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The Letters of Amerigo Vespucci
An Electronic Edition

Amerigo Vespucci1451-1512

Original Source: Works issued by the Hakluyt Society, no. 90. Markham, Clements R., ed., trans. The letters of Amerigo Vespucci and other documents illustrative of his career. Translated with notes and an introduction by Clements R. Markham. London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1894.Selected Americana from Sabin’s Dictionary of books relating to America, from its discovery to the present time; 6298-6299. Vespucci, Amerigo. The First Four Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci: Reprinted in facsimile and translated from the rare original edition (Florence, 1505-6). London: B. Quaritch, 1893.

Copyright 2005. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided.

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Letters of Amerigo Vespucci
THE MEDICI LETTER. Letter on his Third Voyage from AMERIGO VESPUCCI to LORENZO PIETRO FRANCESCO DI MEDICI. * Addresses the same voyage that Vespucci chronicles in the third section of his letter to Soderini.

March (or April) 1503.1.

Alberico Vesputio to Lorenzo Pietro di Medici, * 1463-1503. Cousin to Lorenzo il Magnifico, and a member of the Popolani branch of the Medici family. salutation. In passed days I wrote very fully to you of my return from the new countries, which have been found and explored with the ships, at the cost, and by the command, of this Most Serene King of Portugal; * Manuel I (1469-1521). and it is lawful to call it a new world, because none of these countries were known to our ancestors, and to all who hear about them they will be entirely new. * When published as a separate volume this letter was entitled Mundus Novus. Waldseemueller includes Vespucci's Lettera in his book Cosmographiae Introductio because of the Florentine's assertion that the New World truly was a previously unknown region of the earth. For the opinion of the ancients was, that the greater part of the world beyond the equinoctial line to the south was not land, but only sea, which they have called the Atlantic; and if they have affirmed that any continent is there, they have given many reasons for denying that it is inhabited. But this their opinion is false, and entirely opposed to the truth. My last voyage has proved it, for I have found a continent in that southern part; more populous and more full of animals than our Europe, or Asia, or Africa, and even more temperate and pleasant than any other region known to us, as will be explained further on. I shall write succinctly of the principal things only, and the things most worthy of notice and of being remembered, which I either saw or heard of in this new world, as presently will become manifest.2.

We set out, on a prosperous voyage, on the 14th of May 1501, sailing from Lisbon, by order of the aforesaid King, with three ships, to discover new countries towards the west; and we sailed towards the south continuously for twenty months. Of this navigation the order is as follows: Our course was for the Fortunate Islands, so called formerly, but now we call them the Grand Canary Islands, which are in the third climate, and on the confines of the inhabited west. Thence we sailed rapidly over the ocean along the coast of Africa and part of Ethiopia to the Ethiopic Promontory, so called by Ptolemy, which is now called Cape Verde, and by the Ethiopians Biseghier, and that country Mandraga, 13° within the Torrid Zone, * The region of the earth that falls between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. on the north side of the equinoctial line. The country is inhabited by a black race. Having taken on board what we required, we weighed our anchors and made sail, taking our way across the vast ocean towards the Antarctic Pole, with some westing. From the day when we left the before-mentioned promontory, we sailed for the space of two months and three days. Hitherto no land had appeared to us in that vast sea. In truth, how much we had suffered, what dangers of shipwreck, I leave to the judgment of those to whom the experience of such things is very well known. What a thing it is to seek unknown lands, and how difficult, being ignorant, to narrate briefly what happened. It should be known that, of the sixty-seven days of our voyage, we were navigating continuously forty-four. We had copious thunderstorms and perturbations, and it was so dark that we never could see either the sun in the day or the moon at night. This caused us great fear, so that we lost all hope of life. In these most terrible dangers of the sea it pleased the Most High to show us the continent and the new countries, being another unknown world. These things being in sight, we were as much rejoiced as anyone may imagine who, after calamity and ill-fortune, has obtained safety.3.

It was on the 7th of August 1501, that we reached those countries, thanking our Lord God with solemn prayers, and celebrating a choral Mass. We knew that land to be a continent, and not an island, from its long beaches extending without trending round, the infinite number of inhabitants, the numerous tribes and peoples, the numerous kinds of wild animals unknown in our country, and many others never seen before by us, touching which it would take long to make reference. The clemency of God was shown forth to us by being brought to these regions; for the ships were in a leaking state, and in a few days our lives might have been lost in the sea. To Him be the honour and glory, and the grace of the action. 4.

We took counsel, and resolved to navigate along the coast of this continent towards the east, and never to lose sight of the land. We sailed along until we came to a point where the coast turned to the south. The distance from the landfall to this point was nearly 300 leagues. In this stretch of coast we often landed, and had friendly relations with the natives, as I shall presently relate. I had forgotten to tell you that from Cape Verde to the first land of this continent the distance is nearly 700 leagues; although I estimate that we went over more than 1,800, partly owing to ignorance of the route, and partly owing to the tempests and foul winds which drove us off our course, and sent us in various directions. If my companions had not trusted in me, to whom cosmography was known, no one, not the leader of our navigation, would have known where we were after running 500 leagues. We were wandering and full of errors, and only the instruments for taking the altitudes of heavenly bodies showed us our position. These were the quadrant and astrolabe, as known to all. These have been much used by me with much honour; for I showed them that a knowledge of the marine chart, and the rules taught by it, are more worth than all the pilots in the world. For these pilots have no knowledge beyond those places to which they have often sailed. Where the said point of land showed us the trend of the coast to the south, we agreed to continue our voyage, and to ascertain what there might be in those regions. We sailed along the coast for nearly 500 leagues, often going on shore and having intercourse with the natives, who received us in a brotherly manner. We sometimes stayed with them for fifteen or twenty days continuously, as friends and guests, as I shall relate presently. Part of this continent is in the Torrid Zone, beyond the equinoctial line towards the South Pole. But it begins at 8° beyond the equinoctial. We sailed along the coast so far that we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, and found ourselves where the Antarctic Pole was 50° above our horizon. We went towards the Antarctic Circle until we were 17° 30' from it; all which I have seen, and I have known the nature of those people, their customs, the resources and fertility of the land, the salubrity of the air, the positions of the celestial bodies in the heavens, and, above all, the fixed stars, over an eighth of the sphere, never seen by our ancestors, as I shall explain below.5.

As regards the people: we have found such a multitude in those countries that no one could enumerate them, as we read in the Apocalypse. They are people gentle and tractable, and all of both sexes go naked, not covering any part of their bodies, just as they came from their mothers' wombs, and so they go until their deaths. They have large, square-built bodies, and well proportioned. Their colour reddish, which I think is caused by their going naked and exposed to the sun. Their hair is plentiful and black. They are agile in walking, and of quick sight. They are of a free and good-looking expression of countenance, which they themselves destroy by boring the nostrils and lips, the nose and ears; nor must you believe that the borings are small, nor that they only have one, for I have seen those who had no less than seven borings in the face, each one the size of a plum. They stop up these perforations with blue stones, bits of marble, of crystal, or very fine alabaster, also with very white bones and other things artificially prepared according to their customs; which, if you could see, it would appear a strange and monstrous thing. One had in the nostrils and lips alone seven stones, of which some were half a palm in length. It will astonish you to hear that I considered that the weight of seven such stones was as much as sixteen ounces. In each ear they had three perforations bored, whence they had other stones and rings suspended. This custom is only for the men, as the women do not perforate their faces, but only their ears. Another custom among them is sufficiently shameful, and beyond all human credibility. Their women, being very libidinous, make the penis of their husbands swell to such a size as to appear deformed; and this is accomplished by a certain artifice, being the bite of some poisonous animal, and by reason of this many lose their virile organ and remain eunuchs.6.

They have no cloth, either of wool, flax, or cotton, because they have no need of it; nor have they any private property, everything being in common. They live amongst themselves without a king or ruler, each man being his own master, and having as many wives as they please. The children cohabit with the mothers, the brothers with the sisters, the male cousins with the female, and each one with the first he meets. They have no temples and no laws, nor are they idolaters. What more can I say! They live according to nature, and are more inclined to be Epicurean than Stoic. * This statement implies that the inhabitants pursue pleasure rather than consider philosophical matters. They have no commerce among each other, and they wage war without art or order. The old men make the youths do what they please, and incite them to fights, in which they mutually kill with great cruelty. They slaughter those who are captured, and the victors eat the vanquished; for human flesh is an ordinary article of food among them.7.

You may be the more certain of this, because I have seen a man eat his children and wife; and I knew a man who was popularly credited to have eaten 300 human bodies. I was once in a certain city for twenty-seven days, where human flesh was hung up near the houses, in the same way as we expose butcher's meat. I say further that they were surprised that we did not eat our enemies, and use their flesh as food, for they say it is excellent. Their arms are bows and arrows, and when they go to war they cover no part of their bodies, being in this like beasts. We did all we could to persuade them to desist from their evil habits, and they promised us to leave off. The women, as I have said, go naked, and are very libidinous, yet their bodies are comely; but they are as wild as can be imagined.8.

They live for 150 years, and are rarely sick. If they are attacked by a disease they cure themselves with the roots of some herbs. These are the most noteworthy things I know about them.9.

The air in this country is temperate and good, as we were able to learn from their accounts that there are never any pestilences or epidemics caused by bad air. Unless they meet with violent deaths, their lives are long. I believe this is because a southerly wind is always blowing, a south wind to them being what a north wind is to us. They are expert fishermen, and the sea is full of all kinds of fish. They are not hunters; I think because here there are many kinds of wild animals, principally lions and bears, innumerable serpents, and other horrible creatures and deformed beasts; also because there are vast forests and trees of immense size. They have not the courage to face such dangers naked and without any defence.10.

The land is very fertile, abounding in many hills and valleys, and in large rivers, and is irrigated by very refreshing springs. It is covered with extensive and dense forests, which are almost impenetrable, and full of every kind of wild beast. Great trees grow without cultivation, of which many yield fruits pleasant to the taste and nourishing to the human body; and a great many have an opposite effect. The fruits are unlike those in our country; and there are innumerable different kinds of fruits and herbs, of which they make bread and excellent food. They also have many seeds unlike ours. No kind of metal has been found except gold, in which the country abounds, though we have brought none back in this our first navigation. The natives, however, assured us that there was an immense quantity of gold underground, and nothing was to be had from them for a price. Pearls abound, as I wrote to you.11.

If I was to attempt to write of all the species of animals, it would be a long and tedious task. I believe certainly that our Pliny did not touch upon a thousandth part of the animals and birds that exist in this region; nor could an artist such as Policletus, * Policletus was a sculptor; Vespucci may mean the painter, Apelles. Formisano suggests that Vespucci may have meant a sculptor named Polygnotus. succeed in painting them. All the trees are odoriferous, and some of them emit gums, oils, or other liquors. If they were our property, I do not doubt but that they would be useful to man. If the terrestrial paradise is in some part of this land, it cannot be very far from the coast we visited. It is, as I have told you, in a climate where the air is temperate at noon, being neither cold in winter nor hot in summer.12.

The sky and air are serene during a great part of the year. Thick vapours, with fine rain falling, last for three or four hours and then disappear like smoke. The sky is adorned with most beautiful signs and figures, in which I have noted as many as twenty stars as bright as we sometimes see Venus and Jupiter. I have considered the orbits and motions of these stars, and I have measured the circumference and diameters of the stars by a geometrical method, ascertaining which were the largest. I saw in the heaven three Canopi, two certainly bright, and the other obscure. The Antarctic Pole is not figured with a Great Bear and a Little Bear, like our Arctic Pole, nor is any bright star seen near it, and of those which go round in the shortest circuit there are three which have the figure of the orthogonous triangle, of which the smallest has a diameter of 9 half-degrees. To the east of these is seen a Canopus of great size, and white, which, when in mid-heaven, has this figure:13.

(figure 1)14.

After these come two others, of which the half-circumference, the diameter, has 12 half-degrees; and with them is seen another Canopus. To these succeed six other most beautiful and very bright stars, beyond all the others of the eighth sphere, which, in the superficies of the heaven, have half the circumference, the diameter 32°, and with them is one black Canopus of immense size, seen in the Milky Way, and they have this shape when they are on the meridian:15.

(figure 2) 16.

I have known many other very beautiful stars, which I have diligently noted down, and have described very well in a certain little book describing this my navigation, which at present is in the possession of that Most Serene King, and I hope he will restore it to me. In that hemisphere I have seen things not compatible with the opinions of philosophers. Twice I have seen a white rainbow towards the middle of the night, which was not only observed by me, but also by all the sailors. Likewise we often saw the new moon on the day on which it is in conjunction with the sun. Every night, in that part of the heavens of which we speak, there were innumerable vapours and burning meteors. I have told you, a little way back, that, in the hemisphere of which we are speaking, it is not a complete hemisphere in respect to ours, because it does not take that form so that it may be properly called so.17.

Therefore, as I have said, from Lisbon, whence we started, the distance from the equinoctial line is 39° , and we navigated beyond the equinoctial line to 50° , which together make 90° , which is one quarter of a great circle, according to the true measurement handed down to us by the ancients, so that it is manifest that we must have navigated over a fourth part of the earth. By this reasoning, we who inhabit Lisbon, at a distance of 39° from the equinoctial line in north latitude, are to those who live under 50° beyond the same line, in meridional length, angularly 5° on a transverse line. I will explain this more clearly: a perpendicular line, while we stand upright, if suspended from a point of the heavens exactly vertical, hangs over our heads; but it hangs over them sideways.18.

Thus, while we are on a right line, they are on a transverse line. An orthogonal triangle is thus formed, of which we have the right line, but the base and hypothenuse to them seems the vertical line, as in this figure it will appear. This will suffice as regards cosmography.19.

[Diagram of right triangle. ]20.

These are the most notable things that I have seen in this my last navigation, or, as I call it, the third voyage. For the other two voyages were made by order of the Most Serene King of Spain to the west, in which I noted many wonderful works of God, our Creator; and if I should have time, I intend to collect all these singular and wonderful things into a geographical or cosmographical book, that my record may live with future generations; and the immense work of the omnipotent God will be known, in parts still unknown, but known to us. I also pray that the most merciful God will prolong my life that, with His good grace, I may be able to make the best disposition of this my wish. I keep the other two journeys in my sanctuary, and the Most Serene King restoring to me the third journey, I intend to return to peace and my country. There, in consultation with learned persons, and comforted and aided by friends, I shall be able to complete my work.21.

I ask you pardon for not having sooner been able to send you this my last navigation, as I had promised in my former letters. I believe that you will understand the cause, which was that I could not get the books from the Most Serene King. I think of undertaking a fourth voyage in the same direction, and promise is already made of two ships with their armaments, in which I may seek new regions of the East on a course called Africus. In which journey I hope much to do God honour, to be of service to this kingdom, to secure repute for my old age, and I expect no other result with the permission of this Most Serene King. May God permit what is for the best, and you shall be informed of what happens.22.

This letter was translated from the Italian into the Latin language by Jocundus, * Although the identity of Jocundus is disputed among scholars, many agree that this most likely is the Veronese Dominican Fra Giovanni del Giocondo. interpreter, as everyone understands Latin who desires to learn about these voyages, and to search into the things of heaven, and to know all that is proper to be known; for, from the time the world began, so much has not been discovered touching the greatness of the earth and what is contained in it.23.


MAGNIFICIENT LORD. * The "Magnificent Lord" is presumed to be Pier Soderini, Gonfaloniere of the Republic of Florence in 1504; Amerigo Vespucci and he had studied together. I submit humble reverence to you and offer due recommendations. It may be that your Magnificence will be astonished at my temerity that I should dare so absurdly to write the present long letter to your Magnificence, knowing that your Magnificence is constantly occupied in the high councils and affairs touching the lofty Republic. And I may be considered not only presumptuous but also idle in writing things not convenient to your condition nor agreeable, and written in a barbarous style. But as I have confidence in your virtues and in the merit of my writing, which is touching things never before written upon either by ancient or modern writers, as will be seen, I may be used by your Magnificence. The principal thing that moved me to write to you was the request of the bearer, who is named Benvenuto Benvenuti, our Florentine, who is very much the servant of your Magnificence, as he tells me, and a great friend of mine. He, finding himself here in this city of Lisbon, requested me to give an account to your Magnificence of the things by me seen in different parts of the world, during the four voyages that I have made to discover new lands; two by order of the Catholic King Ferdinand, by the Great Gulf of the Ocean Sea towards the west, the other two by order of the powerful King Manoel of Portugal, * King Manuel I (1469-1521). towards the south. He assured me that you will be pleased, and that in this I might hope to serve you. It was this that disposed me to do it, being assured that your Magnificence would include me in the number of your servants, remembering how, in the time of our youth, I was your friend, and now your servant, going together to hear the principles of grammar under the good example and instruction * Markham's edition gives "life and doctrine" in place of "example and instruction." of the venerable religious friar of St. Mark, Friar Giorgio Antonio Vespucci, * Amerigo Vespucci's uncle, a Platonic philosopher and teacher to many influential members of Florence's upper class. whose counsels and doctrine, if it had pleased God that I had followed, I should have been another man from what I am, as Petrarch says. Quomodo cunque sit, * "Howsoever that may be" I am not ashamed, because I have always taken delight in worthy matters. * Markham translates "worthy matters" as "virtuous things". Yet if these my frivolities are not acceptable to your virtue, I will reflect on what Pliny said to Maecenas, "Formerly my witticisms used to entertain you." * Maecenas was a Roman aristocrat who lived during Julius Caesar's reign, and was patron to several eminent poets. It may be that, though your Magnificence is continually occupied with public affairs, you may find an hour of leisure, during which you can pass a little time in frivolous or amusing things, and so, as a change from so many occupations, you may read this my letter. For you may well turn for a brief space from constant care and assiduous thought concerning public affairs, and if I shall be prolix, I crave pardon, my Magnificent Lord. * Markham's text ends at "affairs."24.

Your Magnificence must know that the motive of my coming into this kingdom of Spain was to engage in mercantile pursuits, and that I was occupied in such business for nearly four years, during which I saw and knew various changes of fortune. As these affairs of commerce are uncertain, a man being at one time at the top of the well, and at another fallen and subject to losses, and as the continual labor that a man is exposed to who would succeed, became evident to me, as well as exposure to dangers and failures, I decided upon leaving the mercantile career, and upon entering on one that would be more stable and praiseworthy. I was disposed to see some part of the world and its wonders.25.

Time and opportunity offered themselves very conveniently. The King Don Fernando of Castille, * Presumably King Ferdinand II of Aragon, who married Isabel, Queen of Castille, in 1469, thus uniting Spain under the House of Aragon. having ordered four ships to be dispatched for the discovery of new lands towards the west, I was chosen by his Highness to go in this fleet to help in the discovery. I left the port of Cadiz on the 10th of May 1497, and we took our way for the Great Gulf of the Ocean Sea, on which voyage I was engaged for eighteen months, discovering a great extent of mainland, and an infinite number of islands, most of them inhabited, of which no mention had been made by ancient writers, I believe because they had no knowledge thereof. * In place of "no knowledge thereof" Markham's text reads "not any clear information". If I remember rightly, I have read somewhere that this Ocean Sea was without inhabitants. Our poet Dante was of this opinion, in the 26th chapter of the Inferno, where he treats of the death of Ulysses. * Inferno, Canto 26, lines 116-118: "Non vogliate negar l'esperienza/ Di retro al Sol, del mondo sanza gente." (Allen Mandelbaum translates this passage as follows: "'Brothers,' I said, 'o you, who having crossed/ a hundred thousand dangers, reach the west,/ to this brief waking-time that still is left/ unto your senses, you must not deny experience of that which lies beyond/ the sun, and of the world that is unpeopled.'") In this voyage I saw many wonderful things, as your Magnificence will understand. As I said before, we left the port of Cadiz in four ships, and began our navigation to the Fortunate Islands, * Ca. 120 AD, the classical geographer Manius of Tyre wrote that the westernmost boundary of the habitable world was the "Fortunate Islands." Ptolemy chose the Fortunate Islands as the prime meridian of his Geographia (150 AD), which was rediscovered in the 15th century. which are now called the Grand Canaria, * The Canary Islands. situated in the Ocean Sea, on the confines of the inhabited west, within the third climate. * According to the Greek mathematician and astronomer Hipparchus (190-120 BC), the third climate lies between the parallels of Syene and Alexandria. Over which place the Pole rises from the north, above the horizon 27° and a half, and it is distant from this city of Lisbon 280 leagues, between south and south-west. Here we staid for eight days, providing ourselves with wood, water, and other necessaries. From thence, having offered our prayers, we weighed anchor, * For "we weighed anchor," Markham's edition gives only "we weighed." and spread our sails to the wind, shaping our course to the west, with a point to south-west. Our progress was such that at the end of thirty-seven days we reached land which we judged to be the mainland, being distant from the island of Canaria, more to the west, nearly 1,000 leagues, outside that which is inhabited in the Torrid Zone. * The region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. For we found the North Pole was above its horizon 16° ; and according to the shewing of our instruments, 75° to the west of the isles of Canary. * Markham's text reads, "more to the westward than the island of Canaria, according to the observations with our instruments 70° ".26.

We anchored with our ships at a distance of a league and a half from the shore. We got out the boats, and, filled with armed men, we pulled them to the shore. Before we arrived we had seen many men walking along the beach, at which we were much pleased; and we found that they were naked, and they showed fear of us, I believe because we were dressed and of a different stature. They all fled to a hill, and, in spite of all the signs of peace and friendship that we made, they would not come to have intercourse with us. As night was coming on, and the ship was anchored in a dangerous place, off an open unsheltered coast, we arranged to get under weigh the next day, and to go in search of some port or bay where we could make our ships secure. We sailed along the coast to the north, always in sight of land, and the people went along the beach. After two days of navigation we found a very secure place for the ships, and we anchored at a distance of half a league from the land, where we saw very many people. We went on shore in the boats on the same day, and forty men in good order landed. The natives were still shy of us, and we could not give them sufficient confidence to induce them to come and speak with us. That day we worked so hard with this object by giving them our things, such as bells, looking-glasses, and other trifles, that some of them took courage and came to treat with us. Having established a friendly understanding, as the night was approaching we took leave of them, and returned on board. Next day, at dawn, we saw that there were an immense number of people on the beach, and that they had their women and children with them. We went on shore, and found that they all came laden with their food supplies, which are such as will be described in their place. Before we arrived on shore, many of them swam out to receive us at a cross-bow shot's distance; for they are great swimmers, and they showed as much confidence as if we had been having intercourse with them for a long time; and we were pleased at seeing their feelings of security.27.

What we knew of their life and customs was that they all go naked, as well the men as the women, without covering anything, no otherwise than as they come out of their mothers' wombs. They are of medium stature, and very well proportioned. The colour of their skins inclines to red, like the skin of a lion, and I believe that, if they were properly clothed, they would be white like ourselves. They have no hair whatever on their bodies, but they have very long black hair, especially the women, which beautifies them. They have not very beautiful faces, because they have broad faces, * In place of "broad faces" Markham's edition gives "long eyelids". which make them look like Tartars. They do not allow any hairs to grow on their eyebrows, nor eyelashes, nor in any other part except on the head, for they hold hairiness to be a filthy thing. * After "on the head," Markham's text adds "where it is rough and disheveled". They are very agile in their persons, both in walking and running, as well the men as the women; and think nothing of running a league or two, as we often witnessed; and in this they have a very great advantage over us Christians. They swim wonderfully well, and the women better than the men; for we have found and seen them many times two leagues at sea, without any thing to rest upon. * Markham's text reads "without any help whatever in swimming".28.

Their arms are bows and arrows, well made, except that they have no iron, nor any other kind of hard metal. Instead of iron they use teeth of animals or of fish, or a bit of wood well burnt at the point. They are sure shots, and where they aim they hit. In some places the women use these bows. They have other weapons like lances, hardened by fire, and clubs with the knobs very well carved. They wage war among themselves with people who do not speak their language, carrying it on with great cruelty, giving no quarter, if not inflicting greater punishment. When they go to war they take their women with them; not because they fight, but because they carry the provisions in rear of the men. A woman carries a burden on her back, which a man would not carry, for thirty or forty leagues, as we have seen many times. They have no leader, nor do they march in any order, no one being captain. The cause of their wars is not the desire of rule nor to extend the limits of their dominions, but owing to some ancient feud that has arisen among them in former times. When asked why they made war, they have no other answer than that it is to avenge the death of their ancestors and their fathers. They have neither king nor lord, nor do they obey anyone, but live in freedom. Having moved themselves to wage war, when the enemy have killed or captured any of them, the oldest relation arises and goes preaching through the streets and calling upon his countrymen to come with him to avenge the death of his relation, and thus he moves them by compassion. They do not bring men to justice, nor punish a criminal. Neither the mother nor the father chastise their children, and it is wonderful that we never saw a quarrel among them. They show themselves simple in their talk, and are very sharp and cunning in securing their ends. They speak little, and in a low voice. They use the same accents as ourselves, forming their words either on the palate, the teeth, or the lips, only they have other words for things. Great is the diversity of languages, for in a hundred leagues we found such change in the language that the inhabitants could not understand each other.29.

Their mode of life is very barbarous, for they have no regular time for their meals, but they eat at any time that they have the wish, as often at night as in the day—indeed, they eat at all hours. They take their food on the ground, without napkin or any other cloth, eating out of earthen pots which they make, or out of half calabashes. They sleep in certain very large nets made of cotton, and suspended in the air; and if this should seem a bad way of sleeping, I say that it is pleasant to sleep in that manner, and that we slept better in that way than in coverlets. They are a people of cleanly habits as regards their bodies, and are constantly washing themselves. When they empty the stomach they do everything so as not to be seen, and in this they are clean and decent; but in making water they are dirty and without shame, for while talking with us they do such things without turning round, and without any shame. They do not practice matrimony among them, each man taking as many women as he likes, and when he is tired of a woman he repudiates her without either injury to himself or shame to the woman, for in this matter the woman has the same liberty as the man. They are not very jealous, but lascivious beyond measure, the women much more so than the men. I do not further refer to their contrivances for satisfying their inordinate desires, so that I may not offend against modesty. They are very prolific in bearing children, and in their pregnancy they are not excused any work whatever. The parturition is so easy, and accompanied by so little pain, that they are up and about the next day. They go to some river to wash, and presently are quite well, appearing on the water like fish. If they are angry with their husbands they easily cause abortion with certain poisonous herbs or roots, and destroy the child. Many infants perish in this way. They are gifted with very handsome and well-proportioned bodies, and no part or member is to be seen that is not well formed. Although they go naked, yet they are fleshly women, and, of their sexual organ, that portion which he who has never seen it may imagine, is not visible, for they conceal with their thighs everything except that part for which nature did not provide, which is, speaking modestly, the pectignone. Yet there no one cares, for the same impression is made on them at seeing anything indecent as is made on us at seeing a nose or mouth. Among them it is considered strange if a woman has wrinkles on the bosom from frequent parturition, or on the belly. All parts are invariably preserved after the parturition as they were before. They showed an excessive desire for our company.30.

We did not find that these people had any laws; they cannot be called Moors nor Jews, but worse than pagans. * "Gentiles," in Markham's text. For we did not see that they offered any sacrifices, nor have they any place of worship. I judge their lives to be Epicurean. Their habitations are in common. Their dwellings are like huts, but strongly built of very large trees, and covered with palm leaves, secure from tempests and winds. In some places they are of such length and width that we found 600 souls in one single house. We found villages of only thirteen houses where there were 4,000 inhabitants. They build the villages every eight or ten years, and when asked why they did this, they replied that it was because the soil was corrupted and infected, and caused diseases in their bodies, so they chose a new site. Their wealth consists of the feathers of birds of many colours, or rosaries * "Paternosters" in Markham's text. made of the fins of fishes, or of white or green stones, which they wear on their necks, lips, and ears; and of many other things which have no value for us. They have no commerce, and neither buy nor sell. In conclusion, they live, and are content with what nature has given them.31.

The wealth that we enjoy in this our Europe and elsewhere, such as gold, jewels, pearls, and other riches, they hold as nothing, and although they have them in their own lands, they do not labour to obtain them, nor do they value them. * In the Markham edition, this sentence reads: "They have none of the riches which are looked upon as such in our Europe and in other parts, such as gold, pearls, or precious stones: and even if they have them in their country, they do not work to get them." They are liberal in their giving, for it is wonderful if they refuse anything, and also liberal in asking, as soon as they make friends. Their greatest sign of friendship is to give their wives or daughters, and a father and mother considered themselves highly honoured when they brought us a daughter, especially if she was a virgin, that we should sleep with her, and in doing this they use terms of warm friendship.32.

When they die they use several kinds of burial. Some bury their dead with water and food, thinking they will want it. They have no ceremonies of lights, nor of weeping. In some other places they practice a most barbarous and inhuman kind of interment. This is that when a sick or infirm person is almost in the throes of death, his relations carry him into a great wood, and fasten one of those nets in which they sleep to two trees. They put their dying relation into it, and dance round him the whole of one day. When night comes on they put water and food enough for four or six days at his head, and then leave him alone, returning to their village. If the sick man can help himself, and eats and lives so as to return to the village, they receive him with ceremony, but few are those who escape. Most of them die, and that is their sepulchre. They have many other customs, which are omitted to avoid prolixity. In their illnesses they use various kinds of medicines, so different from ours that we marveled how anyone escaped. I often saw a patient ill with fever, when the disease was at its height, bathed with quantities of cold water from head to foot. Then they made a great fire all round, making him turn backwards and forwards for two hours until he was tired, and he was then left to sleep. Many were cured. They also attend to the diet, keep the patient without food, and draw blood, not from the arm, but from the thighs and loins, and from the calves of the legs. They also provoke vomiting by putting one of their herbs into the mouth, and they use many other remedies which it would take long to recount. They abound much in phlegm and in blood, on account of their food, which consists of roots, fruit, and fish. They have no sowing of grain, nor of any kind of corn. But for their common use they eat the root of a tree, from which they make very good flour, and they call it, Iuca. * Markham's note: "Yuca is a word in the language of the West Indian islanders for the root of Jatophra Manihot." Others call it Cazabi * Markham's note: "The bread made from the [Yuca] root." and Ignami. * Markham's note: "Inhame (Portuguese), Ñame (Spanish), a word of African origin. Yam." They eat little flesh, unless it be human flesh, and your Magnificence must know that they are so inhuman as to transgress regarding this most bestial custom. For they eat all their enemies that they kill or take, as well females as males, with so much barbarity that it is a brutal thing to mention, how much more to see it, as has happened to me an infinite number of times. They were astonished at us when we told them that we did not eat our enemies. Your Magnificence may believe for certain that they have many other barbarous customs, for in these four voyages I have seen so many things different from our customs that I have written a common-place-book, * "Common-place-book" is translated as "book" in Markham's text. to be called THE FOUR VOYAGES, in which I have related the greater part of the things I saw, very clearly and to the best of my abilities. I have not yet published it, because my own affairs are in such a bad state that I have no taste for what I have written, yet I am much inclined to publish it. In this work will be seen all the events in detail, I therefore do not enlarge upon them here. For in the course of the said work we shall see many other special details; so this will suffice for what is general. In this beginning I did not see anything of much value in the land except some indications of gold. I believe that this was because we did not know the language, and so we could not benefit by the resources of the land. 33.

We resolved to depart and to proceed onwards, coasting along the land; in which voyage we made many tacks, and had intercourse with many tribes. At the end of certain days we came to a port where we were in the greatest danger, and it pleased the Lord to save us. It was in this way. We went on shore in a port where we found a village built over a lake, like Venice. * The name "Venezuela" derives from the Spanish for "little Venice". There were about forty-four large houses founded on very thick piles, and each had a drawbridge leading to the door. From one house there was a way to all the rest by drawbridges which led from house to house. The people of this little city showed signs that they were afraid of us, and suddenly they rose all at once. While looking at this wonder, we saw about twenty-two canoes coming over the sea, which are the sort of boats they use, hollowed out of a single tree. They came to our ships, as if to gaze with wonder at us and our clothes, but they kept at a distance. Things being so, we made signs to them to come to us, giving them assurances of friendship. Seeing that they did not come we went to them, but they did not wait for us. They went on shore, and made signs to us that we should wait, and that they would soon return. They went straight to a hill, and were not long before they came back, leading with them sixteen of their young girls. They got into the canoes and came to the ships, and in each ship they put four, and we were as much surprised at such a proceeding as your Magnificence will be. They were amongst our ships with the canoes, speaking with us. We looked upon this as a sign of friendship. Presently a number of people came swimming over the sea, and approached us without our feeling any suspicion whatever, having come from the houses. Then certain old women appeared at the doors of the houses, uttering great cries and tearing their hair in sign of grief. This made us suspect something, and each man seized his arms. Suddenly the young girls who were on board jumped into the sea, and those in the canoes came nearer, and began to shoot with their bows and arrows. Those who were swimming had each brought a lance, concealed under the water as much as possible. As soon as we understood the treachery we not only defended ourselves from them, but also attacked them vigorously and sank many of their canoes with our ships. Thus we routed and slaughtered them, and all took to swimming, abandoning their canoes. Having thus suffered enough damage, they swam to the land. Nearly fifteen or twenty of them were killed, and many were wounded. Of our men five were wounded, and all escaped, thanks to God. We captured two girls and two men. We went to their houses and entered them, but only found two old women and one sick man. We took many of their things, but they were of little value. We would not burn their houses, because we felt compunctions of conscience. We returned to our ships with five prisoners, and put irons on the feet of each, except the girls. On the following night the two girls and one of the men escaped with great cunning. Next day we decided upon continuing our course onwards.34.

We sailed constantly along the coast, and came to another tribe, distant about 80 leagues from the one we had left, and very different both as regards language and customs. We came to an anchor, and went on shore in the boats, when we saw that a great number of people were on the beach, upwards of 4,000 souls. They did not wait for our landing, but took to flight, abandoning their things. We jumped on shore, and went along a road which led to the woods. At the distance of a cross-bow shot we found their huts, where they had made very large fires, and two were there cooking their food, and roasting animals and fish of many sorts. Here we saw that they were roasting a certain animal like a serpent, except that it had no wings, and its appearance was so horrid that many of us wondered at its fierceness. We walked to their houses or sheds, and they had many of these serpents alive, fastened by their feet and with a cord round the snout, so that they could not open their mouths, as is done to pointers, * A type of hunting dog. Markham's note: Cani alani (Italian). to prevent them from biting. Their aspect was so fierce that none of us dared to go near one, thinking they were poisonous. They are the size of a young goat, and a fathom and a half long. They have long and thick feet, armed with large claws, the skin hard and of various colours. The mouth and face are like those of a serpent. They have a crest like a saw, which extends from the nose to the end of the tail. We concluded that they were serpents and poisonous, yet they eat them. * Markham's note: "This is a description of the iguana, which Vespucci would have seen on the coast of Venezuela." We found that the natives made bread of small fishes, which they take from the sea, first boiling them, then pounding them into a paste, and roasting them in the cinders, and so they are eaten. We tried them, and found them good. They have so many other kinds of food, and a greater number of fruits and roots, that it would take long to describe them in detail. Seeing that the people did not come back, we determined not to touch any of their things, to give them more confidence. We also left many of our own things in their huts, that they might see them, and at night we returned to the ships. Next day, at dawn, we saw an immense crowd of people on the beach, so we went on shore. When they again showed fear we reassured them, and induced them to treat with us, giving them everything they asked for. When they became friendly they told us that those were their habitations, and that they were come to fish. They asked us to come to their villages that they might receive us as friends. They showed such friendship because of the two men we had prisoners, who were their enemies. Seeing their importunity, and after a consultation, we decided that twenty-eight of our Christians, in good order, should go with them, with the firm intention to die if it should be necessary. When we had been there nearly three days we went with them into the interior. At a distance of three leagues from the beach we came to a village of few houses and many inhabitants, there not being more than nine habitations. Here we were received with so many barbarous ceremonies that the pen will not suffice to write them down. There were songs, dances, tears mingled with rejoicings, and plenty of food. We remained here for the night. Here they offered their wives to us, and we were unable to defend ourselves from them. We remained all night and half the next day. The multitude of people who came to see us was such that they could not be counted. The older men prayed that we would come with them to another village further in the interior, making signs that they would show us the greatest honour. So we agreed to go, and it cannot be expressed what great honour they showed us. We came to many villages, and were nine days on the journey, so that our Christians who remained on board became anxious about us. Being nearly eighteen leagues inland in a direct line, we determined to return to the ships. On the return journey the crowd was so great that came with us to the beach, both of women and men, that it was wonderful. If any of our people got tired on the way, they carried them in their nets very comfortably. In crossing the rivers, which are numerous and very large, they took us across by their contrivances so safely that there was no danger whatever. Many of them came laden with the things they had given to us, which were their sleeping-nets, most of them richly worked, numerous parrots of various colours, many bows and arrows; while others carried burdens consisting of their provisions and animals. What greater wonder can I tell you than that they thought themselves fortunate when, in passing a river, they could carry us on their backs?35.

Having reached the shore, we went on board the ships. They made such a crowd to enter our ships in order to see them, that we were astonished. We took as many as we could in the boats, and took them to the ships, and so many came swimming that we were inclined to stop such a crowd from being on board, more than a thousand souls, all naked and without arms. They wondered at our arrangements and contrivances, and at the size of the ships. There happened a laughable thing, which was that we had occasion to fire off some of our artillery, and when the report was heard, the greater part of the natives on board jumped overboard from fear, and began to swim, like the frogs on the banks, which, when they are frightened, jump into the swamp. Such was the conduct of these people. Those who remained on board were so frightened that we were sorry we had done it, but we reassured them by saying that we frightened our enemies with those arms. Having amused themselves all day on board, we told them that they must go, because we wished to depart that night; and so they went away with much show of love and friendship, returning to the shore. Among this tribe, and in their land, I knew and saw so much of their customs and mode of life that I do not care to enlarge upon them here; for your Magnificence must know that in each of my voyages I have noted down the most remarkable things, and all is reduced into a volume in the geographical style, entitled the FOUR VOYAGES, in which work all things are described in detail, but I have not yet sent out a copy, because it is necessary for me to revise it.36.

This land is very populous and full of people, with numerous rivers, and animals, few of which resemble ours, * In place of "with numerous...ours" Markham's translation reads, "... numerous rivers, but few animals. They are similar to ours..." except the lions, ounces, stags, pigs, goats, and deer; and these still have some differences of form. They have neither horses nor mules, asses nor dogs, nor any kind of sheep, nor cattle. But they have many other animals all wild, and none of them serve for any domestic use, so that they cannot be counted. What shall we say of the birds, which are so many, and of so many kinds and colours of plumage that it is wonderful to see them? The land is very pleasant and fruitful, full of very large woods and forests, and it is always green, for the trees never shed their leaves. The fruits are so numerous that they cannot be enumerated, and all different from ours. This land is within the Torrid Zone, under the parallel which the Tropic of Cancer describes, where the Pole is 23 degrees; above the horizon, on the verge of the second climate. Many people came to see us, and were astonished at our appearance and the whiteness of our skins. They asked whence we came, and we gave them to understand that we came from heaven, and that we were traveling to see the world, and they believed it. In this land we put up a font of baptism, and an infinite number of people were baptized, and they called us, in their language, Carabi, which is as much as to say, "men of great wisdom."37.

We departed from this port. The province is called Lariab, * There is some dispute over the accuracy of this name; Markham reads Parias for Lariab, but the Italian edition uses the latter term. and we navigated along the coast, always in sight of land, until we had run along it a distance of 870 leagues, always in the direction of the maestrale, * For the maestrale, Markham translates, "towards the North-West"; maestrale names the wind that blows toward the northwest. making many tacks and treating with many tribes. In many places we obtained gold by barter, * In place of "obtained gold by barter," Markham's edition reads "discovered gold". though not in any great quantity, but we did much in discovering the land, and in ascertaining that there was gold. We had now been thirteen months on the voyage, and the ships and gear were much worn, and the men tired. We resolved, after consultation, to beach the ships and heave them down, as they were making much water, and to caulk them afresh, before shaping a course for Spain. When we made this decision we were near the finest harbour in the world, which we entered with our ships. Here we found a great many people, who received us in a very friendly manner. On shore we made a bastion with our boats, and with casks and our guns, at which we all rejoiced. Here we lightened and cleared our ships, and hauled them up, making all the repairs that were necessary, the people of the country giving us all manner of help, and regularly supplying us with provisions. For in that port we had little relish for our own, which we made fun of, for our provisions for the voyage were running short, and were bad.38.

We remained here thirty-seven days, and often went to their village, where they received us with great honour. When we wanted to resume our voyage, they made a complaint how, at certain times, a very cruel and hostile tribe came by way of the sea to their land, murdered many of them, subdued them, and took some prisoners, carrying them off to their own houses and land. They added that they were scarcely able to defend themselves, making signs that their enemies were people of an island at a distance of about 100 leagues out at sea. They said this so earnestly that we believed them; and we promised to avenge their injuries, which gave them much pleasure. Many.of them offered to go with us, but we did not wish to take them. We agreed that seven should accompany us, on condition that they went in their own canoe. For we did not want to be obliged to take them back to their land; and they were content. So we took leave of those people, leaving many friends among them.39.

Our ships having been repaired, we navigated for seven days across the sea, with the wind * Markham's note: I.e., the course. Infra Greco e Levante. between north-east and east, and at the end of the seven days we came upon the islands, which were numerous, some inhabited and others deserted. We anchored off one of them, where we saw many people, who called it Iti. * Markham's note: "an old Italian word meaning 'gone.' Here [Vespucci] gives it as the name of an island. In the second voyage he uses it for 'gone'--'Dipoi che fumo iti circa di una legua.' It is probably a name invented by himself. Navarrete suggests it may be Ha-Iti, the native name for Española, which he adopted for his imaginary island." Having manned our boats with good men, and placed three rounds of the bombard in each, we pulled to the shore, where we found 400 men and many women, all naked. They were well made, and seemed good fighting men, for they were armed with bows and arrows, and lances. The greater part of them also had square shields, and they carried them so that they should not impede their using the bow. As we approached the shore in the boats, at the distance of a bow-shot, they all rushed into the water to shoot their arrows, and to defend themselves from us they returned to the land. They all had their bodies painted with different colours, and were adorned with feathers. The interpreters told us that when they showed themselves plumed and painted, it is a sign that they intend to fight. They so persevered in defending the landing that we were obliged to use our artillery. When they heard the report, and saw some of their own people fall dead, they all retreated inland. After holding a consultation, we resolved to land forty of our men, and await their attack. The men landed with their arms, and the natives came against us, and fought us for nearly an hour, gaining little advantage, except that our cross-bow men and gunners killed some of the natives, while they wounded some of our people. They would not wait for the thrust of our spears or swords, but we pushed on with such vigor at last that we came within sword-thrust, and as they could not withstand our arms, they fled to the hills and woods, leaving us victorious on the field, with many of their dead and wounded. We did not continue the pursuit that day, because we were very tired. In returning to the ships, the seven men who came with us showed such delight that they could not contain themselves.40.

Next day we saw a great number of the people on shore, still with signs of war, sounding horns and various other instruments used by them for defiance, and all plumed and painted, so that it was a very strange thing to behold them. All the ships, therefore, consulted together, and it was concluded that these people desired hostility with us. It was then decided that we should do al1 in our power to make friends with them, and if they rejected our friendship we should treat them as enemies, and that we should make slaves of as many as we could take. Being armed as well as our means admitted, we returned to the shore. They did not oppose our landing, I believe from fear of the guns. We jumped on land, 57 men in four squadrons, each one [consisting of] a captain and his company. * Markham translates this sentence as follows: "Forty of our men landed in four detachments, each with a captain, and attacked them." After a long battle, many of them being killed, the rest were put to flight. We followed in pursuit until we came to a village, having taken nearly 250 prisoners. We burnt the village and returned to the ships with these 250 prisoners, leaving many killed and wounded. On our side no more than one was killed, and twenty-two were wounded, who all recovered. God be thanked! We prepared to depart, and the seven men, five of whom were wounded, took a canoe belonging to the island, and with seven prisoners that we gave them, four women and three men, they returned to their land with much joy, astonished at our power. We made sail for Spain with 222 prisoners, our slaves, and arrived in the port of Cadiz on the 15th of October 1498, where we were well received, and where we sold our slaves. This is what befell me in this my first voyage, that was most worthy of note.41.



As regards the second voyage, what I saw in it most worthy of mention is as follows: We left the port of Cadiz, with three ships, on the 16th of May 1499, and shaped our course direct for the Cape Verde Islands, passing in sight of the Canary Islands; * "The island of Grand Canary" in Markham's translation. and we navigated until we reached an island which is called the island of Fuoco. * Ilha do Fogo ("Fire Island") is located in the Cape Verde Islands. Here we got in our supplies of wood and water, and thence shaped our course to the south-west. In forty-four days we came in sight of a new land, * Brazil. and we judged it to be the mainland, continuous with that of which mention has already been made. This land is within the Torrid Zone, * Located between the Tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. and beyond the equinoctial line on the south side, over which the South Pole * Markham's translation: "Pole." rises from the meridian 5° , beyond every climate. It is distant from the said islands * The Canary Islands. by the S.W. wind 500 leagues. We found the day and night to be equal, because we arrived on the 27th of June, when the sun is near the Tropic of Cancer. We found this land to be all drowned, and full of very great rivers. At first we did not see any people. We anchored our ships and got our boats out, going with them to the land, which, as I have said, we found to be full of very large rivers, and drowned by these great rivers. There we tried in many directions to see if we could enter; and owing to the great waters and rivers, in spite of so much labour, we could not find a place that was not inundated.43.

We saw, along the rivers, many signs of the country being inhabited; but having ascertained that we could not enter from this part, we determined to return to the ships, and to try another part. We weighed our anchors, and navigated between the east south-east, coasting along the land, which trended southwards, and many times we made forty leagues, but all was time lost. We found on this coast that the current of the sea had such force that it prevented us from navigating, for it ran from south to north. The inconvenience was so great for our navigation that, after a consultation, we decided upon altering the course to north, and we made good such a distance along the land, that we reached a most excellent port, formed by a large island, * Trinidad. which was at the entrance. Within, a very large haven was formed.44.

In sailing along the island to enter it we saw many people, and we steered our ships so as to bring them up where the people were seen, which was nearly four leagues more towards the sea. Sailing in this way we had seen a canoe, which was coming from seaward, with many people on board. We determined to overhaul her, and we went round with our ships in her direction, so that we might not lose her. Sailing towards the canoe with a fresh breeze, we saw that they had stopped with their oars tossed—I believe, with wonder at the sight of our ships. But when they saw that we were gaining upon them, they put down their oars, and began to row towards the land. As our company came in a fast-sailing caravel of forty-five tons, we got to windward of the canoe, and when it seemed time to bear down upon her, the sheets were eased off so as to come near her; and as the caravel seemed to be coming down upon her, and those on board did not wish to be caught, they pulled away to leeward, and, seeing their advantage, they gave way with their oars to escape. As we had our boats at the stern well manned, we thought we should catch the canoe. The boats chased for more than two hours, and at last the caravel made another tack, but could not fetch the canoe. As the people in the canoe saw they were closely pressed by the caravel and the boats, they all jumped into the sea, their number being about seventy men; the distance from the shore being nearly two leagues. Following them in the boats, during the whole day, we were unable to capture more than two, all the rest escaping on shore. Only four boys remained in the canoe, who were not of their tribe, but prisoners from some other land. They had been castrated, and were all without the virile member, and with the scars fresh, at which we wondered much. Having taken them on board, they told us by signs that they had been castrated to be eaten. We then knew that the people in the canoe belonged to a tribe called Cambali, very fierce men who eat human flesh. We came with the ship, towing the canoe astern, approaching the land, and anchored at a distance of half a league. We saw a great number of people on the beach, so we went on shore with the boats, taking with us the two men we had captured. When we came near all the people fled into the wood. So we released one of our prisoners, giving him many signs that we wanted to be their friends. He did what we wanted very well, and brought back all the people with him, numbering about 400 men and many women, and they came unarmed to the boats. A good understanding was established with them; we released the other prisoner, sent to the ships for their canoe, and restored it to them. This canoe was twenty-six paces * The modern version of the Roman pace is a measure of five feet. long, and two braccia * A Braccia is a measure of one yard. in width, all dug out of a single tree, and very well worked. When they had hauled it up and put it in a secure place, they all fled, and would not have anything more to do with us; which seemed a barbarous act, and we judged them to be faithless and ill-conditioned people. We saw a little gold, which they wear in their ears. 45.

We departed and entered the bay, where we found so many people that it was wonderful. We made friends with them, and many of us went with them to their villages in great security. In this place we collected 150 pearls, which they gave us for a small bell, and a little gold was given to us for nothing. In this land we found that they drank wine made from their fruits and seeds, like beer, both white and red. The best was made from plums, and it was very good. We ate a great many of them, as they were in season. It is a very good fruit, pleasant to the taste, and wholesome for the body. The land abounds in their articles of food, and the people are of good manners, and the most peaceful we have yet met with. We were seventeen days in this port, enjoying it very much, and every day new people from the interior came to see us, wondering at our faces and the whiteness of our skins, at our clothes and arms, and at the shape and size of our ships. From these people we had tidings that there was another tribe to the westward who were their enemies, and who had an immense quantity of pearls. Those which they possessed had been taken in their wars. They told us how they were fished, and in what manner the pearls were born, and we found their information to be correct, as your Magnificence will hear.46.

We left this port and sailed along the coast, always seeing people on the beach, and at the end of many days we came to in a port, by reason of the necessity for repairing one of our ships, which made much water. Here we found many people, but were unable, either by force or persuasion, to establish any intercourse with them. When we went on shore they opposed the landing fiercely, and when they could do no more they fled into the woods and did not wait for us. Seeing that they were such barbarians we departed thence, and, sailing onwards, we came in sight of an island which was fifteen leagues from the land. We decided upon going to see whether it was inhabited. We found on it the most bestial and the most brutal race that has ever been seen, and they were of this kind. They were very brutish in appearance and gesture, and they had their mouths full of the leaves of a green herb, which they continually chewed like beasts, so that they could hardly speak; and each had round his neck two dry gourds, one full of that herb which they had in their mouths, and the other of white flour that appeared to be powdered lime. From time to time they put in the powder with a spindle which they kept wet in the mouth. Then they put stuff into their mouths from both, powdering the herb already in use. They did this with much elaboration; and the thing seemed wonderful, for we could not understand the secret, or with what object they did it. * Markham notes that "Alonso Nino and Cristobal Guerra, in their voyage in 1500, observed the same practice among the natives, and said it was to keep their teeth white (Nav., iii, p. 15)."47.

These people, when they saw us, came to us with much familiarity, as if we had formed friendship with them. Walking with them on the beach and talking, being desirous of drinking fresh water, they made signs that they had none, and offered their herb and powder; from which we concluded that the island was ill-provided with water, and that they kept this herb in their mouths to keep off thirst. We walked over the island for a day and a half, without finding a spring of water, and we saw that the water they drank was what had fallen during the night on certain leaves which looked like ass's ears, and held the water, and of this they drank. It was excellent water; and these leaves are not found in many places. They had no kind of meat and no roots, as on the mainland. They were sustained by fish caught in the sea, of which they had great abundance, and they were very good fishermen. They gave us many turtles, and many large and excellent fish. Their women did not have the herb in their mouths like the men, but they all carried a gourd with water, from which they drank. They have no villages nor houses, but merely live under bowers of leaves, which shade them from the sun, though not from the rain. But I believe that it seldom rains on that island. When they are fishing out at sea they all have a very large leaf, and of such width that it forms a shade. As the sun rises, so they raise the leaf, and thus they protect themselves from the sun.48.

The island contains many animals of various sorts, and much water in swamps, and seeing that it offered no profit whatever, we departed and went to another island. We found that this other island was inhabited by very tall people. We landed to see whether there was any fresh water, and not thinking it was inhabited, as we had not seen anyone, we came upon very large footprints * "foot-marks" in Markham's text. in the sand, as we were walking along the beach. We judged that if the other measurements were in proportion to those of their feet, they must be very tall. Going in search, we came into a road which led inland. There were nine of us. Judging that there could not be many inhabitants, as the island was small, we walked over it to see what sort of people they were. When we had gone about a league we saw five huts, which appeared to be uninhabited, in a valley, and we went to them. But we only found five women, two old, and three children of such lofty stature that, for the wonder of the thing, we wanted to keep them. When they saw us they were so frightened that they had not the power to run away. The two old women began to invite us with words, and to set before us many things, and took us into a hut. They were taller than a large man who may well be tall, such as was Francesco degli Albizi, but better proportioned. Our intention was to take the young girls by force, and to bring them to Castille as a wonderful thing. While we were forming this design there entered by the door of the hut as many as thirty-six men, much bigger than the women, and so well made that it was a rare thing to behold them. They, in like manner, put us into such a state of perturbation that we rather wished we were on board, than having dealings with such people. They carried very large bows and arrows, and great clubs with knobs. They talked among themselves in a tone as if they wished to destroy us. Seeing ourselves in such danger, we made various suggestions one to another. Some proposed that we should attack them in the hut, and others said that it would be better to do so outside, while others advised that we should not take any action until we saw what the natives were going to do. We at last agreed to go out of the hut, and walk away in the direction of the ships as if nothing had happened, and this we did. Having taken our route to return to the ships, they also came along behind us at a distance of about a stone's throw, talking among themselves. I believe they had not less fear of us than we of them; for sometimes we stopped to rest, and they did so also without coming nearer. At last we came to the beach, where the boats where waiting for us. We got in, and, when we were some way from the shore, the natives rushed down and shot many arrows; but we then had little fear of them. We replied with two bombard-shots, more to frighten them than to do them harm. They all fled into the woods, and so we took leave of them, thankful to escape after a dangerous adventure. They all went naked like the others. We called this island the Island of the Giants, by reason of their stature. * The island of Curacao.49.

We proceeded onwards along the coast, and there happened to be combats with the natives many times, because they did not wish us to take anything from the land. At length we became desirous of returning to Castille, having been on the sea for nearly a year and the provisions being nearly exhausted, the little that remained being damaged by the heat. 50.

For from the time that we left the Cape Verde Islands until now, we had been continually navigating within the Torrid Zone, * Region located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. and twice we had crossed the equinoctial line; for, as I said before, we went 5° beyond it to the south, * Cape St. Roque. and now we were in 15° * Markham notes that this should state 13° . to the north. * Markham states that this is likely 12° instead of 15° . Being in this state of mind, it pleased the Holy Spirit to give us some rest from our great hardships; for as we were searching for a port in which to repair our ships, we came upon a people who received us with much friendship. We found that they had a very great quantity of Oriental pearls, and exceedingly good ones. We stayed with them forty-seven days, and obtained from them 119 marcs * A unit of weight equaling eight ounces. of pearls for very little merchandise in exchange. I believe the pearls did not cost us the value of forty ducats. What we gave them was nothing but bells, and looking-glasses, and beads, and ten bells, and tin foil. For one bell a native gave all the pearls he had. Here we learned * "learnt" in Markham's edition. how they fished for them, and where, and they gave us many shells in which they are born. We bartered for a shell in which were born 130 pearls, and in others less. This one of 130 the Queen * Isabel, Queen of Castille. See also Arciniegas pp. 297-298." took, and others I put aside that they might not be seen. Your Magnificence must know that if the pearls are not mature, and are not detached, they soon perish, and of this I have had experience. When they are mature, they are detached in the shell, and are placed among the flesh. These are good. When they were bad the greater part were cracked and badly bored. Nevertheless they are worth a good deal of money when sold in the market.51.

At the end of forty-seven days we took leave of these very friendly natives. We departed, and, for the sake of obtaining many things of which we were in need, we shaped a course for the island of Antiglia, * Hispaniola. The native Portuguese called this island "Española." being that which Christopher Columbus discovered a few years ago. Here we took many supplies on board, and remained two months and seventeen days. * Markham gives the date as September 5, 1499 to November 22, 1499. Here we endured many dangers and troubles from the same Christians who were in this island with Columbus. I believe this was caused by envy; but to avoid prolixity, I will refrain from recounting what happened. We departed from the said island on the 22nd of July, and after a voyage of a month and a half, we entered the port of Cadiz on the 8th of September, being my second voyage. God be praised.52.



Being afterwards in Seville, resting from so many labours that I had endured during these two voyages, and intending to return to the land of pearls, Fortune showed that she was not content with these my labours. I know not how there came into the thoughts of the Most Serene King Don Manuel of Portugal * Manuel I, 1469-1521. the wish to have my services. But being at Seville, without any thought of going to Portugal, a messenger came to me with a letter from the Royal Crown, in which I was asked to come to Lisbon, to confer with his Highness, who promised to show me favour. I was not inclined to go, and I despatched the messenger with a reply that I was not well, but that when I had recovered, if his Highness still wished for my services, I would come as soon as he might send for me. Seeing that he could not have me, he arranged to send Giuliano di Bartholomeo di Giocondo * According to Formisano, he was "a member of the trade circles." for me, he being in Lisbon, with instructions that, come what might, he should bring me. The said Giuliano came to Seville, and prayed so hard that I was forced to go. My departure was taken ill by many who knew me, for I left Castille where honour was done me, and where the King held me in good esteem. It was worse that I went without bidding farewell to my host. 54.

When I was presented to that King, he showed his satisfaction that I had come, and asked me to go in company with three of his ships that were ready to depart for the discovery of new lands. As the request of a king is a command, I had to consent to whatever he asked, and we sailed from this port of Lisbon with three ships on the 10th of March 1501, shaping our course direct for the island of Grand Canary. We passed without sighting it, and continued along the west coast of Africa. On this coast we made our fishery of a sort of fish called parchi. We remained three days, and then came to a port on the coast of Ethiopia called Besechiece, * Present-day Gorée. which is within the Torrid Zone, * Region located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. the North Pole rising above it 14 ½ ° 30', * Markham's translation states 14° situated in the first climate. Here we remained eleven days, * Markham states two days, instead. taking in firewood * In place of "firewood," Markham's edition reads "wood". and water; for my intention was to shape a course towards the south, in the Atlantic Gulf. We departed from this port of Ethiopia, and steered to the south-west, taking a quarter point to the south until, after sixty-seven days, we came in sight of land, which was 700 leagues from the said port to the south-west. In those sixty-seven days we had the worst time that man ever endured who navigated the seas, owing to the rains, perturbations, and storms that we encountered. The season was very contrary to us, by reason of the course of our navigation being continually in contact with the equinoctial line, where, in the month of June, it is winter. We found that the day and the night were equal, and that the shadow was always towards the south.55.

It pleased God to show us a new land on the 17th of August, and we anchored at a distance of half a league, and got our boats out. We then went to see the land, whether it was inhabited, and what it was like. We found that it was inhabited by people who were worse than animals. But your Magnificence must understand that we did not see them at first, though we were convinced that the country was inhabited, by many signs observed by us. We took possession for that Most Serene King; and found the land to be very pleasant and fertile, and of good appearance. It was 5° to the south of the equinoctial line. We went back to the ships, and as we were in great want of firewood * "wood" in Markham's edition. and water, we determined, next day, to return to the shore, with the object of obtaining what we wanted. Being on shore, we saw some people at the top of a hill, who were looking at us, but without showing any intention of coming down. They were naked, and of the same colour and form as the others we had seen. We tried to induce them to come and speak with us, but did not succeed, as they would not trust us. Seeing their obstinacy, and it being late, we returned on board, leaving many bells and mirrors on shore, and other things in their sight. As soon as we were at some distance on the sea, they came down from the hill, and showed themselves to be much astonished at the things. On that day we were only able to obtain water.56.

Next morning we saw from the ship that the people on shore had made a great smoke, and thinking it was a signal to us, we went on shore, where we found that many people had come, but they still kept at a distance from us. They made signs to us that we should come inland with them. Two of our Christians were, therefore, sent to ask their captain for leave to go with them a short distance inland, to see what kind of people they were, and if they had any riches, spices, or drugs. The captain was contented, so they got together many things for barter, and parted from us, with instructions that they should not be more than five days absent, as we would wait that time for them. So they set out on their road inland, and we returned to the ships to wait for them. Nearly every day people came to the beach, but they would not speak with us. On the seventh day we went on shore, and found that they had arranged with their women; for, as we jumped on shore, the men of the land sent many of their women to speak with us. Seeing that they were not reassured, we arranged to send to them one of our people, who was a very agile and valiant youth. To give them more confidence, the rest of us went back into the boats. He went among the women, and they all began to touch and feel him, wondering at him exceedingly. Things being so, we saw a woman come from the hill, carrying a great stick in her hand. When she came to where our Christian stood, she raised it, and gave him such a blow that he was felled to the ground. The other women immediately took him by the feet, and dragged him towards the hill. The men rushed down to the beach, and shot at us with their bows and arrows. Our people, in great fear, hauled the boats towards their anchors, which were on shore; but, owing to the quantities of arrows that came into the boats, no one thought of taking up their arms. At last, four rounds from the bombard were fired at them, and they no sooner heard the report than they all ran away towards the hill, where the women were still tearing the Christian to pieces. At a great fire they had made they roasted him before our eyes, showing us many pieces, and then eating them. The men made signs how they had killed the other two Christians and eaten them. What shocked us much was seeing with our eyes the cruelty with which they treated the dead, which was an intolerable insult to all of us.57.

Having arranged that more than forty of us should land and avenge such cruel murder, and so bestial and inhuman an act, the principal captain would not give his consent. We departed from them unwillingly, and with much shame, caused by the decision of our captain.58.

We left this place, and commenced our navigation by shaping a course between east and south. Thus we sailed along the land, making many landings, seeing natives, but having no intercourse with them. We sailed on until we found that the coast made a turn to the west when we had doubled a cape, to which we gave the name of the Cape of St. Augustine. We then began to shape a course to the south-west. The cape is distant from the place where the Christians were murdered 150 leagues towards the east, and this cape is 8° from the equinoctial line to the south. In navigating we saw one day a great multitude of people on the beach, gazing at the wonderful sight of our ships. As we sailed we turned the ship towards them, anchored in a good place, and went on shore with the boats. We found the people to be better conditioned than those we had met with before, and, responding to our overtures, they soon made friends, and treated with us. We were five days in this place, and found canna fistula * Plant from the Marantaceae family that grows well in warmer climates. very thick and green, and dry on the tops of the trees. We determined to take a pair of men from this place, that they might teach us their language, and three of them came voluntarily to go to Portugal.59.

Lest your Magnificence should be tired of so much writing, you must know that, on leaving this port, we sailed along on a westerly course, always in sight of land, continually making many landings, and speaking with an infinite number of people. We were so far south that we were outside the Tropic of Capricorn, where the South Pole rises above the horizon 32° . We had lost sight altogether of Ursa Minor and Ursa Major, which were far below and scarcely seen on the horizon. We guided ourselves by the stars of the South Pole, which are numerous and much larger and brighter than those of our Pole. I traced the figure of the greater part of those of the first magnitude, with a declaration of their orbits round the South Pole, and of their diameters and semi-diameters, as may be seen in my FOUR VOYAGES. We sailed along that coast for 750 leagues, 150 from the cape called St. Augustine, to the west, and 600 to the south.60.


It remains for me to relate the things I saw in the fourth voyage; but as I am already tired, and as the voyage did not end as was intended, owing to an accident which happened in the Atlantic, as your Magnificence will shortly understand, I propose to be brief. We departed from this port of Lisbon with six ships, having the intention of discovering an island in the East called Melaccha, of which it was reported that it was very rich, and that it was the mart of all the ships that navigate the Gangetic and Indian Seas, as Cadiz is the mart for all vessels passing from east to west or from west to east by way of Galicut. This Melaccha is more to the west than Galicut, and much more to the south, for we know that it is in 33° from the Antarctic Pole. We departed on the 10th of May 1503, and shaped a course direct for the Cape Verde Islands, where we careened and took in fresh provisions, remaining for thirteen days. Thence we continued on our voyage, shaping a south-easterly course, and as our commander was a presumptuous and very obstinate man, he wanted to go to Serra-liona, in the southern land of Æthiopia, without any necessity, unless it was to show that he was commander of the six ships, and he acted against the wishes of all the other captains. Thus navigating, when we came in sight of the said land the weather was so bad, with a contrary wind, that we were in sight for four days without being able to reach the place, owing to the storm. The consequence was that we were obliged to resume our proper course, and give up the said Serra, shaping a south-west course. When we had sailed for 300 leagues, being 3° to the south of the equinoctial line, a land was sighted at a distance of twenty-two leagues, at which we were astonished. We found that it was an island in the midst of the sea, very high and wonderful in its formation, for it was not more than two leagues long and one broad, and uninhabited. It was an evil island for all the fleet, because your Magnificence must know that, through the bad advice and management of our commander, his ship was lost. For, with three in company, he struck on a rock in the night of St. Lawrence, which is on the 10th of August, and went to the bottom, nothing being saved but the crew. She was a ship of 300 tons, and the chief importance of the fleet centred in her. As the other ships were worn and needed repairs, the commander ordered me to go to the island in my ship, and find a good anchorage where the fleet could anchor. As my boat, with nine of my sailors, was employed in helping the other ships, he did not wish that I should take it, but that I should go without it, telling me that I should go by myself. I left the fleet in accordance with my orders, without a boat and with less than half my sailors, and went to the island, which was at a distance of four leagues. I found an excellent port where the fleet could anchor in perfect security. Here I waited for my captain and the fleet for eight days, but they never came. We were very discontented, and the men were full of apprehensions which I could not remove. Being in this state of anxiety, at last, on the eighth day, we saw a ship coming from seaward, and, fearing that she might not see us, we came out to her, expecting that she was bringing my boat and people. When we came up to her, after salutes, they told us that the Capitana was gone to the bottom, the crew being saved, and that my boat and people remained with the fleet, which had gone to that sea ahead, which was a great trouble to us. What will your Magnificence think of my finding myself 1,000 leagues from Lisbon with few men? Nevertheless, we put a bold face on the matter, and still went ahead. We returned to the island, and filled up with firewood * "wood" in Markham's translation. and water by using our consort's boat. We found the island to be uninhabited, supplied with abundance of fresh water, quantities of trees, and full of marine and land birds without number. They were so tame that they allowed us to take them with our hands. We caught so many that we loaded a boat with these animals. We saw nothing but very large rats, lizards with two tails, and some serpents.61.

Having got in our provisions we departed, shaping a course between south and south-west, for we had an order from the King that any ship parted from the rest of the fleet, or from the Commander-in-Chief, should make for the land that was visited in the previous voyage. We discovered a port to which we gave the name of the Bay of All Saints, * Of particular note for a Florentine. Vespucci was a member of Florence's All Saints' parish. See also Arciniegas, pp. 337-338. and it pleased God to give us such fine weather that we reached it in seventeen days, being 300 leagues from the island. Here we neither found our commander nor any of the other ships of the fleet. We waited in this port for two months and four days, and, seeing that there was no arrival, I and my consort determined to explore the coast. We sailed onwards for 260 leagues until we reached a harbour where we agreed to build a fort. We did so, and left twenty-four Christian men in it who were on board my consort, being part of the crew of the Capitana that was lost. We were in that harbour five months, building the fort, and loading our ships with brazil-wood. For we were not able to advance further, because we had not full crews, and I wanted many necessaries. Having done all this, we agreed to return to Portugal, which bore between north-east and north. We left the twenty-four men in the fort, with provisions for six months, twelve bombards, and many other arms. We had made friends with all the natives round, of whom I have made no mention in this voyage, not because we did not see and have intercourse with an infinite number of tribes: for we went inland with thirty men, for a distance of 40 leagues, and saw so many things that I refrain from recounting them, reserving them for my FOUR VOYAGES. This land is 18° to the south of the equinoctial line, and beyond the meridian of Lisbon 37° further to the west according to what was shown by our instruments. All this being done, we took leave of the Christians and of that land, and began our navigation to the north-north-east, with the object of shaping a course for this city of Lisbon. After seventy-seven days of many hardships and dangers we entered this port on the 18th of June 1504. God be praised. Here we were very well received, more so than anyone would believe. For all the city had given us up, all the other ships of the fleet having been lost, owing to the pride and folly of our commander. May God reward him for his pride!62.

At present I may be found in Lisbon, not knowing what the King may wish to do with me, but I greatly desire rest. 63.

The bearer of this is Benvenuto di Domenico Benvenuti, * A Florentine associate. who will tell your Magnificence of my condition, and of some things which I have left out to avoid prolixity, for he has seen and heard, God knows, how much of them. I have condensed the letter as much as possible, and to this end have omitted many natural things, for which your Magnificence will pardon me. I beseech you to include me in the number of your servants, and I commend you to Ser Antonio Vespucci * Amerigo's eldest brother, who worked as a notary. my brother, and to all my house. I conclude praying God that He will prolong your life, and that He will favour the state of that exalted Republic and the honour of your Magnificence.64.

Given in Lisbon, September 4th, 1504.65.

Your servant,66.