The Discovery of Guiana
The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh
The relation of this Martinez, who was the first that discovered Manoa, his success, and end, is to be seen in the Chancery of St. Juan de Puerto Rico, where of Berreo had a copy, which appeared to be the greatest encouragement as well to Berreo as to others that formerly attempted the discovery and conquest. Orellana, after he failed of the discovery of Guiana by the said river of Amazons, passed into Spain, and there obtained a patent of the king for the invasion and conquest, but died by sea about the islands; and his fleet being severed by tempest, the action for that time proceeded not. Diego Ordas followed the enterprise, and departed Spain with 600 soldiers and thirty horse. Who, arriving on the coast of Guiana, was slain in a mutiny, with the most part of such as favoured him, as also of the rebellious part, insomuch as his ships perished and few or none returned; neither was it certainly known what became of the said Ordas until Berreo found the anchor of his ship in the river of Orenoque; but it was supposed, and so it is written by Lopez, that he perished on the seas, and of other writers diversely conceived and reported. And hereof it came that Martinez entered so far within the land, and arrived at that city of Inga the emperor; for it chanced that while Ordas with his army rested at the port of Morequito (who was either the first or second that attempted Guiana), by some negligence the whole store of powder provided for the service was set on fire, and Martinez, having the chief charge, was condemned by the General Ordas to be executed forthwith. Martinez, being much favoured by the soldiers, had all the means possible procured for his life; but it could not be obtained in other sort than this, that he should be set into a canoa alone, without any victual, only with his arms, and so turned loose into the great river. But it pleased God that the canoa was carried down the stream, and certain of the Guianians met it the same evening; and, having not at any time seen any Christian nor any man of that colour, they carried Martinez into the land to be wondered at, and so from town to town, until he came to the great city of Manoa, the seat and residence of Inga the emperor. The emperor, after he had beheld him, knew him to be a Christian, for it was not long before that his brethren Guascar and Atabalipa were vanquished by the Spaniards in Peru: and caused him to be lodged in his palace, and well entertained. He lived seven months in Manoa, but was not suffered to wander into the country anywhere. He was also brought thither all the way blindfold, led by the Indians, until he came to the entrance of Manoa itself, and was fourteen or fifteen days in the passage. He avowed at his death that he entered the city at noon, and then they uncovered his face; and that he travelled all that day till night thorough the city, and the next day from sun rising to sun setting, yere he came to the palace of Inga. After that Martinezhad lived seven months in Manoa, and began to understand the language of the country, Inga asked him whether he desired to return into his own country, or would willingly abide with him. But Martinez, not desirous to stay, obtained the favour of Inga to depart; with whom he sent divers Guianians to conduct him to the river of Orenoque, all loaden with as much gold as they could carry, which he gave to Martinez at his departure. But when he was arrived near the river’s side, the borderers which are called Orenoqueponi robbed him and his Guianians of all the treasure (the borderers being at that time at wars, which Inga had not conquered) save only of two great bottles of gourds, which were filled with beads of gold curiously wrought, which those Orenoqueponi thought had been no other thing than his drink or meat, or grain for food, with which Martinez had liberty to pass. And so in canoas he fell down from the river of Orenoque to Trinidad, and from thence to Margarita, and so to St. Juan del Puerto Rico; where, remaining a long time for passage into Spain, he died. In the time of his extreme sickness, and when he was without hope of life, receiving the sacrament at the hands of his confessor, he delivered these things, with the relation of his travels, and also called for his calabazas or gourds of the gold beads, which he gave to the church and friars, to be prayed for.
This Martinez was he that christened the city of Manoa by the name of El Dorado, and, as Berreo informed me, upon this occasion, those Guianians, and also the borderers, and all other in that tract which I have seen, are marvellous great drunkards; in which vice I think no nation can compare with them; and at the times of their solemn feasts, when the emperor carouseth with his captains, tributaries, and governors, the manner is thus. All those that pledge him are first stripped naked and their bodies anointed all over with a kind of white balsamum (by them called curca), of which there is great plenty, and yet very dear amongst them, and it is of all other the most precious, whereof we have had good experience. When they are anointed all over, certain servants of the emperor, having prepared gold made into fine powder, blow it thorough hollow canes upon their naked bodies, until they be all shining from the foot to the head; and in this sort they sit drinking by twenties and hundreds, and continue in drunkenness sometimes six or seven days together. The same is also confirmed by a letter written into Spain which was intercepted, which Master Robert Dudley told me he had seen. Upon this sight, and for the abundance of gold which he saw in the city, the images of gold in their temples, the plates, armours, and shields of gold which they use in the wars, he called it El Dorado.
After the death of Ordas and Martinez, and after Orellana, who was employed by Gonzalo Pizarro, one Pedro de Orsúa, a knight of Navarre, attempted Guiana, taking his way into Peru, and built his brigandines upon a river called Oia, which riseth to the southward of Quito, and is very great. This river falleth into Amazons, by which Orsúawith his companies descended, and came out of that province which is called Motilones; and it seemeth to me that this empire is reserved for her Majesty and the English nation, by reason of the hard success which all these and other Spaniards found in attempting the same, whereof I will speak briefly, though impertinent in some sort to my purpose. This Pedro de Orsúa had among his troops a Biscayan called Aguirre, a man meanly born, who bare no other office than a sergeant or alferez: but after certain months, when the soldiers were grieved with travels and consumed with famine, and that no entrance could be found by the branches or body of Amazons, this Aguirre raised a mutiny, of which he made himself the head, and so prevailed as he put Orsúa to the sword and all his followers, taking on him the whole charge and commandment, with a purpose not only to make himself emperor of Guiana, but also of Peru and of all that side of the West Indies. He had of his party 700 soldiers, and of those many promised to draw in other captains and companies, to deliver up towns and forts in Peru; but neither finding by the said river any passage into Guiana, nor any possibility to return towards Peru by the same Amazons, by reason that the descent of the river made so great a current, he was enforced to disemboque at the mouth of the said Amazons, which cannot be less than 1,000 leagues from the place where they embarked. From thence he coasted the land till he arrived at Margarita to the north of Mompatar, which is at this day called Puerto de Tyranno, for that he there slew Don Juan de Villa Andreda, Governor of Margarita, who was father to Don Juan Sarmiento, Governor of Margarita when Sir John Burgh landed there and attempted the island. Aguirre put to the sword all other in the island that refused to be of his party, and took with him certain cimarrones and other desperate companions. From thence he went to Cumaná and there slew the governor, and dealt in all as at Margarita. He spoiled all the coast of Caracas and the province of Venezuela and of Rio de la Hacha; and, as I remember, it was the same year that Sir John Hawkins sailed to St. Juan de Ullua in the Jesus of Lubeck; 20 for himself told me that he met with such a one upon the coast, that rebelled, and had sailed down all the river of Amazons. Aguirre from thence landed about Santa Marta and sacked it also, putting to death so many as refused to be his followers, purposing to invade Nuevo Reyno de Granada and to sack Pamplona, Merida, Lagrita, Tunja, and the rest of the cities of Nuevo Reyno, and from thence again to enter Peru; but in a fight in the said Nuevo Reynohe was overthrown, and, finding no way to escape, he first put to the sword his own children, foretelling them that they should not live to be defamed or upbraided by the Spaniards after his death, who would have termed them the children of a traitor or tyrant; and that, sithence he could not make them princes, he would yet deliver them from shame and reproach. These were the ends and tragedies of Ordas, Martinez, Orellana, Orsúa, and Aguirre. Also soon after Ordas followed Jeronimo Ortal de Saragosa, with 130 soldiers; who failing his entrance by sea, was cast with the current on the coast of Paria, and peopled about S. Miguel de Neveri. It was then attempted by Don Pedro de Silva, a Portuguese of the family of Ruy Gomez de Silva, and by the favour which Ruy Gomes had with the king he was set out. But he also shot wide of the mark; for being departed from Spain with his fleet, he entered by Marañon or Amazons, where by the nations of the river and by the Amazons, he was utterly overthrown, and himself and all his army defeated; only seven escaped, and of those but two returned.