THE LIFE AND VOYAGES OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
THE LIFE AND VOYAGES OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
Saecula seris quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet et ingens
Pateat tellus Typhisque novos
Detegat Orbes nec sit terris
Author's Revised Edition.
Contents of Volume II.
I. Administration of the Adelantado.--Expedition to the Province of
II. Establishment of a Chain of Military Posts.--Insurrection of
Guarionex the Cacique of the Vega
III. The Adelantado Repairs to Xaragua to receive Tribute
IV. Conspiracy of Roldan
V. The Adelantado repairs to the Vega in relief of Fort Conception.
--His Interview with Roldan
VI. Second Insurrection of Guarionex and his Flight to the Mountains
VII. Campaign of the Adelantado in the Mountains of Ciguay
I. Confusion in the Island.--Proceedings of the Rebels at Xaragua
II. Negotiation of the Admiral with the Rebels.--Departure of Ships
III. Arrangement with the Rebels
IV. Another Mutiny of the Rebels; and Second Arrangement with them
V. Grants made to Roldan and his Followers.--Departure of several of
the Rebels for Spain
VI. Arrival of Ojeda with a Squadron at the Western part of the Island.
--Roldan sent to meet him
VII. Manoeuvres of Roldan and Ojeda
I. Representations at Court against Columbus.--Bobadilla empowered to
examine into his Conduct
II. Arrival of Bobadilla at San Domingo.--His violent Assumption of
III. Columbus summoned to appear before Bobadilla
IV. Columbus and his Brothers arrested and sent to Spain in Chains
I. Sensation in Spain on the Arrival of Columbus in Irons.--His
Appearance at Court
II. Contemporary Voyages of Discovery
III. Nicholas de Ovando appointed to supersede Bobadilla
IV. Proposition of Columbus relative to the Recovery of the Holy
V. Preparations of Columbus for a Fourth Voyage of Discovery
I. Departure of Columbus on his Fourth Voyage.--Refused Admission to
the Harbor of San Domingo--Exposed to a violent Tempest
II. Voyage along the Coast of Honduras
III. Voyage along the Mosquito Coast and Transactions at Cariari
IV. Voyage along Costa Rica.--Speculations concerning the Isthmus at
V. Discovery of Puerto Bello and El Retrete.--Columbus abandons the
search after the Strait
VI. Return to Veragua.--The Adelantado explores the Country.
VII. Commencement of a Settlement on the river Belen.--Conspiracy of the
Natives.--Expedition of the Adelantado to surprise Quibian.
VIII. Disasters of the Settlement.
IX. Distress of the Admiral on board of his Ship.--Ultimate Relief of
X. Departure from the Coast of Veragua.--arrival at Jamaica.--Stranding
of the Ships.
I. Arrangement of Diego Mendez with the Caciques for Supplies of
Provisions.--Sent to San Domingo by Columbus in quest of Relief.
II. Mutiny of Porras.
III. Scarcity of Provisions.--Stratagem of Columbus to obtain Supplies
from the Natives.
IV. Mission of Diego de Escobar to the Admiral.
V. Voyage of Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco in a Canoe to
VI. Overtures of Columbus to the Mutineers.--Battle of the Adelantado
with Porras and his Followers.
I. Administration of Ovando in Hispaniola.--Oppression of the Natives.
II. Massacre at Xaragua.--Fate of Anacaona.
III. War with the Natives of Higuey.
IV. Close of the War with Higuey.--Fate of Cotabanama.
I. Departure of Columbus for San Domingo.--His Return to Spain.
II. Illness of Columbus at Seville.--Application to the Crown for a
Restitution of his Honors.--Death of Isabella.
III. Columbus arrives at Court.--Fruitless Application to the King for
IV. Death of Columbus.
V. Observations on the Character of Columbus.
The Life and Voyages of Columbus
Administration of the Adelantado.--Expedition to the Province of Xaragua.
Columbus had anticipated repose from his toils on arriving at Hispaniola
but a new scene of trouble and anxiety opened upon him destined to impede
the prosecution of his enterprises and to affect all his future fortunes.
To explain this it is necessary to relate the occurrences of the island
during his long detention in Spain.
When he sailed for Europe in March 1496 his brother Don Bartholomew
who remained as Adelantado took the earliest measures to execute his
directions with respect to the mines recently discovered by Miguel Diaz on
the south side of the island. Leaving Don Diego Columbus in command at
Isabella he repaired with a large force to the neighborhood of the mines
and choosing a favorable situation in a place most abounding in ore
built a fortress to which he gave the name of San Christoval. The
workmen however finding grains of gold among the earth and stone
employed in its construction gave it the name of the Golden
The Adelantado remained here three months superintending the building of
the fortress and making the necessary preparations for working the mines
and purifying the ore. The progress of the work however was greatly
impeded by scarcity of provisions having frequently to detach a part of
the men about the country in quest of supplies. The former hospitality of
the island was at an end. The Indians no longer gave their provisions
freely; they had learnt from the white men to profit by the necessities of
the stranger and to exact a price for bread. Their scanty stores also
were soon exhausted for their frugal habits and their natural indolence
and improvidence seldom permitted them to have more provisions on hand
than was requisite for present support.  The Adelantado found it
difficult therefore to maintain so large a force in the neighborhood
until they should have time to cultivate the earth and raise live-stock
or should receive supplies from Spain. Leaving ten men to guard the
fortress with a dog to assist them in catching utias he marched with the
rest of his men about four hundred in number to Fort Conception in the
abundant country of the Vega. He passed the whole month of June collecting
the quarterly tribute being supplied with food by Guarionex and his
subordinate caciques. In the following month (July 1496) the three
caravels commanded by Nino arrived from Spain bringing a reinforcement
of men and what was still more needed a supply of provisions. The
latter was quickly distributed among the hungry colonists but
unfortunately a great part had been injured during the voyage. This was a
serious misfortune in a community where the least scarcity produced murmur
By these ships the Adelantado received letters from his brother directing
him to found a town and sea-port at the mouth of the Ozema near to the
new mines. He requested him also to send prisoners to Spain such of the
caciques and their subjects as had been concerned in the death of any of
the colonists; that being considered as sufficient ground by many of the
ablest jurists and theologians of Spain for selling them as slaves. On
the return of the caravels the Adelantado dispatched three hundred Indian
prisoners and three caciques. These formed the ill-starred cargoes about
which Nino had made such absurd vaunting as though the ships were laden
with treasure; and which had caused such mortification disappointment
and delay to Columbus.
Having obtained by this arrival a supply of provisions the Adelantado
returned to the fortress of San Christoval and thence proceeded to the
Ozema to choose a site for the proposed seaport. After a careful
examination he chose the eastern bank of a natural haven at the mouth of
the river. It was easy of access of sufficient depth and good anchorage.
The river ran through a beautiful and fertile country; its waters were
pure and salubrious and well stocked with fish; its banks were covered
with trees bearing the fine fruits of the island so that in sailing
along the fruits and flowers might be plucked with the hand from the
branches which overhung the stream.  This delightful vicinity was the
dwelling-place of the female cacique who had conceived an affection for
the young Spaniard Miguel Diaz and had induced him to entice his
countrymen to that part of the island. The promise she had given of a
friendly reception on the part of her tribe was faithfully performed.
On a commanding bank of the harbor Don Bartholomew erected a fortress
which at first was called Isabella but afterwards San Domingo and was
the origin of the city which still bears that name. The Adelantado was of
an active and indefatigable spirit. No sooner was the fortress completed
than he left in it a garrison of twenty men and with the rest of his
forces set out to visit the dominions of Behechio one of the principal
chieftains of the island. This cacique as has already been mentioned
reigned over Xaragua a province comprising almost the whole coast at the
west end of the island including Cape Tiburon and extending along the
south side as far as Point Aguida or the small island of Beata. It was
one of the most populous and fertile districts with a delightful climate;
and its inhabitants were softer and more graceful in their manners than
the rest of the islanders. Being so remote from all the fortresses the
cacique although he had taken a part in the combination of the
chieftains had hitherto remained free from the incursions and exactions
of the white men.
With this cacique resided Anacaona widow of the late formidable Caonabo.
She was sister to Behechio and had taken refuge with her brother after
the capture of her husband. She was one of the most beautiful females of
the island; her name in the Indian language signified "The Golden Flower."
She possessed a genius superior to the generality of her race and was
said to excel in composing those little legendary ballads or areytos
which the natives chanted as they performed their national dances. All the
Spanish writers agree in describing her as possessing a natural dignity
and grace hardly to be credited in her ignorant and savage condition.
Notwithstanding the ruin with which her husband had been overwhelmed by
the hostility of the white men she appears to have entertained no
vindictive feeling towards them knowing that he had provoked their
vengeance by his own voluntary warfare. She regarded the Spaniards with
admiration as almost superhuman beings and her intelligent mind perceived
the futility and impolicy of any attempt to resist their superiority in
arts and arms. Having great influence over her brother Behechio she
counseled him to take warning by the fate of her husband and to
conciliate the friendship of the Spaniards; and it is supposed that a
knowledge of the friendly sentiments and powerful influence of this
princess in a great measure prompted the Adelantado to his present
In passing through those parts of the island which had hitherto been
unvisited by Europeans the Adelantado adopted the same imposing measures
which the admiral had used on a former occasion; he put his cavalry in the
advance and entered all the Indian towns in martial array with standards
displayed and the sound of drum and trumpet.
After proceeding about thirty leagues he came to the river Neyva which
issuing from the mountains of Cibao divides the southern side of the
island. Crossing this stream he dispatched two parties of ten men each
along the sea-coast in search of brazil-wood. They found great quantities
and felled many trees which they stored in the Indian cabins until they
could be taken away by sea.
Inclining with his main force to the right the Adelantado met not far
from the river the cacique Behechio with a great army of his subjects
armed with bows and arrows and lances. If he had come forth with the
intention of opposing the inroad into his forest domains he was probably
daunted by the formidable appearance of the Spaniards. Laying aside his
weapons he advanced and accosted the Adelantado very amicably professing
that he was thus in arms for the purpose of subjecting certain villages
along the river and inquiring at the same time the object of this
incursion of the Spaniards. The Adelantado assured him that he came on a
peaceful visit to pass a little time in friendly intercourse at Xaragua.
He succeeded so well in allaying the apprehensions of the cacique that
the latter dismissed his army and sent swift messengers to order
preparations for the suitable reception of so distinguished a guest. As
the Spaniards advanced into the territories of the chieftain and passed
through the districts of his inferior caciques the latter brought forth
cassava bread hemp cotton and various other productions of the land. At
length they drew near to the residence of Behechio which was a large town
situated in a beautiful part of the country near the coast at the bottom
of that deep bay called at present the Bight of Leogan.
The Spaniards had heard many accounts of the soft and delightful region of
Xaragua in one part of which Indian traditions placed their Elysian
fields. They had heard much also of the beauty and urbanity of the
inhabitants: the mode of their reception was calculated to confirm their
favorable prepossessions. As they approached the place thirty females of
the cacique's household came forth to meet them singing their areytos or
traditionary ballads and dancing and waving palm branches. The married
females wore aprons of embroidered cotton reaching half way to the knee;
the young women were entirely naked with merely a fillet round the
forehead their hair falling upon their shoulders. They were beautifully
proportioned; their skin smooth and delicate and their complexion of a
clear agreeable brown. According to old Peter Martyr the Spaniards when
they beheld them issuing forth from their green woods almost imagined
they beheld the fabled dryads or native nymphs and fairies of the
fountains sung by the ancient poets.  When they came before Don
Bartholomew they knelt and gracefully presented him the green branches.
After these came the female cacique Anacaona reclining on a kind of light
litter borne by six Indians. Like the other females she had no other
covering than an apron of various-colored cotton. She wore round her head
a fragrant garland of red and white flowers and wreaths of the same round
her neck and arms. She received the Adelantado and his followers with that
natural grace and courtesy for which she was celebrated; manifesting no
hostility towards them for the fate her husband had experienced at their
The Adelantado and his officers were conducted to the house of Behechio
where a banquet was served up of utias a great variety of sea and river
fish with roots and fruits of excellent quality. Here first the Spaniards
conquered their repugnance to the guana the favorite delicacy of the
Indians but which the former had regarded with disgust as a species of
serpent. The Adelantado willing to accustom himself to the usages of the
country was the first to taste this animal being kindly pressed thereto
by Anacaona. His followers imitated his example; they found it to be
highly palatable and delicate; and from that time forward the guana was
held in repute among Spanish epicures. 
The banquet being over Don Bartholomew with six of his principal
cavaliers were lodged in the dwelling of Behechio; the rest were
distributed in the houses of the inferior caciques where they slept in
hammocks of matted cotton the usual beds of the natives.
For two days they remained with the hospitable Behechio entertained with
various Indian games and festivities among which the most remarkable was
the representation of a battle. Two squadrons of naked Indians armed with
bows and arrows sallied suddenly into the public square and began to
skirmish in a manner similar to the Moorish play of canes or tilting
reeds. By degrees they became excited and fought with such earnestness
that four were slain and many wounded which seemed to increase the
interest and pleasure of the spectators. The contest would have continued
longer and might have been still more bloody had not the Adelantado and
the other cavaliers interfered and begged that the game might cease. 
When the festivities were over and familiar intercourse had promoted
mutual confidence the Adelantado addressed the cacique and Anacaona on
the real object of his visit. He informed him that his brother the
admiral had been sent to this island by the sovereigns of Castile who
were great and mighty potentates with many kingdoms under their sway.
That the admiral had returned to apprise his sovereigns how many tributary
caciques there were in the island leaving him in command and that he had
come to receive Behechio under the protection of these mighty sovereigns
and to arrange a tribute to be paid by him in such manner as should be
most convenient and satisfactory to himself. 
The cacique was greatly embarrassed by this demand knowing the sufferings
inflicted on the other parts of the island by the avidity of the Spaniards
for gold. He replied that he had been apprised that gold was the great
object for which the white men had come to their island and that a
tribute was paid in it by some of his fellow-caciques; but that in no part
of his territories was gold to be found; and his subjects hardly knew what
it was. To this the Adelantado replied with great adroitness that nothing
was farther from the intention or wish of his sovereigns than to require a
tribute in things not produced in his dominions but that it might be paid
in cotton hemp and cassava bread with which the surrounding country
appeared to abound. The countenance of the cacique brightened at this
intimation; he promised cheerful compliance and instantly sent orders to
all his subordinate caciques to sow abundance of cotton for the first
payment of the stipulated tribute. Having made all the requisite
arrangements the Adelantado took a most friendly leave of Behechio and
his sister and set out for Isabella.
Thus by amicable and sagacious management one of the most extensive
provinces of the island was brought into cheerful subjection and had not
the wise policy of the Adelantado been defeated by the excesses of
worthless and turbulent men a large revenue might have been collected
without any recourse to violence or oppression. In all instances these
simple people appear to have been extremely tractable and meekly and even
cheerfully to have resigned their rights to the white men when treated
with gentleness and humanity.
Establishment of a Chain of Military Posts.--Insurrection of Guarionex
the Cacique of the Vega.
On arriving at Isabella Don Bartholomew found it as usual a scene of
misery and repining. Many had died during his absence; most were ill.
Those who were healthy complained of the scarcity of food and those who
were ill of the want of medicines. The provisions distributed among them
from the supply brought out a few months before by Pedro Alonzo Nino had
been consumed. Partly from sickness and partly from a repugnance to
labor they had neglected to cultivate the surrounding country and the
Indians on whom they chiefly depended outraged by their oppressions had
abandoned the vicinity and fled to the mountains; choosing rather to
subsist on roots and herbs in their rugged retreats than remain in the
luxuriant plains subject to the wrongs and cruelties of the white men.
The history of this island presents continual pictures of the miseries
the actual want and poverty produced by the grasping avidity of gold. It
had rendered the Spaniards heedless of all the less obvious but more
certain and salubrious sources of wealth. All labor seemed lost that was
to produce profit by a circuitous process. Instead of cultivating the
luxuriant soil around them and deriving real treasures from its surface
they wasted their time in seeking for mines and golden streams and were
starving in the midst of fertility.
No sooner were the provisions exhausted which had been brought out by
Nino than the colonists began to break forth in their accustomed murmurs.
They represented themselves as neglected by Columbus who amidst the
blandishments and delights of a court thought little of their sufferings.
They considered themselves equally forgotten by government; while having
no vessel in the harbor they were destitute of all means of sending home
intelligence of their disastrous situation and imploring relief.