- Historic Sites
Another eyewitness takes us on another voyage, three and a half centuries earlier—this one around the world …
October 1969 | Volume 20, Issue 6
Fifteen days later we saw four other giants who were not carrying weapons … The captain kept the two youngest to bring them to Spain on his return. But this was by a cunning trick, for otherwise they would have troubled [injured] some of our men.
Four giants taken of whom the captain kept two
The means by which he kept them was that he gave them many knives, scissors, mirrors, bells, and glass, all which things they held in their hands. And meanwhile the captain sent for large iron fetters, such as are put on the feet of malefactors. Whereat these giants took great pleasure in seeing these fetters, and did not know where they had to be put, and they were grieved that they could not take them in their hands, because they were prevented by the other things aforesaid.… Forthwith the captain had the fetters put on the feet of both of them. And when they saw the bolt across the fetters being struck with a hammer to rivet it and prevent them from being opened, these giants were afraid. But the captain made signs to them that they should suspect nothing. Nevertheless, perceiving the trick that had been played on them, they began to blow and foam at the mouth like bulls, loudly calling on Setebos (that is, the great devil) to help them.…
The captain named the people of this sort Pathagoni .… They live on raw flesh, and eat a certain sweet root which they call Capae .
Those two giants whom we had in the ship ate a large boxful of biscuit, and unskinned rats, and they drank half a pailful of water at a time.
We remained in this port (which was called Port St. Julian) about five months [from March 31 to August 24, 1520], where many strange things befell us. One was that, as soon as we entered the port, the masters of the other four ships conspired against the captain-general to bring about his death. Whose names were Juan de Cartagena, overseer of the fleet, the treasurer Luis de Mendoza, the overseer Antonio de Coca, and Gaspar Quesada. But the treachery was discovered, because the treasurer was killed by dagger blows, then quartered. This Gaspar Quesada had his head cut off, and then he was quartered. And the overseer Juan de Cartagena, who several days later tried to commit treachery, was banished with a priest, and put in exile on that land named Patagoni .… And one of the ships called Santiago going to discover the coast was lost. But all the men [except one] were saved by a miracle, for they were not even wetted.…
Treachery plotted against the captain at Port St. Julian
After going and setting course to the fifty-second degree toward the said Antarctic Pole, on the festival of the eleven thousand virgins [October 21], we found by a miracle a strait which we called the Cape of the Eleven Thousand Virgins. Which strait is in length one hundred and ten leagues, which are four hundred and forty miles, and in width somewhat less than half a league. And it falls into another sea called the Pacific Sea. And it is surrounded by very great and high mountains covered with snow.
In this place it was not possible to anchor, because no bottom was found. Wherefore it was necessary to put cables ashore of twenty-five or thirty cubits [between thirty-eight and forty-five feet] in length. This strait was a circular place surrounded by mountains (as I have said), and to most of those in the ships it seemed that there was no way out from it to enter the said Pacific Sea. But the captain-general said that there was another strait which led out, saying that he knew it well and had seen it in a marine chart of the King of Portugal, which a great pilot and sailor named Martin of Bohemia had made.
The said captain sent forward two of his ships, one named Santo Antonio and the other Concepción , to seek and discover the outlet of the said strait, which was called the Cape de la Baya.… But approaching the end of the Baya (thinking themselves lost) they saw a small opening, which did not seem an opening but a creek. And like desperate men they threw themselves into it, so that perforce they discovered the strait. … Very joyful at this, they at once turned back to inform the captain-general.… When near us, they suddenly discharged their ordnance, at which we very joyously greeted them in the same way. And then we all together, thanking God and the Virgin Mary, went on.…