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Cartagena .

CARTAGENA is a Citie, and the principall place of the Bishopricke; it lyeth fourtie leagues from Santa Marta: it standeth in scant 11. degrees. The sayd Citie is situated upon a sandy banke or bay like unto an Iland: it hath about 450. dwellers therein. There are very faire buildings therein: as concerning their houses, they are made of stone, and there are three Monasteries, of which two of them are of Friers which are within the city, the one called Santo Domingo, and the other called Santo Augustin, and the other which is called Saint Francis, which standeth without the citie about 30. paces off. And for to goe unto the said Frierie, you must goe upon a Causey made of stone, and water on both sides. This citie hath great trade out of Spaine, and out of The new kingdome of Granada , and out of the Ilands there adjoyning, from Peru , and from all the coast of this firme land, and of the fishing of the pearles of Rio de la Hacha, and of Margarita: it is a very sound countrey.

This Citie hath a very good Harbour, and sufficient to receive great store of Ships: this said Harbour hath two entrances in, the one of them lyeth halfe a league from the Citie, where all the Ships doe enter into the sayd Harbour: the mouth or entring in of the sayde Harbour is 1400. yardes or paces in bredth, and very deepe water. The other entring in which is called La boca chica, or litle mouth, lieth a league beyond this place to the westwards. It is 900. yards in bredth, and in the entring in thereof there lieth a channel in the midst of it, which is 200. yards broad, and 20. or 15. fadome water, some places more, some lesse. And to enter into the Harbour you must go through this channel, and the land doth double in and out. And at the entring in of the sayde Harbour, after you have past this Channell, you must beare up to the shoareward neere unto the Iland of Cares, and looke how much is overplus more than the two hundred yardes of the Channell, all the rest are certaine ledges of Rockes, covered with two or three foote water upon the toppe of them, some places more, and some lesse. So the ships which must enter in at the mouth, must bring very good Pilots with them, which must be very skilfull: yet all this will not serve, but they must carry their Boate before, and sound with their Lead to know where the best place of the Channell lyeth for them to goe in, so it will be small hinderance to any shippe that shall enter, neither yet danger at all of sinking.

There are three places about the sayde Citie, where the Enemie may give an attempt by Land. The one of them is where the enemie did enter in and landed, which is a sandy Bay, and on the other side of the Bay is the Sea, and on the other side a great Lake which goeth towards the Harbour. The sandy bay or banke, on the one side is 500. yardes broad, all sandy ground without any trees. So that the enemie which giveth the assault in this place must bee constrayned to march all alongst this sandie Bay, the enemie lying open these 500. yardes, which reach untill you doe come to the trench: And on the backside other 500. yardes, till you doe come unto the Citie.

The sayde sandie bay or banke is 130. yardes broad, where the trench is builded. And in this place this Citie hath bene taken by the enemie twise. Wherefore heere wee have driven in a great many of woodden stakes, which goe downe into the sea 50. yardes deepe: and this wee have done, because this is a very dangerous and filthy coast. And below in the bottom of the Valley there we have builded a little Sconce, where we may plant 3. or 4. peeces of ordinance. And likewise wee have made a deepe ditch, which doeth answere to both parts of the sea; so on this side the Citie is very strong and sufficient. For this was the place whereof the Citizens were most afrayde.

The other entring is lower downe by the sayde sandy Bay, which is called Cienaga , or The fenne del Roreado. This is another place which is on the sayd sandy bay, which is 300. yardes broad from the one place downe to the sea. And on the other side there lyeth the Cienaga , which is a certaine plat of ground that is overflowen with water all the yeere long. So that the enemie which shall come this way to winne the Citie, must come marching over land a good way upon a sandie banke or Bay, where the Sea lyeth on the one side, and a grove or boske of wood on the other side, and through a plat of ground which is overflowen with water, but not all covered. So in this place wee have made a Fort or Sconce with certaine Flanckers belonging therunto. And I have caused a deepe ditch to be digged of 60. foote in bredth, so that the Sea doeth come to that plat or place which is overflowen. And in this order we have stopt this passage, so that the Citie standeth in maner like unto an Iland. There is 2600. yardes distance from this place to the other trench where the enemie Francis Drake did land last.

The entring in of this Harbour is by the bridge and Causey which doeth goe from the Citie to S. Francis; the sayd Causey is 300. yardes in length, and 12. yardes in bredth: and the water is on both the sides of the saide Causey : so this is the strongest place of all the rest of the three places. Also in this place there is order taken to make a draw bridge, and upon the top of the said bridge to build a platforme, and plant ordinance upon it: and on both sides of the bridge there are certaine trenches made, where our men may be close kept.

At the point of this land called ycacos, which is in the entring in of the harbour towards S. Anna, we have made a Fort of timber fouresquare of 300. foote every way, and trencht, where wee may plant 15. or 16. peeces of ordinance, and keepe 50. men in garison, and behinde the bourdes on the backside of the timbers, a Barricado of earth or mudde wall being foure foote in thicknesse, and behinde the mud-wall, sand: so this Fort will bee of great importance for safegard of this Harbour, because all the Shippes which doe enter into this Harbour doe come close to this place where it is strongest, so that sometimes one may cast a stone into the ships when they are comming in: and when any ship of warre or Pirate will give any attempt to enter into this Harbour, there is order given that the two galleys shall go forth, and put themselves behinde the Fort with their prows to the sea, and so shooting at their enemies in the forepart of the ship, and then the Fort answering likewise with their ordinance at the side of the shippe, and at their tackling, so the enemie being in the Harbour all unrigged, they must of necessitie be constrained to lye hovering within the Harbour, or els they must drive upon the rockes called the Ismo, or els upon those rocks which are covered with the sea at the Iland of Cares.

And put case that in this place we can doe no good by this meanes, and that the enemie will venture to come in with their long boates & Pinnesses through this narrow mouth; then we are to have in a readinesse 4. Frigats to ayde and helpe the gallies, & to row with oares, and so to go to the narrow mouth, and there to stay in the channell. And forasmuch as the entring in is so dangerous, according as I have certified your Majestie, there can no ship come into this harbour, but we must needes sinke them; so that these defences shall not onely bee annoyance to the enemie, but also animate and encourage the inhabitants of this citie : for they have beene and are in such feare of the enemie, and pirates, that if wee had not made these fortifications, strengthened the citie in this order, and put some souldiers in garison, the citizens would have fledde, and forsaken this citie: for all the perswasions made to them by the governour coulde not perswade them to the contrary, but they would bee gone, if it had not beene for this fortification, and yet for all this wee have much to doe to make them to stay here: so nowe by reason of these souldiers which shall come hither, the people of the citie have taken heart of grasse : so I have tolde them that your majestie will command that this citie and the harbour shall be better fortified and made stronger, and all this which I have caused to be builded, is with that money which I have borowed of the citizens.

As touching the safegard and defence of this harbour, if your majestie so please, here may we builde a very faire and strong castle with foure bulwarks, on the poynt of the Ycacos which doth lie on the side where the citie is builded, because all the shippes which doe come to this harbour, must come close abord this shore, so neere, that wee may cast a stone into them, and so overtake any ship. So likewise if the shippes will goe on the other shore, then they doe goe in greater danger, because of those shoalds and ledges of rockes, and so are often cast away. And forasmuch as those ships which here doe arrive are brought hither by Easterly winds, and sometimes with those winds which come out from the sea, and therefore perforce must give a good birth off, otherwise they cannot enter into this harbour, therefore of necessity they must come so close to the shore: And on the other side where the Island of Cares standeth, there may wee builde another tower foure-square, and plant some foure or five pieces of ordinance, and this will serve for the night, if occasion be offered that any small shippe or barke should come in here, or any pinnesse in the night, to doe any harme, or to attempt to burne any Fleete which shoulde ride here at an anker within this harbour: so the fort beeing on the one side, and the tower on the other side, keeping good watch, there can no shippe nor barke come into this harbour, but they will bee espied.

In the narrow mouth at the entring in the other way towardes the Island of Cares, where the channell doth runne neere the shore, as I have already certified your majestie, there may another castle be made, and there foure or five pieces of ordinance planted, and some sixe or eight men to keepe watch and ward: this being done, your majestie shall have this citie very well fortified, by reason it is of such importance for the service of your majestie, and the trade of all Spaine and Peru , and all the Indies: for this is the principall fort of all this countrey.

Over against this point of the Ycacos, in the Isle of Cares, hard by the water side, there are great store of stones, free stones, and other stones to make lyme, and wood to burne the stones withall for the lyme, and great part of the stones doe lie about the water: so the wood will cost but the cutting of it downe, and the working of it, and with little paines taking it will bee brought to good perfection, for wee have already made triall thereof, for there was never building that went to decay after it hath bene made, nor perished by the sea: so the charge hereof will be but litle or nothing.

And for to put this in practise to build a fort, it is needefull that your majestie should send hither and to many other places, where any fort shall bee made, some store of Negros, and to this place would be sent 150 Negros brought from Guyney: and if the Negros of Havana are not to bee imployed there, nor those which are in Sant Juan de Ullua, it may please your majestie to cause them to bee sent for to this place, for most of them be artificers, some masons, bricklayers, smithes and sawyers, and to send some masons from Spaine to teach our men these occupations. And after these fortifications are ended and all furnished, then the Negros may be solde to great profit, for a Negro that is of any occupation is sold here for 600. and 700. pezos.

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1400 AD (3)
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