The Historie of Lopez Vaz
a Portugall (taken by Captaine Withrington
at the River of Plate, Anno 1587
with this Discourse about him)

Lopez Vaz

This page provides the section (pp. 269-274) of the account that describes the voyage of Pedro Sarmiento. In the Table of Contents topic list, only the topics in bold below are covered here.

Lopez Vaz his discourse. Policie to deny planting Wine and Oyle in New Spaine. Drake and Oxenham: Spanish American Townes. Tricke to save men from killing themselves. Pizarros Discoveries. Pedro de Orzuo founder of the Towne. Fernando chosen King. Extreme crueltie. Amazones. River of Marannon. Parawa inhabited by Spaniards. Pernambocke. La Ascension. Genoa ships. Divers Voyages to the magelan Straits. Spanish and English occurrents in the Coast of Brasil & the Straits. Sarmiento builds two Townes in the Straits; vain voyages. Chili, how, when, and by whom discovered. Arauco described. Spaniards discomfited by a strategm. Arauco. Atacama. Pizarro his golden merchandise. The situation of Peru. Thirst of Gold. Perfidious Spaniards. Innocents death repayed. Peru and the coasts adjoyning. The discovery of the Philippinas. Isles of Salomon discovered, their bounds undiscovered. Great Storme.

Pedro Sarmiento was sent to the Straits with two ships, and at the Straits met with a storme, and he not knowing how, nor which way in a night he was put into the Straits, the other ship [the Almiranta] runne more into the Sea, and came into fiftie eight degrees, the storme being past, he found many Ilands joyning to the maine Lands, and so returned with faire weather all along the shoare, and never found any other way to enter the Straits, but only that which Magellanes did discover, which is thought to be otherwise by the sayings of others, which affirme the Straits to be full of Ilands, to the Southwards.

Pedro Sarmiento entred the Straits, where his men were in a mutinie, and would have returned to Lima, but he hanged one of them, and so went on [with] his Voyage for Spaine, and told the king that there were two narrow points in the Straits, where he might build a Fort, and that the Straits was a very good Countrey, and had great store of Riches and other necessaries, and very will inhabited with Indians. Upon whose words, and for that there were more ships making readie in England to passe the Straits; The king sent Diego Floris de Valdes with three and twentie ships, and three thousand five hundred men, as also the Governour of Chili, with five hundred old Souldiers new come out of Flanders. These ships had the hardest hap of any ships that went out of Spaine since the Indies were found, for that before they came from the Coast of Spaine, a storme tooke them and cast away five of the shippes, and lost in them about eight hundred men, and the rest put into Calls [Cadiz], notwithstanding the King sent them word that yet they should proceed: and so did with sixteene saile of ships, for that other two ships were so shaken with the storme that they could not goe, and in the sixteenth saile Pedro Sarmiento was sent to bee Governour in the Straits, and had committed unto him five hundred men for to stay in the Straits: he had also all kind of Artificers to make his Forts and other necessaries, with great store of Ordnance and other Munition.

This fleet because it was late, did winter on the Coast of Brasill in the River of Janero, and from hence they went where the Winter was past, and about the height of fortie two degrees they had a storme, so that Diego Flores beat up and downe about two and twentie dayes, in which time he had one of his best ships sunke in the Sea, and in her three hundred men and twentie women, that went to inhabit the Sraits, and also most part of the munition that should bee left in the Straits. In the end the storme grew so great, that the ships might not indure it any longer, but were put back againe unto an Iland called Saint Caralina, and there he found a Barke, wherein were certaine Friers going for the River of Plate, which Friers told him of two great ships of England, and a Pinnasse that had taken them, but tooke nothing from them, nor did them any harme, but only asked them for the King of Spaines shippes. Now Diego Flores knowing that these English shippes would goe to the Straits, hee also was determined to goe to the Straits, although it was the moneth of February, and choosing ten ships of the fifteene that were left, hee sent three ships that were old and shaken with the storme, he put in them all the women and sick men that were in the fleet, and sent them to the River of Jenero: and left two other ships which were not for the Sea at the Iland, and he with the other ten ships returned againe for the Straits. Now the three ships in which the sicke men and women were, came to the Port of Saint Vincent, where they found the two English ships, so they would have the Englishmen gone out of the Harbour, and hereupon they fell at fight, and because that these three ships were weake with the foule weather that they had, as also the men were the refuse of all the fleet, the Englishmen easily put them to the worst, and sunke one of them, and might have sunke another if they would, but they minded not the destruction of any man: for it is the greaest vertue that can be in any man, that when he may doe hurt, he will not doe it.

Upon this the Englishmen went from this Port to Spirito Sancto, where they had victuals for their Merchandize, and so returned home to England, without doing any harme in the Country.

John Drake went from them in the Pinnasse (the cause why I know not) but the Pinnasse came into the River of Plate, and within five leagues of Seale Iland, not far from the place where the Earle of Cumberlands ships tooke in fresh water, this said Pinnasse was cast away upon a ledge of Rockes, but the men were all saved in the Boate. They were eighteen men, and went ashoare upon the North shoare, and went a dayes journey into the Land, where they met with the Savage people, these people are no man-eaters, but take all the Christians that they can, and make them there slaves, but the Englishmen fought with them, and the Savages slue five Englishmen, and tooke the other thirteene alive, which were with the Savages about fifteene monethes. But the Master of the Pinnasse, which was Richard Faireweather, beeing not able to indure this misery that hee was in, and having knowledge that there was a Towne of Christians on the other side of the River, he in the night called John Drake, and another young man which was with them, and tooke a Canoa which was very little, and had but two Oares, and so passed to the other side of the River, which is above nine leagues broad, and were three dayes before they could get over, and in this time they had no meate, and comming to land, they hit upon a high way that went towards the Christians and seeing the footing of Horses, they followed it, and at last came to a House where as there was Corne sowed, and there they met with Indians which were Servants unto the Spaniards, which gave them to eate, and clothes to cover them, for they were all naked; and one of the Indians went to the Towne, and told them of the Englishmen, so the Captaine sent foure Horsemen, which brought them to the Towne behind them, then the Captayne clothed them, and provided for them lodging, and John Drake sate at the Captaines Table, and so intreated them very well, thinking to send them for Spaine. But the Vice-roy of Peru hearing of this, sent for them, so they sent him John Drake, but the other two they kept, because that they were married in the Countrey. Thus I know no more their affaires. But upon this newes, there were prepared fiftie Horsemen to goe over the River, to seeke the rest of the Englishmen and Spaniards, that were also among these Savage people, but I am not certaine where they went forward or not.

But now let us returne to Diego Flores, who passed from the Iland of Santa Catalina, towards the Straits in the middle of February, and comming in the height of the River of Plate, hee sent the Governour of Chili, with three ships up the River Bonas Ayres, and so to go over land to Chili. Of these three ships they lost two, but saved the men and the other provision, and the third returned for Spaine. Then Diego Flores with the other seven ships came as high as fiftie two degrees, which is the mouth of the Straits, and because it was the end of March, which is the latter end of Summer, so that the Countrey was full of snow, and withall a sudden storme came, that he could not see Sarmiento and his men ashoare, but returned the second time to the Coast of Brasill, to the River of Jenero, where he heard newes of the English ships, by the two ships that escaped from the Englishmen, whereupon hee left his Lieutenant Diego de Ribera, and Sarmiento, that they might the next yeere returne for the Straits. So Diego de Flores with foure ships which hee had left, and other foure which the King had sent to succour him, went all along the Coast to seeke fro the Englishmen, but could not find them, for they were gone directly for England, so he went unto a Port called Parayna, where he found five French ships, and burnt three, and tooke two, and also the Fort that the Frenchmen had, and put in Spaniards, and the Frenchmen runne into the Mountaynes to the Savages, this done, he returned for Spaine. And his Lieutenant Diego de Ribera, and Sarmiento had the next yeere such good fortune, that they arrived safely into the Straits with all their ships, and so set ashore foure hundred men, and because the ships Boat could not land being once laden, the ship that had all the victuals and munition, that ship they runne ashoare in a Bay, and as the water did ebbe they tooke all things out of her, this being done, Diego de Ribera left Sarmiento with foure hundred men, thirtie women, and a ship with victuals for eight moneths, and with the other three returned, being in the Straits but eight dayes.

Now Pedro Sarmiento made a Towne at the mouth of the Straits on the Northside, and put therein a hundred and fiftie men, and from hence hee went by Land, and sent the ship further into the Straits, and fiftie leagues within the Straits at the narrowest place of all,§ where is a very good Port, here he made another Towne, which he named the Towne of King Philip, and also would have made a Fort, and planted Ordnance for the defence of the Straits, but the Snow and Winter was so great, that hee could not proceed in it; but he tooke above five and twentie Mariners into the ship with him, and said, hee would goe see how the other people did, and so came to the Straits mouth to the Towne, and after hee had been there a day or two with them, he said, that a storme put him from the Straits by force, and broke his Cables (but his men said to the contrary, that he himselfe cut his Cables; God knoweth the truth) and so he came to the River of Jenero: and not finding any succour there came from the King, hee went to Pernambocke, asking aide of the Captaine for victuals and clothes for the men, so that having these things, hee tooke his way for the Straites, but betweene the Cape of Saint Augustine, and the Baya, the wind came out of the Sea, with such violence, that it forced the ship to runne ashore, where Sarmiento had three of his men drowned, and he with the rest hardly escaped; the ship was lost, and all that was in her. And then he came by Land to the Baya, and the Governour of Brasill, bought a Barke that was there in the Harbour, and lading her with victuals and clothes for the men, hee having this provision, with divers other more that were needfull for his men, he tooke his Voyage for the Straits, and comming as high as fortie foure degrees, he met with a sudden storme, and was forced to throw all over-boord that he carried, and was yet in the end compelled to returne for the River of Jenero: where hee stayed for succour from the King a whole yeere; but there came not so much as a Letter for him, for the King was sore grieved at Pedro Sarmiento, because he told him that in the narrowest place of the Straits it was but a mile over, but Diego de Ribera and others told the King that it was above a league broad,§ that if a ship came with wind and current, all the Ordnance in the World could not hurt them, whereby the King thought that Pedro Sarmiento had deceived him, in making him to lose so many men, and to be at so great a charges to no effect. Also the Governour of Baya, seeing the King wrote not to him, would give Sarmiento no more succour, wherefore Sarmiento went in his ship for Spaine, which he came last in from the Straits, and it is said, that he was taken by Englishmen, and so carried for England. It is reported that this Sarmiento is the best Mariner in all Spaine, and hath sayled farthest. After all this, the Captaine of the River Jenero, sent a small ship with victuals for the Straits, but was also put back in fortie degrees. This is all the Discovery that hath been of the Straits of Magelanes, as well by the Spaniards, as other Nations, until this yeere 1586. It is foure yeeres since these poore and miserable Spaniards were left in the Straits, from which time there hath no succour gone unto them, so God knoweth whether they be dead of alive.

§ The width of the strait at the Towne of King Philip is about 10 miles (16 km), and at the First Narrow is about 2+ miles (3.5 km).

Vaz's account continues with a description of the west coast of Chile.