The road over the mountains is a thing worth seeing, because, though the ground is so rugged, such beautiful roads could not in truth be found throughout Christendom.
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
Place: Guamachuco, Peru
Next morning the Governor ordered us to go to the camp of Atahualpa, where we found forty thousand castellanos and four or five thousand marcos of silver. The camp was as full of people as if none were wanting. All the people were assembled, and the Governor desired them to go to their homes, and told them that he had not come to do them harm; that what he had done was by reason of the pride of Atahualpa, and that he himself ordered it. On asking Atahualpa why he had thrown away the book and shown so much pride, he answered that his captain, who had been sent to speak with the Governor, had told him that the Christians were not warriors, that the horses were unsaddled at night, and that with two hundred Indians he could defeat them all. He added that this captain and the chief of San Miguel had deceived him. The Governor then inquired concerning his brother the Cuzco, and he answered that he would arrive next day, that he was being brought as a prisoner, and that his captain remained with the troops in the town of Cuzco. It afterward turned out that in all this he had spoken the truth, except that he had sent orders for his brother to be killed, lest the Governor should restore him to his lordship. The Governor said that he had not come to make war on the Indians, but that our lord the Emperor, who was lord of the whole world, had ordered him to come that he might see the land, and let Atahualpa know the things of our faith, in case he should wish to become a Christian. The Governor also told him that that land and all other lands belonged to the Emperor, and that he must acknowledge him as his lord. He replied that he was content, and, observing that the Christians had collected some gold, Atahualpa said to the Governor that they need not take such care of it, as if there was so little; for that he could give them ten thousand plates, and that he could fill the room in which he was up to a white line, which was the height of a man and a half from the floor. The room was seventeen or eighteen feet wide and thirty-five feet long. He said that he could do this in two months.
Two months passed away and the gold did not arrive, but the Governor received tidings that every day parties of men were advancing against him. In order both to ascertain the truth of these reports, and to hurry the arrival of the gold, the Governor ordered me to set out with twenty horsemen and ten or twelve foot-soldiers for a place called Guamachuco, which is twenty leagues from Cajamarca. This was the place where it was reported that armed men were collecting together. I advanced to that town, and found a quantity of gold and silver, which I sent thence to Cajamarca. Some Indians, who were tortured, told us that the captains and armed men were at a place six leagues from Guamachuco; and, though I had no instructions from the Governor to advance beyond that point, I resolved to push forward with fourteen horsemen and nine foot-soldiers, in order that the Indians might not take heart at the notion that we had retreated. The rest of my party were sent to guard the gold, because their horses were lame. Next morning I arrived at that town, and did not find any armed men there, and it turned out that the Indians had told lies, perhaps to frighten us and induce us to return.
At this village I received permission from the Governor to go to a mosque of which we had intelligence, which was a hundred leagues away on the sea-coast, in a town called Pachacamac. It took us twenty-two days to reach it. The road over the mountains is a thing worth seeing, because, though the ground is so rugged, such beautiful roads could not in truth be found throughout Christendom. The greater part of them is paved. There is a bridge of stone or wood over every stream. We found bridges of network over a very large and powerful river, which we crossed twice, which was a marvellous thing to see. The horses crossed over by them. At each passage they have two bridges, the one by which the common people go over, and the other for the lords of the land and their captains. The approaches are always kept closed, with Indians to guard them. These Indians exact transit dues from all passengers. The chiefs and people of the mountains are more intelligent than those of the coast. The country is populous. There are mines in many parts of it. It is a cold climate, it snows, and there is much rain. There are no swamps. Fuel is scarce. Atahualpa has placed governors in all the principal towns, and his predecessors had also appointed governors. In all these towns there were houses of imprisoned women, with guards at the doors, and these women preserve their virginity. If any Indian has any connection with them his punishment is death. Of these houses, some are for the worship of the sun, others for that of old Cuzco, the father of Atahualpa. Their sacrifices consist of sheep and chica, which they pour out on the ground. They have another house of women in each of the principal towns, also guarded. These women are assembled by the chiefs of the neighboring districts, and when the lord of the land passes by they select the best to present to him, and when they are taken others are chosen to fill up their places. These women also have the duty of making chica for the soldiers when they pass that way.
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