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The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume 6 History of Central America, Volume 1, 1501-1530

The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume 6
History of Central America, Volume 1, 1501-1530
Title: The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume 6 History of Central America, Volume 1, 1501-1530
Release Date: 2019-01-09
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 43
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Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document havebeen preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

In many cases, Bancroft uses both "u" and "v" to spell an author’s name. Examples include:

  • Villagutierre and Villagvtierre
  • Mondo Nuovo and Mondo Nvovo
  • Villagutierre and Villagvtierre
  • Aluarado and Alvarado
  • Gvat. and Guat.
  • Cogolludo and Cogollvdo
  • Vetancurt and Vetancvrt.

Other archaic letter substitutions include b for v, i for y, x for j, i for j, ç or c for z and vice versa. These have been left as printed.

Possible printers errors include:

  • Quauhtemoctzin or Quauhtemotzin
  • Verrazano or Verrazzano
  • Bartolomeo or Bartolommeo
  • Fricius or Frisius
  • Gatinara or Gattinara
  • Veitia and Veyia
  • Loaysa and Loaisa
  • Fitz-Roy and FitzRoy
  • Cohuanococh and Cohuanacoch
  • Ahpotzotzil or Ahpozotzil
  • embassadors or ambassadors
  • unincombered or unencumbered
  • Albitez or Albites
  • Lucayos or Lucayas
  • Castelhanus or Castelhanos
  • Quauhtemali or Quauhtimali.

The book cited as "Meer oder Seehanen Buch" should be "Meerhanen oder Seehanen der Königen von Hispanien", a chapter about (not by) Columbus. The same correction applies to the entry for "Löw (Conr.)"

The book cited as "Delaporte. Reisen Eines Franzosen oder Beschreibung." has an incomplete title. The complete title is "Reisen Eines Franzosen Oder Beschreibung Der Vornehmsten Reiche In Der Welt."

The book cited as "Santarem (M. le Vicomte), Memoire sur la question ..." has an incomplete title. The complete title is "Memoire sur la question de savoir á quelle époque que L'Amérique Meridionale a cessé d'être représentée dans les cartes géographiques comme une île d'une grande étendue."

The punctuation in Footnote IX-8 was left as printed.

Italics in the footnote citations were inconsistently applied by the typesetter.

Accents and other diacritics are inconsistently used.

This volume contains references to the previous five volumes of this work.They can be found at:



Vol. I. 1501-1530.


Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1882, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All Rights Reserved.


During the year 1875 I published under title ofThe Native Races of the Pacific States what purportsto be an exhaustive research into the character andcustoms of the aboriginal inhabitants of the westernportion of North America at the time they were firstseen by their subduers. The present work is a historyof the same territory from the coming of the Europeans.

The plan is extensive and can be here but briefly explained.The territory covered embraces the whole ofCentral America and Mexico, and all Anglo-Americandomains west of the Rocky Mountains. First givenis a glance at European society, particularly Spanishcivilization at about the close of the fifteenth century.This is followed by a summary of maritime explorationfrom the fourth century to the year 1540, withsome notices of the earliest American books. Then,beginning with the discoveries of Columbus, themen from Europe are closely followed as one afteranother they find and take possession of the countryin its several parts, and the doings of theirsuccessors are chronicled. The result is a Historyof the Pacific States of North America, underthe following general divisions:—History of CentralAmerica;History of Mexico;History of the NorthMexican States;History of New Mexico and Arizona;History of California;History of Nevada;Historyof Utah;History of the Northwest Coast;Historyof Oregon;History of Washington, Idaho, and Montana;History of British Columbia, and History ofAlaska.

Broadly stated, my plan as to order of publicationproceeds geographically from south to north, asindicated in the list above given, which for the mostpart is likewise the chronological order of conquestand occupation. In respect of detail, to some extentI reverse this order, proceeding from the more generalto the more minute as I advance northward.The difference, though considerable, is however lessin reality than in appearance. And the reason I holdsufficient. To give to each of the Spanish-Americanprovinces, and later to each of the federal and independentstates, covering as they do with dead monotonycenturies of unchanging action and ideas, timeand space equal to that which may be well employedin narrating north-western occupation and empire-buildingwould be no less impracticable than profitless.It is my aim to present complete and accuratehistories of all the countries whose events I attemptto chronicle, but the annals of the several CentralAmerican and Mexican provinces and states, bothbefore and after the Revolution, run in grooves toonearly parallel long to command the attention of thegeneral reader.

In all the territorial subdivisions, southern as wellas northern, I treat the beginnings and earliest developmentmore exhaustively than later events. Afterthe Conquest, the histories of Central America andMexico are presented on a scale sufficiently comprehensive,but national rather than local. The northernviiMexican states, having had a more varied experience,arising from nearer contact with progressionalevents, receive somewhat more attention in regard todetail than other parts of the republic. To thePacific United States is devoted more space comparativelythan to southern regions, California beingregarded as the centre and culminating point of thishistorical field.

For the History of Central America, to which thismust serve as special as well as general introduction,I would say that, besides the standard chroniclers andthe many documents of late printed in Spain and elsewhere,I have been able to secure a number of valuablemanuscripts nowhere else existing; some from theMaximilian, Ramirez, and other collections, and all ofMr E. G. Squier's manuscripts relating to the subjectfell into my hands. Much of the material usedby me in writing of this very interesting part of theworld has been drawn from obscure sources, fromlocal and unknown Spanish works, and from thesomewhat confused archives of Costa Rica, Honduras,Nicaragua, Salvador, and Guatemala.

Material for the history of western North Americahas greatly increased of late. Ancient manuscriptsof whose existence historians have never known, orwhich were supposed to be forever lost, have beenbrought to light and printed by patriotic men andintelligent governments. These fragments supplymany missing links in the chain of early events, andilluminate a multitude of otherwise obscure parts.

My efforts in gathering material have been continued,and since the publication of The Native Racesfifteen thousand volumes have been added to my collection.viiiAmong these additions are bound volumesof original documents, copies from public and privatearchives, and about eight hundred manuscript dictationsby men who played their part in creating thehistory. Most of those who thus gave me their testimonyin person are now dead; and the narratives oftheir observations and experiences, as they stand recordedin these manuscript volumes, constitute nounimportant element in the foundation upon whichthe structure of this western history in its severalparts must forever rest.

To the experienced writer, who might otherwiseregard the completion of so vast an undertaking withinso apparently limited a period as indicative of worksuperficially done, I would say that this History wasbegun in 1869, six years before the publication of TheNative Races; and although the earlier volumes of theseveral divisions I was obliged for the most part notonly to plan and write, but to extract and arrange myown material, later I was able to utilize the labors ofothers. Among these as the most faithful and efficientI take pleasure in mentioning Mr Henry L. Oak, MrWilliam Nemos, Mr Thomas Savage, Mrs FrancesFuller Victor, and Mr Ivan Petroff, of whom, andof others, I speak at length elsewhere.

Of my methods of working I need say but littlehere, since I describe them more fully in another place.Their peculiarity, if they have any, consists in theemployment of assistants, as before mentioned, tobring together by indices, references, and other devices,all existing testimony on each topic to be treated.I thus obtain important information, which otherwise,with but one lifetime at my disposal, would have beenixbeyond control. Completeness of evidence by nomeans insures a wise decision from an incompetentjudge; yet the wise judge gladly avails himself of allattainable testimony. It has been my purpose to givein every instance due credit to sources of information,and cite freely such conclusions of other writers asdiffer from my own. I am more and more convincedof the wisdom and necessity of such a course, by which,moreover, I aim to impart a certain bibliographicvalue to my work. The detail to be encompassed appearedabsolutely unlimited, and more than once Idespaired of ever completing my task. Preparatoryinvestigation occupied tenfold more time than thewriting.

I deem it proper to express briefly my idea of whathistory should be, and to indicate the general line ofthought that has guided me in this task. From themere chronicle of happenings, petty and momentous,to the historico-philosophical essay, illustrated withhere and there a fact supporting the writer's theories,the range is wide. Neither extreme meets the requirementsof history, however accurate the one orbrilliant the other. Not to a million minute photographsdo we look for practical information respectinga mountain range, nor yet to an artistic painting ofsome one striking feature for a correct description.From the two extremes, equally to be avoided, thetrue historian will, whatever his inclination, be impelledby prudence, judgment, and duty from theorytoward fact, from vivid coloring toward photographicexactness. Not that there is too much brilliancy incurrent history, but too little fact. An accurate recordof events must form the foundation, and largely thexsuperstructure. Yet events pure and simple are byno means more important than the institutionary developmentwhich they cause or accompany. Men,institutions, industries, must be studied equally. Aman's character and influence no less than his actionsdemand attention. Cause and effect are more essentialthan mere occurrence; achievements of peaceshould take precedence of warlike conquest; the conditionof the people is a more profitable and interestingsubject of investigation than the acts of governors,the valor of generals, or the doctrines of priests.The historian must classify, and digest, and teach aswell as record; he should not, however, confound hisconclusions with the facts on which they rest. Symmetryof plan and execution as well as rigid condensation,always desirable, become an absolute necessityin a work like that which I have undertaken. Inrespect to time and territory my field is immense.The matter to be presented is an intricate complicationof annals, national and sectional, local and personal.That my plan is in every respect the bestpossible, I do not say; but it is the best that myjudgment suggests after long deliberation. The extentof this work is chargeable to the magnitude ofthe subject and the immense mass of informationgathered rather than to any tendency to verbosity.There is scarcely a page but has been twice or thricerewritten with a view to condensation; and insteadof faithfully discharging this irksome duty, it wouldhave been far easier and cheaper to have sent a hundredvolumes through the press. The plan onceformed, I sought to make the treatment exhaustiveand symmetrical. Not all regions nor all periods areportrayed on the same scale: but though the cameraxiof investigation is set up before each successive topicat varying distances, the picture, large

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