Of the Province of Nicaraqua.
IN the year 1522. the foresaid Gover∣nour went to subdue the Province of Nicaraqua. There is no man that can suffici∣ently expresse the fertility of this Island, the temperateness of the air, or the multitude of the people that did inhabit it. There was a vast number of people in this Province, for it contained divers cities above four mile in length: and for plenty of fruits (which was the cause that it was so ex∣treamly well habited) without compare. This people because their Countrey was all plain and level, had not the shelter of the Mountains, neither could they be easily perswaded to leave it, so pleasant was their habitation. And therefore they endured far the greater misery, and persecution, and underwent a more unsufferable slavery, be∣ing the lesse able to bear it, by how much they were of a milde and gentle nature. This Tyrant vex'd and tormented these poor creatures with so many continual in∣juries, slaughters, captivities and cruelties, that no tongue is able to expresse them. Into this territory he sent above fifty horse, who totally extirpated the people of this Page 28 Province by the Sword, sparing no age nor sex, not for any wrong they did them, but sometimes it came not so speedily when they called as they expected, or if they brought not such quantities of corn as they imposed, or if they did not bring a sufficient quantity of Indians to their ser∣vice: for the Countrey being in a plain there was no avoiding the fury of the Horsemen.
He commanded these Spaniards to go pil∣lage and depopulate other Countreys, per∣mitting to these Robbers, and Hangmen, to bring away and enslave what number of these poor people they pleased: whom they laded with chains that weighed above sixty or fifty pound, that they might not have the opportunity of escaping, so that it seldome hapned that above four in four thousand returned home; and if either through the weight of their chains, or for hunger or thirst they did chance to faint by the way, because they would not hin∣der their journey, they cut off their heads immediately, throwing the head in one place and the body in another. And the poor captive Indians when they saw the Spaniards preparing for such journeys, at their departure would weep and fall into these kinde of sad expressions, These are the journeys that we have often gone, to serve Page 29 the Christians, and then we could return home again to visit our Wives and Chil∣dren, but now all hope is cut off from us, and we must never see them more.
It happened also, by reason that it came into the Governors minde to change the Indians from one Master to another, pre∣tending to take away force from some that he saw began to envie him, that there was no seed time nor harvest for a whole year; now rather then the Spaniards would want, they took it from the Indians, by which means there perished no lesse then thirty thousand people; which caused one woman for hunger to eat her own childe.
And because these Cities and other pla∣ces were such pleasant abodes, therefore the Spaniards took up their habitations in these places, dividing the possessions among themselves; and as for the Indians, both old and young they lived in the houses of the Spaniards, drudging day & night in a perpe∣tual captivity, who spared not the smallest children, but impos'd on them burdens as much as they were able to bear, and some∣times more; & by this means allowing them neither houses nor any thing else proper to themselves, they destroyed them daily, and do daily destroy them: so that they excee∣ded the cruelties which they had committed in Hispaniola.
Page 30They hastned also the death of many of these poor people, by forcing them to carry timber and planks for shipping to the port that was distant about thirty miles from this place; compelling them also to fetch honey and wax from the Mountains, where they were many times devoured by the Tygres. Neither were they ashamed to lade and burthen Women with childe, as if they had been only beasts for carri∣age.
But there was no greater plague that depopulated this Countrey, then a liber∣ty granted by the Governour to the Spa∣niards, for the requiring of slaves and cap∣tives from the Nobles and potent men of the Kingdome; who as often as the Spa∣niards obtained leave to demand them, which was every four or five moneths, and sometimes oftner, gave them constantly fifty servants, whom the Spaniards still threatned, that if they would not be obedi∣ent, they would either burn them alive, or throw them to the dogs. Now because the Indians have but few servants, for it is a very great matter to see above three ser∣vants in that place waiting upon a Noble man; therefore the Nobility were fain to come to their subjects, from whom first they took all the Orphans, then coming to those that had many children, from them Page 31 that had two they took one, and from those who had three they demanded two; and thus they were fain to make up the Num∣ber which the threatning Tyrant required, while the poor people wept and deplor'd the sad misfortune of their Children, over whom they are very tender. Which being done for a daily continuance, in ten or twelve years they made a clean riddance of the inhabitants out of this place. For every foot there came five or six ships which returned full of Indians into the Regions of Panama and Peru, where they were sold, and ended their daies in capti∣vity. For experience hath taught us this, that when ever the Indians are removed from their accustomed habitations into other climates, they quickly die; the Spa∣niards neither affording them sufficient food, nor in times of sicknesse diminishing their labour, for which end they were on∣ly bought. And thus the number of peo∣ple hurried from the enjoyment of their freedome into a sad and laborious captivi∣ty, amounted to five hundred thousand souls, of which above fifty or sixty thou∣sand are already perished, and more daily perish. All these Massacres were commit∣ted within the space of fourteen years. There may be now remaining in the Pro∣vince of Nicaraqua perhaps some four or Page 32 five thousand men, though they daily di∣minish through the immoderate oppressions of the Spaniards. Notwithstanding in for∣mer time for number of people, it was the most flourishing place in the whole world.