The Florida of the Inca

[ Latin American Studies ]

The Florida of the Inca

By Garcilaso de la Vega

The story of Hernando de Soto's expedition.



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6 x 9 | 708 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-72434-1

Perhaps the most amazing thing of all about Garcilaso de la Vega's epic account of the De Soto expedition is the fact that, although it is easily the first great classic of American history, it had never before received a complete or otherwise adequate English translation in the 346 years which have elapsed since its publication in Spanish. Now the Inca's thrilling narrative comes into its own in the English speaking world.

Hernando de Soto's expedition for the conquest of North America was the most ambitious ever to brave the perils of the New World. Garcilaso tells in remarkably rich detail of the conquistadors' wanderings over half a continent, of the unbelievable vicissitudes which beset them, of the Indians whom they sought to win for King and Church and by whose hands most of them died, of De Soto's death, and of the final pitiful failure of the expedition.

The Inca’s Dedication
The Inca’s Preface
The First Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca presents a description of the land and the customs of its natives; a record of its first explorer and of those explorers who went there afterward; an account of the people who accompanied Hernando de Soto in his expedition; the strange events that occurred on their voyage, the supplies which the Governor ordered and provided in Havana, and his embarkation for Florida. It contains fifteen Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—Hernando de Soto requests permission of Emperor Charles the Fifth to make a conquest of Florida. His Majesty grants him this favor
Chapter II—A description of Florida and an account of the first, second, and third explorers of that land
Chapter III—Other explorers who have gone to Florida
Chapter IV—Still others who have made the same journey to Florida. The customs and common weapons of the natives of that country
Chapter V—Both the writs authorizing the conquest and the great preparations for carrying it forward are made known in Spain
Chapter VI—The number of men and officers who embarked for Florida
Chapter VII—What happened to the armada on the first night of its navigation
Chapter VIII—The armada arrives at Santiago de Cuba; what happened to the flagship at the entrance to that port
Chapter IX—A four day naval battle between two ships in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba
Chapter X—A continuation of the incident of the sea fight until its close
Chapter XI—The festivities given in honor of the Governor at Santiago de Cuba
Chapter XII—The supplies that the Governor procured in Santiago de Cuba. One notable circumstance concerning the natives of those islands
Chapter XIII—The Governor goes to Havana. The preparations which he makes there for the conquest
Chapter XIV—A ship arrives at Havana with Hernán Ponce, a companion of the Governor
Chapter XV—The issues between Hernán Ponce de León and Hernando de Soto. How the Governor embarked for Florida

The First Part of the Second Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca treats of the Governor’s arrival in that land and his discovery there of traces of Pámphilo de Narváez; his finding of a Christian captive who describes the tortures and cruelties imposed upon him by the Indians as well as the hospitalities extended him by a certain Indian lord of vassals; the further preparations which the Spaniards made for the expedition and the events that occurred in the first eight provinces they explored; and the extraordinary bravery in both words and deeds of a bold cacique. It contains thirty Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Governor arrives in Florida and finds traces of Pámphilo de Narváez
Chapter II—The tortures which an Indian chief inflicted upon a Spaniard who was his slave
Chapter III—A continuation of the miserable life of the captive. How he fled from his master
Chapter IV—The magnanimity of the Curaca or Cacique Mucozo to whom the captive was entrusted
Chapter V—The Governor sends for Juan Ortiz
Chapter VI—What happened between Juan Ortiz and the Spaniards who were seeking him
Chapter VII—The entertainment which the whole army gave Juan Ortiz. How Mucozo came to visit the Governor
Chapter VIII—The mother of Mucozo arrives in great anxiety concerning her son
Chapter IX—The preparations which were made for the exploration. How the Indians seized a Spaniard
Chapter X—How the exploration was begun. The entrance of the Spaniards into the interior of the land
Chapter XI—What happened to the Lieutenant General while on his way to seize a curaca
Chapter XII—The account which Baltasar de Gallegos sent of what he had discovered
Chapter XIII—They fail twice to cross the great swamp. The Governor sets out to search for a passage and finds it
Chapter XIV—What the two Spaniards experienced on their journey before coming to the camp
Chapter XV—Thirty lancers with a supply of biscuits set out in pursuit of the Governor
Chapter XVI—The insolent reply of the lord of the province of Acuera
Chapter XVII—The Governor arrives at the province of Ocali. What befell him there
Chapter XVIII—Other events which occurred in the province of Ocali
Chapter XIX—The Spaniards construct a bridge and cross the Ocali river. They come to the province of Ochile
Chapter XX—The brother of the Curaca Ochile comes in peace. They send ambassadors to Vitachuco
Chapter XXI—The arrogant and foolish reply of Vitachuco. How his brothers go to persuade him to peace
Chapter XXII—Vitachuco comes out in peace. He plans a betrayal of the Spaniards and confides in the interpreters
Chapter XXIII—Vitachuco commands his captains to conclude the betrayal, and he begs the Governor to come out and review his people
Chapter XXIV—How they seized Vitachuco. The outbreak of the battle which occurred between the Spaniards and the Indians
Chapter XXV—The gradual surrender of the conquered Indians, and the constancy of seven of them
Chapter XXVI—What the Governor did with the three Indians, lords of vassals, and with the Curaca Vitachuco
Chapter XXVII—An objection or counter-view is answered
Chapter XXVIII—A foolhardy action which Vitachuco ordained for the purpose of destroying the Spaniards, and which resulted instead in his own death
Chapter XXIX—The strange battle which took place between the captive Indians and their masters
Chapter XXX—The Governor continues to Osachile. Herein is described the manner in which the Indians of Florida build their towns

The Second Part of the Second Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca wherein will be seen the many fierce struggles that occurred under difficult circumstances between the Indians and the Spaniards in the great province of Apalache; the hardships the Spaniards suffered in finding the sea; the events and incredible anxieties experienced in the going and coming of thirty cavaliers who returned for Pedro Calderón; and the fierceness of the Indians of Apalache, the capture and strange flight of their Cacique, and the fertility of that great province. It contains twenty-five Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Spaniards come to the famous province of Apalache. The resistance of the Indians
Chapter II—The Spaniards gain the passage to the swamp. The great and fierce struggle which occurred therein
Chapter III—The continuous fighting which lasted until the arrival at the principal town of Apalache
Chapter IV—Three captains go to explore the province of Apalache. The report which they bring
Chapter V—The hardships which Juan de Añasco experienced in his effort to find the sea
Chapter VI—Captain Juan de Añasco arrives at the Bay of Aute. What he found there
Chapter VII—Thirty lancers make preparations to return to the Bay of the Holy Spirit
Chapter VIII—What the thirty cavaliers did before arriving at Vitachuco and what they found there
Chapter IX—The journey of the thirty lancers continues to the River of Ochile
Chapter X—The Governor seizes the Curaca of Apalache
Chapter XI—The Cacique of Apalache goes by order of the Governor to subdue his Indians
Chapter XII—The Cacique of Apalache, being handicapped, flees from the Spaniards on hands and knees
Chapter XIII—An account of the journey of the thirty cavaliers until they reach the great swamp
Chapter XIV—The intolerable hardships that the thirty cavaliers experienced in crossing the great swamp
Chapter XV—An account of the journey of the thirty cavaliers until their arrival a half-league from the village of Hirrihigua
Chapter XVI—The thirty cavaliers come to where Captain Pedro Calderón is. The manner in which they were received
Chapter XVII—The things that Captains Juan de Añasco and Pedro Calderón ordained in fulfillment of what the General had commanded them
Chapter XVIII—Pedro Calderón sets out with his men. The events of his trip until he comes to the great swamp
Chapter XIX—Pedro Calderón crosses the great swamp and arrives at the swamp of Apalache
Chapter XX—Pedro Calderón continues along the way, fighting constantly with the enemy
Chapter XXI—By persisting in the struggle, Pedro Calderón comes to where the Governor is
Chapter XXII—Juan de Añasco arrives at Apalache. The provisions the Governor made for finding a port along the coast
Chapter XXIII—The Governor sends an account of his discovery to Havana. The temerity of an Indian is described
Chapter XXIV—Two Indians offer to guide the Spaniards to a place where they may find much gold and silver
Chapter XXV—Some dangerous fighting which occurred in Apalache. The fertility of that province

The Third Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca tells of the departure of the Spaniards from Apalache; the fine reception offered them in four provinces; the hunger they suffered in some of the uninhabited lands; the infinity of pearls and other grandeurs and riches which they found in a temple; the generosities of the Lady of Cofachiqui and of other caciques, lords of vassals; a very bloody battle which the Indians under the guise of friendship perpetrated upon the Spaniards; a mutiny which certain Castilians discussed; the laws of the Indians against adulteresses; and another very fierce battle which was waged at night. It contains thirty-nine Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Governor leaves Apalache. There is a battle of seven against seven
Chapter II—The Spaniards arrive in Altapaha. The manner in which they were received
Chapter III—The province of Cofa, its Cacique and a piece of artillery which the Spaniards left for him to guard
Chapter IV—Treats of the Curaca Cofaqui and the great hospitality he offered the Spaniards in his land
Chapter V—Patofa promises his Curaca vengeance. A strange story is told about what happened to an Indian guide
Chapter VI—The Governor and his army find themselves in great confusion on seeing that they are lost and without food in some uninhabited lands
Chapter VII—Four captains go out to explore the land. Patofa inflicts a strange punishment upon an Indian
Chapter VIII—A special story about the hunger the Spaniards suffered. How they found food
Chapter IX—The army comes to a place where there are provisions. Patofa returns home; and Juan de Añasco goes out to explore the land
Chapter X—The mistress of Cofachiqui comes to talk with the Governor, offering him both provisions and passage for his army
Chapter XI—The army crosses the river of Cofachiqui and is quartered in the town. Juan de Añasco is sent to fetch a widow
Chapter XII—The Indian ambassador destroys himself, and Juan de Añasco continues on his way
Chapter XIII—Juan de Añasco returns to the army without the widow. What happened concerning the gold and silver of Cofachiqui
Chapter XIV—The Spaniards visit the burial place of the nobles and later that of the curacas of Cofachiqui
Chapter XV—The splendors found in the temple and burial place of the lords of Cofachiqui
Chapter XVI—The riches of the burial place and the store of arms that was in it
Chapter XVII—The army leaves Cofachiqui in two sections
Chapter XVIII—What occurred to the three captains on their journey. How the army came to Xuala
Chapter XIX—Some of the great spiritual endowments of the Señora of Cofachiqui are described
Chapter XX—Events which occurred in the army until its arrival at Guaxule and at Ychiaha
Chapter XXI—How they extract the pearls from their shells. The report brought by those who went to seek the gold mines
Chapter XXII—The army leaves Ychiaha and enters Acoste and Coza. The hospitality offered them in these provinces
Chapter XXIII—The Cacique Coza offers his lands to the Governor to settle and populate. How the army leaves that Curaca’s province
Chapter XXIV—The fierce Curaca Tascaluza, who was almost a giant, and the manner in which he received the Governor
Chapter XXV—The Governor arrives in Mauvilla where he finds indications of treason
Chapter XXVI—Tascaluza’s council resolves to kill the Spaniards. Herein is told the beginning of the battle which occurred
Chapter XXVII—The events of the first third of the battle of Mauvila are related
Chapter XXVIII—A continuation of the battle of Mauvila through the second third of it
Chapter XXIX—The end of the battle of Mauvila and the lamentable condition in which the Spaniards were left
Chapter XXX—The efforts that the Spaniards made to aid themselves, and two strange occurrences that took place in the battle
Chapter XXXI—The number of Indians who died in the battle of Mauvila
Chapter XXXII—What the Spaniards did after the battle of Mauvila. An insurrection that was discussed among them
Chapter XXXIII—The Governor makes certain of the insurrection, and alters his plans
Chapter XXXIV—Two laws that the Indians of Florida observe in regard to adulteresses
Chapter XXXV—The Spaniards leave Mauvila and enter Chicaza. They construct boats to cross a great river
Chapter XXXVI—Our men camp in Chicaza. The Indians inflict upon them a sudden and very cruel nocturnal battle
Chapter XXXVII—A continuation of the battle of Chicaza until its close
Chapter XXXVIII—Notable deeds that occurred in the battle of Chicaza
Chapter XXXIX—A protection which a Spaniard devised against the cold suffered at Chicaza

The Fourth Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca treats of the battle at the fort of Alibamo; the death of numerous Spaniards for want of salt; the arrival at Chisca and the crossing of the Great River; the solemn procession made by both the Indians and Spaniards to adore the cross and beseech God’s mercy; the cruel war and pillage between Capaha and Casquin; the Spaniards’ discovery of a means for making salt; the fierceness of the Tulas both in stature and in arms; and the comfortable winter which the Castilians passed in Utiangue. It contains sixteen Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Spaniards leave the camp at Chicaza and attack the fort of Alibamo
Chapter II—A continuation of the battle of the fort of Alibamo until its close
Chapter III—Many Spaniards die for lack of salt. How they arrive at Chisca
Chapter IV—The Spaniards return what they have pillaged to the Curaca Chisca and are happy to be at peace with him
Chapter V—The Spaniards leave Chisca and construct barges to cross the Great River. They arrive at Casquin
Chapter VI—A solemn procession of Indians and Spaniards is made to adore the cross
Chapter VII—Both Indians and Spaniards go against Capaha. The location of this town is described
Chapter VIII—The Casquins sack the town and the burial place of Capaha, and then go in search of the Cacique himself
Chapter IX—The Casquins flee from the battle and Capaha petitions the Governor for peace
Chapter X—The Governor twice supports Casquin and makes the two Curacas friends
Chapter XI—The Spaniards send men out to seek salt and gold mines; and they come to Quiguate
Chapter XII—The army arrives at Colima, discovers a process for making salt and passes on to the province of Tula
Chapter XIII—The strange fierceness of spirit of the Tulas, and the battles that the Spaniards fought with them
Chapter XIV—A fight between a Tula Indian and four Spaniards, three of whom were on foot and one on horseback
Chapter XV—The Spaniards leave Tula and enter Utiangue where they encamp for the winter
Chapter XVI—The good winter passed in Utiangue. A treason committed against the Spaniards

The First Part of the Fifth Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca where mention is made of a Spaniard who remained among the Indians; the efforts exerted to regain him; a long journey of the Castilians across eight provinces; the enmity and cruel war between the Guachoyas and Anilcos; the lamentable death of the Governor Hernando de Soto and the two burials that his men gave him. It contains eight Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Spaniards enter Naguatex where one of them remains
Chapter II—The efforts that were made to obtain Diego de Guzmán. His reply and that of the Curaca
Chapter III—The Governor leaves Guancane, passes through seven other small provinces, and arrives at the province of Anilco
Chapter IV—The Spaniards enter Guachoya. Herein is told how these Indians carry on perpetual warfare with each other
Chapter V—How Guachoya visits the General and both return to Anilco
Chapter VI—An account of other cruelties of the Guachoyas. The manner in which the Governor attempts to solicit aid
Chapter VII—An account is given of the Governor’s death and of the successor whom he appointed
Chapter VIII—The two burials that they gave to the Adelantado, Hernando de Soto

The Second Part of the Fifth Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca tells of how the Spaniards decided to abandon Florida, and the long journey they made in an effort to do so; the unbearable hardship they suffered both in going and returning until they came once again to the Great River; the seven brigantines they constructed for the purpose of leaving that kingdom; the league of ten Caciques formed against the Spaniards and the secret information which they obtained concerning this league; the promises of General Anilco and the fine qualities of this man; a severe rise in the Great River; the efforts involved in making the brigantines; a challenge of General Anilco to the Cacique Guachoya and the reason for this challenge; and the punishment inflicted upon the messengers of the league. It contains fifteen Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Spaniards decide to abandon Florida
Chapter II—Some superstitions of the Indians of Florida as well as those of Peru. How the Spaniards come to Auche
Chapter III—The Spaniards kill the guide. A particular act of an Indian is told
Chapter IV—Two Indians give the Spaniards to understand that they challenge them to single combat
Chapter V—The Spaniards return to search for the Great River. The hardships they experienced along the way
Chapter VI—The intolerable hardships that the Spaniards suffered before reaching the Great River
Chapter VII—The Indians abandon two towns, and the Spaniards take lodgings within them for the purpose of passing the winter
Chapter VIII—Two Curacas come in peace. The Spaniards talk of constructing seven brigantines
Chapter IX—Ten Curacas form a league against the Spaniards, whom the Apu Anilco advises of the fact
Chapter X—Guachoya speaks ill of Anilco in the presence of the Governor and Anilco responds with a challenge to single combat
Chapter XI—The Spaniards wound an Indian spy; the complaint which the Curacas lodged concerning the incident
Chapter XII—The efforts of the Spaniards to make the brigantines. A very severe flood in the Great River
Chapter XIII—In order to complete the brigantines, a Spanish commander is sent to the Curaca Anilco for assistance
Chapter XIV—The incidents which occurred during the rising and falling of the Great River, and the information that Anilco supplied concerning the league
Chapter XV—The punishment given the messengers of the league and the efforts made by the Spaniards until they embarked

The Sixth Book: Of the History of Florida by the Inca contains an account of the selection of the captains for the navigation; the multitude of canoes opposing the Spaniards; the order and the manner of their fighting, which continued for eleven days without ceasing; the death of forty-eight Castilians because of the mad action of one of them; the return of the Indians to their homes; the arrival of the Spaniards at the sea and a skirmish they had with the people on the coast; the events of their fifty-five days of navigation before reaching Pánuco; the many quarrels which took place among them there, and the reason for these quarrels; the fine reception given them by the Imperial City of Mexico; the way in which they dispersed through different parts of the world; and the wanderings and hardships of Gómez Arias and Diego Maldonado, with which our history ends. It contains twenty-two Chapters, which are as follows.
Chapter I—The Spaniards choose commanders for the caravels and embark upon their journey
Chapter II—Types of rafts made by the Indians for crossing the rivers
Chapter III—The size of the canoes and the splendor and order the Indians manifested in them
Chapter IV—The manner of fighting which the Indians employed with the Spaniards as they traveled down the river
Chapter V—What happened on the eleventh day of the navigation of the Spaniards
Chapter VI—The Indians almost succeed in overcoming a caravel. The folly of a vainglorious Spaniard
Chapter VII—Because of the lack of prudence of one Spaniard, the Indians kill forty-eight of them
Chapter VIII—The Indians return to their homes and the Spaniards sail on until they recognize the sea
Chapter IX—The number of leagues that the Spaniards journeyed inland
Chapter X—A battle that the Spaniards had with the Indians of the coast
Chapter XI—The Spaniards set sail. The outcome of the first twenty-three days of their navigation
Chapter XII—An account of the navigation up to the fifty-third day. A storm which strikes the Spaniards
Chapter XIII—A wild storm which two caravels ran, and how they were grounded
Chapter XIV—What the commanders and the soldiers of the two caravels ordained
Chapter XV—What happened to the three captain explorers
Chapter XVI—The Spaniards learn that they are in the land of Mexico
Chapter XVII—The Spaniards unite in Pánuco. Bitter quarrels spring up among them. The reason for these quarrels
Chapter XVIII—How the Spaniards went to Mexico. The fine reception given them by that remarkable city
Chapter XIX—They give an account to the Viceroy of the most noteworthy incidents that occurred in Florida
Chapter XX—Our Spaniards spread out into divers parts of the world. What Gómez Arias and Diego Maldonado did in order to obtain news of Hernando de Soto
Chapter XXI—A continuation of the peregrination of Gómez Arias and Diego Maldonado
Chapter XXII—The number of Christians, both secular and religious, who died in Florida before the year 1568

Leaf of Privilege

"When you regretfully lay aside this extraordinary volume and add it to your shelf of favorite titles, you will appreciate the tremendous adventure into history which you have had."
San Francisco Examiner

"Great endurances and deeds were surviving treasures for the soul that marched with DeSoto, and this book is their richest storehouse."
—Paul Horgan, New York Times Book Review

"A distinguished and beautiful book, greatly translated"
New York Herald Tribune

"A thrilling, enriching book, masterfully handled."
New York Mirror

"A superb edition ... A beautiful book"
San Francisco Chronicle

"A rich and happy blend of entertainment and education"
Little Rock Gazette

"A volume that ... catches the flavor of the period"
—Washington Post

1951 Dallas Museum of Fine Arts award