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Chap. 2.ALL things being made in a readinesse, at our Generall his appointment, upon the thirde day of Februarie 1568. wee departed from the coast of Africa , having the weather somewhat tempestuous, which made our passage the more hard; and sayling so for the space of 52. dayes, upon the 27. of March 1568. we came in sight of an yland called Dominica , upon the coast of America in the West Indies, situated in 14. degrees of latitude, and 322. of longitude: from thence our Generall coasted from place to place, ever making trafique with the Spaniards and Indians as hee might, which was somewhat hardly obtained, for that the King had straightly charged all his governours in those parts not to trade with any: yet notwithstanding, during the moneths of April and May, our Generall had reasonable trade and trafique, and courteous entertainement in sundry places, as at Margarita, Coracao, and else where, til we came to Cape de la vela, and Rio de Hacha, (a place from whence all the pearles doe come:) the governour there would not by any meanes permit us to have any trade or trafique, nor yet suffer us to take in fresh water: by meanes whereof our Generall for the avoyding of famine and thirst about the beginning of June, was enforced to land two hundreth of our men, and so by maine force and strength to obtaine that which by no faire meanes hee could procure: And so recovering the Towne with the losse of two of our men, there was a secret and peaceable trade admitted, and the Spaniards came in by night, and bought of our Negroes to the number of 200, and upwards, and of our other marchandize also. From thence we departed for Carthagena, where the Governour was so straight, that wee could not obteine any trafique there, and so for that our trade was neere finished, our Generall thought it best to depart from thence the rather for the avoyding of certaine dangerous stormes called the Huricanos, which accustomed to begin there about that time of the yere, & so the 24. of July 1568. we departed from thence directing our course North: and leaving the yland of Cuba upon our right hand, to the Eastward of us, and so sayling toward Florida upon the 12. of August an extreeme tempest arose, which dured for the space of 8 dayes, in which our ships were most dangerously tossed and beaten hither, & thither, so that we were in continuall feare to be drowned by reason of the shallownes of the coast, and in the end we were constrained to flee for succour to the port of S. John de Ullua, or Vera Cruz, situated in 19. degrees of latitude, and in 279. degrees of longitude, which is the port that serveth for the Citie of Mexico: in our seeking to recover this port our Generall met by the way three small ships that caried passengers, which hee tooke with him, and so the sixtenth of September 1568. wee entered the saide port of S. John de Ullua. The Spaniards there supposing us to have bene the King of Spaines Fleete, the chiefe officers of the Countrey thereabouts came presently aboord our Generall, where perceiving themselves to have made an unwise adventure, they were in great feare to have bene taken and stayed: howbeit our Generall did use them all very courteously. In the said port there were twelve ships which by report had in them in treasure to the value of two hundreth thousand pound all which being in our Generall his power and at his devotion, he did freely set at libertie, as also the passengers which he had before stayed, not taking from any of them all the value of one groat: onely hee stayed two men of credite and accompt, the one named Don Laurenzo de Alva, and the other Don Pedro de Rivera, and presently our Generall sent to the Viceroy to Mexico which was threescore leagues off, certifying him of our arrivall there by force of weather, desiring that forasmuch as our Queene his Soveraigne, was the king of Spaine his loving sister and friend, that therefore hee would, considering our necessities and wants, furnish us with victuals for our Navie, and quietly suffer us to repaire and amend our ships. Aud furthermore that at the arrival of the Spanish Fleet which was there dayly expected and looked for, to the ende that there might no quarell arise betweene them, and our Generall and his company for the breach of amitie, he humbly requested of his excellencie, that there might in this behalfe some special order be taken. This message was sent away the 16. of September 1568. it being the very day of our arrivall there. The next morning being the sevententh of the same moneth, wee descried 13. saile of great shippes: and after that our Generall understood, that it was the king of Spaines Fleete then looked for, he presently sent to advertise the Generall hereof, of our being in the said port, and giving him further to understand, that before he should enter there into that harbour, it was requisite that there should passe betweene the two Generals some orders and conditions to bee observed on either part, for the better contriving of peace betweene them and theirs, according to our Generals request made unto the Viceroy. And at this instant our Generall was in a great perplexitie of minde, considering with himselfe that if hee should keepe out that Fleete from entring into the port, a thing which hee was very well able to doe with the helpe of God, then should that Fleete be in danger of present shipwracke and losse of all their substance, which amounted unto the value of one million and eight hundreth thousand pounds. Againe he saw that if he suffered them to enter, hee was assured that they would practise by all maner of meanes to betray him and his, and on the other side the haven was so little, that the other Fleete entring, the shippes were to ride one hard aboord of another. Also hee saw that if their Fleete should perish by his keeping of them out, as of necessitie they must if he should have done so, then stood hee in great feare of the Queene our Soveraignes displeasure in so waightie a cause: therefore did he choose the least evill, which was to suffer them to enter under assurance, and so to stand upon his guard, and to defend himselfe and his from their treasons which we were well assured they would practise, and so the messenger being returned from Don Martin de Henriques, the newe Viceroy, who came in the same Fleete, and had sufficient authoritie to command in all cases both by Sea and by lande in this province of Mexico or new Spaine, did certifie our Generall, that for the better maintenance of amitie betweene the king of Spaine and our Soveraigne, all our requests should bee both favourably granted, and faithfully perfourmed: signifying further that he heard and understood of the honest and friendly dealing of our Generall, toward the king of Spaines subjects in all places where he had bene, as also in the said port: so that to bee briefe our requests were articled, and set downe in writing. Viz. 1 The first was that wee might have victuals for our money, and license to sell as much wares, as might suffice to furnish our wants. 2 The second, that we might be suffered peaceably to repaire our ships. 3 The thirde that the yland might bee in our possession during the time of our abode there, In which yland our Generall for the better safetie of him and his, had alreadie planted and placed certaine Ordinance which were eleven pieces of brasse, therefore he required that the same might so continue, and that no Spaniard should come to lande in the saide yland, having or wearing any kinde of weapon about him. 4 The fourth and the last, that for the better and more sure performance and maintenance of peace, and of all the conditions, there might twelve gentlemen of credite bee delivered of either part as hostages. These conditions were concluded and agreed upon in writing by the Viceroy and signed with his hand, and sealed with his seale, and 10. hostages upon either part were received. And further it was concluded that the two Generals should meet, and give faith ech to other for the performance of the premisses. Al which being done, the same was proclaimed by the sound of a trumpet, & commandement was given that none of either part should violate or breake the peace upon paine of death: thus at the ende of three dayes all was concluded, and the Fleete entred the port, the ships saluting one another as the maner of the Sea doth require the morrow after being friday we laboured on all sides in placing the English ships by themselves, & the Spanish ships by themselves, the Captaines and inferiour persons of either part, offering, and shewing great courtesie one to another, and promising great amitie upon all sides. Howbeit as the sequel shewed, the Spaniards meant nothing lesse upon their parts. For the Viceroy and governour thereabout had secretly at land assembled to the number of 1000. chosen men, and wel appointed, meaning the next thursday being the 24. of September at dinner time to assault us, and set upon us on all sides. But before I go any further, I thinke it not amisse briefly to describe the maner of the yland as it then was, and the force and strength, that it is now of. For the Spaniards since the time of our Generals being there, for the better fortifying of the same place, have upon the same yland built a faire Castle, and bulwarke very well fortified: this port was then at our being there, a little yland of stones, not past three foote above water in the highest place, and not past a bow-shotte over any way at the most, and it standeth from the maine land, two bowshootes or more: and there is not in all this coast any other place for ships safely to arive at: also the North windes in this coast are of great violence and force, and unlesse the shippes bee safely mored in, with their anckers fastened in this yland, there is no remedie, but present destruction and shipwracke. All this our generall wisely foreseeing, did provide that he would have the said yland in his custody, or els the Spaniards might at their pleasure, have but cut our cables, and so with the first Northwinde that blewe we had had our passport, for our ships had gone a shoore. But to returne to the matter. The time approching that their treason must be put in practise, the same Thursday morning, some appearance thereof began to shewe it selfe, as shifting of weapons from shippe to shippe, and planting, and bending their Ordinance against our men that warded upon the lande, with great repaire of people: which apparant shewes of breach of the Viceroys faith caused our Generall to sende one to the Viceroy, to enquire of him what was meant thereby, which presently sent and gave order, that the Ordinance aforesayde, and other things of suspicion should bee remooved, returning answere to our Generall in the faith of a Viceroy, that hee would bee our defence, and safetie from all villanous treacherie: this was upon Thursday in the morning. Our Generall not being therewith satisfied, seeing they had secretly conveyed a great number of men aboord a great hulke or ship of theirs of sixe hundreth tunne, which shippe rode hard by the Mynion, hee sent againe to the Viceroy Robert Barret the Master of the Jesus, a man that could speake the Spanish tongue very well, and required that those men might bee unshipt againe, which were in that great hulke. The Viceroy then perceiving that their treason was throughly espied, stayed our Master, and sounded the Trumpet, and gave order that his people should upon all sides charge upon our men, which warded on shoore, and else where, which strooke such a mase, and sudden feare among us, that many gave place, and sought to recover our shippes for the safetie of themselves. The Spaniards which secretly were hid in ambush at lande were quickly conveyed over to the yland in their long boates, and so comming to the yland, they slewe all our men that they could meete with, without mercy. The Minion which had somewhat before prepared her selfe to avoyd the danger, haled away and abode the first brunt of the 300 men that were in the great hulke: then they sought to fall aboord the Jesus, where was a cruell fight, and many of our men slaine: but yet our men defended themselves, and kept them out: so the Jesus also got loose, and joyning with the Minion, the fight waxed hote upon all sides: but they having woon and got our ordinance on shore, did greatly annoy us. In this fight there were two great shippes of the Spaniards sunke, and one burnt, so that with their shippes they were not able to harme us, but from the shore they beat us cruelly with our owne ordinance, in such sort that the Jesus was very sore spoyled: and suddenly the Spaniards having fired two great ships of their owne, they came directly against us, which bred among our men a marveilous feare. Howbeit the Minion which had made her sayles ready, shifted for her selfe, without consent of the Generall, Captaine or Master, so that very hardly our Generall could be received into the Minion: the most of our men that were in the Jesus shifted for themselves, and followed the Minion in the boat, and those which that small boat was not able to receive, were most cruelly slaine by the Spaniards. Of our ships none escaped saving the Minion and the Judith: and all such of our men as were not in them were inforced to abide the tyrannous cruelty of the Spaniards. For it is a certaine trueth, that whereas they had taken certaine of our men ashore, they tooke and hung them up by the armes upon high postes untill the blood burst out of their fingers ends: of which men so used, there is one Copstow, and certaine others yet alive, who by the mercifull providence of the almighty, were long since arrived here at home in England , carying still about with them (and shal to their graves) the marks and tokens of those inhumane and more then barbarous cruell dealings.
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