When we arrived on the plain of the sea-coast we met with a people who were less civilized, but the country was populous.
Continuing Pizarro Conquers the Incan Empire,
with a selection from a letter in Reports on the Discovery of Peru by Hernando Pizarro published in dictated to his brother.. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. This selection is presented in 5 easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Pizarro Conquers the Incan Empire
They took Indian girls out of these houses and presented them to us. All the surrounding chiefs come to these towns on the roads to perform service when the army passes. They have stores of fuel and maize and of all other necessaries. They count by certain knots on cords, and so record what each chief has brought. When they had to bring us loads of fuel, maize, chica, or meat, they took off knots or made them on some other part; so that those who have charge of the stores keep an exact account. In all these towns they received us with great festivities, dancing, and rejoicing.
When we arrived on the plain of the sea-coast we met with a people who were less civilized, but the country was populous. They also have houses of women, and all the other arrangements as in the towns of the mountains. They never wished to speak to us of the mosque, for there was an order that all who should speak to us of it should be put to death. But as we had intelligence that it was on the coast, we followed the high road until we came to it. The road is very wide, with an earthen wall on either side, and houses for resting at intervals, which were prepared to receive the Cuzco when he travelled that way. There are very large villages, the houses of the Indians being built of canes, and those of the chiefs are of earth with roofs of branches of trees; for in that land it never rains. From the city of San Miguel to this mosque the distance is one hundred sixty or one hundred eighty leagues, the road passing near the sea-shore through a very populous country. The road, with a wall on each side, traverses the whole of this country; and, neither in that part nor in the part farther on, of which we had notice for two hundred leagues, does it ever rain.
They live by irrigation, for the rainfall is so great in the mountains that many rivers flow from them, so that throughout the land there is not three leagues without a river. The distance from the sea to the mountains is in some parts ten leagues, in others twelve. It is not cold. Throughout the whole of this coast-land, and beyond it, tribute is not paid to Cuzco, but to the mosque. The bishop of it was in Cajamarca with the Governor. He had ordered another room of gold, such as Atahualpa had ordered, and the Governor ordered me to go on this business, and to hurry those who were collecting it. When I arrived at the mosque I asked for the gold, and they denied it to me, saying that they had none. I made some search, but could not find it. The neighboring chiefs came to see me, and brought presents, and in the mosque there was found some gold-dust, which was left behind when the rest was concealed. Altogether I collected eighty-five thousand castellanos and three thousand marcos of silver.
This town of the mosque is very large, and contains grand edifices and courts. Outside, there is another great space surrounded by a wall, with a door opening on the mosque. In this space there are the houses of the women, who, they say, are the women of the devil. Here, also, are the storerooms, where the stores of gold are kept. There is no one in the place where these women are kept. Their sacrifices are the same as those to the sun, which I have already described. Before entering the first court of the mosque, a man must fast for twenty days; before ascending to the court above, he must fast for a year. In this upper court the bishop used to be. When messengers of the chiefs, who had fasted for a year, went up to pray to God that he would give them a good harvest, they found the bishop seated, with his head covered. There are other Indians whom they call pages of the sun. When these messengers of the chief delivered their messages to the bishop, the pages of the devil went into a chamber, where they said that he speaks to them; and that devil said that he was enraged with the chiefs, with the sacrifices they had to offer, and with the presents they wished to bring. I believe that they do not speak with the devil, but that these his servants deceive the chiefs. For I took pains to investigate the matter, and an old page, who was one of the chief and most confidential servants of their god, told a chief, who repeated it to me, that the devil said they were not to fear the horses, as they could do no harm. I caused the page to be tortured, and he was so stubborn in his evil creed that I could never gather anything from him, but that they really held their devil to be a god. This mosque is so feared by all the Indians that they believe that, if any of those servants of the devil asked them for anything and they refused it, they would presently die. It would seem that the Indians do not worship this devil from any feelings of devotion, but from fear. For the chiefs told me that, up to that time, they had served that mosque because they feared it, but that now they had no fear but of us; and that, therefore, they wished to serve us. The cave in which the devil was placed was very dark, so that one could not enter it without a light, and within it was very dirty. I made all the caciques, who came to see me, enter the place, that they might lose their fear; and, for want of a preacher, I made my sermon, explaining to them the errors in which they lived.
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