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I s e t out from Spain, where I was bom and bred, at such a tender age that I was scarcely thirteen complete years old when I sailed; and I spent more than seventeen years in the Indies, many of them in the discovery and conquest of new provinces, others in new settlements, and in travelling over different coun­ tries. As I noted the many great and strange things that are to he seen in this new world of the Indies, there came upon me a strong desire to write an account of some of them, as well those which I had seen with my own eyes as those which I had heard of from persons of good repute. But when I considered my small stock of learning I put aside my desire, holding it to be a vain thing; for I remembered that it was for learned doctors to write histories, throwing light upon them by their learning and judgment, while those who are not learned would be presumptu­ ous even if they thought of writing. I, therefore, passed some time without giving heed to my former intentions. At last the Almighty God, who can do anything, favoured me with His divine grace, and awoke in me the memory of what I had before forgotten. Taking heart, I then determined to spend some part of my life in writing history, to which resolution I was moved by the following considerations.