History of American Exploration from 1530 to 1535

About the history of American exploration from 1530 to 1535 including voyages of Cartier and Pizarro.


1532-1533 Francisco Pizarro, with 168 men and 3 ships, returned to Peru, where he met with Atahualpa, winner of an Inca civil war, at a sulfur spa in the Andes, 350 mi. southeast of Tumbes. According to one story, a friar greeted the ruler with a Bible and a cross, asking for his allegiance to Spain, whereupon Atahualpa threw the Bible to the ground and, pointing to the sun, said, "My God still lives." Pizarro ambushed Atahualpa and took him prisoner. To gain his freedom, Atahualpa offered treasure enough to fill a room 22 ft. by 17 ft. up to a height of 7 ft., marked by Pizarro with a red line that is still there. He was true to his word, going so far as to strip the gold-sheathed Temple of the Sun in the capital city of Cuzco in order to fill the room. But Pizarro was not so honorable and ordered Atahaulpa killed in 1533. Peru was then his.

1534 Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), sailing for the French, voyaged to the Americas on a search for gold and a northwest passage to the Orient. He had two ships and a crew of 61. After arriving at Newfoundland, his crew killed a swimming bear "big as a cow and white as a swan." Cartier was not impressed with much of what he saw, saying of the stony, desolate land, "I am inclined to regard this land as the one God gave to Cain." But L'Ile de Bryon cheered him with its "trees, fields of wild wheat, and pease in flower as fair and abundant as I ever saw in Brittany." On the Gaspe Peninsula, the Micmac women showed friendship by rubbing the arms of the French. When Cartier erected a cross to claim the land for France, Huron chief Donnacona, in his old black bearskin, indicated in sign language that the country was his. Cartier placated him with gifts and took him and his two teenaged sons, dressed in French finery, back to France with him. Discoveries: Prince Edward Island, Anticosti Island, the Gaspe Peninsula, Jacques Cartier Passage, Chaleur Bay.

1535-1536 On a second voyage to the Americas, Cartier explored La Grande Riviere (today the St. Lawrence) for 1,000 mi. to Hochelaga (now the site of Montreal), until he was finally stopped by rapids. Asked by the Indians to heal the sick, he instead read the Bible and gave the children tin lambs. The French wintered back at Stadacona (which became Quebec City), passing time in an Indian brothel and gaming house. When the crew contracted scurvy, Chief Donnacona's son Domagaya cured the men with arborvitae leaves, rich in vitamin C. (An arborvitae Cartier took back to France was planted at Fontainebleau.) Meanwhile, Donnacona regaled the French with tales of the land of Saguenay, rich in gold and jewels, with European-dressed white natives, one-legged pygmies, and a tribe of anusless people who consumed only liquids. Tricking Donnacona with a false ceremony, Cartier took him and his two sons back to France, where the sons disappeared into the Paris underworld and Donnacona gained fame as a Saguenay expert.

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