Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. IV. by Robert Kerr

Part 2 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

there stood a tower, having a gate or entrance always open, like the mouth
of an enormous monster, ready to devour those who entered this hell or
habitation of the demons. At this horrible door there stood many frightful
idols, beside which there was a place for sacrifice, and within there were
pots full of water ready to boil the flesh of the victims, which formed
the horrible repasts of the priests. The idols were like serpents and
devils, and the place, all smeared over with human blood, was furnished
with knives for sacrifice like the slaughter-house of a butcher. In
another part of the buildings there were great piles of wood, and a
reservoir of water supplied by a pipe from the great aqueduct of
Chapoltepec. In one of the courts there was a temple, all besmeared with
blood and soot, surrounded by the tombs of the Mexican nobility. In
another court there were immense piles of human bones, all regularly
arranged. Every temple had its peculiar idols, and each its regular
establishment of priests, who were dressed in long black vestments,
something between the dress of our canons and the Dominican friars. They
all wore their hair long and clotted with blood, and their ears were all
lacerated in honour of their abominable idols. At some distance from the
temple of the tombs, there was another of which the idols were said to
preside over marriages; and all the courts were surrounded by low houses
for the priests and their numerous assistants. Hard by these was a large
building in which great numbers of the Mexican young women resided, as in
a nunnery, till they were married. They were devoted to the worship of two
female deities, who presided over marriages, to whom they sacrificed in
order to obtain good husbands. I have thus been diffuse in describing this
great temple, as it was by far the largest and most splendid in Mexico;
yet the temple of Cholula was still higher, having 120 steps. This was
built on a different plan from that of Mexico, and was held in high
veneration by the natives. The temple of Tezcuco also was very large,
being ascended by 117 steps, and all these differed in their structure,
though they all agreed in having a number of outer courts, and a double
inclosure. Every province of this country had its own peculiar gods, who
were supposed to have no concern with those of other provinces, so that
its gods and idols were quite innumerable. Having effectually fatigued
ourselves in examining the objects I have just described, we retired to
our quarters.

As Montezuma was entirely adverse to the proposal of Cortes for converting
the great temple of Mexico into a Christian church, he was exceedingly
desirous to have a chapel and altar in our quarters, and made application
to Montezuma through one of his principal nobles to have materials for
this purpose. This request was immediately complied with, and as abundance
of timber and native workmen were sent immediately, it was completed in
three days. In this new chapel mass was celebrated every day, though we
lamented the want of wine for the holy eucharist, as it had been all
expended during the illness of Cortes, Olmedo, and others, while we were
in the dominions of Tlascala. We were extremely regular in our devotions,
both because it was our duty, and that we might impress a favourable
opinion of our holy religion on Montezuma and his subjects. While our
carpenters were looking out for a proper place in which to fix the holy
cross of our chapel, they observed the appearance of a door in one of the
walls of our quarters which had been closed up. Cortes caused this to be
privately opened, and an apartment was found within, in which countless
riches were deposited. The secret soon transpired, and we went all to view
the concealed treasury. I was then a young man, and it seemed to me that
all the treasures of the world gathered together could not have reached
the amount of what we then saw. It was thought prudent to close up the
door of this place, and to conceal our knowledge of it and its contents to
a proper opportunity.

About this time Cortes convened a council of four captains and twelve
soldiers, of those in whom he had most confidence, among whom I was, in
order to consult upon our present situation and future procedure. Having
duly considered how obviously we had been hitherto guided and preserved by
the mercy of GOD, and how the natives, though now kind, might soon change
through their native fickleness, and notwithstanding the present
hospitality of Montezuma, he might at any time plot our destruction, we
unanimously resolved, on the suggestion of Cortes, that the most effectual
measure for our security was to make that monarch our prisoner and the
guarantee of our safety. We knew not but we might all be poisoned in our
food, and no gift which he could make us, not even all his fathers
treasures which we had just discovered, could compensate to us for the
continual alarms in which we lived. Some of the officers present at the
council, proposed to induce Montezuma by some plausible pretext to come to
our quarters, when we could easily seize him without resistance or danger.
It was observed by some of our soldiers, that we were not now so
plentifully supplied with provisions by the royal officers as at our first
coming; and that our interpreter, Aguilar, had been secretly informed by
two of our Tlascalan allies, that they had noticed several indications of
evil intentions towards us among the Mexicans, for the last two days.
After a long consultation, we agreed to adjourn the consideration of the
means of executing our resolution till next day; and in the meantime the
reverend Father Olmedo was consulted on the subject, and we prayed GOD to
guide and direct our proceedings for the best, in our present ticklish and
dangerous situation. Next day, two Tlascalans arrived secretly with
letters from Villa Rica, with an account that Escalente and six Spaniards
had been slain in a battle with the Mexicans, and that the inhabitants of
Chempoalla and the neighbouring mountains, who had submitted to us, had
revolted back to the Mexican government, refusing to supply provisions, or
to work on the fortifications, insomuch, that the remaining garrison of
Villa Rica were in much distress and knew not how to act. These letters
said likewise, that the high opinion which the natives had adopted with
respect to the Spaniards was much altered for the worse, since they found
they could be killed like other men. This intelligence gave us much
affliction. It was the first defeat we had experienced since our landing;
and had produced a most alarming change in our situation, and in the
opinions of the Mexicans. Before this, we were in possession of wealth,
and were considered as invulnerable, and almost like demigods; but were
now lowered in the estimation of the natives, almost to a level with
themselves, in whose power we were. It now seemed more necessary than ever
to our very existence that we should secure the person of Montezuma;
considering that if we failed in the attempt, we might as well perish in
what seemed our only chance of safety, as wait to be overwhelmed by the
whole power of the Mexican empire. Before I proceed to narrate the sequel
of our transactions in Mexico, I shall give an account of the misfortune
which befel Escalente[3].

It has been already mentioned, that about thirty native chiefs of
districts in the neighbourhood of Villa Rica, had voluntarily submitted to
our government at Chiahuitztla. After our little army had penetrated to
the capital of the Mexican empire, the commander of a garrison belonging
to Montezuma endeavoured to levy contributions from some of these our new
subjects: and when this was represented to Escalente, who commanded at
Villa Rica, he sent orders to the Mexican officers to desist, as otherwise
he would be under the necessity of chastising them, though he wished to
remain in peace and friendship with the subjects of Mexico. To this the
Mexican officers sent a haughty reply, saying that he would find them in
the field. On receiving this answer, Escalente, who was a brave man, set
out with forty of his own soldiers, and two thousand of our allies of the
Totanaca nation to march against the Mexicans, whom he found pillaging the
country, and immediately attacked them. Our allies were always afraid of
the Mexicans, and fled at the first shower of arrows, leaving the
Spaniards to get out of the scrape as well as they might. They made their
retreat with great difficulty to Villa Rica[4], where Escalente and six of
his soldiers died of their wounds. A Spanish soldier named Arguello, of
great bodily strength, with a large head, and thick frizzled beard, was
taken alive, but died of his wounds. The Mexican captains reported the
whole of this affair to Montezuma, to whom they brought the head of
Arguello; and it is said that Montezuma trembled when he beheld it, and
ordered it to be taken out of the way. He reproached his captains for not
having overwhelmed the whole of that small number of Spaniards with their
numerous forces; but they alleged that a supernatural being fought against
them, assisting and encouraging the Spaniards, and struck terror into
their men.

Having finally resolved to seize Montezuma, we spent the whole night
before proceeding on that hazardous enterprize in earnest prayer to GOD,
that what we were about to do might redound to his holy service; and in
the morning we arranged the manner in which this our resolution was to be
executed. Our cavalry and infantry were all ordered to be in readiness for
instant action, and as it was usual with us to go always fully armed, this
circumstance gave no suspicion to the Mexicans. Leaving the whole of his
forces prepared to act in case of need, Cortes proceeded to the palace,
attended by five of his captains, Alvarado, Sandoval, De Leon, De Lugo,
and Avila[5], with the interpreters Donna Marina and Aguilar, having
first sent a message to the king, intimating his intention to wait upon
him. Montezuma supposed that this visit of Cortes was on occasion of the
affair which had lately occurred at Chiahuitztla, and that our general was
much displeased on that account, yet sent back that he would be glad to
see him. Our general, _and we that were with him_, immediately went to the
royal apartment, and after paying his respects as usual, Cortes addressed
Montezuma to the following effect through his interpreters: "He was
astonished that so brave and magnanimous a monarch, who had shewn so much
friendship for us on all occasions, should have clandestinely given orders
to his troops in _Totonacapan_[6] to make an attack upon the Spaniards
whom he had left at Villa Rica, in which one of them had been killed, and
our allies the Totonacas had been pillaged and destroyed without mercy."
Cortes intentionally concealed the death of Escalente and his six soldiers,
not wishing that the extent of our loss on this occasion should be known
to the Mexicans. He then charged Montezuma as the author of the treachery
which had been attempted against us in Cholula, saying, that he had
hitherto refrained from speaking on that subject, from motives of esteem
and respect; but, from the late hostile attack by his governor of
Totonacapan, and having learned that the officers of the court were
plotting to cut us off in Mexico, it became necessary for us to use
effectual measures to secure our safety. For this purpose therefore, and
in order to prevent the ruin of the city of Mexico, it was necessary that
his majesty should go immediately to our quarters, assuring him if he gave
the smallest alarm, or made any resistance, the officers and soldiers then
present would put him instantly to death. On hearing this proposal
Montezuma was so petrified with terror and amazement that he seemed to
have lost all sensation for a time. After recovering a little, he
positively denied having given any orders to Quauhpopoca the governor of
Nauhtlan to attack our troops under Escalente; and taking from his wrist
the signet of Huitzilopochtli, which he employed on all occasions of
importance to confirm and enforce his orders, he gave it to one of his
officers whom he commanded to bring Quauhpopoca to court without delay to
answer for his conduct. Then assuming a dignified air, he declined the
proposal of quitting his palace with disdain, declaring that he would not
be constrained to take so humiliating a step. Cortes endeavoured to
explain the necessity of his immediate compliance, and the king persisted
in his refusal, so that the conversation drew to considerable length, half
an hour at least having elapsed. The captains who accompanied Cortes
became impatient of delay, fearing that great numbers of the Mexicans
might collect to the rescue of their sovereign, and that we should be
oppressed under superior force. In this dilemma, De Leon exclaimed in his
rough voice to Cortes: "Why, Sir, do you waste so many words? Tell him,
that if he does not instantly yield himself our prisoner, we will plunge
our swords into his body: Let us now assure our lives or perish."
Montezuma was much struck with the manner in which De Leon expressed
himself, and asked Donna Marina what he had said. She answered with much
discretion, by mildly advising him to consent immediately to go along with
us, assuring him that he would be treated with all the honour and respect
he could desire, whereas she was convinced we would put him to death if he
refused or even hesitated. Montezuma then offered to put his legitimate
son and two daughters into the hands of Cortes, as hostages, and earnestly
entreated that he might not be exposed before his subjects as a prisoner.
But Cortes assured him that nothing short of what had been originally
proposed could satisfy us, and that all remonstrances were unavailing. At
last he was obliged to consent, saying, "I trust myself with you, let us
go! let us go! since the gods will have it so." Our captains gave him
every assurance of their perfect esteem and respect, begging of him not to
be offended at their conduct, which was indispensably necessary to their
own safety, and requested that he would say to his officers that he went
of his own free will, and by the advice of his gods and priests. His
magnificent state litter was now brought for his accommodation, and he
proceeded to our quarters in his accustomed pomp, attended by his guards,
where he was received and entertained with every mark of respect; yet our
posts and centinels were properly placed in every direction to guard
against his escape or rescue. He was soon waited on by the princes of his
family, and all the principal Mexican nobles, who came to inquire the
reason of this change of abode, and whether it was his wish that they
should attack us. But he told them that he intended to remain with us for
a few days, and commanded them to take no steps which might disturb the
peace of the city.

Thus we accomplished the seizure of the great Montezuma. He was attended
in our quarters with the same magnificence as in his own palace; his wives,
family, and officers being constantly with him, and having always twenty
chiefs or counsellors in his presence. He bathed twice a-day, and appeared
calm and resigned to his fate. Ambassadors came to him from all the
provinces of his empire; some to deliver the accustomed tribute, and
others to transact various affairs of importance, all of which was
dispatched in the usual manner. I perfectly remember that however great
might be the princes or chiefs who had to wait upon him, they always took
off their rich dresses and put on plain and coarse _nequen_ clothes, and
came into the royal apartments in this habit, barefooted, not entering
directly, but making a circuit by the wall. On entering the presence they
kept their eyes cast down on the ground, and after three profound
reverences, always began their addresses in these words, _lord! my lord!
great lord!_ They then displayed certain cloths before him, on which the
business they came upon was represented by painting, the particulars of
which they explained pointing out the figures by means of nicely polished
rods or wands. While this was going on, two old nobles always stood beside
the king, who attentively considered every circumstance, on which they
gave him their opinions, and he then dispatched the affair in few words.
The person who had the business with the king then withdrew without reply,
making three profound reverences as before, always keeping his eyes on the
ground, and his face to the throne till out of sight. On leaving the royal
apartments, they reassumed their rich dresses, in which they walked about
the city.

The messengers who had been dispatched with the royal signet to arrest the
officers against whom Cortes had complained for the attack on Escalente,
soon returned with them to Mexico. I know not what passed in the royal
presence when they appeared before the king; but he sent them immediately
to Cortes to do with them as he pleased. On their examination, when the
king was not present, they avowed all that had happened in Totonacapan,
but said that they had acted by orders from Montezuma, by whom they had
been commanded to levy the royal tribute, and even to attack the Spaniards
if they should support the refractory subjects of the empire. On Montezuma
being charged with this, he endeavoured to exculpate himself; but Cortes
told him, that although his participation in the guilt of his officers was
apparent, and although he had been commanded by his own sovereign to
punish with death all who had inflicted death on any of the Spaniards, yet
he had so great a regard for his majesty, that he would sooner loose his
own life than do him any injury. Notwithstanding these assurances,
Montezuma was in great fear of being put to death. Cortes sentenced the
Mexican officers to be burnt alive in front of their kings palace, which
was immediately carried into execution; and to prevent any commotion while
this was taking place, he ordered Montezuma to be put in irons. The
unfortunate king could not suppress his sense of this indignity, and wept
aloud when the fetters were put on. After the execution was over, Cortes
went into the apartment of Montezuma, attended by his five captains
formerly mentioned, and took off the irons with his own hands, assuring
him with a cordial embrace, that he loved him more even than a brother,
and that he hoped soon to extend his dominions to more than double their
present size. He is said also to have told him that he was now at liberty
to return to his own palace, if he so wished; but we understood that
Cortes ordered the interpreters to inform Montezuma, that he was inclined
to set him at liberty, but that the other officers refused their consent.
The spirit of the unfortunate king was now entirely subdued, and the tears
ran down his cheeks while Cortes was speaking: He declined the offer with
thanks, well knowing the emptiness of his words; adding, that he thought
it most prudent to remain where he was, to prevent an insurrection in the
city. Montezuma requested Cortes to give him his page, Orteguilla, a youth
who had already made considerable progress in the Mexican language. Cortes
immediately complied, and Orteguilla remained afterwards constantly about
the kings person, as Montezuma took great delight in inquiring from him
many particulars respecting the manners and customs of Europe; and, from
his knowledge of the language, Orteguilla was of great service to us in
the sequel, by communicating every circumstance that was of importance for
us to be made acquainted with. Montezuma continued to reside among us,
always treated with the utmost respect and attention, as no officer and
soldier, even Cortes, ever came into his presence or even passed him,
without taking of his helmet. He always treated us in return with much

The Mexican officers who were publickly executed, were four in number. Of
these Quauhpopoca was the principal, two of the others were named _Coatl_
and _Quiabuitl,_ but I have forgot the name of the fourth[7]. As soon as
this punishment was made known throughout the provinces of the Mexican
empire, it occasioned universal terror among the natives, and the people
of Tontonacapan immediately returned to submission to our garrison at
Villa Rica.--Let me now pause, and request my readers to consider the
train of our heroic acts which I have already related. _First_, we
destroyed our ships, by which we cut off all hope of retreat. _Secondly_,
we entered the city of Mexico, in spite of the many alarming warnings we
had received. _Thirdly_, we made Montezuma, the sovereign of that great
and populous empire, a prisoner, in the midst of his own palace and
capital, surrounded by numerous guards. _Fourthly_, we publickly burnt his
officers in front of his palace, and put the king in irons during the
execution. I now frequently revolve upon these great events in my old age,
which still appear as fresh in my memory as if they had only happened
yesterday. I say to myself, it was not we who did those mighty things, but
we were guided therein by the hand of God. For without his direction, how
was it to be conceived that so small a number as we were, not amounting to
four hundred and fifty men, should have dared to seize and put in irons,
and publickly burn his officers for obeying his orders, in a city larger
and more populous than Venice, and 1500 leagues from our own country.

It was necessary to appoint a successor in the command at Villa Rica, and
accordingly Cortes gave the command to Alonzo de Grado, an indifferent
soldier, but a good speaker, a handsome man, a musician, and a ready
writer, who had always been adverse to our marching to Mexico, and was the
chief orator on these occasions, in conveying the sentiments of the
opposite party to Cortes. On notifying this appointment, Cortes said to
him jocularly, "Senior de Grado, you are now commandant of Villa Rica. See
that you fortify it well; but I charge you not to go to war with the
wicked Indians, lest they kill you as they have done Juan de Escalente."
This was said ironically, as Cortes well knew he would not venture out of
his garrison for any consideration. As we noticed the concealed meaning of
Cortes in these words, we could hardly refrain from laughing aloud. He
then enjoined him to be kind to the natives, and to protect them from
oppression; to use all diligence in completing the fortifications of the
wooden fort, and to cause two large chains to be made from the old iron of
the destroyed ships, by the smiths at Villa Rica, which were to be sent
immediately to Mexico. De Grado, on arriving at his government, assumed a
lofty demeanour, and ordered the neighbouring Indians who were allied with
us, to send him gold and females slaves, neglecting the fortifications,
and spending his time in feasting and deep play. What was still worse, he
plotted with the adherents of Velasquez to deliver up to him the post with
which he had been entrusted. When Cortes learned these things, he repented
of having employed a person whose bad dispositions he well knew in a post
of so much importance, and sent therefore Sandoval, our alguazil-major to
supersede him. Sandoval was accompanied by Pedro de Ircio, who used to
amuse him with anecdotes of the families of the Conde de Ureno and Don
Pedro Giron, by which means he gained the favour of Sandoval, who never
ceased promoting him till he got him to the rank of captain. On his
arrival at Villa Rica, Sandoval arrested De Grado, and sent him prisoner
to Mexico, under a guard of Indians, by order of Cortes, who would not see
him on his arrival, but ordered him to be confined in the stocks, where he
remained two days. De Grado afterwards made his peace, and got the office
of contador, in place of Avila, who was sent over to Hispaniola as
procurador. Sandoval made himself exceedingly popular among the natives in
the neighbourhood of Villa Rica, and diligently applied to complete the
fortifications. He likewise sent to Mexico by order of the general, all
the ironwork necessary for the construction of two vessels which were
ordered to be built for sailing on the lake.

Every day after mass Cortes went with all his officers to pay his respects
to Montezuma, asking his orders, the king always affecting to be perfectly
contented with his situation. On these occasions the discourse frequently
turned upon the principles of our holy faith, and the power of our emperor
Don Carlos. At other times Montezuma and Cortes used to play at a game
called _totoloque_ by the Mexicans, in which they aim with golden balls at
certain other objects made of gold. Once, when Cortes and Alvarado were
playing against Montezuma and his nephew, the king said in a jocular
manner, that he would not allow _Tonatiu_, for so he called Alvarado on
account of his handsomeness, to mark, as if he cheated; on which we all
fell a laughing, as we knew Alvarado was rather given to exaggeration. On
these occasions, Cortes gave all his winnings among the Mexican attendants
of the king; and Montezuma distributed his among us soldiers of the guard.
Indeed he every day made presents to all of us who attended him, and
particularly to Velasquez de Leon, the captain of his guard, who always
treated him with much respect and attention. One night, a soldier named
Truxillo, was guilty of a very disrespectful action within his hearing, at
which Montezuma was much offended, and asked the page Orteguilla who had
committed this extreme rudeness. Orteguilla told him that Truxillo was a
person of low birth, and knew no better, and then gave him an account of
our different ranks and characters, by which he was much gratified. He
sent next day for Truxillo, and after reproving him for his unmannerly
behaviour, made him a present worth five crowns. Next night, Truxillo
committed a similar rudeness, in hopes to get more gold, but Montezuma
complained to De Leon, who ordered Truxillo to be relieved, after which he
gave him a severe reprimand. Another night, a soldier named Pedro Lopez
happened to be unwell, and cursed that dog of an Indian, meaning Montezuma,
for occasioning so much trouble. The king overheard this and discovered
its meaning, on which he complained to Cortes, who ordered the man to be
whipped. After this, proper discipline and strict silence were preserved
by the guard, which greatly pleased the king, who knew us all, and used to
address us by our names, and was always very kind to us. I was then a
young man, and always behaved to him with much respect. The page had
informed him that I had been twice on the coast of his empire before the
arrival of Cortes, and that I had desired him to say to his majesty that I
would be much obliged to him for a handsome Indian girl. He very
graciously complied with this request, and calling me before him,
addressed me to the following effect: "Bernal Diaz, the young woman I now
present to you is the daughter of one of my principal nobles; treat her
well, and her relations will give you as much gold, and as many mantles as
you can desire." I respectfully kissed his hand, thanking him for his
gracious condescension, and prayed God to bless and prosper him. On which
he observed, that my manner spoke me of noble extraction, and he ordered
me three plates of gold, and two loads of mantles. In the morning, after
his devotions, according to the manner of his country, Montezuma used to
eat a light breakfast of vegetables seasoned with _agi,_ which is a kind
of pepper. He then employed a full hour in the dispatch of business, in
the way I have formerly mentioned, being attended at this time by twenty
counsellors; and in this way, sometimes amusing himself, and sometimes
meditating on his situation, he spent the time of his confinement among us.
He had many mistresses, and he used often to give away some of these in
marriage among his officers and particular friends. Some of these ladies
fell to our lot, and the one I got was a lady of high birth, as she shewed
by her manner; after her baptism she was called Donna Francisca.

After the iron materials, with sails and cordage had arrived from Villa
Rica, Cortes asked leave from Montezuma to build two brigantines for the
purpose of his amusement on the lake, and also that he would order the
native carpenters to assist in their construction. Montezuma readily
consented, and as there was plenty of oak at no great distance, the work
went on expeditiously under Martin Lopez our principal ship-builder, so
that the two brigantines were soon built, launched, and rigged. While this
was going on, Montezuma begged to be allowed to perform his devotions in
the great temple, that his friends and subjects might be satisfied he
lived among us by his own choice, and the permission of his gods. Cortes
granted this, under a strict caution to beware of doing any thing that
might bring his life in hazard, as he would send a strong guard along with
him, with orders to put him to death instantly if any commotion should
arise among the people. Cortes likewise insisted that no human sacrifices
should be permitted on the occasion. All this being agreed to, Montezuma
set out for the temple in his usual pomp, attended by four of our captains,
and an hundred and fifty Spanish soldiers, Father Olmedo being likewise
present, to prevent any human sacrifice. Montezuma came out of his litter
near the temple, where he was met by a number of priests, who carried him
up the steps. They had sacrificed four Indians the night before to their
accursed idols, as all our endeavours were insufficient to stop that
abominable practice, which we were forced to connive at for a season,
being afraid to do any thing which might occasion an insurrection. After
remaining a short time at his devotions, Montezuma came down from the
temple, and returned to our quarters in much good humour, and made
presents to all of us who had attended him.

Our two brigantines were now afloat on the lake, fully equipped, and
manned by expert sailors, and were found to obey both sail and oar to a
wish. When Montezuma learnt this, he requested to go a-hunting to a
certain district which was full of game, all other persons being
prohibited from hunting there under pain of death. Cortes granted
permission, giving warning that his life would pay the forfeit of the
smallest attempt to escape, and offered him the use of our ships to convey
him to the hunting ground, which he accepted with much pleasure. The king
and his suit embarked in the swiftest of the two vessels, and the other
accommodated his son and a number of nobles. Four of our captains attended
the king, with a guard of two hundred soldiers, and four brass guns, with
their ammunition and artillery-men, were embarked on the occasion. The wind
was fresh, and our sailors took great delight in exerting their utmost
skill. Our ships seemed to fly along the lake, and left a prodigious
multitude of the canoes of the Mexicans far behind. Montezuma landed at
the place kept for his hunting, which abounded in game, so that he soon
procured a great quantity of various kinds, such as deer, hares, and
rabbits; and having satisfied himself with sport, he reimbarked and came
back to Mexico. We discharged our artillery during the voyage, which gave
him much amusement. He delighted us all by his affability and noble
behaviour, and was held by every one of us in the highest respect. It
happened one day, while three of our captains were in his presence, that a
hawk flew into the apartment in pursuit of a quail, both these birds and
doves being bred about the palace. On this occasion our officers and
soldiers admired the beauty and fine flight of the hawk, and Montezuma was
curious to know the subject of their discourse: It was accordingly
explained to him, as likewise that we were accustomed to tame hawks, and
to fly them from our hands in pursuit of game. On this Montezuma gave
immediate orders to have the hawk caught for us, and the very same bird
was caught and brought to us next morning.

Cacamatzin prince of Tezcuco, the largest town in the empire next to
Mexico, took great umbrage at hearing that his uncle Montezuma had been
kept many days prisoner by the Spaniards, and that we had opened the
treasury of his ancestors. He therefore called a meeting of his principal
vassals, and of the neighbouring princes or great feudatories of the
Mexican empire, among whom was the lord of Matlatzinco, a renowned warrior
and near relation of Montezuma, who was reported to have some pretensions
to the throne. His intention in summoning these princes was to persuade
them to assemble their forces, in order to attack us, and on making this
proposal to the assembled chiefs, he of Matlatzinco offered to concur with
his whole force, on condition that they would raise him to the throne of
Mexico. But Cacamatzin alleged that he had a preferable claim to that
dignity, and declared he would destroy the Spaniards with his own forces,
for which purpose he entered into arrangements with his partizans in
Mexico. The whole of this plan was reported to Montezuma, who immediately
commanded his nephew Cacamatzin to desist from his preparations, and
communicated the information he had received to Cortes, who had already
received some notice of what was going forwards, but not to the full
extent. Cortes immediately proposed to go at the head of a detachment of
the Spaniards, and a large body of Mexican troops, and to destroy Tezcuco;
but as this proposal did not please Montezuma, Cortes sent a message to
Cacamatzin, requiring him to desist from his war-like preparations, and
declaring his wish to have him for a friend. Cacamatzin answered, that he
would not become the dupe of plausible words like others, and meant soon
to pay us a visit, when he would listen to what we had to say. In a second
message, Cortes warned him not to proceed to hostilities, which would
certainly occasion the death of his uncle; but he replied, that he cared
neither for Montezuma nor Cortes, and was determined to act as he thought

Cacamatzin had a brother named Cuitcuitzcatzin, who resided in Mexico,
having been obliged to take refuge there in consequence of a family
quarrel. As this was known to us, Cortes proposed that Cacamatzin should
be brought to Mexico, where we would seize him unless he agreed to
preserve the peace, or might substitute his brother in the government of
Tezcuco. Montezuma agreed to send for him, and assured us if he refused to
come, he would give orders to bring him by force. Cortes thanked the king
for this instance of his fidelity, declaring that he now only remained in
Mexico to protect him against his rebellious subjects, and would feel
happy to reinstate him in his own palace, but could not prevail on the
rest of the Spanish captains to agree to this measure. Montezuma said in
reply, that he would immediately transmit information to Cacamatzin, that
his present residence was entirely of his own free will, and by the advice
of their gods; for Montezuma was perfectly aware of the simulation of
Cortes in his declarations, and endeavoured to fight him with his own
weapons. He accordingly sent a message to the prince in the proposed terms;
but Cacamatzin understood the manner in which his uncle was constrained to
act, and declared his determination to assail our quarters within four
days, saying that Montezuma was a despicable monarch, for having neglected
to attack us at the Port of Chalco, as he had advised. That he was
resolved to be avenged of the wrongs which we had heaped upon Montezuma
and his country, and that if the throne of Mexico should fall to his lot
during the contest, he would liberally reward all who assisted him against
the Spanish invaders. Several of the Mexican chiefs who were along with
Cacamatzin, expressed their scruples about entering into war without the
orders of their legitimate sovereign, and proposed to send to him for
instructions. Cacamatzin was enraged at this proposal, as adverse to his
views of assuming the crown of the Mexican empire, and immediately ordered
three of the most refractory into custody; by which procedure the rest
were intimidated into compliance with his plans. He then sent a message to
Montezuma, representing the disgrace into which he had fallen, by joining
himself with wizards and magicians, and declared his resolution to destroy
us all. Montezuma was much offended by the proud independence assumed by
his nephew, whom he now resolved to circumvent and make prisoner. For this
purpose he entrusted his signet to six of his captains, whom he commanded
to shew it to certain other leaders among his subjects, who were not well
affected to the prince, and to communicate to them his orders to seize
Cacamatzin and bring him prisoner to Mexico. These men went accordingly to
where Cacamatzin was consulting with the confederate chiefs on the
arrangement of his expedition; and shewing the royal signet with which
they were entrusted, they secured him and five of his principal chiefs
without opposition, and brought them away to Mexico. Cacamatzin, being
brought into the presence of Montezuma, was reproached by him for his
disobedience and treason, and then delivered over to Cortes; but the other
prisoners were released.

Arrangements were immediately made for raising Cuitcuitzcatzin, one of the
brothers of Cacamatzin, to the principality of Tezcuco; who was
accordingly invested with this dignity in the presence, of Montezuma, and
sent over with a splendid retinue to take possession of the government[8].
This important business being completed to our entire satisfaction, we
continued to reside in Mexico, paying our court to Montezuma with the
utmost demonstrations of respect, yet detaining him always a prisoner in
our quarters.

Cortes now resumed a proposal which had been formerly made, for Montezuma
acknowledging the sovereignty of our emperor over him and his dominions;
to which Montezuma replied, that he would summon a council of all his
dependent princes, which he did accordingly, and almost the whole of them
attended in the course of ten days. Among a few who absented themselves on
this occasion, was the chief of Matlatzinco, who has been already
mentioned as renowned for his warlike prowess. He sent back an answer,
that he would neither obey the summons nor pay any more tribute. Montezuma
was much incensed by this contumacious message from his vassal, and sent
officers to apprehend him, but they were unable to succeed. The princes
and feudatories being all assembled, Montezuma reminded them of the
ancient prophecies, by which it was foretold to their ancestors, that a
people was to come from the region of the rising sun, to whom the empire
of the country was to be transferred. He added, that he believed the
Spaniards to be the people spoken of in that prophecy; and had sacrificed
to his gods in vain to give him a distinct revelation on the subject, but
they referred him to the former responses, and commanded him to ask no
more. From all this he concluded that they willed him to yield obedience
to the king of Castile, who was the sovereign of these strangers. "I now,"
said he in conclusion, "beseech you to agree to this submission, which is
required of me by the Spaniards. During the eighteen years which I have
reigned, I have ever been a kind monarch to you, and you have always been
faithful subjects. Since our gods will have it so, let no one refuse this
instance of obedience which I now ask." The princes, with many sighs and
tears, promised to do every thing he might desire. Montezuma, who was
still more affected than they, sent a message to inform Cortes, that he
and his princes would tender their allegiance to our emperor next day.
This was accordingly done at the time appointed, in presence of all our
officers and many of our soldiers, none of whom could refrain from tears,
at beholding the distress and agitation of the great and generous
Montezuma on this humiliating occasion.

Some time afterwards, when Cortes and his captains were conversing with
Montezuma on various topics, the general made inquiry relative to the gold
mines of the empire, when Montezuma informed him that the richest of these
were in the province of Zacatula or Zacatollan, and said that the gold was
procured by washing the earth, the small grains of metal sinking to the
bottom during the operation. He also said that it was obtained from two
rivers in the province of Guztepeque, where the natives were not subjects
to his empire; but, if Cortes chose to send some troops to that place, he
would order his officers to accompany them. Cortes accordingly sent the
pilot Umbria and two soldiers to examine the mines of Zacatula; and sent
his relation Pizarro, to the territories of Chinantla and Zapoteca.
Pizarro was then a young man, and at that time his name and that of Peru,
now so famous, were both equally unknown. Pizarro, who was one of our
captains, took with him four soldiers who were used to mining, and four
Mexican nobles; and Montezuma presented Cortes with a map of the whole
northern, or rather eastern coast of the Mexican empire, admirably
represented in painting, extending at least an hundred and forty leagues,
all the way to Tabasco. Among the rivers said to produce gold, was that of
Huatzocoalco, which Cortes wished to have examined, and Diego de Ordas
offering himself for this purpose, was reluctantly accepted by Cortes, as
he was a person on whom he depended for sound judgment and wholesome
advice on occasions of importance. Before his departure, Montezuma told
Ordas, that the power of the crown of Mexico did not extend over the
country to which he was going, but that he was welcome to the assistance
of the frontier garrisons. Umbria returned first from his mission,
bringing with him gold to the value of three hundred crowns and reported
that the mines might be made very productive, if they were as expertly
managed as those of Hispaniola and Cuba. Two principal persons of the
district accompanied him to Mexico, who brought a present of gold to the
value of about a hundred crowns, and offered to submit themselves and
country to the sovereignty of our emperor. Umbria and his companions
described the country which they had visited as extremely rich and
populous, and he and his companions appeared to have done something
handsome for themselves on the expedition, which Cortes winked at in order
to make up for some former differences.

Ordas, on his return, said that he had passed through very populous
districts, in all of which he was well received. That he found several
bodies of Mexican troops on the frontiers, of whose outrages the natives
of the country made heavy complaints, on which account he had severely
reprehended the commanders of the troops, threatening them with a similar
punishment with what had been inflicted on the lord of Nauhtlan. He had
sounded the river of Huatzcoalco, where he found three fathoms water on
the bar at low tide in the shallowest part, and still deeper within, where
there was a place very proper for a naval establishment. The caciques and
natives treated him with much hospitality, and offered themselves as
vassals to our emperor, but complained loudly against the exactions of
Montezuma and his officers, and pointed out a place where they had lately
slain many of the Mexican troops, which they had named _Cuilonemequi,_ or
the Place of Slaughter of the Mexicans, on whom they bestowed the most
opprobrious epithets. He represented the soil of the country as well
fitted for tillage and the rearing of cattle, and the port as well
situated for trade with Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica; but as inconvenient,
from its distance from Mexico, and unhealthy owing to the morasses in its
vicinity. Pizarro returned from Tustepeque or Tzapotecapan, with gold in
grains to the value of a thousand crowns. He reported, that in going into
the mountains inhabited by the Chinantlans, they flew to arms and would
not permit the Mexicans to enter into their country, threatening to put
them all to death; but admitted him and his Spaniards with great attention.
He brought several of the chiefs of that country along with him to Mexico,
who wished to shake off the Mexican yoke, and to become subjects to our
emperor. Cortes then inquired at Pizarro for the soldiers who had
accompanied him, when Pizarro answered, that finding the country rich and
the people friendly, he had left them to make a plantation of cocoa, and
to explore the rivers and mines. Cortes said nothing to him in public, but
gave him a severe private reprimand for employing the soldiers in such
foolish pursuits, contrary to his orders, and immediately sent a message
commanding their return to head-quarters.

Cortes now proposed to Montezuma to order a general contribution in gold
to be collected through the whole of his dominions, as a tribute to our
emperor, and also that he should deliver up his treasure for the same
purpose. Montezuma accordingly sent orders to his officers in those
districts where the mines were situated, commanding them immediately to
transmit a certain quantity of gold plates, of the size usually paid as
tribute, two of which were sent as patterns. He remarked at the same time,
that there were many districts of the empire from which gold was not to be
expected in any considerable quantity, as they had no mines, and the
natives had only such golden toys among them as they had inherited from
their ancestors. Much gold was immediately transmitted to Mexico from the
rich provinces in compliance with the order; but when it was communicated
to the refractory lord of Matlatzinco, formerly mentioned, he haughtily
answered, that he would pay no tribute, for he had as good a right as
Montezuma to the throne of Mexico. Montezuma was much enraged at this
insolent message, and immediately sent some trusty officers with his
signet, who succeeded in apprehending this redoubted chief. On being
brought prisoner into the presence of the king, he behaved with so much
insolence that Montezuma ordered him to be put to death; but Cortes
interceded for him, and got his punishment transmuted to imprisonment. He
even endeavoured to make a friend of this chief, and proposed to have him
set at liberty, but Montezuma insisted that he should be kept in chains
along with Cacamatzin.

Twenty days after the orders had been issued for collecting the tribute,
it was all brought to Mexico, on which Montezuma summoned Cortes into his
presence, along with the captains and the soldiers who formed his usual
guard, and addressed us as follows: "Being indebted to your great king,
whom I much esteem for having sent you as his ambassadors to me from so
great a distance, and as I am convinced by the prophecies transmitted to
us by our ancestors, and confirmed by our gods, that he is destined to
rule over us, take this gold, which is all I could collect on so short a
notice, and also the treasure which I inherited from my ancestors which
you have already seen; send all this to your emperor, and let it be
recorded in your chronicles that this is the tribute from his vassal
Montezuma. Besides all this, I shall give you for your monarch, a quantity
of our most valuable jewels, which we call _calchihuis_[9], every one of
which is worth two loads of gold, and three tubes for shooting darts or
pellets, so richly adorned with jewels that he will be pleased with them.
Accept all this as an instance of my good will, for it is the last of my
treasure." We all immediately took off our helmets, and gave our hearty
thanks to Montezuma for his munificent and liberal gift, which Cortes
promised should be presented to the emperor with a just representation of
the merits of the donor. We were employed for three days in taking to
pieces the gold contained in the various ornamental articles in the
concealed treasury, which was now delivered up to us by the command of
Montezuma, in which we were assisted by the royal goldsmiths from the town
of Escapuzalco. When separated and weighed, these articles weighed to the
value of above 600,000 crowns, besides many other articles of value, and
exclusive of gold in plates and bars, and in its rough state as brought
from the mines. All this gold was melted down by the goldsmiths, and cast
into bars of three fingers breadth, all of which were stamped with the
royal arms, with our entire approbation. The rest of the present of
Montezuma was worthy of great admiration, consisting of the jewels called
_calchihius_ ornamented tubes covered with gold and jewels, beautiful
embroideries of pearls and feathers, plumes of feathers, and an endless
variety of rich manufactures; and it was unanimously agreed by us all not
to take these rich ornaments to pieces.

After the royal officers had weighed and valued the gold, which exceeded,
as I have already mentioned, 600,000 crowns, exclusive of the silver and
other ornamental articles, it was proposed to deduct the royal fifth, and
to distribute the shares among the officers and soldiers. Cortes proposed
to postpone the division till we acquired more treasure, and had more
exact weights: But the soldiers were clamorous for an immediate division,
as we perceived that above a third part had disappeared since the various
articles were taken to pieces, Cortes and the captains and others being
continually carrying it away and concealing it for their own use. It was
at length agreed to make the division next day, when it was still found to
exceed 600,000 crowns in weight. On making the division, Cortes in the
_first_ place caused a fifth to be laid aside for his majesty; _secondly_,
a fifth for himself, as had been agreed upon; _thirdly_, a portion to
reimburse the naval expenditure incurred by Velasquez, the destruction of
the ships, and all the expences of the expedition from Cuba; _fourthly_,
for the expences of the agents whom we had sent to Spain; _fifthly_, for
the shares of our companions who were in garrison at Villa Rica; _sixthly_,
for the value of the horses which had been killed; _seventhly_, for the
reverend Father Olmeda and our captains; _eighthly_, double shares for the
cavalry, musketeers, and crossbow-men. When all these deductions were made
from the stock, the shares which remained for each soldier were hardly
worth acceptance, not exceeding 100 crowns a-man. We were obliged to
submit, having no one to appeal to for justice; yet many were very
clamorous, whom Cortes secretly endeavoured to appease, giving a little to
one and a little to another in private, and feeding all with fair promises.
Our captains got chains of gold made for them by the Mexican workmen,
Cortes did the same, and had a superb service of gold plate made for his
table. Many of our soldiers, who had been fortunate in secreting plunder,
had golden ornaments made for their use, and gave themselves up to deep
gaming, for which purpose they made cards from drum-heads; and thus we
passed our time in Mexico. One Cardenas, a pilot, who had a wife and
children, seeing that all the immense treasure of Montezuma had dwindled
down to paltry shares of a hundred crowns, made loud complaints of the
injustice he and all of us had experienced. On this coming to the ears of
Cortes, he called us together, and gave us a long honied speech, wondering
how we should be so clamorous about a paltry sum of gold, as the whole
country, with all its rich mines, would soon be ours, by which we would
all have enough to make us lords and princes, and I know not all what.
After this he distributed presents secretly among the most clamorous, and
promised Cardenas to send home 300 crowns to his wife and children.

All men are desirous of acquiring riches, and the desire generally
increases with the acquisition. As it was well known that a great many
valuable pieces of gold had been abstracted from the treasury, suspicion
naturally fell upon several persons who appeared to have more gold than
their shares amounted to. Among these, it was noticed that Velasquez de
Leon had some large chains of gold, and many trinkets and ornaments of
that metal, in the hands of the Mexican workmen, which the treasurer Mexia
claimed as having been purloined. De Leon resisted this, alleging that it
had been given him by Cortes before the gold was run into bars. Mexia
replied that Cortes had concealed enough, and had already taken too much
from the soldiers, without giving him so great a quantity, and insisted on
restitution. Both were valiant men, and their quarrel rose to such a
height, that they drew their swords, and each of them received two wounds
before they could be parted. Cortes ordered them both under arrest and to
be put in chains; but spoke privately to De Leon, who was his intimate
friend, to submit quietly, and released Mexia in consideration of his
holding the office of treasurer. Velasquez was a strong active man, and
used to walk much in the apartment where he was confined, and as Montezuma
heard the rattling of his chains, he inquired who it was, and interceded
with Cortes for his liberation. Cortes told him that Velasquez was a mad
fellow, who would go about robbing the Mexicans of their gold if not
confined. Montezuma replied, if that were all, he would supply his wants,
and Cortes affected to release him as a favour to the king, but banished
him to Cholula, whence he returned in six days, richer than before by the
king's bounty.

About this time, the king offered to give Cortes one of the princesses his
daughter in marriage. Cortes received this offer with much gratitude, but
suggested the propriety of having her in the first place instructed in the
Christian religion, with which Montezuma complied, though he still
continued attached to his own false worship and brutal human sacrifices.
Cortes and his captains were much scandalized by this persistence of
Montezuma in idolatry, and thought it their duty as Christians, to run
even the risk of occasioning a rebellion of the Mexicans by destroying the
idols and planting the true cross in their place; or if that could not be
now accomplished, to make a chapel for Christian worship in the temple. On
this determination, seven officers and soldiers attended Cortes and Father
Olmedo to wait upon Montezuma, to whom they communicated their wish, and
their resolution to employ force if necessary. The king was much alarmed,
and earnestly begged leave to consult with his priests on the subject.
Cortes seemed touched with his situation, and made a signal to the
officers and soldiers to retire, leaving him and Olmedo with the king. He
then told him, that he would endeavour to prevail on the officers to be
satisfied for the present, if a part of the great temple was appropriated
for the reception of an altar and crucifix, by which his majesty would
soon be convinced of the falsehood of his erroneous worship[10]. To this
proposal Montezuma reluctantly consented, with the appearance of much
agitation and deep sorrow; and, an altar and crucifix being erected, mass
was solemnly celebrated in the new chapel, for the care of which a proper
person was appointed.

The whole time of our stay in this city was one continued series of alarms,
sufficient to have destroyed us if we had not been supported by divine
interposition. By this last measure, through the representations of the
priests, acting on the prejudices of the people, our dangers were much
increased. Their gods, as the priests alleged, threatened to desert them,
unless we were destroyed for this violation of the temple, and an
universal determination was formed to obey this manifestation of their
commands. This resolution of the people was conveyed to Montezuma by the
priests, and all his principal warriors; who, besides this subject of
complaint on the score of religion, made many other representations
respecting our misconduct, ever since our arrival in the empire. The page
Orguetilla communicated many alarming circumstances which he had observed,
to Cortes, respecting frequent secret conferences between Montezuma and
his priests and nobles, and the angry and melancholy appearances which he
had frequently seen the king assume on these occasions. Cortes was alarmed
by this intelligence, and immediately waited on the king accompanied by
his interpreters and five of his captains. Montezuma seemed much
distressed during this conference, and declared to Cortes that he was
extremely grieved at the manifestation of the will of his gods that we
should all be put to death or expelled from Mexico: He therefore, as our
sincere friend, earnestly recommended that we should not run the risk of
incurring the indignation of his subjects, but should save our lives by a
retreat whilst that remained within our power. Cortes and the rest were
naturally much alarmed at this; but Cortes answered that he was
principally concerned, because in the first place, he had no vessels for
returning into his own country, and in the next place he would be under
the necessity of taking Montezuma along with him, that he might present
him to our emperor. He therefore entreated Montezuma to use every
influence to restrain his priests and warriors from proceeding to violence,
until we had time to build three ships for our conveyance, and offered
immediately to send our ship-builders to fell timber and construct the
vessels on the coast, requesting the king to order the assistance of his
carpenters for this purpose, that there might be no delay. He repeated his
request, that Montezuma would employ all his influence to prevent any
insurrection in the city, and his endeavours to appease his priests and
gods, providing that no human sacrifices were resorted to for that purpose.
Martin Lopez, our principal ship-builder, was immediately dispatched to
Villa Rica to commence building the three ships, which were put on the
stocks without delay. During this interval, we remained in Mexico full of
terror of being attacked by the whole force of a numerous and warlike
people, exasperated by the insults we had heaped on their sovereign and
their religious belief. Our apprehensions were continually kept alive by
the information we received from Donna Marina, and the page Orteguilla;
who, by understanding the language, obtained much information which must
otherwise have escaped our knowledge. We kept however constant guard over
Montezuma, and the strictest military discipline in our quarters, sleeping
always in our armour, and having our horses saddled and bridled every
night. Without meaning it as any boast, I may say this of myself, that my
armour became as easy and familiar to me as if it had been a soft down bed.
And so habituated am I to this, that now in my old age, when I make the
circuit of my district, I never take a bed along with me, unless attended
by stranger gentlemen, when I do so merely to avoid the appearance of
poverty or avarice. Yet, even when I have one, I always sleep in my
clothes; neither can I rest throughout the night, but get up to
contemplate the stars, walking about without hat or cap, as I used to do
on guard; yet thank GOD I never get cold, nor am I the worse for this
practice. This is to be a true soldier! My readers must pardon this
digression, which does not proceed from vanity, but to let him know what
kind of men we were, the real conquerors of Mexico[11].

[1] Clavigero calls this the god of providence, the soul of the world, the
creator of heaven and earth, and the master of ill things, the
rewarder of the just and the punisher of the wicked.--E.

[2] Along with the work of Bernal Diaz, and in the history of Mexico by
Clavigero, there are representations of ancient Mexican temples. In
both they consist of six frustums of truncated pyramids, placed above
each other, having a gallery or open walk around at each junction, and
straight outside stairs reaching between each gallery, not unlike the
representations that have been ideally formed of the tower of

[3] Clavigero pretends that the defeat and death of Escalante were known
to Cortes and his followers while at Cholula. This is highly
improbable, both from the narrative of Diaz, and because Cortes would
not certainly have put himself entirely in the power of Montezuma,
after this unequivocal demonstration of resolute enmity.--E.

[4] In the original of Diaz they are said to have retreated to Almeria,
but this is an obvious mistake. Almeria, according to Clavigero, II.
55, was the name given by the Spaniards to Nauhtlan, a city on the
coast of the Gulf of Mexico, thirty-six miles north of Villa Rica,
which was governed by Quauhpopoca for Montezuma, and by whom the
Mexican detachment was commanded by which Escalente was defeated.--E.

[5] It is obvious from a circumstance in the sequel of this story that
Diaz and other soldiers attended Cortes on this occasion. Clavigero,
II. 77. says there were twenty-five soldiers besides the five captains,
who repaired two by two to the palace, and joined Cortes there as if
by accident. This daring transaction took place eight days after the
arrival of Cortes in the city of Mexico.--E.

[6] Diaz calls this Tuzapan; but as Nauhtlan was in the country of the
Totonacas, called Totonacapan by the Mexicans, we have chosen here and
everywhere else that this could be done with certainty, to adopt the
orthography of Clavigero.--E.

[7] According to Clavigero, II. 82. Quauhpopoca, his son, and fifteen
other nobles were cruelly put to death on this occasion. Diaz names
the principal chief Quetzalpopoca.--E.

[8] Diaz says that he assumed the name of Don Carlos on this occasion; but
does not allege even that he had been baptised. This name was probably
merely imposed upon him by the Spanish soldiery; or he may have
acquired it on becoming a Christian after the conquest of Mexico was

[9] It is impossible now to say what were these jewels so much valued by
the Mexicans. Clavigero, I. 422, enumerates among their precious
stones, "Emeralds, amethysts, cornelians, turquoises, and others not
known in Europe." In another passage, I. 424, he mentions many small
red stones similar to rubies, as among the Mexican curiosities
transmitted to Charles V. by Cortes.--E.

[10] We are duly sensible of the divine super-excellence of Christianity,
and the gross barbarism of idolatry joined with abominable human
sacrifices. Yet, the mere change of two crossed sticks and the images
of Saint Somebody or Saint Nobody, for the idols of the Mexicans,
under pretence of introducing the pure religion of the meek and holy
Jesus, seems in our humble opinion a mere _qui pro quo_; and, when
taken in conjunction with the proposed conversion by military
execution, and the introduction of the bloody tribunal of the
Inquisition, not one iota less idolatrous or less barbarous.--E.

[11] Bernal Diaz neglects to accommodate his readers with the very useful
appendage of dates; it therefore may be proper to remark that the
Spaniards entered the city of Mexico for the first time on the 8th
November 1519; and as Cortes left it in the beginning of May 1520, in
his march against Narvaez, he had now spent about six months in the
capital of a mighty empire, with hardly 450 soldiers.--E.


_Expedition of Narvaez to supersede Cortes in the command, and occurrences
till the Defeat of that Officer by Cortes at Chempoalla_.

The Bishop of Burgos, who was president of the council of the Indies, bore
unlimited sway in that department of the Spanish government during the
absence of the emperor in Flanders. Owing to the representations of
Velasquez against Cortes, he sent orders to him to seize and make us all
prisoners at every hazard, as rebellious subjects. Velasquez therefore
fitted out a fleet of nineteen ships from the Island of Cuba, in which he
embarked an army of fourteen hundred soldiers, eighty of whom were cavalry,
eighty musketeers, and eighty crossbow-men, with twenty pieces of cannon,
and all necessary ammunition and appointments, giving the command in chief
to Pamphilo de Narvaez. Such was his animosity against Cortes and us for
having thrown off our dependance upon him, that he made a journey of above
seventy leagues from the Havanna on purpose to expedite the preparations.
At this time, the royal audience of St Domingo and the brethren of the
order of St Jerorimo, being satisfied of our loyalty and great exertions
in the service of God and the emperor, sent over the oydor Lucas Vasquez
de Aillon to Cuba, with positive injunctions to stop the sailing of the
armament against us; but as Velasquez was confident in the support of the
bishop of Burgos, he gave no heed to the orders communicated to him by
Aillon, who therefore went along with the armament, that he might
endeavour as much as possible to prevent injury to the public service by
his mediation and influence, and be at hand if necessary, to take
possession of the country for the emperor, in virtue of his office.

Narvaez arrived safe with his whole fleet in the harbour of St Juan de
Ulua, except that he lost one small vessel during the voyage. Soon after
his arrival, the soldiers who had been sent by Cortes to that part of the
country in search of mines, went on board, and it is said gave thanks to
God for being delivered from the command of Cortes and the dangers of the
city of Mexico. Finding them in this mood, Narvaez ordered them to be
plentifully supplied with wine, to make them more communicative. Cervantes
the jester, who was one of these soldiers, under pretence of facetiousness,
exposed to him all the discontents of our soldiers respecting the
distribution of the treasure we had obtained, and informed him also of the
bad state of the garrison in Villa Rica under Sandoval. The arrival of
this new armament was soon communicated to Montezuma, who concealed the
intelligence for some time from Cortes, and opened a private
correspondence with Narvaez, to whom he sent many rich presents. Narvaez,
in his correspondence with Montezuma, said every thing that was bad
against Cortes and his troops, representing the whole of us as outcasts
and robbers, and that the emperor, hearing of our evil conduct, and that
we detained the great Montezuma in custody, had sent the present
expedition for the express purpose of liberating him and putting us all to
death. This intelligence gave great satisfaction to Montezuma, who thought
we must necessarily be all destroyed, as he had got an exact account of
their force represented to him in paintings: He accordingly transmitted
very magnificent presents to Narvaez, and could ill conceal the
satisfaction he had derived from the intelligence. Montezuma concealed the
news of this armament from Cortes, who observed and was astonished at the
alteration which it had produced on the kings manners and behaviour. At
length however, from the circumstance of Cortes making him two visits in
one day, Montezuma became apprehensive of the general procuring
intelligence from any other quarter, and told him the news, pretending
only to have just heard of it himself. Cortes expressed the utmost joy at
the intelligence, and Montezuma shewed him the representations which had
been transmitted to him, by which he learnt every thing he wished to know
on the subject. He immediately left the king and communicated the
intelligence to the troops, who got immediately under arms, and fired
several vollies in token of our joy. We soon noticed, however, that Cortes
was exceedingly pensive when alone, of which we could not divine the cause;
till he soon afterwards convinced us, and explained that the armament was
evidently designed against us; and he now, partly by promises and partly
by gifts, as from his bounty of what was ours by good right, made interest
with us to stand firmly by him in the approaching contest with Narvaez.

From what had been told him by Cervantes and our other deserters, Narvaez
was induced to send a deputation to Sandoval, demanding him to surrender
the port of Villa Rica. He appointed three persons on this errand, Guavera
a clergyman of abilities, Amarga, a relation of Velasquez, and one Vergara,
a scrivener. Sandoval had received information of the arrival of the
armament, and prepared to defend his post, as he rightly guessed that it
was destined to act against us. He sent off all his invalids to an Indian
village at some distance, and exhorting his soldiers to stand by him, he
erected a gibbet, and placed a guard on the road to Chempoalla. On the
arrival of the deputation from Narvaez at Villa Rica, they were astonished
to meet none but Indians, as Sandoval had ordered all the soldiers to
remain in their quarters, and remained at home himself; they knew not well
how to proceed, but at length guessing by the appearance of the house that
it belonged to the governor, they went in. Guavera immediately began the
conversation, by representing the greatness of the force under Narvaez,
and its object, which was to arrest Cortes and all his followers as
traitors, and concluded by summoning Sandoval to surrender himself and his
post to general Narvaez. Sandoval was much displeased, and told him, if it
were not for the protection of his holy function, he would punish his
insolence in calling those traitors who were more faithful subjects than
either Narvaez or his employer Velasquez. He desired him to carry his
demand to Cortes at Mexico, who would settle the business with him at that
place. Guavera insisted to execute the commission on which he was sent,
and ordered the scrivener Vergara to produce the authority under which
they acted. But Sandoval stopped him, saying, "I know not whether your
papers be true or false; but if you attempt to read any here I will order
you to receive a hundred lashes." On this, Guavera exclaimed, "Why do you
mind these traitors? read your commission." Sandoval, calling him a lying
rascal, ordered them all to be seized: On which a number of Indians, who
had been previously instructed, came in and threw nets over them, and
instantly set out with them on their backs for Mexico, to which they were
carried post by relays of Indians, through the several large and populous
towns by the way, with a rapidity that confounded them, hardly knowing
whether they were alive or dead, the whole seeming as if done by
enchantment. Sandoval sent Pedro de Solis to accompany them, by whom he
wrote a hasty letter to Cortes, giving him an account of all he knew. When
the general got notice of their arrival in Mexico, he ordered us all under
arms, released them immediately from their trammels, and made an apology
for the rudeness of Sandoval, whom he greatly blamed. He entertained them
with great hospitality and respect, giving them plenty of gold, and sent
them back in a few days as gentle as lambs, who had come out against him
as furious as lions.

Our general was one whose resources were never exhausted, and it must not
be concealed that his officers and soldiers supported him through all his
difficulties by our valour in the field and our wisdom in council. On this
occasion, we determined that it was proper to send letters to Narvaez and
others of the new army, which they might receive previous to the return of
Guavera. In these, we earnestly urged that no rash steps might be taken to
endanger our general interest, by inciting the Indians to rise upon us;
and held out every inducement of interest and friendship to the followers
of Narvaez to bring them over to our party, not forgetting to treat
secretly with such as we thought might be easiest wrought upon, as both
Guavera and Vergara had informed Cortes that Narvaez was by no means on
good terms with his officers, among whom gold well applied would work
wonders. In his letters to Narvaez, Cortes adjured him by their former
friendship, not to give encouragement to the Mexicans to rise and destroy
us, seeing that they were ready to have recourse to any extremity to
liberate Montezuma, whose dispositions were much altered for the worse
since the arrival of this new armament, and the opening a correspondence
between him and Narvaez. He was convinced, he said, that the expressions
which Narvaez had been reported to use, could never have come from so wise
a man, but must have been fabricated by such wretches as the buffoon
Cervantes; and he concluded by offering an unlimited submission to the
authority of Narvaez. Cortes wrote also to the secretary Andres de Duero,
and Lucas Vasques the oydor, taking care to accompany his letters with
valuable presents of gold. On receiving the letter from Cortes, Narvaez
turned it into ridicule, handing it about among his officers, speaking of
us all as traitors whom he would put to death without mercy. He declared
he would cut off and eat the ears of Cortes, and a great deal of such
braggart nonsense, and of course made no answer to the letters. Just at
this time Father Olmedo arrived, bringing with him the private letters and
presents. He went in the first place to wait upon Narvaez, intending to
assure him that Cortes would be proud to serve under his command; but
Narvaez would not listen to him, and did nothing but abuse both Cortes and
him. He accordingly desisted from that part of his commission which
related to an agreement with Narvaez, and applied himself to the
distribution of presents among the officers with so much judgment and
success, that he soon won over all the principal officers to our party.
If the oydor Vasques was originally disposed to favour Cortes, he was
entirely so on seeing the magnificent presents which were now distributed
with so much liberality; which formed a striking contrast with the avarice
of Narvaez, who used to enjoin his major domo to take heed that not a
mantle were missing, as he had marked down every article committed to his
charge. This penuriousness set all his officers against him, which he
attributed to the intrigues of Vasques; and as there was a difference
between them, because Narvaez neglected to inform him respecting every
thing sent in by order of Montezuma, of which he ought to have been
informed as oydor, an irreconcileable quarrel ensued; and depending on the
favour of the bishop of Burgos, Narvaez caused the oydor to be arrested,
and sent prisoner to Cuba or Spain, I know not which. But during the
voyage, Vasques prevailed on the captain of the ship to land him in
Hispaniola, where he so represented the treatment he had received to the
Audience and the Jeronimites, that they complained to the council of
Castile, but ineffectually, owing to the influence of the bishop of Burgos
in favour of Narvaez. About this time too, a gentleman named Oblanco, made
remonstrances to Narvaez respecting his violence, saying a good deal in
favour of Cortes and his troops, with which Narvaez was so much offended
that he threw him into prison; which Oblanco took so much to heart that he
died three days after.

Soon after the arrival of Father Olmedo, Guevara and his two companions
returned from Mexico, and launched out in praise of Cortes, reporting the
many expressions of respect he had used in speaking of Narvaez; and,
commending the services he had already performed to our emperor, they
expatiated on the advantages which would result from uniting their forces,
instead of fomenting a civil war. All this put Narvaez into such a rage
that he refused to see them any more, and commanded them to be silent on
this hateful subject. They carried their discourse therefore among their
comrades; and when they saw how well furnished with gold these men had
returned from Mexico, they began seriously to wish themselves in the army
of Cortes.

Narvaez now quitted the coast with his army and took possession of the
town of Chempoalla; immediately on his arrival seizing by force the young
women who had been given to the officers of Cortes by their parents, with
all the gold and mantles which had been left in the custody of the fat
cacique along with the ladies, when we set out on our march to Mexico.
When the cacique complained of this to Narvaez, and of the robberies
committed by his soldiers, saying that Cortes and his soldiers conducted
themselves in quite a different manner, a bragging fellow called
Salvatierra exclaimed, "See what fear these Indians are in for the sorry
fellow Cortes!" yet this boaster, who was so ready with his tongue, was
the most cowardly wretch I ever beheld, when we came afterwards to attack
the army of Narvaez. About this time, Narvaez transmitted to Cortes a copy
of the commission he had received from the governor of Cuba, the
particulars of which I shall detail hereafter. Cortes received regular
intelligence of every thing done by Narvaez, partly from the friends he
had made in the adverse army and partly from Sandoval, who now informed
him that five persons of consideration had joined from the army of Narvaez,
who alleged for their reason, that being the relations of the oydor
Vasquez, who had met with such injurious treatment, they had little hopes
of being themselves well used; and he added, that these persons said
Narvaez meant very soon to march to Mexico against us. On this being made
known to such of us as Cortes used generally to consult with, he agreed
with us in opinion that it was advisable for us to march immediately
against Narvaez and his army, leaving the command in Mexico with Alvarado;
and we left under his charge all those men who were not inclined to be of
the present hazardous expedition, and all whom we suspected to have an
inclination for the party of Narvaez or Velasquez. We also left with
Alvarado a sufficient supply of provisions, in case the Mexicans should
refuse to supply him, and because the late harvest had been deficient, in
consequence of too dry a season. Our quarters were strengthened by the
addition of a good pallisade, and, besides four heavy guns, we left a
garrison of eighty-three men, twenty-four of whom were armed with muskets
or cross-bows: a very inadequate force, surely, for keeping the great and
populous city of Mexico in awe.

Previous to our departure, Cortes paid a visit to Montezuma, who
questioned him very anxiously about the difference between him and Narvaez,
as both were vassals of the same sovereign, and desired an explanation of
the charges which the new comers had made against us, that we were
outcasts and traitors. He likewise asked if he could serve us in any way,
expressing an apprehension of our safety, considering the great
superiority under Narvaez. Cortes replied in a cheerful manner, that he
had not sooner informed him of our intended departure, lest it might give
him concern; that we certainly were all subjects to the same monarch, but
that the report of our being traitors and fugitives was utterly false, as
we had come into his country with full authority from our sovereign. As to
the other party destroying us by their superiority in numbers, that did
not depend on them, but on the will of our Lord and his holy mother, who
would support us. He added, that our sovereign ruled over many different
countries, the inhabitants of some of which were more valiant than those
of others; that we were all true Castilians, while the commander of our
opponents was a Biscayan, and his majesty would soon see the difference
between us, as he trusted by the blessing of God to bring them all back as
prisoners. He concluded by recommending in the strongest terms to
Montezuma, to use his utmost endeavours to prevent any insurrection in the
city during our absence; as, on his return, he would assuredly punish all
in a most exemplary manner who behaved amiss. Montezuma promised to do
every thing which Cortes required, and even offered to assist us with five
thousand of his warriors, which Cortes politely declined, knowing indeed
that the king had not that in his power, if he even wished to have done so.
Then requesting Montezuma to cause due respect to be paid to that part of
the great temple which had been consecrated to the Christian worship, he
embraced Montezuma with much cordiality and took leave. He then called
Alvarado and the garrison which was to remain in Mexico, all of whom he
strictly enjoined to be extremely watchful, and to take special care not
to allow Montezuma to escape; promising to make them all rich on his
return, if he found they had done their duty. On this occasion of leaving
Mexico, he left the clergyman Juan Diaz with Alvarado, and some other
persons whose fidelity he questioned.

We began our march from Mexico in the beginning of May 1520[1], making our
first halt at Cholula. From that place we sent a message to the senate of
Tlascala, requiring them to assist us with four thousand of their warriors.
They sent us twenty loads of fowls, saying that they were ready at any
time to join us in war against Indians, but begged to be excused if we
were marching against our own countrymen. At this time likewise, Cortes
sent orders to Sandoval to join our little army with the whole of his
garrison that was fit for duty, at a place named Tampinequeta or
Mitalaquita[2], twelve leagues from Chempoalla. We marched in regular
order without baggage, having always two confidential soldiers in advance
about a days journey, who were directed not to keep the main road, but to
go always by those in which cavalry could not march, and whose especial
business was to inquire for intelligence respecting the motions of Narvaez,
which they were to communicate without delay to Cortes. When we had
proceeded a considerable way on our march, one of our advanced parties
fell in with four Spaniards belonging to the army of Narvaez, who were
bringing to Cortes a copy of his commission and instructions as
captain-general in New Spain. On being brought to the general, they
saluted him respectfully, and he immediately dismounted in order to hear
what they had to say. Alonzo de Mata, who was at the head of the
deputation, produced his papers and began to read them; but Cortes stopt
him short, demanding if he were a royal notary; as in that case, by
shewing his commission, he would be implicitly obeyed, but if he had no
such authority, he certainly would not be allowed to read any pretended
orders. "The commands of his majesty," said Cortes, "I shall submit to
with the utmost humility; but, I desire that the original may be produced."
Mata was confounded at these words, as he held no office whatever under
the crown, and was entirely at a loss how to proceed. But Cortes relieved
him from his embarrassment, telling him our destination, and that he was
ready to receive any message from his general, of whom he always spoke
with great respect, but would listen to no orders that were not sanctioned
by the royal authority. We halted for some time at this place, and Cortes
had some private conferences with these agents of Narvaez, with whom he
used such powerful arguments that he made them his firm friends. They
returned to Chempoalla, quite loud in their praises of Cortes, crying up
his generosity to the skies, and made a magnificent report of the riches
of our soldiers, many of whom had ornaments of gold on their arms, and
some of them gold chains and collars about their necks.

Next day, Sandoval joined with the garrison of Villa Rica, to the number
of about seventy men, with whom came the five Spaniards who had deserted
from Narvaez, who were very graciously received by Cortes. Sandoval
reported that he had sent two of his soldiers, a little time before into
the quarters of Narvaez, who went disguised like Indians, having each a
load of fruit for sale, and their complexions so completely resembled the
natives that they were never suspected. They went immediately to the
quarters of the braggart Salvatierra, who gave them a string of yellow
beads for their fruit, and sent them to cut grass for his horse on the
banks of a small rivulet. They brought home the last load of grass in the
evening, and having fed the horse, they remained about the place till
night, listening to the conversation of Salvatierra, whom they heard
observing to some of his companions, how luckily they had come at the
present moment to deprive the traitor Cortes of the 700,000 crowns which
he had obtained from Montezuma. When it was dark, our disguised soldiers
got privately out of the house, and took away Salvatierras horse with the
saddle and bridle, and meeting another horse by the way, which happened
to be lame, they brought it along with them. Cortes laughed heartily at
this exploit; and we learned afterwards that Salvatierra gave much
amusement to the soldiers of Narvaez, by his absurd behaviour on
discovering the trick which had been played upon him.

It was now resolved in a general consultation of our little army, to send
a letter in all our names to Narvaez, by the hands of Father Olmedo, of
which the following is the purport: "We had rejoiced on hearing of the
arrival of so noble a person with so fine an army, by which we expected
great advantages to have been derived to our holy religion and to the
service of our sovereign; but on the contrary he had reviled us as
traitors, and had occasioned the whole country to revolt. Our general had
already offered to resign to him whatever provinces or territories he
might be inclined to occupy, but nothing would serve him except treating
our general and us as rebels, who had proved ourselves by our actions
faithful subjects to the emperor. If he came by the authority of a
commission from his majesty, we demanded to see the original within three
days, for which purpose we had advanced to this place, and were ready to
obey it in all humility and reverence: but, if he had no such authority,
we required him to return immediately to Cuba, and not to make any attempt
to throw the country which we had conquered into confusion; as otherwise
we should deem it our bounden duty to send him as a prisoner to his
majesty, to be dealt with according to his royal pleasure. We declared
that he was answerable for all the lamentable consequences which might
follow from his unlawful conduct; and that we had sent this letter by its
present conveyance, since no royal notary could undertake to deliver our
remonstrance in due form, after the violence which he had committed
against his majesties oydor Vasquez, a treasonable act, the perpetrator of
which our general was bound to apprehend and bring to justice, and for
which we now cited him to appear and answer for his conduct." This letter
was concluded in terms of great respect, and was signed by Cortes, all the
captains, and several of the most confidential of the soldiers. It was
sent by the reverend Father Olmedo, accompanied by a soldier named Ulagre,
whose brother was in the army of Narvaez as commander of his artillery.
Olmedo waited on Narvaez with great respect on his arrival at Chempoalla;
and proceeded afterwards to execute the secret commission with which he
had been entrusted, by a liberal distribution of gold among certain
officers of the army of Narvaez, among whom were Rodrigo Mira, Ulagre, and
Andres de Duero, which last he invited to pay a visit to Cortes. Narvaez
soon began to suspect the real object of Olmedo, and was much inclined to
have made him a prisoner: but Duero, who had much influence over Narvaez,
both on account of his situation and because they were in some degree
related, represented the impropriety of such an outrage against a person
of his holy functions, and dissuaded him from doing so. He also suggested
to him the great probability of his being able to gain over the soldiers
of Cortes to his party, by means of a little policy. By these arguments he
appeased Narvaez for the present, and went immediately to Olmedo whom he
informed of all that had passed.

Shortly afterwards, Narvaez sent for Olmedo, who requested to speak with
him in private; when he told him good-humouredly that he knew his
intentions of making him a prisoner, in which he was much to blame, as
there was no one whatever more devoted to his service, and he knew that
there were many persons with Cortes, who would gladly see their commander
delivered up to his excellency; in proof of which he had a letter which
Cortes had written at the suggestion of these very persons who wished to
deliver him up; which letter was so full of ridiculous absurdities that he
was frequently tempted to throw it away, but would now with his permission
lay it before him. He accordingly went, as he pretended for the letter,
which he alleged was with his baggage, but in reality to bring Duero and
others along with him, that they might witness its delivery. In order to
contrive an interview with Cortes, Duero proposed that a communication
should be opened between Narvaez and him; and Augustin Bermudez, a secret
friend of Cortes, proposed that Duero and Salvatierra should be sent on
this business, well knowing the character of Salvatierra to be disinclined
to any such employment. It was at last settled that Duero should wait upon
Cortes, and invite him to a conference with Narvaez at a convenient place
between the two armies, where they might treat of an accommodation and
arrange their future measures: And it was resolved that Narvaez should
make him prisoner at the conference, for which twenty of his most
confidential soldiers were prepared. Duero carried intelligence
immediately to Cortes, and Father Olmedo remained at the quarters of
Narvaez, having scraped acquaintance with Salvatierra, under pretence of
relationship, with whom he dined every day.

On first learning the arrival of Narvaez, Cortes sent one of his soldiers
named Barrientos, who had served in Italy and was well acquainted with the
management of the pike, to the province of the Chinantlans, who had lately
entered into alliance with us. That nation used lances or pikes much
longer than ours, having heads of sharpened stone, and Barrientos was
directed to obtain 300 of these lances for our use. There was plenty of
excellent copper in the country of the Chinantlans, and Barrientos was
directed to get two heads of this metal for each lance, and these were
executed so ingeniously that they were better made even than the pattern
sent. He also obtained a promise of 2000 warriors of that nation to join
us, who were to be armed in the same manner, but they did not arrive till
after we had overcome Narvaez. All this being settled, Barrientos arrived
at our quarters attended by 200 Chinantlans carrying the lances he had
procured. On trial these were found excellent, and we were immediately
exercised in their use. A muster was now made of our force, which amounted
to two hundred and six men, including fife and drum, with five mounted
cavalry, two artillery-men, few cross-bows, and fewer musketeers. This
being the force, and such the weapons, with which we marched against and
defeated the vastly superior army of Narvaez.

I have formerly mentioned that the secretary Duero and the contador Lares
had negociated the appointment of Cortes as general of our expedition, and
that they were to enjoy equal shares with him in all the treasure he
should acquire. Lares was some time dead, and Duero seeing how wealthy
Cortes had become, used the colour of the proposed treaty between Narvaez
and Cortes, in order to have an opportunity of an interview with Cortes,
that he might remind him of their agreement. Cortes not only promised
faithfully to perform his engagement, but promised him an equal command
with himself, and an equal share of territory when the conquest of the
country was completed. It was accordingly agreed upon between them, in
concurrence with Augustin Bermudez, who was alguazil-major of the army of
Narvaez, and many other officers whom I do not name, to get Narvaez put
out of the command in favour of Cortes. In order to confirm these in his
interest, and to gain over others, Cortes was more liberal than ever in
his presents, and on the present occasion loaded the two Indians who
attended on Duero with gold. On one of the days of intercourse, after
Cortes and Duero had been a considerable time together in private, and had
dined, Duero asked him on mounting his horse to go away, if he had any
farther commands. To this Cortes replied, "Remember what has been settled
between us, or if you don't, I shall be in your quarters before three days,
and you shall be the first person at whom I will throw my lance." Duero
answered laughing, that he would not fail, and immediately set off for the
quarters of Narvaez, where he is reported to have said that Cortes and all
his men were ready to submit to the command of Narvaez. Soon after this,
Cortes sent for Juan Velasquez de Leon, a person of much consideration,
who had always been greatly attached to him, though a near relation of the
governor of Cuba. On coming to his quarters, Cortes addressed him in
smooth and persuasive terms, which he could always assume at
pleasure:--"Duero has informed me that Narvaez is anxious to see you at
his quarters, and that it is generally believed I am completely ruined if
you go there. Now my worthy friend, I desire you to put on your gold chain,
mount your grey mare, take all your gold along with you and more which I
will give you; go immediately and fix yourself with Narvaez, and
distribute the gold which I confide to you according to my directions."
Velasquez was perfectly willing to do as he was desired, but objected to
the measure of carrying his own treasure along with him, and after a
secret conference with Cortes he set out for Chempoalla. De Leon arrived
there by day-break, and as the Indians were rejoiced to see him, the news
soon reached Narvaez, who came out to meet and embrace him. After paying
his compliments, Velasquez said his only object there was to endeavour to
make an amicable arrangement between Narvaez and Cortes; upon which
Narvaez took him aside and asked him how he could propose to treat for
such a traitor? Velasquez desired that no such injurious epithet might be
used in his presence, as Cortes was a most zealous and faithful officer.
Narvaez then offered to make him second in command under himself if he
would renounce Cortes; but Velasquez declared he would never quit one who
had done such signal services for God and the emperor.

By this time all the principal officers in the army of Narvaez had come up
to salute Velasquez, who was an universal favourite, as he was very polite
and well bred, and had a fine person and handsome countenance. At this
time he cut a fine martial figure, as he had a massy gold chain which made
two turns round his body and over his shoulders, so that he impressed
every one with respect. Bermudez the alguazil-major and Duero wished much
to have had some private communication with Velasquez; but just at this
time Captain Gamarra, Juan Yuste, Juan Buono, and Salvatierra the
braggadocio, persuaded Narvaez to give private orders for taking Velasquez
into custody, for having spoken so boldly in defence of Cortes; but the
others who had come over to the interest of Cortes, strongly represented
the impropriety and impolicy of such rash conduct, and Narvaez again spoke
in a friendly manner to Velasquez, whom he invited to dine with him, and
entreated his assistance to bring Cortes and the rest of us into his power.
Velasquez now agreed to forward this design, but represented Cortes as
headstrong and resolute, advising that Narvaez and he should divide the
country between them, each taking separate provinces. At this time Olmedo
came up, and advised Narvaez to order his troops under arms, that
Velasquez might see them and report to Cortes, who would be terrified when
he knew their strength. The troops were accordingly turned out in review
order, and Velasquez complimented Narvaez on their number and martial
appearence, wishing him an increase of his power. Narvaez said he hoped
Velasquez was now satisfied how easily he could crush Cortes and his
despicable force; to which Velasquez replied, he hoped they knew how to
defend themselves.

Velasquez dined next day with Narvaez, where a captain in his army who was
nephew to the governor of Cuba happened to be, who used very insulting
language respecting Cortes. On this Velasquez requested of Narvaez, that
such insulting language might not be allowed in his hearing; but the other
gentleman continued his abuse, and even took great liberties with
Velasquez himself; who, laying his hand on his sword, asked permission
from Narvaez to chastise that base liar. The other officers who were
present interfered to prevent mischief, and advised both Velasquez and
Olmedo to retire. Velasquez accordingly mounted his excellent grey mare,
in his helmet and coat of mail, with his gold chain about his shoulders,
and took leave of Narvaez, who returned his salute with apparent coldness.
The young captain was again very violent in his abuse; on which Velasquez
swore by his beard, that he should see in a few days what stuff he was
made of. Then, taking a hasty leave of the bystanders, he put spurs to his
good grey mare and was soon out of sight, as he had some hint or suspicion
that Narvaez might send after him, and even saw some horsemen following him
apparently for that purpose, but he was too well mounted for their pursuit.

In about two hours after Velasquez had left our camp to visit Narvaez, the
drum beat to arms, and our little army set forwards on our march for
Chempoalla. We killed two wild hogs on our way, which our soldiers
considered as a good omen of our ultimate success. We halted for the night
on the side of a rivulet, having the ground for a bed, stones for our
pillows, and heaven for our canopy, and arrived next day at the place
where the city of Vera Cruz is now built, which was then an Indian village
in a grove of trees. Being mid-day and the weather extremely sultry, we
stopped here for rest and refreshment, being much fatigued by the weight
of our lances and armour. While here, a report was brought from one of our
out-posts that some horsemen were in sight, who turned out to be Velasquez
and Olmedo, who were received by Cortes, and all of us with much joy, and
we all came round them to hear the news. Velasquez told Cortes in what
manner he had executed his commission and distributed the presents among
the officers of Narvaez. Then our merry Father Olmedo gave an account by
what finesse he had persuaded Narvaez to read our letter; how he had made
the foolish braggart Salvatierra believe they were cousins, and of the
ridiculous bravadoes he uttered, as how he would kill Cortes and all of us
in revenge for the loss of his horse; then how he had prevailed on Narvaez
to turn out his troops in review, merely to laugh at him; and in all these
stories he mimicked Narvaez and Salvatierra most admirably, so that we
laughed and enjoyed ourselves as if going to a wedding-feast, though we
well knew that on the morrow we must conquer or die, having to attack
five times our number. Such is the fortune of war! After the heat of the
day was over, we proceeded on our march, and halted for the night at a
river about a league from Chempoalla, where there is now a bridge and a
dairy farm.

After the departure of Father Olmedo and Velasquez from the quarters of
Narvaez, some of his officers gave him warning of the secret practices
going on, and advised him to be on his guard, as Cortes had many friends
in his army. The fat cacique of Chempoalla, being terrified for being
called to account by Cortes for delivering up the women and mantles that
had been confided to his care, was extremely vigilant in watching all our
motions. Finding that we drew near Chempoalla, he said to Narvaez, "Why
are you so careless! _Malinatzin_ and his _teules_ will come upon you by
surprise and put you all to death." Narvaez, being confident in his vast
superiority, laughed heartily at the fears of the fat cacique, yet did not
neglect the warning. In the first place, he declared war against us as
rebels, with fire, sword, and rope, and then drew up his whole army,
cavalry, artillery, and infantry, in a plain about a quarter of a league
from Chempoalla, where he resolved to wait for us; all of which we learned
from a soldier, named El Galleguillo, who either deserted to us, or was
sent by Duero to Cortes. The day happened to be very rainy, and the troops
of Narvaez, being unaccustomed to hardships, and despising our small
number, became restless and dissatisfied with their situation, on which
his officers advised him to march them back to quarters, which he did,
placing all his guns in a line before the house in which he lodged. He
likewise placed a grand guard of forty cavalry on the road by which we
were expected to advance, and some cavalry videts and active foot soldiers
at the ford where we must pass on our way to Chempoalla. Twenty of his
cavalry were also appointed to patrole during the whole night around his
quarters. All this was done by the advice of his officers, who were
anxious to get under cover, and who alleged it was absurd to suppose that
Cortes would venture to attack them with so pitiful a handful of men, and
that he only advanced from ostentation, or to induce them to come to an
agreement. On returning to quarters, Narvaez publickly offered a reward of
two thousand crowns to whoever should kill Cortes or Sandoval; and he
stationed as spies at the ford, Gonzalo Carrasco, who now dwells in La
Puebla, and a soldier named Hurtado. He also filled his own quarters, and
those of Salvatierra, Gamarra, and Buono, with musketeers, crossbow-men,
and soldiers armed with partizans or halberts.

On arriving at the river which runs through the rich meadows about a
league from Chempoalla, having appointed trusty out-guards, Cortes
summoned all his officers and soldiers round him, and addressed us as
follows: "Gentlemen! you well know that the governor of Cuba selected me
as your general, although there are many among you as worthy of the
command. You also know that it was publickly proclaimed and believed among
us, that we were to conquer and colonize this country, whereas our
instructions were only to barter with the natives for gold. You will
recollect my determination to have returned to Cuba, to give an account of
my mission to Velasquez, when I was required by you to remain and colonize
the country for his majesties service, appointing me your captain-general
and chief magistrate, till his majesties pleasure was made known, and that
we have in consequence essentially served God, and the interest of our
sovereign. I beg leave to remind you, that we have written to the king,
giving him a full account of this country, and all that we have done and
suffered for his service, requesting that the government might not be
conferred on any unworthy person, and how we transmitted all the treasure
to his majesty that we had obtained. You likewise know, that fearing the
arts and influence of the bishop of Burgos and his favourite Velasquez, we
came to a resolution to maintain his majesties rights and government in
this country, till his royal mandate, duly authenticated, should be
produced to us. I must now remind you to what dangers you have been
exposed in various sanguinary battles, what hardships you have suffered
from hunger and fatigue, and the inclemencies of the weather, having often
been obliged to sleep on the ground in rain, wind, and snow, during all
which, above fifty of your companions have died, and many of your own
wounds are still unhealed. I recal to your remembrance, your numerous
sufferings by sea and land, and the perils of Tabasco, Tlascala, and
Cholula, where the boilers were already on the fires in which your limbs
were to have been prepared for the barbarous repast of your savage enemies.
And lastly, your hazardous entry into Mexico, the seizure of its powerful
sovereign, and its occupation in the face of an immense and warlike
population for more than six months. Let me now state the reward of all
these dangerous and brilliant services. Narvaez is sent here by your
enemies the governor of Cuba and bishop of Burgos, to strip you of your
well-earned fame and dear-bought treasures. By aspersing your characters
with the great Montezuma he has occasioned the defection of the natives
who had submitted to our government, and he proclaims exterminating war
against us with fire, sword, and rope, as if we were infidel Moors." He
said a great deal more to the same purpose, exalting our merits and valour
to the skies, and after a profusion of compliments and promises, he
concluded by observing that this Narvaez, who had come to deprive us of
our lives and properties, and had imprisoned the royal oydor for
endeavouring to defend us, only held his command through the favour of our
great enemy the bishop of Burgos; and it became us therefore, as faithful
subjects, to make a bold stand in defence of the royal rights, and our own
lives and properties: He therefore now wished to know our determination on
the subject.

The whole officers and soldiers declared unanimously that we were ready to
follow him, and determined to conquer or die. We desired, therefore, that
we might hear no more said about an accommodation with Narvaez, or a
partition of the country; as in that case we would plunge our swords into
his body, and elect another chief. Cortes highly extolled our spirited
declaration, saying that he expected no less from men of our valour;
adding a multitude of fine promises and flattering assurances that he
would make us all rich and great. Then adverting to the approaching attack,
he earnestly enjoined us to observe the strictest discipline, and the most
profound silence, observing that success in battle often depended a great
deal more on prudent conduct and precise obedience, than on the most
determined bravery: He well knew, he said, that our ardour would prompt
every one of us to strive who should be most forward in the battle, but it
was indispensably necessary that we should be distributed into companies,
having each our distinct duties to perform. The first thing necessary to
be done, was to seize the enemies artillery, and for this duty he selected
seventy soldiers, among whom I was one, over whom he appointed to the
command his relation Pizarro, an active young man, but then as little
known to fame as the kingdom of Peru. Our farther orders were, as soon as
we had got possession of the guns, that we were to join and support the
detachment which was to attack the quarters of Narvaez. This duty was
assigned to Sandoval at the head of seventy select men; and, as he was
alguazil-major of our army, he was provided with a formal warrant to
arrest the body of Pamphilo de Narvaez, for having imprisoned an officer
of his majesty, and to put him to death in case of resistance. Cortes also
promised a reward of three thousand crowns to the first soldier who should
lay hands on Narvaez, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the
third. Juan Velasquez de Leon was appointed with a third body of seventy
men, to seize his relation Diego Velasquez; and Cortes retained a body of
reserve of twenty men, to act whatever he might see occasion, and in
particular to support the intended attack on the quarters of Narvaez and
Salvatierra, which were in the lofty temple of Chempoalla[3]. Having thus
arranged the troops and instructed our leaders, he addressed us in a short
speech, saying, That he well knew the army of Narvaez was four times more
numerous than we, but they were unaccustomed to arms, and many of them ill;
he trusted therefore in this unexpected attack, that God would give us
victory, and that it was better to die gloriously than to live dishonoured.
I have often reflected on this circumstance, that in all his addresses to
us, he never once mentioned a word respecting those in the army of Narvaez
who were our friends; in which he acted the part of a wise commander,
making us to rely entirely on our own prowess, without counting on any
assistance. Our three detachments were now formed, having each their
captains at their head, explaining to us our particular duties, while we
mutually encouraged each other to hope for victory. Pizarro, our leader,
directed us to rush forwards upon the guns, with our lances at the charge,
and immediately on getting possession, the artillery-men who were attached
to our division, were to point and fire them against the quarters of
Narvaez. Those who happened at this moment to be deficient in defensive
armour, would have given every thing they had in the world for a morion, a
helmet, or a breast-plate. Our countersign for the engagement was _Spiritu
Santo_, that of Narvaez _Santa Maria_. Just before marching, Captain
Sandoval, who had always been my intimate friend, called me aside, and
made me promise, if I survived the capture of the guns, I should seek out
and attach myself to him during the rest of the battle.

All things being arranged, we remained waiting the order to march, and
reflecting with much anxiety on what was before us. I was stationed at an
advanced post, where soon afterwards a patrole came to me, asking if I had
heard any thing, to which I answered that I had not. A corporal came up to
my post soon after, who said that Galleguillo, the deserter from Narvaez,
was missing, and was suspected of having come among us as a spy, for which
reason Cortes had given orders to march immediately. The drum was soon
heard beating for us to fall in, and the captains were calling over their
companies. We joined the column, and soon after found the missing soldier
sleeping under some mantles to relieve his fatigue, as he had not been
accustomed to hardships. We marched on at a quick pace, and in profound
silence, and on arriving at the river, surprised the two videts of Narvaez,
one of whom we made prisoner, and the other flying into the town before us,
spread the alarm of our approach. Owing to rain the river was deeper than
usual, and the ford was difficult to pass, from loose stones and the
weight of our armour. Carrasco the videt, whom we had taken, exclaimed to
Cortes, "Do not advance, Senior Cortes, for Narvaez and all his force is
drawn out to receive you." We proceeded, however, with all expedition, and
on coming to the town, heard the other man who had escaped giving the
alarm, and Narvaez calling on his officers to turn out. Our company was at
the head of the column; and rushing on with charged lances, we soon made
ourselves masters of the guns, the artillery-men having only time to
discharge four, one only of which took effect, and killed three of our men.
Our whole force now advanced, and brought down seven of the enemies
cavalry; but we could not for some time quit the guns, as the enemy kept
up a smart discharge of musketry and arrows from the quarters of Narvaez.
Sandoval and his company pressed forwards to climb the steps of the temple,
in which attempt he was resisted by the enemy, with musketry, partizans,
and lances, and was even forced down six or seven steps. At this time,
seeing that the artillery was no longer in danger of being rescued, our
company, with Captain Pizarro at their head, went to the assistance of
Sandoval, when we jointly made the enemy give ground in their turn; and at
this critical moment I heard Narvaez crying out, "Santa Maria assist me!
they have slain me, and beat out one of my eyes!" On hearing this we
shouted out, "Victory! victory! for the Espiritu Santo! Narvaez is dead!"
Still we were unable to force our way into the temple, till Martin Lopez,
who was very tall, set the thatch on fire, and forced those within to rush
down the steps to save themselves from being burnt to death. Sanches
Farfan laid hold on Narvaez, whom we carried prisoner to Sandoval, along
with several other captive captains, continually shouting, "Victory!
victory! Long live the king and Cortes! Narvaez is slain!"

While this was going on with us, Cortes and the rest of our army were
engaged with some of the enemy who occupied some other lofty temples. When
the cause of our shouts was understood, Cortes notified to them the fall
of their commander, proclaiming that all who did not instantly submit
should be put to death; yet those who were in the temple, commanded by
Diego Velasquez and Salvatierra would not submit, till Sandoval with half
of our body, and the captured guns, forced his way into the temple and
made them all prisoners. Sandoval now returned to take charge of Narvaez,
who was doubly ironed; and we now, had in custody besides him, Salvatierra,
Diego Velasquez, Gamarra, Juan Yuste, Juan Buono, and many other principal
persons. At this time Cortes came in unobserved, extremely fatigued; and
addressing Sandoval, said it was impossible to describe the labour he had
experienced; then asked, "What has become of Narvaez?" Sandoval told him
that Narvaez was here safe. Cortes then said, "Son Sandoval, keep good
watch over him and the other officers." After which he hastened away, and
caused proclamation to be made, that all should lay down their arms and
submit. The whole of this happened during the night, during which there
were frequent showers, with intervals of moon-shine; but at the moment of
attack it was extremely dark, with multitudes of fire flies, which the
soldiers of Narvaez mistook for the lighted matches of our musketry.
Narvaez was badly wounded, and had one of his eyes beaten out, on which
account he requested to send for Master Juan the surgeon; and while he was
getting his eye dressed Cortes entered the room, when Narvaez said to him:
"Senior Cortes! thank your good fortune for having made me your prisoner."
Cortes answered, That his thanks were due to God and his valiant soldiers,
who had succeeded in more difficult achievements since they came to New
Spain; and he considered the arrest of the royal oydor was more daring
than our present attack. He then left the room, with strict injunctions to
Sandoval to keep strict guard. Narvaez and the rest of the captured
officers were removed into a more secure apartment, where I and some other
confidential soldiers were appointed for their guard, and Sandoval gave me
a private order to allow no one to speak with Narvaez.

Cortes knew that forty of the enemies cavalry were still at an outpost on
the river, and that it was necessary to keep a good look out, lest they
might attack us for the rescue of their officers. He sent, therefore, De
Oli and De Ordas to speak with them, on two horses which were found
fastened in a wood, and guided by one of the soldiers of Narvaez. By their
arguments and fair promises, the horsemen were all persuaded to submit,
and came back with them for that purpose to the town. It was now clear day,
and Cortes was seated in an arm-chair, with an orange-coloured mantle over
his shoulders, and his arms by his side, surrounded by his officers and
soldiers. He received the salutations of the cavaliers, as they came up
successively to kiss his hand, with amazing affability, embracing them all
most cordially, and politely complimenting them. Among these were Bermudez,
Duero, and several others, who were secretly his friends already. Each of
the cavaliers, after paying his respects, went to the quarters assigned
for their lodgings. Ever since day-break, the drums, fifes, and timbals of
the army of Narvaez never ceased their music in honour of Cortes, though
none of us had spoken a word to them on the subject. A comical fellow of a
negro, who belonged to the band, danced for joy, shouting out; "Where are
your Romans now? They never achieved so glorious a victory with such small
numbers!" We could not silence these noisy fellows, till Cortes ordered
them to be confined. In this action, a gentleman of Seville, and
standard-bearer to Narvaez, Roxas, one of his captains, and two others,
were killed, and many wounded; one also of the three who deserted from us
to him was killed, and several wounded. The fat cacique also, who took
refuge in the quarters of Narvaez on our approach, was wounded, and Cortes
ordered him to his house, to be there well taken care of. As for
Salvatierra, who had made so many boasts, his own soldiers said they never
saw so pitiful a fellow. When he heard our drum he was in a terrible
fright, and when we shouted out victory, he declared he had a pain at his
stomach, and could fight no more. Diego Velasquez, who was wounded, was
taken by his relation Juan Velasquez de Leon to his own quarters, where he
was well taken care of, and treated with the utmost attention[4].

The reinforcement of warriors which Cortes had been promised from
Chinantla, marched into Chempoalla soon after the conclusion of the action,
under the command of Barrientos, who had marshalled them in a very shewy
manner, in regular files, lancemen and archers alternately, 1500 in number,
accompanied with colours, drums, and trumpets, and making a most warlike
appearance, to the great astonishment of the soldiers of Narvaez, who
thought they were double the number. Our general received them with much
courtesy, and as their services were no longer needed, he made them
handsome presents, and dismissed them with thanks.

The army of Narvaez being now secured, Cortes sent F. de Lugo to order all
the captains and pilots of the fleet to come to Chempoalla, and directed
all the ships to be dismantled, to cut off all communication with Cuba.
One Barahona, afterwards an inhabitant of Guatimala, had been confined by
Narvaez, and was now set at liberty, who was in a very weak state when he
joined us. The captains and pilots of the fleet came on shore to pay their
respects, and Cortes bound them all by oath not to leave him, appointing
Pedro Cavallero, one of their number, admiral of the whole fleet now in
his possession; and, as more ships were expected from Cuba, gave him
orders to dismantle them all as they arrived, and to send the captains and
pilots to head-quarters. All these important matters being arranged, and
his authority completely established, Cortes proceeded to such measures as
seemed proper for extending and securing the conquest and discovery of New
Spain. For this purpose, Velasquez de Leon was appointed to conduct an
expedition to the river of Panuco, with 220 soldiers, 20 of which were
taken from among ourselves, and 100 from the soldiers of Narvaez: And was
to be accompanied by two ships, on purpose to extend the discovery of the
coast. Diego de Ordas, was appointed with a similar force, to establish a
colony in the province of Guacocualco, or Coatzacualco; and as that
country was well adapted for breeding cattle, he was directed to send to
Jamaica for horses, mares, bulls, and cows, for the purpose of
establishing an independent supply in the country. All the prisoners were
released, except Narvaez and Salvatierra, who still had the pain in his
stomach. Cortes also gave orders to restore all their horses and arms to
the soldiers of Narvaez, which gave us all much dissatisfaction, but we
were obliged to submit. On this occasion I had to resign a good horse with
a saddle and bridle, two swords, three daggers, and a shield. Avila and
Father Olmedo, speaking on this subject to Cortes, said he resembled
Alexander the Great, who was always more generous to the vanquished, than
to his own conquering soldiers. Indeed as fast as Cortes received gold or
other valuables, he gave away all to the captains of the other army, quite
forgetful of us who had made him what he was. Cortes protested that he and
all he had was entirely devoted to our service, as he would shew by his
future conduct; but that his present procedure was necessary for our
common interest and safety, we being so few, and the others so numerous.
Avila, who was of a lofty disposition, remonstrated in an imperious manner,
and Cortes was forced to dissemble with him at the time, knowing him to be
a brave man; he pacified him therefore with presents and flattering
promises, to prevent any violence, but took care in future to employ him
in distant business, as his agent first in Hispaniola, and afterwards in

There happened to come over in the army of Narvaez, a negro who was ill of
the small-pox, a most unfortunate circumstance for the people of New Spain,
as the disease spread with astonishing rapidity through the country, and
destroyed the natives by thousands, as they used to throw themselves into
cold water in the height of the disease, with the nature of which they
were utterly unacquainted. Thus multitudes of unfortunate souls were
hurried into eternity, without an opportunity of being received into the
bosom of the holy Catholic church. At this time, such of our soldiers as
had been in distant garrisons, applied to Cortes to receive their shares
of the gold which had been got in Mexico. As far as I can remember, he
referred them to a place in Tlascala, desiring that two persons might be
sent to receive it at that place; and I shall have occasion to mention
the result hereafter.

[1] The date is supplied in the text from attentive consideration of dates
mentioned by Diaz in the sequel, and in this date Clavigero, II. 97,
agrees. Diaz gives no account of the strength of Cortes on the present
occasion, but afterwards mentions 206 soldiers, with five horsemen and
two gunners, independent of 70 more who joined under Sandoval from the
garrison of Villa Rica. This would make the whole force 285 soldiers,
against 1400 who were under the command of Narvaez.--E.

[2] No such place is to be found in the map of Clavigero, nor in that
recently published by Humbolt.--E.

[3] These numbers, as arranged for the attack on Narvaez, only amount to
230 men. At the occupation of Mexico the Spanish army is said to have
been about 450, besides the garrison of Villa Rica. Eighty-three men
are stated to have been left in Mexico under the command of Alvarado,
which would still leave 367 to march under Cortes for Chempoalla, to
which 70 being added from Villa Rica under Sandoval, would raise the
amount of the army now under Cortes to about 437 men, so that about
207 are unaccounted for in the arrangement for the attack, besides
Ordas, and other eminent captains are not now mentioned in the text.
We may, therefore, reasonably conclude, that these captains and the
unaccounted for remaining force of Cortes, were left at the ford of
the river, about a league from Chempoalla, as a rear guard, on which
to retreat in case of a defeat, or may have formed a main body for the

[4] This victory of Cortes over Narvaez took place on the 26th May


_Occurrences, from the Defeat of Narvaez, 26th May 1520, to the Expulsion
of the Spaniards from Mexico, on the 1st, and the Battle of Otumba on the
4th of July of the same Year_.

The wheel of fortune is ever in motion, evil following closely upon good.
This was strongly exemplified with us at this time, as our late successes
were speedily followed by melancholy news from Mexico by express,
informing us that an insurrection had broke out in that city, that
Alvarado was besieged in his quarters, which the natives had set on fire,
after killing seven of his men and wounding many; for which reason
Alvarado earnestly entreated immediate succour. It is not to be expressed
how much this news afflicted us all. In consequence of this distressing
intelligence, Cortes countermanded the expeditions which were to have
marched under De Leon and De Ordas, and determined upon an immediate
forced march to Mexico. We left Narvaez and Salvatierra as prisoners at
Villa Rica, under the charge of Roderigo Rangel, who was likewise directed
to collect all the stragglers, and to take care of the invalids, who were
numerous: Just as we were ready to march, four principal nobles arrived
from the court of Montezuma, who made a heavy complaint against Alvarado,
who had assaulted them while dancing at a solemn festival in honour of
their gods, which had been held by his permission, and stating that they
had been constrained to take up arms in their own defence, during which
seven of the Spanish soldiers were slain. Cortes made them a short answer,
saying that he would shortly be at Mexico, when he would make proper
inquiry and set all to rights, with which answer they had to return to
Montezuma, who was much displeased with the insulting tone in which it was
given, more especially as a great number of his subjects had been killed
by Alvarado. Before commencing our march, Cortes made a speech to the
soldiers of Narvaez, exhorting them to forget all past animosities, and
not to let the present opportunity be lost of serving both his majesty and
themselves; and by way of inducement, gave them a magnificent picture of
the riches of Mexico, to a participation in which their faithful conduct
would entitle them. They one and all declared their resolution to obey his
orders, and to proceed immediately to Mexico, which they would hardly have
agreed to if they had known its strength, and the numerous martial
population of that city.

We arrived at Tlascala by very long marches, where we were informed that
the Mexicans had made incessant attacks on Alvarado, until Montezuma and
they received intelligence of the defeat of Narvaez; after which they had
desisted, leaving the Spaniards in great distress, owing to excessive
fatigue from their continual exertions, and much in want of water and
provisions. At Tlascala, Cortes made a general muster and inspection of
our army, which now amounted to thirteen hundred men, of whom nearly an
hundred were cavalry, and a hundred and sixty armed with muskets and
crossbows. We were here joined by two thousand Tlascalan warriors, and
marched from hence to Tezcuco, where we were very ill received, every
thing bearing the appearance of disaffection.

On St John's day, 24th of June 1520, we again entered Mexico[1], where we
met with a very different reception from what we had experienced on our
former entry, on the 8th November 1519, seven months and a half before.
Not one of the nobles of our acquaintance came now to meet us, and the
whole city seemed to have been deserted by its inhabitants. On entering
our quarters, Montezuma advanced to embrace Cortes, and to congratulate
him on his victory; but our general turned from him with disdain, and
would neither speak to him nor listen to his address, on which the king
returned to his apartment much cast down. Cortes made inquiry into the
causes and circumstances of the late commotion, from all of which it was
evident that it had neither been instigated nor approved by Montezuma; as
if he had chosen to act against our garrison, they might all have been as
easily destroyed as only seven. Alvarado said, that the Indians were
enraged at the detention of their sovereign, and by the erection of the
cross in their temple; and that when they went, as they said by order of
their gods, to pull it down, all their strength was unable to move it from
its place; and that Montezuma had strictly enjoined them to desist from
all such attempts. In justification of himself, Alvarado alleged that the
friends and subjects of Montezuma had planned the attack upon him for the
liberation of their sovereign, at the time when they believed Cortes and
his army had been destroyed by Narvaez: And being questioned why he had
fallen on the Mexicans, while holding a festival in honour of their gods,
he pretended that he had intelligence of their hostile intentions from a
priest and two nobles, and thought it safest to be beforehand with them.
When pressed by Cortes to say whether the Mexicans had not asked and
obtained his permission to hold that festival, he acknowledged it was so,
and that he had fallen upon them by anticipation, that he might terrify
them into submission, and prevent them from going to war with the
Spaniards. Cortes was highly displeased with the conduct of Alvarado, and
censured him in the strongest terms.

Alvarado alleged that during one of the attacks of the Mexicans on his
quarters, he had endeavoured to fire off one of his guns and could not get
the priming to take fire; but sometime afterwards, when they were in great
danger, the gun went off of itself and made prodigious havock among the
enemy, who were thus miraculously repulsed, and the Spaniards saved from
inevitable destruction. He said also, that the garrison being in great
distress for water, they sank a pit in one of the courts, when immediately
a spring of the sweetest water sprung up. I know that there was a spring
in the city which often produced tolerably fresh water[2]. Glory be to GOD
for all his mercies! Some alleged that Alvarado was excited to this attack
by avarice, in order to plunder the Indians of their golden ornaments
during the festival; but I am satisfied his attack proceeded from a
mistaken idea of preventing insurrection by terror. It is certain, that
even after the massacre at the temple, Montezuma used every endeavour to
prevent his subjects from attacking our people: but they were so enraged
that nothing could restrain their eager thirst for vengeance.

During our march, Cortes had launched out to the new comers in warm
eulogiums on the riches of Mexico, the power and influence which he had
acquired, and the respect and obedience of the Mexicans, filling them with
promises and expectations of enjoying gold in abundance. From the
negligent coldness of his reception in Tezcuco, and the similar
appearances in Mexico, he became vexed, disappointed, and peevish;
insomuch, that when the officers of Montezuma came to wait upon him, and
expressed the wishes of their master to see him, Cortes exclaimed angrily:
"Away with the dog, wherefore does he neglect to supply us." The captains
De Leon, De Oli, and De Lugo, happening to be present on this occasion,
entreated him to remember the former kindness and generosity of the
Mexican sovereign, and to treat him with moderation. This only seemed to
irritate Cortes so much the more, as it appeared to censure his conduct,
and he indignantly answered: "What obligations am I under to the wretch,
who plotted secretly against me with Narvaez, and who now neglects to
supply us with provisions?" The captains admitted that this ought to be
done, and Cortes being full of confidence in the great military power he
now commanded, continued a haughty demeanour to the Mexican noblemen who
still waited his pleasure. Turning therefore to them, he desired them to
tell their master, that he must immediately order markets to be held, and
provisions to be supplied for his troops, or to beware of the consequences.
These lords understood the general import of the injurious expressions
which Cortes had used against Montezuma, and made a faithful report to him
of all that passed. Whether it may have proceeded from rage on account of
these opprobrious expressions against their sovereign, or from a plan
previously concerted to fall upon us, I know not, but within a quarter of
an hour, a soldier dangerously wounded came running into our quarters, and
reported that the whole people were in arms against us. This man had been
sent by Cortes to bring over to our quarters the daughter of Montezuma and
other Indian ladies, who had been left under the charge of the cacique of
Tacuba, when we marched against Narvaez. He was returning with these
ladies, when the people attacked him in great numbers on the causeway of
Tacuba, where they had broken down one of the bridges, and had once seized
him, and were forcing him into a canoe to carry him off to be sacrificed;
but he extricated himself by a violent effort, and got away with two
dangerous wounds.

Cortes immediately ordered out a detachment of 400 men under Ordas, to see
what was the matter, and to endeavour to pacify the people; but he had
hardly proceeded the length of a street, when he was assailed by immense
numbers of the natives, some in the street, and others from the terraced
tops of the houses, who killed eight of his men on the first discharge of
missiles, and wounded mostly the whole of his men, himself in three places.
Finding it impossible to proceed, Ordas retreated slowly towards our
quarters, and soon after lost another soldier, who did astonishing feats
of valour with a two-handed sword. The streets were so crowded with
enemies, and we were so incessantly attacked in front and rear, and from
the roofs, that for a long while he was unable to force his way. Neither
the effect of our fire-arms, nor the most efficacious use of our other
arms could deter the natives from closing in upon us hand to hand, and
foot to foot; but at length Ordas forced his way back, having lost in all
twenty-three of his men. Our quarters were attacked by prodigious
multitudes at the same moment that the attack on Ordas began, and they
poured in such incessant discharges of missile weapons, that they soon
wounded above forty-six of our men, of whom twelve afterwards died. Even
after the retreat of Ordas, the enemy continued their attacks, and at
length set fire to various parts of the buildings forming our quarters,
thinking to burn us alive or to stifle us with smoke; and we were reduced
to the necessity of tearing down some parts of the building, and to throw
earth upon other parts, to extinguish the fire. All the courts and open
places of our quarters were thickly strewed with arrows, stones, and darts,
which had been thrown at us; and we were occupied the whole day and night,
in repelling the incessant assaults, repairing the breaches in our
defences, dressing our wounds, and preparing for future assaults. At dawn
of the ensuing morning, we sallied out with our whole force, determined to
conquer or to impress them with respect. The Mexicans met us with the
utmost resolution, and though we fought almost in despair, their numbers
were so immense, and they continually brought up such strong
reinforcements of fresh troops, that even if we had all been Hectors or
Orlandos, we could not have forced them to give ground. It is quite
impossible to give any adequate idea of the obstinacy and violence of this
battle. Though in every reiterated charge we brought down thirty or forty
of the enemy, it had no effect, as they returned upon us with more
violence and desperation than before; our musketry and cannon made no
impression that was not instantly replaced; and if at any time they gave
ground, it was only to draw us farther from our quarters, to make our
destruction more sure. In the midst of all this, the stones and darts
which were launched upon us from the terraces of the house tops did us
astonishing injury. Some of our soldiers who had been in the wars of Italy
declared, that neither among Christians or Turks, nor even in the French
artillery, had they ever seen such desperate fighting as now among these
Indians. We were at length forced to retreat to our quarters, which we
reached with infinite difficulty, after losing ten or twelve of our men
killed, and almost every one of us severely wounded.

After our return, we were busily occupied in preparing for a general sally
on the next day after but one, with four military engines of strong timber
like towers, each of which was calculated to contain twenty-five men under
cover, with portholes for the artillery, and for muskets and crossbows.
During this interval we had likewise to repair the breaches which the
Mexicans had made in our walls, and to resist their attempts to scale them,
often in twenty places at once. The Mexicans constantly used the most
injurious language against us; saying that the voracious animals in the
great temple had been kept fasting for two days, that they might be ready
to devour our bodies, when we were sacrificed to their gods. They assured

Book of the day: