Of the Island of Cuba.
IN the year, 1511. they went over in∣to the Island of Cuba, which extends as far in length as it is from Valladolid to Rome, in which there were many fair Pro∣vinces, inhabited with an infinite number of people, where the humanity and cle∣mency of the Spaniards was not only as lit∣tle as it had been in other places, but their cruelty and rage much greater. In this Island many things were done worthy ob∣servation. A certain Lord of great power among them by name Hathvey, who had fled over to Cuba, that he might avoid ei∣ther death or perpetual captivity, hear∣ing by some of the Indians that the Spaniards were also come into this Island, having as∣sembled the Indians together, he began as followeth:
Countrymen and Friends, you are not igno∣rant of the rumour by which we understand that the Spaniards are come among us, nei∣ther am I now to tell you how they have used the inhabitants of Hapti (so the call Hispa∣niola, in the Indian language) you know it by a sad experience: nor can we hope to finde Page 22 them more merciful then they did. Then quoth he, Countreymen do you know the Errand which brings them hither? To whom they re∣plyed, that was unknown to them, yet they fur∣ther replyed, that that they were well assured of the cruel nature of the Spaniard. Then quoth he, Ile tell ye the cause of their coming. They do worship some covetous and unsatisfied Deity, and to content the greedy worship of that Celestial Power, they require many things from us, using all their endevour to murther and en∣slave us. Which having said, taking up a little Chest filled with Gold, he proceeded in these words: Behold here the God of the Spaniards, and therefore if you think fitting, let us daunce and sing before this their God, Perhaps we may thereby appease his rage, and he well then command the Spaniards to let us alone: Who with an unanimous shout cryed out all, Well said, well said; and so they went to dauncing round this box, not ceasing till they had sufficiently wearied themselves. Then the Lord Hathvey going on with his speech, quoth he, If we do keep this God till he be taken from us, we shall be surely slain, and therefore I think it expedient for us to cast it in∣to the River; so his counsell being fol∣lowed, the Chest was cast into the Ri∣ver.
When the Spaniards had landed in this Island, this noble man that had sufficient Page 23 tryal of their manner, avoided them as much as he could, still flying from them and defending himself by force of armes upon all occasions. But at length being taken, for no other reason, but because he fled from those that sought his life, and defended himself that he might not be tor∣mented to death, he was by the Spaniards burnt alive. While he was tyed to the stake, there came to him a Monk of the Order of St. Francis, who began to talk to him of God and of the Articles of our Faith, telling him, that the small respite which the Executioner gave him was suffi∣cient for him to make sure his salvation if he believed. Upon which words after Hathvey had a little while paus'd, he asked the Monk if the door of heaven was open to the Spaniards, who answering, Yes, to the good Spaniards. Then replyed the other, Let me go to Hell that I may not come where they are.
It happened once that the Citizens of a very fair City distant about twelve miles from the place where we were, came forth of the City to do us honour, and to sub∣mit themselves to the King of Castile, but they being returned home, the Governour of the Spaniards about the middle of the night as they were sleeping in their bed, and least suspecting any such thing, sent a Page 24 company who came suddenly upon them, and set fire upon their houses, burning up both men, women and children, here some they murthered, others whom they spared, they tormented to make them tell where they had hid their Gold, after which they made them their slaves, having first marked them in the body: and immediately as soon as the fire was spent, they ran to finde out the Gold. At that time the Spa∣niards got above ten hundred thousand Crowns of Gold, out of which the King scarce had three hundred thousand sent him; there were slain in this place eight hundred thousand people; and those other Tyrants that came afterwards, emptied the Island of those that remained.
Among all the notorious enormities committed by the foresaid Governour, there is one not to be omitted: a certain noble Indian presenting him, perhaps more for fear then love, a present of above nine thousand Crowns, the Spaniards not con∣tent with this, tied him to a stake, and stretching out his Legs, put fire to them, re∣quiring a greater sum of Gold, who not able to endure the torment sent home for three thousand more; notwithstanding the Spaniards with a fresh rage began to torment him again, but seeing that he was able to give them no more, they kept him so long Page 25 over the fire till his marrow dropt from the soles of his feet, whereof he died. These were the torments wherewith they murthered not only the common People, but the Peers and Lords of those Na∣tions.
Sometimes it would happen, that a Band of Spaniards ranging abroad would light upon a mountain where the Indians were fled for protection from their cruelty, where they immediately fell upon the Indians, killing the Men, and taking the Women and Virgins captive; & when a great company of the Indians pursued them with weapons for the recovery of their Wives and Chil∣dren, they resolving not to let go their prey, when the Indians came near them, immedi∣ately with the points of their swords ran the poor Women and Children through the bodies. Upon which the wretched Indi∣ans beating their brests for grief would now and then burst forth in these words, O per∣verse men, O cruel Spaniards, What will ye kill helplesse women?
There was the house of a Noble man distant from Panama above 15. miles; he was by name called Paris, and he was very wealthy in Gold; to him the Spaniards came, and by him they were entertained like Bro∣thers, he giving to the Captain, as a Present, fifteen thousand Crowns; who by that Page 26 perceiving that he must of necessity have a very great treasure, feigned a departure, but about the middle of the night returning again entred the City, set it on fire, sacri∣ficing the poor people to the flames. Hence they took away about fifty or sixty thou∣sand Crowns▪ The Noble man escaping, gathered together what force he could and made after the Spaniards, who were gone away with no lesse then a hundred and forty thousand Crowns of his own Trea∣sure; when he had overtaken them, he fell upon them, and having slain above fifty of the Spaniards, he recovered his Gold again. The rest saved themselves by flight. But not long after the Spaniards retur∣ned with greater force upon the Noble man and having routed him, made slaves of all his people.