« PreviousContinue »
these murmured in secret, and meditated revenge : great numbers of them resorted to Lima, wiere ihe house of young Almagro was open to thenit, and the slender portion of his father's fortune, which the governor permitted him to enjoy, was spent in affording then subsistence.
The warm attachment, with which every person who had served under the elder Almagro, was quickly trans. feried to the son, who was now grown up to the age of manhood, and possessed all those qualities, which capii. vate the affections of soldier's Bold, open, generous, of a graceful appearance, dexterous at all partial exercises, ha seemed formed for command. His father had been extremely attentive to have him instructed in every science becoming a gentleman, the accomplishmenis he had ac. quired, increased the respect of his partizans, who were ready to undertake any thing for his advancement, they began to deliberate how they might be avenged on the auihor of their misery.
* Their frequent cabals did not pass unobserved; and the governor was warned to be on bis guard against men who meditated some desperate deed, and had resolution to execute it. It was either from the native intrepidity of his inind; or from contempt of persons, whose poverty rendered their machinations of little consequence, that he replied “ Be not afraid (said he carelessly) about my life ; it is perfectly safe, as long as every man in Peru knows that I ran in a moment put him to death, who dares to barbour a thought against it." This security gave the Almagrians full leisure to digest and ripen every part of their scheme ; and Juan de Herrada, an officer of great abilities, who had the charge of Almagro's education, took the lead in their consultations, with all tlie zeal that con nexion inspired, and with all the authority which the ago cendancy which he had over the mind of bis pupil, gare him : On the twen!y-sixth day of June, 1541, being the sabe bath at mid-day, the season of tranquillity and repose in all suitry climates, Herrada at the head of eighteen of the most determined conspirators, sallied out of Almagro's house, in compleat armour, and drawing their swords, as they advanced hastily towards the governor's palace, cried out “ Long live the king ; but let the tyrant die." Thein
associates warned of their motions by a signal, were in arins at diff rent stations, ready to support them.
Though Pizarro was usually surrounded by such a pumerous train of attendants, as suited the magnificence of the most opulent subject of the age in which he lived ; yet, as he was just risen from table and most of his own domestics had retired to their own apartments, the conspirators passed through the two outer courts of the place! unobserved. They were at the bottom of the stair.case, before a page in waiting could give the alarm to his master; who was conversing with a few friends in a large hall. . .
The governor whose steady mind no form of dangercould appal, starting up, called for arms, and commanded Frane cisco de Cháves to make fast the door. But that offer did not retain so much presence of mind as to obey this prudent order, running to the top of the stair-case, wildly asked the conspirators what they meant, and wbither they were going? Instead of answering, they stabbed him to the heart, and burst into the hall Some of the persons who were there, in a fright threw themselves from the windows, others attempted to escape ; and a few, drawing their swords followed their leader into an inner apartment. The conspirators having the object of their vengeance now in view, rushed forwards. Pizarro, with no other arms than his sword and backler, defended the entry, and supported by his half brother Alcantara, and his few friends, maintained the unequal contest with intrepidity, worthy of his former exploits; and with the vigour of a youthful combatant, " Courage, (cried he to his companions) we are yet formidable enough to make those trailors repent their audacity." But the armour of the conspirators, protected them, while every thrust they made took effect.
Alcantara fell dead at his brother's feet; his other de. fendants were mortally woun led. The governor, so weary that he could not wield his sword, and no longer able to pärry the many weapons furiously aimed at him, received a deadly thrust full in his throat, sunk to the ground and expired. As soon as he was slain, the assassins ran into the streets waving their bloody swords, and proclaiming the death of the tyrant. About two hundred of their as. sociates having joined them, they conducted young Alina gro, in solemn procession through the city ; and asse me
bling the magistrates and principal citizens, compelled them to acknowledge him as lawful successor to his father in his government.
The palace of Pizarro, together with the houses of se. veral of his adherenis, were pillaged by the soldiers, who had at once the satisfaction of being avenged on their enemies, and of enriching themselves by the spoils of those, through whose hands all the wealth of Peru had passed.
The popular qualities of Almagro and the success of the conspiracy drew many soldiers to his standard ; who declared without hesitation in his favour. Almagro was soon at the head of eight hundred of the most gallant veterans of Peru He appoin'ed Herrada general. Notwithstanding this favourable turn of fortune, the acquies. cence in his government was far froin being general. Pizarro had left many friends to whom his memory was dear; the barbarous assassination of a man to whom his country was so much indebied, filled every impartial per. son with horror ; by others he was considered as an usur. per The officers who commanded in some provinces, refused to recognize his authority, until it was confirmed by the emperor In others, particularly at Cuzco, the royal standard was erected, and preparations made to re. venge the murder of their ancient leader.
Those seeds of discord acquired greater vigour when the arrival of Vaca de Castro was known. After a long . voyage he put into a small harbour in the province of Papayan, in the year 1541 from thence he proceeded by a difficult and tedious ruute to Quito. In his way he received an account of Pizarro's death, and of the events which followed upon it. He immediately produced the royal commission appointing him governor of Peru. His jurisdiction was acknowledged by B: 1lcazar, lieutenant general for the emperor, in Papayan, and by Pedro de · Puelles, who, in the absence of Gonzales Pizarro, com. manded the troops in Quito ; who had himself gont upon a fruitless expedition to the east of the Andes, where he and his followers suffered incredible hardships :
Vacu de Castro riot ovly assumed the supreme authority, but shewed that he possessed talents equal to ihe exigency of the momentous trust committed to him By his influence and address he soon assembled a body of Hoops, that set him above all fear of insult from the all:
Verse party, and enabled him to advance from Quito with. the dignity that became his characte!
Almagro observed the rapid progress of the spirit of dism affection to his cause ; and that he might give an effectual check to it before the arrival of Vaca de Castro, he set out at the head of his troops for Cuzco, where the most considerable body of troops had erected the royal standard un. der the command of Pedro Alvart z Holguin. During liis murch thither, Herrada, the skilful guide of his youth, died; and from that time his measures were conspicuous for violence, and want of sagacity. Holguin, with forces far inferior, was descending to the coast, at the very ume that Almagro was on his way to Cuzco. By a very sim
ple stratagem, he deceived bis unexperienced adversary, Favoided an engagement, and effected a juncuon with Al
varado, an officer of note, who had been the first to deciare Against Almagro as an usurper
Soon after, Vaca de Castro entered the camp with the troops which he had brought from Quilo, and erected the royal standard before his own tent, he declined himself as governor, that he would discharge all the functions of ge. neral of their combined forces ; and although he had not been brought up to the profession, he displayed the abili. ties and decision of an officer accustomed to command, As his strength was supurior to that of the enemy, he was impatient to endoby. battle, the contest which appeared unavoiduble.
Almagro and his followers despairing of pardon, for a crime so atrocious as the murder of Pizarro, the governor, were not inclined to shun that mode ot decision.
They met, September the sixteenth, 1542, at Chips, about two hundred miles from Cuzco. The violence of civil rage, the rancour of private enmity, the eagerna 56 of revenge, and the last efforts of despair, inspired the in with such courage, that victory remained for a long tinie doubtful : but at last declared for Vaca de Castro The martial talents of Francisco de Carvajal, a veteran ofli: er, and the intrepidity of Vaca de Castro, triumphed over ile bravery of their opponents, led on by young Almagro, with a gallant spirit, worthy of a nobler cause, and deserving a better fate.
Many of the vanquished, who had been accessary to the Assassination of Pizarro, rather than wait an ignominious
doom, rushed on the swords of the enemy, and fell like soldiers. Of fourteen hundred men, the amount of com. batanis on both sides, five hundred lay dead on the field; and the number of the wounded was still greater Vaca de Castro proceeded immediately to try his prisoners as rebels. Forty were condemned to suffer death as traitors, others were banished from Perų. Their leader, who made. his escape from the battle betrayed by some of his officers, was publicly beheaded at Cuzçı; and in him the name of Almagro, and the spirit of his party were extinct.
During these violent commotions in Peru, the emperor and his ininisters were employed in preparing regulations by which they hoped to restore tranquillity, and a more perfect system of internal policy, into all their settlements in the New World. To prevent the extinction of the In. dian race, called for immediate remedy ; fortunately for them Bartholomew de Casas happened to be then at Ma. drid, on a mission from a chapter of his order at Chiapa. His zeal in behalf of this unfortunate people, was so far from abating, that from an increased knowledge of their sufferings, his ardour had augmented. He eagerly seized this opportunity in reviving his favourite maxims concern. ing the treatment of the Indi ns. With that moving elo. quence, natural to a man on whose mind the scenes which he had beheld, had made a deep impression, he described the irreparable waste of the human species in the New World ; the Indian race almost totally swept away in the islands in less than fifty years, and hastening to extinction on the continent with the same rapidity.
With a decisive tone, he imputed all this to the exac. tions and cruelty of his countrymen, and positively insista ed that nothing could prevent the depopulation of America, but by declaring the natives freemen, and treating them as such. Not content with thus verbally asserting the rights of this oppressed people, he published a celebrated treatise, in which he related the horrid cruelties of his countrymen.
The emperor was deeply affected with the recital of so many actions shocking to humanity. To relieve the Indians, as well as to circumscribe the power of his owh subjects in the New World, he framed a body of laws, con. taining many salutary appointments with respect to the constirution and powers of the supreme council of the Indies, and the administration of justice, both ecclesiastical