knowledge of it; which being finished in
four days, and ready, he directed it to be taken on sleds half a league up
stream, and in the morning thirty men entered it, well armed. The Indians
discovering what was going on, they who were nearest went to oppose the
landing, and did the best they could; but the Christians drawing near, and the
piragua being about to reach the shore, they fled into some cane-brakes. The
men on horses went up the river to secure a landing-place, to which the
Governor passed over, with the others that remained. Some of the towns were
well stored with maize and beans.137.

Thence towards Chicaça the Governor marched five days
through a desert, and arrived at a river, on the farther side of which were
Indians, who wished to arrest his passage. In two days another piragua was
made, and when ready he sent an Indian in it to the Cacique, to say, that if he
wished his friendship he should quietly wait for him; but they killed the
messenger before his eyes, and with loud yells departed. He crossed the river
the seventeenth of December, and arrived the same day at Chicaça, a small town
of twenty houses. There the people underwent severe cold, for it was already
winter, and snow fell: the greater number were then lying in the fields, it
being before they had time to put up habitations. The land was thickly
inhabited, the people living about over it as they do in Mauilla; and as it was
fertile, the greater part being under cultivation, there was plenty of maize.
So much grain was brought together as was needed for getting through with the

Some Indians were taken, among whom was one the Cacique
greatly esteemed. The Governor sent an Indian to the Cacique to -say, that he
desired to see him and have his friendship. He came, and offered him the
services of his person, territories, and subjects: he said that he would cause
two chiefs to visit him in peace. In a few days he returned with them, they
bringing their Indians. They presented the Governor one hundred and fifty
conies, with clothing of the country, such as shawls and skins. The name of the
one was Alimamu, of the other Niculasa.139.

The Cacique of Chicaça came to visit him many times: on
some occasions he was sent for, and a horse taken, on which to bring and carry
him back. He made complaint that a vassal of his had risen against him,
withholding tribute; and he asked for assistance, desiring to seek him in his
territory, and give him the chastisement he deserved. The whole was found to be
feigned, to the end that, while the Governor should be absent with him, and the
force divided, they would attack the parts separately-some the one under him,
others the other, that remained in Chicaça. He went to the town where he lived,
and came back with two hundred Indians, bearing bows and arrows.140.

The Governor, taking thirty cavalry and eighty infantry,
marched to Saquechuma, the Province of the Chief whom the Cacique said had
rebelled. The town was untenanted, and the Indians, for greater dissimulation,
set fire to it; but the people with the Governor being very careful and
vigilant, as were also those that had been left in Chicaça, no enemy dared to
fall upon them. The Governor invited the caciques and some chiefs to dine with
him, giving them pork to eat, which they so relished, although not used to it,
that every night Indians would come up to some houses where the hogs slept, a
crossbow-shot off from the camp, to kill and carry away what they could of
them. Three were taken in the act: two the Governor commanded to be slain with
arrows, and the remaining one, his hands having first been cut off, was sent to
the Cacique, who appeared grieved that they had given offence, and glad that
they were punished.141.

This Chief was half a league from where the Christians
were, in an open country, whither wandered off four of the cavalry: Francisco
Osorio, Reynoso, a servant of the Marquis of Astorga, and two servants of the
Governor,–the one Ribera, his page, the ,other Fuentes, his chamberlain. They
took some skins and shawls from the Indians, who made great outcry in
consequence, and .,abandoned their houses. When the Governor heard of it, he
ordered them to be apprehended, and condemned Osorio and Fuentes to death, as
principals, and all of them to lose their goods. The friars, the priests, and
other principal personages solicited him to let Osorio live, and moderate the
sentence; but he would do so for no one. When about ordering them to be taken
to the town-yard to be beheaded, some Indians arrived, sent by the Chief to
complain of them. Juan Ortiz, at the entreaty of Baltasar de Gallegos and
others, changed their words, telling the Governor, as from the Cacique, that he
had understood those Christians had been arrested on his account;. that they
were in no fault, having offended him in nothing, and that if he would do him a
favour, to let them go free: then Ortiz said to the Indians, that the Governor
had the persons in custody, and would visit them with such punishment as should
be an example to the rest. The prisoners were ordered to be, released.142.

So soon as March had come, the Governor, having
determined to leave Chicaça, asked two, hundred tamemes of the Cacique, who
told him that he would confer with his chiefs.. Tuesday, the eighth, he went
where the Cacique was, to ask for the carriers, and was told that he would send
them the next day. When the Governor saw the Chief, he said to Luis de Moscoso
that the Indians did not appear right to him; that a very careful watch should
be kept that night, to which the Field Marshal paid little attention. At four
o’clock in the morning the Indians fell upon them in four squadrons, from as
many quarters, and directly as they were discovered, they beat a drum. With
loud shouting, they came in such haste, that they entered the camp at the same
moment with some scouts that had been out; of which, by the time those in the
town were aware, half the houses were in flames. That night it had been the
turn of three horsemen to be of the watch,–two of them men of low degree, the
least value of any in the camp, and the third a nephew of the Governor, who had
been deemed a brave man until now, when he showed himself as great a coward as
either of the others; for they all fled, and the Indians, finding no
resistance, came up and set fire to the place. They waited outside of the town
for the Christians, behind the gates, as they should come out of the ,doors,
having had no opportunity to put on their arms; and as they ran in all
directions, bewildered by the noise, blinded by the smoke and the brightness of
the flame, knowing not whither they were going, or were able to find their
arms, or put saddles on their steeds, they saw not the Indians who shot arrows
at them. Those of the horses that could break their halters got away, and many
were burned to death in the stalls.143.

The confusion and rout were so great that each man fled
by the way that first opened to him, there being none to oppose the Indians:
but God, who chastiseth his own as he pleaseth, and in the greatest wants and
perils hath them in his hand, shut the eyes of the Indians, so that they could
not discern what they had done, and believed that the beasts running about
loose were the cavalry gathering to fall upon them. The Governor, with a
soldier named Tápia, alone got mounted, and, charging upon the Indians, he
struck down the first of them he met with a blow of the lance, but went over
with the saddle, because in the haste it had not been tightly drawn, and he
fell. The men on foot, running to a thicket outside of the town, came together
there: the Indians imagining, as it was dark, that the horses were cavalry
coming upon them, as has been stated, they fled, leaving only one dead, which
was he the Governor smote.144.

The town lay in cinders. A woman, with her husband,
having left a house, went back to get some pearls that had remained there; and
when she would have come out again the fire had reached the door, and she could
not, neither could her husband assist her, so she was consumed. Three
Christians came out of the lire in so bad plight, that one of them died in
three days from that time, and the two ,others for a long while were carried in
their pallets, on poles borne on the shoulders of Indians, for otherwise they
could not have got along. There died in this affair eleven Christians, and
fifty horses. One hundred of the swine remained, four hundred having been
destroyed, from the conflagration of Mauilla.145.

If, by good luck, any one had been able to, save a
garment until then, it was there destroyed. Many remained naked, not having had
time to catch up their skin dresses. In that place they suffered greatly from
cold, the only relief being in large fires, and they passed the night long in
turning, without the power to sleep; for as one side of a man would warm, the
other would freeze. Some contrived mats of dried grass sewed together, one to
be placed below, and the other above them: many who laughed at this expedient
were afterwards compelled to do the like. The Christians were left so broken
up, that what with the want of the saddles and arms which had been destroyed,
had the Indians returned the second night, they might, with little effort, have
been overpowered. They removed from that town to the one where the Cacique was
accustomed to live, because it was in the open field. In eight days’ time they
had constructed many saddles from the ash, and like-, wise lances, as good as
those made in Biscay.146.



ON Wednesday, the fifteenth day of March, in the year
1541, eight days having passed since the Governor had been living on a plain,
half a league from the place where he wintered, after he had set up a forge,
and tempered the swords which in Chicaça had been burned, and already had made
many targets, saddles, and lances, at four o’clock in the morning, while it was
still dark, there came many Indians, formed in three squadrons, each from a
different direction, to attack the camp, when those who watched beat to arms.
In all haste he drew up his men in three squadrons also, and leaving some for
the ,defence of the camp, he went out to meet them. The Indians were overthrown
and put to flight. The ground was plain, and in a ,condition advantageous to
the Christians. It was now daybreak; and but for some disorder, thirty or forty
more enemies might have been slain. It was caused by a friar raising great
shouts in the camp, without any reason, crying, “To the camp! To the camp!” In
consequence the Governor and the rest went thither, and the Indians had time to
get away in safety.147.

From some prisoners taken, the Governor informed himself
of the region in advance. On the twenty-fifth day of April he left Chicaça and
went to sleep at a small town called Alimamu. Very little maize was found; and
as it became necessary to attempt thence to pass a desert, seven days’ journey
in extent, the next day the Governor ordered that three captains, each with
cavalry and foot. should take a different direction, to get provision for the
way. Juan de Añasco, the Comptroller, went with fifteen horse and forty foot on
the course the Governor would have to march, and found a staked fort where the
Indians were awaiting them. Many were armed, walking upon it, with their
bodies, legs, and arms painted and ochred, red, black, white, yellow, and
vermilion in stripes, so that they appeared to have on stockings and doublet.
Some wore feathers, and others horns on the head, the face blackened, and the
eyes encircled with vermilion, to heighten their fierce aspect. So soon as they
saw the Christians draw nigh they beat drums, and, with loud yells, in great
fury came forth to meet them. As to Juan de Añasco and others it appeared well
to avoid them, and to inform the Governor, they retired, over an even ground in
sight, the distance of a crossbow-shot from the enclosure, the footmen, the
crossbow-men, and targeteers putting themselves before those on horseback, that
the beasts might not be wounded by the Indians, who came forth by sevens and
eights to discharge their bows at them and retire. In ,sight of the Christians
they made a fire, and, taking an Indian by the head and feet, pretended to give
him many blows on the head and cast him into the flames, signifying in this way
what they would do with the Christians.148.

A message being sent with three of the cavalry to the
Governor, informing him of this, he came directly. It was his opinion that they
should be driven from the place. He ,said that if this was not done they would
be emboldened to make an attack at some other time, when they might do him more
harm: those on horseback were commanded to dismount, and, being set in four
squadrons, at the signal charged the Indians. They resisted until the
Christians came up to the stakes; then, seeing that they could not defend
themselves, they fled through that part near which passed a stream, sending
back some arrows from the other bank; and because, at the moment, no place was
found where the horses might ford, they had time to make their escape. Three
Indians were killed and many Christians wounded, of whom, after a few days,
fifteen died on the march. Every one thought the Governor committed a great
fault in not sending to examine the state of the ground on the opposite shore,
and discover, the crossing-place before making the attack; because, with the
hope the Indians had of escaping unseen in that direction, they fought until
they were broken; and it was the cause. of their holding out so long to assail
the Christians, as they could, with safety to themselves.149.



THREE days having gone by since some maize had been
sought after, and but little found in comparison with the great want there was
of it, the Governor became obliged to move at once, nothwithstanding the
wounded had need of repose, to where there should be abundance. He accordingly
set out for Quizquiz, and marched seven days through a wilderness, having many
pondy places, with thick forests, fordable, however, on horseback, all to some
basins or lakes that were swum. He arrived at a town of Quizquiz without being
descried, and seized all the people before they could come out of their houses.
Among them was the mother of the Cacique; and the Governor sent word to him, by
one of the captives, to come and receive her, with the Test he had taken. The
answer he returned was, that if his lordship would order them to be loosed and
sent, he would come to visit -and do him service.150.

The Governor, since his men arrived weary, and likewise
weak, for want of maize, and the horses were also lean, determined to yield to
the requirement and try to have peace; so the mother and the rest were ordered
to be set free, and with words of kindness were dismissed. The next day, while
he was hoping to see the Chief, many Indians came, with bows and arrows, to set
upon the Christians, when he commanded that all the armed horsemen should be
mounted and in readiness. Finding them prepared, the Indians stopped at the
distance of a crossbow-shot from where the Governor was, near a river-bank,
where, after remaining quietly half an hour, six chiefs arrived at the camp,
stating that they had come to find out what people it might be; for that they
had knowledge from their ancestors that they were to be subdued by a white
race; they consequently desired to return to the Cacique, to tell him that he
should come presently to obey and serve the Governor. After presenting six or
seven skins and shawls brought with them, they took their leave, and returned
with the others who were waiting for them by the shore. The Cacique came not,
nor sent another message.151.

There was little maize in the place, and the Governor
moved to another town, half a league from the great river, where it was found
in sufficiency. He went to look at the river, and saw that near it there was
much timber of which piraguas might be made, and a good situation in which the
camp might be placed. He directly moved, built houses, and settled on a plain a
crossbow-shot from the water, bringing together there all the maize of the
towns behind, that at once they might go to work and cut down trees for sawing
out planks to build barges. The Indians soon came from up the stream, jumped on
shore, and told the Governor that they were the vassals of a great lord, named
Aquixo, who was the suzerain of many towns and people on the other shore; and
they made known from him, that he would come the day after, with all his
people, to hear what his lordship would command him.152.

The next day the Cacique arrived, with two hundred
canoes filled with men, having weapons. They were painted with ochre, wearing
great bunches of white and other, plumes of many colours, having feathered
shields in their hands, with which they sheltered the oarsmen on either side,
the warriors standing erect from bow to stern, holding bows and arrows. The
barge in which the Cacique, came had an awning at the poop, under which he
sate; and the like had the barges of the other chiefs: and there, from under
the canopy, where the chief man was, the course was directed and orders issued
to the rest. All came down together, and arrived within a stone’s cast of the
ravine, whence the Cacique said to the Governor, who was walking along the
river-bank, with others who bore him company, that he had come to visit, serve,
and obey him; for he had heard that he was the greatest of lords, the most
powerful on all the earth, and that he must see what he would have him do. The
Governor expressed his pleasure, and besought him to, land, that they might the
better, confer; but the Chief gave no reply, ordering three barges to draw
near, wherein was great quantity of fish, and loaves like bricks, made of the
pulp of ameixas, which Soto receiving, gave him thanks and again entreated him
to land.153.

Making the gift had been a pretext, to discover if any
harm might be done; but, finding the Governor and his people on their guard,
-the Cacique began to draw off from the shore, when the crossbow-men who were
in readiness. with loud cries shot at the Indians, and struck down five or six
of them. They retired with great order, not one leaving the oar, ever. though
the one next to him might have fallen, and covering themselves, they withdrew.
Afterwards they came many times and landed.: when approached, they would go
back to their barges. These were fine-looking men, very large and well formed;
and what with the awnings, the plumes, and the shields, the pennons, and the
number of people in the fleet, it appeared like a famous armada of galleys.154.

During the thirty days that were passed there, four
piraguas were built, into three .of which, one morning, three hours before
daybreak, the Governor ordered twelve cavalry to enter, four in each, men in
whom he had confidence that they would gain the land, notwithstanding the
Indians, and secure the passage, or die: he also sent some crossbow men of foot
with them, and in the other piragua, oarsmen, to take them to the opposite
shore. He ordered Juan de Guzman to cross with the infantry, of which he had
remained Captain in the place of Francisco Maldonado; and because the current
was stiff, they went up along the side of the river a quarter of a league, and
in passing over they were carried down, so as to land opposite the camp; but,
before arriving there, at twice the distance of a stone’s cast, the horsemen
rode out from the piraguas to an open area of hard and even ground, where they
all reached without accident.155.

So soon as they bad come to shore the piraguas returned;
and when the sun was up two hours high, the people had all got over. The
distance was near half a league: a man standing on the shore could not be told,
whether he were a man or something else, from the other side. The stream was
swift, and very deep; the water, always flowing turbidly, brought along from
above many trees and much timber, driven onward by its force. There were many
fish of several sorts, the greater part differing from those of the fresh
waters of Spain, as will be told hereafter.156.



THE Rio Grande being crossed, the Governor marched a
league and a half, to a large town of Aquixo, which was abandoned before his
arrival. Over a plain thirty Indians were seen to draw nigh, sent by the
Cacique, to discover what the Christians intended to do, but who fled directly
as they saw them. The ,cavalry pursued, killed ten, and captured fifteen. As
the town toward which the Governor marched was near the river, he sent a
.captain, with the force he thought sufficient, to take the piraguas up the
stream. These, as they frequently wound about through the country, having to go
round the bays that swell out of the river, the Indians had opportunity to
attack those in the piraguas, placing them in great peril, being shot at with
bows from the ravines, while they dared not leave the shore, because of the
swiftness of the current; so that, as soon as the Governor got to the town, he
directly sent crossbow-men to them down the stream, for their protection. When
the piraguas arrived, be ordered them to be taken to pieces, and the spikes
kept for making others, when they should be needed.157.

The Governor slept at the town one night., and the day
following he went in quest of a province called Pacaha, which he had been
informed was nigh Chisca, where the Indians said there was gold. He passed
through large towns in Aquixo, which the people had left for fear of the
Christians. From some Indian,that were taken, he heard that three days’ journey
thence resided a great Cacique, called Casqui. He came to a small river, over
which a bridge was made, whereby he crossed. All that day, until sunset, he
marched through water, in places coming to the knees; in others, as high as the
waist. They were greatly rejoiced on reaching the dry land; because it had
appeared to them that they should travel about, lost, all night in the water.
At mid-day they came to the first town of Casqui, where they found the Indians
off their guard, never having heard of them. Many men and women were taken,
much clothing, blankets, and skins; such they likewise took in another town in
sight of the first, half a league off in the field, whither the horsemen had

This land is higher, drier, and more level than any
other along the river that had been seen until then. In the fields were many
walnut-trees, bearing tender-shelled nuts in the shape of acorns, many being
found stored in the houses. The tree did not differ in any thing from that of
Spain, nor from the one seen before, except the leaf was smaller. There were
many mulberry-trees, and trees of ameixas, having fruit of vermilion hue, like
one of Spain, while others were gray, differing, but far better. All the trees,
the year round, were as green as if they stood in orchards, and the woods were

The Governor marched two days through the country of
Casqui, before coming to the town where the Cacique was, the greater part of
the way lying through fields thickly set with great towns, two or three of them
to be -seen from one. He sent word by an Indian to the Cacique, that he was
coming to obtain his friendship and to consider him as a brother; to which he
received for answer, that he would be welcomed; that he would be received with
special good-will, and all that his lordship required of him should be done;
and the Chief sent him on the road a present of skins, shawls, and fish. After
these gifts were made, all the towns into which the Governor came were found
occupied; and the inhabitants awaited him in peace, offering him skins, shawls,
and fish.160.

Accompanied by many persons, the Cacique came half a
league on the road from the town where he dwelt to receive the Governor, and,
drawing nigh to him, thus spoke:161.


I greet your coming. So soon as I had notice of you,
your power and perfections, although you entered my territory capturing and
killing the dwellers upon it, who are my vassals, I determined to conform my
wishes to your will, and hold as right all that you might do, believing that it
should be so for a good reason, providing against some future event, to you
perceptible but from me concealed; since an evil may well be permitted to avoid
another greater, that good can arise, which I trust will be so; for from so
excellent a prince, no bad motive is to be suspected. My ability is so small to
serve you, according to your great merit, that though you should consider even
my abundant will. and humility in proffering you all manner of services, I must
still deserve little in your sight. If this ability can with reason be valued,
I pray you receive it, and with it my country and my vassals, of me and them
disposing at your pleasure; for though you were lord of the earth, with no more
good-will would you be received, served, and obeyed. 162.

The Governor responded appropriately in a few words
which satisfied the Chief. Directly they fell to making each other great
proffers, using much courtesy, the Cacique inviting the Governor to go and take
lodging in his houses. He excused himself, the better to preserve peace, saying
that he wished to lie in the field; and, because the heat was ,excessive, he
pitched the camp among some trees, quarter of a league from the town. The
Cacique went to his town, and returned with many Indians singing, who, when
they had come to where the Governor was, all prostrated themselves. Among them
were two blind men. The Cacique made an address, of which, as it was long, I
will give the sub-stance in a few words. He said, that inasmuch as the Governor
was son of the Sun, he begged him to restore sight to those Indians: whereupon
the blind men arose, and they very earnestly entreated him to do so. Soto
answered them, that in the heavens above there was One who had the power to
make them whole, and do whatever they could ask of Him, whose servant he was;
that this great Lord made the sky and the earth, and man after His image; that
He had suffered on the tree of the true cross to save the human race, and risen
from the grave on the third day, –what of man there was of Him dying, what of
divinity being immortal; and that, having ascended into heaven, He was there
with open arms to receive all that would be converted to Him. He then directed
a lofty cross of wood to be made and set up in the highest part of the town,
declaring to the ,Cacique that the Christians worshipped that, in the form and
memory of the one on which Christ suffered. He placed himself with his people
before it, on their knees, which the Indians did likewise; and he told them
that from that time thenceforth they should thus worship the Lord, of whom he
had spoken to them, that was in the skies, asking Him for whatsoever they stood
in need.163.

The Chief being asked what was the distance to Pacaha,
he answered that it was one day’s journey, and said that on the extreme of his
territory there was a lake, like an estuary, that entered into the Rio Grande,
to which be would send persons in advance to build a bridge, whereby they might
pass over it. The night of the day the Governor left, he slept at a town of
Casqui; and the next day he passed in sight of two other towns, and arrived at
the lake, which was half a crossbow-shot over, of great depth and swiftness of
current. The Indians had just got done the bridge as he came up. It was built
of wood, in the manner of timber thrown across from tree to tree; on one side
there being a rail of poles, higher than the rest, as a support for those who
should pass. The Cacique of Casqui having come with his people, the Governor
sent word by an Indian to the Cacique of Pacaha, that though he might be at
enmity with him of Casqui, and that Chief be present, he should receive neither
injury nor insult, provided that he attended in peace and desired his
friendship, for as a brother would he treat him. The Indian went as he was bid,
and returned, stating that the Cacique took no notice of the message, but that
he fled out of the town, from the back part, with all his people. Then the
Governor entered there, and with the cavalry charged in the direction the
Indians were running, and at another town, a quarter of a league off, many were
taken. As fast as they were captured, the horsemen delivered them to the
Indians of Casqui, who, from being their enemies, brought them with great heed
and pleasure to the town where the Christians were, greatly regretting that
they had not the liberty to, kill them. Many shawls, deer-skins, lion and
bear-skins, and many cat-skins were found in the town. Numbers who had been a
long time badly covered, there clothed themselves. Of the shawls they made
mantles and cassocks; some made gowns and lined them with cat-skins, as they
also did the cassocks. Of the deer-skins were made jerkins, shirts, stockings,
and shoes; and from the bear-skins they made very good cloaks, such as no water
could get through. They found shields of raw cow-hide out of which armour was
made for the horses.164.



ON Wednesday, the nineteenth day of June, the Governor
entered Pacaha, and took quarters in the town where the Cacique was accustomed
to reside. It was enclosed and very large. In the towers and the palisade were
many loopholes. There was much dry maize, and the new was in great quantity,
throughout the fields. At the distance of half a league to a league off were
large towns, all of them surrounded with stockades.165.

Where the Governor stayed was a great lake, near to the
enclosure; and the water entered a ditch that well-nigh went round the town.
From the River Grande to the lake was a canal, through which the fish came into
it, and where the Chief kept them for his eating and pastime. With nets that
were found in the place, as many were taken as need required; and however much
might be the casting, there was never any lack of them. In the many other lakes
about were also many fish, though the flesh was soft, and none of it so good as
that which came from the river. The greater number differ from those in the.,
fresh water of Spain. There was a fish called bagre, the third part of which
was head, with gills from end to end, and along the sides were great spines,
like very sharp awls. Those of this sort that lived in the lake were as big as
pike; in the river were some that weighed from one hundred to one hundred and
fifty pounds. Many, were taken with the hook. There was one in the shape of
barbel; another like bream, with the head of a hake, having a colour between
red and brown, and was the most esteemed. There was likewise a kind called
peel-fish, the snout a cubit in length, the upper lip being shaped like a
shovel. Another fish was like a shad. Except the bagres. and the peel, they
were all of scale. There was one, called pereo, the Indians sometimes brought,
the size of a hog, and had rows of teeth above and below.166.

The Cacique of Casqui many times sent large presents of
fish, shawls, and skins. Having told the Governor that he would deliver into
his hands the Cacique of Pacaha, he went to Casqui, and ordered many canoes to
ascend the river, while he should march by land, taking many of his warriors.
The Governor, with forty cavalry and sixty infantry, was conducted by him up
stream; and the Indians who were in the canoes discovered the Cacique of Pacaha
on an islet between two arms of the river. Five Christians entered a canoe, of
whom was Don Antonio Osorio, to go in advance and see what number of people the
Cacique had with him. There were five or six thousand souls, who, directly as
they saw the people, taking the Indians who went in the canoes to be Christians
also, the Cacique, and as many as could get into three canoes that were there,
fled to the opposite bank; the greater part of the rest, in terror and
confusion, plunging into the river to swim, many, mostly women and infants, got
drowned, Then the Governor, who was on land, without knowing what was passing
with Don Antonio and those who accompanied him, ordered the Christians, in all
haste, to enter the canoes with the Indians of Casqui, and they directly
joining Don Antonio on the islet, many men and women were taken, and much

Many clothes, which the Indians had in cane hurdles and
on rafts to carry over, floated down stream, the people of Casqui filling their
canoes with them; and, in fear that the Christians might take these away, their
Chief went off with them down the river to his territory, without taking leave.
At this the Governor became indignant, and directly returning to Pacaha, two
leagues on the road, he overran the country of Casqui, capturing twenty or
thirty of its men. The horses being tired, and there remaining no time that day
to go farther, he went on to Pacaha, with the intention of marching in three or
four days upon Casqui, directly letting loose a man of Pacaha, sending word by
him to its Chief, that should he desire his friendship to come to him, and
together they would go to carry war upon Casqui: and immediately there arrived
many people of Pacaha, bringing as the chief an Indian, who was exposed by a
prisoner, brother of the Cacique. The Governor told them that their lord must
come; that he well knew that Indian was not he; for that nothing could be done
without its being known to him before they so much as thought of it. The
Cacique came the next day, followed by many Indians, with a large gift of fish,
skins, and shawls. He made a speech, that all were glad to hear, and concluded
by saying, that although his lordship had causelessly inflicted injury on his
country and his subjects, he did not any the less cease to be his, and was
always at his command. The Governor ordered his brother to be let go, and some
principal men he held captives. That day a messenger arrived from Casqui,
saying that his master would come early on the morrow to excuse the error he
had committed in going away without his license; to which the Governor bade him
say, in return, to the Cacique, that if he did not come himself in person he
would go after .him, and inflict the punishment he deserved.168.

The Chief of Casqui came the next day, and after
presenting many shawls, skins, and fish, he gave the Governor a daughter,
saying that his greatest desire was to unite his blood with that of so great a
lord as he was, begging that he would take her to wife. He made a long and
discreet oration, full of praise of Soto; and concluded by asking his
forgiveness, for the love of that cross he had left, for having gone off
without his permission; that he had done so because of the shame be felt for
what his people had done without his consent. The Governor said that he had
taken a good sponsor; that he had himself determined, if the Cacique had not
come to apologize, to go after him and burn his towns, kill him and his people,
and lay waste his country. To this the Chief replied:169.


I and mine belong to you; and my territory is yours,
so that you will destroy it, if you will, as your own, and your people you will
slay. All that falls from your hand I shall receive as from my lord’s, and as
merited chastisement. Know, that the service you have done me in leaving that
cross has been signal, and more than I have deserved; for, you know, of great
droughts the maize in our fields was perishing, and no sooner had I and mine
thrown ourselves on our knees before it, asking for water, than the want was
supplied. 170.

The Governor made friendship between the Chiefs of
Casqui and Pacaha, and placed them at the table, that they should eat with him.
They had a difficulty as to who should sit at his right hand, which the
Governor quieted by telling them that among the Christians the one seat was as
good as the other; that they should so consider it, and while with him no one
should understand otherwise, each taking the seat he first came to . Thence he
sent thirty horsemen and fifty footmen to the Province of Caluça, to see if in
that direction they could turn back towards Chisca, where the Indians said
there was a foundry of gold and copper. They travelled seven days through
desert, and returned in great extremity, eating green ameixas and maize-stalks,
which they had found in a poor town of seven or eight houses. The Indians
stated that thence towards the north, the country, being very cold, was very
thinly populated; that cattle were in such plenty, no maize-field could be
protected from them, and the inhabitants lived upon the meat. Seeing that the
country was so poor off for maize that there could be no support, the Governor
asked the Indians in what direction there were most inhabitants; and they said
that they had knowledge of a large province and a country of great abundance,
called Quiguate, that lay in the southern direction.171.



THE Governor rested in Pacaha forty days, during which
time the two Caciques made him presents of fish, shawls, and skins, in great
quantity, each striving to outdo the other in the magnitude of the gifts. At
the time of his. departure, the Chief of Pacaha bestowed on him two of his
sisters, telling him that they were tokens of love, for his remembrance, to be
his wives. The name of one was Macanoche, that of the other Mochila. They were
symmetrical, tall, and full: Macanoche bore a pleasant expression; in her
manners and features appeared the lady; the other was robust. The Cacique of
Casqui ordered the bridge to be repaired; and the Governor, returning through
his territory, lodged in the field near his town. He brought there much fish,
exchanged two women for as many shirts with two of the Christians, and
furnished a guide and tamemes. The Governor marched to one of his towns, and
slept, and the next night came to another that was near a river, where he
ordered him to bring canoes, that he might cross over. There taking his leave,
the Chief went back.172.

The Governor travelled towards Aquiguate, and on the
fourth day of August came to the residence of the Cacique, who, although he had
sent him a present, on the road, of many shawls and skins, abandoned the place
through fear on his arrival. That town was the largest seen in Florida:
one-half of it was occupied by the Governor and his people; and, after a few
days, discovering that the Indians were dealing in falsehoods, he ordered the
other part to be burned, that it might not afford them cover should they attack
him at night, nor be an embarrassment to his cavalry in a movement to repel
them. An Indian having come, attended by a multitude, declaring himself to be
the Cacique, the Governor delivered him over to be looked after by his
body-guard. Many of the Indians went off, and returned with shawls and skins;
but, finding small opportunity for carrying out their evil plan, one day the
pretended Cacique, walking out of the house with the Governor, ran away with
such swiftness that not one of the Christians could overtake him; and plunging
into the river, at the distance of a crossbow-shot from the town, he made for
the other shore, where many Indians, giving loud shouts, began to make use of
their arrows. The Governor directly crossed over to attack them with horse and
foot; but they dared not await him: following them up, he came to a town that
was abandoned, before which there was a lake the horses could not pass over,
and on the other side were many females. The footmen having crossed, capturing
many of them, took much clothing. Returning to the camp early in the night, the
sentinels seized a spy, who assenting to the request to lead to where the
Cacique was, the Governor directly set out with twenty cavalry and fifty
infantry in quest of him. After travelling a day and a half, they found him in
a thick wood; and a soldier, ignorant of who he was, having struck him on the
head with a cutlass, he called out not to kill him, that he was the Chief ; so
he was captured, and with him one hundred and forty of his people.173.

The Governor, returning to Quiguate, directed him to
tell his people to come and serve the Christians; but, after waiting some days,
in the hope of their arrival, and finding that they did not come, he sent two
captains, each on an opposite side of the river, with infantry and cavalry,
whereby many of both sexes were made prisoners. The Indians, seeing the harm
that they received for their rebellious conduct, waited on the Governor to take
his commands, coming and going often, bringing with them presents of fish. The
Cacique and two of his wives being at their liberty in the quarters of the
Governor, which were guarded by his halberdiers, he asked them what part of the
country was most inhabited; to which they replied, that to the south, or down
the river, where were large towns, and the Caciques governed wide territories,
with numerous people; and that to the northwest was a province, near some
mountains, called Coligoa. He, with the others, deemed it well to go thither
first; saying that the mountains, perhaps, would make a difference in the soil,
and that silver and gold might afterward follow.174.

The country of Aquiguate, like that of Casqui and
Pacaha, was level and fertile, having rich river margins, on which the Indians
made extensive fields. From Tascaluça to the River Grande may be three hundred
leagues; a region very low, having many lakes: from Pacha to Quiguate there may
be one hundred and ten leagues. There he left the Cacique in his own town; and
an Indian guided them through an immense pathless thicket of desert for seven
days, where they slept continually in ponds and shallow puddles. Fish were so
plentiful in them that they were killed with blows of cudgels; and as the
Indians travelled in chains, they disturbed the mud at the bottom, by which the
fish, becoming stupefied, would swim to the surface, when as many were taken as
were desired.175.

The inhabitants of Coligoa had never heard of the
Christians, and when these got so near their town as to be seen, they fled up
stream along a river that passed near by there; some throwing themselves into
the water, whence they were taken by their pursuers, who, on either bank,
captured many of both sexes, and the Cacique with the rest. Three days from
that time came many Indians, by his order, with offerings of shawls,
deer-skins, and two cowhides: they stated that at the distance of five or six
leagues towards the north were many cattle, where the country, being cold, was
thinly inhabited; and that, to the best of their knowledge, the province that
was better provisioned than any other, and more populous, was one to the south,
called Cayas.176.

About forty leagues from Quiguate stood Coligoa, at the
foot of a mountain, in the vale of- a river of medium size, like the Caya, a
stream that passes through Estremadura. The soil was rich, yielding maize in
such profusion that the old was thrown out of store to make room for the new
grain. Beans and pumpkins were likewise in great plenty: both were larger and
better than those of Spain: the pumpkins, when roasted, have nearly the taste
of chestnuts. The Cacique continued behind in his own town, having given a
guide for the way to Cayas.177.

We travelled five days, and came to the Province of
Palisema. The house of the Cacique was canopied with coloured deerskins, having
designs drawn on them, and the ground was likewise covered in the same manner,
as if with carpets. He had left it in that state for the use of the Governor, a
token of peace, and of a desire for friendship, though still he did not dare to
await his coming. The Governor, finding that he had gone away, sent a captain
with horse and foot to look after him; and though many persons were seen,
because of the roughness of the country, only a few men and boys were secured.
The houses were few and scattered: only a little maize was found.178.

Directly the Governor set forward and came to
Tatalicoya, whence he took the Cacique, who guided him to Cayas, a distance of
four days’ journey from that town. When he arrived and saw the scattered
houses, he thought, from the information he had received of the great
populousness of the country, that the Cacique was lying to him–that it was not
the province; and he menaced him, bidding him tell where he was. The Chief,
likewise the other Indians taken near by, declared that to be in Cayas, the
best town in all the province; and that although the houses were far apart, the
country occupied being extensive, it had numerous people and many maize-fields.
The town was called Tanico. The camp was placed in the best part of it, nigh a
river. On the day of arrival, the Governor, with some mounted men, went a
league farther, but found no one, and only some skins, which the Cacique had
put on the road to be taken, a sign of peace, by the usage of the country.179.



THE Governor tarried a month in the Province of Cayas.
In this time the horses fattened and throve more than they had done at other
places in a longer time, in consequence of the large quantity of maize there.
The blade of it, I think, is the best fodder that grows. The beasts drank so
copiously from the very warm and brackish lake, that they came having their
bellies swollen with the leaf when they were brought back from watering. To
that spot the Christians had wanted salt: they now made a quantity and took it
with them. The Indians carry it into other parts, to exchange for skins and

The salt is made along by a river, which, when the water
goes down, leaves it upon the sand. As they cannot gather the salt without a
large mixture of sand, it is thrown together into certain baskets they have for
the purpose, made large at the mouth and small at the bottom. These are set in
the air on a ridge-pole; and water being thrown on, vessels are placed under
them wherein it may fall; then, being strained and placed on the fire, it is
boiled away, leaving salt at the bottom.181.

The lands on the shores of the river were fields, and
maize was in plenty. The Indians dared not cross the river to where we were.
Some appearing, were called to by the soldiers who saw them, and having come
over were conducted by them before the Governor. On being asked for the
Cacique, they said that he was peaceful but afraid to show himself. The
Governor directly sent them back to tell him to come, and, if he desired his
friendship, to bring an interpreter and a guide for the travel before them;
that if he did not do so he would go in pursuit, when it would be the worse for
him. The Governor waited three days, and finding that the Cacique did not come,
he went in pursuit and brought him there a captive, with one hundred and fifty
of his people. He asked him if he had knowledge of any great cacique, and in
what direction the country was most inhabited. The Indian stated, that the
largest population about there was that of a province lying to the southward,
thence a day and a half’s travel, called Tulla; that he could give him a guide,
but no interpreter; that the tongue of that country was different from his, and
that he and his ancestors had ever been at war with its chiefs, so that they
neither conversed together nor understood each other.182.

Then the Governor, with cavalry and fifty infantry,
directly set out for Tulla, to see if it were such a land as he might pass
through with his troops. So soon as it became known that he had reached there,
the inhabitants were summoned; and as they gathered by fifteen and twenty at a
time, they would come to attack the Christians. Finding that they were sharply
handled, and that in running the horses would overtake them, they got upon the
house-tops, where they endeavoured to defend themselves with their bows and
arrows. When beaten off from one roof, they would get up on to another; and the
Christians while going after some, others would attack them from an opposite
direction. The struggle lasted so long that the steeds, becoming tired, could
not be made to run. One horse was killed and others were wounded. Of the
Indians fifteen were slain, and forty women and boys made prisoners; for to no
one who could draw a bow and could be reached was his life spared him.183.

The Governor determined at once to go back, before the
inhabitants should have time to conic together. That afternoon he set out, and
travelling into the night, he slept on the road to avoid Tulla, and arrived the
next day at Cayas. Three days later he marched to Tulla, bringing with him the
Cacique, among whose Indians he was unable to find one who spoke the language
of that place. He was three days on the way, and at his arrival found the town
abandoned, the inhabitants not venturing to remain for him. But no sooner did
they know that he was in the town, than, at four o’clock on the morning of the
first night, they came upon him in two squadrons, from different directions,
with bows and arrows and with long staves like pikes. So soon as they were
felt, both cavalry and infantry turned out. Some Christians and some horses
were injured. Many of the Indians were killed.184.

Of those made captive, the Governor sent six to the
Cacique, their right hands and their noses cut off, with the message, that, if
he did not come to him to apologize and render obedience, he would go in
pursuit, and to him, and as many of his as he might find, would he do as he had
done to those he sent. He allowed him three days in which to appear, making
himself understood by signs, in the best manner possible, for want of an
interpreter. At the end of that time an Indian, bearing a back-load of
cow-skins from the Cacique, arrived, weeping with great sobs, and coming to
where the Governor was, threw himself at his feet. Soto raised him up, and the
man made a speech, but there was none to understand him. The Governor, by
signs, told him to return and say to the Cacique, that he must send him some
one who could speak with the people of Cayas. Three Indians came the next day
with loads of cowskins, and three days afterward came twenty others. Among them
was one who understood those of Cayas. After a long oration from him, of
apologies for the Cacique and in praise of the Governor, he concluded by
saying, that he with the others had come, in behalf of the Chief, to inquire
what his lordship would command, for that he was ready to serve him.185.

At hearing these words the Governor and the rest were
all rejoiced; for in no way could they go on without a guide. He ordered the
man to be safely kept, and told the Indians who came with him to go back to the
Cacique and say, that he forgave him the past and greatly thanked him for the
interpreter and the presents; that he should be pleased to see him, and to come
the next day, that they might talk together. He came at the end of three days,
and with him eighty Indians. As he and his men entered the camp they wept,the
token of obedience and the repentance of of a past error, according to the
usage of that country. He brought a present of many cowskins, which were found
very useful; the country being cold, they were taken for bedcovers, as they
were very soft and the wool like that of sheep. Near by, to the northward, are
many cattle. The Christians did not see them, nor go where they were, because
it was a country thinly populated, having little maize. The Cacique of Tulla
made an address to the Governor, in which he apologized and offered him his
country, his vassals, and his person. The speech of this Cacique–like those of
the other chiefs, and all the messengers in their behalf who came before the
Governor–no orator could more elegantly phrase.186.



THE Governor informed himself of the country in every
direction. He ascertained that toward the west there was a thin population, and
to the southeast were great towns, principally in a province, abundant of
maize, called Autiamque, at the distance of about eighty leagues, ten days’
journey from Tulla. The winter was already come. The cold, rain, and snow did
not permit the people to travel for two or three months in the year, and the
Governor feared to remain among that sparse population, lest his force could
not be subsisted for that length of time. More,over, the Indians said that near
Autiamque was a great water, which, from their account, appeared to him to be
an arm of the sea. Hence, he determined to winter in that province, and in the
following summer to go to, the sea-side, where he would build two brigantines,
–one to send to Cuba, the other to New Spain, that the arrival of either might
bear tidings of him. Three years had elapsed since he had been heard of by Doña
Ysabel, or by any person in a civilized community. Two hundred and fifty men of
his were dead, likewise one hundred and fifty horses. He desired to recruit
from Cuba of man and beast, calculating, out of his property there, to refit
and again go back to advance, to discover and to conquer farther on towards the
west, where he had not reached, and whither Cabeça de Vaca had wandered.187.

Having dismissed the Caciques of Tulla and Cayas, the
Governor took up his course, marching five days over very sharp mountains, and
arrived in a peopled district called Quipana. Not a native could be captured,
because of the roughness of the country, and the town was among ridges. At
night an ambuscade was set, in which two men were taken, –who said that
Autiamque was six days’ journey distant, and that there was another province
toward the south, eight days’ travel off, called Guahate, very abundant in
maize and very populous. However, as Autiamque was nearer, and most of the
Indians spoke of it, the Governor continued on his journey thither.188.

At the end of three days he came to a town called
Anoixi. Having sent a captain in advance, with thirty horse and fifty foot,
they came suddenly upon the inhabitants, taking many of both sexes. On the
second day afterwards, the Governor arrived at another town, called Catamaya,
and slept in the adjacent fields. Two Indians coming to him from the Cacique,
with the pretext of a message, in order to ascertain his business, he told them
to say to their master, that he wished to speak with him; but they came no
more, nor was other word returned. The next day the Christians went to the
town, which was without people, and having taken what maize they needed, that
night they reached a wood to rest, and the day following arrived at

They found in store much maize, also beans, walnuts, and
dried ameixas in large quantities. Some Indians were taken while gathering up
their clothing, having already carried away their wives. The country was level
and very populous. The Governor lodged in the best portion of the town, and
ordered a fence immediately to be put up about the encampment, away from the
houses, that the Indians without might do no injury with fire. Measuring off
the ground by pacing, he allotted to each his part to build, according to the
Indians he possessed; and the timber being soon brought by them, in three days
it was finished, made of very high trees sunk deep in the ground, and traversed
by many pieces.190.

Near by passed a river of Cayas, the shores of it well
peopled, both above and below the town. Indians appeared on the part of the
Cacique with a present of shawls and skins, and a lame Chief, the lord of a
town called Tietiquaquo, subject to the Cacique of Autiamque, came frequently
to visit the Governor, and brought him gifts of the things he possessed. The
Cacique sent to the Governor to, inquire what length of time he would remain in
his territory; and hearing that he was to be there more than three days, he
sent no more messages nor Indians, but treated with the lame Chief to insurge.
Numerous inroads were made, in which many persons of both sexes were taken, and
among the rest that Chief, whom the Governor, having reprehended and
admonished, set at liberty, in consideration of the presents he had made,
giving him two Indians to bear him away on their shoulders. The Cacique of
Autiamque, desiring to drive the strangers out of his territory, ordered spies
to be set about them. An Indian, coming at night to the entrance of the
palisade, was noticed by a soldier on guard, who, putting himself behind the
door as he entered, struck him down with a cutlass. When taken before the
Governor, he was asked why he came, but fell dead without utterance. The next
night the Governor sent a soldier to beat the alarm, and cry out that he saw
Indians, in order to ascertain how fast the men would hasten to the call. This
was done also in other places, at times when it appeared to him they were
careless, that he might reprove those who were late in coming; so that for
danger, as well as for doing his duty, each one on such occasion would strive
to be the first.191.

The Christians stayed three months in Autiamque,
enjoying the greatest plenty of maize, beans, walnuts, and dried ameixas; also
conies, which they had never had ingenuity enough to ensnare until the Indians
there taught them. The contrivance is a strong spring, that lifts the animal
off its feet, a noose being made of a stiff cord to run about the neck, passing
through rings of cane, that it may not be gnawed. Many of them were taken in
the maize-fields, usually when it was freezing or snowing. The Christians were
there a month in snow, when they did not go out of town, save to a wood, at the
distance of two crossbow-shots, to which, whenever fuel was wanted, a road was
opened, the Governor and others, on horseback, going to and returning from it
many times, when it was brought from there by those on foot. In this time many
conies were killed with arrows by the Indians, who were now allowed to go at
large in their shackles. The animal is of two sorts; one of them like that of
Spain, the other of the colour, form, and size of the great hare, though longer
even, and having bigger loins.192.



ON Monday, the sixth day of March, of the year 1542 of
the Christian era, the Governor set out from Autiamque to seek Nilco, which the
Indians said was nigh the River Grande, with the purpose, by going to the sea,
to recruit his forces. He had not over three hundred efficient men, nor more
than forty horses. Some of the beasts were lame, and useful only in making out
the show of a troop of cavalry; and, from the lack of iron, they had all gone a
year without shoes, though, from the circumstance of travelling in a smooth
country, they had little need of them.193.

Juan Ortiz died in Autiamque, a loss the Governor
greatly regretted; for, without an interpreter, not knowing whither he was
travelling, Soto feared to enter the country, lest he might get lost.
Thenceforth a lad, taken in Cutifachiqui, who had learned somewhat of the
language of the Christians, served as the interpreter. The death was so great a
hindrance to our going, whether on discovery or out of the country, that to
learn of the Indians what would have been rendered in four words, it became
necessary now to have the whole day: and oftener than otherwise the very
opposite was understood of what was asked; so that many times it happened the
road that we travelled one day, or sometimes two or three days, would have to
be returned over, wandering up and down, lost in thickets. The Governor went to
a province called Ayays, arriving at a town near the river that passed by
Cayas, and by Autiamque, from which he had been ten days in coming. He ordered
a piragua to be built, in which he crossed; and, having arrived on the other
shore, there set in such weather that marching was impossible for four days,
because of snow. When that ceased to fall, he travelled three days through
desert, a region so low, so full of lakes and bad passages, that at one time,
for the whole day, the travel lay through water up to the knees at places, in
others to the stirrups; and occasionally, for the distance of a few paces,
there was swimming. And he came to Tutelpinco, a town untenanted, and found to
be without maize, seated near a lake that flowed copiously into the river with
a violent current. Five Christians, in charge of a captain, in attempting to
cross, by order of the Governor, were upset; when some seized hold of the canoe
they had employed, others of trees that grew in the water, while one, a worthy
man, Francisco Bastian, a native of Villanueva de Barcarota, became drowned.
The Governor travelled all one day along the margin of the lake, seeking for a
ford, but could discover none, nor any way to get over.194.

Returning to Tutelpinco at night, the Governor found two
friendly natives, who were willing to show him the crossing, and the road he
was to take. From the reeds and timber of the houses, rafts and causeways were
made, on which the river was crossed. After three days’ marching, at Tianto, in
the territory of Nilco, thirty Indians were taken, among whom were two Chiefs
of the town. A captain, with infantry and cavalry, was directly dispatched to
Nilco, that the inhabitants might not have time to carry off their provisions.
In going through three or four large towns, at the one where the Cacique
resided, two leagues from where the Governor stayed, many Indians were found to
be in readiness, with bows and arrows, who, surrounding the place, appeared to
invite an onset; but so soon as they saw the Christians drawing nigh to them
without faltering, they approached the dwelling of the Cacique, setting fire to
it, and, by a pond near the town, through which the horses could not go, they

The following day, Wednesday, the twenty-ninth of March,
the Governor arrived at Nilco, making his quarters, and those of his people, in
the town of the Cacique, which was in an open field, that for a quarter of a
league over was all inhabited; and at the distance of from half a league to a
league off were many other large towns, in which was a good quantity of maize,
beans, walnuts, and dried ameixas. This was the most populous of any country
that was seen in Florida, and the most abundant in maize, excepting Coça and
Apalache. An Indian, attended by a party, arrived at the camp, and, presenting
the Governor with a cloak of marten-skins and a string of pearls, he received
some margaridetas (a kind of bead much esteemed in Peru), and other trinkets,
with which he was well pleased. At leaving, he promised to be back in two days,
but did not return. In the night-time, however, the Indians came in canoes, and
carrying away all the maize they could take, set up their huts on the other
side of the river, among the thickest bushes. The Governor, finding that the
Indians did not arrive within the time promised, ordered an ambuscade to be
placed at some cribs, near the lake, to which the Indians came for maize. Two
of them were taken, who told him that the person who had come to visit him was
not the Cacique, but one sent by him, pretending to be he, in order to observe
what might be the vigilance of the Christians, and whether it was their purpose
to remain in that country, or to go farther. Directly a captain, with men on
horseback and foot, were sent over to the other shore; but, as their crossing
was observed, only ten or a dozen Indians, of both sexes, could be taken; and
with these the Christians returned to camp.196.

This river, passing by Anilco, is the same that flows by
Cayas and Autiamque, and falls into the River Grande, which flows by Pacaha and
Aquixo, near the Province of Guachoya, the lord of which ascended in canoes to
carry war upon him of Nilco. In his behalf a messenger came to the Governor,
saying that the Cacique was his servant, desiring to be so considered, and that
in two days from that time he would come to make his salutation. He arrived in
season, accompanied by some of his principal men, and with great proffers and
courtesy, he presented many shawls and deer-skins. The Governor gave him some
articles of barter, showing him much attention, and inquired what towns there
might be on the river below. He replied that he knew of none other than his
own; that opposite was the Province of a Cacique called Quigaltam; then, taking
his leave, returned to his town.197.

The Governor determined to go to Guachoya within a few
days, to learn if the sea were near, or if there were any inhabited territory
nigh it, where he might find subsistence whilst those brigantines were
building, that he desired to send to a country of Christians. As he crossed the
River of Nilco, there came up Indians in canoes from Guachoya, who, when they
saw him, thinking that he was in their pursuit, to do them harm, they returned
down the river, and informed the Cacique, when he took away from the town
whatsoever his people could carry, and passed over with them, all that night,
to the other bank of the River Grande. The Governor sent a captain with fifty
men, in six canoes, down the river to Guachoya; while he, with the rest,
marched by land, arriving there on Sunday, the seventeenth day of April. He
took up his quarters in the town of the Cacique, which was palisaded, seated a
crossbow-shot from the stream, that is there called the River Tamaliseu, Tapatu
at Nilco, Mico at Coça, and at its entrance is known as The River.198.



So soon as the Governor arrived in Guachoya, he ordered
Juan de Añasco, with as many people as could go in the canoes, to ascend the
river; for while they were coming from Anilco they saw some cabins newly built
on the opposite shore. The Comptroller went, and brought back the boats laded
with maize, beans, dried ameixas, and the pulp of them made into many loaves.
The same day an. Indian arrived from Guachoya, and said that the Cacique would
come on the morrow. The next day, many canoes were seen ascending the river;
and the people in them remained for an hour on the opposite side of the River
Grande, in consultation, as to whether they should come to us or not; but
finally they concluded to come, and crossed the river, among them being the
Cacique of Guachoya with many Indians, bringing much fish, many dogs, skins,
and blankets. So soon as they had landed, they went to the lodging of the
Governor in the town, and having presented him with the offerings, the Cacique
thus spoke:199.


I entreat you to forgive me the error I committed in
going away from this town, and not waiting to greet and to obey you; since the
occasion should have been for me, and is, one of pride: but I dreaded what I
should not have feared, and did consequently what was out of reason; for error
comes of haste, and I left without proper thought. So soon as I had reflected,
I resolved not to follow the inclination of the foolish, which is to persist in
his course, but to take that of the discreet and the wise: thus have I changed
my purpose, coming to see in what it is you will bid me serve you, within the
farthermost limits of my control. 200.

The Governor received him with much pleasure, thanking
him for the proffers and gift. Being asked if he had any information ,of the
sea, he said, none, nor of any other inhabited country below on that side of
the river, except a town two leagues distant, belonging to a chief subject to
him; nor on the other shore, save three leagues down, the Province of
Quigaltam, the lord of which was the greatest of that country. The Governor,
suspecting that the Cacique spoke untruthfully, to rid his towns of him, sent
Juan de Añasco with eight of cavalry down the river, to discover what
population might be there, and get what knowledge there was of the sea. He was
gone eight days, and stated, when he got back, that in all that time he could
not travel more than fourteen or fifteen leagues, on account of the great bogs
that came out of the river, the canebrakes and thick scrubs there were along
the margin, and that he had found no inhabited spot.201.

The Governor sank into a deep despondency at sight of
the difficulties that presented themselves to his reaching the sea; and, what
was worse, from the way in which the men and horses were diminishing in
numbers, he could not sustain himself in the country without succour. Of that
reflection he pined: but, before he took to his pallet, he sent a messenger to
the Cacique of Quigaltam, to say that he was the child of the Sun, and whence
he came all obeyed him, rendering their tribute; that he besought him to value
his friendship, and to come where he was; that he would be rejoiced to see him;
and in token of love and his obedience, he must bring him something from his
country that was in most esteem there. By the same Indian, the Chief returned
this answer:202.

As to what you say of your being the son of the Sun,
if you will cause him to dry up the great river, I will believe you: as to the
rest, it is not my custom to visit any one, but rather all, of whom I have ever
heard, have come to visit me, to serve and obey me, and pay me tribute, either
voluntarily or by force: if you desire to see me, come where I am; if for
peace, I will receive you with special goodwill; if for war, I will await you
in my town; but neither for you, nor for any man, will I set back one foot.

When the messenger returned, the Governor was already
low, being very ill of fevers. He grieved that he was not in a state to cross
the river at once, and go in quest of the Cacique, to see if he could not abate
that pride; though the stream was already flowing very powerfully, was nearly
half a league broad, sixteen fathoms in height, rushing by in furious torrent,
and on either shore were many Indians; nor was his power any longer so great
that he might disregard advantages, relying on his strength alone. Every day
the Indians of Guachoya brought fish, until they came to be in such plenty that
the town was covered with them.204.

The Governor having been told by the Cacique, that on
a certain night, the Chief of Quigaltam would come to give him battle, he
suspected it to be a fiction of his devising to get him out of his country, and
he ordered him to be put under guard, and from that -night forth the watch to
be well kept. When asked why the Chief did not come, he said that he had, but
that, finding the Governor in -readiness, he dared not adventure; and he
greatly importuned him to send the captains ,over the river, offering to supply
many men to go upon Quigaltam; to which the Governor said, that so soon as he
got well he would himself go to seek that Cacique. Observing how, many Indians
came every day to the town, and how populous was that country, the Governor
fearing that they would plot together, and practise on him some perfidy, he
permitted the gates in use, and some gaps in the palisade that had not yet been
closed up, to remain open, that the Indians might not suppose he stood in fear,
ordering the cavalry to be distributed there; and the night long they made the
round, from each squadron going mounted men in couples to visit the scouts,
outside the town, at points in the roads, and to the crossbow-men that guarded
the canoes in the river.205.

That the Indians might stand in terror of them, the
Governor determined to send a captain to Nilco, which the people of Guachoya
had told him was inhabited, and, treating the inhabitants there severely,
neither town would dare to attack him: so he commanded Captain Nuño de Tobar to
march thither with fifteen horsemen, and Captain Juan de Guzman, with his
company of foot, to ascend the river by water in canoes. The Cacique of
Guachoya ordered canoes to be brought, and many warriors to come, who went with
the Christians. Two leagues from Nilco, the cavalry, having first arrived,
waited for the foot, and thence together they crossed the river in the night.
At dawn, in sight of the town, they came upon a scout, who, directly as he saw
the Christians, set up loud yells, and fled to carry the news to those in the
place. Nuño de Tobar, and those with him, hastened on so rapidly, that they
were upon the inhabitants before they could all get out of town. The ground was
open field; the part of it covered by the houses, which might be a quarter of a
league in extent, contained five or six thousand souls. Coming out of them, the
Indians ran from one to another habitation, numbers collecting in all parts, so
that there was not a man on horseback who did not find himself amidst many; and
when the Captain ordered that the life of no male should be spared, the
surprise was such, that there was not a man among them in readiness to draw a
bow. The cries of the women and children were such as to deafen those who
pursued them. About one hundred men were slain; many were allowed to get away
badly wounded, that they might strike terror into those who were absent.206.

Some persons were so cruel and butcherlike that they
killed all before them, young and old, not one having resisted little nor much;
while those who felt it their duty to be wherever there might be resistance,
and were esteemed brave, broke through the crowds of Indians, bearing down many
with their stirrups and the breasts of their horses, giving some a thrust and
letting them go, but encountering a child or a woman would take and deliver it
over to the footmen. To the ferocious and bloodthirsty, God permitted that
their sin should rise up against them in the presence of all-when there was
occasion for, fighting showing extreme cowardice, and in the end paying for it
with their lives.207.

Eighty women and children were captured at Nilco, and
much clothing. The Indians, of Guachoya, before arriving at the town, had come
to a stop, and from without watched the success of the Christians over the
inhabitants; and when they saw that these were scattered, that the cavalry were
following and lancing them, they went to the houses for plunder, filling the
canoes with clothing; and lest the Christians might take away what they got,
they returned to Guachoya, where they came greatly astonished at what they had
seen done to the people of Nilco, which they, in great fear, recounted
circumstantially to their Cacique.208.



THE Governor, conscious that the hour approached in
which he should depart this life, commanded that all the King’s officers should
be called before him, the captains and the principal personages, to whom he
made a speech. He said that he was about to go into the presence of God, to
give account of all his past life; and since He had been pleased to take him
away at such a time, and when he could recognize the moment of his death, he,
His most unworthy servant, rendered Him hearty thanks. He confessed his deep
obligations to them all, whether present or absent, for their great qualities,
their love and loyalty to his person, well tried in the sufferance of hardship,
which he ever wished to honour, and had designed to reward, when the Almighty
should be pleased to give him repose from labour with greater prosperity to his
fortune. He begged that they would pray for him, that through mercy he might be
pardoned his sins, and his soul be received in glory: he asked that they would
relieve him of the charge he held over them, as well of the indebtedness he was
under to them all, as to forgive him any wrongs they might have received at his
hands. To prevent any divisions that might arise, as to who should command, he
asked that they would be pleased to elect a principal and able person to be
governor, one with whom they should all be satisfied, and, being chosen, they
would swear before him to obey: that this would greatly satisfy him, abate
somewhat the pains he suffered, and moderate the anxiety of leaving them in a
country, they knew not where.209.

Baltasar de Gallegos responded in behalf of all,
consoling him with remarks on the shortness of the life of this world, attended
as it was by so many toils and afflictions, saying that whom God earliest
called away, He showed particular favour; with many other things appropriate to
such an occasion: And finally, since it pleased the Almighty to take him to
Himself, amid the deep sorrow they not unreasonably felt, it was necessary and
becoming in him, as in them, to conform to the Divine Will: that as respected
the election of a governor, which he ordered, whomsoever his Excellency should
name to the command, him would they obey. Thereupon the Governor nominated Luys
Moscoso de Alvarado to be his Captain-General; when by all those present was he
straightway chosen and sworn Governor.210.

The next day, the twenty-first of May, departed this
life the magnanimous, the virtuous, the intrepid Captain, Don Hernando de
Soto,, Governor of Cuba and Adelantado of Florida. He was advanced by fortune,
in the way she, is wont to lead others, that he might fall the greater depth:
he died in a land, and at a time, that could afford him little comfort in his
illness, when the danger of being no more heard from stared his companions in
the face, each one himself having need of sympathy, which was the cause why
they neither gave him their companionship nor visited him, as otherwise they
would have done.211.

Luys de Moscoso determined to conceal what had happened
from the Indians; for Soto had given them to understand that the Christians
were immortal; besides, they held him to be vigilant, sagacious, brave; and,
although they were at peace, should they know him to be dead, they, being of
their nature inconstant, might venture on making an attack; and they were
credulous of all that he had told them, who made them believe that some things
which went on among them privately, and he had come at without their being able
to see how, or by what means, that the figure which appeared in a mirror he
showed, told him whatsoever they might be about, or desired to do; whence
neither by word nor deed did they dare undertake any thing to his injury.212.

So soon as the death had taken place, Luys ,de Moscoso
directed the body to be put secretly into a house, where it remained three
days; and thence it was taken at night, by his order, to a gate of the town,
and buried within. The Indians, who had seen him ill, finding him no longer,
suspected the reason; .and passing by where he lay, they observed the ground
loose, and, looking about, talked among themselves. This coming to the
knowledge of Luys de Moscoso, he ordered the corpse to be taken up at night,
and among the shawls that enshrouded it having cast abundance of sand, it was
taken out in a canoe and committed to the middle of the stream. The Cacique of
Guachoya asked for him, saying: “What has been done with ‘my brother and lord,
the Governor?” Luys de Moscoso told him that he had ascended into the skies,
as he had done on other many occasions; but as he would have to be detained
there some time, he had left him in his stead. The Chief, thinking within
himself that he was dead, ordered two well-proportioned young men to be
brought, saying, that it was the usage of the country, when any lord died, to
kill some persons, who should accompany and serve him on the way, on which
account they were brought; and he told him to command their heads to be struck
off, that they might go accordingly to attend his friend and. master. Luys de
Moscoso replied to him, that the Governor was not dead, but only gone into the
heavens, having taken with him of his soldiers sufficient number for his need,
and he besought him to let those Indians go,, and from that time forward not to
follow so evil a practice. They were presently ordered to be let loose, that
they might return to their houses; but one of them refused to, leave, alleging
that he did not wish to remain in the power of one who, without cause,
condemned him to die, and that he who had saved his life he desired to serve so
long as he should live.213.

Luys de Moscoso ordered the property of the Governor to
be sold at public outcry. It consisted of two male and three female slaves,
three horses, and seven hundred swine. For each slave, or horse, was given two
or three thousand cruzados, to be paid at the first melting up of gold or
silver, or division of vassals and territory, with the obligation that should
there being nothing found in the country, the payment should be made at the end
of a yeah those having no property to pledge to give their bond. A hog brought
in the same way trusted, two hundred cruzados. Those who had left any thing at
home bought more sparingly, and took less than others. From that time forward
most of the people owned and raised hogs; they lived on pork, observed Fridays
and Saturdays, and the vespers of holidays, which they had not done before;
for, at times, they had passed two or three months without tasting any meat,
and on the day they got any, it had been their custom to eat it.214.



SOME were glad of the death of Don Hernando de Soto,
holding it certain that Luys de Moscoso, who was given to leading a gay life,
preferred to see himself at ease in a land of Christians, rather than continue
the toils of war, discovering and subduing, which the people had come to hate,
finding the little recompense that followed. The Governor ordered that the
captains and principal personages should come together, to consult and
determine upon what they would do; and, informed of the population there was on
all sides, he found that towards the west the country was most inhabited, and
that descending the stream, after passing Quigaltam, it was desert and had
little subsistence. He besought them all to give him their opinion in writing,
signed with their names, that, having the views of every one, he might
determine whether to follow down the river or enter the land.215.

To every one it appeared well to march westwardly,
because in that direction was New Spain, the voyage by sea being held more
hazardous and of doubtful accomplishment, as a vessel of sufficient strength to
weather a storm could not be built, nor was there captain nor pilot, needle nor
chart, nor was it known how distant might be the sea; neither had they any
tidings of it, or if the river did not take some great turn through the land,
or might not have some fall over rocks where they might be lost. Some, who had
seen the sea-card, found that by the shore, from the place where they were to
New Spain, there should be about five hundred leagues., and they said that by
land, though they might have to go round-about sometimes, in looking for a
peopled country, unless some great impassable wilderness should intervene, they
could not be hindered from going forward that summer; and, finding provision
for support in some peopled country where they might stop, the following summer
they should arrive in a land of Christians; and that, going by land, it might
be they should discover some rich country which would avail them. Moscoso,
although it was his desire to get out of the land of Florida in the shortest
time, seeing the difficulties that lay before him in a voyage by sea,
determined to undertake that which should appear to be the best to all.216.

Monday, the fifth of June, the Governor left Guachoya,
receiving a guide from the Cacique who remained in his town. They passed
through a province called Catalte; and, going through a desert six days’
journey in ,extent, on the twentieth of the month they came to Chaguate. The
Cacique of the province had been to visit the Governor, Don Hernando de Soto,
at Autiamque, where he took him presents of shawls, skins, and salt. The day
before Luys de Moscoso arrived, a sick Christian becoming missed, whom the
Indians were suspected to have killed, he sent word to the Cacique to look for
and return him–that in so doing he would continue to be his friend; if
otherwise, the Cacique should not hide from him anywhere, nor he nor his, and
that he would leave his country in ashes. The Chief directly came, and,
bringing the Christian, with a large gift of shawls and skins, he made this


I would not deserve that opinion you have of me for
all the wealth of the world. Who impelled me to visit and serve that excellent
lord, the Governor,, your father, in Autiamque, which you should have
remembered, where I offered myself, with all loyalty, truth, and love, to serve
and obey his lifetime: or what could have been my purpose, having received
favours of him, and without either of you having done me any injury, that I
should be moved to do that which I should not? Believe me, no outrage, nor
worldly interest, could have been equal. to making me act thus, or could have
so blinded me. Since, however, in this life, the natural course is, after one
pleasure should succeed many pains, fortune has been pleased with your
indignation to, moderate the joy I felt in my heart at your coming, and have
failed where I aimed to hit, in pleasing this Christian, who remained behind
lost, treating, him in a manner of which he shall himself speak, thinking that
in this I should do you service, and intending to come with and deliver him to
you at Chaguate, serving you in all things, to the extent. possible in my
power. If for this I deserve punishment from your hand, I shall receive it, as
coming from my master’s, as though it were favour. 218.

The Governor answered, that because he. had not found
him in Chaguate he was incensed, supposing that he had kept away, as others had
done; but that, as he now knew his loyalty and love, he would ever consider him
a brother, and would favour him in all matters. The Cacique went with him to
the. town where he resided, the distance of a day’s journey. They passed
through a small town where was a lake, and the Indians made salt: the
Christians made some on the day they rested there, from water that rose near by
from springs in pools. The Governor was six days in Chaguate, where he informed
himself of the people there were to the west. He heard that three days’ journey
distant, was a province called Aguacay.219.

On leaving Chaguate, a Christian remained behind,
named Francisco de Guzman, bastard son of a gentleman of Sevilla, who, in fear
of being made to pay for gaming debts in the person of an Indian girl, his
concubine, he took her away with him; and the Governor, having marched two days
before he was missed, sent word to the Cacique to seek for and send him to
Aguacay, whither he was marching, but the Chief never did. Before arriving at
this province, they received five Indians, coming with a gift of skins, fish,
and roasted venison, sent on the part of the ‘Cacique. The Governor reached his
town on Wednesday, the fourth day of July, and finding it unoccupied, lodged
there. He remained in it a while, making some inroads, in which many Indians of
both sexes were captured. There they heard of the South Sea. Much salt was got
out of the sand, gathered in a vein of earth-like slate, and was made as they
make it in Cayas.220.



THE day the Governor left Aguacay he went to sleep near
a small town, subject to the lord of that province. He set the encampment very
nigh a salt lake, and that afternoon some salt was made. He marched the next
day, and slept between two mountains, in an open grove; the next after, he
arrived at a small town called Pato; and on the fourth day of his departure
from Aguacay he came to the first inhabited place, in a province called Amaye.
There they took an Indian, who said that thence to Naguatex was a day and a
half’s journey, all the way lying through an inhabited region.221.

Having passed out of Amaye, on Saturday, the twentieth
of July, between that place and Naguatex, at mid-day, along a clump of
luxuriant woods, the camp was seated. From thence Indians being seen, who had
come to espy them, those on horseback went in their pursuit, killed six, and
captured two. The prisoners being asked by the Governor why they had come, they
said, to discover the numbers he had, and their condition, having been sent by
their lord, the Chief of Naguatex; and that he, with other caciques, who came
in his company and his cause, had determined on giving him battle that day.222.

While thus conferring, many Indians advanced, formed in
two squadrons, who, so soon as they saw that they were descried, giving whoops,
they assailed the Christians with great fury, each on a different quarter; but
finding how firm was the resistance, they turned, and fleeing, many lost their
lives; the greater part of the cavalry pursuing them – forgetful of the camp,
when those that remained were attacked by other two squadrons, that had lain in
concealment, who, in their turn, having been withstood, paid the penalty that
the first had done.223.

When the Christians came together, after the Indians
fled, they heard loud shouting, at the distance of a crossbow-shot from where
they were; and the Governor sent twelve cavalry to see what might be the cause.
Six Christians were found amidst numerous Indians, two, that were mounted,
defending four on foot, with great difficulty; and they, as well as those who
went to their succour, finally ended by killing many. They had got lost from
those who followed after the first squadrons, and, in returning to the camp,
fell among them with whom they were found fighting. One Indian, brought back
alive, being asked by the Governor who they were that had come to give him
battle, said the Cacique of Naguatex, the one of Maye, and another of a
province called Hacanac, lord of great territories and numerous vassals, he of
Naguatex being in command. The Governor, having ordered his right arm to be cut
off , and his nose, sent him to the Cacique, with word that he would march the
next day into his territory to destroy it, and that if he wished to dispute his
entrance to await him.224.

The Governor stopped there that night, and the following
day be came to the habitations of Naguatex, which were much scattered, and
having asked for the town of the Cacique, be was told that it stood on the
opposite side of a river near by. He marched thitherward; and coming to the
river, on the other bank be saw many Indians awaiting him, set in order to
defend the passage; but, as he did not know whether it might be forded or not,
nor whereabouts it could be crossed, and having some wounded men and horses, he
determined to repose for some time in the town where he was, until they should
be healed225.

In consequence of the great heats that prevailed, be
pitched his camp a quarter of a league from the river, in a fine open grove of
high trees, near a brook, close to the town. Some Indians taken there, having
been asked if the river was fordable, said yes, at times it was, in certain
places; on the tenth day he sent two captains, each with fifteen cavalry, one
up and the other down the stream, with guides to show where they might get
over, to see what towns were to be found on the opposite. side. They were both
opposed by the Indians, who defended the passages the best they could; but
these being taken notwithstanding, on the other shore they found many
habitations, with much subsistence; and having seen this, the detachments went
back to the camp.226.



From Naguatex, where the Governor was, he sent a message
to the Cacique, that, should he come to serve and obey him, he would pardon the
past; and if he did not, he would go to look after him, and would inflict the
chastisement he deserved for what he had done. At the end of two days the
Indian got back, bringing word that to-morrow the Cacique would come. The day
before his arrival, the Chief sent many Indians in advance of him, among whom
were some principal men, to discover in what mood the Governor was, and
determine whether he would himself come or not. They went back directly as they
had announced his approach, the Cacique arriving in a couple of hours
afterward, well attended by his people. They came one before another, in double
file, leaving an opening through the midst, where he walked. They arrived in
the Governor’s presence weeping, after the usage of Tula (thence to the
eastward not very distant), when the Chief, making his proper obeisance, thus


I venture to appear before you, after having been
guilty of so great and bad an act, that, for only having thought of it, I merit
punishment. Trusting in your greatness, although I do not deserve pardon, yet
for your own dignity you will show me mercy, having regard to my inferiority in
comparison with you, forgetting my weakness, which to my sorrow, and for my
greater good, I have come to know. 228.

I believe that you and yours must be immortal; that
you are master of the things of nature; since you subject them all, and they
obey you, even the very hearts of men. Witnessing the slaughter and destruction
of my men in battle, which came of my ignorance, and the counsel of a brother
of mine, who fell in the action, from my heart did I repent the error that I
committed, and directly I desired to serve and obey you: wherefore have I come,
that you may chastise and command me as your own. 229.

The Governor replied, that the past would be forgiven;
and that, should he thenceforward do his duty, he would be his friend,
favouring him in all matters. At the end of four days Luys de Moscoso, set
forward, and arrived at a river he could not pass, it ran so full, which to him
appeared wonderful at the time, more than a month having gone by since there
had been rain. The Indians said, that it often increased in that manner,
without there being rain anywhere, in all the country. It was supposed to be
caused by the sea entering in; but he learned that the water always flowed from
above, and that the Indians nowhere had any information of the sea.230.

The Governor returned back to where he had been the
last days; and, at the end of eight more, understanding that the river might
then be crossed, he left, and passed over to the other bank, where he found
houses, but no people. He lodged out in the fields, and sent word to the
Cacique to come where he was, and to give him a guide to go on with. After some
days, finding that the Cacique did not come, nor send any one, he dispatched
two captains, each of them in a different direction, to set fire to the towns,
and seize the people that might be found. They burned much provision, and
captured many Indians. The Cacique, seeing the damage his territories were
receiving, sent five principal men to Moscoso, with three guides, who
understood the language farther on, whither he would go.231.

Directly the Governor set out from Naguatex, arriving,
on the third day, at a hamlet of four or five houses, belonging to the Cacique
of the poor province named Nissohone, a thinly peopled country, having little
maize. Two days’ journey on the way, the Indians who guided the Governor, in
place of taking him to the west, would lead him to the east, and at times they
went through heavy thickets, out of the road: in consequence, he ordered that
they should be hanged upon a tree. A woman, taken in Nissohone, served as the
guide, who went back to find the road.232.

In two days’ time the Governor came to another
miserable country, called Lacane. An Indian was taken, who said the land of
Nondacao was very populous, the houses much scattered, as in mountainous
regions, and there was plenty of maize. The Cacique came with his Indians,
weeping, as those of Naguatex had done, which is, according to their custom,
significant of obedience; and he made a present of much fish, offering to do
whatsoever might be required of him. He took his departure, leaving a guide for
the Province of Soacatino.233.



THE Governor set out from Nondacao for Soacatino, and on
the fifth day came to a province called Aays. The inhabitants had never heard
of the Christians. So soon as they observed them entering the territory the
people were called out, who, as fast as they could get together, came by
fifties and hundreds on the road, to give battle. While some encountered us,
others fell upon our rear; and when we followed up those, these pursued us. The
attack continued during the greater part of the day, until we arrived at their
town. Some men were injured, and some horses, but nothing so as to hinder
travel, there being not one dangerous wound among all. The Indians suffered
great slaughter.234.

The day on which the Governor departed, the guide told
him he had heard it said in Nondacao, that the Indians of Soacatino had seen
other Christians; at which we were all delighted, thinking it might be true,
and that they could have come by the way of New. Spain; for if it were so,
finding nothing in Florida of value, we should be able to go, out of it, there
being fear we might perish in some wilderness. The Governor, having been led
for two days out of the way, ordered that the Indian be put to the torture,
when he confessed that his master, the Cacique of Nondacao, had ordered him to
take them in, that manner, we being his enemies, and he, as his vassal, was
bound to obey him. He was commanded to be cast to the dogs, and another Indian
guided us to Soacatino, where. we came the following day.235.

The country was very poor, and the want of maize was
greatly felt. The natives being asked if they had any knowledge of other
Christians, said they had heard that near there, towards the south, such men
were moving. about. For twenty days the march was. through a very thinly
peopled country, where. great privation and toil were endured; the little maize
there was, the Indians having. buried in the scrub, where the Christians, at
the close of the day’s march, when they were well weary, went trailing, to seek
for what they had need of it to eat.236.

Arrived at a province called Guasco, they found maize,
with which they loaded the horses and the Indians; thence they went to ,another
settlement, called Naquiscoça, the inhabitants of which said that they had no
knowledge of any other Christians. The Governor ordered them put to torture,
when they stated that farther on, in the territories of another chief, called
Naçacahoz, the Christians had arrived, and gone back toward the west, whence
they came. He reached there in two days, and took some women, among whom was
one who said that she had seen Christians, and, having been in their hands, had
made her escape from them. The Governor sent a captain with fifteen cavalry to
where she said they were seen, to discover if there were any marks of horses,
or signs of any Christians having been there; and after travelling three or
four leagues, she who was the guide declared that all she had said was false;
and so it was deemed of everything else the Indians had told of having seen
Christians in Florida.237.

As the region thereabout was scarce of maize, and no
information could be got of any inhabited country to the west, the Governor
went back to Guasco. The residents -stated, that ten days’ journey from there,
toward the sunset, was a river called Daycao, whither they sometimes went to
drive and kill ,deer, and whence they had seen persons on the other bank, but
without knowing what people they were. The Christians took as much maize as
they could find, to carry with them; and journeying ten days through a
wilderness, they arrived at the river of which the Indians had spoken. Ten
horsemen sent in advance by the Governor had crossed; and, following a road
leading up from the bank, they came upon an encampment of Indians living in
very small huts, who, directly as they saw the Christians, took to flight,
leaving what they had, indications only of poverty and misery. So wretched was
the country, that what was found everywhere, put together, was not half an
alqueire of maize. Taking two natives, they went back to the river, where the
Governor waited; and on coming to question the captives, to ascertain what
towns there might be to the west, no Indian was found in the camp who knew
their language.238.

The Governor commanded the captains and principal
personages to be called together that he might determine now by their opinions
what was best to do. The majority declared it their judgment to return to the
River Grande of Guachoya, because in Anilco and thereabout was much maize; that
during the winter they would build brigantines, and the following spring go
down the river in them in quest of the sea, where having arrived, they would
follow the coast thence along to New Spain, –an enterprise which, although it
appeared to be one difficult to accomplish, yet from their experience it
offered the only course to be pursued. They could not travel by land, for want
of an interpreter; and they considered the country farther on, beyond the River
Daycao, on which they were, to be that which Cabeça de Vaca had said in his
narrative should have to be traversed, where the Indians wandered like Arabs,
having no settled place of residence, living on prickly pears, the roots of
plants, and game; and that if this should be so, and they, entering upon that
tract, found no provision for sustenance during winter, they must inevitably
perish, it being already the beginning of October; and if they remained any
longer where they were, what with rains and snow, they should neither be able
to fall back, nor, in a land so poor as that, to subsist.239.

The Governor, who longed to be again where he could get
his full measure of sleep, rather than govern and go conquering a country so
beset for him with hardships, directly returned, getting back from whence he



WHEN what had been determined on was. proclaimed in the
camp, many were greatly disheartened. They considered the voyage by sea to be
very hazardous, because of their poor subsistence, and as perilous as was the
journey by land, whereon they had looked to find a rich country, before coming
to the soil of the, Christians. This was according to what Cabeça de Vaca told
the Emperor, that after, seeing cotton cloth, would be found gold, silver, and
stones of much value, and they were not yet come to where he had wandered; for
before arriving there, he had always travelled along the coast, and they were
marching far within the land; hence by keeping toward the west they must
unavoidably come to where he had been, as he said that he had gone about in a
certain region a long time, and marched northward into the interior. Now, in
Guasco, they had already found some turkoises, and shawls of cotton, which the
Indians gave them to understand, by signs, were brought from the direction of
the sunset; so that they should take that course must approach the country of

There was likewise much other discontent. Many grieved
to go back, and would rather have continued to run the peril of their lives
than leave Florida poor. They were not equal, however, to changing what was
resolved on, as the persons of importance agreed with the Governor. There was
one, nevertheless, who said afterwards that he would willingly pluck out an
eye, to put out another for Luys de Moscoso, so greatly would he grieve to see
him prosper; with such bitterness did he inveigh against him and some of his
friends, which he would not have dared to do, only he knew that in a couple of
days from that time the government would have to be relinquished.242.

From Daycao, where they were, to the Rio Grande, was a
distance of one hundred and fifty leagues, towards which they had marched
always westwardly; and, as they returned ,over the way, with great difficulty
could they find maize to eat; for, wheresoever they had passed, the country lay
devastated, and the little that was left, the Indians had now hidden. The towns
they had burned in Naguatex, of which they had repented, they found already
rebuilt, and the houses full of maize. That country is populous and abundant.
Pottery is made there of clay, little differing from that of Estremoz or

To Chaguate, by command of the Cacique, the Indians came
in peace, and said, that the, Christian who had remained there would not come.
The Governor wrote to him, sending ink and paper, that he might answer. The
purport of the letter stated his determination to leave Florida, reminded him
of his being a Christian, and that he was unwilling to leave him among heathen;
that he would pardon the error he had committed in going to the Indians, should
he return; and that if they should wish to detain him, to let the Governor know
by writing. The Indian who took the letter came back, bringing no other
response than the name and rubric of the person written on the back, to signify
that he was alive. The Governor sent twelve mounted men after him; but, having
his watchers, he so hid himself that he could not be found. For want of maize
the Governor could not tarry longer to look for him; so he left Chaguete,
crossed the river at Aays, and following it down, he discovered a town which
they had not seen before, called Chilano.244.

They came to Nilco, where the Governor found so little
maize, that there was not enough to last while they made the vessels; for
during seed-time, while the Christians were in Guachoya, the Indians, in fear
of them, had not dared to come and plant the grounds; and no other land about
there was known to have maize, that being the most fertile region of the
vicinity, and where they had the most hope of finding sustenance. Everybody was

Many thought it bad counsel to have come back from the
Daycao, and not to have taken the risk of continuing in the way they were going
by land; as it seemed impossible they should escape by sea, unless a miracle
might be wrought for them; for there was neither pilot nor sea-chart; they knew
not where the river entered the sea, nor of the sea could they get any
information; they had nothing out of which to make sails, nor for rope a
sufficiency of enequen (a grass growing there, which is like hemp), and what
they did find was saved for calk; nor was there wherewith to pitch them.
Neither could they build vessels of such strength that any accident might not
put them in jeopardy of life; and they greatly feared what befell Narvaez, who
was lost on the coast, might happen to them also. But the most of all they
feared was the want of maize; for without that they could not support
themselves, or do anything they would. All .were in great dismay.246.

The Christians chose to commend themselves to God for
relief, and beseech Him to point them out a way by which they might be saved.
By His Goodness He was pleased that the people of Anilco should come
peacefully, and state that two days’ journey thence, near the River Grande,
were two towns of which the Christians had not heard, in a fertile country
named Aminoya; but whether it then contained maize or not, they were unable to
tell, as they were at war with those places; they would nevertheless be greatly
pleased to go and destroy them, with the aid ,of the Christians. The Governor
sent a captain thither, with horsemen and footmen, and the Indians of Anilco.
Arriving at Aminoya, he found two large towns in a level, open field, half a
league apart, in sight of each ,other, where he captured many persons, and
found a large quantity of maize. He took lodging in one of the towns, and
directly sent a message to the Governor concerning what he had found, with
which all were well content. They set out from Anilco in the beginning of
December, and on that march, as well as before coming there from Chilano, they
underwent great exposure; for they passed through much water, and rain fell
many times, bringing a north wind, With severe cold, so that when in the field
they had the water both above and below them; and if at the end of a day’s
journey they found dry ground to lie upon, they had occasion to be thankful. In
these hardships nearly all the Indians in service died, and also many
Christians, after coming to Aminoya; the greater number being sick of severe
and dangerous diseases, marked with inclination to lethargy. André de
Vasconcelos died there, and two Portugues brothers of Elvas, near of kin to
him, by the name of Soti.247.

The Christians chose for their quarters what appeared to
be the best town: it was stockaded, and stood a quarter of a league distant
from the Rio Grande. The maize that lay in the other town was brought there,
and when together the quantity was estimated to be six thousand fanegas. For
the building of ships better timber was found than had been seen elsewhere in
all Florida; on which account, all rendered many thanks to God for so signal
mercy, encouraging the hope in them, that they should be successful in their
wish to reach a shore of Christians.248.



So soon as the Christians arrived in Aminoya, the
Governor commanded the chains to be collected which every one brought along for
Indians, the iron in shot, and what was in the camp. He ordered a furnace to be
set up for making spikes, and likewise timber to be cut down for the
brigantines. A Portugues, of Ceuta, had learned to saw lumber while a captive
in Fez; and saws had been brought for that purpose, with which he taught
others, who assisted him. A Genoese, whom God had been pleased to spare (as
without him we could not have gone away, there being not another person who
knew how to construct vessels), built the brigantines with the help of four or
five Biscayan carpenters, who hewed the plank and ribs for him; and two
calkers, one a Genoese, the other a Sardinian, closed them up with the oakum,
got from a plant like hemp, called enequen, of which I have before spoken; but
from its scarcity the flax of the country was likewise used, as well as the
ravellings of shawls. The cooper sickened to the point of death, and there was
not another workman; but God was pleased to give him health, and
notwithstanding he was very thin, and unfit to labour, fifteen days before the
vessels sailed, he had made for each of them two of the half-hogsheads sailors
call quartos, four of them holding a pipe of water.249.

The Indians of a province called Tagoanate, two days’
journey up the river, likewise those of Anilco and Guachoya, and other
neighbouring people, seeing the vessels were building, thought, as their places
of concealment were by the water’s side, that it was the purpose to, come in
quest of them; and because the Governor had asked for shawls, as necessary out
of which to make sails, they came often, and brought many, as likewise a great
deal of fish.250.

Of a verity, it did appear that God chose to favour the
Christians in their extreme need, disposing the Indians to bring the garments;
otherwise, there had been no way but to go and fetch them. Then the town where
they were, as soon as the winter should set in, would become so surrounded by
water, and isolated, that no one could travel from it by land farther than a
league, or a league and a half, when the horses could no longer be used.
Without them we were unable to contend, the, Indians being so numerous;
besides, man to man on foot, whether in the water or on dry ground, they were
superior, being more skilful and active, and the conditions of the country more
favourable to the practice of their warfare.251.

They also brought us ropes; and the cables needed were
made from the bark of the mulberry-trees. Anchors were made of stirrups, for
which others of wood were substituted. 252.

In March, more than a month having passed since rain
fell, the river became so enlarged that it reached Nilco, nine leagues off; and
the Indians said, that on the opposite side it also extended an equal distance
over the country.253.

The ground whereon the town stood was higher, and where
the going was best, the water reached to the stirrups. Rafts were made of
trees, upon which were placed many boughs, whereon the horses stood; and in the
houses were like arrangements; yet, even this not proving sufficient, the
people ascended into the lofts; and when they went out of the houses it was in
canoes, or, if on horseback, they went in places where the earth was

Such was our situation for two months, in which time the
river did not fall, and no work could be done. The natives, coming in canoes,
did not cease to visit the brigantines. The Governor, fearing they would attack
him in that time, ordered one of those coming to the town to be secretly
seized, and kept until the rest were gone; which being done, he directed that
the prisoner should be tortured, in order to draw out from him any plotting of
treason that might exist. The captive said, that the Caciques of Nilco,
Guachoya, Taguanate, and others, in all some twenty, had determined to come
upon him, with a great body of people. Three days before they should do so, the
better to veil their evil purpose and perfidy, they were to send a present of
fish; and on the day itself, another present was to be sent in advance of them,
by some Indians, who, with others in the conspiracy, that were serving, should
set fire to the houses, after getting possession of the lances placed near the
doors of the dwellings, when the Caciques, with all their people, being
concealed in the thicket nigh the town, on seeing the flame, should hasten to
make an end of them.255.

The Governor ordered the Indian to be put in a chain;
and on the day that was stated, thirty men having come with fish, he commanded
their right hands to be cut off, sending word by them to the Cacique of
Guachoya, whose they were, that he and his might come when they pleased, he
desired nothing better, but they should learn that they could not think of a
thing that he did not know their thought before them. At this they were all
greatly terrified; the Caciques of Nilco and Taguanate came to make excuses,
and a few days after came the Cacique of Guachoya, with a principal Indian, his
vassal, stating that he had certain information of an agreement between the
Caciques of Nilco and Taguanate to come and give the Christians battle. 256.

So soon as some Indians arrived from Nilco, the Governor
questioned them, and they confirming what was said, he delivered them at once
to the principal Indian of Guachoya, who took them out of the town and killed
them. The next day came others from Taguanate, who likewise having confessed,
the Governor commanded that their right hands and their noses should be cut
Off, and he sent them to the Cacique. With this procedure the people of
Guachoya were well satisfied, and often came with presents of shawls and fish,
and of hogs, which were the breeding of some sows lost there the year before.
Having persuaded the Governor to send people to Taguanate, so soon as the
waters fell, they brought canoes, in which infantry went down the river, and a
captain proceeded by land with cavalry; and having guided them until they came
to Taguanate, the Christians assaulted the town, took many men and women, and
shawls, which, with what they had already, sufficed for their want.257.

In the month of June the brigantines were finished, and
the Indians having stated that the river rose but once in the year, which was
with the melting of snow, that had already passed, it being now summer, and a
long time since rain had fallen, God was pleased that the water should come up
to the town, where the vessels were, whence they floated into the river; for
had they been taken over ground, there would have been danger of tearing open
the bottoms, thereby entirely wrecking them, the planks being thin, and the
spikes made short for the lack of iron.258.

In the time that the Christians were there, the people
of Aminoya came to offer their service, being compelled by hunger to beg some
cars of that corn which had been taken from them. As the country was fertile,
they were accustomed to subsist on maize; and as all that they possessed had
been seized, and the, population was numerous, they could not exist. Those who
came to the town were weak, and so lean that they had not flesh on their bones,
and many died near by, of clear hunger and debility. The Governor ordered,
under pain of heavy punishments, that maize should not be given to them; still,
when it was seen that they were willing to work, and that the hogs had a
plenty, the men, pitying their misery and destitution, would share their grain
with them; so that when the time arrived for departure, there was not enough
left to answer. for what was needed. That which remained was put into the
brigantines and the great. canoes, which were tied together in couples.
Twenty-two horses were taken on board, being the best there were in the camp;
the flesh of the rest was jerked, as was also that of the hogs that remained.
On the second day of July, of the year one thousand five hundred and
forty-three, we took our departure from Aminoya.259.



THE day before the Christians left Aminoya, it was
determined to dismiss the men and women that were serving, with the exception
of some hundred slaves, more or less, put on board by the Governor, and by
those he favoured. As there were many persons of condition, whom he could not
refuse what he allowed to others, he made use of an artifice, saying, that
while they should be going down the river they might have the use of them; but
on coming to the sea they would have to be left, because of the necessity for
water, and there were but few casks; while he secretly told his friends to take
the slaves, that they would carry them to New Spain. All those to whom he bore
ill-will, the greater number, not suspecting his concealment from them, which
after a while appeared, thought it inhuman for so short service, in return for
so much as the natives had done, to take them away, to be left captives out of
their territories, in the hands of other Indians, abandoning five, hundred
males and females, among whom were many boys and girls who understood and spoke
Spanish. The most of them wept, which caused great compassion, as they were all
Christians of their own free will, and were now to remain lost.260.

In seven brigantines went three hundred and twenty-two
Spaniards from Aminoya. The vessels were of good build, except that the planks
were thin, on account of the shortness of the spikes; and they were not
pitched, nor had they decks to shed the water that might enter them, but planks
were placed instead, upon which the mariners might run to fasten the sails, and
the people accommodate themselves above and below.261.

The Governor appointed his captains, giving to each of
them his brigantine, taking their word and oath to obey him until they should
come to the land of Christians. He chose for himself the brigantine he liked
best. -On the day of his departure they passed by Guachoya, where the Indians,
in canoes, were waiting for them in the river, having made a great arbour on
the shore, to which they invited him, but he made excuse, and passed along.
They accompanied him until arriving where an arm of the river extends to the
right, near which they said was Quigualtam; and they importuned him to go and
make war upon it, offering their assistance. As they told him there were three
days’ journey down the river to that province, suspecting they had arranged
some perfidy, he dismissed them there; then, submitting himself to where lay
the full strength of the stream, went his voyage, driven on rapidly by the
power of the current and aid of oars.262.

On the first day they came to land in a clump of trees,
by the left bank, and at dark they retired to the vessels. The following day
they came to a town, where they went on shore, but the occupants dared not
tarry for them. A woman who was captured, being questioned, said the town was
that of a chief named Huhasene, a subject of Quigualtam, who, with a great many
people, was waiting for them. Mounted men went down the river, and finding some
houses, in which was much maize, immediately the rest followed. They tarried
there a day, in which they shelled and got ready as much maize as was needed.
In this time many Indians came up the river in canoes; and, on the opposite
side, in front, somewhat carelessly put themselves in order of battle. The
Governor sent after them the crossbow-men he had with him, in two canoes, and
as many other persons as they could hold, when the Indians fled; but, seeing
the Spaniards were unable to overtake them, returning, they took courage, and,
coming nearer, menaced them with loud yells. So soon as the Christians retired,
they were followed by some in canoes, and others on land, along the river; and,
getting before them, arrived at a town near the river’s bluff, where they
united, as if to make a stand. Into each canoe, for every brigantine was towing
one at the stern for its service, directly entered some men, who, causing the
Indians to take flight, burned the town. Soon after, on the same day, they went
on shore in a large open field, where the Indians dared not await their

The next day a hundred canoes came together, having from
sixty to seventy persons in them, those of the principal men having awnings,
and themselves wearing white and coloured plumes, for distinction. They came
within two crossbow-shot of the brigantines, and sent a message in a small
canoe, by three Indians, to the intent of learning the character of the
vessels, and the weapons that we use. Arriving at the brigantine of the
Governor, one of the messengers got in, and said that he had been sent by the
Cacique of Quigaltam, their lord, to commend him, and to make known that
whatever the Indians of Guachoya had spoken of him was falsely said, they being
his enemies; that the Chief was his servant, and wished to be so considered.
The Governor told him that he believed all that he had stated to be true; to
say so to him, and that he greatly esteemed him for his friendship.264.

With this the messengers went to where the others, in
the canoes, were waiting for them; and thence they all came down yelling, and
approached the Spaniards with threats. The Governor sent Juan de Guzman,
captain of foot, in the canoes, with twenty-five men in armour, to drive them
out of the way. So soon as they were seen coming, the Indians, formed in two
parts, remained quietly until they were come up with, when, closing, they took
Juan de Guzman, and those who came ahead with him, in their midst, and, with
great fury, closed hand to hand with them. Their canoes were larger than his,
and many leaped into the water-some to support them, others to lay hold of the
canoes of the Spaniards, to cause them to capsize which was presently
accomplished, the Christians falling into the water, and, by the weight of
their armour, going to the bottom; or when one by swimming, or clinging to a
canoe, could sustain himself, they with paddles and clubs, striking him on the
head, would send him below.265.

When those in the brigantines who witnessed the defeat
desired to render succour, the force of the stream would not allow them to
return. One brigantine, which was that nighest to the canoes, saved four men,
who were all of those that went after the Indians who escaped. Eleven lost
their lives; among whom was Juan de Guzman and a son of Don Carlos, named Juan
de Vargas. The greater number of the others were also men of consideration and
of courage. Those who escaped by swimming said, that they saw the Indians get
into the stern of one of their canoes with Juan de Guzman, but whether he was
carried away dead or alive, no one could state.266.



THE natives, finding they had gained a victory, took so
great encouragement that they proceeded to attack the brigantines, which they
had not dared to before. They first came up with one in the rear-guard,
commanded by Calderon, and at the first volley of arrows twenty-five men were
wounded. There were only four on board in armour, who went to the side of the
vessel for its defence. Those unprotected, finding how they were getting hurt,
left the oars, placing themselves below under the cover; and the brigantine,
beginning to swing about, was going where the current of water chanced to take
her, when one of the men in armour, seeing this, without waiting the captain’s
order, made one of the infantry take the oar and steer, while he stood before
to cover him with his shield. The Indians afterwards came no nearer than
bow-shot, whence they could assail without being assaulted, or receiving
injury, there being in each brigantine only a single crossbow much out of
order; so that the Christians had little else to do than to stand as objects to
be shot at, watching for the shafts. The natives, having left this brigantine,
went to another, against which they fought for half an hour: and one after
another, in this way they ran through with them all.267.

The Christians had mats with them to lie upon of two
thicknesses, very close and strong, so that no -arrow could pierce them, that,
when safety required, were hung up; and the Indians, finding that these could
not be traversed, directed their shafts upward, that, exhausted, fell on board,
inflicting some wounds. Not satisfied with this, they strove to get at the men
with the horses; but the brigantines were brought about the canoes in which
they were, to give them protection, and in this position conducted them along.
The Christians, finding themselves thus severely tried, and so worn out that
they could bear up no longer, determined to continue their journey in the dark,
thinking that they should be left alone on getting through the region of
Quigualtam. While they proceeded and were least watchful, supposing themselves
to be left, they would be roused with deafening yells near by: and thus were
they annoyed through the night and until noon, when they got into another
country, to the people of which they were recommended for a like treatment, and
received it.268.

Those Indians having gone back to their country, these
followed the Christians in fifty canoes, fighting them all one day and night.
They sprang on board a brigantine of the rear-guard, by the canoe that floated
at the stem, whence they took out an Indian woman, and wounded from thence some
men in the brigantines. The men with the horses in the canoes, becoming weary
with rowing day and night, at times got left behind, when the Indians would
directly set upon them, and those in the brigantines would wait until they
should come up: so that in consequence of the slow way that was made, because
of the beasts, the Governor determined to go on shore and slaughter them. So
soon as any befitting ground for it was seen, a landing was made, the animals
were butchered, and the meat cured and brought on board. Four or five horses
having been let go alive, the Indians, after the Spaniards had embarked, went
up to them, to whom being unused, they were alarmed, running up and down,
neighing in such a way that the Indians took fright, plunging into the water;
and thence entering their canoes, they went after the brigantines, shooting at
the people without mercy, following them that evening and the night ensuing,
until ten o’clock the next day, when they returned up stream.269.

From a small town near the bank, there came out seven
canoes that pursued the Christians a short distance, shooting at them; but
finding, as they were few, that little harm was done, they went back. From that
time forth the voyage, until near the end, was unattended by any misadventure;
the Christians in seventeen days going down a distance of two hundred and fifty
leagues, a little more or less, by the river. When near the sea, it becomes
divided into two arms, each of which may be a league and a half broad.270.



HALF a league before coming to the sea, the Christians
cast anchor, in order to take rest for a time, as they were weary from rowing.
They were disheartened also, many days having gone by since they had eaten
other thing than maize, parched and then boiled, given out in daily rations of
a casque by strake to a mess of three.271.

While riding at anchor, seven canoes of natives came to
attack those we had brought in the canoes along with us. The Governor ordered
men to enter ours in armour, to go after the Indians and drive them away. There
also came some by land, through thicket and bog, with staves, having very sharp
heads of fish-bone, who fought valiantly those of us who went out to meet them.
Such as were in the canoes, awaited with their arrows the approach of those
sent against them; and presently, on the engaging of these, as well as those on
land, they wounded some on our side in both contests. When we on shore drew
nigh to them they would turn their backs, running like fleet steeds before
infantry, making some turns without ever getting much beyond the flight of an
arrow, and, returning again, they would shoot without receiving any injury from
us, who, though we had some bows, were not skilled to use them; while the
Indians on the water, finding their pursuers unable to do them harm, though
straining at the oars to overtake them, leisurely kept within a circle, their
canoes pausing and returning, as in a skirmish. The men discovered that the
more successful their efforts to approach, the greater was their own injury;
so, when they succeeded simply in driving them off, they went back to the

After remaining two days, the Christians went to where
that branch of the river enters the sea; and having sounded there, they found
forty fathoms depth of water. Pausing then, the Governor required that each
should give his opinion respecting the voyage, whether they should sail to New
Spain direct, by the high sea, or go thither keeping along from shore to shore.
There were different opinions upon this, in which Juan de Añasco, who was very
presumptuous, valuing himself much upon his knowledge of navigation, with other
matters of the sea of which he had little experience, influenced the Governor;
and his opinion, like that of some others, was, that it would be much better to
Put out to sea, and cross the Gulf by a passage three-fourths less far, than
going from shore to shore, which was very circuitous, because of the bend made
by the land. He said that he had seen the sea-chart; that whence they were the
coast ran west to the River of Palmas, and thence south to New Spain;
consequently, that keeping in sight of land, there would be wide compassing,
with long detention, and risk of being overtaken by the winter before coming to
the country of Christians; while, with a fair wind, in ten or twelve -days’
time they should arrive there, by keeping a straight course.273.

The majority were not of that way of thinking, and said
there was more safety in going along the coast, though it might take longer;
the vessels being frail, and without decks, a light storm might suffice to
wreck them; and in consequence of the little room they had for water, if calm
or head wind should occur, or adverse weather, they would also run great
hazard; but even were the vessels so substantial that they might venture in
them, there being neither pilot nor sea-card to show the way, it was not wise
to traverse the sea. This, the opinion of the greater number, was approved; and
it was decided to go along from one to another shore.274.

When they were about to depart, the brigantine of the
Governor parted her cable, the anchor attached to it remaining in the river;
and, notwithstanding she was near the shore, the depth was so great that,
although it was industriously sought for by divers, it could not be found. This
gave much anxiety to the Governor and the others on board. With a stone for
crushing maize, and the bridles that remained, belonging to some of the
fidalgos and gentlemen who rode, they made a weight that took the place of the

On the eighteenth day of July the vessels got under
weigh, with fair weather, and wind favourable for the voyage. The Governor,
with Juan de Añasco, put to sea in their brigantines, and were followed by all
the rest, who, at two or three leagues out, having come up with the two, the
Captains asked the Governor why he did not keep the land; and told him that if
he meant to leave it he should say so, though he ought not to do that without
having the consent of the rest, otherwise they would not follow his lead, but
each would do as he thought best. The Governor replied that he would do nothing
without consulting them; he desired to get away from the shore to sail the
better, and with the greater safety at night; that in the morning, when time
served, he would return. With a favourable wind they sailed all that day in
fresh water, the next night, and the day following until vespers, at which they
were greatly amazed; for they were very distant from the shore, and so great
was the strength of the current of the river, the coast so shallow and gentle,
that the fresh water entered far into the sea.276.

That afternoon, on the starboard bow, they saw some
kays, whither they went, and where they reposed at night. There Juan de Añasco,
with his reasoning, concluded by getting all to consent, and deem it good, that
they should go to sea, declaring, as he had before said, that it would be a
great gain, and shorten their voyage. They navigated two days, and when they
desired to get back in sight of land they could not, because the wind came off
from it: and on the fourth day, finding that the water was giving out, fearing
extremity and peril, they all complained of Juan de Añasco, and of the
Governor, who had listened to his advice: and all the Captains declared they
would run no farther out, and that the Governor might go as he chose.277.

It pleased God that the wind should change a little;
and, at the end of four days from the time of their having gone out to sea, by
strength of arm they arrived, in want of fresh water, in sight of the coast,
and with great labour gained it on an open beach. That afternoon, the wind came
round from the south, which on that coast is a side wind, and so stiff that it
threw the brigantines on to the land, the anchors bending in their slenderness,
and dragging. The Governor ordered all to leap into the water, on the larboard
side, to hold them, and when each wave had passed they would launch the
brigantines to seaward, sustaining them in this manner until the wind went



THE tempest having passed off from the beach where the
brigantines were riding, the people went on shore. With mattocks they dug holes
there, into which the water having flowed, they thence filled their pipkins.
The next day they left; and sailing two days, they entered a basin, like a
cove, which afforded shelter against a high wind that blew from the south.
There they tarried, unable to leave, until the fourth day, when the sea
subsided and they went out by rowing. They sailed until near evening; the wind
then freshened, driving them in such manner upon the land, that they regretted
having left the harbour; for no sooner was it nightfall than the storm began to
rise on the sea, and with its approach the wind gradually increased. The
brigantines separated. The two that were farthest out entered an arm of the
sea, a couple of leagues beyond the place where the others found themselves at
dark. The five that were astern remained from half a league to a league apart,
along an exposed beach, upon which the winds and waves were casting them,
without one vessel’s knowing the fate of another. The anchors having yielded,
the vessels were dragging them: the oars, at each of which seven and eight were
pulling seaward, could not hold the vessels; the rest of the. men, leaping into
the water, with the utmost diligence, after the wave had passed that drove them
to the shore, would launch the brigantine; while those on board, before another
wave could come, baled out with bowls the water that came in upon them.279.

While thus engaged, in great fear of being lost, from
midnight forward they suffered the intolerable torment of a myriad of
mosquitos. The flesh is directly inflamed from their sting, as though it had
received venom. Towards morning the wind lulled, and the sea went down; but the
insects continued none the less. The sails, which were white, appeared black
with them at daylight; while the men could not pull at the oars without
assistance to drive away the insects. Fear having passed off with the danger of
the storm, the people observing the swollen condition of each other’s faces,
and the marks of the blows they had given and received to rid them of the
mosquitos, they could but laugh. The vessels came together in a creek, where
lay the two brigantines that preceded them. Finding a scum the sea casts up,
called copee, which is like pitch, and used instead on shipping, where that is
not to be had, they payed the bottoms of their vessels with it.280.

After remaining two days they resumed their voyage; and
having run likewise two days, they entered an arm of the sea and landed.
Spending there a couple of days, they left; six men on the last day having gone
up the bay in a canoe without finding its head. The brigantines went out in a
head-wind blowing from the south, which being light, and the people having a
strong desire to hasten the voyage, they pulled out by strength of arm to sea
with great toil, and making little headway for two days, they entered by an arm
of the sea behind an islet which it encircles, where followed such bad weather,
that they were not unmindful to give thanks for that good shelter. Fish
abounded there. They were taken in nets and with the line. A man having thrown
out a cord made fast to his arm, a fish caught at the hook and drew him into
the water up to the neck, when, remembering a knife that he had providentially
kept, he cut himself loose.281.

At the close of the fourteenth day of their stay, the
Almighty having thought proper to send fair weather, the Christians very
devoutly formed a procession for the return of thanks, in which, moving along
the beach, they supplicated Him that He would take them to a land in which they
might better do Him service.282.



WHERESOEVER the people dug along the shore they found
fresh water. The jars being filled, and the procession concluded, they
embarked; and, going ever in sight of land, they navigated for six days. Juan
de Añasco said it would be well to stand directly out to sea; for that he had
seen the card, and remembered that, from Rio de Palmas onward, the coast ran
south, and up to that time they had gone westwardly. According to his opinion,
by the reckoning he kept, the river could not be distant from where we

That night they ran out, and in the morning they saw
palm-trees rising above the water, the coast trending southwardly; and from
midday forward great mountains appeared, which had nowhere been seen until
then; for to that place, from the port of Espiritu Santo, where they had
entered Florida, was a low, level shore, not discoverable at sea until very
near. From what they observed, they thought that during the night they had
passed the Rio de Palmas, sixty leagues distant from Panico, in New Spain. So
they consulted together.284.

Some were of opinion that it would not be well to sail
in the dark, lest they should overrun the Rio de Panico; others, that they
could not be so near as to run by it that night, and that it would not be well
to lose a favourable wind; so they agreed to spread half the sails and keep on
their way. Two of the brigantines, which ran with all sail up, at daylight
passed the river without seeing it: of the five that remained behind, the first
that arrived was the one Calderon commanded, from which, when a quarter of a
league off, and before the entrance had been discovered, the water was observed
to be thick and found to be fresh. Coming opposite the river, they saw where
the waves broke upon a shoal, at the entrance into the sea; and, not any one
knowing the place, they were in doubt whether they should go in there or pass
by; but finally, having agreed to enter, they approached the shore without
getting into the current, and went in the port, where no sooner had they come,
than they saw Indians of both sexes in the apparel of Spain. Asking in what
country they were, they received the answer in their own language, that it was
the Rio de Panico, and that the town of the Christians was fifteen leagues
inland. The pleasure that all received at this news cannot be sufficiently
expressed: they felt as though a life had been newly given them. Many, leaping
on shore, kissed the ground; and all, on bended knees, with hands raised above
them, and their eyes to heaven, remained untiring in giving thanks to God.285.

Those who were coming astern, when they saw that
Calderon with his brigantine had anchored in the river, directly steered to
enter the port. The other two, which had gone by, tried to run to sea, that
they might put about and join the rest, but could not, the wind being adverse
and the sea fretful; so, fearing that they might be lost, they came nigh the
land and cast anchor. A storm came up, and finding that they could not sustain
themselves there, much less at sea, they determined to run on shore; and as the
brigantines were small, drawing but little water, and the beach sandy, the
force of the wind on the sails carried them up dry, without injury to any

If those who gained the haven at that time were made
happy, these were oppressed by a double weight of gloom, not knowing what had
happened to their companions, nor in what country they were, fearing likewise
that it might be one of a hostile people. They had come upon the coast two
leagues below the port. So soon as they found themselves clear of the sea, each
took on the back what he could carry of his things, and, travelling inland,
they found Indians, who told whence they were, and changed what was sorrow into
joy. The Christians rendered many thanks to God for having rescued them from
those numberless perils.287.



FROM the time the Christians left the River Grande, to
come by sea from Florida to the River of Panico, were fifty-two days. On the
tenth day of September, of the year 1543, they entered the Panico, going up
with the brigantines. In the many windings taken by the stream, the light wind
was often unfavourable, and the vessels in many places made slow headway,
having to be towed with much labour against a strong current; so that, after
having sailed four days, the people, discovering themselves greatly retarded in
the desire to get among Christians, and of taking part in the divine offices,
which for a long season had not been listened to by them, they gave up the
brigantines to the sailors, and went on by land to Panico.288.

Just as the Christians arrived at the town, in their
clothing of deer-skin, dressed and dyed black, consisting of frock, hose, and
shoes, they all went directly to the church, to pray and return thanks for
their miraculous preservation. The townspeople, having already been informed of
their coming by the Indians, and now knew of the arrival, invited some to their
houses, and entertained them for acquaintance sake, or for having heard of
them, or because they came from the same parts of country with themselves. The
Alcalde-Mayor took the Governor home with him: the rest, as they came up, he
directed to be lodged by sixes and tens, according to the means of individuals,
who provided their guests with abundance of fowls and maizen-bread, and with
the fruits of the country, which are like those of Cuba, already described.289.

The town of Panico might contain some seventy
housekeepers. The dwellings were chiefly of stone and mortar; some were of
poles, and all of them thatched with grass. The country is poor. No gold or
silver is to be found. Residents have the fullest supply both of food and
servants. The most wealthy have not an income above five hundred cruzados
annually, which is tribute paid by their Indian vassals, in cotton clothing,
fowls, and maize.290.

Of the persons who got back from Florida, there landed
at that port three hundred and eleven Christians. The Alcalde-Mayor directly
sent a townsman by post to inform the Viceroy, who resided in Mexico, of the
arrival of three hundred of the men who had gone with Don Hernando de Soto in
the discovery and conquest of Florida; and, for their being in the service of
the King, that he would make provision for their support. Don Antonio de
Mendoza was greatly amazed at this news, as were all others of that city; for
the people having entered far into Florida, they had been considered lost,
nothing being heard from them in a long while; and it appeared to him to be a
thing impossible, that without a fortress to which they might betake
themselves, or support of any sort, they should have sustained themselves for
such a length of time among the heathen. He immediately gave an order,
directing that subsistence should be given them wheresoever it might be needed,
and the Indians found requisite for carrying their burdens; and, should there
be refusal, to take by force, without incurring any penalty, whatsoever should
be necessary. The mandate was so well obeyed, that on the road, before the
people had arrived at the towns, the inhabitants went out to receive them,
bringing fowls and provisions.291.



FROM Panico to the great city of Mestitam, Mexico, there
are sixty leagues, and as many leagues from each to the port of Vera Cruz,
which is where the embarkations take place for Spain, and where those who go
hence to New Spain arrive. These three towns, equidistant, are inhabited by
Spaniards, and form a triangle: Vera Cruz on the south, Panico on the east, and
Mexico, which is inland, on the west. The country is so populous, that the
Indian towns farthest apart are not more than half a league to a league from
each other.292.

Some of the people who came from Florida remained in
Panico, reposing a month, others fifteen days, or such time as each pleased;
for no one turned a grudging face to his guest, but, on the contrary, gave him
of every thing he had, and appeared sad at his leave-taking; which may well
enough be believed, for the provision the natives brought in payment of their
tribute more than sufficed for consumption, so that there was no one in that
town to buy or to sell, and few Spaniards being there, the inhabitants were
glad of company. All the clothing in the custody of the Alcalde-Mayor, paid to
him there as the Emperor’s tax, he divided among those that would go to receive

He who had a coat of mail was happy, since for it a
horse might be had in exchange. Some got mounted, and those not able to get
beasts, who were the greater number, took up the journey on foot. They were
well received by the Indians, and better served than they ,could have been at
their own homes, particularly in respect of every thing to eat; for, if an
Indian was asked for a fowl, he would bring four; and if for any sort of fruit,
though it might be a league off, some one would run to fetch it; and were a
Christian ill, the people would carry him, in a chair, from their own to the
next town. Wheresoever they came, the Cacique of the place, through an Indian
who bears a rod of justice in his hand they call tapile (which is equivalent to
saying meirinho), ordered provisions to be brought, and men for the loads of
such things as they were, and the others necessary to carry the invalids.294.

The Viceroy sent a Portugues to them, twenty leagues
from Mexico, with quantity of confections, raisins, pomegranates, and other
matters proper for the sick, should they need them; and, in advance, ordered
that all should be clothed at the royal charge. The news of their approach
being known to the citizens, they went out on the highway to receive them, and
with great courtesy entreated for their companionship as favour, each one
taking to his house as many as he dared, giving them for raiment all the best
he could, the least well dressed wearing clothes worth thirty cruzados and
upward. Clothing was given to those who chose to go for it to the residence of
the Viceroy, and the persons of condition ate at his board: at his house was a
table for all those of less rank that would eat there. Directly he informed
himself of the quality of each one, that he might show him the consideration
that was his due. Some of the Conquistadores placed them all down to table,
together, fidalgos and boors, oftentimes seating the servant and his master
shoulder to shoulder; which was done mostly by artisans and men of mean
condition, those better bred asking who each one was, and making a difference
in persons.295.

Nevertheless, all did the best they could with good
will, telling those they had under their roofs that they could bring no
impoverishment, nor should they hesitate to receive whatsoever they offered;
since they had found themselves in like condition when others had assisted
them, such being the fortunes of the country. God reward them: and those whom
He saw fit should escape, coming out of Florida to tread the soil of
Christians, be He pleased that they live to serve Him; and to the dead, and to
all those who believe in Him, and confess that in Him is their faith, ,grant,
through His compassion, the glory of paradise. Amen.296.



FROM the port of Espiritu Santo, where the Christians
went on shore, to the Province of Ocute, which may be a distance of four
hundred leagues, a little more or less, the country is very level, having many
ponds, dense thickets, and, in places, tall pine-trees: the soil is light, and
there is not in it a mountain nor a hill.297.

The land of Ocute is more strong and fertile than the
rest, the forest more open; and it has very good fields along the margins of
the rivers. From there to Cutifachiqui are about one hundred and thirty
leagues, of which eighty leagues are of desert and pine forests, through which
run great rivers. From Cutifachiqui to Xuala there may be two hundred and fifty
leagues, and all a country of mountains: the places themselves are on high
level ground, and have good fields upon the streams.298.

Thence onward, through Chiaha, Coça, and Talise, the
country of which is flat, dry, and strong, yielding abundance of maize, to
Tascaluça, may be two hundred and fifty leagues; and thence to Rio Grande, a
distance of about three hundred leagues, the land is low, abounding in lakes.
The country afterward is higher, more open, and more populous than any other in
Florida; and along the River Grande, from Aquixo to Pacaha and Coligoa, a
distance of one hundred and fifty leagues, the land is level, the forest open,
and in places the fields very fertile and inviting.299.

From Coligoa to Autiamque may be two hundred and fifty
leagues of mountainous country; thence to Guacay may be two hundred and thirty
leagues of level ground; and the region to Daycao, a distance of one hundred
and twenty leagues, is continuously of mountainous lands.300.

From the port of Espiritu Santo to Apalache they marched
west and northeast; from Cutifachiqui to Xuala, north; to Coça, westwardly; and
thence to Tascaluça and the River Grande, as far as the Provinces of Quizquiz
and Aquixo, to the westward; from thence to Pacaha northwardly, to Tula
westwardly, to Autiamque southwardly, as far as the Province of Guachoya and

The bread that is eaten all through Florida is made of
maize, which is like coarse millet; and in all the islands and Indias belonging
to Castilla, beginning with the Antillas, grows this grain. There are in the
country many walnuts likewise, and ameixas, mulberries, and grapes. The maize
is planted and picked in, each person having his own field; fruit is common for
all, because it grows abundantly in the woods, without any necessity ,of
setting out trees or pruning them. Where there are mountains the chestnut is
found, the fruit of which is somewhat smaller than the one of Spain. Westward
of the Rio Grande the walnut differs from that which is found before coming
there, being of tenderer shell, and in form like an acorn; while that behind,
from the river back to the port of Espiritu Santo, is generally rather hard,
the tree and the nut being in their appearance like those of Spain. There is
everywhere in the country a fruit, the produce of a plant like ligoacam, that
is propagated by the Indians, having the appearance of the royal pear, with an
agreeable smell and taste; and likewise another plant, to be seen in the
fields, bearing a fruit like strawberry, near to the ground, and is very
agreeable. The ameixas are of two sorts, vermilion and gray, of the form and
size of walnuts, having three or four stones in them. They are -better than any
plums that are raised in Spain, and make much better prunes. The grapes appear
only to need dressing; for, although large, they have great stones; the other
fruits are all in great perfection, and are less unhealthy than those of

There are many lions and bears in Florida, wolves, deer,
jackals, cats, and conies; numerous wild fowl, as large as pea-fowl; small
partridges, like those of Africa, and cranes, ducks, pigeons, thrushes, and
sparrows. There are blackbirds larger than sparrows and smaller than stares;
hawks, goss-hawks, falcons, and all the birds of rapine to be found in

The Indians are well proportioned: those ,of the level
country are taller and better shaped of form than those of the mountains; those
of the interior enjoy a greater abundance of maize and clothing than those of
the coast, where the land is poor and thin, and the people along it more

The direction from the port of Espiritu Santo to
Apalache, and thence to Rio de las Palmas, is from east to west; from that
river towards New Spain, it is southwardly; the sea-coast being gentle, having
many shoals and high sand-hills.305.


THIS Relation of the Discovery of Florida was impressed
in the house of Andree de Burgos, Printer and Cavalleiro of the house of Senhor
Cardinal iffante. It was finished the tenth day of February, of the year one
thousand five hundred and fifty-seven, in the noble and ever loyal city of

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Prose
Subjects: Discovery and Exploration of America
Period: 1550-1600
Location: Spanish borderlands in North America
Format: Account/Relation

This text was first published in Burgos in 1557.

The text of the present edition was prepared from and proofed against "TRUE RELATION OF THE VICISSITUDES THAT ATTENDED THE GOVERNOR DON HERNANDO DE SOTO AND SOME NOBLES OF PORTUGAL IN THE DISCOVERY OF THE PROVINCE OF FLORIDA NOW JUST GIVEN BY A FIDALGO OF ELVAS VIEWED BY THE LORD INQUISITOR." In Edward Gaylord Bourne, ed. Narratives of the career of Hernando de Soto, trans. Buckingham Smith (New York, ALLERTON BOOK CO., 1922).

All preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.