THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 265.
Antonio de Berrio to to Ih King of Spain.
Source :-British Mhuseum. Additional Mss. 36315.
Published by the courtesy of the Trustees of the Brilish AMseum.
Translated from the Span ich.
26/h Oc( ob,"r, ir5)r.
SIRE --From the banks of the River Casanare, I wrote to
Your Majesty relating how I had entered for the third time
upon the discovery and conquest o El Dorado or more
properly speaking, (uavana.
I took twenty pirogues, nmany riats and a' great quantity
of munitions, supplies and war stores with a hundred and
twelve Spaniards and two hundred and twenty good horses.
With this equipment I set forth from the iCasanare on the
iqth March, I. ,)o taking only a lew negrocs and attendants.
I, myself' with 70 soldiers embarked on thc liver while
Captain Alvaro Jorge with 42 soldiers went on land and led
the horses. So we travelled, some by water and the rest by
land as far as the great River Baraguan which extends for
There I waited till the horses arrived which were conveyed
from the other side of the river. We then travelled onwards
in proper order by water and land until we arrived where the
River Baraguan loses its name and is called the River Orinoco.
In order not to weary Your Majesty I refer you for details to
the report which accompanies this.
I settled down into' winter quarters near that spot where
as I related many men died or deserted. From these quarters
1 intended to cross the cordillera in order to reach the great
provinces of which I had inlbrmatiol in my twio previous
attempts. For four months I searched for a pass through
which it would b possible to convey ourselves, the horses,
munitions and supplies but without success. The men were
so few in number .md so ill that it could not be done.
Necessiiv ill trained nel to seek another wa\ and I
returned to t lu River Orinoco and constructed tour pirogues ;
those which I had before had sunk and iben lost while passing
down the river. When these pirogues were made, all the
horses were killed for food as th;s was completely lacking.
ThereNith I embarked and traxvilled down the iivet for
200 leagues, all uninhabited until I came to a province( (,f
Caribs, tli villages of which continued for more than
120 leagues as !ar as the sa.
lEvery ver tihce( Caribs make- two lcts of: 3u pirogues and
go up ile river t capture people or t, I hi feaIss and in this
way tihel\ hav, iepopulated t( ilh countr\i 1o` mor e than
350 league uIlp re rivei which is a great pitu.
When I a, rivid in d thi populated di itict thilev received
me apparently ,with pleasure, bartering with me for provisions
and providing u with guides to lead me to oia, anat. the
borders of whlic by the 'greai RiLer (a oni, wtere more than
i io leagueu! froim the beginning of ti h villages.
'Thi Rive, ( aoni has a waterfall \which is so gretit that
people cainol pass alo ( t t I) I lent ( 'tdown i ri\ler for
another I league- to a pri oince c called 1Mrequilo which is
also on the borIdes of Guayana. I remained in this place
for two month, where I hlarn that it was I days journey
from therc to the great cities and Ith richest countries. I
could inot go to see them because otut of the )o soldiers which
I had, there were net i in good health. It was impossible
to advance with them and also guard thIe pirogues ; if these
were lo-t ve cold not have sur i\cd.
Before having icacied these pr od ces 1 wrote to the
Island of T'lhi ad, understanding that it had been settled,
as I had com, mended to Your Majesty that this should be
clone and you hlad replied that instructions would be given
for this to lie done at once. I gave orders that if no Spaniards
were found there, the letters should be taken on to the Island
of Margarita. where they were to be delivered if Trinidad
was not inhabited.
At this time finding the soldiers so ill, the Indians rose
against us and carried off all our provisions. In order not
to lose the pirogues, 1 was compelled to travel down the
liver for another 20 leagues to a province called Barguicana
where the Indians willingly submitted to Your Majesty and
gave us fool. ere I spent an)tlher two months waiting for
help to come. But as I kne\- hat I'inidad was not settled
and that the lett 'rs ihad not gonm to Margarita and that I
had not ten men able to fii t, necessity compelled me to go
do;vn to the so:i and Irom t nelr to Trinidad which is only a
I d.'trmilniil to remain here and settle the Island as it
so greallt con.0'Trn the service of Your Majesty and to collect
Iment e th' so a tio re-eniter (Gualana. once more. But God
and my fortune so willed that we early became separated
from one another as tlhe pir)gues were small and the soldiers
ill and unable to row so tat we had no sight of each other
until near Margal ita.
I arrived in Trinidad xith -o men and spent 8 days there
although all of them were ill. I realized that it would be a
very easy\ matitr to people it but a very difficult place to
maintain withiott Your Majesty's favour because of the
English. Nevertheless it is expedient to occupy the Island
because it is onlx one da\'s distance flrom the mouth of the
Orinoco. IFro tiere tlo Barguicana is lour days and from
Barguicana to the h rder, ol the great provinces of' Guayana
less than eight dais. ThuI, the whole ol this matter is clear.
leaving seen thii I continued to Margarita and joined
my companions. On m\ arrival there I learnt that the
(Governor, Don j Han aSarmienlto, without receiving any letter
but Ilmerel on ne\\ which reached him concerning us, had
sent t) 6 soldiers to nm amid. It was notl (od's will that I
should meet them.
Don Juan received ime aand in men with great kindness.
He has helped me to collect more men so as to return and
settle in that region fior which I have been seeking for so
many years and which now lies open. If I can gather
together enough men, I I ill occupy Trinidad for I have to
pass through this Island.
This enterprise is costing me more than loo,ooo ducats
and I believe that it will cost me my life. But I give all this
for a worthy object, expending it in the service of Your
Majesty. In order that my desire may be fully understood,
I am taking with me mi eldest son so that he may begin to
serve Your Majesty and learn to be a soldier. He goes as
Macse de Campo.
So as to be able to continue this long exploration which
I began 9 years ago, it is necessary for Your Majesty to send
warrants to the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo and to
the Governors of Margarita, Cumana and Venezuela, which
are all close here together, requiring them to supply me with
help in soldiers and horses and cattle and other things that
are necessary to miy plans. I pray Your NMajesty thai these
orders max Ihe sent at once to lMargarita.
As I drew near to this Island, I Ilad the ne\\s of the death
,of my wile, DI)in Naria de )OrUn.ta x whIo was the daughter of
Colonel Don HI-crnando de Orun:a w ho served Your NMajesty
for 50 years continuously in responsible positions) and niece
of the Adelantado Don (ontzalo Ximines de Ouesada who
discovered, conquered and settled the New; Kingdom of
(;ranada. It lita happened lhat she has left in the Indies,
t\wo sons and seven daughters serving Your Mlajesty. [ have
spent all their dowt\lt and for my son \who is going \ith me
into danger, ti e rc wi maiii tihe succ essicn.
By a C:dclla of the iEl prcl (Charles \. (ur Lord, which
is in the hand, of thc MinistlOerc I.elrma, perpetual tenure
vwas promised to lthe Adeltawdo. I g Y r M ajesty to
remcmnberc the great sciences c xrindel I b the Adelantado w\ho
w\on that Kingdom m td alsoo m n ( own durti the 5o years
that I ha\c bc en ser\int in Ital, tlan1i, Barbairy and
other parl, alnd xx ha t his en rise is nr, costing me.
C.onsidcrini" all llt-es things and that I "rve suich a Christian
King,. I regi h ih su, cm'ssiont of thie lands inl tl' Ncxxki Kingdom
of Granada and o['ti.' titll 'i i. hantad-o x' ilioil I fhave asked
lfor and which Your Majetyl has promise)) d for mt elIdeo son
(who alinady po-sesscs ti'e sid inherita ice in the Indies and
is serving \ ith nc) as very sc'ure.
-\lav Our Lond pre(s-rv Your Naijcsty as Christcndo.n
ANTONIO 1i.t BARRIO.
A thl ()ctolb r, 131.) 1