THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 166.
A Report from Antonio Sedeno to the King of Spain.
Source :-Boletin de la Academia Nacional de la Historia de Caracas,
June, 1927. Vol. IX, No. 38. Translatedfrom the Spanish.
Summary of a long report which extends to 54 typewritten
PORT RICO, SAN JUAN,
12th October, 1535-
Antonio Sedeno had sent a report from Cubagua of how
he had been repulsed in the Island of Trinidad where the
Indians had killed the Spaniards who had landed in peace
and how all his stores and equipment which he had left at
Paria had been taken by the men of Diego de Ordas and he
had therefore to abandon the conquest of Trinidad.
He had come to the Island of San Juan to be away from
the opposition maintained in Cubagua. When leaving and
at the Island of Margarita, he had learnt of the death of
Diego de Ordas which had made him take up once more
the formation of an expedition.
TheJuez de Residencia, Licenciado Prado, who had come
to Margarita, and others, begged him to take Alonso de
Herrera, who had been with Diego de Ordas, as second in
command so he was promised the command of the fort to
be built in Trinidad. The Licenciado then appointed
Agustin Delgado to command the fort in Paria provided he
took the necessary oaths.
Antonio Sedeno then left Margarita (Herrera remained
behind temporarily) and on the way was passed by a
Procurador proceeding to carry out at Paria, the instructions
of Licenciado Prado. Eight days before Sedeno arrived at
San Miguel in Paria, Agustin Delgado had taken the necessary
oaths as Commandant. Some 15 men and women returned
to Cubagua with the Procurador while 35 men were prepared
to join Sedeno in the conquest of Trinidad. It was arranged
to leave Bartolome Hernandez as Teniente with 12 men
to keep the fort in Paria while Agustin Delgado and the rest
went to Trinidad.
Sedeno urged the necessity of having the fort at Paria
in the hands of those favourable to him as a base of supplies.
If it were in adverse hands he would have to abandon the
idea of conquest. As His Majesty had decided against
granting Paria to Sedeno he had handed it to Delgado.
Sedeno then took his expedition of 92 men and 8 horses
to Trinidad and landed there on 8th June, 1533 and captured
the pueblo of the Indians who had killed his men before.
He settled there and made a fort and managed to secure the
help of some Indians in supplying provisions and helping
At this time Sedeno got news that Alonso de Herrera had
arrived at Paria and was pretending that he had authority
to command them and was so accepted. He had seized
the horses left there and had tried to intercept the vessel
with supplies from Cubagua in which he fortunately failed
because Sedeno and his men had for some time been reduced
to eating roots and herbs in Trinidad.
This news seriously upset the men in Trinidad so on
24th June, Sedeno with some men went to Paria and took
Herrera prisoner. Charges against him were made by
Delgado and sent to Cubagua for decision by the Licenciado
At this time a caravel from San Juan arrived at San
Miguel in Paria with food supplies and horses. The passage
had been very rough and all but one horse had died and
been cast into the sea. The caravel went on to Trinidad.
Later on Licenciado Prado sent orders to take Herrera to
Trinidad and there imprison him. This was done and he
was treated well in spite of all the difficulties he had made
The Indians then began to make trouble and collected
to attack the Spaniards; both peaceful and warlike tribes
of Indians save only those of the Cacique of the district of
Chacomar who had all along been friendly.
The Spaniards had not finished their defences and
unfortunately two men disobeying orders, had attacked some
peaceful Indians who killed them and afterwards looked
for others trying to kill them also. Sedeno sent out some
men on horses to reconnoitre who met a band of 50 Indians
out raiding. A fight. ensued and three Indians were killed
and one captured. He stated that the Indians had fallen
upon the two Spaniards while eating and that they had died
of their wounds. The Indians were now united to attack
and kill all the Spaniards.
Sedeno and his men were very anxious as they were few
in number and many were ill. They would have liked to
take the offence but decided that it was safer to await any
events within the fort and pueblo.
Thus we waited on watch for several days until at
.. o'clock in the early morning of I3th September, 1533, as
dawn was breaking upon the pueblo and before the guards
were relieved or the rounds made, a great number of Indians,
all clothed, swept down upon us with loud cries contrary to
their usual way of attacking. They at once surrounded the
pueblo on all sides and launched the assault with great
courage and strength as if they had been Turks and in half
an hour about 15-20 men had been wounded.
So many were the arrows that they covered all the ground.
As the horses were kept in the middle of the pueblo, the
Indians were not able to get at them through the defences
but by arrows they managed to wound five of the eight
horses before we could protect them. These horses were
the principal support we had and would be urgently required
later and we felt certain that without them we should all
be killed. We all agreed that if the horses were lost that day
or soon after, that we should have to leave the Island with
the loss of everything.
We therefore sent the horses out to resist and break this
furious attack by a counter attack. As soon as they saw the
first horseman, the Indians began to shout loudly one to
the other, Horses, horses, horses and began to turn
away. As the other horsemen followed, wounding and
killing the Indians, they broke and fled to the hills leaving
in their flight on the battlefield many bows, arrows, shields
We killed about 30 Indians and captured two or three
alive from whom we learnt that several tribes of the Indians
had united to make this attack. They had agreed that they
should take arms to kill the Spaniards and drive them out of
the Island. If this assault was not successful, they had agreed
to return again in eight days in still greater numbers with
people from other tribes so as to make the Island free of us.
This was certain to occur sooner or later and my men
would be depressed as this must become known to them
soon. The punishment which we inflicted by the horses
which remained was not very great.
We searched the battlefield and collected our men who
were wounded, about 20 or more, amongst them being
the Teniente of Paria who had been one of the horsemen.
His horse had been killed by two arrows tipped with some
poison so that it died raving mad".
Of the 90 men in the pueblo only 30 remained well
and unwounded. All the horses had been wounded. No one
would leave the fort and pueblo to cut canes or collect
provisions for fear of the Indians. Sedeno took the precaution
of securing all his boats so as to prevent any of his men
deserting through fear.
Sedeno then broke down some houses to clear space
around the pueblo and erected more palisades of prickly
palms and made bastions on which were placed their guns.
At this time Herrera attempted to mutiny and to urge
men to desert with him to Paria. Sedeno learnt of this
in time and arrested Herrera again and made him a close
prisoner with others concerned. Those who had arranged
to desert were punished by being put to work on the heavy
defences and were made to cut, square and bring in the
necessary timbers A double wall of wood filled in with
earth and pierced by loop holes was made all round the
pueblo being 18o paces each way, with guns on two bastions.
In this pueblo were 31 houses with kitchens, stables, smithy
and stores. When finished Sedeno considered that 20 men
could hold it against 50,000 Indians.
The men had now recovered their health and their morale,
being in good spirits. They had birds, pigs and eggs for
food with fields of corn nearby which they cultivated daily.
In June, 1533, when Sedeno came to Paria and Trinidad,
there had been great scarcity of food owing to a great drought
which had left the Indians in danger'of their lives for want
of food as they could only get roots and wild herbs to eat
for about 6 months. On arrival in Trinidad Sedeno had
only eight days supplies with him. They had to maintain
themselves upon the roots and fruits of the country until
the caravel from San Juan brought supplies. Fortunately
the Indians of Paria who were accustomed to supplying the
Spaniards at San Migucl, agreed to send provisions to Trinidad
and continued to do so for four months. Further the Cacique
of the Province of Chacomar, five leagues from where the
Spaniards had settled, was friendly and also sent food
He had given four hostages to Sedeno so the Spaniards went
there freely. As it was essential to maintain these necessary
supplies, care was taken to maintain amicable friendship
and pay for these supplies by barter.
Sedeno also tried to develop the fishing industry. He
captured some Indians and sent them to Cubagua to be sold
as slaves, with the proceeds of which, nets for fishing were
t o be bought. The Royal Officers at Cubagua prevented such
transactions and so no net could be obtained nor were
recruits allowed to go from Cubagua to Trinidad.
Finally a boat came from Cuhagua and instructions
from the Oidors at San Domingo were presented ordering
Sedeno to release Herrera and allow him to return to Paria
as they had appointed him Teniente of that Province. The
messengers were also instructed to let the men with Sedeno
know that no nets, provisions or other assistance was to be
expected from Cubagua nor from San Juan as everyone was
seeking to go to Peru for the great riches there discovered.
Sedeno was much depressed as he knew that the presence
of Herrera at Paria would prevent any supplies coming
from Paria and he and his men could not subsist on what
could be obtained from the Cacique in the south.
The messengers came ashore and Herrera was released
to go with them and by this opportunity 20 of Sedeno's
men also went.
Shortly afterwards the rest of the men mutinied and took
Sedeno prisoner sending the news of this to Herrera in Paria.
The latter encouraged them and sent pirogues by which
they could leave Trinidad and go to him. As they were
leaving Sedeno was released and found himself in Trinidad
with only 25 men and no boats or pirogues. He and his
men were offered a passage and in view of the circumstances
they were practically forced to leave Trinidad.
Most of the supplies were placed on board but it was
necessary to leave four horses with the Indians as also the
well built fort.
On arrival at Paria, Sedeno refused to go on shore and
wanted to go straight on to San Juan. He was arrested,
brought on shore and kept prisoner for six months, closely
guarded with his servants and people.
While he was a prisoner at Paria, the friendly Cacique
from the south of Trinidad came to enquire about Sedeno
but was not allowed to see him. The Cacique said that
he had got the four horses left in Trinidad from the warlike
Carib Indians; two had died but the others were being
kept well guarded in their pueblo in the south.
The people at Paria were made to go to war with the
Indians and make slaves.
Later Sedeno became very ill and his men demanded
that he should be liberated. At first Herrera opposed this
but finally agreed to do so. Being afraid of the consequences,
Herrera begged Sedeno for pardon and was granted it.
It was then learnt that the King had appointed Geronimo
de Ortal to be Governor of Paria so Sedeno left Herrera in
charge and as the pueblo and fort in Trinidad had been
destroyed by the Indians, Sedeno left all his supplies with
Herrera and went with his men in 3 pirogues to the Island
of Margarita and to Cubagua. Here he arranged to leave
in a caravel for San Juan but the Officials in Cubagua
prevented Sedeno leaving with any men save only his
two personal servants.
On his arrival at San Juan, the physicians did not expect
him to recover but in spite of all he was gradually
Sedeno begs His Majesty to punish the Officials in Cubagua
who throughout have always been opposed to him and from
whose acts have flowed many difficulties and dissensions.
It is these Officials who have caused the failure of the
settlements in Trinidad and in Paria. Sedeno welcomes
any proper and adequate enquiry into his proceedings and
those of Herrera and asks for punishment of whoever may
Sedeno protests against the acts of the Audiencia and
complains that they have cost him dear. He claims that
it is impossible to put into Trinidad the number of men,
horses, artillery, munitions and other supplies and to make
the buildings and bastions as he had done for 12,000 pesos
nor even for 2o,ooo pesos.
Furthermore even greater harm had been done since
with the change of government of Paria, the Indians of
Tierra Firme have united with those of Trinidad and it will
therefore be still more difficult to obtain and maintain a
footing in Trinidad. The Oidors have done more harm
in the one hour they presumed to direct these affairs than
all the progress made by Sedeno in 4-5 years spending all
his fortune and almost his life.
Sedeno has spent much in His Majesty's service and has
made three expeditions to Trinidad. The first from Spain
and two others from Cubagua. The expenditure for men
and supplies has been large and he has had to sell all his
estate and even to borrow from his friends, to whom he owes
great sums. Yet from Trinidad he has received no proceeds
nor even from Diego de Ordas who had seized his property
at Paria and the case against whom is not yet decided by the
Oidors though four years have elapsed.
His Majesty can realise the necessary expenses since
San Juan paid 6,ooo pesos for an expedition against the
Caribs in which 100 men were employed and which was
recouped by taking Indians and selling them as slaves.
Sedeno has learnt that Geronimo de Ortal has now
more men than he expected at Margarita and it appears to
him that it would be well if they worked in agreement together
but Ortal has rejected his advances.
Ortal had sent men ahead of him up the Orinoco River
and as the Indians of Paria were in revolt, he left men in
the fort and returned to Cubagua. Here he collected more
men, took all Sedeno's men, horses and supplies in Paria
as well as the two horses in Trinidad and used them freely
in his expedition.
Ortal's men were at Paria to make slaves of the Indians
but all had to leave and abandon the fort to the Indians
because of the scarcity of food.
Ortal went to Trinidad and was well received at the
village of the friendly Cacique and intended to go up the
river and join his men who had gone in advance. In Trinidad
he received news that his men had been defeated and were
returning. Ortal therefore went back to Cubagua where
his men, arriving from the Orinoco, reported the death of
Alonso de Herrera and all the horses and the loss of all supplies.
Thus Sedeno had lost everything in the service of His
Now alas, Sedeno has learnt that the friendly Cacique
of Trinidad is much changed by the had behaviour of Ortal
and his men and in consequence only the whole strength
of His Majesty would be able to gain any success in Trinidad.
Sedeno protests against opening Trinidad to all to go
and take the Indians as slaves and begs His M.\,je,[ if this
is done, to relieve him of his conquest and to utilize his
services elsewhere as his object has always been to settle
and benefit the Island. This has been made difficult by
the tact that all ships going there previously had gone filly
armed to attack and capture Indians under the guise of
peace so that the Indians have become fully prepared against
such deception and have become very skilled and warlike.
No one here will now go to Trinidad which has become
hateful to the Spaniards.
Sedeno therefore announces his intention to suspend
his efforts to settle Trinidad until His Majesty has received
reports how war has been made on Trinidad both by those
from the Islands as well as from Castille and asks to be
relieved of his commission especially as he cannot be granted
the control of Paria as well. Sedeno urges that all people
should be prevented from going to Trinidad and that only
one person should be authorised to settle there.
Sedeno and his friends have prepared to spend i7,000
pesos to make another expedition to Trinidad, make there
a strong fort and leave men there. With the rest, they would
then go and join with Ortal and explore Tierra Firma but
he has rejected them. These arrangements had however
advanced materially since some vessels and ioo horses had
been collected. These could not be taken direct to Trinidad
as they would have died on the passage. They were sent
therefore to Maracapana on the Main which is a suitable
place to land them and from there go overland to Paria and
thence to Trinidad.
Meanwhile the Spaniards had entered at Maracapana
and brought back great news of the riches of Meta and the
friends of Sedeno had become engrossed by this news and
believed it another Peru so much so that they have given
up all thought of Trinidad and simply laugh at the idea
of going there. Sedeno had thus failed in his fourth attempt
as his friends would contribute nothing to any expedition
to Trinidad but only to one for Meta.
In this difficulty Sedeno did not know what to do but as
he was forced in this way, he could only do what was possible
and as the expedition could not succeed and would only fail
if he were not there to lead it, Sedeno eventually agreed to
proceed to Maracapana and then to Meta.
On 22nd September, 1535, Sedeno sent 3 ships with
120 men and 54 horses to Maracapana. The Officials of
San Juan now began to interfere and the Audiencia ordered
Sedeno to his Government in Trinidad under penalty of
the loss of half of all his possessions.
Sedeno begs His Majesty to allow him to go with this
expedition which has cost so much to equip and which will
produce so much riches. Sedeno had not reported this
expedition to His Majesty before as he had not been certain
whether he could get it to Trinidad or be compelled to go