Book V, Chapter VIII
Which addresses the two particularities that were left to say after the previous chapter: one which touches upon the service and merits of Francisco de Barrionuevo, and the other on the honorable peace and reconciliation of Don Enrique to the service of Their Majesties.
Translated by Olivia Gotsch ’23
It is clear that Francisco de Barrionuevo’s service to God and to Their Majesties through the peace and friendship he contracted and established with the Cacique Don Enrique, and the advantages and benefits that ensued to this island and other places beyond are important to understand, and well worthy of favor. Because although it should be held as certain that all the good that happens in these times is clearly the result of the good fortune of so fortunate an emperor and lord as ours is, on no account is so prudent a captain less deserving, given the effort and kind spirit with which he undertook his work, going where it would have been easy for him and those with him to be lost due to the disposition and wildness of the rugged and remote mountains and wild hills where travel is so arduous; such that if there were something comparable in Spain, the dangers of these parts would be better appreciated. But those who hear or read about these things from there should imagine that this would be like a Sierra Morena, or the Sierra of Monserrat, or like the mountain passes of Saint John of Portugal, or the Alps as we cross into Italy, or those of Germany as we descend into Lombardy, or the mountains of Abruzzo and Tagliacozzo in the kingdom of Naples, or the mountains of Gascony. All that I have said, and that which in Spain is called rough and rugged, is like comparing white with black or another thing as different and extreme. And even so, having been tested by the wildness of these parts in this way, I see that the men here who know this by experience have neither returned to their homelands (except very rarely) nor has their life lasted very long here. Because other than the differences between the sky here and that of Europe (where those of us who are here were born), just as in the influences as in the differences in the air and vapors and mettle of the earth, we find no manner of food in these parts like that which our parents gave us. The bread made from roots; the wild fruits either unknown or not suited to our stomachs; the waters of different tastes; no meat was found on this island, except those little mute dogs I have described and other little animals, very different from those of Spain, and others whose aspect is more to be feared than desired by those who do not know them, such as those serpents they call iguanas, snakes, and lizards. This abundance was discovered early on when this land was conquered, and even so those first conquerors lacked even these poor provisions; but they did not lack the illnesses I have mentioned. And as the captain had experienced all these things when he was a youth and a soldier in the conquest of the island of San Juan (alias Borinquen), and on the northern Mainland of Florida and other parts, he had the skills required for what I have narrated here.
Undoubtedly, I believe that if one had come here newly from Spain, the peace would never have been established, and still among those who are here one could not find anyone who would have done it better, inasmuch as there are many who would have done it very well. So you must see how much money this rebellion of Don Enrique has cost in thirteen years, as it would appear from accounts and ledgers that this war’s expenses amount to more than forty thousand gold pesos which have been spent on behalf of His Majesty and of the island on this battle with Don Enrique; and worst of all is the suspicion that some were happy for it to go on like this and for this peace never to come.
It should be easy to see how only two kinds of men could take pleasure from such circumstances, and those falling into that error could only be those profiting through a salary, such as poor soldiers sustaining themselves through such a war, or those who secretly placed their hand on such money by indirect means. All others who would be pleased to see this war not end I would not hold as Christians or servants of their king, but rather of the devil; and these and those previously mentioned as worse enemies than Don Enrique himself. And those will be punished by either the devil or time itself, or better yet, by he from whom nothing is hidden, and will pay for their wicked desires, when they least expect it.
In this way this captain, Francisco de Barrionuevo showed very well that he is a Numantian and of good lineage, and to have the experience that was necessary to accomplish this business so sensibly and prudently, as it was done by his person and effort; because as I have said before, others turned back from the journey, seeing those who went with them were muttering and regretting the journey they had undertaken. But he, as a man of good spirit and prudence, brought this enterprise to an end as I have explained, recalling that although Salomon said that man’s glory comes from his father’s honor, Boethius writes that if one’s own virtue does not make one noble, neither will paternal nobility. Ovid says that any virtue that we do not have of our own right, cannot be said to be ours; and he who descends from a good father is presumed to be of good nature. But leaving aside this dispute, I say that this captain did what he did for both reasons, because it was his obligation as a nobleman, honoring his ancestors, yet not forgetting himself, as a testament to his own nobility and personal virtue. I called him a Numantian, because he is a native of the city of Soria, which I understand to be what the ancients called Numancia (or somewhere near Numancia), because Pliny says that the Duero is one of the largest rivers in Spain, and that its source is close to Numancia; and Claudius Ptolemy puts Numancia in Chapter VI of the II index of Europe, adding these words: “Soria hodie romanis, olim accerrima.”
As for the Cacique Don Enrique, it seems to me that he made the most honorable peace ever agreed upon by any gentleman or captain or prince from Adam to the present, and was more honored than was the Duke of Bourbon in the defeat and imprisonment of King Francis of France in Pavia, given the great disproportion and inequality between the greatest of Christian princes and Emperor of the universe and a man such as this Don Enrique, in having His Imperial Majesty propose and request peace from him, and being invited to agree, and in having his faults and the many deaths and fires and thefts he and his Indians had committed against the Christians pardoned without any restitution, with general and ample pardon, and offering him more and allowing him to choose the place and location he would like for his dwelling and residence.
Indeed, Don Enrique, if you knew him and had a sense of him, I hold as one of the most honorable and fortunate captains there has ever been on earth in the whole world until our time. From which one sees the mare-magnus of the excellence and mercy of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor King, our lord: since such a war could have been concluded in a few short days, after which neither memory nor a bone of Don Enrique would be left, nor of his people, remembering that Christians could be placed in danger, given that the Indians were in rough, wild, and tough mountains as I have said, still wanted before all else to attempt peace; because as Vegetius says: “Many poor experts in the art of war believe that victory is better accomplished when having their enemies in confined spaces, or having them surrounded by a great multitude of armed men; in such a manner that they have nowhere left to escape to.” But very often the desperation of seeing oneself trapped begets boldness and where no hope is left, fear makes them take up arms; and those who have no fear of death voluntarily wish to end their days together with their enemies. Therefore, Scipio’s words should be greatly praised, for he said that one should not block the way the enemy has discerned or determined as an escape, etc. So for this reason, and considering that this cacique had cause to move away from the Christians, since when he complained of the injustices committed against him in the village of San Juan de la Maguana no justice was done, for all these reasons, and chiefly because this cacique and the others with him and their wives and children would be saved and die knowing God, being baptized as Christians, as some of them were, and the others would be baptized and not all of them would perish as infidels, that God, our Lord, and His Majesty allowed in fairness and without more violence or blood for the merciful peace I have described with this cacique, Don Enrique. He had at the time almost eighty or a hundred men-at-arms, and counting the women and young people and children more than three hundred souls were brought through this reconciliation and friendship to the union and republic of our Christian religion, which was increased by these numbers; and more than another three hundred of Don Enrique’s people died without baptism while his rebellion lasted. Therefore, this corresponds well to the evangelical truth that says: “I say to you that thus will they rejoice in heaven over one penitent sinner than over ninety-nine chosen ones who have no need for penitence.”
 Proverbs. Chapter XVII.
 Pliny, Book IV, Chapter 20, in his Natural History.
 Translation from the Latin.
 Vegetius, Book III, Chapter 21.
 Vegetius, Book III, Chapter 21.
 Dico vobis quo dita Gaudium erit in coelo super uno peccatore poenitentiam agente quam super nonaginta novem justis qui non indigent poenitentia. Luc 15. English translation.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.