We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The South American Expeditions, 1540-1545

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Edited and translated by Baker H. Morrow

Publication Year: 2011

This book is one of the great first-person accounts of the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the sixteenth century. Morrow’s new translation makes Cabeza deVaca’s adventures available to a wide English-speaking audience for the first time.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (6.5 MB)

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (320.5 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.0 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (96.6 KB)
pp. vii-xi

Translator’s Note

pdf iconDownload PDF (113.4 KB)
pp. xiii-xx

read more

Translator’s Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. xxi

I am grateful to Mr. Luther Wilson and Ms. Beth Hadas, both former directors of the University of New Mexico Press, for giving me the opportunity and time to translate this second important memoir by Cabeza de Vaca...

read more

1: A Word About the Commentaries of

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.8 KB)
pp. 1-2

After Our Lord God was served by releasing

read more

2: We Leave the Island of Cape Verde

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.1 KB)
pp. 3-4

As we were sailing, the ship’s mate needed some of the fresh water the flagship carried. Out of the hundred casks he had put away, he found no more than three.1 And these would have to supply some four hundred men and thirty horses. Facing these dire straits, the Governor ordered that they find land, and they were three days in search of it.2 On the fourth day...

read more

3: The Governor and His Fleet Arrive at Santa Catalina, in Brazil, Where the Company Disembarks

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.7 KB)
pp. 5-6

The Governor knew that both animals and men would need to restore themselves on land after the hardships of the long voyage. He also wanted to find an interpreter and become acquainted with the native Indians of that country. By chance, he also hoped to find out something of the condition of the Spanish colonists of the R

read more

4: Nine Christians Come to the Island

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.3 KB)
pp. 7-8

The Governor continued with his aid to the Spaniards of the province. During the month of May in the year 1541, he sent a caravel with Felipe de Cáceres, Your Majesty’s auditor, to enter into the river they call La Plata to visit the town founded there by don Pedro de Mendoza.1 They call the place Buenos Aires. As the season was winter and the weather quite contrary for sailing up this river, he was not able to...

read more

5: The Governor Makes Haste on His Journey

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.2 KB)
pp. 9-10

Having heard the news from the nine Christians, the Governor wished to come to the aid of the residents of the city of Asunci

read more

6: The Governor and His People Begin Their First Ventures into the Interior

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.5 KB)
pp. 11-12

The Governor was now well informed about where he needed to set out on his expedition to explore the country and aid the Spaniards of that province. He was also well equipped with necessary supplies for the journey. On the eighteenth day of October 1541, he gave the men of his company the order to proceed, with the twenty-six horses and mares that had survived the sea voyage. He sent the party across the R

read more

7: What the Governor and His People Went By Along the Road, and What Sort of Country It Is

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.2 KB)
pp. 13-16

From that river called Iguazú, the Governor and his people set out to explore the country, and on the third day of December they came to another river that the Indians called Tibagi. This is a stream walled in by tremendous, overlapping slabs of stone, placed in such an orderly manner that they look man-made.1 Traveling along one stretch of this river was quite hard work, as the men and the horses slipped and couldn’t gain any...

read more

8: Hardships Along the Way for the Governor and His People, and the Kinds of Pines and Pine Cones in That Land

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.4 KB)
pp. 17-18

From that place of Tugui, the Governor and his men traveled until the nineteenth of December without finding any people.1 The route was very arduous, with many rivers and rough country to cross. On one day alone they had to construct eighteen bridges to allow the men and their horses to continue. And the way forward was terrible with the rivers and swamps the party encountered, which were many and...

read more

9: The Explorers Starve, but Save Themselves with Worms, Which They Get from Some Canes

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.7 KB)
pp. 19-21

On the twenty-eighth of December, the Governor and his party took leave of the place called Tugui, where they left the Indians quite happy. They traveled cross-country all day without finding any settlements and finally arrived at a wide and massive river, with tremendous currents and running very deep. Along its banks were a number of groves of cypresses and cedars and...

read more

10: The Indians Are Afraid of Horses

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.5 KB)
pp. 22-23

By the fourteenth of January, we were traveling through the settlements of the Guarani tribe. These people had all greeted us with great pleasure and had come out to meet us with corn, chickens, honey, and other provisions. The Governor always paid them as a gesture of goodwill, and consequently they brought us so much that the surplus...

read more

11: The Governor Travels by Canoe on the R

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.1 KB)
pp. 24-26

The Governor left the Indians of the Río Piqueri pacified and very much his friends. He and his men traveled on through the country, visiting many other towns of the Guarani Indians. These people all came out to the roadway with a lot of provisions, showing a great deal of pleasure and contentment at the Governor’s arrival, and the Governor handed out considerable quantities of trade goods and trinkets to the lordly...

read more

12: They Make Rafts to Carry the Sick

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.7 KB)
pp. 27-28

The Governor and his party had now crossed the R

read more

13: The Governor Arrives at the City of Asunci

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.9 KB)
pp. 29-31

The Christian Spaniard already mentioned had come to the Governor and told him of the deaths of Juan de Ayolas and his party. Ayolas had gone exploring in the interior, but other Christians had been killed in that country as well. The visiting Christian spoke also of the terrible needs of the people in Asunci

read more

14: The Spaniards Who had Fallen Ill on the R

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.0 KB)
pp. 32-33

Thirty days after the Governor had reached the city of Asunci

read more

15: The Governor Sends Help to the People Who Had Gone in His Flagship to Buenos Aires to Assist in the Resettlement of That Port

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.2 KB)
pp. 34-35

The Governor exercised diligence and ordered a number of brigantines to be readied. He outfitted them with provisions and general necessities and staffed them with men recruited in Asunci

read more

16: They Kill the Enemies They Capture, and Then Eat Them

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.0 KB)
pp. 36-37

He ordered all the native Indians of the place, who were vassals of Your Majesty, to gather together. Once they had done this, with the clerics also present, the Governor made an official speech. He said, “His Majesty sent me to show favor to the Indians, to let you know that you must get to know God and become Christians. This will happen through the teaching...

read more

17: The Governor Concludes a Peace with the Agaces Tribe

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.2 KB)
pp. 38-40

On the banks of this R

read more

18: The Settlers Complain About Your Majesty’s Officials to the Governor

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.2 KB)
pp. 41

A few days after the Governor arrived at Asunción, he noticed there were a number of poor and needy people in the town. He provided them clothes, shirts, shoes, and other things, which remedied their problems. He also provided arms, which they didn’t have, to a number of the residents—all at his own expense and at no interest. He also asked Your Majesty’s officials to cease the aggravations and vexations...

read more

19: They Complain About the Guaycuru Indians to the Governor

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.8 KB)
pp. 42

The chiefs along the river’s edge and in the region next to the Río Paraguay—people who live closest to the city of Asunción and are vassals of Your Majesty—all got together and complained about another tribe of Indians who lived nearby.1 These latter people are quite stouthearted and warlike, maintaining themselves by deer hunting and on fat and honey. They also eat fish from the river and pigs they kill, and they...

read more

20: The Governor Asks for More Details About the Complaint

pdf iconDownload PDF (76.4 KB)
pp. 43-45

And so the chiefs of the Guaranis complained to the Governor about the Guaycurues, saying that they had dispossessed them of their lands and had killed their parents and sisters and other relatives.1 “We are Christians and vassals of His Majesty,” they said, “and you should protect us and restore the lands that have been taken from us and occupied by the Guaycurues.” The Guaranis noted that these were the woods...

read more

21: The Governor and His People Cross the River, and Two Christians Drown

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.9 KB)
pp. 46-47

That same Friday, the brigantines arrived to carry the party and their horses over from the other side of the river. The Indians had also brought a number of canoes. The Governor was well informed about the best thing to do. Having spoken with his captains, he agreed that on the following Saturday morning the company would cross the river to continue their journey in search of the Guaycuru...

read more

22: Spies Go Out by Order of the Governor to Follow the Guaycuru Indians

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.8 KB)
pp. 48-49

Given this state of affairs, it was agreed that the party would keep moving as inconspicuously as possible, just behind the Guaycurues. “No daytime fires,” said the Governor, not wanting the Guaycurues to spot the army while they were hunting, “and our own Indians should be kept well under control and not go off hunting themselves or pursuing their other...

read more

23: Following the Enemy, the Governor is Advised that They Are Just Ahead

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.6 KB)
pp. 50-51

The Governor and his men traveled all that day as a result of the earlier marching order. After sundown, at the hour of the Ave Mar

read more

24: A Jaguar Causes an Uproar Between the Spaniards and the Indians

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.8 KB)
pp. 52-53

As night was approaching, the Governor and his party were traveling along the edge of a thick forest. Suddenly, a jaguar jumped into the middle of the Indians, causing a tremendous commotion. The Spaniards quickly took up their arms, believing that the Indians were about to attack them, and charged, yelling, “Santiago!”1 They injured a number of the Indians in the ensuing...

read more

25: The Governor and His Men Catch Up with the Enemy

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.8 KB)
pp. 54-56

It was eleven o’clock at night, and the Spaniards and their Indian allies had been resting in their camp. The Governor had kept the men from lighting any fires so that the Guaycurues would not sense their presence. One of the spies or scouts whom the Governor had sent out to reconnoiter the enemy came into camp, saying he had just left the Indians resting quietly in their own town. The Governor was very glad to hear this...

read more

26: The Governor Breaks His Enemies

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.0 KB)
pp. 57-58

The Indians were broken and scattered, and the Governor and his men were in hot pursuit. One of the Governor’s cavalrymen found himself closing in on one of the enemy warriors, who suddenly grabbed the neck of the mare on which the horseman rode and pushed home three arrows. He wouldn’t let go until they killed him. Had the Governor not been present during this engagement, our victory would...

read more

27: The Governor Returns to the City of Asunci

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.5 KB)
pp. 59-60

The following day, bright and clear, the party left in good order, hunting as they traveled along. The Spaniards were on horseback and the Guaranis on foot, and they killed a lot of deer and ostriches. At the same time, a number of the Spaniards who were afoot, using their swords, killed deer running toward the squadron that had been scared up by the men on horseback and the Indians. It was quite a thing to see—a great...

read more

28: The Agaces Indians Break the Peace

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.6 KB)
pp. 61-62

Gonzalo de Mendoza had already reported on other matters to the Governor, as mentioned in the previous chapter, and now he told him about the Indians of the Agaces tribe. Mendoza had concluded a peace treaty with them on the night of the very day that

read more

29: The Governor Sets One of the Guaycuru Prisoners Free and Sends Him to Fetch the Others

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.6 KB)
pp. 63

After the Governor concluded everything we have related concerning the Agaces, he called in the Guarani chiefs from the war against the Guaycurues. He instructed them to bring in all the Guaycuru prisoners from that campaign. Then he told the chiefs that the Guaranis could not hide any of these prisoners or spirit them off elsewhere. “Anyone who does so will be severely punished,” he...

read more

30: The Guaycurues Come to Give Their Allegiance to His Majesty

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.7 KB)
pp. 64-65

The canoes came back from the far side of the river with about twenty Indians from that tribe, and they all came before the Governor. They squatted down over one foot, as is their custom, and told him they were the chiefs of the Guaycurues. They said they and their ancestors had warred with all the tribes of that country, including the Guaranis as well as the Imperues, Agaces, Guatataes, Naperues...

read more

31: The Governor, Making Peace with the Guaycurues, Returns His Prisoners

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.5 KB)
pp. 66-67

Listening to what the Guaycurues had to say about his message to them, and considering the fact that a people so dreaded throughout the country had come so humbly to present themselves and be placed under his power (which had struck terror throughout the land), the Governor ordered his interpreters to tell them he had arrived by order of Your Majesty so that the natives of the province might grow in knowledge...

read more

32: The Aperues Indians Come to Make Peace and Give Their Allegiance

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.5 KB)
pp. 68-69

A few days after six Aperues Indians had returned to their people, following their release as ordered by the Governor to reassure the other Indians of their tribe, a squadron of Indians came into view.1 This was on a Sunday morning, on the other side of the R

read more

33: Sentence Is Passed on the Agaces, with an Opinion Offered by the Clerics, the Captains, and Your Majesty’s Officials

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.9 KB)
pp. 70

After the Governor received the Indians’ offer of obedience to Your Majesty (as you have heard), he ordered up the case they had brought against the Agaces with all its evidence.1 In light of this case and the other suits that had been brought against them, it did seem that the Agaces were guilty of various robberies and deaths that they had perpetrated across the land. The trial clearly showed both their...

read more

34: The Governor Again Helps the People of Buenos Aires

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.0 KB)
pp. 71-73

As things were now peaceful and quiet, the Governor sent help to the people who were in Buenos Aires and to Captain Juan Romero, whom he earlier had sent off with two brigantines and a crew to provide the same kind of aid. For this latest effort, he decided to dispatch Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza with another two brigantines loaded with supplies and...

read more

35: Three Christians and Some Indians Come Back from Their Explorations

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.9 KB)
pp. 74

Twenty days after the three Spaniards had left Asunci

read more

36: Boards Are Cut for Brigantines and a Caravel

pdf iconDownload PDF (58.9 KB)
pp. 75

The Governor then ordered his men to find timber that could be sawn into decking and bond beams so as to make some brigantines to explore the country. He also needed to construct a caravel to send word to Your Majesty about everything he encountered during his exploration and conquest of the...

read more

37: The Indians of the Countryside Return to Be of Service

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.0 KB)
pp. 76-79

The Christians sent off by the Governor as scouts to explore a way into the province had returned without any knowledge at all that might be useful to him. However, certain chiefs of the Indians who were natives of the banks of the R

read more

38: The Town of Asunci

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.6 KB)
pp. 80-81

Early one Sunday morning in the following year, three hours before daybreak on the fourth day of February of 1543, a straw house in the city of Asunci

read more

39: The Return of Domingo de Irala

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.2 KB)
pp. 82-84

Some fifteen days into the month of February, Domingo de Irala appeared in this town of Asunci

read more

40: What Gonzalo de Mendoza Wrote

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.2 KB)
pp. 85-86

A few days after Gonzalo de Mendoza left with his three ships, he wrote the Governor a letter. Mendoza let the Governor know that he had arrived in a port called Giguy.1 He had sent a party inland to the places at which the Indians were supposed to give him supplies. Mendoza said that a number of chiefs had come in to see him and had...

read more

41: The Governor Helps Gonzalo de Mendoza’s Men

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.3 KB)
pp. 87

With this second letter as well as the other complaints the natives had given him in hand, the Governor conferred with the clerics, the monks, and the other officials, and with their concurrence sent Captain Domingo de Irala to show Spanish favor to the friendly Indians. He was also to bring the war that had broken out to a peaceful...

read more

42: Four Christians Die of Their Wounds in a War

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.4 KB)
pp. 88-89

Domingo de Irala left on his journey, and once he got to the Indians’ territory he sent for Atabare and Guacani, the chiefs responsible for the war, to reprimand them. They had plenty of warriors ready to fight. Irala’s interpreters arrived to let them know our demands, but they would have none of that. They had already challenged a number...

read more

43: The Friars Flee

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.7 KB)
pp. 90-91

But Your Majesty’s officials and the priests and friars had produced another opinion, which they sealed and enclosed in an envelope they gave to the Commissary fray Bernaldo de Armenta and his companion, fray Alonso Lebrón, both of the Order of St. Francis. They did this quietly and under cover. They induced these clergymen to travel cross-country using the route that had just been discovered by the...

read more

44: The Governor Takes Four Hundred Men on His Expedition

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.9 KB)
pp. 92-93

By that season all the necessary items to carry out the proposed exploration were ready to go, as were the ten brigantines loaded with provisions and munitions. So the Governor collected four hundred select men, harquebusiers and crossbowmen, to go with him on the expedition. Half of them embarked in the brigantines, and the others, with twelve cavalrymen, were to go by land, along...

read more

45: The Governor Leaves Behind the Supplies He Is Carrying

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.1 KB)
pp. 94

In this port of Tapua, the ships were so loaded with supplies that they barely stayed afloat.1 To secure the balance of their cargo, the Spaniards left behind more than two hundred quintales of goods and equipment. This accomplished, they set sail again and went along briskly until they came to a port that the Indians called Juriquizaba, where they...

read more

46: He Pauses to Talk with the Natives of That Port

pdf iconDownload PDF (90.1 KB)
pp. 95-97

That same day, a large number of Indians appeared who were laden with supplies for our people. Along with them came their chiefs, to whom the Governor reported—as he had done to others in the past—that he had come to explore the country. He implored them to continue the peace and harmony now established between themselves and the Spaniards who...

read more

47: He Sends for an Interpreter for the Payaguaes

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.6 KB)
pp. 98

Having contented the Indians of the port, the Governor set sail up the R

read more

48: The Horses Embark from the Port

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.3 KB)
pp. 99-100

The Governor was in this port of Itabitan for two days, during which time the party loaded the horses onto the launches and got all the paraphernalia of the armada into the sort of order he liked. As the country of the Payaguaes Indians was just a short way ahead, very close, the Governor ordered that the Indian from the port of Ipananie who knew the language of the Payaguaes as well as their territory should go along...

read more

49: How They Killed Juan de Ayolas and His Companions When They Came to This Port

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.6 KB)
pp. 101-103

Captain Juan de Ayolas once came through this port with his men, and this was where he and his Spaniards began and later returned from their explorations. Ayolas had left Domingo de Irala there to wait for him with the brigantines that the party had brought along, and when he came back they were nowhere to be seen. Ayolas and his men then waited in Candelaria for the boats for more than...

read more

50: The Interpreter and the Others Who Were Supposed to Return Fail to Do So

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.7 KB)
pp. 104-107

That day and four others went by, and they didn’t come back. The Governor sent for the interpreter who had come along with the party and asked him what he thought about the tardiness of the Indian envoy. The interpreter said he knew for certain that he would never come back, as the Payaguaes Indians were wary and very crafty. Of course they had said that their chief wanted peace. This chief simply would...

read more

51: The Guaxarapos Parley with the Governor

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.2 KB)
pp. 108-109

The next morning, the Guaxarapos who had visited the Governor the day before came back in two canoes. They brought fish and meat, which they gave to our people. After they had spoken with the Governor, he paid them out of his trade goods and trinkets, bade them farewell, and said he would always consider them friends and would do them any...

read more

52: The Indians of That Country Come to Live Along the Banks of the River

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.5 KB)
pp. 110-112

Once the floodwaters go down, the Indians of the interior return to live along the riverbank with their children and wives. Here they enjoy the rich fisheries, because they do indeed take a lot of fish, and very fat ones at that. They live a good life dancing and singing day and night, like people who are sure of where their next mouthful will come from. And when the waters begin to rise again, which...

read more

53: They Put Three Crosses at the Mouth of This River

pdf iconDownload PDF (90.0 KB)
pp. 113-115

We went on rowing for three days, at the end of which time the Governor left the river. He tried two other branches that emerged from the lake, both of which were very large indeed. On the eighth of the month, an hour before dawn, the party came across some ranges of hills that lay in the middle of the river. These ranges were quite high and round—in form or outline rather bell-shaped, and turning...

read more

54: The Indian Farmers of Puerto Reyes

pdf iconDownload PDF (75.2 KB)
pp. 116-118

The Indians raise a lot of ducks—a huge quantity, really, to defend themselves against crickets, as I have already noted. They raise chickens, which they shut away at night for fear of bats, which chew off their crests. Once this happens, the chickens will surely die. These bats are a very bad and disgusting sort of reptile, and there are many of them flying along the river that are the size of the doves of...

read more

55: How Garcia’s Indians Populated This Place

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.0 KB)
pp. 119

At half a league there was another, smaller town, of about seventy houses, and of the same tribe of the Sococies.1 At four leagues there were another two towns of the Chaneses who settled in that land, part of those people whom, as I mentioned earlier, Garcia had brought from the interior of the country. They had taken women into that land, and many of the Indians came to...

read more

56: The Governor Speaks with the Chaneses

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.9 KB)
pp. 120-121

The Governor wanted to use the Chaneses to inform himself about the interior and its tribes and also to find out how many days it might take to go from Puerto Reyes to the first town in that region. The chief of the Chaneses, a man of about fifty, said that when Garcia brought them from their own country they came with him through the country of the Mayaes Indians, finally emerging...

read more

57: The Governor Looks for Garcia’s Indians

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.8 KB)
pp. 122

With the Indian’s report in mind, the Governor ordered that some Spaniards go out with a number of the local Indians to look for the Guaranis who lived in that country and find out what they were doing. Our party would then take them along as guides for the expedition to the interior. Some Guaranis who were already part of the Governor’s...

read more

58: The Governor Speaks to the Officials and Lets Them Know What Is Happening

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.8 KB)
pp. 123-124

After this the Governor called all the officials and clerics together, informing them of the account given by the Xarayes and Guaranis who were then on the frontier. He agreed that, just to be safe, some of the Indians who were natives of the port should go along with two Spaniards and two Guaranis to talk to the Xarayes and look over their land and settlements. “These men should then tell us about...

read more

59: The Governor Sends Word to the Xarayes

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.5 KB)
pp. 125-129

Eight days later they came back to the port to let the Governor know what they had done and what they knew of that country, its people, and its chief—what they had seen with their own eyes. They brought with them an Indian who had been sent by the chief of the Xarayes to act as a guide for the exploration of the back...

read more

60: The Interpreters Return from Seeing the Xarayes Indians

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.7 KB)
pp. 130-132

These Xaray Indians find themselves the possessors of great fisheries with their rivers and lakes. They also have good deer hunting.The Spaniards were with their chief all day. They gave him a number of trade goods and trinkets as well as the scarlet bonnet the Governor had sent along. The bonnet made him very happy, and he received it with an air of tranquility that was a marvel to...

read more

61: The Governor Resolves to Set Off on His Exploration

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.7 KB)
pp. 133-134

The Governor had in hand this report from the field as well as the opinions of the clerics and his captains. Weighing these, he decided to launch an expedition to explore the settlements of that country. He called for some three hundred harquebusiers and crossbowmen to assemble. And considering the empty country they would have to traverse before arriving at towns of any sort, he ordered up provisions for...

read more

62: The R

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.7 KB)
pp. 135-136

On the fifth day of traveling along the route shown us by our guide, where we only made our way through arduous effort, we came to a little stream that flowed down off a mountain. Its water was very hot and clear and good. Some of the Spaniards began to angle in it and pulled out some fish. Our guide began to babble foolishly at this warm spring, telling us that it had been some time since he had been...

read more

63: The Governor Sends Men to Look for a House That Lies Ahead

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.9 KB)
pp. 137-138

The next day the Governor ordered an interpreter to go out ahead of our party with two Spaniards and two Indians (who had come from the house they were saying was ahead of us) to find out whether anyone knew the road and how much time it might take for us to reach the first inhabited district in that part of the country. The Governor wanted this scouting party to report back as quickly as possible so that he...

read more

64: The Interpreter Comes Back from the Little House

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.0 KB)
pp. 139-140

The next day, at three in the afternoon, the interpreter and the Indian who had said that he knew the way came back. The Governor welcomed the Indian and spoke happily with him, and he gave him a number of trade goods and trinkets. This pleased the man. The Governor then said to the interpreter, “Tell this man—ask him—to truthfully describe to me the way to the settled territory of the...

read more

65: The Governor and His Men Return to the Port

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.5 KB)
pp. 141

The opinion of the clerics, the officials, and the captains was obvious. There was the clear need of our people, and everyone’s wish that we should turn back, although the Governor made plain the great danger that they would face by doing so. In Puerto Reyes, it would be impossible to find enough supplies for so many people and outfit the expedition all over again. The corn...

read more

66: How They Wanted to Kill the Men Who Had Stayed Behind in Puerto Reyes

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.5 KB)
pp. 142-143

The Governor returned to Puerto Reyes, where Captain Juan Romero, who had remained behind as his lieutenant, told him most assuredly that the natives of the port and those of an island that lies about a league away had tried to murder all the Christians in the place and steal their brigantines only a short time after the Governor had left. The locals had sent out a call across the land to all the Indians, and then the...

read more

67: The Governor Orders Captain Mendoza to Search for Provisions

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.2 KB)
pp. 144-145

After the Governor understood the situation with the Indian chiefs of Puerto Reyes, he called together all the local officials, clerics, captains, and other persons of some experience to ask their counsel and opinions regarding what he should do. The people in the place were begging for a morsel to eat, the Governor had nothing to give them, and they were ready to scatter off into the interior to find something...

read more

68: The Governor Sends Captain Ribera in a Brigantine to Explore the River of the Xarayes

pdf iconDownload PDF (75.5 KB)
pp. 146-148

The Governor had sent off Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza with his instructions. The captain also carried with him the written opinion of the clerics, officials, and captains. He took along 120 Christians and 600 Indian archers—a force that would have served for a much greater purpose. He left on the fifteenth of December of that...

read more

69: Captain Francisco de Ribera Returns from His Expedition

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.4 KB)
pp. 149

On the twentieth of January 1544, Captain Francisco de Ribera returned with the six Spaniards the Governor had sent with him, as well as the guide he had taken along. He also brought back the three Indians who were left of the eleven Guaranis the Governor had sent with him. As I have said before, the Governor had dispatched this entire party to explore—to see with their own eyes—the...

read more

70: Captain Francisco de Ribera Gives an Account of His Exploration

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.2 KB)
pp. 150-154

The next day, Captain Francisco de Ribera appeared before the Governor to give a report on his explorations. He brought along with him the six Spaniards who had gone along on his expedition. The captain said that after he left the Governor’s party in the forest, he had marched along wherever the guide took him for some twenty-one days without stopping. They had traveled across a land full of thickets, with trees so dense...

read more

71: The Governor Sends for Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.2 KB)
pp. 155-157

The Governor then sent for Gonzalo de Mendoza, asking him to return from the country of the Arianicosies along with his men. He wished to give Mendoza new orders and provide him with the necessities he needed to press forward with his exploration of the country, as that would best serve Your Majesty’s interests. Before Mendoza came back, he...

read more

72: Hernando de Ribera Returns from His Exploration Along the River

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.2 KB)
pp. 158

On January 30 of the year 1543, Captain Hernando de Ribera returned with the ship and entourage that the Governor had sent with him to explore upriver. And as the Governor found the captain and all his men very ill with chills and fevers when they came back, Ribera could give him no account of his discoveries.1 In that season the river’s waters had risen so much that they flooded—simply drowned—all...

read more

73: What Happened to the Governor and His People in Puerto Reyes

pdf iconDownload PDF (88.9 KB)
pp. 159-161

The Governor was in Puerto Reyes for three months, and all his men fell ill with fever and he with them. Everyone hoped the waters would recede and God would give them back their health, because only then could they undertake their expedition into the new territories and explore them thoroughly. But the sickness rose every day along with...

read more

74: The Governor and His Men Arrive in Asunci

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.9 KB)
pp. 162-165

Your Majesty’s officials had held the Governor in contempt for some time due to several causes already mentioned. He never approved of their disservice—and that is certainly what it was—to God and Your Majesty or of their stripping the best port in the province of its population, with the clear aim of raising a general revolt in the country (a condition in...

read more

75: The People Gather in Front of Domingo de Irala’s House

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.6 KB)
pp. 166-167

On the morning of the following day, the officials marched through the streets with a drum announcing that all citizens must meet in front of the houses of Captain Domingo de Irala. And with Irala’s friends and flunkies gathered together in that spot, all carrying their arms, a crier backed by these people read out a scurrilous libel at the top of his lungs. Among other things, they said the Governor had ordered that all...

read more

76: Turbulence and Uproar Abound in the Land

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.0 KB)
pp. 168-169

There then began a general uproar and scandal among the citizens, as those who stood publicly for Your Majesty told the officials and their minions that they were all traitors. Day and night, these men went about with their arms in their hands, because they were frightened by the people rising up against them anew each morning. They made themselves stronger every day with the new palisades...

read more

77: The Governor Is Held Prisoner in a Very Harsh Jail

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.4 KB)
pp. 170-171

If you were to imagine bringing about the Governor’s demise, you might search through all the people in the town for the man who most wished him ill. You would then find one Hernando de Sosa, whom the Governor had once punished for slapping an Indian chief and afterward beating him with sticks. They placed this man in the Governor’s chamber...

read more

78: The Insurgents Plunder the Land and Take Its Estates by Force

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.5 KB)
pp. 172-173

And as soon as he had been taken prisoner, Domingo de Irala and his officials had openly allowed all their friends and toadies and servants to run amok through all the towns and homesteads of the Indians, where they took women and young girls and hammocks and everything else the people had by force and without any kind of payment. This was the sort of thing that lent very little to the service of Your Majesty...

read more

79: The Friars Flee Again

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.0 KB)
pp. 174-175

In those days everything was harsh, revolting, and badly sorted out, so of course it seemed, as fray Bernaldo de Armenta said to his friars, that it was a good time—indeed, the perfect season—to put into effect their standing proposal to leave (as they had earlier intended to do). They mentioned this to the officials and to Domingo de Irala in order to gain his favor and help as they set out for the coast of Brazil. And...

read more

80: How They Put Everyone Not of Their Opinion on the Rack

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.7 KB)
pp. 176

To further their cause, they cruelly tortured many other persons to find out if they had been given orders and then conspired among themselves to free the Governor from prison. Who were these people, and in what way had they been plotting? Had they been mining away under the prison...

read more

81: They Want to Kill an Alderman Because of the Request He Made of Them

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.3 KB)
pp. 177-178

Well, with everything in the state of affairs I’ve described, one Pedro de Molina, a native of Guadix and an alderman of that city, was observing all the destruction, rioting, and commotion going on. Out of service to Your Majesty, he determined to enter the stockade where Domingo de Irala and all the officials were staying. In the presence of these people, he doffed his cap and said to Martín de Ure...

read more

82: The Insurgents Allow the Indians to Eat Human Flesh

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.7 KB)
pp. 179-180

To ingratiate themselves with the native Indians of the land, Domingo de Irala and the officials gave them license to slaughter and eat their enemies. Many of the people who were given such liberties were recent Christian converts, and Irala told them that they need not flee the country should they do such things and that he and his friends would...

read more

83: They Write to Your Majesty and Send on Their Account

pdf iconDownload PDF (75.9 KB)
pp. 181-183

When all this business came about, the officials dictated a number of minutes against the Governor to be delivered to these kingdoms, accusations that would condemn him in anyone’s eyes.1 And that’s exactly what they wrote up. And just to give a certain flavor to their crimes, they wrote about events that had never happened and weren’t true....

read more

84: The Governor Is Poisoned Three Times with Arsenic While He Is on the Road

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.1 KB)
pp. 184-187

While en route downriver, the officials ordered one Machín, a Biscayan, to cook up something to eat for the Governor. And after cooking some food, Machín handed it over to one Lope Duarte. These men were both cronies of the officials and of Domingo de Irala and as guilty as all the others who had taken the Governor prisoner. Duarte had come along as Irala’s solicitor and to carry out his business on the ship...

read more

Postscript: The Account of Hernando de Ribera Made Before Pedro Hern

pdf iconDownload PDF (112.6 KB)
pp. 188-194

In the City of Asunci

Appendix: Original Preliminary Remarks (the Prohemio) by Cabeza de Vaca

pdf iconDownload PDF (112.6 KB)
pp. 195-200

[Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF (12.9 MB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (144.0 KB)
pp. 211-227

Suggestions for Further Reading

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.5 KB)
pp. 229-232


pdf iconDownload PDF (118.0 KB)
pp. 233-240

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (5.8 MB)

E-ISBN-13: 9780826350657
E-ISBN-10: 0826350658
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826350633
Print-ISBN-10: 0826350631

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 16 halftones, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Rio de la Plata Region (Argentina and Uruguay) -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
  • Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar, 16th cent.
  • South America -- Discovery and exploration -- Spanish.
  • South America -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
  • Rio de la Plata Region (Argentina and Uruguay) -- Discovery and exploration -- Spanish.
  • Governors -- Rio de la Plata Region (Argentina and Uruguay) -- Biography.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access