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Bartolome de las Casas

An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the

Destruction of the Indies
I With Related Texts

I Edited, with an Introduction, by
I- Franklin W Knight
Translated by

Andrew Hurley



Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.


hackettpublishing. viii-ix) drawn by Helen H. upon the Island of Hispaniola 12 Includes bibliographical references and index. 4.C3l513 2003 On the Province and Kingdom of Guatimala 38 323. Some Earlier English Translations of Bartolome de las Casas' Brevfsima relaci6n de la destruici6n de las Indias Ivii Cover design by Abigail Coyle Text design by Jennifer Plumley An Account.grS-li 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 1 2 3 4 567 '~ rf. On New Spain.1'198'009031-dc2 I 2003047179 Of New Spain and Panuco and Jalisco 43 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of On the Kingdom ofYucahln 47 American National Standard for Information Sciences. Destruction of the Indies 1 Argument of the Present Epitome Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Presentation 2 Casas. 1474-1566. please address: Acknowledgments VII Hackett Publishing Company.»Q!. I.. Inc. translated and with a note on the translation by Andrew On the Kingdoms That Once Were to Be Found Hurley. For further information. The Indies in Las Casas' Time Vlll P. A Note on the Text and the Translation Ii The map of the Indies in Las Casas' time (pp. 3. Inc. ISBN 0-87220-626-2 (cloth) . English 1 An account. Much Abbreviated. [An Introduction to the Relation] 4 [Brevfsima relaci6n de las destrucci6n de las Indias. Inc. Treatment of-Latin America. Box 44937 Indianapolis. Bartolome de las. Knight. IN 46244-0937 Introduction XI www. Inc. F Copyright © 2003 by Hackett Publishing I 28 America. Donovan. Spain-Colonies. On the Island Hispaniola 8 tolome de las Casas. On the Two Islands of San Juan and Jamaica 17 Contents: The laws of Burgos-New laws of the Indies-A treatise on the just causes for war against the Indians-The true history of the Conquest of On the Island of Cuba 18 Mexico I by Bernal Dfaz del Castillo-Cartas de relaci6n I from Heman On Terra Firma 21 Cortes.ISBN 0-87220-625-4 (pbk. 2. of the destruction of the Indies / Bar. II. Spain in the Age of Bartolome de las Casas XXXIV The Americas in the Age of Las Casas xlii The 16-century Theodor de Bry engravings that appear on the cover and Las Casas and the Utopian View of the Americas ···~rvi throughout this work have been provided courtesy of the John Carter Brown Li- brary at Brown University. Contents fell! All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America ~I c . with an introduction by Franklin W. p. ANSI Z39. 1519-1540. of the· Composition by Professional Book Compositors. Andrew. much abbreviated.48-1984 ') @ ) ) v . On New Spain.) On the Province of Nicaragua 25 1. 1474-1566. Mexico-History-Conquest. On the Province of Santa Marta 54 Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials. Casas Bar- toloma de las. Title. Indians. Printed at Sheridan Books. II 30 F1411.O.

however populous they were.---~--------.santly for ~lmost four hundred and fifty leagues in compass about truly as free as I. which to make a circuit of them all one both of hard labour and to the Spaniards' persons and the oppressIOn to would journ~y. And all more again have died than another five hundred and six hundred thou. waste all that kingdom. And ~oday. -~'--. requiring fifty slaves of the the Chnstians had done m the Indies before this time has been exceeded cacique. great kmgdoms. and still today they are being slain. or four-the lords would have been the devastations and cruelties. they more eas- ily di. that since the beginning the outrages and now dead. all the violence and tyranny that They would make demand every four or five months. who arrived in Hispaniola in 1511 and explored Cozumel Island and the coastal area ofYucarnn. two. which times that when Indians are taken from their native lands. In this wise they have taken from that provi~ce ~nd devastations that the Spaniards' bloody hands and swords did work above five hundred thousand souls of Indians made slaves. carrying off all those multitudes of the most grave and abommable are still done and committed. from the year 1523 to the year 1533 they laid those that since that year 1518 have been done and perpetrated until thi~"<' . because in those six or seven years they sent out five or six shiploads in the slave trade. in the year Spaniards in demanding slaves of the caciques and lords of the villages. And today.' i. 53 Freedom. acts of theft. Much Abbreviated. and tyranny. Since the Indians generally keep not and have forgotten even themselves. them of their labours. one of the most than four million souls have the Spaniards slain within those twelve populous provinces in the world. all. until the year 1530.twelve full years. and in that discovery ~reat atrocities were wrought upon the Indians and not a few deaths committed 54 Probably Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. violence. these lands were exceedingly populous and as filled with people as sand persons until this day. But though we told them all (which are infinite in number those we do not recount). that all the things that who had two children to give one. thos. and from the abominable captivity in which they are cast. from the moment of their entrada into New Spain. and then ask. they do not compare in number or in gravity t~ " who it seems most love their children in the world. And since this would be done so many times. and even these are slain every day by the hard s~rvlce leagues I have spoken of above. as I said. as God set in all those thousand persons. al~ t~e ImqUlty. . alive or thrown to the savage dogs. or three. Because so many and so terrible slaves-for a cacique has two at most. though they said they were going to make habl~a~on. for the Spaniards always fail to give them food yet nowise relieve was the eIghteenth day of April in that year 1518. there passed . all of these devastations have been done. In the year 1518. above one thousand eight hundred leagues. 1542. of the Destruction of the Indies 29 The most heinous and detestable pestilence that has laid waste to that by those who did discover it. on this day 55 of the month of September. and in so many and such g~eat kmgdoms of the great Terra Firma. In a spa~e Toledo and Se~illa and Valladolid and Zaragoza. because it is a thing proven and experienced thousands of hellish deeds have but grown worse and greater.e the depopulatio~s. by knife and by lance. . where all of them are rule that we set down above.s.e~e IS not now nor has there ever been so great a population all that province of Nicaragua there are probably not above four or ~ve m those CIties. go through the village and take first all the orphans. I conquistad~rs (as ~he s~ying is) lasted. the mjustice. 28 Bartolome de las Casas An Account. years within those four hundred and five hundred leagues. and those with three. ) ) I' I. as large and very nigh as fertile as all of Spain.. those who call themselves province has been the licence 53 which that governor gave ~o the Christians 54 ~e~t there to ~ob and kill. day and year 1542. since they do not sell them nor others buy them. and m thiS wise the cacique would obtain the number that the tyrant asked of him. in which there lay four and five upon them. though this land once was. ' And s~. or whensoever each one obtained that governor's grace or license. which was the duration of the slaughters but they only work them. and burning them alive. which are condemned not In the year 1517 New Spain was discovered. 55 Las Casas does not specifY the exact date. with the threat that if he gave them not. though bemg mces. the slaughters and destructions. proving the Indians to be sold as slaves in Panama and Peru. along with Barcelona. though these were not conquests but rather VIOlent InvaSIOns by cruel tyrants. m ~ecause th. for these are the people done there. And this was done so long as those that called themselves On New Spain. of fourteen years. we have Said before are as naught in comparison with those that were with great cries and weeping from the village. women and children and young per- sons and old.And :nore which they are put. And from the hellish wars that the Spaniards have waged the CI~ of MeXICO and its surroundings. for they have utterly lost all fea~ of God and of the king. he would be burned and overpassed. And sm~e that year 1518 until this day.

the captain of them. the Spanish original was a song making reference here. with only their pri- To be particular. but rather as they came for- On New Spain. divers and several parts. All the lords. did come out to receive the Christians in procession men and they went into the great temple they had by there. where our universal lord Motenzuma will have his the lands that they have entered. many were they). Much Abbreviated. entered to speak with the captain of the Spaniards. And shrieks of people made a dismal noyse. and a vow that I do not for they had hidden themselves and taken refuge under the dead (~o ' think I shall explain the thousandth part. and they are all made to squat down. ) ) . or a punishment (as they call it). 57 For this was always the Spaniards' resolve in all Mexico. But for these poor souls there was no mercy or compassion. which was and with great reverence and respect. and sions that I have spoken of above. of the Destruction of the Indies 31 only by the law of God but eke 56 by all human laws. thirty thousand inhabitants. for they come naked as the day they were born. nor could there be any vates covered and small netting bags over their shoulder with their mea- human knowledge or skill. bad order to cast and sow fear of them and of their ferocity through-out every men! What have we ever done to you? Why would you kill us? Go ye to corner of those lands. oner without anyone hearing. like meekest lambs. To see all these Indians when they load themselves up to bear every day in that tyrannical bondage. have been done by those public adversaries With other people who were thereabout. And as the Indians' lords and nobles came and One flame the Roman City now destroyes. together at one time in some places. which is called Cholula: All the lords of the But one lord. to carry their bur- worse than those committed by the Turks to destroy the Christian thens. may take refuge. still alive'though covered with blood. and perhaps the principal lord and king of that land. was land and of that realm. they came to the Spaniards. some further deeds. shall recount below. After two or great diligence and time and writing. all these came soon after and these. made by circumstances and qualities their swords and put all those sheep to the sword and lance. many Indians rose up. so that those meek lambs might tremble before were being put to death by sword there in the courtyard. who numbered above an hundred and were tightly bound. But the Spaniards. they cast into the patio of the Church. there is no possible tongue. 58 This is simply the Aztec word for "temple. which they called Cue. so that not to be all the more heinous and abominable. so as not to carry the news. this one was done in a large city of above burned and then taken out alive and raised on stakes set in the ground." And they say that as the five or six thousand men most singular slaughter. and foremost all the priests with the highest able to free himself and he gathered another twenty or thirty or forty priest of them all. but all were most grievously murdered.30 Bartolome de las' Casas An Account. weeping and pleading for mercy." 57 Despite the frequent assertions of Las Casas that he was eyewitness to all he de- 59 These verses are taken from the 1656 translation of Las Casas' Brevisima scribed. The Spaniards While Nero sung and. And seeing this. though with protestation. he accompanied neither Pedro Arias Davila nor Heman Cortes. set fire to the selves to make a slaughter there. And all this does not count those who have died and are slain houses. go. the gates of the courtyard to stand guard. armed Spaniards were set at and most capital enemies of the human lineage within that compass. But some things in some places I three days. From Tarpey Hill beheld the wofull sight.58 and there he defended himself midst to lodge them in the city and in the lodging-houses of the highest for much of that day. those vexations and daily oppres. could not be told even with one might escape. the Spaniards resolved among them. they were taken pris. popular at the time. And so for this purpose they sent first to call out all the lords and the Spaniards was singing: nobles of the city and of all the places that were subject to the city. begging the Spaniards not to slay them. either. the captain commanded that they be Among divers other slaughters. for they are much had requested five or six thousand Indians of them. but especially these unarmed nations. it is well to note: to wreak cruel and vengeance on you. to whom he is Relaci6n by John Phillips. though they cried out: "Oh. in temple and there they burned them. with the principal lord of all. 59 56 Also. and they did carry them in their like a fortress. pity. at divers ~d when all were brought together and crowded into the courtyard and several times in others. moved with delight. titled The Tears of the Indians. II ward they were hacked to pieces. from whom no man nor thing lord or lords of it. while the rest laid hand to and in truth. the burthens of the Spaniards is to have great compassion for them. able to relate the heinous deeds which in gre meals.

To these young men went the captain of the Spaniards with a crew of his men. Las Casas 63 Santiago. or Saint James. And at the entrance to the city. I wish to tell of one singular thing that those tyrants did. accompanied by many great lords and great presents of gold another certain captain6! who was corning against him. Motenzuma having no idea cruelty. the Spaniards took this great king and set eighty men to From Cholula they marched toward Mexico. And so he went. according to their ranks. . But with some feigning. and upon their entrance onto the great cause. ) ) Bartolome de las Casas An Account. with the great king guard him. with great and particular acts of were there present. Much Abbreviated. with all his great court. and afterward they put him in irons. and many. Thus. as I have been told by some who infinite number of people to the sword. had their dances and fiestas closest to the houses wherein their lord was captive. these latter Spaniards re- solved to do another thing to increase the fear of them in all that land- a stratagem (as I have said) which they have often used. and they left not a man alive. Motenzuma sent his own The captain of the Spaniards going to the harbour to take as his prisoner brother.This was a thing that cast all those kingdoms All the lords. that same day. they called out: "Santiago. feigning that they were going to watch them. or "bridge. saw it. and so was a wonder to the Spaniards who first land from the Moors who had conquered and occupied it for almost eight centuries. and the others in the other plazas did the same . delicate bodies and to spill that generous blood. the cap- and nations into astonishment and grief and mourning. and he accompanied them to the palaces in which he ordered was much larger and more populous than the first. 60 So called because the road ("way") was built on a "causey. who numbered above an hundred and were tightly bound. he himself came other certain captain. In the part nearest to the palaces there were above two thousand lords' sons. wherein they put an that they be lodged. to receive more men to guard the king Motenzuma. was the patron saint of Spain and the protector of the calls it a puente. . and when they were drinking and safe-feeling in their dances. as in the islands they are called areitos. way60 of Mexico. "Santiago. which is two leagues long.6Z I believe with an hundred or some number out in person upon litters of gold. the very cream of the nobility of all Motenzuma's kingdom. In these celebrations they take out all their finest clothing and treasures. to them!"63 and they began with their naked swords to rend those naked. And among divers other fiestas which they made for him was in the evenings to come together in all the parts and plazas of the city for great dances such as they do and is their wont. And the noblest and most gen- tlemanly persons and those of most royal blood. Mbtenzuma sending them thousands of presents and lords and people But setting all this aside. which them. things to tell. or TenochtitIan. The Indians and the lords and people of all the city and court of Motenzuma bllS'ied themselves in naught but giving pleasure to their captive lord. and leaving an- and silver and clothing. the reconquest of Spanish across the lake that surrounded the city. and he commanded that at a certain hour they all attack them. of the Destruction of the Indies 33 Another great slaughter did they make in the city of Tepeaca. to them! [Charge!]" was the Spaniards' battle cry. and fiestas on the way. for it is the principal manner of their pleasure. 61 Panfilo de Narvaez." TIle road into the Mexico City. and filled them tain commanded that they be burned and then taken out alive and raised on stakes set in the ground. of treachery. and which they call mitotes. and he sent other crews to all the other parts of the city where these fiestas were occurring." or mound. was built protocountry during the Reconquista (completed in 1492). in which there might be great. and all the people do take part. 62 Pedro de Alvarado.

which for so many years past they had treasured and venerated. or lake. and he could only describe it in terms of the ro. and from this day until the end of the world. Then. we were astounded. the Spaniards re. And those who did not come extraordinarily popular in Spain at this time: "The coming of printing to Spain around smartl y67 to obey such unreasonable and foolish messages. and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico. Many Spaniards were indeed killed as they 67 Quickly.. that calamity and loss of the succession65 of all their no. until he entered the city. but to be pacified and at peace. Imperial Spain. 35 with bitterness and pain. Indians perpetrated upon so many guiltless innocents who had with tol. this cruelty without precedent. alive. they were 64 These were chivalric romances filled with magic and enchantment. etc. When the Indians learned of this. they populace should have caused such joy and pleasure to anyone who killed a great number of Christians on the causeways66 crossing the called himself a true Christian. but rather held a confabu. and if they should not bow their knees and obey them. slaying an infinite This unjust thing. And possible to tell. had heard them told or read aloud" men. too. After the most exceedingly great and abominable tyrannies that these erance suffered the no less unjust imprisonment of their lord (for he men committed in the city of Mexico and in the cities and much land himself had commanded that they not attack or wage war upon the around (ten and fifteen and twenty leagues from Mexico. London: Penguin." built on a lake. for the most exceedingly just causes the Spaniards do away with them all. the Spaniards would call them rebels who rose up against the serv- (J. and yet more tedious to hear. and to give 1473 had given an extraordinary vogue to romances of chivalry. London: Penguin. swiftly. they rose up in arms throughout all the city and rushed infinite number of people were slain). some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream" (Diaz. 1963. "city ofM€xico. the inhabitants from those lands which with their great and infinite solved one night to flee the city. reformed. And so they have written and communicated it to Spaniards were entering Mexico City (TenochtitIan). the most famous of them all. the king our lord. of Colima. as we have said. are the four great causeways that connected Tenochtitlan. and was bringing and cruelties that they dealt the Indians in each one of these provinces with him many more Christians. of the Destruction of the Indies . he passed his tyrannical plague upon them. not allow them to perceive or understand that which in their law is ex- mance: "When we sawall those cities and villages built in the water. the Spaniards and the Indians fought one another in such wise tradas and by which they began to destroy all those innocents and wipe and for so many days. the 66 this "the night of sorrows. they shall never cease lamenting that they had.34 Bartolome de las Casas An Account. But the Spaniards put a knife to the breast of the prisoner to the province of Panuco. with dry land. 64). ) ) ) I . transmission of the (noble) estate or title. was amazed at what he saw. and wounded many Spaniards. and afterward that lation among themselves and resolved to choose another lord and cap. and each one of these is more land than the kingdom of tain to direct their battles. were trying to take with them. sharply. and after that the province ofIpilcingo. And that these causes were just." or noche triste. as in the romances (as we call sonable. which was a wondrous thing. one of the soldiers in the expedition. and other great towns press. Much AbbT~viated. if they could not read themselves. and it did spread into and defile and lay waste their most high and just warfare. any rea- and singing in their areitos and dances. 1469-1716. and the blindness of those who ruled the Indies would Bernal Diaz. that fearing they would all die. tations upon the admirable and wondrous Indians. with an infinite number of people gathered from all the It must be noted here that the title under which they made their en- land. These great towns and cues and buildings rising from the water. And because now that other Spanish captain Leon or the kingdom of Castile. fair man must acknowledge. When the ice of Your Majesty. The Conquest of New Spain. the Indians would not obey their lord in that. when the Christians had them hereM). p. as he entered. so that many who were not killed by the Aztecs' weapons Generations to come. was known in affectionate detail by a vast body of Spaniards who. made their escape. Then in the same wise they destroyed the province of . and great lords. being seen by the number of people and burning many. Elliott. occurred the battle for the city in which they wrought devas- bility. Tututepeque. H. all made of stone. victorious. and clearer than any other of its principles. and im- ceased the combat for three or four days. which is: That no man on dry land. To recount the devastations and deaths who had gone to the port was returning. seemed like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. in which an Christians). they were to slay them and make them slaves. p. Indeed. Yet he wrought there. and to make them to obey him. the Spaniards would doubtless be a thing exceedingly difficultto accomplish. 214). The European mythology of the Conquest calls These. 65 drowned when they fell off the causeway. but many of them were loaded down with gold and other plunder they 1963. and Amadis of Gaul themselves over into the hands of such iniquitous and cruel and beastly (1508). and was fast approaching. the multitude Motenzuma and ordered that he send out runners and command that of people that the province had and the devastations and slaughters that the Indians not attack that house. again. who were hard put to make and pestilence farther on. was to say that they came to make the Indians the subjects of the king of Spain.

rest that these men do it is naught but air. and even of human laws. or any other peoples in the world. and they robbed and stant and accursed viros. to two great and most cruel and bloodthirsty tyrants. captains and many men through-out that land. all the extirpations of peoples from thou hast never seen nor heard. all the deaths. are at last persuaded to obey and Yucatan. rising up in mutiny even against his own subjugated. and if thou dost not. Thus Guatemala.?l from the year 1524 to the year 1535-laid waste to those upon the Northern Ocean." . each one with many think. all the devastations. then according to natural and human and divine law all the captain. leagues. of the Destruction of the Indies 37 is or may be called a rebel if he is not first a subject. Mexico. so that if men were sent after him. destroying and burning all the villages those sins that shall cast them into the infernal fires. Much Abbreviated. generation. I pray all Christians the terminus some three hundred leagues from Mexico to the south. and robbing and killing the people who lived in harm and offence they do the king and queen of Castile in destroying them. cruelty. Mter he had arrived there. and who has his own natural and most especially he who went to the kingdom of Guatimala. for this captain exceeded all those of the spires a man's horror is that those who do indeed render obedience. would make a great book indeed. otherwise disposing of them. Not much Honduras. do not see that that capitulation gives them not killed and destroyed all the villages and people that were there. much crueler and more savage rebellion. both in quantity and number of abominations which he they are cast into most exceedingly harsh bondage. the others had left. And what most in. Alvarado was of that large noble family that sent at least five brothers to taking a sort of dogleg to the east from the southern border of Mexico.69 bordering one another and both lying at 70 Las Casas is referring to the expeditions of Pedro de Alvarado (l485?-I 54 I) and 68 The Pacific side. Nicaragua. to capture him. those most incon. Guatemala is the point where Central America rightly begins. which lies servitude. For if it is truly by fears and terrors that those peoples be there was one especially who. were expressed and gathered together. And one jot of right. (Caribbean) and "southern" (Pacific) seas. they perish He who went by sea and in ships wrought great acts of robbery and nonetheless at last. would find the land laid waste and unhabited. . and after that there succeeded many other most exceedingly than he. and likewise for the that he came upon. they able) all the right that those monarchs have to all the Indies. Crist6bal de Olid. some time longer than those who are put to the sword. using the Indians as slaves in their personal service. the Spaniards slew the principal With this most just and approved title. not selling them or 69 The Caribbean. the kingdom of Guatimala. and Panama have "northern" is known of Olid. which lies upon the Southern them wine and clothing and other things. because lords. filled with people and most populous. to One he sent by land and the other in ships by sea. not that he owes anything to any man. And when it is under these fears and threats that those peo. and still do this day. more evil. and in the peoples that he destroyed and lands that he laid waste and ble labour and even more long-extended tortures. are the services that the Spaniards have done to that king about would slay them in revenge for the damage and destruction that and queen in those lands. all such savage acts of injustice tl1at inspire horror in the cen- shall chop thee into pieces with these swords. and with common tyrannical Ocean. who know something of God and reason. how may these words stop the heart of any man." especially seeing by ex. ) 3D ) . turies present and to come. and with less pity and mercy.. to which he was bound. And these. And he marched onward in this enterprise above an hundred and those monarchs' kingdoms and rendering naught (so far as they are twenty. I thus suddenly spoke: "Yield thyself up to obey a foreign king. and making slaves and selling them to the ships that brought that is. whom say. and the Indians there- and ~o others. Naco y acknowledge the rule of that foreign king. they perience that they veritably do this terrible thing. took three hundred men and pushed inland toward Guatimala. that tyrant of a captain captain who had sent them and against whom this captain had risen in sent another two tyrannical captains. then. El Salvador. he sent and unreasonable by ambition and diabolic greed.68 and the other Naco y Honduras or Guaimura. Within a few days. save it be in atonement for and in this wise he made his way. how may the news brought so suddenly to any person who lives horse and foot soldiersJO upon his land and feels himself safe and secure from harm. Hispaniola by 1510. 71 That is. . Costa Rica. some of whom came out to receive him with presents in the kingdom of ples. in which they last made a desert. past and present. still those men made blind Guaimura. because the number of all these is infinite. and knows I say true that if all that these two men did perpetrate in acts of malice. where with incredi. Bartolome de las Casas An Account. did. be advised that we their lands.which is on the way to the kingdom I named above. when they are the other soon found a hard death-if all these malicious and evil acts. he saw action in Peru and died in 1541 in Jalisco. they and their women and children and all their abuse and violent dispersion of people in the villages along the coast. who-with heinous slaughters and acts of flourishing and fertile kingdoms.

and seeing that they were to die for no cause and in cially giving them victuals as was meet. they made a camp outside the city that night. these unjust and cruel Spaniard conquerors. and indeed so perfectly contrary to it. The "principal lord" re. his heart would them all and told them that they were to give him so many cargas of break with grief to see it. Then they invented some holes in the middle of the roads. that he was to employ them as he would. such inhumane and bestial hearts. supreme lord and the other high lords had all been burned. and there they the king of Spain. exceeded all those in the past and is like unto all those who into the wilderness. and they ordered all their people. with no further guilt or trial or more than two thousand people have been left. all the land. And without the Spaniards went to the villages. the chief city of colour of reason. and thinking in their innocence that they were safe) and the Spaniards entered and in a space of two hours almost razed them to the On the Province and Kingdom of Guatimala ground. and of these. but in the end would be de- militarily most powerful highland Maya kingdom of the time. and indeed that he would have them all burned alive stroying wheresoe' er he came. he called out the principal lord and many other and come that way. who could be found in their houses. there came out to receive him. where the poor people were wo~king letting them deliberate upon it one moment. upon ferings and patience and suffering they still could not break or soften litters and with trumpets and tambours and great celebrations. 73 Utatlan was the capital of the Quiche kingdom. he went to the kingdom of Guatimala. espe. and that so without appearance or cipallord with many other lords of the city of Utatlan. into ferred to below was Tecum Vman. This pious capfain replied that he would committing slaughters and acts of robbery. he laid hold of in inhabitants that any person. of the Destruction of the Indies 39 provinces and the kingdom of Naco y Honduras. fitting. unjust. did not escape. As the very twinkling of an eye. And to a wreak their havoc upon them. though fleeing. 38 Bartolome de las Casas An Account. which by the road he took (as he himself wrote in a where they had gone. sharp. which the horses would fall and their innards be pierced through with Appropriate. and many times the Indians and whom they no doubt deem to be much more unjust and cruel than said this and offered this and did this. and cruel. When he came to that kingdom. because that land did not bear million souls. on horseback. who. burning and stealing and de. taking vengeance as best they could upon such cruel i and hellish enemies. against people so fierce. ) . them and their to them. More have died in these eleven years than two gold. as he made his entrada he slaughtered And when the Indians saw that even with so much humility arid of- many people. And now we have passed there And the day following. and for no Tuming my quill now to speak of the great tyrant of a captain who. stroyed. fire-hardened stakes driven into the bottom of those holes which ') 7'1 . they were the entire kingdom. but naked. but rather almost as soon at their labours with their wives and children safe by. the largest and politically! and so well armed. they agreed to meet and to join together I and to die in war. and we saw them in such devastation and so wanting lords. etc. and he made his way serve them as their masters. And it was a wonder to see that his subjects. on foot.73 and they served him with all that they had. 7Z Las Casas is referring to the conquests of Pedro de Alvarado in Guatemala in 1524. to these men so inhumane. very great and powerful village they came (its people more careless than others.72 And despite this. for they well knew that being not just unarmed.74 and all that they were able. more are . with that title that I have unless they revealed where their lords had gone. in the name of wives and children. hacked to pieces. as reason but that they would not give them gold. who is unknown to the Indians and never heard of. the prin. they began to kill and burn and them through with their spears and hacked them into pieces. might slay or do with them as they would. The Indians said that spoken of-that is. and when they had come to him like gentle lambs. And so he had them burned alive. telling the Indians that they should bow their knees they knew not. that they go to the live today. Much Abbreviated. and within the compass of above an hundred leagues no gold. frequented and populous land on earth. from the provinces Spaniards and serve them as if they were their masters. there might be danger. putting children and women and old persons to the sword and slaying as many as they could. They replied that they had it not. All the people of the land came to the Spaniards letter to the principal captain who had sent him) is four hundred then and told them thatthey belonged to them and that tl1ey wotrld leagues distant from the kingdom of Guatimala. they could not prevail. they all fled their villages I have said. which had before for the Spaniards.sentence. And when the lords of all those provinces saw that their being slain every day in that bondage that I have spoken of. because seemed a true paradise of delights and were more populous than the most it appeared to them strong and thus that within. but not reveal bordering Mexico. not receive them. however hard he might be. and there they ran as the message had been read out. and weak.

And thus pregnant and nursing women and children and old per. so that for the days that they were there the Indians about these inhumane slaughters for near onto seven years. he ordered that each Spaniard pieces and ate them. one of water and another of earth and anoilier of stones thicker than ten and twenty oxen. or was the number of people that must have been consumed. And in the city of Cuzcatlan. has been destroyed by di- vine justice with three deluges together. for there is no gold. 75 Ask for. in just judgment. and they gathered together a very great number of axes (which they employ as they will) of gilt copper. and they huned toward Guatimala. sons and any others that they might take. This evil deed being seen by the Indians who were released and by ilie others throughout the land. they would throw them into which extends for forty and fifty leagues. put them in chains and have them in irons to be slaves. which was a sore thing to see. and I saw the son of the principal lord of that city put in irons. especially the women with their children. now. the Spaniards slew them with spears and awaited them. the Indians being pierced through by the stakes. and there was no help but that they worship them. is the city of San Salvador holes. which is a most blessed land with all the coast of the Southern Sea. where. the Spaniards were met with the the stakes. . they would throw them into the holes until the pits were filled. let's be off. or near by. and each one of the Indians you have that serve you. tlle number that each one thought might be needful to be well served. and some twenty or thirty thousand Indians their children. from the might serve them and be charged with bringing them all the thmgs that year 1524 to the year 1530 or 1531. and the innocent lambs were divided and portioned out among them and they served with all their strength. All the others. all of them that could be bound. But to take wretched and insensible than he. And when the Spaniards came upon some lord. and when he saw that they were copper. then. along with the others that aided vengeance even for this. bearing hens and other victuals. and by others they might take. And meanwhile this captain bade the lords bring him great quantities of gold. the And thus pregnant and nursing women and children and old persons and any Spaniards cast all the rest into that aforesaid hellish servitude. request. This was in any sex and age that might be taken alive would be thrown into the the province of Cuzcatlan. the Indians being pierced through by which was the head of the province.) ) ) 40 Bartolome de las Casas An Account. especially the women with most regal welcome. And when this tyrant lances and knives and threw them to savage dogs that tore them to had arrived and received the presents. he said to the Spaniards: "To the devil with this land. And each one took an hundred. where they built a city. iliat same city iliat now. the Spaniards made it law that all the Indians of them). He ordered that the touchstone be brought for them. for it was iliat iliat they had principally come for. ill- naught there. and they set them in shackles with the king's irons to be slaves. be. Much Abbreviated. there was one deed that was especially remarkable. The Spaniards wrought great devastation and slaughter among them. which was a sore thing to see." And so they did. They went that they would. or fifty. with him take from among that great number of people all tlie Indians upon my honour they wguld burn him in a raging fire. the Indians began to come together and to arm themselves. which appears to be gold because it does have some. Judge for yourself. The Indians replied that tl1ey would be pleased to give them all the gold they had. of the Destruction of the Indies 41 had been covered with grass and weeds so that there might appear to be Of the infinite abominable works carried out by this wretched. When all the lords and the men able to wage war had died. the holes until the pits were filled. But only one time or two did horses fall into them. how great they might require 75 or need. destined tyrant and his brothers (for they were his captains and no less cause the Spaniards learned to guard against them.

by one J. and still today do slay and destroy those that remain. and that God be content with the bad end that he at last did come to. which were considered to be a delicacy. where all would perish of since he would not feed the ten or even twenty thousand men that he thirst and hunger. Much Abbreviated. who in association with him engaged in such great offences. ) ) ) . 76 It is this passage that inspired the title of one of the earliest translations of Las where in his presence children would be slain and cooked. and I saw many of them burthened with artillery staggering and will surely go on in this wise until all the rest are slain. how much anguish and how many calamities did so many men and women suffer because of him! How many tears did he cause to be shed. bent under anchors of three and four quintales. not just of Indians. the gravest sins and most execrable abominations! And pray God that upon him mercy has been visited.). . And this very dians from the Northern Sea to the Southern. from heaven. Two armadas he made. the most outright and veritable butchery of human flesh. dom orone hundred leagues on a side and above.:' four or five million souls in fifteen or sixteen years. The Tears of the Indians (etc. cause they have no other slaves). of the Destruction of the Indies 43 requiring slaves as tribute and being given their sons and daughters (be. He would unmarry and steal It was this man's custom that when he was about to make war upon from the married men their wives and daughters and give them to the some villages or provinces. all those lands. P. how many moans and lamentations. despairing and exhausted. that they might wage war upon the others. 1656. they would make a great book that would inspire the And thus there was in his camp the most outright and veritable butch. he gave them leave to eat the Indians that they captured. with the spurs of the an- and he said true: he and his brothers and the others have slain above chors biting into the Indians' backs and shoulders. He would drive In- most fertile and most populous that exists upon the earth. along the roads.. how many fathers did he rob of their children. he would take with him all he could of the sailors and soldiers so as to make them happy and to take them into his already subject Indians. and ery of human flesh. where to flee. creatures. from the year 1524 wise a great deal of artillery. and armadas.76 how many sighs sighed. in the And thus there was . of the happiest and He killed infinite people in the building of ships. of many ships each one. and sending ships filled with them to which were considered to be a delicacy. where in his presence children would be slain and with them he scorched. they did not know out number they carried out. other peoples of other lands hearing of them. upon the shoulders of the poor naked to the year 1540. Oh! How many orphans did he make. and a man would be slain for his hands alone and his feet. and with other slaughters and devastations which with. world with horror. they have destroyed and laid waste a king. but of wretched Christians as well. how much loneliness and solitude in this world and how much damnation in the other did he cause. Of New Spain and Panuco and Jalisco The Spaniards having wrought the great cruelties and slaughttrs that we have told of. 130 leagues. And with these acts of inhu- be sold in Peru. and others that we have refrained from telling. manity. He swelled the ships with Indians. which were infinite. how many men strip of their wives. (John Phillips of London) in slain for his hands alone and his feet. for the terror that they felt. And he sent in this " . should be related. too. their backs tyrant wrote that it was more populous than the kingdom of Mexico. cooked. how many women leave without their husbands: how many acts of adultery and rapine and savagery was he the cause and reason of! How many per- sons did he deprive of their freedom. as though by a fire rained down. 42 Bartolome de las Casas An Account. and a man would be Casas· relation. And it is true that if all the particulars of his cruelties took with him.