The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

to do so from the articles of his arrangement with the sovereigns, but it was looked upon by King Ferdinand as an undue assumption of power, and gave great offence to that jealous monarch, who was exceedingly tenacious of the prerogati, and considered dignities of this rank and importance as only to be conferred by royal mandate.* Columbus, however, was not actuated in this appointment by a mere desire to aggrandize his family. He felt the importance of his brother's assistance in the present critical state of the colony, but that this co-operation would be inefficient unless it bore the stamp of high official authority. In fact, during the few months that he had been absent, the whole island had become a scene of discord and violence, in consequence of the neglect, or rather the flagrant violation, of those rules which he had prescribed for the maintenance of its tranquillity. A brief retrospect of the recent affairs of the colony is here necessary to explain their present confusion. It will exhibit one of the many instances in which Columbus was doomed to reap the fruits of the evil seed sown by his adversaries.


CHAPTER II.
MISCONDUCT OF DON PEDRO MARGARITE, AND OM THE ISLAND.

[1494.]

It will be recollected, that before departing on his voyage, Columbus had given the command of the army to Don Pedro Margarite, with orders to make a military tour of the island, awing the natives by a display of military force, but conciliating their good-will by equitable and amicable treatment.

The island was at this t e divided into five domains, each governed by a cacique of absolute and hereditary power, to whom a great number of inferior caciques yielded tributary allegiance. The first or most important domain comprised the middle part of the royal Vega. It was a rich, lovely country, partly cultivated after the imperfect manner of the natives,

____________________
*
Las Casas, Hist. Ind., lib., i, cap. 101.

-306-

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