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Mexico

[074] Plan of Mexico City: 1630 (very rare)

This plan is a substantially improved derivative of Bordone’s ‘Isolario’, first published in 1528, which in turn, was probably derived from sketches by Cortés. Some thought Mexico was the largest and most beautiful city in all the Americas. It was built on a lake from which the inhabitants collected salt for trading purposes, while drinking-water was brought in by canals. There were three main access routes into the town. The town itself had markets in several squares on most days and at that time the population comprised about 4,000 Spanish and over 30, 000 Indians. (Engraving only, no text.): £215

[074A] The Origin of Mexico City: 1601
The Mexican god, Vitzliputzli, said the Indians would find their promised land when they found the ‘Tunal Tree’ (Prickly Pear) which grows out of a stone near a river. In the tree’s branches they would see an eagle with a beautiful bird in its claws. Here would develop the city of Mexico. Every year the people would pay tribute to the king of the region by transporting a raft, on which grew maize and peas along the river. Storks and geese had nests on this raft and hatched their young in this fruitful floating garden: £75

[075]* Map: ‘Hispaniae Novae Sive Magnae’: 1595
Much of the cartographic data contained in this map derives from Ortelius’s map of the same title, first published 16 years earlier in the Additamentum to his ‘Theatrum’. It extends inland from the west coast of Mexico, to include the city of Mexico and Gaudalajara (here called ‘Guaxacatecus’). The longitudes are based on a meridian through Toledo, suggesting a Spanish origin, yet the mass of place-names exceeds those in any of Oviedo’s, las Casas’ or López de Gomara works, put together, even though the bison vignette probably derives from a woodcut which first appeared in the latter’s publication. The vignettes and notes on the Indians’ hunting and eating habits, along with the vignette of five men in a canoe, are from Vaca’s epic journey. (44cm x 33cm): £475

[076] How the Aztecs treat their dead: 1601-2
When an Aztec of distinction died, his corpse was laid out in a chamber so that his friends, followers and relations could go to pay their respects. Sometimes they would offer him presents to take with him on his journey after death into the next world. The corpse was then ceremoniously carried in procession, accompanied by musicians, to be incinerated. A priest, dressed in a devil’s outfit, would then burn the corpse, along with his living servants, of whom there were sometimes many. The ashes were then put in an urn and buried along with all the other presents: £45

[077] How the Aztecs hunt game: 1601-2
At dawn hunters would gather together in the town, accompanied with their bows, arrows and netting for hunting purposes. They would then march out of town, blowing their horns and carrying an idol to the top of a hill where they would place it on an altar with great ceremony. Round the base of this hill, they would place netting, then light fires. The fire would frighten deer, foxes and hares so, when they tried to escape they became trapped in the netting where they were then shot with arrows, or caught by hand: £65

[078] How the Aztec priests do penance: 1601-2
On certain days, the holy men of Mexico would gather around their god, Vitzliputzli. While playing shawms and sprinkling incense on their idol, their leader would pierce his foot with an awl and wash it in blood, while the others would flagellate themselves, or beat each other with stones as a penance for the sins of the common people: £45

[079] Human sacrifice on the Round Hill of Skulls: 1601-2
On sacrificial days, the Mexicans would take a prisoner up the steps of the ‘Round Hill of Skulls’, where the high-priest, with his feathered head-dress, would place a necklace over his head. Four men would then lift up the prisoner and break his back over the sacrificial stone. The high-priests would then cut open his chest, pluck out his heart and offer it up to the sun, before throwing it into the idol’s face. After the ceremony, the corpse was left to roll down the steps: £65

[080] The fate of certain prisoners: 1601-2
A certain person was selected and held in a prison at night-time. During the day, he dined with the nobility and was accompanied by guards. He could go wherever he wanted and he carried a whistle, so that when the commoners heard him coming, they would fall to their knees as he passed by to show their respect. After living in luxury like this for a whole year, he was tied to a stone by his ankle and, with sword and shield, forced to fight with a chosen priest. If he won the fight he was given complete freedom but if he lost he was skinned alive: £45

[081] How the Aztecs dance: 1601-2
In, and around the city of Mexico, the Indians enjoyed all forms of dancing. Some danced on ropes or on each other’s shoulders with such confidence that it seemed as if they were dancing on solid ground. They danced to the beat of drums or the rhythm of songs, and everyone kept in time by stamping their feet. Their most common dance was called the ‘mitote’ in which even the chief himself participated: £45

[082] Why the Mexicans fought their neighbours: 1601-2
The Indians of Coyoacán became envious of their neighbours, who were the Indians of Mexico City, because of their growing prosperity. At first they just sneered at the women when they came to their markets. Then, one day, they invited some of the Mexican dignitaries to their feast. At first they treated them well but, when it was time to leave, they forced them to wear women’s clothing and jeered at them in the streets as they went home. This provoked reprisals from the Mexicans and the town of Coyoacán was eventually overrun and defeated: £45

[083] Montezuma’s brother prefers death than disloyalty: 1601-2

During Montezuma’s reign, many Mexicans were captured after a fierce battle with the Chalco Indians. When the Calco found out that one of their prisoners was the brother of the great Montezuma, they asked him to become their leader. He said he would answer their request from a platform, on the top of a tall tree-trunk, erected in their central square. Thinking the prisoner was going to announce his answer in the affirmative, they erected the platform for him. After its completion, he climbed to the top and declared to the crowd that he would rather die than betray his own people. As proof of his intention he jumped to his death when his speech was over: £80

[084] Alvarado’s greed in Mexico City: 1595
Cortés and his men marched into, and occupied Mexico City in 1520. Some time later Cortés was needed elsewhere, so he left Alvarado in charge. While the Indians were having a festival, the Spanish turned up to watch the ceremonies. On seeing the valuable jewellery that the Indians were displaying for the occasion, the Spanish abandoned all thoughts of honour and went about taking whatever they could lay their hands on. During this process many old and defenceless Indians were killed: $150

[085] Alvarado dies at Guadalajara: 1595
The Chichimecs Indians had been terrorising the Spanish at Guadalajara for some time, so, while Alvarado was on his way north to search for the Seven Cities of Cíbola, he was ordered to quell what became known as the Mistón Rebellion. While attacking their strong point on the top of a hill, the Chichimecs rolled down boulders and tree trunks, which caused Alvarado to be thrown from his mount and pinned beneath his horse, as a result of which he subsequently died: £110

[086] Map of the ‘Audiencia de la Nueva Galicia’: 1623-4
This simple outline map covers the region roughly between latitudes 19° and 29° North - known at the time as Nueva Galicia, or New Spain. Some of the early Spanish settlements are marked but several of the names have now changed. Guadalajara, where Alavardo died (see [085] above), is shown just to the north of Lake Chapala: £155

[087] Spilbergen lands at Acapulco: 1634
The Dutch had already captured many Spaniards and, in October 1615 when their fleet reached Acapulco, they exchanged them for provisions. Near the town (H), there was a church (G) and a castle (F), well equipped with soldiers. Before anchoring in the harbour, the Dutch caught a wonderful fish (I). After going ashore, they began to negotiate with the Spanish (B) and both sides carried white flags. The Dutch agreed to release the prisoners in exchange for provisions, which were brought on donkeys (D), accompanied by Spanish on horsemen (K). They also brought oxen and sheep (E) for the Dutch: (Originally published in 1620 but this is a later edition, without any title or text): £65

[088] Spilbergen’s fleet lands near Manzanillo: 1620
A few miles north of Manzanillo is the natural harbour of Santiago, where Spilbergen’s fleet, marked (A), anchored. A small Spanish ship (B), which was keeping watch, warned the soldiers ashore of an imminent invasion. They came out of the woods (D) to repel the Dutch (E) when they landed. The Dutch fought back, at the same time taking care to guard their boats: (G). Many men on both sides were killed in the battle (F), so the Dutch eventually sailed a few miles further north to another harbour, called Barra de Navidad, where they caught a strange fish (K), after which they went ashore to get fresh water from a nearby river (I): £155

[089] The Nassan fleet reaches Acapulco: 1630 (rare)
On 20th October 1624, another Dutch fleet sighted the coast of New Spain, lying to the north-east. A few days later they were within half a league of an island which lay before the port of Acapulco. By evening they had anchored within sight of a fort on a promontory near the harbour, which had been built by the Spanish the previous year. When the Dutch tried to exchange their ransom with the Spanish, their negotiations failed. (Engraving only, no text): £95

[090] The Nassan fleet awaits the cargo ships at Acapulco: 1630 (rare)

The Dutch remained anchored off Acapulco in the hope of capturing Spanish cargo ships returning from Manila. However, they were unable to find out their expected times of arrival and waited in vain. Short of fresh water, the Dutch, under the command of Captain de Witte, went ashore a week later at a place called Puerto del Marquez, about a league and a half from Acapulco. While they were taking in water, they were ambushed by the Spanish and were forced to flee to their boats in such haste that one of them was left behind but at great risk to captain himself, the captain returned to save him. (Engraving only, no text): £110

Yucatan

[091] Francisco de Montejo in the Yucatan: 1595
In 1527 Montejo went to settle, what were thought to be ‘the islands’ of Yucatan and Cozumel. With 500 men and many horses be began trekking inland and found the region not to be an island at all but a peninsula. Several Mayan Indians went to meet the Spaniards but one of them suddenly pulled a sword from the scabbard of a Moorish slave and rushed to kill Montejo. Although he managed to defend himself, in the melee the Mayan escaped, this incident sparked off nine years of subsequent bitter fighting between the Spanish and the Mayan Indians. (Only subsequently was it realised the Yucatan was a peninsula): £110

[091A]* Map of the ‘Audiencia de Nueva Espana’ 1624 (rare)
This simple outline map based on Juan Lopez de Velasco’s manuscript map, covers the southern part of present-day Mexico and the Yucatan peninsular. Some of the early Spanish settlements and audiencias in that region are marked, including the city of ‘Mexico’. (18cm X 26 cm): £350

Costa Rica

[092] Gutierrez searches for gold in Costa Rica: 1595
The governor of Costa Rica, Diego Gutierrez, led an expedition into the interior in search of gold. He set off up the Suere River with soldiers from Guabito, and Benzoni and his nephew went with them. After the first six miles they set up camp but could only find turtles’ eggs to eat. The Indians of the area brought them various alloyed gold ornaments, which amounted to about 700 ducats in value. In return, they were given rosary beads, which the governor said would save their souls: £45

[093] The Indian caciques are invited to a meal: 1595

The Indians said the gold came from further on, towards the mountains, so the expedition continued in pursuit. At the next camp, thirty miles up-river, Gutierrez invited the Indian caciques of the region to a meal. They brought with them fruits and other gifts, but no gold. The caciques were not accustomed to eating chicken, so they passed it on to their servants who sat on the ground behind them. But the servants only laughed at the food and passed it on to their dogs: £45

[094] The Indian caciques are held for ransom: 1595
Gutierrez held the Indian caciques ransom. He said they would be released in exchange for enough gold to fill a basket six times over. Later some of the Indians bought gold ornaments of birds and animals - of value equivalent to about two thousand ducats but still the prisoners were not released. Then, when the Indians attacked the camp, the Spanish were forced to move on further up-river: £45

[095] The Spanish are attacked by the Indians in Costa Rica: 1595

In the mountainous district of Chirripo, the Spanish were attacked by Indians, who wore red and black war paint. Gutierrez was the first of many Spaniards to be killed, while the remainder were forced to retreat. The Indians pursued them but when Spanish reinforcements arrived under the leadership of Alonso de Pisa, they fled into the forest. Benzoni, who was involved in this battle, said afterwards, his helmet looked like a battered saucepan but claimed it had still saved his life: £45

El Salvador

[096] The fantastic landscape of El Salvador: 1630 (rare)
This somewhat fanciful depiction of fauna was believed to be a part of El Salvador, near a volcano which the Indians called the Burning Mountain. The Spanish were warned that if they crossed the lake at the foot of the Burning Mountain, which was full of alligators, they would never return. Because the Spanish thought this was intended to deter them from finding gold, they crossed the lake anyway, but found only a sacrificial altar and a large rock, carved in the form of a woman. (Engraving only, no text.): £175

Nicaragua

[097] A conflict of cultures in Nicaragua: 1595
While travelling in Nicaragua, Benzoni was offered hospitality by an Indian cacique. During their discussions, the cacique asked how Christians could reconcile their behaviour with their beliefs. They demanded maize, honey, clothes and women, and were especially covetous of gold and silver. Moreover, in pursuit of these things they often fought among themselves. In defence, Benzoni could only reply that some Christians were bad, to which the cacique replied he had met no other kind: £45

[098] Dancing in Nicaragua: 1595
Each province organised its own festivities and people would come to a place of open land therein, which had been swept clean for dancing. The dancers were accompanied by pipers, drummers and singers, while others would wave fans or rattles made from gourds, or shells tied to their legs and arms. During the dance they drank, contorted their limbs, screamed, feigned blindness or shyness and generally acted the fool. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much though, that the dancing sometimes went on for days and nights: £95

Panama

[098A]* Map of the ‘Audiencia del Panama’ 1624 (rare)
This map, based on Juan Lopez de Velasco’s manuscript 8, shows the once strategically important Isthmus of Panama, across which vast quantities of gold, stolen from the Inca Empire (see ‘Peru’) were carried by mules, to be loaded aboard Spanish galleons waiting shipment to Spain. Several early settlements and rivers are marked, particularly along the coasts, including the town of Panama on the Pacific coast and Nombre de Dios on the Caribbean coast. (16cm X 23 cm): £375

[099] Olaño rebuilds his boat in Panama: 1594
While searching for the mouth of the Veragua River in Panama in 1510, Lope de Olaño landed his crew of 30 men on the island of Santa Catalina after a horrendous storm. To ensure against desertion, he allowed his ships to be destroyed upon the rocks. Later, having regretted his decision, he ordered his men to collect together driftwood from this ship and build a new one (perhaps the first ever built by Europeans in the New World). They knew it would be a long task so they also built houses and planted crops. (The island of Santa Cataline was colonised over two hundred years later by English pilgrims, who arrived there in the Seaflower, which was the sister ship to the Mayflower): £165

[100] The Spanish are fed with liquid gold: 1594

Around the Isthmus of Panama, the Indians of Darien learnt about the Spanish thirst for gold. Consequently, those they caught were punished and, after tying their hands and feet together, they poured molten gold down their throat, shouting: ‘Eat, eat gold, Christians’. Then they cut off their arms and legs with flint knives and, while dancing round the fire, roasted them. Some would even eat the corpses, although others were frightened to do so, because they thought the Spanish were too evil and might do them harm. Later the bones were hung up as trophies: £135

[101] Balboa uses dogs against the Indians: 1594

While crossing the Isthmus of Panama in 1513, Balboa came across Indians in the province of Quarenca, dressed up as women, committing acts of sodomy. He was so horrified by their behaviour that he ordered forty of them to be thrown to his dogs. The Spanish often took dogs with them on their travels and some were even given to friendly Indians in return for favours. In the hands of the Indians, however, the number of dogs quickly multiplied and eventually became a serious threat to the Spanish: £110

[102] The first sighting of the Pacific Ocean: 1594

In 1511, Nuñez de Balboa formed a colony on the banks of the Atrato, in the Gulf of Uraba. Two years later he set off from there in search of a vast sea, which the Indians told them, lay to the south. On the way his soldiers began quarrelling over some pearls, which they had stolen from the province of Quarenca. In disgust, one of the Indian guides said he would show them where they would find enough gold to satisfy their greed. He then led them to the top of a high hill, near the Archipelago de las Perlas, from which they first sighted the Southern Sea. (This is probably the earliest illustration ever to show the sighting of the Pacific Ocean - see top left.): £220

[103] Indian hospitality in the Darien: 1595

While Benzoni, accompanied by some merchants, was transporting mules from Acla across Panama, they eventually ran short of food and had to kill one of the mules to survive. Later, one night they came across an Indian village where they asked for help but the inhabitants were terrified they were going to be taken away as slaves. Eventually, after being reassured, they gave their visitors so much fish, fruit and wild boar that it lasted them the remainder of the journey: £45

[104] Americae Pars Quinta: 1594

This introduces the Fifth Part of ‘Americae’, based on the text from Girolomo Benzoni’s ‘La Historia del Mondo Nuovo’, published in 1565. Below the title panel, Pizarro and Almago are shown preparing a treaty in Panama for the conquest of Peru. Other scenes surrounding the title illustrate the gold bearing Indians trekking across the Isthmus of Panama: £95

[105] Pizarro forms a pact with Almagro: 1596
On his way back from Spain with the royal consent to conquer Peru, Pizarro forms a pact with Almagro in Panama. In order to ensure the pact was binding, they both swore an oath on the Host, held up publicly by the priest, Hernando de Luque, for all to see. Pizarro then went on to Peru, with 150 soldiers and many horses. Almagro was to follow with reinforcements. This pact eventually led to bitter rivalry between the two conquistadors for control of the Inca Empire, and the conflict went on until long after they had both died: £45

[106] Plans in Panama for the conquest of Peru: 1596
Having sworn co-operation and agreement to share between them the riches they hoped to find in Peru, Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro and the priest Hernando de Luque, planned how they were going to conquer that province. This strange partnership between two conquistadors and a Catholic priest had devastating consequences on the course of history in South America. Between 1524 and 1528 an initial expedition reached the San Juan River and another reached the Gulf of Guayaquil in Ecuador. Here they found evidence enough of an advanced civilisation to return to Spain to ask for royal consent: £65

[107] Inca gold goes to Panama: 1596
Much of the gold stolen from the Incas was taken to the Town of Panama, where it was transported by mules across the Isthmus to Nombre de Dios, on the Caribbean coast, to be loaded aboard ships bound for Spain. Although Pedro de Gasca went to supervise this operation, he was closely pursued by Contreras. Fighting later broke out in Panama between the two factions and many were killed, although by this time Gasca had already crossed the Isthmus and was able to escape death: £65

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