Seville, 16th of October, 1553
I have so much to write that I don't know where to begin, though I'11 not write at length now. A caravel is leaving for Cape Verde; there being so many Frenchmen on the sea, we don't know whether it will meet with any or not, but on the chance that this might arrive, I will write. I'11 say a few things that need to be said: first, a caravel that left Nombre de Dios on the 5th of February of this year and arrived here at the end of May, brought us letters from Gaspar Ramos and Alonso de Cazalla, in which they inform us of the death of Juan López, and though his death grieved me as a relation, as far as our property is concerned, God did us a great favor. He had handled business so badly and confusedly that I believe it was a great gain for our pro perty to lose him. And as we had given power in Tierra Firme to Gaspar Ramos and Alonso de Cazalla to take over our affairs if he died, they did so, which was just the right thing. And being sure that as soon as you heard of his death you would hurry to c ome to Tierra Firme, we did not send a special person there for those matters, but in the fleet that is now ready to leave we are again sending you very full and explicit powers to take account of everything that has been done there, and I desire extremel y that you should have come to Tierra Firme so you can intercept our messages there. For as I say, considering it certain, we are not sending anyone, because we wish and desire that all of it should go through your hands, which would be better than throug h our own; and if perchance when this arrives you should not have gone to Tierra Firme, then by all means go and finish up matters there.
With the changing times we here may have an excess of merchandise, though you will not there. When you come to Tierra Firme you should in no way or manner sell the house in the city of Lima, because we want to make a new company and have you go back to reside there. Don't take it into your head to come to Castile now, because all Spain is so expensive and high priced that people need great means to be able to support themselves here. I would like you to be there another five or six years, whichever you think best, for the time that the company we are organlzlng should last, because in it would be only you and I and Mr Diego Núñez, without having this confusion in Nombre de Dios and Panama, but only a man who would take care of the merchand ise we would send from here, directing it on to you, and he would send here whatever you send him. All this is to be something very much among friends and brothers, because even if there were to be no one in the company but you and I, as long as I should live and you should want to stay there, I will not abandon the association nor stop sending you all my goods; though I don't want to get in debt to make shipments, just whatever I have, and you, and if Mr Diego Núñez wants to, whatever share he wants and no other volume, merely what we could ship without resorting to credit or exchange.
At the moment we are all in necessity because the fleet of which Carreño was general and which left on the 4th of November of last year has not been heard from to this day, nor has any ship come from New Spain or Santo Domingo, and so we are in g reat necessity, as is the whole kingdom, since almost the majority of the merchants have failed and there is not a penny to be borrowed in the whole city; if any bills of exchange are available, they are payable in Valencia or Lisbon, at something like 60 percent a year. Consider how many businesses could stand such a thing. Nor do we have silver pieces nor gold jewels; everyone has had them melted down. The hardship and general necessity among all, rich and richest, just to get enough to eat, is such tha t you truly must see it to believe it. Every day we await the fleet of Carreñfrom New Spain and Santo Domingo. May our Lord see fit lo bring them back safely, because truly the arrival of the fleet will revive this part of the country, and the whol e kingdom as well. And as Juan López had done so badly in taking what you were sending us, we have suffered need. Still, praise the Lord, we came ouf it better than most, because with properties and possessions that friends gave us to be leased out , we have taken care of almost all of the letters of credit; if it hadn't been for this help it seems to me we would have paid out more for loans than profited on the merchandise, but in the way I have said, we managed well enough, and weren't damaged as much as others have been.
I will come now to reviewing Juan López' accounts, and I think that just from the money he took from me there, there will be a deficit of 5,000 pesos. To amass money, in one account that he sent me he charges me with an item that reads as follows : 'Item, 780 pesos, the cost of 130 loads I transported for him in the packtrain and boats, being the merchandise that was appraised in the galleon for Chile and the one for Paita.' You also charge me with these 780 pesos in the current account you sent me, so that I am charged twice for the same amount, and may God pardon Juan López for it; a very fine fraud of his, to get paid there in Tierra Firme for my shipments and on the other hand send to you for payment. Search out this item that I mentio n and compare it with Juan López' account, because if you charge me with it, then Juan López shouldn't, so don't accept this item of his, so that I will not be charged more than once; and don't be neglectful in this matter.
At the time that Juan López died, there was a quantity of my wine in Panama and Nombre de Dios, in jugs and casks, and also soap and other things of mine outside the company, all of which was sold at auction. I hope that Gaspar Ramos and Alonso d e Cazalla sent me the money from it in the fleet that we expect, and didn't add it to the company assets or pay debts and other things that Juan López owed with it, because if they did not send it to me and should have used it to pay the things I mentioned, they would be doing me a very bad turn, since it is all on my own account.
I feel sure that in this fleet we are now awaiting you will have sent me a quantity of money. At Sanlúcar there are now more than thirty ships, loaded and very well equipped, with bronze artillery and munitions. Each ship carries a double crew of sailors and 10 soldiers; the general of the fleet will be Cosme Rodríguez Farfán, named by the king, with two ships and an advice boat carrying 500 soldiers. The two ships and boat carry no merchandise, but only artillery, munitions, provisi ons and fighting men; they are in very good order, and one goes as flagship. The fleet and convoy of Rodriguez Farfán will go straight to Nombre de Dios; in the latitude of San Germán the ships headed for New Spain and those headed for Santo Domingo will separate and each head its own way, while the two ships and advice-boat will continue with those going to Nombre de Dios, about fifteen ships at least, and as I say, all very good ones and well outfitted. The defense levy for the fleet is 21 /2 percent; lack of money has delayed the fleet's departure so much, because the shippers haven't a penny to pay the levies to the masters, and the 21/2 percent for the fleet. They say that when Carreño's fleet arrives there will be enough money t o dispatch this one; if it doesn't come, we believe this fleet will not be able to leave until January, however much effort is put into it. May our Lord bring it in safety and bring also the others we await, so that we can emerge from the great need we ar e in, which is such that, by God, we are all weary and chastened.
In order, with the aid of God, to avoid finding ourselves in such straits again, we are sending plenty of merchandise in the fleet, though however much it is, it will hardly be enough, because no other fleet will depart for a year. There is great scarci ty of merchandise in New Spain, Santo Domingo, and the other places, and we feel sure that great profits have been made in New Spain; in the last letters from there they write that merchandise was sold for 130 percent and more, and people think it will be much more now, since no ship has come from there for almost a year and a half, and we expect a great treasure of money here.
All Spain, praise our Lord, has had good weather. We have a very bitter war with France, the hardest fought that ever was seen. His majesty has taken two forts at a place called [Tebianrediun], which is between Flanders and France, and his forces have entered the country there. The last letters we have from Flanders, from the 28th of August, report that his majesty was in good health and was going to his camp in person, and that the camp of his majesty and the French camp were only three leagues from e ach other. The general of his majesty's army is the prince of Piedmont, who is also the duke of Savoy. His majesty's forces are large, and so are those of the French. It is thought that the two camps met in battle this very day. May our Lord be pleased to give the victory to his majesty, since he is such a Christian prince. The Prince is in Valladolid now, since the court is there; he came from Acoca to El Pardo, which is the wood of Madrid, and now is back again in Valladolid, because don Diego de Aceved o came from his majesty's court with dispatches for him, and don Francisco de Mendoza came along. Up till now no viceroy has been appointed for Peru, except that they say that his majesty has left it up to the Prince whether to name don Francisco de Mendo za; we hope they will name him, although others claim the viceroy will be don Diego de Acevedo or the count of Palma. We all want it to be don Francisco de Mendoza, since he is such a good cavalier and deserves it.
In the month of February last, Anchueta's ship, of more than 300 tons, left Sanlúcar for Nombre de Dios, with permission to sail alone. It cost us dear, because within four days after it left Sanlúcar the French took it; it was very richly l oaded, with a cargo worth 60,000 ducats or more. The loss did great damage among the merchants here, and cost me myself about 400 ducats; this was the greatest prize the French have taken on the Indies route.
On the feast of Magdalena a French fleet sacked La Palma, in the Canaries; it is said that what they took was worth over 200,000 ducats. And since, as I said, I don't consider this letter very sure to arrive because it is only going to Cape Verde, I will not write more news, though there is much to write.
The king of England died. He was still a boy, and they say a tutor of his killed him to seize the kingdom. There have been great arguments among them, but now the kingdom is peaceful under Madam María as queen, the dead king's sister; she is the em peror's cousin, and he was going to marry her before he married the empress. She is a woman of about forty; they say that the people of the kingdom are pressing her to marry, and with a native of England.
Our Prince's marriage is arranged with the Infanta of Portugal, the one they call the Rich.
Marcela de Carvajal is in good health and sends you her greetings. Our Lord has seen fit to grant us favors, and she is six months pregnant; she has had a very good pregnancy and is due in January. With the aid of God we will have a little Baltasar, or if it is a girl it will be Ana, please our Lord that it be for his service.
As I said, this fleet in which Cosme Rodríguez Farfán is going as general will be so good and so well equipped for the return trip that it will not fear all France; by all means strive to send us a great quantity of money in this fleet of Farfán because it will come in such security, and we will not insure a penny of it. For lack of money we are not sending merchandise in this fleet, except for four or five slaves, and some Avila pitch that is going on the ship of the Albos, of whic h Juan García is master. Francisco de Ampuero is going in this same ship, and the wife of Governor Balduña is also going in this fleet, in Buitrón's ship. Secretary Merlo has gone to Valladolid to confer with don Francisco de Mendoza; I don't believe he will go with this fleet, because he is trying to get permission to have milady Ana Suárez come here. I will report at length on everything with the fleet, and meanwhile hope that this reaches you.
In Tierra Firme try to obtain all the letters and papers I sent , in the last fleet, Carreño's, that were directed to Juan López; they should all be in the hands of Mr Gaspar Ramos. Take care of the bills I sent to have collected in the ci ty of San Miguel; I think the power to collect included Mr Gaspar Ramos. He would do me a favor by delegating the power to you so you could have the money collected.
Consider how well Juan López managed things; he never remitted the 800-odd pesos belonging to milady Ana Suárez that you sent him to be sent on to me. You will have to tell her to give you power to collect it; get a copy of the item in the register of the ship in which it was sent, and have it collected in Nombre de Dios. Another great cruelty of his was that he failed to send on the money belonging to Bartolomé de Jerez that you sent him, and its proper owner here is reduced to beg ging. We here need a copy from the register so it can be collected, and also copies of all the items that you sent him, so we will have clarity in everything.
There in Tierra Firme is a boy, my nephew, son of my sister; when you get there, look after him until, God willing, I will write with the fleet what should be done. Along with this letter will go one that Mr Núñez and I wrote, signed by bo th of us, and for what is lacking here I refer you to that one.
And if this should chance to reach your hands, tell Judge Altamirano that last December a decree was issued in Granada, ordering all of Mr Gonzalo de Torres' property returned to him. I was sending you an authorized copy of the order on the ship of Anchue ta that the French took. The other party appealed, but I believe that with the aid of God I will be able to send news in the fleet that the judgment has been confirmed in review, because Mr Francisco González is in Granada and is certain they will confirm it. May it please the Lord that it turn out as you there desire.
Write me continuously, by way of Santo Domingo and by whatever other routes there should be, and tell about everything at length; as I say, I greatly wish that this might reach you at Nombre de Dios.
May our Lord give you, etc.
Seville, 25th of November, 1553