Olivia Gotsch ’23: Book V, Chapter VII (Of the reasoning that Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo gave to the cacique Enrique when he gave him a letter from His Majesty and peace was established)

Book V, Chapter VII

Of the reasoning that Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo gave to the cacique Enrique when he gave him a letter from His Majesty and peace was established.

Translated by Olivia Gotsch ’23

“Enrique, you ought to be very grateful to God, our Lord, for the clemency and mercy he bestows on you through the mercies offered to you by the Emperor King, our Lord, in remembering you and in wishing to forgive your various errors and return you to his service and obedience, and in wishing that you be well treated as one of his vassals, and that none of your past actions remain in our memories; because he would rather have you amended and as his vassal than punished for your faults, so that your soul may be saved and belong to God, and you and yours may not be lost, but as a Christian (since you received the faith and sacrament of the holy baptism), you will be received with all mercy, as at length you will see in this letter which His Majesty, granting you these mercies that I have already mentioned and many more he will give you, writes to you.” And saying this, he handed it to Enrique, who took it and then gave it back to him, saying that he begged him to read it aloud; that he trusted him, and his eyesight was poor, which was the truth.

Then Francisco de Barrionuevo took it and read it aloud, so that all those who were there could hear and understand (the Indians who could understand our language); and after reading it, he returned to Enrique and said: “Don Enrique, kiss His Majesty’ letter and put it to your head.” And he did this then with much pleasure, and the captain immediately gave him another letter of assurances from the Audiencia Real and Chancery of Their Majesties, which is in this city of Santo Domingo, stamped with the royal seal and said: “I came to this island by command of the Emperor King, our Lord, with Spanish men-at-arms, so that I could wage war against you with them and all the rest who are here on this island. And His Majesty commanded me on his behalf to first require peace in order that you would come back to his obedience and royal service, and that if you did so, he would pardon all of your errors and past actions, as by his royal letter you already know. And in this way on his behalf, I command and require that you do so, so there may be cause to treat you with such generosity and mercy. And you must see to it that you are Christian, and fear God and give him infinite thanks and never be ignorant of such mercy, which he gives you so you may be saved, and neither your soul nor your person be lost;because although until now he has guarded you from the dangers of war, it has been because when you rebelled you had some cause to move away from the village where you lived, but not to divert you from the service of God and of your King; because in the end, if news had reached His Majesty that you had received an affront, be certain that he would have commanded to have it remedied and fully punished, in a way that you would have been satisfied and content. But now that all that has passed, I tell you and assure you that if now you do not come in heart and in deed to acknowledge your fault and obey His Majesty, pardoning you as he does, God will allow you to be promptly lost, because pride will bring you death. And I want you to know that war will not be waged against you, as it has been until now, in times past; nor will you be able to hide, even if you were a corí or a small worm beneath the earth, because His Majesty’s people are many, and his royal power is the greatest in the world. And they will come upon you from many parts, that even in the deepest and most hidden they will find you. And you must remember that it has been thirteen years or more since you slept safely or without fright and distress and great dread, the same on land as on the sea; since you are not going against another cacique with as few resources as yours, but against the highest and most powerful lord and king under heaven, whom other kings and many kingdoms obey, and fear and serve. And believe that if His Majesty had been informed of the truth, you would have been avenged or punished, if you had not come to his mercy, because it is his royal and catholic custom and clemency to first command admonition rather than punishment to those who offended him once; but making this allowance, nothing in this life would be enough to defend a guilty man from his wrath and justice. And so I tell you to believe that should you come (as I believe you will) to know that which is offered to you, and to do that which you ought to in your obedience and service, it would not be advisable to you under any circumstances in this world at any point to turn to rebellion, because his indignation would be very great, and punishment would be executed upon you and your people with the greatest severity; because you will find very great treatment from his governors and authorities, and any Christian that angers you will be punished and penalized very well for it. Therefore, raise your arms to heaven, and offer infinite praise to Jesus Christ for the mercies he gives you, if you would do what His Majesty commands you, and I in his royal name require of you; because if you love your life and those of your people you will love his royal service and peace, you will free your soul and those of many others, and you will bestow security upon your person and upon all those who follow you. And His Majesty will remember you and will bestow mercies upon you, and I in his name will give you all that you would need, and I would grant you peace and safety; and I would arrange with you how you may live in honor and in the part of this island that would please you to choose, with your people and in all the liberty that is enjoyed by the other Christian vassals and good servants of His Majesty. So, as you have understood me, tell me your will, and that which you intend to do.”

To all these words, the cacique Enrique was very attentive, as were all the Indians and the Christians, and they were all very silent; and as Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo had finished speaking, Enrique responded like this: “I have not desired anything other than peace, and I know the mercy that God and the Emperor, our Lord, grant to me, and for that I kiss his royal hands and feet; and if until now I had not come to do so, it has been because of the taunts that the Christians have made to me, and of the little truth they have shown me, and for this I have not dared trust the men of this island.” And saying this, he gave many particular excuses and complaints about what had been done to him, telling all from the beginning of his rebellion. And saying this, he got up and left with his captains, and showing them the letter already stated, spoke a little while with them about his decision; and he returned to where Barrionuevo was, and they came to terms and arrangements about peace, and spoke of many things related to it. And the cacique Enrique promised to keep it always inviolably, and said that he would gather all the other Indians that he had, and who had been at war in some parts of this island; and that when the Christians let him know that any Blacks had risen in rebellion, he would capture them, and that if it were necessary, he himself would go to do it, and he would send captains to do so, so that they could return and bring them in chains to the hands of the Christians, to whomsoever those Blacks belonged to. From then on, all the Indians called him Enrique, my lord, because they saw that in the letter His Majesty had called him Don Enrique.

Having done this, the cacique Don Enrique went to eat with his wife, and brought with him some of the people he had there; and his captains stayed to eat with the captain, Francisco de Barrionuevo. Later in the afternoon, Don Enrique returned, and he asked to be given authority to have two field sheriffs, and Barrionuevo pointed to Don Enrique’s Indians and calculated how much they would be given for the return of every Black, and for each Indian who escaped from the Christians, and whom the sheriffs brought back. And Barrionuevo assessed it, and told them that if he wanted cattle and other things they should say so and he would give it to them; and Don Enrique responded that they did not have land there where they could have cattle, because it was very remote and rough, but that when they had eaten the crops from the planted plots they had nearby and went down to the flat lands, having more faith in this peace, then they would be able to raise cattle.

Having done this, the captain gave license to the Christians so that they could make their trades and exchanges with Don Enrique’s Indians as they pleased, and in this way they made some trades of little importance and value, because they said that they had no gold, nor had any of them seen anything of gold. Then when it was time, the Indian captains ate with Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo, and Don Enrique was present and did not want to eat nor drink (I believe due to suspicion). After the dinner was finished, Don Enrique went to where his wife was, and the Christians with their captain left the forest to sleep out on the savanna or flat lands (not far from where they had earlier set up their camp, as was told previously); and that night the Christians were on their guard, and they kept watch as was advisable until it was daybreak. A little after the sun had come out, Don Enrique came to the same savanna where the captain and his Christians were, and brought with him up to fifty men, and most of them were unarmed, and some with swords; and there Don Enrique bid farewell to our captain, embracing him with great pleasure, first him and then all of his captains, and Don Enrique in the same way with great joy embraced all the Christians; and he sent one captain and another Indian of his own to go to the sea, where the caravel had been left. And there they idled for a day; and they would have almost died from drinking wine, this captain and Indian of Don Enrique, because as they were not accustomed to it and they liked the taste, they drank so much of it that it made them sick from the cohoba seed that they had consumed; so much so that they almost died (which was no small worry for the Christians, because although it was not their fault, it would have been very inconvenient if they had died from that drinking bout), and with some remedies that they made for them they gave them olive oil to drink to make them vomit, and they were saved. Purged of the wine and coming to, although not repentant for what they had drunk, Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo gave clothes to these two Indians, and also to the other captains, and likewise sent other finer silk clothing to Don Enrique, with other things that seemed suitable and he carried, so that he would have more pleasure and security in the new peace and friendship contracted with the Christians. And Barrionuevo brought with him to this city an important Indian that Don Enrique had ordered to come with him, in whom he trusted to see the noble judges of this Audiencia Real, and the officials of Their Majesties, and the gentlemen and noblemen and residents of this city; to hear and see the announcement of peace, as it had first been proclaimed in all the other places and villages they had passed through (after leaving the caravel), until arriving here, where the same thing was done.And the aforementioned Indian was given very good things to wear and was treated well; as he was clever, in those days that he was in this city he visited many houses, most of the principal ones, in order to get a sense of the feelings and good will that all felt about this peace, or to try more wines, because they always offered him a light meal and drink, and all of them showed him that they had great pleasure in and enjoyed the peace and friendship of Don Enrique. After this, this Audiencia Real and officials of His Majesty provided that this Indian would return with a small boat and certain Christians to be taken to Don Enrique, to whom they sent lots of good silk clothing and decorations for him and for Doña Mencia, his wife, and for his captains and other important Indians, and other jewels and refreshments to eat, and wine, and oil, and tools and axes for their fields, since Don Enrique did not ask for anything else but religious images; from which it was concluded that the Catholic faith was not at all points in him rootless or extinct, nor was the upbringing that he had in his childhood with the monks of the monastery of Saint Francis in that city. But since it seemed to this Audiencia Real and officials of His Majesty and to Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo a convenient thing to make peace in the name of so great a Majesty as our Emperor King, our Lord, they sent him what has been said, together with certain images for devotion, so that this cacique would be more beholden to them and maintain the peace, and all that was agreed with him, and also because these Indians are people of little ability, and not knowledgeable about fine matters of truth and honor and their circumstances that other people see and observe, when similar peace treaties are agreed and contracted with enemies. Nor do they have the certainty that is necessary, nor do they feel the insults and affronts with the pain and injury as other nations; nor do they love or esteem the truth as they should. And for this and other reasons, it was advisable that they remain in good spirits and flattered, in order to secure this newly acquired friendship by giving them some things and convincing them cleverly of the benevolence and words of the Christians, so that these Indians would know that their errors and the things that this cacique, Don Enrique, and his captains and Indians until then had committed after their rebellion were not important nor taken into account. This peace has been preserved until the present time; and in truth it was very necessary, because this island was lost due to this cacique’s rebellion, and they did not dare to travel the roads to those parts, nor go from there to Yaguana, if the Christians did not travel in large numbers and were forewarned. The truth is that God and His Majesty were served very well by this peace, in the way that has been described and for many other reasons, as they have baptized the children there and those who were loyal followers of Don Enrique, who at that time were many. One of the things that I found best in this man is his saying that when this peace was secured, one of the things that brought him the most sorrow and pain was that there were so many young men who had not been baptized and many others who had died without baptism, which was the sign that God wanted to remedy this and save him and the others. I have left to say two things which are told in the following chapter: one in honor and praise of this gentleman, Francisco de Barrionuevo, in order to fulfill my commitment as a faithful writer, continuing the truth of the history; and the other which touches upon Don Enrique.

Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.