Page images

whelmed with such a tide of misfortunes, as now at once poured in upon him. But he was preserved from sinking under it, by the necessity of attending to his own safety, and the desire of revenge. He took measures for both with his usual sagacity.

The command which he had of the sea coast, by which he was enabled to receive supplies both of men and military stores, gave him an advantage which his rival could not expect. As it was his interest to gain time, he had recourse to arts, which he had before practised with success, and Almagro was weak enough to be amused with a prospect of terminating their differences, by some amicable accommodation. Pizarro by varying his proposals, and shifting his ground, when it suited his purpose, protracted the negociations for several months, in which time Gonzalo Pizarro, and Alvarado, found means to corrupt the guard of soldiers to whose care they were intrusted, and not only escaped themselves, but persuaded sixty of the men who had formerly guarded them, to accompany them in their flight.

One of the brothers being now at liberty, the governor by another act of perfidy procured the release of the other. He proposed that every point in controversy should be submitted to their sovereign; that until his decision was known, each should possess whatever part of the country he now occupied; that Ferdinand Pizarro should be set at liberty, and return instantly to Spain, together with the officers whom Almagro proposed to send thither, to justify his claims. Notwithstanding the design of this artifice was so

obvious, and the insincerity of the governor had been so ; often experienced, yet did Almagro, with a credulity ap

proaching to infatuation, conclude an agreement on these terms.

No sooner had Ferdinand Pizarro recovered his liberty, than the governor threw off the mask ; the treaty was forgotten, pacific and conciliating measures were no more

mnentioned; he openly declared that in the field, and not " in the cabinet, by arms and not by negociation, was their È difference to be adjusted ; that it must now be determined who must be master of Peru.

His preparations were so rapid, that seven hundred - men, were soon ready to march towards Cuzco. The command of these was given to his two brothers, who were urged on by the desire of vengeance, and that man corous enmity flowing froin family rivalship; they in vain attempted to march across the mountains, in the direct road from Lima to Cuzco, but were forced to alter their route, by a march towards the south, along the coast as far as Nasca ; and then turning to the left, penetrated through the defiles in that branch of the Andes, which lay between them and the capital.

Almagro, instead of defending those difficult passes, waited the approach of the enemy in the plain of Cuzco. He was induced to take this resolution for two reasons ; his followers amounted only to five hundred men, and he was afraid of weakeping such a feeble body, by sending any detachment towards the imountains. His cavalry far, exceeded those of the enemy, both in number and discipline, and it was only in an open country that he could avail himself of that advantage.

The Pizarros after surmounting the difficulties and otstructions which arose in their march through the desårt, and horrid regions which lay in their way to Cuzco, at length appeared in the plain, where Almagro's forces were drawn up ready to receive them. Though countrymen and subjects of the same sovereign, and each with the royal standard displayed; and though they beheld the surrounding mountains, covered with a vast number of Indians, assembled to enjoy the spectacle of their mutual carnage, and prepared to attack the successful party ; * so fell and iinplacable was their rancour, that not one pacific counsel, not a single proposition from either party toward an accommodation was offered.

Almagro at this time unfortunately was so worn out with the fatigues of service, to which his advanced age was unequal, that, at this important crisis he could not exert his usual activity, and was obliged to commit the leading of his troops to Orgognez, who, though an officer of great merit, possessed not that ascendancy over the spirit and affections of the soldiers, as the chief whom they had been so long accustomed to follow and revere.

The conflict was fierce, and maintained by each party with equal courage ; on the side of Almagro were more veteran soldiers, and a larger proportion of cavalry ; but these were counterbalanced by Pizarro's superiority in numbers, and by two companies of well disciplined mus.

queteers, which the Emperor had sent from Spain, on account of the insurrection of the Indians. This small band of soldiers, regularly trained, and armed, decided the fate of the day. Wherever it advanced, horse and foot were borne down before it ; Orgognez, while he endeavoured to-rally and animate the troops, having received a dangerous wound, the route became general.

The barbarity of the conquerors disgraced the glory of their victory. The violence of civil rage hurried on some to slaughter their countrymen with indiscriminate cruelty ; others were singled out by the meanness of private revenge as the objects of their vengeance. Orgognez and several officers, were massacred in cold blood; above one hundred and forty fell in the field.

Almagro, though so feeble that he could not bear the motion of a horse, was carried in a litter to an eminence, which overlooked the field of battle. From thence, in the utmost agitation of mind, he viewed the various movements of both parties, and at last beheld the total defeat of his own troops, with all the passionate indignation of a leader long accustomed to victory. He endeavoured to save himself by flight, but was taken prisoner, and guarded with the strictest vigilance.

The Indians, instead of executing the resolution which they had formed, retired quietly after the battle was over, a convincing evidence of that ascendancy the Spaniards had acquired over them, as they had not courage to fall upon their enemies when one party was ruined and dispersed, and they so weakened and fatigued that they might have been attacked to advantage..

The victorious troops found in Cuzco considerable booty; consisting partly of the gleanings of the Indian treasures, and partly of the wealth amassed by their antagonists from the spoils of Chili and Peru. But so far did this, and whatever the liberality of Ferdinand Pizarro, their leader, could add to it, fall below their high ideas of the recompense which they conceived due to their merit, that unable to gratify such extravagant expectations, he had recourse to the same which his brother had employed on a similar occasion.

With this view he encouraged his most active officers to discover and reduce various provinces which had not hitherto submitted to the Spaniards. Volunteers resorted to the standard erected upon this occasion with the ardour and hope peculiar to the age. Several of Almagro's soldiers joined them, and thus was Pizarro delivered from the importunity of his discontented friends, and the dread of his ancient enemies. The death of Almagro had been determined from the moment the Pizarros had him in their power ; but they were constrained to defer gratifying their vengeance, until the soldiers who had served under him as well as some of their own followers, in whom they could not perfectly rely, had left Cuzco.

As soon as they had set out on their different expedi. tions, Almagro was impeached of treason, formally triedy and condemned to die. Though he had often braved death with an undaunted spirit in the field the sentence astonished him : the approach of death under this ignominious form, appalled him so much, that he had recourse to abject supplications unworthy of his former fame. He called upon the Pizarros to remember the ancient friendship between their brother and him, and how much he had contributed to the success and prosperity of their family : he reminded them of the humanity with which in opposition to the repeated remonstrances of his own most attached friends, he had spared their lives, when they were in his power; he conjured them to pity his age, and infirmities, and to suffer him to pass the remainder of his days in bewailing his crimes, and in making his peace with heaven.

The entreaties (says a Spanish historian), of a man so much beloved, touched numbers of an unfeeling heart, and drew tears from many a hard eye. But the Pizarros rem mained inflexible.

As soon as Almagro knew his fate to be inevitable, he met it with the dignity and fortitude of a veteran. He was strangled in prison, and afterwards publicly beheaded. He suffered in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and left one son by an Indian woman of Panama, whom, though a prisoner at that time in Lima, he named as successor to his government, pursuant to a power which the emperor had granted him.

During the civil dissensions in Peru, all intercourse with Spain was suspended, the account of the transactions thera, unfortunately for the victorious party, was brought this ther by some of Almagro's officers, who had left the country upon the ruin of their cause ; and they related

what had happened, with every circumstance unfavourable to Pizarro and his brothers. Their ambition, their breach of the most solemn engagements, their violence and cruelty, were painted with all the malignity of party spirit.

Ferdinand Pizarro, who arrived soon after, and appear. ied in court with extraordinary splendour, endeavoured to

efface the impression which their accusations had made, and to justify himself, by representing Almagro as the aggressor. The emperor and his ministers, clearly saw the fatal tendency of such dissensions, and they saw no other way more likely to restore order, than by sending a person with extensive and discretionary powers, who after viewing deliberately, the posture of affairs, and enquiring on the spot, into the conduct of the different leaders, should be authorized to establish that form of government, as would be most conducive to the interest of the parent state, and the welfare of the colony.

Christoval Vaca de Castro, a judge of the royal andience at Vallodolid, was the man selected for this purpose, whose integrity, abilities, and firmness, justified the choice. He had power to take upon him different characters. If he found the governor still alive, he was to assume only the title of Judge, to maintain the appearance of acting only in concert with him, and to guard against giving any "just cause of offence, to a man, who had merited so highly

of his country : but if Pizarro was dead, he was entrusted | with a commission he might then produce, by which

he was appointed his successor in the government of - Peru.

This attention to Pizarro seems to have flowed rather from a dread of his power, than from any approbation of his measures; for at the very time the court seemed so cautious of irritating him, his brother Ferdinand was arrested at Madrid, and confined to a prison, where he rę. mained twenty years.

While Vaca de Castro was making preparations for his voyage, events of great moment happened in Peru. Upon the death of Almagro, the governor considered himself the unrivalled possessor of that vast empire, and proceeded to parcel it out among his own partizans, to the total exclusion of the followers of Almagro ; amongst whom were many of the original adventurers, to whose valour and perseverance Pizarro was indebted for his success :

« PreviousContinue »