The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

THE EXPEDITION OF PANFILO DE NARVAEZ
BY
GONZALO FERNANDEZ OVIEDO Y VALDEZ
EDITED BY HARBERT DAVENPORT
CHAPTER IV
In which is told the hardships and captivity endured by
Alvar Nuiez Cabeza de Vaca, Andres Dorantes, Alonso del Cas-
tillo, and a negro; and how the four joined and determined to
die or escape from that perverse generation of Indians and seek
for a Christian country, and what happened to them in pursuit
of such scheme.*
*Oviedo: "When a captain, or a man of reputation or importance in
these Indies goes to Spain, especially if he goes to solicit governorships
and new conquests, he knows well how to use his tongue to obtain people,
and spreads promises among those who do not know, all of whom are led
to believe he knows all that there is here, so that there remains not an
island, a palm, nor a corner of the mainland of these Indies; which he has
not seen, explored and acquired knowledge of (these orators talk as though
they knew all), and these unlearned people form the belief that the Indies
are like the kingdom of Portugal, or Navarro, or at least a small and
compact land, where all know the others, and where they can communicate
with that facility as from Cordova and Granada to Sevilla, or when
farther away as from Castilla to Vizcaya.
"Resulting from this, many letters come from ignorant mothers and
wives, who seek to write to their sons and husbands, and to other relatives,
addressed only 'To my beloved son, Pedro Rodriguez, in the Indies,' which
amounts to saying, 'To my son, Mahomet, in Africa,' or 'To Juan Martinez,
in Europe,' the same as if it were in the other world. Because all who
have some knowledge of the world and its geography say that they believe
there are two grand divisions of the world, that with Asia, and the other
this New World which some have named Orbe Novo, and I so call it, and
as I have said many times in these histories, it is a half of this same
world, with which Africa, Europe and Asia have nothing to do. And I
wish to say that many people come to these Indies as benighted as the
writers of the addresses of these letters, without knowing or understand-
ing where they go. Narvaez, and other captains who want them, find
people like this in numbers more than they need, because poverty in some;
avarice in others, and lunacy in most, prevents them from understanding
what they do, or knowing whom they follow. It is true that some of these
come with better foundation for their proposals; who travel because they
are sent by the Prince, or for other causes united to reason and good
motives. But it is possible that the Prince may be deceived also, like the
poor volunteer, and I have noted one thing which should never be for-
gotten; and that is, that Their Majesties seldom, or never, put their credit
or money into these new discoveries, only Letters Patent, and good words.
They say to these captains, 'If you do what you say, we shall do this or
that, and give you of our bounty.' They grant him the title of Adelantado

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101086/. Accessed October 23, 2014.