Of the Kingdome of Venecuela.
IN the yeare 1526. our Soveraigne Lord the King through the false perswasions of some evil Counsellours made over to cer∣taine Dutch Merchants the Kingdome of Venecuela, being more large and long then Spain, giving to the Governour a full and plenary jurisdiction over the said People upon certain conditions. They entered this Region with about 30. men, where they found the people affable and courteous as they were in other Countries of India before they were killed up by the Spani∣ards. They by many degrees crueller then the rest of whom we have spoken shewed themselves more fierce and greedy then Tygers, Wolves or Lyons; for having a jurisdiction over the Land, and therefore possessing it more freely, they bestirred themselves with greater fury and covetous∣nesse in the heaping up of Gold and Silver, then any of their Predecessors had done before them; laying aside all feare of God, or of the King, and forgetting all huma∣nity.
These incarnate devils laid waste and Page 98 spoiled above 400. miles of most fertile land, containing very great Provinces, fruitful Vallies forty miles in length; and an infinite number of Villages abounding with Gold and Silver. So many, and so many several regions they so utterly depo∣pulated, that they hardly left a Messenger of these sad tydings, but those which hiding themselves in the Caverns and Bowels of the Earth escaped the thirst of their enraged swords. With new and unusual sorts of torments they destroyed above four or five millions of people; Neither do they yet put an end to their abominable crimes and enormities: Three or four of their mad actions I will rehearse, whereby the reader may judge of the rest.
The chiefe Lord of the Province they took captive, putting him to several tor∣ments to squeeze his Gold from him; but he escaping fled to the Mountaines, and thereupon his Subjects that lay hid among the Woods and Bushes began to raise a tu∣mult; The Spainards followed destroying abundance of the people; and as for those who were taken alive, they were publickly sold for slaves. In many Provinces, and indeed in most Provinces where they came before the captivity of the chief Lord, they were still welcom'd by the Indians with Songs and Dances and great Presents of Gold; though the thanks which they Page 99 gave them was alwayes with the points of their swords, still recompensing them with Massacres. One day when they came forth to meet the Spaniards, the German Tyrant and Captaine caus'd an infinite number of them to be shut up in a house made up with straw, where he commanded that they should be all cut in pieces. Now by reason that there were beames in the house whither the Indians got up to avoid the fury of the German swords; therefore (O cruel beasts) the Governour sent certaine men to set fire upon the house, and so burnt them alive: So that now the whole Region lay waste and desolate, the inhabitants being all fled to the Mountaines for safety.
They came afterwards to another large Province neere to that of St. Martha, where they found the Indians in their houses and Cities very peaceably employed about their occasions, where they liv'd a good while at the charges of the inhabitants, the Indians serving them like men in whose power their lives and safeties were, induring beyond imagination their continual importunities and daily oppressions, which were almost intolerable. This being added, which I said before, that one Spainard consumes in one day as much as would suffice to serve an Indian family consisting commonly of ten persons for a whole month. At that time the Indians presented them with several Page 100 great summes of Gold, doing many other kindnesses for them. At length when they were about to go away, as a recompence for all their courteous entertainment, they resolv'd to leave them after this manner. The German Tyrant gave command that all the Indians with their wives and chil∣dren if possible, should be gathered together and shut up in one large place; which done, they were also commanded to signifie to them, that whoever desired to be at li∣berty, must redeeme themselves with their wives and children at a certain Ransome, impos'd upon them at the discretion of the Governour; & to hasten them the more and bring them to a greater necessity, he com∣manded that no sustenance should be given them, till they had pay'd the sum required. Hereupon many sent home for the price of their Redemption, that they might be at li∣berty to seek for Victuals: But they had not been long at home ere they were brought back again by the Robbers, and shut up in the same place, that being oppressed with hunger and thirst they might be forc'd to redeem themselves once more; and thus were many of them three or four times faine to ransom themselves. And in this manner a Country abounding with Gold and peo∣ple was totally destroy'd; in which there was a Valley forty miles long, where they burnt a Village that contained above a Page 101 thousand houses. This Governour went further, having a great desire to see the lower parts of Perue; for which journey he pro∣vided an infinite number of Indians, lading them with chaines and heavy burthens; and if any of them fainted by the way, because they would not stand to loosen the chaines, they cut off their hands and heads, casting the head one way, and the body another, and their burdens were divided and impos'd upon others. And now should I reckon the Provinces which he laid desert, the Cities which he burnt, for all their houses are of straw, besides the particular slaugh∣ters which they made, though I am confi∣dent of the truth thereof, yet should I scarcely be beleeved, by reason that so much cruelty could not be suppos'd in man.
This course took other Tyrants that de∣parted from Venequela and the Province of St. Martha, with a resolution to make a further discovery of the Divine Gold of Perue: But they found that glorious Coun∣try so desert, so depopulated, so wasted and destroyed, that they themselves though a crew of blood thirsty Tyrants, were amaz'd and wondred to behold such ruines and depopulations.
These and many other things were prov'd before the fiscal of the Indian Council, and the several proofes are kept by the said Council; though tis most certain that they Page 102 never put to death any of those cursed Ty∣rants, as if all the devastations and murders by them committed had not been at all to be regarded. For hitherto the Ministers of Justice in India through their extraordinary and damned blindnesse, have never been very solicitous to inquire after the crimes and slaughters which those Tyrants have committed, or daily do commit. Onely they tell you slightly, that because such and such a one did ill and handled the Indians so cruelly, that therefore the Treasury of the King was much diminished; and this is all they do toward the suppression of so many hainous actions. Neither are those, which are prov'd, verifi'd to any purpose, neither is there that credit given to them as indeed there should be; for if they would but do their duty both to God and the King, they would soon finde the King to have been cheated by the German Tyrants of above three millions of Gold; for the Region of Venecuela being about 400. miles in length, for the happinesse of the soile and the abundance of Gold is not inferiour to any of the rest: and thus in the space of seventeen years wherein these enemies of God and the King, have done nothing else but destroy'd and wasted these Countries, they have, as I said before, defrauded the King not of lesse then three millions of Gold. Neither is it to be hop'd that these Page 103 losses can be repaired as long as the World stands, unlesse God by some miracle should raise from the dead so many people as have been slaine; besides the blasphemies and curses wherewith they have been bold to provoke even God himselfe. But what re∣compence can be made for the destroying of so many soules, which through the cruel∣ty and tyranny of so many blood-sucking Tyrants are now tormented in hell? This also may be added by way of conclusion to the rest of their Crimes, that from the time that they first enterd this Region, which is now seventeen years agoe, they never ceas'd to send whole Ships laden with Indian Captives to the Islands of St. Martha, Hi∣spaniola, Iamaica, and St. Iohn, having sold at the least a million of men; neither do they yet forebeare in this yeare 1542. that abominable practice; the Royal Council of the King taking no notice there∣of: and that, which they cannot choose but see, they not onely dissemble, but suffer and uphold them that do it. And as for the rest of their Crimes and infinite devastations, which they spread all along this part of the Con∣tinent, for a matter of 400. miles in length, together with Venecuela which is under their jurisdiction, they shut their eyes, when they might have remedi'd them. The reason why they did captivate the Indians was onely this; out of a perverse, obstinate Page 104 and blinde desire of heaping up Gold and riches, which is common to all that have gone into America. For these quiet lambes, they drew them by violence out of their houses, carrying them, together with their wives and children into Captivity, afflicting them in those horrid manners as abovesaid, and burning them with the marke of Slaves.