Images de page
PDF
ePub

arrows falling upon their boat made them pull away in haste to the ship. The next day the vessel set sail and, three weeks later, anchored off Vera Cruz.

Philip II had come to the throne the master of Europe. His father, Charles V, had been not only sovereign ruler of Spain, of the Netherlands, of Naples, of a part of central Italy, of Navarre, and Emperor of Germany by election, but he had hoped to become master of England also and to leave in his heir's hands a world all Spanish and all Catholic. Philip II inherited his father's power and his father's dream. If his natural abilities were less, his obstinacy and his zeal were greater. He had seen the march of Spanish power not unattended by affronting incidents. In 1520 a monk named Luther had defied Philip's father, the Emperor, to his face. The Reformation was spreading. Huguenots were powerful in the domestic politics of France; and France was threatening Spain's American possessions. Her fishermen had passed yearly in increasing numbers between the Banks of Newfoundland and their home ports. And a mariner of several cross-sea voyages, one Jacques Cartier, had discovered the St. Lawrence River and had set off again in 1540 to people "a country called Canada."

But these voyages of discovery were not the worst of France's insults to Spain. French pirates had formed the habit of darting down on Spanish treasure ships and appropriating their contents. They had also sacked Spanish ports in the islands. Many of these pirates were Huguenots, "Lutheran heretics," as the Spaniards called them. Another danger also was beginning to appear on the horizon, though it was as yet but a speck. It hailed from England, whose mariners were beginning to fare forth into all seas for trade and plunder. They were trending towards the opinion of King Francis of France, that God had not created the gold of the New World only for Castilians. A train of Spanish treasure displayed in London had set more than one stout seaman to head-scratching over the inequalities of this world and how best to readjust the balances. There was reason enough, then, for Philip's fear that large portions of the New World might readily be snatched from Spain by heretical seamen; and Philip was as fierce in the pursuit of his own power as in his zeal for his religion.

The slow-moving treasure fleets from Mexico Y 130 THE SPANISH BORDERLANDS and Havana sailed past Florida through the Bahama Channel, which Ponce de León had discovered, and on to the Azores and Spain. The channel was not only the favorite hunting place of pirates - so that the Spanish treasure ships no longer dared go singly but now combined for protection; it was also the home of storms. The fury of its winds had already driven too many vessels laden with gold upon the Florida coast, where as yet there were no ports of succor. Cargoes had thus been wholly lost, and sailors and passengers murdered by the savages. To these dangers was added the fear that the French designed to plant a colony on the Florida coast near the channel, so that they might seize Spanish vessels in case of war, for not one could pass without their seeing it. So, on Philip's order, Viceroy Velasco bestirred himself to raise a colony, not only for Coosa but for some other point in Florida. The other point selected was Santa Elena, InOW Port IRoyal, South Carolina.) When all was ready, the company comprised no less than fifteen hundred persons. Of the twelve captains in the force, six had been with De Soto. In the party there were Coosa women who had followed the Spaniards to Mexico. They were now homeward bound. At the head

of the colony went Tristan de Luna y Arellano* the same Don Tristan who had been Coronado's second in command in the Cibola enterprise eighteen years before. The departure of the expedition was celebrated with great pomp. Velasco himself crossed the mountains to Vera Cruz to see it off.

But this expedition was to be another record of disaster and failure. Arellano brought his fleet to anchor in Pensacola Bay; and thence dispatched three vessels for Santa Elena. Before his supplies were unloaded, a tremendous hurricane swept the Bay and destroyed most of his ships with great loss of life. So violent was the storm that it tossed one vessel, like a nutshell, upon the green shore. Some of the terror-struck soldiers saw the shrieking demons of Hell striding the low, racing, black clouds. The outguards of the storm attacked the three ships bound for the Carolina coast and drove them south, so that they returned to Mexico by way of Cuba.

The survivors at Pensacola Bay were soon in straits for food. So Arellano, leaving a garrison on the coast, sent about a thousand of his colonists — men, women, and children — to Santa Cruz de Nanipacna, forty leagues inland on a large river, probably in Monroe County, Alabama. But these colonists in the fruitful land were like the seventeen-year locusts; they ate everything from the Indians' stores of maize and beans to palnishoots, acorns, and grass seeds — but produced nothing. And soon an exploring band of three hundred was sent on towards famed Coosa in search of more food. They reached it after a hundred days of weary marching over De Soto's old trail. Though the natives had small reason to love De Soto's countrymen, they treated the Spaniards well and fed them bountifully all summer. Twelve men, sent back to Nanipacna with reports, reached that place at last, to find only a deserted camp and a letter saying that the famished colony had returned to Pensacola. When Arellano wished to go to Coosa to see for himself if it were suitable for a colony, his people mutinied. The malcontents sent a spurious order to the explorers at Coosa to return; and in November, 1560, after more than a year in the interior, the little band joined the main body at Pensacola.

Two ships, which Arellano had sent home for aid, reached Mexico safely. The Viceroy immediately sent provisions for the colonists and a new leader, Angel de Villafafie, to replace Arellano and

« PrécédentContinuer »