10. Law of the Mozcas.


A very remarkable law prevailed among the Mozcas, one of the tribes of the Nuevo Reyno de Granada. There, as among more advanced nations, the King could do no wrong,.. but the subordinate chiefs could;.. these chiefs were men, the people reasoned, like themselves; they could not be punished by their vassals;.. for there would be a natural unfitness in that: the King, it seems, was not expected to interfere, except in case of state offences; the power of punishment, therefore, was vested in their wives, and a power it was, says Piedrahita, which they exercised famously whenever it fell to them to be judges of their poor husbands. The conqueror Quesada calling one morning upon the chief of a place called Suesca, found him under the hands of his nine wives, who were tying him, and having so done, proceeded, in spite of Quesada’s intercession, to flog him one after the other. His offence 22was, that some Spaniards the night before had lodged in, his house, and he had partaken too freely of their Spanish wine. Drunkenness was one of the sins which fell under the cognizance of his wives: they carried him to bed that he might sleep himself sober; and then awoke him in the morning to receive the rigour of the law. Hist. del N. Reyno. l. 1. c. 4.


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