Chronicles of America 

Pizarro Sails Back to Spain

But what of Francisco Pizarro, Pedro de Candia, and the others of Pizarro's band whom we left facing starvation on the little Island of Gorgona off the coast of Ecuador, and awaiting the coming of Almagro from Panamá with reinforcements? Ruiz the pilot was not with them, for he had returned north with Tafur. At the end of seven months, however, he came in Almagro's stead, and the company set out, as Pizarro had planned, for Tumbez, which is situated on the gulf later called Guayaquil.

Their course took them past Cape Pasado, the limit of Ruiz's exploratory voyage, past the volcanic peaks of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, and in twenty days they reached Tumbez. Here Pizarro sent ashore parties under Pedro de Candia and others. The messengers were greeted as superior beings, very much as Cortés and his followers were greeted at San Juan de Ulúa. Their faces were fair; they wore long beards; and their identity as Children of the Light, that Light which in Peru meant so much, was considered established. With them, however, on one occasion went the negro, and to fit him into satisfactory relations with the emissaries of the Dawn was found difficult. They tried washing, but to no effect; and the Peruvians were obliged to accept him for what he was — one not to be understood but simply to be enjoyed. The report of Pizarro's messengers as to what was to be seen at Tumbez — a fortress, a temple, comely Virgins of the Sun, vases of gold —abundantly confirmed the earlier report of Ruiz, but Pizarro had few men (the new Governor at Panamá had seen to that) and he resolved to take himself directly to Spain to lay his discovery before the King.

There he arrived early in 1528, accompanied by the Greek, Pedro de Candia. By the 26th of July, at Toledo, he had met Charles V, who created him Governor of all he might discover for a distance of two hundred leagues "to the south of Santiago," a river entering the sea just below the latitude of the Island of Gallo. The King made Almagro and Luque the Captain and the Bishop of Tumbez; Bartolomé Ruiz, Grand Pilot of the South Sea; Pedro de Candia, Chief of Artillery; and the heroes of the Isle of Gorgona, knights and cavaliers.

From Toledo, Pizarro went to Trujillo, his native town, and drew to his support his brothers, Hernando, Juan, Gonzalo, and Martin of Alcantara, all capable, all brave, and all except the first described as, "like Pizarro himself, illegitimate, poor, ignorant, and avaricious." The proposed expedition to Peru, unlike the expeditions of prior Spanish adventurers, did not attract followers; and it was with only one hundred and eighty men and thirty horses that in December, 1531, a year after his return from Spain, the Estremaduran was able to set sail with three ships from Panamá for Tumbez.

Back to: The Spanish Conquerors