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HERE lay Lima under a tropical sun, sparkling with treasure, a wilderness of rich carvings and paintings, whose piles of gold and silver shone through the thick perfume of exotic blossoms. Long caravans, loaded with the wealth of the provinces as well as the produce of sales in the remote interior, filed into Lima, where countless gold- and silver-smiths were awaiting their arrival. Weavers of silks, velvets, and brocades, embroiderers, leather and metal workers, sculptors, artists, makers of glass and porcelain bells — all the most skilled workmen flocked to the capital of New Andalusia, the continent's center, for there they found no lack of rich materials. Their fancy might fashion uncontrolled, with assurance of eager purchasers.
In Lima voyages of discovery to the Isles of Solomon were planned. From Lima pilgrimages were made in search of El Dorado, that luxurious ruler who bathed himself in sweet-smelling gums and then rolled in gold dust. There is no more romantic chapter in the history of Peru than these pilgrimages in search of El Dorado. Southey says they cost Spain more than all the treasure received from her South American possessions.
In Lima lived the viceroys who ruled all of South America from Guayaquil to Buenos Aires, "as by the divine right of kings." The viceroy was served only by titled Spaniards. He was drawn about by six horses, with sounding of trumpets, and a personal guard of two hundred Spaniards, "for the safety of his person and to support the dignity of his office." The royal seal, his insignia, rode under a royal flag upon a horse saddled with black velvet and a gold tissue foot-cloth, and was received with deep bows. The viceroy was allowed three thousand pesos to go to Callao, five miles away, and sixty thousand ducats a year for personal expenses.
Greeted with a jewel sent to meet him halfway, the viceroy reaches the bay of Callao. Throughout Lima, the City of the Kings, —founded "with God, for God, and in His name," — the streets are hung with rugs and tapestry and adorned with green boughs and triumphal arches. (On the arrival of the Duque de la Plata, in 1682, eighty million piasters were spent to pave the streets with bars of silver.)
"First comes a host of Indian warriors in feather pomp. The city militia with pikes and weapons glittering, the stocks of their guns embossed with gold, the noble guard on horseback,... university professors in brilliant gowns, the royal council and officials, the magistracy in crimson velvet lined with brocade of the same color... the chamber of accounts, the audience on horses with trappings, the scepter-carrier, heralds in armor with uncovered heads, the master of the horse with drawn sword, accompanied by four servants in livery, pages with the captain of the watch, and lastly, on a throne of red velvet whose silver staffs are carried by the members of the corporation, while the alcaldes hold the cords, all in velvet caps and gowns of incarnation color, rides the viceroy under the royal banner and a canopy of cloth of gold. Officers of the royal household, the royal guard in full armor with spear and shield, bring up the rear on horseback."
The procession moves between companies of halberdiers in a blaze of trumpets, bells, and drums, under showers of flowers thrown from carved balconies.
"When they reach the plaza the whole company faces the cathedral and is received by the archbishop and by the superiors of the religious orders; trumpets cease, knights dismount, and the multitude sings a Te Deum.
"The procession again mounts and accompanies the viceroy to the palace gates."
"Five days of bull-fights follow, and prizes are bestowed upon those who make the most ingenious compositions in praise of the viceroy. The rector of the university prepares a poetical contest, at which the viceroy presides, seated upon the rectoral chair, which for this occasion glitters with the magnificence of an Eastern throne. The nunneries entertain him with music and present him with curiosities."
The churches of Lima were hung with velvet and tapestry, with fringes of gold and silver and plates of gold hung in design, so that the walls were nowhere to be seen. Spanish and Flemish paintings surrounded altars of wrought silver. The sacred vessels were of gold, covered with pearls and precious stones. Santo Domingo, the oldest of the brotherhood, possessed a set of thirty candelabra of massive silver, man-high, placed in a double row along the nave of the church. The cloister contained a famous orange garden with wrought-iron waterways and life-sized paintings of Dominicus. In its center was a fountain, whose delicious drip belied its hidden presence under feathery vines. Indeed, why should the church not claim vast riches? One sixth of the population was in the monasteries, and those who were not of the number bought the dress of a religious order in which to be buried. The whole city took part in the sacred feast days, as many in the procession as looking on: legions of monks and thousands of nuns, priests, orders, religious societies, and brotherhoods with their standards, holy pictures, silver crosses, scepters, and biers.
But what was happening to the silent people among the mountain-tops who had stripped the Sun Temples of their offerings to enrich the adventurers from the Isles of Pearls?
Their irrigating canals had been destroyed, the roads and the whole system of government broken up, the people killed in chronic fighting or by hardship in distant campaigns. Ten thousand of the fifteen thousand in Almagro's Chilean army had died of cold in the mountains, or of heat and thirst in the desert. The people were starved, villages at a time, by the destruction of their crops. Moreover, the villages were given as fiefs to the Spaniards, who received all the tribute. Many were exhausted by dragging heavy artillery over the precipitous mountains. Garcilasso describes the immense beams that crushed the Indians staggering beneath their weight, who were relieved, only on account of necessity, at every two hundred paces. When Gonzalo Pizarro in coat of mail covered with cloth of gold made his triumphal entry as governor into the City of the Kings, the twenty-two pieces of cannon which saluted as the procession advanced through the streets, were carried on the shoulders of six thousand Indians. All these Indians were well trained in morality and sound doctrine by the clergy of Spain.
And worst of all, deep within the mountains of Peru, hollowed by the gold and silver which they had removed to enrich a country of whose existence they would never be aware in any other way, the Indians were dying, thousands at a time. Skeletons concealed in old mines are now found, covered with fibers of silver melted by subterranean fires just beneath the cold desert. Mines now abandoned can be traced by piles of human bones.
A pair of bright green arms, petitioning, stretched forth from the body which has disappeared, were discovered in the bottom of an ancient copper mine. The copper water had filtered through and covered them with a green sheen. Every finger is tense with supplication, every fiber as in the moment of death; not an eager tendon or nerve quivering to the surface failed of preservation. All are petrified in a bronze of nature's molding.
Stories are still told that the Spaniards drove ten thousand Indians at once to work in a Peruvian mine. When their strength was exhausted or they died from lack of food, the Spaniards drove up ten thousand more — an extravaganza of destruction matched only by the scale of nature's waste. It must be said, however, that cruelty to the Indians was due not to Spanish law, but to the abuse of it.
"In twenty-five years more than eight million Indians were worked to death in the mines of Peru."
"In a century, nine tenths of the people had been destroyed by overwork and cruelty." No wonder Spain was able to equip an Armada!
Against such a dark background flamed the lurid Inquisition.
The working out of the encomienda, or system of slavery, and the mita, or forced work in the mines, was more horrible than the tortures going on in Lima only because of the scale on which the destruction took place. In 1570 the Blessing of the Inquisition had been conferred upon Peru by Philip II. "At first heresy, then blasphemy, sorcery, polygamy, insulting servants, opposition to jurisdiction, were punished by whipping, banishment, prison, and death by fire. In all cases the goods were confiscated." The disgrace of an executed man did not end even with his death. "The sons and daughters and grandchildren of the male line lost their rights of citizenship. They might not carry gold, silver, pearls, costly stones, corals, silk, velvet, or fine cloth. They might not ride on horses, carry weapons, or use any of the things of which they were unworthy."
One star-spangled night, a man looking at the sky remarked that the multitude of stars was superfluous, thus assuming that God had erred in creation, which was heretical blasphemy. Juan de Arianza appeared in the auto of 1631 because, when reading the Scriptures, he exclaimed: "Ea! There is nothing but living and dying!" which sounded ill to those who heard it. One man bragged that he had a horse that could go sixty leagues in one day: for that he had two hundred strokes of the lash. Another had said he knew an herb which made wives invisible before their husbands: he received five years' imprisonment. A young priest said he had seen the little Saviour in his dreams: his punishment was two hundred lashes and five years' work in the galleys. Another, who wished to found a new sect, had called the Indians the children of Israel and had declared that priests should marry, that there should be no confessional, and that the Bishop of Lima ought to be Pope. He thought the Bible ought to be translated into the language of the people and that he was holy as Gabriel and patient as Job. This unfortunate was burned alive; the proceedings of the suit against him filled three thousand pages.
Throughout the seventeenth century Peru was filled with mystic impostors, like the far-famed Angela Carranza, most of whom were dealt with by autos de fe. The use of coca was considered a part of this sorcery and was punished severely.
The confession of a real or an accused crime was drawn out by torture and compelled by a repetition of the torture. From the final judgment there was no appeal. All was enacted under seal of deepest secrecy. The torture chamber was somewhat removed, so that the screams of the victims could not be heard in the street.
Three kinds of torture were used in Lima. There was the compound pulley. A man's hands were bound to his back, and he was raised by a pulley to the ceiling by his hands; heavy iron weights were attached to his feet. Sometimes, instead of this, the victim was strapped on a table, an iron collar about his neck, and stretched in both directions without risk of choking; but every bone in his body was dislocated. The second method was smothering. The man's hands and feet were tied above a bench, and on his upper arms, thighs, and calves, lacing machines were adjusted. Then a funnel was put in his mouth and water was slowly poured in. The third method was the worst of all. The feet were made fast, the soles were covered with fat, then live coals were brought gradually nearer and nearer — a process of roasting. When the pain was keenest, a board was shoved between coals and feet, and the sinner was asked if he would now confess his crime.
By a bull of Paul III torture could not last over an hour. After that the victim usually had convulsions or lost his mind. A doctor came, whenever such was the case, to authorize further torture.
Thumbscrews were still used in 1813.
Dr. Lea says punishments in Lima were inflicted with greater rigor than in Spain. If it were lashing, the penitents, without distinction as to sex, were marched in procession through the streets, naked from the waist up, with inscriptions denoting their offenses, while the executioner plied the lash. The mob stoned them as an act of especial piety.
The Inquisition had command of the press. The tribunal of Inquisitors, judging all, were judged by none and wielded absolute power. The Holy Tribunal did not wish to shed blood, so the accused were either strangled or burned. The death-warrant began with the words Christi nomine invocato, and officials of the law were asked to treat the condemned with pity and moderation.
The auto de fe, the Act of Faith, was intended as a demonstration of authority, a representation of the day of judgment, and it was the highest exhibition of piety.
Following is a description of an auto de fe in Lima, on the sixteenth of November, 1625, quoted from Middendorf.
A procession went at daybreak on horseback through the city, with trumpets, fifes, and drums, to announce the execution. A platform was built on the plaza, forty ells high, and a stadium was erected for eight thousand people. "Between eight and nine in the morning the sinners were called for. A cross covered with black crape belonging to the cathedral was carried before them by four priests, all singing miserere in a wailing tone. Each penitent walked between two soldiers and other honorable persons. Silver boxes at the rear contained the judgments.
"The viceroy came out of his palace accompanied by a guard of honor, musketeers, and two trumpeters. Doctors, lawyers, and university professors preceded the monks and the priests, standard bearers in coats of mail with clubs, the captain of the watch, and judges, the oldest of whom walked by the viceroy, cavalry, generals, and pages. The Inquisitors had hats on top of their caps, worn only at that time, decorated with the insignia of the Pope's legates. The militia had formed in line, and at the appearance of the black and gold banner of the Inquisition they lowered their flags in salute. An altar was raised, a chair for the viceroy and the high officials.
"The eldest one rose and addressed the viceroy. 'Your Excellency swears and promises upon his faith and word as a true Catholic Viceroy appointed by His Catholic Highness, to defend with all his might the Catholic faith, which the Holy Apostolic Church in Rome recognizes, to further its well being and growth, to follow up the heretics and dissenters and enemies, to give necessary help and aid to the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition and its servants, so that the heretics and disturbers of our Christian religion shall be taken and punished according to the law of the Holy Church, without your Excellency making any exception in favor of anybody no matter what his station in life be.'
"The viceroy replied: 'I swear it and promise by my faith and word.'
"'If your Excellency does so, as we expect from your piety and Christianity you will, the Lord God will bless all the works undertaken by your Excellency in His holy service and will give you health and long life as this kingdom and the service of His Majesty needs.'
"A mass was read for the . viceroy, and a priest extolled from the chancel the glory which comes to religion through the sacrifice of heretics. After the sermon, all pledged themselves to tell any act contrary to religion which they knew of, and not to give protection to any heretic who was under the ban of the church.
"The denunciation was read as soon as the culprit was named, led up out of his secret cell and put into a cage from which he had to hear his final judgment. He was dressed in the San Benito, in itself a lasting shame. It reached to the knees of the sinner and had his portrait painted upon it surrounded by flames, devils, and dragons. On his head he wore a bag-like, high and pointed cap, on which were devils' faces in flames. Gags were ready in case blasphemers should break out against the judges."
The burning is said to have taken place where the bull-ring now is.
In 1746 the city of Lima, — the gorgeous City of the Kings, — at the climax of its luxury, was utterly destroyed. Seventy-four churches, fourteen monasteries with their paintings, lamps of gold, vessels of silver, precious stones, tapestries, and mirrors, their beautiful fountains, arches, cloisters, and stairways in rare designs, were laid waste. The building material was as rich as the work upon it; as a contemporary traveler expressed it: "If it did not exceed in beauty, it at least equaled anything in the world." In four minutes there was complete desolation. Out of the whole city only twenty buildings remained standing. Bridges broke, palaces fell, the sick in the hospitals were buried alive; nuns in their cloisters, monks in their cells, were suffocated in clouds of sulphurous dust. Churches collapsed, crushing those who were praying within. Even the Holy Inquisition was obliged to suspend torture for the time being.
The earth was like an animal shaking the dust from its back. It swept forward in great waves; walls were reeds on its shores, bending to the tempest. Between the waves, clouds of poisonous dust rose from the chasms.
Clocks stopped. Bells in the towers clashed with limp bell ropes, till towers following in turn stifled the din under smoking debris. Everything was reversed; that which stood still was set in violent motion, and moving things were brought to rest. Shrieks for help and agonized prayers mingled, until they, too, ceased.
The sea retreated half a league from Callao, gathered strength from unknown, hidden places, and with a cosmic roar rushed over the entire city, engulfing it and carrying all the ships of the harbor across its walls and towers to be stranded in inland gardens. All of its five thousand inhabitants perished in the deluge, and there was nothing left to give the least idea of what Callao had been.
"To be preserved from its fury could only be attributed to a particular and extraordinary help of Providence." Yet thousands in Lima who had escaped destruction or death from fright died of fevers which came after. Those who remained were occupied with burying the dead in trenches. Famine as well as fever followed, for the grain magazines of Callao had been buried under water, ovens had fallen in, aqueducts bringing water for turning the mills had been destroyed.
Nor was this all. Loath to give up its fiendish hold, not yet glutted with destruction, the underground fury visited the helpless ruins it had created with five hundred and sixty-eight earthquakes during the next year!
Processions of priests barefoot, with crowns of thorns on their heads, cords about their necks, and heavy chains on their ankles, taught the people that the destruction was of God, the roaring of the subterranean powers a warning against luxury. The prior of one society went about covered with ashes; a heavy bridle cut his mouth, iron nails fastened his eyelids, his back was bare. "This is the punishment that God in heaven executes," said a lay brother, walking behind him, as he let fall an iron lash so heavily that the blood spurted.
The bones of Santo Toribio and Santa Rosa were carried about; the viceroy and great persons followed in mourning, with ropes about their necks. Distinguished ladies, barefoot, their hair shaved, walked in coarse clothes. The dense stillness was broken by a monk's voice: "Holy God, Holy God, be merciful to us."