Book V, Chapter IV
Of the rebellion of the Cacique Enrique and the cause that led him to it, and of the rebellion of the Blacks.
Translated by Karly Andreassen ’20
Among other modern and recent caciques of this island of Hispaniola there was one named Enrique, a baptized Christian and knew how to read and write and was very skilled with languages and spoke the Castilian tongue well. He was raised and indoctrinated by the friars of San Francisco from childhood and showed from his early years that he would be Catholic and would persevere in the Christian faith. Later, as a young man, he married and served the Christians with his people in the villa of San Juan de la Maguana, where the lieutenant for the admiral, Don Diego Columbus, was a gentleman named Pedro de Vadillo, a man careless in his handling of justice, because of whose negligence, or little prudence, he brought on the rebellion of this cacique, who went to him to complain about a Christian of whom he was jealous or knew that he had something to do with his wife; and this judge not only did not punish him, but moreover treated the complainant badly and had him imprisoned in jail, without any reason other than wishing to please the adulterer. And after having threatened and said some choice words to Enrique, he let him go; for which the cacique went to complain to the Audiencia Real that resides in this city of Santo Domingo, and it was determined that justice should be done to him: which was not done, because Enrique returned to the same villa of San Juan to serve the same Lieutenant Pedro de Vadillo who had aggrieved him, and further aggrieved him, because he seized him again and treated him worse than before. At first Enrique opted to endure his suffering, or at least to conceal his grievances and resentments, in order to avenge himself later on, as he did on other Christians who were not to blame. And for some days after this cacique was released, he served quietly and complacently until he was set in his rebellion and uprising; and when it seemed the time was right, in the year 1519, he went into the bush with all the Indians he could assemble and ally to his opinion and remained in the mountains known as Baoruco and other parts of this island for nearly thirteen years. During that time he would sometimes venture along the roads with his Indians and people and killed some Christians; and robbing them, he took some thousands of gold pesos; and at other times, beyond having killed and ambushed, he did much damage in the towns and fields of this island, and they wasted many thousands of pounds of gold trying to get their hands on him, but it was not possible until God permitted it. He took such precautions in his raids that he got away with everything he attempted, since those who could stop him were so few. It is clear than when this island was rich in Indians (and there were so many that they could not be counted), and with only three hundred Spaniards or less on this land, they destroyed and prevailed through constant battles and encounters; and although the land was populated by Christians, Enrique and another Indian captain named Tamayo, as insurgents with few people, still did much damage, attacking and burning Christian towns and plantations and killing men with their snares.
I want to state the cause of this. When the Christians, being few, conquered and destroyed the Indians (who were many), they slept upon dredges or shields with their swords in hand, and kept watch for their enemies. When Enriquillo did these things, the Christians slept in good and delicate beds, engaged in the business of sugar or in other enterprises that kept their thoughts occupied, not fully committed to the understanding and punishment of the rebel Indians with the attention and diligence the matter required. He should not have been in as little regard as he was, seeing particularly that everyday Enrique and his Indians were joined by some Blacks, of which there are now so many on this island, due to these sugar plantations, that this seems like an effigy or image of Ethiopia.
It is certain that if the admiral, Don Diego Columbus, in the year 1522, had not been as diligent in addressing the Black uprising that had started in his own plantation and sugar mill at the time, as was told in the preceding book, they could have reconquered the island and would not have left a Christian alive, as they had planned, and as the rebelling Blacks had already begun to do. As far as the Cacique Enrique’s rebellion was concerned, His Imperial Majesty and the nobles of his Royal Council of the Indies, seeing that the armies and expenses that this city and island had brought against him were many and to no avail, they sent men of war with Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo (who later was the governor of Castilla del Oro, on the Mainland), in order to wage war against this Enrique. And even after those people arrived, an Indian leader or captain of Enrique called Tamay, led various attacks and did considerable damage, and killed one Christian and ordered the cutting of another’s right hand but let him live; and I have heard the same poor soldier tell that after he was captured and Tamayo ordered another Indian to cut his hand off, he took pity on him as he was so young (in my opinion when I saw him without the hand he could have been sixteen or seventeen), he begged him to not cut his right hand but rather the left; and Tamayo said: “Bachellor, be grateful that we’re not killing you and have patience.” But these altercations with the Indians need not have been feared much by the Christians, as they had a remedy, as was quickly found for this uprising when a remedy was sought; because his Imperial Majesty sent his assurances to Enrique and the other Indians who rebelled with him that if they returned to his royal service they would be pardoned and well-treated; and if they would not pledge obedience for the sake of peace, they would be fought with fire and blood, so the punishment would be in proportion to what they deserved.And this Royal Audience paid heed to His Majesty’s commands, with faith in the good outcomes our Lord provided; and what ensued will be told in the next chapter.
But having said above that the rebellion ensued because Lieutenant Pedro de Vadillo did not do justice to this cacique (as is well-known on this island), it would appear to whoever hears my words that this nobleman must bear some blame; I say that whatever his blame was (in this case) he has paid for it, because God has charge of punishing those whom the earthly judges protect and do not punish, and so at times His divine justice is executed on those same judges, as was the case here: sailing from this city to Spain, navigating the bank of the Guadalquivir river alongside San Lúcar, the ship he sailed on was lost, and he and Master Francisco Vara and many others drowned, among many riches; and thus this judge paid for his senseless acts against the Cacique Enrique. May God have mercy on his soul and on the souls of all who perished there.
Returning to what was proposed in the title of this fourth chapter, it must be believed that the Indians of this island had many other more rituals and ceremonies beyond those already noted; but since they are gone, and the eldest and most knowledgeable among them are now dead, we cannot fully know how it was. Moreover, regarding the justification that I offered about their end and disappearance, many more things and abominations regarding their rites, ceremonies, and idolatries will be told in the second part of these narratives, which will deal with the Mainland; because I have spent more time in that land, and there is much more to write about it; since it is a very grand land of diverse tongues and customs and inhabited by people very different in their manner of living.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown at Brown University.