Strange Cruelties: The Spanish Slaughter The Natives, West Indies, c. 1513 Bartolome de las Casas The Mammoth Book of Eye-Witness History “First hand accounts of history in the making from the ancient to the modern world” Edited by Jon E. Lewis

The Spaniards with their Horses, their Spears and Lances, began to commit murders, and strange cruelties: they entered into Townes, Borowes, and Villages, sparing neither children nor old men, neither women with childe, neither them that lay in, but that they ripped their bellies, and cut them in pieces, as if they had been opening of Lambes shut up in their fold. They laid wagers with such as with one thrust of a sword would paunch or bowell a man in the middest, or with one blow of a sword would most readily and most delivery cut off his head, or that would berst pierce his entrails at one stroake. They tooke the little soules by the heeles, ramping them from the mothers dugges, and crushed their heads against the clifts. Others they cast into the Rivers laughing and mocking, and when they tumbled into the water, they said, now shift for themselves such a ones corpes. They put others, together with their mothers, and all that they met, to the edge of the sword. They made certain Gibbets long and low, in such sort, that the feete of the hanged on, touched in a manner the ground, every one enough for thirteen, in honour and worship of our Saviour and his twelve Apostles (as they used to speake) and setting to fire, burned them all quicke that were fastened. Unto all others, whom they used to take and reserve alive, cutting off their two hands as neere as might be, and so letting them hang, they said, Get you with these Letters, to carry tidings to those which are fled by the Mountaines. They murdered commonly the Lords and Nobility on this fashion: They made certaine grates of pearches laid on pickforkes, and made a little fire underneath, to the intent, that by little and little yelling and despairing in these torments, they might give up the Ghost.

One time I saw four or five of the principal Lords roasted and broiled upon these gridirons. Also I think that there were two or three of these gridirons, garnished with the like furniture, and for that they cryed out piteously, which thing troubled the Captaine that he could not then sleepe: he commanded to strangle them. The Sergeant, which was worse than the Hangman that burned them (I know his name and friends in Sivil) would not have them strangled, but himself putting Bullets in their mouths, to the end that they should not cry, put to the fire, until they were softly roasted after his desire. I have seene all the aforesaid things and others infinite. And forasmuch as all the people which could flee, hid themselves in the Mountaines, and mounted on the tops of them, fled from the men so without all manhood, emptie of all pitie, behaving them as savage beasts, the slaughterers and deadly enemies of mankind: They taught their Hounds, fierce Dogs, to teare them in pieces at the first view, and in the space that one may say a Credo, assailed and devoured an Indian as if it had beene a Swine.

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