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A GENERAL HISTORY AND COLLECTION OF VOYAGES AND TRAVELS,
ARRANGED IN SYSTEMATIC ORDER:
FORMING A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF NAVIGATION, DISCOVERY, AND COMMERCE, BY SEA AND LAND, FROM THE EARLIEST AGES TO THE PRESENT TIME.
ROBERT KERR, F.R.S. & F.A.S. EDIN.
ILLUSTRATED BY MAPS AND CHARTS.
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH:
AND T. CADELL, LONDON.
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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FOURTH VOLUME.
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Twelve months have now elapsed since the first half volume of this work was offered to the public. The favourable reception it has experienced gives the Editor reason to hope that he has fulfilled the engagements which he came under at its first appearance, and is a powerful inducement to continue his utmost exertions to preserve and improve the character of the work. In the four volumes which are now published, several extensive and important original articles are introduced, which have not hitherto appeared in any similar collection, and had not even been previously translated into English. These materially contribute towards the ample information which was formerly announced, in the Preface to the _first_ Volume, as a leading object in this Collection. In the subsequent parts of the work, every effort shall be made to fill up its several divisions with original articles of similar interest and equal importance.
Encouraged by a satisfactory and increasing sale, the progress of publication has been somewhat hastened, beyond what was originally promised in the Prospectus and Conditions; as the _whole_ of the fourth Volume is now published, at the period when only its _first half_ was to have appeared. It is intended to repeat this anticipation occasionally, by the publication of two numbers or half-volumes at once, when opportunity offers. While this may gratify one portion of our readers, it is not meant to preclude others from continuing to be supplied, as before, with the numbers or half volumes at regular intervals, in their own option.
EDINBURGH, _1st Jan_, 1812.
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CONTENTS OF VOL. IV.
PART II. BOOK II. CONTINUED.
CHAP. V. History of the discovery and conquest of Mexico, continued.
VI. The Spaniards commence their march to Mexico; with an account of the war in Tlascala, and the submission of that nation.
VII. Events during the march of the Spaniards from Tlascala to Mexico.
VIII. Arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, and transactions there till the arrival of Narvaez to supersede Cortes.
IX. Expedition of Narvaez to supersede Cortes in the command, and occurrences till his defeat by Cortes.
X. Occurrences from the defeat of Narvaez, to the expulsion of the Spaniards from Mexico, and the subsequent battle of Otumba.
XI. Occurrences from the battle of Otumba, till the march of Cortes to besiege Mexico.
XII. Transactions of Cortes and the Spaniards, from their march against Mexico, to the commencement of the siege of that city.
XIII. Narrative of occurrences, from the commencement of the siege of Mexico to its reduction, and the capture of Guatimotzin.
XIV. Occurrences in New Spain, immediately subsequent to the reduction of Mexico.
XV. Expeditions sent by Cortes to reduce the provinces of the Mexican empire.
XVI. Expedition of Garay to colonize Panuco.
XVII. Narrative of various expeditions for the reduction of different provinces in New Spain.
XVIII. Negociations of Cortes at the court of Spain, respecting the conquest and government of Mexico.
XIX. Of an expedition against the Zapotecas, and various other occurrences.
XX. Narrative of the expedition of Cortes to Higueras.
XXI. Return of Cortes to Mexico, and occurrences there previous to his departure for Europe.
XXII. Narrative of occurrences, from the departure of Cortes to Europe till his death.
XXIII. Concluding observations by the Author.
CHAP. VI. History of the discovery and conquest of Peru, by Francisco Pizarro; written by Augustino Zarate, treasurer of that kingdom, a few years after the conquest.
I. Of the discovery of Peru, with some account of the country and its inhabitants.
II. Transactions of Pizarro and the Spaniards in Peru, from the commencement of the conquest, till the departure of Almagro for the discovery of Chili.
III. Occurrences from the departure of Almagro for Chili, to his capture by Pizarro, being the first part of the civil wars in Peru.
IV. Expeditions of Pedro de Valdivia into Chili, and of Gonzalo Pizarro to Los Canelos.
V. Conspiracy of the Almagrians and Assassination of Pizarro.
CHAP. VII. Continuation of the early history of Peru, after the death of Francisco Pizarro, to the defeat of Gonzalo Pizarro, and the re-establishment of tranquillity in the country; written by Augustino Zarate.
I. From the revival of the civil wars in Peru, to the close of the administration of Vaca de Castro, the first governor appointed from Spain.
II. Commencement of the Viceroyalty of Blasco Nunnez Vela, and renewal of the civil war in Peru by the usurpation of Gonzalo Pizarro.
[Illustration: Viceroyalty of Mexico Published 1 Jan’y 1812 by W’m Blackwood Edin’r.]
A GENERAL HISTORY AND COLLECTION OF VOYAGES AND TRAVELS.
BOOK II. CONTINUED.
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HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST OF MEXICO, WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1568, BY CAPTAIN BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, ONE OF THE CONQUERORS.–_Continued_.
_The Spaniards commence their March to Mexico; with an account of the War in Tlascala, and the submission of that Nation_.
Everything being in readiness for our march to Mexico, we were advised by our allies of Chempoalla to proceed by way of Tlascala, the inhabitants of that province being in friendship with them and constantly at war with the Mexicans; and at our requisition, we were joined by fifty of the principal warriors of the Totanacas, who likewise gave us 200 _tlamama_, or men of burden, to draw our guns and to transport our baggage and ammunition. Our first day’s march on the 16th of August 1519, was to _Xalapan_, and our second to _Socochima_, a place of difficult approach, surrounded by vines. During the whole of this march, the main body was kept in compact order, being always preceded by an advance of light infantry, and patroles of cavalry. Our interpreters informed the people of this place, that we were subjects of the great emperor Don Carlos, who had sent us to abolish human sacrifices and various other abuses; and as these people were allies of Chempoalla and independent of Montezuma, they treated us in a friendly manner. We erected a cross at this place, explaining its signification and giving them information of many things belonging to our holy faith, and exhorting them to reverence the cross. From this place we proceeded by a difficult pass among lofty mountains to _Texotla_, the people of which place were well disposed to us, as they also paid no tribute to Montezuma. Continuing our march through desert lofty mountains, we experienced excessive cold, with heavy falls of hail, and came next day to a pass, where there were some houses and large temples, and great piles of wood intended for the service of the idols. Provisions were scarce during the two last days, and we now approached the confines of the Mexican empire, at a place called _Xocotlan_; to the cacique of which place Cortes sent a message informing him of our arrival. The appearance of this place evinced that we were entering upon a new and richer country. The temples and other buildings were lofty, with terraced roofs, and had a magnificent appearance, being all plastered and white-washed, so as to resemble some of our towns in Spain; on which account we called this place _Castel blanco_.
In consequence of our message, the cacique and other principal persons of the town came out to meet us, and conducted us to our quarters, where they gave us a very poor entertainment. After supper, Cortes inquired respecting the military power of Montezuma, and was told that he was able to bring prodigious armies into the field. The city of Mexico was represented as of uncommon strength, being built on the water, with no communication between the houses, houses, except by means of boats or bridges, each house being terraced, and only needing the addition of a parapet to become a fortress. The only access to the city was by means of three causeways or piers, each of which had four or five apertures for the passage of the waters, having wooden bridges which could be raised up, so as to preclude all access. We were likewise informed of the vast wealth possessed by Montezuma, in gold, silver, and jewels, which filled us with astonishment; and although the account we had already received of the military resources of the empire and the inaccessible strength of the capital might have filled us with dismay, yet we were eager to try our fortunes. The cacique expatiated in praise of Montezuma, and expressed his apprehension of having offended him by receiving us into his government without his leave. To this Cortes replied, That we had come from a far distant country by command of our sovereign, to exhort Montezuma and his subjects to desist from human sacrifices and other outrages; adding: “I now require all who hear me, to renounce your inhuman sacrifices, cannibal feasts, and other abominable customs; for such is the command of GOD, whom we adore.” The natives listened to all this in profound silence, and Cortes proposed to the soldiers to destroy the idols and plant the holy cross, as had been already done at Chempoalla; but Father Olmedo recommended that this should be postponed to a fitter opportunity, lest the ignorance and barbarism of the people might incite them to offer indignity against that holy symbol of our blessed religion.
We happened to have a very large dog along with us, which belonged to Francisco de Lugo, which used to bark very loud during the night, to the great surprise of the natives, who asked our Chempoallan allies if that terrible animal was a lion or tiger which we had brought to devour them. They answered that this creature attacked and devoured whoever offended us; that our guns discharged stones which destroyed our enemies, and that our horses were exceedingly swift and caught whoever we pursued. On this the others observed that with such astonishing powers we certainly were _teules_. Our allies also advised them to beware of practising any thing against us, as we could read their hidden thoughts, and recommended them to conciliate our favour by a present. They accordingly brought us several ornaments of much debased gold, and gave us four women to make bread, and a load of mantles. Near some of the temples belonging to this place I saw a vast number of human skeletons arranged in such exact order that they might easily be counted with perfect accuracy, and I am certain there were above an hundred thousand. In another part immense quantities of human bones were heaped up in endless confusion. In a third, great numbers of skulls were suspended from beams, and watched by three priests. Similar collections were to be seen everywhere as we marched through this district and the territories of Tlascala.
On consulting the cacique of Xocotla respecting the road to Mexico, he advised us to go through Cholula; but our allies strongly dissuaded us from that route, alleging that the people were very treacherous, and that the town was always occupied by a Mexican garrison, and repeated the former advice of going by Tlascala, assuring us of a friendly reception there. Cortes accordingly sent messengers before us to Tlascala announcing our approach, and bearing a crimson velvet cap as a present. Although these people were ignorant of writing, yet Cortes sent a letter by his messengers, as it was generally understood to carry a sanction of the message which was to be delivered. We now set out for Tlascala, in our accustomed order of march, attended by twenty principal inhabitants of Xocotla. On arriving at a village in the territory of Xalacingo, where we received intelligence that the whole nation of the Tlascalans were in arms to oppose us, believing as to be in alliance with their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, on account of the number of Mexican subjects who attended our army. So great was their suspicion on this account, that they imprisoned our two messengers, for whose return we waited two days very impatiently. Cortes employed the time in exhorting the Indians to abandon their idolatry and to reconcile themselves to our holy church. At the end of these two days, we resumed our march, accompanied by two of the principal people of this place whom Cortes demanded to attend us, and we soon afterwards met our messengers who had made their escape, either owing to the negligence or connivance of their guards. These messengers were in extreme terror, as the people of Tlascala threatened to destroy us and every one who should adhere to us. As a battle was therefore to be expected, the standard was advanced to the front, and Cortes instructed the cavalry to charge by threes to the front, never halting to give thrusts with their lances, but urging on at speed with couched lances levelled at the faces of the enemy. He directed them also, when their lance was seized by the enemy, to force it from them by the efforts of the horse, firmly grasping the butt under the arm. At about two leagues from the last resting-place, we came to a fortification built of stone and lime, excellently constructed for defence, and so well cemented that nothing but iron tools could make an impression on it. We halted for a short time to examine this work, which had been built by the Tlascalans to defend their territory against the incursions of their Mexican enemies; and on Cortes ordering us to march on, saying, “Gentlemen follow your standard the holy cross, through which we shall conquer;” we all replied, “Forward in the name of God, in whom is our only confidence.”
After passing this barrier some distance, our advanced guard descried about thirty of the Tlascalan troops, who had been sent to observe us. Cortes sent on the cavalry to endeavour to take some of these men prisoners, while the infantry advanced at a quick pace to support the advanced guard. Our cavalry immediately attacked, but the Tlascalans defended themselves bravely with their swords, wounding some of the horses severely, on which our people had to kill five of them, but were unable to make any prisoners. A body of three thousand warriors now sallied out upon us with great fury from an ambush, and began to discharge their arrows at our cavalry; but as our artillery and musquetry were now ready to bear upon them, we soon compelled them to give way, though in a regular manner, and fighting as they retreated; leaving seventeen of their men dead on the field; and one of our men was so severely wounded as to die a few days after. As the day was near a close, we did not attempt any pursuit; but continued our march, in which we soon descended from the hills into a flat country, thickly set with farm-houses, among fields of maize and the Maguay plant. We halted for the night on the banks of a brook, where we dressed our wounds with the _grease of a fat Indian_ who was slain in the skirmish; and though the natives had carried away all their provisions, we caught their dogs when they returned at night to the houses, and made a comfortable supper of that unusual fare. Next day, after recommending ourselves to God, we resumed our march against the Tlascalan army; both cavalry and infantry being duly instructed how to act when we came to battle; the cavalry to charge right through, and the infantry to preserve a firm array. We soon fell in with the enemy, to the number of about 6000 men in two bodies, who immediately attacked us with great spirit, discharging their arrows, shouting, and sounding their martial instruments. Cortes halted the army, and sent three prisoners to demand a peaceable conference, and to assure them we wished to treat them as brothers; ordering at the same time the notary Godoy, to witness this message officially. This message had no effect, as they attacked us more fiercely than before, on which Cortes gave the word, _St Jago, and on them_. We accordingly made a furious onset, slaying many with the first discharges of our artillery, three of their chiefs falling on this occasion. They now retreated to some uneven ground, where the whole army of the state of Tlascala, 40,000 in number, were posted under cover, commanded by _Xicotencatl_, the general in chief of the republic. As the cavalry could not act in this uneven ground, we were forced to fight our way through as well as we were able in a compact column, assailed on every side by the enemy, who were exceedingly expert archers. They were all clothed in white and red, with devices of the same colours, being the uniform of their general. Besides the multitudes who discharged continual flights of arrows, many of them who were armed with lances closed upon us while we were embarrassed by the inequality of the ground; but as soon as we got again into the plain, we made a good use of our cavalry and artillery. Yet they fought incessantly against us with astonishing intrepidity, closing upon us all around, so that we were in the utmost danger at every step, but God supported and assisted us. While closely environed in this manner, a number of their strongest warriors, armed with tremendous two-handed swords, made a combined attack on Pedro de Moron, an expert horseman, who was charging through them accompanied by other three of our cavalry. They seized his lance and wounded himself dangerously, and one of them cut through the neck of his horse with a blow of a two-handed sword, so that he fell down dead. We rescued Moron from the enemy with the utmost difficulty, even cutting the girths and bringing off his saddle, but ten of our number were wounded in the attempt, and believe we then slew ten of their chiefs, while fighting hand to hand. They at length began to retire, taking with them the body of the horse, which they cut in pieces, and distributed through all the districts of Tlascala as a trophy of victory. Moron died soon after of his wounds, at least I have no remembrance of seeing him afterwards. After a severe and close conflict of above an hour, during which our artillery swept down multitudes out of the numerous and crowded bodies of the enemy, they drew off in a regular manner, leaving the field to us, who were too much fatigued to pursue. We took up our quarters, therefore, in the nearest village, named _Teoatzinco_, where we found numbers of subterraneous dwellings. This battle was fought on the 2d September 1519. The loss of the enemy on this occasion was very considerable, eight of their principal chiefs being slain, but how many others we know not, as whenever an Indian is wounded or slain, he is immediately carried off by his companions. Fifteen of them were made prisoners, of whom two were chiefs. On our side fifteen men were wounded, one only of whom died. As soon as we got clear of the enemy, we gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation, and took post in a strong and spacious temple, where we dressed our wounds with the fat of Indians. We obtained a plentiful supply of food from the fowls and dogs which we found in the houses of the village, and posted strong guards on every side for our security.
We continued quietly in the temple for one day, to repose after the fatigues of the battle, occupying ourselves in repairing our cross-bows, and making arrows. Next day Cortes sent out seven of our cavalry with two hundred infantry and all our allies, to scour the country, which is very flat and well adapted for the movements of cavalry, and this detachment brought in twenty prisoners, some of whom were women, without meeting with any injury from the enemy, neither did the Spaniards do any mischief; but our allies, being very cruel, made great havoc, and came back loaded with dogs and fowls. Immediately on our return, Cortes released all the prisoners, after giving them food and kind treatment, desiring them to expostulate with their companions on the madness of resisting our arms. He likewise released the two chiefs who had been taken in the preceding battle, with a letter in token of credence, desiring them to inform their countrymen that he only asked to pass through their country in his way to Mexico. These chiefs waited accordingly on _Xicotencatl_, whose army was posted about two leagues from our quarters, at a place called _Tehuacinpacingo_, and delivered the message of Cortes. To this the Tlascalan general replied, “Tell them to go to Tlascala, where we shall give them peace by offering their hearts and blood to our gods, and by feasting on their bodies.” After what we had already experienced of the number and valour of the enemy, this horrible answer did not afford us much consolation; but Cortes concealed his fears, and treated the messengers more kindly than ever, to induce them to carry a fresh message. By inquiry from them he got the following account of the number of the enemy and of the nature of the command enjoyed by its general. The army now opposed to us consisted of the troops or quotas of five great chiefs, each consisting of 10,000 men. These chiefs were _Xicotencatl_ the elder, father to the general, _Maxicotzin_, _Chichimecatecle, _Tecapaneca_ cacique of _Topeyanco_, and a cacique named _Guaxocinga_. Thus 50,000 men were now collected against us under the banner of Xicotencatl, which was a white bird like an ostrich with its wings spread out. The other divisions had each its distinguishing banner, every cacique bearing these cognizances like our Spanish nobles, a circumstance we could not credit when so informed by our prisoners. This formidable intelligence did not tend to lessen the fears which the terrible answer of Xicotencatl had occasioned, and we prepared for the expected battle of the next day, by confessing our sins to our reverend fathers, who were occupied in this holy office during the whole night.
On the 5th of September, we marched out with our whole force, the wounded not excepted, having our colours flying and guarded by four soldiers appointed for that purpose. The crossbow-men and musketeers were ordered to fire alternately, so that some of them might be always loaded: The soldiers carrying swords and bucklers were directed to use their points only, thrusting home through the bodies of the enemy, by which they were less exposed to missile weapons; and the cavalry were ordered to charge at half speed, levelling their lances at the eyes of the enemy, and charging clear through without halting to make thrusts. We had hardly marched half a quarter of a league, when we observed the whole army of the enemy, covering the plain on every side as far as the eye could reach, each separate body displaying its particular device or standard, and all advancing to the sound of martial music. A great deal might be said of this tremendous and long doubtful battle, in which four hundred of us were opposed to prodigious hosts, which surrounded us on every side, filling all the plains to the extent of two leagues. Their first discharges of arrows, stones, and double-headed darts covered the whole ground which we occupied, and they advanced continually till closed upon us all around, attacking us with the utmost resolution with lances and two-handed swords, encouraging each other by continual shouts. Our artillery, musketry, and cross-bows plied them with incessant discharges, and made prodigious havoc among the crowded masses of the enemy, and the home thrusts of our infantry with their swords, prevented them from closing up so near as they had done in the former battle. Yet with all our efforts, our battalion was at one time completely broken into and separated, and all the exertions of our general was for some time unable to get us again into order; at length, however, by the diligent use of our swords, we forced them from among us, and were able again to close our ranks. During the whole battle our cavalry produced admirable effects, by incessant charges through the thickest of the enemy. We in some measure owed our safety, under God, to the unwieldy multitude of the enemy, so that some of the divisions could never get up to the attack. One of the grand divisions, composed of the warriors dependant on _Guaxocinga_, was prevented from taking any share in the battle by _Chichemecatecle_, their commander, who had been provoked by some insulting language by Xicotencatl respecting his conduct in the preceding engagement, of which circumstance we received information afterwords. The circumstance of these divisions not joining in the battle, slackened the ardour of the rest, more especially after they had experienced the terrible effects of our cavalry, artillery, and other offensive weapons; and one of their greatest chiefs being killed, they at length drew off from the fight, and were pursued to a short distance by our cavalry. In this great battle, one only of our soldiers was killed, but seventy men and all our horses were wounded. I had two wounds, one by an arrow and the other by a stone, but they were not sufficient to make me unfit for duty. Thus again masters of the field, we gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation, and returned to our former post, first burying our dead companion in one of the subterraneous houses, which was filled up and levelled, that his body might not be discovered by the enemy. We passed the ensuing night in a most comfortless situation, not being able to procure even oil and salt, and exposed to excessive cold winds from the snowy mountains.
Cortes sent a fresh message by three of our prisoners and those who had carried his former message, demanding a free passage to Mexico, and threatening to destroy the whole country in case of refusal. On their arrival at Tlascala, they found the chiefs much cast down at their repeated losses, yet unwilling to listen to our proposals. They sent for their priests and wizards, who pretended to foretel future events by casting lots, desiring them to say if the Spaniards were vincible, and what were the best means of conquering us; likewise demanding whether we were men or superior beings, and what was our food. The wizards answered, that we were men like themselves, subsisting upon ordinary food, but did not devour the hearts of our enemies as had been reported; alleging that though invincible by day, we might be conquered at night, as we derived all our power from the influence of the sun. Giving credit to this response, Xicotencatl received orders to make an immediate attack on our quarters during the night. He marched accordingly with ten thousand warriors, and made a night attack on our post in three places at once: But our outposts kept too good guard to be taken by surprise, and we were under arms in a moment to receive them. They met with so warm a reception, that they were soon forced to turn their backs; and as it was clear moon-light, our cavalry pursued them with great effect, so that they returned to their camp heartily repenting of their night attack; insomuch that it was reported they sacrificed two of their priests for deceiving them to their hurt. In this action one only of our allies was killed, and two Spaniards wounded; but our situation was far from consolatory. Besides being dreadfully hard harassed by fatigue, we had lost fifty-five of our soldiers from wounds, sickness, and severity of the weather, and several were sick. Our general and Father Olmedo were both ill of fevers: And we began to think it would be impossible for us to reach Mexico, after the determined resistance we had experienced from the Tlascalans.
In this extremity several of the officers and soldiers, among whom I was one, waited on Cortes, and advised him to release his prisoners and to make a fresh offer of friendship with the Tlascalans through these people. He, who acted on all occasions like a good captain, never failing to consult with us on affairs of importance, agreed with our present advice, and gave orders accordingly. Donna Marina, whose noble spirit and excellent judgment supported her on all occasions of danger, was now of most essential service to us, as indeed she often was; as she explained in the most forcible terms to these messengers, that if their countrymen did not immediately enter into a treaty of peace with us, that we were resolved to march against their capital, and would utterly destroy it and their whole nation. Our messengers accordingly went to Tlascala, where they waited on the chiefs of the republic, the principal messenger bearing our letter in one hand, as a token of peace, and a dart in the other as a signal of war, as if giving them their choice of either. Having delivered our resolute message, it pleased GOD to incline the hearts of these Tlascalan rulers to enter into terms of accommodation with us. The two principal chiefs, named Maxicatzin and Xicotencatl the elder, immediately summoned the other chiefs of the republic to council, together with the cacique of Guaxocingo the ally of the republic, to whom they represented that all the attacks which they had made against us had been ineffectual, yet exceedingly destructive to them; that the strangers were hostile to their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, who had been continually at war against their republic for upwards of an hundred years, and had so hemmed them in as to deprive them of procuring cotton or salt; and therefore that it would be highly conducive to the interests of the republic to enter into an alliance with these strangers against their common enemies, and to offer us the daughters of their principal families for wives, in order to strengthen and perpetuate the alliance between us. This proposal was unanimously agreed upon by the council, and notice was immediately sent to the general of this determination, with orders to cease from hostilities. Xicotencatl was much offended at this order, and insisted on making another nocturnal attack on our quarters. On learning this determination of their general, the council of Tlascala sent orders to supersede him in the command, but the captains and warriors of the army refused obedience to this order, and even prevented four of the principal chiefs of the republic from waiting upon us with an invitation to come to their city.
After waiting two days for the result of our message without receiving any return, we proposed to march to Zumpacingo, the chief town of the district in which we then were, the principal people of which had been summoned to attend at our quarters, but had neglected our message. We accordingly began our march for that place early of a morning, having Cortes at our head, who was not quite recovered from his late illness. The morning was so excessively cold, that two of our horses became so exceedingly ill that we expected them to have died, and we were all like to perish from the effects of the piercing winds of the _Sierra Nevada_, or Snowy Mountains. This occasioned us to accelerate our march to bring us into heat, and we arrived at Zumpacingo before daybreak; but the inhabitants, immediately on getting notice of our approach, fled precipitately from their houses, exclaiming that the _teules_ were coming to kill them. We halted in a place surrounded with walls till day, when some priests and old men came to us from the temples, making an apology for neglecting to obey our summons, as they had been prevented by the threats of their general Xicotencatl. Cortes ordered them to send us an immediate supply of provisions, with which they complied, and then sent them with a message to Tlascala, commanding the chiefs of the republic to attend him at this place to establish a peace, as we were still ignorant of what had taken place in consequence of our former message. The Indians of the country began to entertain a favourable opinion of us, and orders were given by the Tlascalan senate that the people in our neighbourhood should supply us plentifully with provisions.
At this time some of the soldiers resumed their mutinous complaints, particularly those who had good houses and plantations in Cuba, who murmured at the hardships they had undergone and the manifold dangers with which we were surrounded. Seven of their ringleaders now waited on Cortes, having a spokesman at their head, who addressed the general in a studied oration, representing, “That above fifty-five of our companions had already perished during the expedition, and we were now ignorant of the situation of those we had left at Villa Rica. That we were so surrounded by enemies, it was hardly possible to escape from being sacrificed to the idols of the barbarians, if we persisted in our present hopeless enterprize. Our situation, they said, was worse than beasts of burden, who had food and rest when forced to labour, while we were oppressed with fatigue, and could neither procure sleep or provisions. As therefore the country now seemed peaceable and the enemy had withdrawn, the present opportunity ought to be taken for returning immediately to Villa Rica, on purpose to construct a vessel to send for reinforcements from Cuba; adding, that they lamented the destruction of our shipping, a rash and imprudent step, which could not be paralleled in history,” Cortes answered them with great mildness; “That he was satisfied no soldiers ever exhibited more valour than we, and that by perseverance alone could we hope to preserve our lives amidst those great perils which God hitherto delivered us from, and that he hoped for a continuance of the same mercy. He appealed to them to say if he had ever shrunk from sharing in all their dangers; which indeed he might well do, as he never spared himself on any occasion. As to the destruction of the ships, it was done advisably, and for most substantial reasons; and as the most illustrious of our countrymen had never ventured on so bold a measure, it was better to look forward with trust in God, than to repine at what could not now be remedied. That although the natives we had left behind were at present friendly, all would assuredly rise against us the moment we began to retreat; and if our situation were now bad, it would then be desperate. We were now in a plentiful country; and as for our losses by death and fatigue, such was the fortune of war, and we had not come to this country to enjoy sports and pastimes. I desire therefore of you, who are all gentlemen, that you no longer think of retreat, but that you henceforwards shew an example to the rest, by doing your duty like brave soldiers, which I have always found you hitherto.” They still continued to urge the danger of persisting in the march to Mexico; but Cortes cut them short, saying, That it was better to die at once than live dishonoured: And being supported by all his friends, the malcontents were obliged to stifle their dissatisfaction, as we all exclaimed that nothing more should be said on the subject.
Our deputation from Zumpacingo to Tlascala was at length successful; as after four repeated messages from the chiefs of the republic, their general Xicotencatl was obliged to cease hostilities. Accordingly forty Indians were sent by him to our quarters with a present of fowls, bread, and fruit. They also brought four old women in tattered clothes, some incense, and a quantity of parrots feathers. After offering incense to Cortes, one of the messengers addressed him as follows: “Our general sends these things to you. If ye are _teules_, as is reported, and desire human victims, take the hearts and blood of these women as food: We have not sacrificed them to you, as you have not hitherto made known your pleasure. If ye are men, we offer you fowls, bread, and fruit; if benignant _teules_, who do not desire human sacrifices, here are incense and parrots feathers.” Cortes replied, That we were men like themselves, and never put any one to death except in our own defence: That he had repeatedly required them to make peace with us, which offer he now renewed, advising them no longer to continue their mad resistance, which must end in their own ruin and the destruction of their country: That our only object in coming among them, was to manifest the truths of our holy religion, and to put an end to human sacrifices, by command from God and our emperor. These men were spies, who had been sent by Xicotencatl to gain information of the strength and disposition of our quarters; and we were informed of this by our Chempoallan allies, who had learnt from the people of Zumpacingo that Xicotencatl intended to attack us. On this information, Cortes seized four of the messengers, whom he forced by threats to confess, that their general only waited for their report to attack us that night in our quarters. He then caused seventeen of the Tlascalan messengers to be arrested, cutting off the hands of some and the thumbs of others, and sent them back in that condition to Xicotencatl with a message, that he would wait his attack for two days, after which, if he heard nothing farther from him, he would march with his Spaniards to seek him in his post. On the return of his spies in a mutilated state, Xicotencatl, who was prepared to march against us, lost all his haughtiness and resolution, and we were informed that the chief with whom he had quarrelled, now quitted the army with his division.
The approach of a numerous train of Indians by the road from Tlascala was announced by one of our videts, from which we all conceived hopes of an embassy of peace, which it actually was. Cortes ordered us all immediately under arms, and on the arrival of the embassy, four old men advanced to our general, and after making three several reverences, touching the ground with their hands and kissing them, they offered incense, and said: That they were sent by the chiefs of Tlascala to put themselves henceforwards under our protection, and declared that they would on no account have made war upon us, if they had not believed we were allies of Montezuma, their ancient and inveterate enemy. They assured him that the first attack had been made upon us by the Otomies without their approbation, who believed they might easily have brought our small number as prisoners to their lords of Tlascala. They concluded by soliciting pardon for what had passed, assuring us that their general and the other chiefs of Tlascala would soon wait upon us to conclude a durable peace. Cortes in his answer, assumed a severe countenance, reproaching them for the violence they had been guilty of, yet, in consideration of their repentance, he accepted their presents, and was willing to receive them to favour, as he wished for peace; but desired them to inform their chiefs, if they delayed waiting upon him, he would continue his hostilities till be had ruined their whole country. The four ambassadors returned with this message to their employers, leaving their attendants with the provisions in our quarters. We now began to entertain hopes of their sincerity, to our great satisfaction, as we were heartily tired of the severe and hopeless war in which we had been so long engaged.
The news of the great victories which we had gained over the Tlascalans soon spread over the whole country, and came to the knowledge of Montezuma, who sent five principal nobles of his court to congratulate us on our success. These men brought a present of various articles of gold, to the value of 1000 crowns, with twenty loads of rich mantles, and a message, declaring his desire to become a vassal of our sovereign, to whom he was willing to pay an yearly tribute. He added a wish to see our general in Mexico, but, owing to the poverty of the country and the badness of the roads, he found himself under the necessity to deprive himself of that great pleasure. Cortes expressed his gratitude for the present, and his satisfaction at the offer of their sovereign to become tributary to our emperor; but requested the Mexican ambassadors to remain with him till he had concluded his arrangements with the Tlascalans, after which he would give them a definitive answer to the message of Montezuma. While conversing with the Mexican ambassadors, Xicotencatl, with fifty of his principal warriors all in uniform habits of white and red, came to wait upon Cortes with great respect, who received them very courteously, causing the Tlascalan general to sit down beside him. Xicotencatl then said, That he came in the name of his father and the other chiefs of the Tlascalan nation, to solicit peace and friendship, to submit themselves to our sovereign, and to ask pardon for having taken up arms against us, which had proceeded from their dread of the machinations of Montezuma, who was always desirous of reducing their nation to slavery. Their country, he said, was very poor, as it possessed neither gold, jewels, cotton, nor salt; the two latter they were prevented from obtaining by Montezuma, who had also deprived them of all the gold their fathers had collected. Their poverty, therefore, must plead their excuse, for not bringing satisfactory presents. He made many other complaints against the oppressions of Montezuma, and concluded by earnestly soliciting our friendship and alliance. Xicotencatl was strong made, tall, and well proportioned, having a broad and somewhat wrinkled face, and grave aspect, appearing to be about thirty-five years old. Cortes treated him with every mark of respect, and expressed his high satisfaction that so brave and respectable a nation should become our allies, and subjects to our sovereign; but warned them seriously to beware of repeating the offences they had been guilty of towards us, lest it should occasion an exemplary punishment. The Tlascalan chief promised the utmost fidelity and obedience, and invited us to come to their city; which Cortes promised to do as soon as he had concluded his business with the Mexican ambassadors, and Xicotencatl took his leave.
The ambassadors of Montezuma endeavoured to impress Cortes with distrust of the sincerity of the Tlascalans; asserting that their professions of peace and friendship were only meant to betray us, as they would certainly murder us while in their city. To these representations Cortes answered that he was resolved to go to Tlascala, that he might ascertain the sincerity of their professions; and that any such attempt as the Mexicans surmised would only bring on its own condign punishment. The ambassadors then requested Cortes to delay his march for six days, that they might receive fresh instructions from their sovereign, to which he acceded for two reasons, because of the state of his own health, and that the observations of the ambassadors seemed to require serious consideration. He now sent a messenger to Juan Escalente at Villa Rica, informing him of all that had happened, and requiring him to send some vessels of sacramental wine, and some consecrated bread, all that we had brought with us having been used. We at this time got the people of Zumpacingo to purify and white wash one of their temples, in which we erected a lofty cross. Our new friends the Tlascalans supplied us amply with provisions, particularly fowls and _tunas_, or Indian figs; and repeatedly invited us to their capital, but with this last we could not immediately comply, owing to the engagement with the Mexican ambassadors. At the end of the sixth day, as agreed upon, six nobles arrived from Montezuma, with a present of gold to the value of 3000 crowns, and 200 rich mantles; with a complimentary message, desiring us on no account to trust the Tlascalans or to go to their capital. Cortes returned thanks for the present, and the warning respecting the Tlascalans, whom he said he would severely punish if they attempted any treachery: and as he was just informed of the approach of the chiefs of Tlascala, he requested the Mexican ambassadors to wait three days for his final answer.
The ancient chiefs of Tlascala now arrived at our quarters, borne in litters or hammocks, and attended by a large train of followers. These were Maxicatzin, Xicotencatl the elder, who was blind, Guaxocinga, Chichimecatecle, and Tecapaneca the allied cacique of Topeyanco. After saluting Cortes with great respect, the old blind chief Xicotencatl addressed him to the following effect: “We have often sent to request pardon for our hostilities, which were caused by our suspicions that you were in alliance with our enemy Montezuma. Had we known who and what you were, we would have gone down to the coast to invite you from your ships, and would have swept the roads clean before you. All we can now do is to invite you to our city, where we shall serve you in every thing within our power; and we beg you may not listen to the misrepresentations of the Mexicans, who are our enemies, and are influenced by malice against us.” Cortes returned thanks for their courtesy, saying that he would have visited them ere now, but wanted men to draw his cannons. On learning this, five hundred of the natives were assembled for this service in less than half an hour, and Cortes promised to visit their capital next day. We accordingly began our march early next morning, the Mexican ambassadors accompanying us at the desire of Cortes, and keeping always near his person that they might not be insulted by their Tlascalan enemies. From this time the natives always gave Cortes the name of Malintzin, signifying the lord or captain of Marina, because she always interpreted for him in their language. We entered the city of Tlascala on the 23d September 1519, thirty-four days after our arrival in the territories of the republic. As soon as we began our march, the chiefs went before to provide quarters for us; and on our approach to the city, they came out to meet us, accompanied by their daughters and other female relations: each tribe separately, as this nation consisted of four distinct tribes, besides that which was governed by the cacique of Topeyanco. These tribes were distinguished from each other by different uniforms, of cloth made of _nequen_, as cotton did not grow in their country. The priests, came likewise to meet us, in long loose white garments, having their long hair all clotted with blood proceeding from recent cuts in the ears, and having remarkably long nails on their fingers; they carried pots of incense, with which they fumigated us. On our arrival, the chiefs saluted Cortes with much respect, and the people crowded to see us in such numbers that we could hardly make our way through the streets, presenting Cortes and the cavalry with garlands of beautiful and sweet smelling flowers.
We at length arrived at some large enclosed courts, in the apartments, around which our lodgings were appointed; when the two principal chiefs took Cortes by the hand and conducted him into the apartment which was destined for his use. Every one of our soldiers were provided with a mat and bed-clothes made of _nequen_ cloth. Our allies were lodged close by us, and the Mexican ambassadors were accommodated, by desire of Cortes, in the apartment next his own. Though we had every reason to confide in the Tlascalans, Cortes used the most rigid military precautions for our safety; which, being observed by the chiefs, they complained of as indicating suspicion of their sincerity; but Cortes assured them this was the uniform custom of our country, and that he had the most perfect reliance on their truth. As soon as an altar could be got ready, Cortes ordered Juan Diaz to celebrate the mass, as Olmeda was ill of a fever. Many of the native chiefs were present on this occasion, whom Cortes took along with him after the service into his own apartment, attended by those soldiers who usually accompanied him. The elder Xicotencatl then offered a present, consisting of a small quantity of gold and some pieces of cloth, not worth twenty crowns altogether, and expressed his fear that he might despise so paltry a present, which he excused on account of the poverty of their nation, occasioned by the extortions of Montezuma, from whom they were forced to purchase peace at the expence of every thing valuable belonging to them. Cortes assured them that he valued their gift, small as it was, more than he would a house full of gold from others, as it was a testimony of their friendship, which he greatly valued. Xicotencatl then proposed that a strict alliance should be formed between the two nations, and that our chiefs should accept their daughters in marriage, offering his own to Cortes, who thanked him for these marks of friendship. The chiefs remained with Cortes a whole day, and as Xicotencatl was blind, Cortes permitted him to examine his head, face, and beard with his hands, which he did with much attention.
Next day the chiefs brought five daughters of their principal caciques, who were much handsomer than the other women of the country, each attended by a female slave. On this occasion Xicotencatl presented his own daughter to Cortes, and desired him to assign the others among his principal officers. Cortes thanked him for the mark of regard, but that for the present the ladies must remain with their parents, as we must first obey the commands of our God, and the orders of our sovereign, by abolishing human sacrifices and other abominations, and by teaching them the true faith in the adoration of one only God. He then shewed them a beautiful image of the holy Mary, the queen of heaven, the mother of our Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost, conceived without sin, adding, That if they wished to become our brethren, and that we should marry their daughters, they must renounce their idolatry, and worship our God, by which they would not only benefit their temporal concerns, but would secure an eternal happiness in heaven; whereas by persisting in the worship of their idols, which were representations of the devils, they would consign themselves to hell, where they would be plunged eternally into flames of fire. This and a great deal more excellently to the purpose, being well explained to them by our interpreters, the chiefs made answer to the following effect: That they readily believed all they had now heard respecting the excellence of our God and his saints, and might in time be able to understand the subject of his exhortations; but that if they were now to renounce the religion of their ancestors in their old age to please us, the priests and people would rebel against them; more especially as the priests had already consulted their gods, who had commanded them on no account to omit the human sacrifices and other ancient customs, as otherwise they would send famine, pestilence, and war into their country: They requested, therefore that nothing more might be said on this subject, as they could not renounce their gods but with their lives. When the subject of this conference was reported to father Olmedo, who was a wise and good man, he advised the general not to urge the matter any farther for the present, as he was adverse to forced conversions, such as had been already attempted at Chempoalla; and that to destroy the idols were a needless act of violence, unless the principles of idolatry were eradicated from their minds by argument as they would easily procure other idols to continue their worship. Three of our cavaliers, Alvarado, de Leon, and De Lugo, gave a similar advice to Cortes, and the subject was judiciously dropped, which might have again excited the Tlascalans to inveterate enmity.
Soon after this we got permission to clear out and purify one of the temples, which was converted into a Christian church, and had an altar and cross erected. Here the ladies who were destined to be the brides of our officers, having been instructed in the principles of the Christian religion were baptized. The daughter of Xicotencatl was named Donna Luisa, and being taken by the hand by Cortes, was presented by him to Alvarado, saying to her rather that this officer was his brother, with which arrangement the old cacique seemed perfectly satisfied. Almost the whole province of Tlascala came afterwards to depend upon this lady, paying rent and homage to her. She had a son by Alvarado named Don Pedro, and a daughter Donna Leonora, who inherited her mothers domains, and is now the wife of Don Francisco de la Cueva, cousin to the Duke of Albuquerque, by whom she has four or five sons. In right of his wife Donna Luisa, Alvarado became lord, and almost sovereign of Tlascala. As far as I can remember, the niece, or daughter of Maxicatzin, named Donna Leonora, and remarkably handsome, was given to Velasquez de Leon. I have forgotten the names of the other ladies, all stiled Donnas, but they were assigned to De Oli, Sandoval, and Avila. After the ceremonies were concluded, the natives were informed that the crosses were erected in order to expel the evil spirits which they had been in use to worship.
Cortes obtained considerable information from the two principal chiefs of Tlascala, Xicotencatl, and Maxicatzin, relative to the military and political state of Mexico. They said that Montezuma had an army of an hundred thousand warriors, occupying all the cities of the neighbouring states, which were subject to his dominions, with strong garrisons, and forcing them to pay heavy tributes in gold, manufactures, productions of the soil, and victims for sacrifice, so that his wealth and power were exceedingly great; but that all the districts which were under subjection to him were exceedingly dissatisfied with his tyranny, and inclined to take part with his enemies. Their own state of Tlascala had been in almost continual wars with the Mexicans for above an hundred years, and formed a league for mutual defence with the people of Guaxocingo; but were principally vexed by inroads from the Mexican garrison in Cholula, from which city the troops of Montezuma were able to come by surprise on the Tlascalan territories. They described the city of Mexico as of great strength, being built in the lake, and only accessible by narrow causeways, with wooden bridges, and having no access to most of its houses but by drawbridges or boats. They described the arms of the Mexicans as consisting of double-headed darts, which were projected by a kind of slings, lances having stone heads, an ell in length, and both edges as sharp as a razor, and two-handed swords, edged likewise with sharp stones, besides shields and other defensive armour. The chiefs shewed large _nequen_ cloths, on which their various battles were represented, with all those different kinds of weapons. They alleged that their country was anciently inhabited by a people of great stature and very barbarous manners, who had been extirpated by their ancestors, and produced a thigh-bone which they said had belonged to one of these giants. I stood by it, and it equalled my height, though I am as tall as most men. We sent this bone to Spain for the inspection of his majesty. The chiefs told us that their idols had long ago predicted, that a people was to arrive from the distant lands where the sun rises, and to subdue their country, and they believed we were those to whom the prediction applied. Cortes said that this was certainly the case, and that our great emperor had sent us to establish a lasting friendship between our nation and them, and to be the instruments of shewing them the only way of Salvation: To which we all said Amen!
While we were in Tlascala a volcano near Guaxocingo threw out great quantities of flames, and Diego de Ordas went up to examine it, attended by two Spanish soldiers, and some of the principal Indians. The natives declined going any nearer to the volcano than the temples of _Popocatepeque_, but De Ordas and his two Spanish comrades ascended to the summit of the mountain, and looked down into the crater, which is a circle of near a quarter of a league diameter. From this peak also, they had a distant view of the city of Mexico, which was twelve or thirteen leagues from the mountain. This was considered as a great feat, and De Ordas, on his return to Spain, got royal authority to bear this volcano in his arms, which is now borne by his nephew who dwells in La Puebla. This volcano did not throw out flames for a good many years afterwards, but it flamed with great violence in 1530. We observed many wooden cages in the city of Tlascala, in which the victims intended for sacrifice were confined and fattened; but we destroyed all these, releasing the unhappy prisoners, who remained along with us, as they dared not to return to their own homes. Cortes spoke very angrily to the Tlascalan chiefs, exhorting them to abolish this horrible custom of human sacrifices, and they promised amendment; but immediately, on our backs being turned, they resumed their ancient abominations.
 Clavigero says that Cortes had some troops of the Totanacas, among whom were forty nobles, serving at the same time as auxiliaries, and as hostages for the fidelity of their nation.–Clavig. II. 30.
 In Clavigero, II. 29. the army of Cortes on this occasion is stated to have amounted to 415 Spanish infantry and 16 cavalry.–E.
 In Clavigero, II. 31. Iztacmaxitlan is said to have been the next stage after leaving Xocotla, and is described as a populous district, with a strong city or fortress on a high rock, defended by barbicans and ditches.–E.
 In Clavigero, II. 31. Xicocentcatl Maxicatizin, is given as the name of one chief; and only _three_ other lords or great caciques are said to have then borne sway in the Tlascalan republic, Tlekul, Xolotzin, and Citlalpocatzin. The person named Chichimecatecle by Diaz, is called Chichimeca Teuchtli by Clavigero: But it is impossible to reconcile the differences between these authors respecting the other names of the chiefs, nor is it important.–E.
 Clavigero, II. 37. says the grand standard of the republic of Tlascala, used on this occasion, was a golden eagle with expanded wings.–E.
 According to Clavigero, II. 37. Xicotencatl, to show how little he regarded the Spaniards, sent them 300 turkeys and two hundred baskets of _tamalli_, to recruit their strength before the approaching battle.–E.
 Called the son of Chichimeca Teuctli by Clavigero; perhaps his name was Guaxocingo, and Diaz, after a long interval of time, transposed the names of the father and son.–E.
 It has been already mentioned that Clavigero writes these two as the names of one man, Xicotencatl Maxicatzin, informing us that the latter name signifies the elder.–E.
 This place, so often mentioned by Diaz, seems to be the same called Huexotzinco by Clavigero.–E.
_Events during the March of the Spaniards from Tlascala to Mexico_.
After a stay of seventeen days, in Tlascala to refresh ourselves after our late severe fatigues, and for the recovery of our wounded companions, it was resolved to resume our march to the city of Mexico, though the rich settlers of Cuba still endeavoured to persuade Cortes to return to Villa Rica. This resolution also gave much uneasiness to our new Tlascalan allies, who used every argument to make us distrust the courteous manners of Montezuma and his subjects, whom they alleged to be extremely treacherous, and would either fall upon and destroy us on the first favourable opportunity, or would reduce us to slavery. In the event of hostilities between us and the Mexicans, they exhorted us to kill them all young and old. Cortes thanked them for their friendly counsel, and offered to negociate a treaty of peace and amity between them and the Mexicans; but they would by no means consent to this measure, saying that the Mexican government would employ peace only as a cover for treachery. On making inquiry as to the best road to Mexico, the ambassadors of Montezuma recommended that by Cholula, in which we should find good accommodation; but the Tlascalans earnestly entreated us to go by Huexotzinco which was in alliance with them, representing the Cholulans as a perfidious people. But Cortes determined to take the road of Cholula, intending to remain in that city till he could secure a safe and peaceable reception at Mexico; he sent therefore a message to the chiefs of Cholula, to inform them of his intentions, and to express his dissatisfaction at their conduct in not having been to wait upon him. While engaged in preparations for our departure, four of the principal nobles of Mexico arrived with a rich present, consisting of gold to the value of 10,000 crowns, and ten bales of mantles of the finest feather-work. After saluting Cortes with profound respect, they said that Montezuma was astonished at our long residence among so poor and base a people as the Tlascalans, and that he requested we would come without delay to his capital. Cortes assured them that he would very soon pay his respects to their sovereign, and requested they would remain along with him during the march. He also at this time appointed Pedro de Alvarado, and Vasquez de Tupia, to go as his ambassadors to Montezuma, with instructions to examine the city of Mexico. These gentlemen set out accordingly, along with the former Mexican ambassadors, but were soon recalled, in consequence of a remonstrance from the army. At this time I was confined by my wounds, and was ill of a fever, and consequently incapable of attending minutely to all that passed.
In return to our message, the chiefs of Cholula sent a very dry and uncourteous answer by four men of low degree, and without any present. As this was obviously done in contempt, Cortes sent the messengers back to inform the chiefs, that he would consider them as rebels if they did not wait upon him personally in three days; but, if they complied with this requisition, he was willing to accept them as friends and brothers, and had much intelligence of great importance to communicate to them. They sent back, saying, that they durst not come into the country of their inveterate enemies the Tlascalans, who they were sure had grossly misrepresented both them and Montezuma to us, but engaged to give us an honourable reception in their city. When the Tlascalans found we were determined upon taking the road of Cholula, contrary to their advice, they proposed that we should take 10,000 of their best warriors along with us; but our general considered this number as too many for a visit of peace, and would only accept 3000, who were immediately made ready to attend us. Using every proper precaution for our safety, we began our march from Tlascala, and arrived that evening at a river about a league from Cholula, where there is now a stone bridge, and encamped here for the night. Some of the chiefs came to congratulate our arrival in their neighbourhood, and gave us a courteous invitation to visit their city. We continued our march next day, and were met near the city by the chiefs and priests, all dressed in cassocks of cotton cloth, resembling those used by the Zapotecans. After presenting incense to Cortes, the chiefs made an apology for not waiting upon him at Tlascala, and requested that so large a body of their enemies might not be permitted to enter their city. As this request appeared reasonable, Cortes sent Alvarado and De Oli, to desire our allies to hut themselves without the city, which they did accordingly, imitating the military discipline of the Spaniards, in the arrangement of their camp and the appointment of centinels. Before entering the city, Cortes explained the purpose of his mission in a long oration, in the same manner as he had already done at all the other places during the march. To all this they answered that they were ready to yield obedience to our sovereign in all things, but could not abandon the religion of their ancestors. We then marched on in our usual compact order, attended only by our allies from Chempoalla, and the Indians who drew our artillery, and conveyed our baggage, and entered the city, all the streets and terraces of which was filled with an immense concourse of people, through whom we were conducted to our appointed quarters, in some large apartments, which conveniently accommodated our army and all our attendants.
While we remained in this place, a plot was concerted by the Mexican ambassadors for the introduction of 20,000 warriors belonging to Montezuma, who were to attack us in conjunction with the people of Cholula; and several houses were actually filled with poles and leather collars, by means of which we were to have been bound and carried prisoners to Mexico. But God was pleased that we should discover and confound their machinations. During the first two days, we were perfectly well entertained; but on the third no provisions were sent us, and none of the chiefs or priests appeared at our quarters. Such few of the inhabitants as we happened to see, speedily withdrew with a malicious sneer; and on Cortes applying to the Mexican ambassadors to procure provisions for us as usual, some wood and water only were brought to us by a few old men, as if in derision, who said that no maize could be procured. This day, likewise, some ambassadors arrived from Montezuma, who desired in very disrespectful terms on no account to approach Mexico, and demanded an immediate answer. Cortes gave them a mild answer, expressing his astonishment at the alteration in the tone of their sovereign, but requested a short delay before giving his definitive answer to their message. He then summoned us together, and desired us to keep on the alert, as he suspected some great act of treachery was in agitation against us. As the chiefs of Cholula had refused to wait upon him, Cortes sent some soldiers to a great temple close to our quarters, with orders to bring two of the priests to him as quietly as possible. They succeeded in this without difficulty; and, having made a trifling present to the priests, he inquired as to the reason of the late extraordinary conduct of the Cholulan chiefs. One of these who was of high rank, having authority over all the temples and priests of the city, like one of our bishops, told Cortes that he would persuade some of the chiefs to attend him, if allowed to speak with them; and, being permitted to go away for that purpose, he soon brought several of the chiefs to our quarters. Cortes reproved them sharply for the change in their behaviour to us, and commanded them to send an immediate supply of provisions, and likewise to provide him next day with a competent number of people to convey our baggage and artillery, as he meant then to resume his march to Mexico. The chiefs appeared quite confounded and panic struck, yet promised to send in provisions immediately, alleging in excuse for their conduct, that they had been so ordered by Montezuma, who was unwilling that we should advance any farther into his dominions.
At this time, three of our Chempoallan allies called Cortes aside, and told him that they had discovered several pitfals close to our quarters, covered over with wood and earth, and that on examining one of these they found its bottom provided with sharpened stakes. They informed him also that all the terraces of the houses near our quarters had been recently provided with parapets of sod, and great quantities of stones collected on them, and that a strong barricade of timber had been erected across one of the streets. Eight Tlascalans arrived also from their army on the outside of the town, who warned Cortes that an attack was intended against us, as the priests of Cholula had sacrificed eight victims on the preceding night to their god of war, five of whom were children; and that they had seen crowds of women and children withdrawing from the city with their valuable effects, all of which were sure signs of some impending commotion. Cortes thanked the Tlascalans for this instance of their fidelity, and sent them back to the camp with orders to their chiefs to hold themselves in readiness for any emergency. He then returned to the chiefs and priests, to whom he repeated his former orders, warning them not to deviate from their obedience, on pain of instant condign punishment, commanding them at the same time to prepare 2000 of their best warriors to accompany him next day on his march to Mexico. The chiefs readily promised to obey all his commands, thinking in this manner to facilitate their projected treachery, and took their leave. Cortes then employed Donna Marina to bring back the two priests who had been with him before, from whom he learnt, that Montezuma had been lately very unsettled in his intentions towards us, sometimes giving orders to receive us honourably, and at other times commanding that we should not be allowed to pass. That he had lately consulted his gods, who had revealed that we were all to be put to death, or made prisoners in Cholula, to facilitate which he had sent 20,000 of his troops to that place, half of whom were now in the city, and the rest concealed at the distance of a league. They added, that the plan of attack was all settled, and that twenty of our number were to be sacrificed in the temples of Cholula, and all the rest to be conveyed prisoners to Mexico. Cortes rewarded them liberally for their intelligence, and enjoined them to preserve the strictest secrecy on the subject, commanding them to bring all the chiefs to his quarters at an appointed time. He then convened a council of all the officers, and such soldiers as he most confided in, before whom he laid an account of the information which he had received, desiring their advice as to the best conduct to be pursued in the present alarming emergency. Some proposed to return immediately to Tlascala, and others proposed various measures, but it was the universal opinion that the treachery of the Cholulans required to be severely punished, as a warning to other places. It was accordingly resolved to inflict condign punishment on the Cholulans within the courts where we were quartered, which were surrounded by high walls, but in the meantime, to continue our preparations for resuming the march, in order to conceal our intentions. We then informed the Mexican ambassadors, that we had discovered the treacherous intentions of the Cholulans, who pretended that they acted by orders of Montezuma, which we were convinced was a false aspersion. They solemnly declared their ignorance of these transactions; but Cortes ordered them to have no farther intercourse with the inhabitants of the city, and sent them to his own quarters under a strong guard for the night, during the whole of which we lay upon our arms, ready to act at a moments warning.
During this anxious night, the wife of one of the caciques, who had taken a great liking to Donna Marina, came secretly to visit that lady, informing her of the plot, invited her to take refuge in her house from the danger which was about to overwhelm us, and proposed to give her for a husband the brother of a boy who was along with her. Donna Marina, with her usual presence of mind, agreed to every thing proposed with a profusion of thanks, and said she only wanted some one to take charge of her effects before leaving the Spanish quarters. In course of this conversation, Marina acquired particular information of every part of this mysterious affair, which the old woman told her had been communicated to her three days before by her husband, who was chief of one of the divisions of the city, and was now with his warriors, giving directions for their co-operation with the Mexican troops, and who had lately received a gold drum from Mexico, as an ensign of command. Donna Marina desired the old woman and her son to remain in her apartment till she went in search of her valuables; but went immediately to Cortes, to whom she communicated all the information she had received, adding that her informer was still in her apartment. Cortes immediately sent for the old woman, who being confronted by Donna Marina, repeated every thing exactly as before, which agreed in all respects with the information he had already received from others.
When day appeared, the hurry of the chiefs, priests and people in coming to our quarters as appointed, and their apparent satisfaction, was as great as if we had been already secured in their cages. They brought a much greater number of warriors to attend us than had been required, insomuch that the large courts in which we were quartered were unable to contain them. We were all prepared for the event, having a strong guard of soldiers posted at the gate of the great court, to prevent any one from escaping. Cortes mounted on horseback, attended by a strong guard; and as he saw the people crowding in at the gate, he said to us, “See how anxious these traitors are to feast on our flesh! But GOD will disappoint their hopes.” He ordered the two priests who had given him the information to retire to their houses that they might escape the intended slaughter. Every one being arrived in the great court, he commanded the chiefs and priests to draw near, to whom he made a calm remonstrance on the treachery of their conduct towards us, which was explained by Donna Marina. He asked them why they had plotted to destroy us, and what we had done to deserve their enmity, except exhorting them to abandon their barbarous and abominable customs, and endeavouring to instruct them in our holy religion? Their evil intentions, he said, had been obvious, by withdrawing their women and children from the city, and by insultingly sending us only wood and water, when we required provisions. He said he was perfectly acquainted with the ambush which was placed in the road by which we meant to march, and with all the other contrivances they had made for our destruction; and that in recompence of our proffered friendship, and of all the holy services we intended them, he knew that they meant to kill and eat us, and that the pots were already on the fire, prepared with salt, pepper, and _tomatas_, in which our dissevered limbs were to be boiled. He knew that they had doomed twenty of us to be sacrificed to their idols, to whom they had already immolated seven of their own brethren. “Since you were determined to attack us,” said he in conclusion, “it had been more manly to have done so openly like the Tlascalans, and not to have resorted to mean and cowardly treachery. But be assured that the victory which your false gods have promised is beyond their power, and the punishment of your treason is now ready to burst on your guilty heads.”
The astonished chiefs confessed every thing which was laid to their charge, but endeavoured to excuse themselves, by laying the whole blame on the orders they had received from Montezuma. “Wretches,” said Cortes, “this falsehood is an aggravation of your offence, and such complicated crimes can never be permitted to pass unpunished.” He then ordered a musket to be fired, as a signal to commence the slaughter, for which we all stood prepared. We immediately fell furiously on the multitudes who were inclosed within the walls of our quarters, and executed their merited punishment in such a manner as will be long remembered by the remaining natives of Cholula. A vast number of them were put to death on the spot, and many of them were afterwards burned alive. In less than two hours, our Tlascalan allies arrived in the city, having been previously instructed in our plan, and made a terrible slaughter in the streets of the city; and when the Cholulans ceased to make resistance, they ravaged the city, plundering it of every thing valuable they could lay hold of, and making slaves of all the inhabitants who fell in their way. On the day following, when intelligence reached Tlascala of the transactions at Cholula, great numbers crowded to the devoted city, which they plundered without mercy. It now became necessary to restrain the fury of the Tlascalans, and Cortes gave orders to their chiefs to withdraw their troops from the city, with which they immediately complied.
Quiet being in some measure restored, some chiefs and priests who presided over a distant quarter of the city, which they pretended had not been engaged in the conspiracy, waited in an humble manner on Cortes, and prayed a remission of the punishment which had already fallen so heavily on their townsmen. The two before mentioned priests, and the old woman from whom Donna Marina had procured such material information, came forward likewise, and joined in the same petition, and Cortes determined to shew clemency to the rest of the city, yet seemed still in great rage. He called the Mexican ambassadors into his presence, in whose presence he declared that the whole inhabitants of the city and dependancy of Cholula had richly merited to be utterly extirpated for their treachery; but that out of respect to the great Montezuma, whose vassals they were, he consented to pardon them. He then ordered the Tlascalans to liberate their prisoners, which they in some measure complied with, setting free many of those they intended to have reduced to slavery, yet retained a prodigious booty in gold, mantles, cotton, and salt. Having proclaimed an amnesty to the Cholulans, he reconciled them and the Tlascalans who had anciently been confederates; and being desired to appoint a new chief cacique of Cholula, in place of the former who had been put to death, Cortes inquired to whom that dignity belonged of right, and being informed that the brother of the late head cacique ought to succeed according to their laws, he nominated him to the office. As soon as the inhabitants had returned to their houses, and order was restored in the city, Cortes summoned all the chiefs and priests to a conference, in which he explained to them the principles of our holy religion, earnestly exhorting them to renounce their idolatry, and the odious practices connected with it; and, as an instance of the uselessness of their idols, he reminded them how much they had been lately deceived by the false responses imposed upon them in their names: He proposed to them therefore, to destroy their senseless idols, and to erect an altar and cross in their stead. The latter was immediately complied with, but Father Olmedo advised him to postpone the former to a more favourable opportunity, from a due consideration of our uncertain and perilous situation.
Cholula was then a large and populous city, much resembling Valladolid, situated on a fertile plain which was thickly inhabited, and all its surrounding district was well cultivated with maize, maguey, and pepper. There were above a hundred lofty white towers in the city, belonging to different idol temples, one of which was held in very high estimation, that principal temple being more lofty even than the great temple of Mexico. An excellent manufacture of earthen ware was carried on at this place, the various articles of which were curiously painted in different patterns, in red, black, and white, and from which the city of Mexico and all the surrounding countries were supplied, as Castile is from Talavera and Placencia. In the numerous temples of this city there were many cages; which were filled with men and boys, fattening up for sacrifice, all of which Cortes caused to be destroyed, sending the miserable captives home to their respective houses. He likewise gave positive orders to the priests to desist in future from this most abominable custom, which they promised to refrain from, but they forgot their promises as soon as the authority of our irresistible arms was removed.
On hearing the melancholy fate of their companions in Cholula, the Mexican troops who were posted in ambush, with trenches and barricades to oppose our cavalry, made a precipitate retreat to Mexico, whether they carried an account to Montezuma of the failure of his plot for our destruction; but he had already heard the news of his misfortunes from two of his ambassadors, whom Cortes had dismissed for the purpose. It was reported that he immediately ordered a solemn sacrifice to his gods, and shut himself up for two days with ten of his chief priests, engaged in rigid devotional exercises, on purpose to obtain a response from his gods respecting his future destiny; and we afterwards learnt that the priests advised him, as from their gods, to send an embassy to exculpate himself from having any connection with what had passed in Cholula, and to inveigle us into Mexico; where, by cutting off the supply of water, or by raising the bridges on the causeways, he might easily destroy us, or detain us in slavery to breed people like ourselves for his service.
Having remained fourteen days in Cholula, Cortes consulted in regard to our future operations with a council of those officers and soldiers who were most sincerely attached to his person, as indeed he never engaged in any matter of importance without taking our advice. In this consultation, it was determined to send a respectful message to Montezuma, informing him that we were on our way to pay our respects to him by the orders of our own sovereign. Our messenger was likewise desired to relate the whole late events which had occurred at Cholula, where the treachery which had been concerted against us had come to our knowledge, from which nothing could be concealed which concerned our welfare, and that we had desisted from punishing the people of that city to the full extent which they deserved, entirely out of respect to him, whose vassals they were. That the chiefs and priests had given out that all they had done or intended to do was by his orders; but we could not possibly believe that so great a monarch, after the many marks of friendship with which he had honoured us, could be guilty of such infamous proceedings; being convinced, if he had meditated hostility, he would have met us honourably in the field of battle: But at the same time to assure him, that day or night, field or town, fair battle or villainous stratagem, were all the same for us, as we were always prepared for every emergency. Montezuma had become exceedingly thoughtful and alarmed on account of the failure of the plot in Cholula, and now sent an embassy of six of his chief nobles to wait on Cortes, with a present to the value of 2000 crowns in gold, and several bales of fine mantles. The ambassadors saluted Cortes with profound respect, and delivered a message in which Montezuma endeavoured to exculpate himself from any concern in the affair of Cholula, and in conclusion, invited the general to his court. Cortes treated these ambassadors with his usual politeness, and retaining three of them to serve as guides on our march to Mexico, he sent on the others to inform Montezuma that we were on our way to his capital. When the Tlascalan chiefs understood our determination to proceed, they renewed their former warnings to beware of treachery from the Mexicans, and again offered to send 10,000 of their warriors along with us. But Cortes, after thanking them for their friendly solicitude and proffered aid, remarked, as he had done before, that so large a body of troops was incompatible with an amicable visit, but requested they would furnish 1000 men for our baggage and artillery, which they immediately provided. Our faithful Chempoalan allies, being afraid of the resentment of the Mexicans for their revolt, begged permission to return to their district, and Cortes dismissed them with a handsome present, sending letters by them to Escalente at Villa Rica, containing an account of our proceedings.
We marched from Cholula in our usual compact order, prepared for whatsoever might befal, sending out patroles of our cavalry by threes in front, supported by a detachment of light infantry as an advanced guard. On our arrival at a small village called Izcalpan, in the district of Huexotzinco, about four leagues from Cholula, we were met by the chiefs bearing provisions, and a small present of gold. They requested our general to consider only the good will of the givers, not the worthlessness of the gift, as they were very poor; and, while they endeavoured to dissuade him from attempting to proceed to Mexico, they also informed him, that, on ascending the next mountain, he would find two roads, the one of which leading by Chalco was broad and open, while the other leading by Tlalmanalco, though originally equally convenient, had been recently stopped up and obstructed by means of trees felled across it to render it difficult, though it was in reality shorter and more secure than that of Chalco, on which road the Mexicans had placed a large party of troops in ambush among some rocks, for the purpose of attacking us by surprise on the march. They advised us therefore, if we were determined to persevere, to choose the obstructed road, and offered to send a number of their people to clear it for us. Cortes thanked them for their good advice, of which he would avail himself by the blessing of GOD. Having halted for the night at Izcalpan, we resumed our march early the next morning, and reached the summit of a mountainous ridge about noon, where we found the two roads exactly as they had been described to us. We halted here in order to deliberate on our procedure, when Cortes called the Mexican ambassadors to explain the meaning of the felled trees. Pretending ignorance on this subject, they advised him to take the road of Chalco, where they said he would be well received. Cortes chose however to take the other road, and sent on our Indian allies to clear the way before us. As we ascended the mountain, the weather became piercingly cold, and we even had a considerable fall of snow, which covered the whole country round about. We at length arrived at certain houses which had been built on the very top of the mountain for the accommodation of travellers, where we found an abundant supply of provisions, and having placed proper guards, we halted here for the night. We resumed our march next morning, and arrived by the hour of high mass at the town of Halmanalco, where we were hospitably received. The people of the neighbouring districts of Chalco, Amaquemecan, and Ajotzinco, where the canoes are kept, waited on Cortes at this place with a present of about 150 crowns in gold, some mantles, and eight women. Cortes received them affably, and promised them his friendship and protection; explaining to them, as on former occasions, the doctrines of our holy faith, exhorting them to abandon their idolatry and barbarous immolation of human victims, informing them that he was sent among them by a powerful monarch to redress wrongs, and to lead them in the way of eternal salvation. On this the people began to make loud complaints of the tyranny of Montezuma, who deprived them of their wives and daughters if handsome, forcing the men to work like slaves in the conveyance of stones, timber, and corn, and appropriating their lands to the service of his temples. Cortes gave them kind assurances of speedy redress, but recommended to them to be patient yet a little while.
Just as we were going to set out from Tlalmanalco, four of the principal nobles of the court of Mexico arrived with presents from Montezuma, and having made their customary obeisance, they addressed Cortes in the following manner: “_Malinatzin_! our sovereign sent this present to you, and desires us to say, that he is grieved you should take so much trouble in coming from a distant country to visit him. He has already made you be informed that he will give you much gold, silver, and _chalchihuis_ for your _teules_, if you will give up your intention of coming to Mexico. We now repeat this request in his name, that you will return; and he will send after you a great treasure in gold, silver, and jewels for your king, with four loads of gold for yourself, and a load for each of your brethren. It is impossible for you to proceed to Mexico, as the whole Mexican warriors are in arms to oppose you; besides which you will find the roads bad, and will be unable to procure provisions.” Embracing the ambassadors with much politeness, and having returned thanks for their present, Cortes expressed his astonishment at the changeableness of Montezuma, who thus alternately invited and deprecated his presence. He begged them to thank Montezuma for the splendid offers he had made of treasure to the emperor, himself, and his soldiers; but it was quite impossible for him to turn back, especially when so near the capital, as his orders from his own sovereign were to pay his respects to theirs in person; it was quite useless, therefore, to send him any more such messages, for he was resolved to proceed; and if Montezuma should desire his departure after having seen him, he would be ready at his command to return to his own country.
Having thus dismissed the ambassadors, we continued our march, and as our allies had informed us that Montezuma intended to put us all to death, after our entry into his city, we were filled with melancholy reflections on our hazardous situation; recommending our souls therefore to the LORD JESUS CHRIST, who had already brought us in safety through so many imminent dangers, and resolving to sell our lives at a dear rate, we proceeded on our march. We halted at a town named Iztapalapan, one half of the houses of which were built in the water, and the rest on dry land, and took up our quarters there for the night. While preparing early next morning to recommence our march, information was brought by a sentinel that a great number of Mexicans in rich dresses were on the road towards our quarters, on which Cortes again dismissed us. Four principal nobles of Mexico now presented themselves with profound respect before our general, whom they informed that Cacamatzin, lord of Tezcuco, and nephew to the great Montezuma was approaching, and begged that he would remain in his present situation to receive him. Cacamatzin soon followed in vast pomp, borne in a magnificent litter, adorned with jewels and plumes of green feathers, set in branched pillars of gold. His litter was carried by eight nobles, who assisted him to alight, and then swept the way before him as he came up to Cortes. Our general embraced the prince, and made him a present of three of the jewels named _margajitas_, which are figured with various colours. The only purpose of this visit seemed to have been complimentary, as he addressed Cortes in these words: “I, and these lords, have come by order of the great Montezuma, to conduct you to your residence in our city.” We then set forwards in our usual array for Mexico, the road being crowded on both sides with innumerable multitudes of natives, and soon arrived at the causeway of Iztapalapan, one of those which leads to the capital.
When we contemplated the number of populous towns so closely situated in regard to each other, some on the water, and others on the firm ground, we could not help comparing this wonderful country to the enchanted scenes we read of in Amadis de Gaul, so magnificent were the towers and temples and other superb edifices of stone and lime, which seemed everywhere to rise out of the water. Many of us were disposed to doubt the reality of the scene before us, and to suspect we were in a dream; and my readers must excuse the manner of my expressions, as never had any one seen, heard, or even dreamt of any thing which could compare to the magnificence of the scene we now beheld. On approaching Iztapalapan, we were received by several of the highest nobles of the Mexican empire, relations of Montezuma, who conducted us to the lodgings appointed for us in that place, which were magnificent palaces of stone, the timber work of which were cedar, having spacious courts and large halls, furnished with canopies of the finest cotton. After contemplating the magnificence of the buildings, we walked through splendid gardens, containing numerous alleys planted with a variety of fruit trees, and filled with roses, and a vast variety of beautiful and aromatic flowers. In these gardens there was a fine sheet of clear water, communicating with the great lake of Mexico by a canal, which was of sufficient dimensions to admit the largest canoes. The apartments of the palace were everywhere ornamented with works of art, admirably painted, and the walls were beautifully plastered and whitened; the whole being rendered delightful by containing great numbers of beautiful birds. When I beheld the delicious scenery around me, I thought we had been transported by magic to the terrestrial paradise. But this place is now destroyed, and a great deal of what was then a beautiful expanse of water, is now converted into fields of maize, and all is so entirely altered that the natives themselves would hardly know the place where Iztapalapan stood.
_Arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, Description of that Court and City, and Transactions there, till the Arrival of Narvaez on the coast to supersede Cortes, by order of Velasquez_.
Next day, being the 8th of November 1519, we set out on our way into the city of Mexico along the grand causeway, which is eight yards wide, and reaches in a straight line all the way from the firm land to the city of Mexico, both sides of the causeway being everywhere crowded with spectators, as were all the towers, temples, and terraces in every part of our progress, eager to behold such men and animals as had never been seen in that part of the world. A very different sentiment from curiosity employed our minds, though every thing we saw around us was calculated to excite and gratify that passion in the highest degree. Our little army did not exceed four hundred and fifty men, and we had been told at every step of our march, that we were to be put to death on our arrival in the city into which we were now about to enter. That city was everywhere surrounded by water, and approachable only by long moles or causeways interrupted in many places by cross cuts, which were only to be passed by means of bridges, the destruction or removal of any of which would effectually prevent the possibility of retreat. In these circumstances I may fairly ask my readers, what men in the world but ourselves would have ventured on so bold and hazardous an enterprize?
Proceeding along the broad causeway of Iztapalapan, we came to a place called _Xoloc_, where a smaller causeway goes off obliquely from the great one to the city of _Cojohuacan_, we were met by a numerous train of the court nobles in the richest dresses, who were sent before Montezuma to compliment us on our arrival, after which Cacamatzin and the other nobles who had hitherto attended us, went to meet their sovereign, who now approached in a most magnificent litter, which was carried by four of his highest nobles. When we came near certain towers, almost close to the city, Montezuma was lifted from his litter, and borne forwards in the arms of the lords of Tezcuco, Iztapalapan, Tacuba, and Cojohuacan, under a splendid canopy, richly adorned with gold, precious stones hung round like fringes, and plumes of green feathers. Montezuma was dressed and adorned with great magnificence, his mantle being all covered with gold and gems, a crown of thin gold on his head, and gold buskins on his legs ornamented with jewels. The princes who supported him were all richly dressed, but in different habits from those in which they had visited us; and several other nobles in fine dresses, went before the monarch, spreading mantles on the ground to prevent his feet from touching it. Three nobles preceded the whole, each carrying a golden rod, as a signal of the presence of their great monarch. All the natives who attended Montezuma, except the four princes, kept their eyes fixed on the ground, no one daring to look him in the face. On the approach of Montezuma, Cortes dismounted and advanced towards him with every token of profound respect, and was welcomed by the Mexican monarch to his metropolis. Cortes then threw upon the neck of Montezuma a collar of the artificial jewels called _margajitas_, being glass beads of various colours, set in gold; after which he advanced, meaning to embrace Montezuma, but the surrounding nobles prevented him, by taking him respectfully by the arms, considering this as too great familiarity. It appeared to me that on this occasion Cortes offered to yield the right hand to Montezuma, who declined this mark of respect, and placed our general on his right. Cortes then made a complimentary discourse to Montezuma, expressing his joy in having seen so great a monarch, and the great honour he had done him, by coming out to meet him, as well as by the many other marks of favour he had already received. Montezuma made a gracious reply, and giving orders to the princes of Tezcuco and Cojohuacan to conduct Cortes and the rest of us to the quarters assigned to us, he returned to the city in the same state in which he had come to meet us, all the people standing close to the walls, not daring to look up; and as we followed the royal attendants, we passed on without any obstruction from the multitudes in the streets. It were impossible to reckon the innumerable multitudes of men, women, and children which thronged everywhere in the streets, on the canals, and the terraces on the house tops, during the whole of our passage through the city of Mexico. So strongly is every thing I saw on this memorable day imprinted on my memory, that it appears to me only as yesterday. Glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave us courage to venture on so hazardous an enterprize, and preserved us amid so many dangers: And praised be his holy name, who hath permitted me to write this true history; though not so full and satisfactory as the subject merits. Amen!
Lodgings were provided for us in the palace which had formerly been occupied by Azayacatl, not far from the western gate of the great temple. Here Montezuma had a secret treasury of gold and valuables, which he had inherited from his father Azayacatl, and we were placed here, because being considered as _teules_, they thought we were properly lodged in the neighbourhood of their idols. The entry to this palace was through a large walled court, and the whole was very light, airy, clean, and pleasant, with large and lofty apartments. That allotted for our general was situated on a raised platform; and for each of us mats were provided to sleep upon, having little canopies over them, after the fashion of this country. On our arrival at the gate of this palace, Montezuma, who had preceded us, took Cortes by the hand and led him to the apartment destined to his particular use, and having placed a rich collar of gold round the generals neck, he said on taking leave of him, “Malinatzin, you and your friends are now in your own house, refresh and repose yourselves.” We were distributed to our several apartments by companies, having our artillery posted in a convenient situation, and every thing was arranged in such a manner as to be prepared for any emergency. A plentiful and even sumptuous entertainment was provided for us, to which we sat down with much satisfaction. This is a full and true account of our adventurous and magnanimous entry into the city of Mexico, on the 8th of November 1519.
After Montezuma had taken a repast in his own palace, and was informed we had done the same, he returned to our quarters attended by a great retinue of nobles. Cortes received him in the middle of the hall, where Montezuma took him cordially by the hand, and they sat down together on magnificently ornamented seats. Montezuma made a very pertinent speech, in which he observed, “That he rejoiced at the arrival of such valiant captains and warriors in his dominions. He had before heard of a Spanish captain who had arrived at Pontonchan, and of another who came upon the coast in the preceding year with four ships, and had wished to see these men, but was disappointed. Now that we were actually arrived in his dominions, he was happy to offer every favour in his power to grant, being convinced we were those men predicted by the gods to his ancestors, who, coming from that part of the world in which the sun rises, were to acquire the government of this country, as we had fought with such astonishing valour ever since our arrival, representations of all our battles having been sent him in painting.” Cortes replied, “That he and all his brethren could never sufficiently repay the many favours we had received from his bounty; that we certainly were those men to whom the Mexican prophecies related, being the vassals of the great and powerful emperor Don Carlos, to whom many great princes were subject; and who, hearing of the fame and magnificence of the great Montezuma, had sent us to request that he and his subjects would embrace the Holy Christian religion, abandoning their false gods and senseless idols, and abolishing their barbarous human sacrifices, by which means he would preserve the souls of himself, his family, and subjects from perdition.” Cortes enlarged on this and other topics in a most edifying manner, promising to communicate more particulars hereafter. Montezuma then presented a quantity of valuable ornaments of gold to our general, with a present of some gold, and three loads of mantles to each of our captains, and two loads of mantles to each of the soldiers. After this he asked Cortes if all his soldiers were brothers and vassals to our emperor. To this Cortes answered that they were all brothers in love and friendship, men of rank in our own country, and servants of our great sovereign. Montezuma then departed, with mutual compliments, after giving orders that we should be amply provided with every thing we needed; particularly fowls, fruit, and corn, stone mills for grinding our corn, and women to make bread, and to supply us daily with plenty of grass for our horses.
Next day being appointed for making a visit to Montezuma, Cortes went to the royal palace accompanied by captains Alvarado, De Leon, Ordas, and Sandoval, with five soldiers. Montezuma met him in the middle of the great hall, attended by his relations, all others being excluded from the apartment in which he happened to be, except on certain occasions of importance. After mutual compliments of ceremony, Montezuma took Cortes by the hand, and led him to a seat on his own right hand, placed on an elevated platform in the saloon. Cortes then said, “That he came to him in the name and for the service of the only true God, who was adored by the Christians, the Lord Christ Jesus, who had died to save us and all men. He endeavoured to explain the mystery of the cross, as an emblem of the crucifixion, by which mankind had been redeemed. He recounted the sufferings and death of our Lord and Saviour, who had risen on the third day and ascended to heaven, where he now reigns, the creator of the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and all that they contain. He asserted, that those idols which the natives held as gods, were devils which dared not to remain wherever the holy cross was planted. That as all mankind were brothers, the offspring of the same first pair, our glorious emperor lamented the loss of their souls, which would be brought by their idols into everlasting flames, and had sent us to apply a sure remedy, by abolishing the worship of idols, the bloody and inhuman sacrifices of their fellow men, and their other odious customs so contrary to the law of God: And that our emperor would send them holy men hereafter to explain all these things more fully.” To this Montezuma replied, “Malinatzin! I am much indebted to your emperor for sending you so far to inform me of all these things, of which I have already heard by means of my ambassadors who have visited you in my name, and to which hitherto we have made no reply. We have always worshipped our gods, whom we consider to be just and good, and have no doubt yours are so likewise. It had always been his wish to see us from the first time he had heard of our arrival on his coasts, because he believed we were they of whom their ancient prophecies made mention, and his gods had now granted his desire. That our being refused entrance into his cities was none of his fault; having been done by his subjects without orders, who were terrified by the accounts they had received of us, which reported that we were furious _teules_, who carried thunder and lightning along with us, that our horses eat men, and other such foolish stories. That he now saw we were valiant and wise men, for which he highly esteemed us, and would give us proofs of his favour.” Then changing the manner of his discourse to gaiety, he added “Malinatzin! Your new friends the Tlascalans have informed you that I am like a god, and that every thing about me is gold, silver, and jewels. But you now see that I am like other men, and that my houses are of lime, stone, and timber. It is true that I am a powerful sovereign, and have great riches, which I have inherited from my ancestors. You will now treat these reports with the same contempt that I do the ridiculous stories which I have been told of your having command over the elements.” To this Cortes replied, that the accounts of enemies were never to be depended on; and made a handsome compliment to Montezuma on his power and grandeur. Montezuma then ordered in a rich present, giving Cortes a quantity of gold, with ten loads of rich stuffs to be divided between him and his captains, and to each of us five soldiers, he gave two gold collars, each worth ten crowns, and two loads of mantles. The gold given on this occasion was worth about a thousand crowns, and the whole was given with so much affability and indifference, as made him appear truly munificent. Cortes now took leave, it being the hour of dinner, and we retired impressed with high respect for the liberality and princely munificence of Montezuma.
The great Montezuma appeared to be about forty years of age, of good stature, well proportioned, and rather thin. His face was rather long, with a pleasant expression, and good eyes, and his complexion rather fairer than the other Indians. His hair was short, just covering his ears, and his scanty beard was thin, black, and well arranged. His person was very clean and delicate, as he bathed every evening; and his manners were a pleasing compound of gravity and good humour. He had two lawful wives, who were princesses, and a number of mistresses; but his visits to these were conducted with such secrecy as only to be known by his most familiar servants; and he lay under no suspicion of unnatural vices, so common among his subjects. The clothes he wore one day were not used for four days after. His guard consisted of two hundred nobles, who had apartments adjoining his own. Certain persons only among these were permitted to speak to him, and when they went into his presence, they laid aside their ordinary rich dresses, putting on others quite plain but clean, entering his apartment barefooted, with their eyes fixed on the ground, and making three profound reverences as they approached him. On addressing him, they always began, Lord! my Lord! great Lord! and when they had finished, he always dismissed them in few words; on which they retired with their faces towards him, keeping their eyes fixed on the ground. I observed likewise, that all the great men who waited upon him on business, always entered the palace barefooted and in plain habits, never entering the gate directly, but making a circuit in going towards it.
The cooks of the palace had above thirty different ways of dressing meats, which were served up in earthen vessels of a very ingenious construction for keeping their contents always hot. For Montezumas own table above three hundred dishes were dressed every day, and more than a thousand for his guards. Montezuma sometimes went before dinner to inspect the preparations, on which occasions his officers pointed out to him which were the best, explaining what birds or flesh they were composed of. It is said that the flesh of young children was sometimes dressed for his table; but after Cortes had spoken to him respecting the barbarity of this inhuman custom, it was no longer practised in the palace. The ordinary meats were domestic fowls, pheasants, geese, partridges, quails, venison, Indian hogs or _pecaris_, pigeons, hares, rabbits and many other animals and birds peculiar to the country; the various meats being served up on black and red earthen-ware made at Cholula. In the cold weather while at his meals, a number of torches were lighted up, of the bark of a tree which has an aromatic smell and gives no smoke; and to prevent the glare and heat of those from being troublesome, rich screens ornamented with gold and paintings of their idols were interposed between Montezuma and the torches. At his meals he was seated on a low throne or chair, at a table of proportional height covered with white cloths and napkins, four beautiful women attending to present him with water for his hands, in vessels named _xicales_, having plates under them, after which they gave him towels to dry his hands. Two other women attended with small cakes of bread; and when he began to eat, a large screen of gilt wood was placed before him, to prevent him from being seen. Four ancient nobles, who were his relations and served as councillors and judges, stood beside the throne, with whom he occasionally conversed, giving them a part of what he was eating, which they received with profound respect, and eat without lifting their eyes from the ground. Fruit of all kinds produced in the country was served up to him at table, of which he eat in great moderation; and a certain liquor prepared from cocoa, said to be of a stimulant and strengthening nature, was presented to him from time to time in golden cups. All the time he continued at table his guards and all others in or near his apartment had to preserve the most profound silence, under pain of death. Owing to the before-mentioned screen which concealed him from public view, we could not see all the circumstances here described from information. But I noticed above fifty jars of foaming chocolate brought into the hall, some of which was presented to him by the female attendants. During the repast, various Indians were introduced at intervals for his amusement: Some of these were hump-backed, ugly, and deformed, who played various tricks of buffoonery, and we were told that others were jesters, besides which there were companies of singers and dancers in which he was said to take great delight; and to all these he ordered vases of chocolate to be distributed. When the repast was ended, the four female attendants already mentioned, after removing the cloths, presented him again with water to wash his hands, during which he continued his conversation with the four old nobles, who then took their leaves with much ceremony. He was then presented with three small hollow canes highly ornamented, containing an herb called tobacco mixed with liquid amber; and when he was satisfied with the buffoons, dancers, and singers, he smoked for a short time from one of these canes, and then laid himself to sleep. I forgot to mention in its proper place that, during the time of dinner, two beautiful women were employed in making certain small delicately white cakes, of eggs and other ingredients, which they presented on plates covered with napkins to Montezuma; and then another kind of bread was brought to him in long loaves, as likewise plates of a kind of cakes resembling wafers or pancakes. When Montezuma had concluded his meal, all his guards and domestics sat down to dinner, and as well as I could judge, above a thousand dishes of the various eatables already mentioned were served up to them, with immense quantities of fruit, and numerous vessels of foaming chocolate. His establishment, including his women and inferior servants of all kinds, was amazingly numerous, and must have occasioned prodigious expence, yet the most perfect regularity was preserved amid that vast profusion. The steward of his household, or major-domo, was at this time a prince named _Tapiea_, who kept an account of all the royal rents in a set of books or symbolical representations which occupied an entire house.
Connected with the palace of Montezuma there were two large buildings filled with every kind of arms, both offensive and defensive, some of which were richly ornamented with gold and jewels; such as large and small shields, some of the latter being so contrived as to roll up in a small compass, and to let fall in action so as to cover the whole body; much defensive armour of quilted cotton, ornamented with various devices in feather work; helmets or casques for the head made of wood and bone, adorned with plumes of feathers; immense quantities of bows, arrows, darts, and slings; lances having stone heads or blades six feet long, so strong as not to break when fixed in a shield, and as sharp as razors; clubs or two-handed swords, having edges of sharp stones; and many other articles which I cannot enumerate. In the palace there was a magnificent aviary, containing every kind of bird to be found in all the surrounding country, from large eagles down to the smallest paroquets of beautiful plumage. In this place the ornamental feather-work so much in repute among the Mexicans, was fabricated, the feathers for this purpose being taken from certain birds called _Quetzales_, and others, having green, red, white, yellow, and blue feathers, about the size of our Spanish pyes, the name of which I have forgot. There were also great numbers of parrots, and geese of fine plumage; all these birds breeding in the royal aviary, and being annually stripped of their feathers at the proper season, to supply the workers in feather-work. There was likewise a large pond of clear water, in which were kept a number of large birds of a red colour with very long legs, resembling those called _Ipiris_ in Cuba, and called flamingos by the Spaniards. In another great building we saw a temple dedicated to the war gods, in which were kept great numbers of ferocious beasts, as tigers, lions of two species, one of which called _Adive_ resembled a wolf; also foxes, and other smaller animals, all of them carnivorous. Most of these were bred in this menagerie, and were fed upon game, fowls, and dogs, and, as I was informed, on the bodies of the sacrificed human victims. Their manner of sacrifice was said to be as follows: They open the breasts of the living victim with large stone knives, offering his heart and blood to their gods; they feast on the head and limbs, giving the bodies to be devoured by the wild beasts, and hanging up the skulls in the temples as trophies of their misguided piety. In this place likewise there were many vipers and serpents, the most dangerous of which have a kind of rattle on their tails, making a noise like our castanets. These are kept in vessels filled with feathers, where they breed, and are fed with human flesh and the carcases of dogs. I was assured, after our expulsion from Mexico, that these animals were fed for many days on the bodies of our companions who perished on that occasion. These ravenous beasts and horrid reptiles are fit companions for their infernal deities; and when they yelled and hissed, that part of the palace might be likened to hell itself.
The town in which most of the Mexican artists resided was called _Azcapozalco_, about a league from the city of Mexico, in which were many shops and manufactories of those who wrought in gold, silver, and jewellery, whose productions surprised the ablest Spanish artist on being carried over to Spain. Their painters were also exceedingly expert, as may be judged from what we still see among them; as there are now three Indian painters in Mexico, named Marcos de Aquino, Juan de la Cruz, and Grespillo, who are not inferior to Michael Angelo or Berreguete among the moderns, and might even have vied with Apelles. The fine cotton manufactures of the Mexicans were principally brought from the province of Costitlan. The women likewise of Montezumas family of all ranks, were exceedingly expert in these kinds of work, and were continually employed; as were also certain females who lived together in a kind of secluded societies, like our nuns. One division of the city was entirely inhabited by Montezumas dancers and posture-makers; some of whom danced like those Italians whom we call _Matachines_; others played various tricks by means of sticks which they balanced in many curious ways; and others had a strange manner of flying in the air. Montezuma had also great numbers of carpenters and handicrafts of various descriptions continually employed in his service. His gardens were of great extent, irrigated by means of canals, and shaded by an infinite variety of trees; having stone baths, pavilions for entertainments or retirement, theatres for shows and for the singers and dancers, and many other particulars, all of which were kept in the nicest order by a great number of labourers who were constantly at work.
Four days after our arrival in Mexico, Cortes sent a message to Montezuma by Aguilar, Donna Marina, and a young page named Orteguilla, who already began to understand the language, requesting permission to take a view of the city, which was immediately granted; but as he was afraid we might offer some insult to his temple, he went thither in person attended by a great retinue, and in similar pomp as when he came to meet us on entering Mexico; two nobles preceding the cavalcade carrying sceptres in their hands, as a signal of the approach of the monarch. Montezuma was carried in his magnificent litter, carrying a small rod in his hand, half of which was gold and the other half wood: and on coming to the temple, he quitted the litter and walked up the steps attended by many priests, where he offered incense and performed many ceremonies in honour of his war gods. Cortes marched at the head of his small band of cavalry, followed by most of the infantry under arms, into the great square, accompanied by many of the court nobles; where we were astonished at the prodigious crowds of people, the vast quantities of merchandize exposed for sale, and the amazing regularity which everywhere prevailed; all of which our Mexican attendants carefully pointed out to us. Every different commodity had its own particular place, which was distinguished by an appropriate sign or emblem. There were dealers in gold, silver, feathers, jewels, mantles, chocolate, skins both dressed and undressed, sandals, manufactures of the roots and fibres of _nequen_, and so forth. In one place great numbers of male and female slaves were exposed for sale, most of whom were fastened by the neck in leather collars to long poles. The market for provisions was amply stocked with fowls, game, dogs, vegetables, fruit, articles of food ready dressed, salt, bread, honey, sweet pastry or confectionary of various kinds, and many other articles. Other parts of the great square were appropriated for the sale of earthen ware, wooden furniture, such as tables and benches, fire-wood, paper, hollow canes filled with tobacco and liquid amber ready for smoking, copper axes, working tools of various kinds, wooden vessels richly painted, and the like. In another part many women sold fish, and small loaves of a kind of mud taken out of the lake resembling cheese. The makers of stone blades were employed in shaping them out of the rough materials. The dealers in gold had the native metal in grains as it comes from the mines, in transparent tubes or quills, so that it could easily be seen; and the gold was valued at so many mantles, or so many xiquipils of cocoa nuts, in proportion to the size of the quills. The great square was enclosed all round by piazas, under which there were great stores of grain, and shops for various kinds of goods. On the borders of the adjoining canals there were boats loaded with human ordure, used in tanning leather, and on all the public roads there were places built of canes and thatched with straw or grass, for the convenience of passengers in order to collect this material. In one part of the square was a court of justice having three judges, and their inferior officers were employed in perambulating the market, preserving order, and inspecting the various articles.
After having satisfied our curiosity in the square, we proceeded to the great temple, where we went through a number of large courts, the smallest of which seemed to me larger than the great square of Salamanca, the courts being either paved with large cut white stones, or plastered and polished, the whole very clean, and inclosed by double walls of stone and lime. On coming to the gate of the great temple, which was ascended by 114 steps, Montezuma sent six priests and two nobles to carry up Cortes, which he declined. On ascending to the summit, which consisted of a broad platform, we observed the large stones on which the victims were placed for sacrifice, near which was a monstrous figure resembling a dragon, and much blood appeared to have been recently spilt. Montezuma came out of an adoratory or recess, in which the accursed idols were kept, and expressed his apprehension to Cortes that he must be fatigued by the ascent, to which Cortes answered that we were never fatigued. Montezuma, taking our general by the hand, pointed out to him the different quarters of the city, and the towns in the neighbourhood, all of which were distinctly seen from this commanding eminence. We had a distinct view of the three causeways by which Mexico communicated with the land, and of the aqueduct of Chapoltepec, which conveyed an abundant supply of the finest water to the city. The numbers of canoes which were continually seen passing between Mexico and all the towns on the borders of the lake, carrying provisions and merchandise, was really astonishing. We could see, as we had been often told, that most of the houses of this great city, and of the others in the neighbourhood which were built in the water, stood apart from each other, their only communication being by means of drawbridges or canoes, and that all their roofs were terraced and battlemented. We saw numerous temples and adoratories in the great city below, on the causeways, and in the adjacent cities, all resembling so many fortresses with towers, wonderfully brilliant, being all whitewashed. The noise and bustle of the market in the great square just below, was so great that it might easily have been heard almost at the distance of a league; and some of our companions who had seen both Rome and Constantinople, declared they had not seen any thing comparable in these cities, for convenient and regular distribution or numbers of people.
After having admired the magnificent prospect around, Cortes requested of Montezuma to shew us their gods. After consulting with his priests, he led us into a kind of saloon in a tower, having a timber roof richly wrought, under which stood two altars highly adorned, and behind these two gigantic figures resembling very fat men. That on the right was _Huitzilopochtli_, the god of war, having a broad face and terrible eyes, all covered over with gold and jewels, and having his body twisted round with golden serpents. His right hand held a bow, and in his left there was a bundle of arrows. Round his neck was a string of the figures of human heads and hearts made of pure gold, intermixed with precious stones of a blue colour. Close by him stood a small image representing his page, carrying a lance and shield richly adorned with gold and jewels. Before the great idol stood a pan of fire, in which three hearts of human victims were then burning along with copal. The whole walls and floor of the apartment was stained with human blood, and had a most offensive smell, worse than any slaughter-house. On the left of Huitzilopochtli stood another gigantic figure, having a countenance like a bear, with great shining eyes. The name of this last was _Tezcatlipoca_, who was said to be the god of the infernal regions, and to preside over the souls of men. He was likewise considered as the brother of the god of war. His body was covered all over with figures representing little devils with tails of serpents, and was richly adorned with gold and jewels. Before this idol lay an offering of five human hearts. On the summit of the whole temple was a recess having its wood-work very highly ornamented, where we saw a figure half human and the rest like an alligator, all inlaid with jewels, and partly covered by a mantle. He was considered as the germ and origin of all created things, and was worshipped as the god of harvests and fruits. Here likewise the walls and altar were stained with blood like the others, and so offensive that we were glad to retire in all haste. In this place there stood a drum of prodigious size, the head of which was made of the skin of a large serpent, which resounded, when struck, with a noise that might be heard at the distance of two leagues, and gave out a sound so doleful, that it might be named the drum of hell. This dreadful drum, the horrid sound of their horns and trumpets, and the shocking sight of their great sacrificial knives, the remnants of human victims, and their blood-stained altars and fanes, made me anxious to get away from this horrible scene of human butchery, detestable smells, and abominable sights.
Addressing himself to Montezuma, half jest half earnest, Cortes expressed his astonishment how so wise a prince could adore such absurd and wicked gods; and proposed to substitute the cross on the summit of the tower, and the images of the Holy Virgin and her ever-blessed SON in the adoratories, instead of those horrid idols, assuring him that he would soon be convinced of the vanity of his idolatry, and the deception practised on him by these inhuman priests. Montezuma was much displeased with these expressions, saying that he would not have admitted us to the temple if he had known we were to insult his gods, who dispensed health, good harvests, seasonable weather, and victory, and whom they were bound in duty and gratitude to adore. Cortes dropped the subject and proposed to withdraw, to which Montezuma assented, observing that he must remain, and atone by an expiatory sacrifice for having admitted us into the temple. Cortes then took leave of the king, and we descended the steps, to the great inconvenience of our invalids. If I am not quite so correct as I wish and ought to be in many of the things which I relate and describe, I must beg my readers to consider the situation in which I then served, being under the necessity of giving more attention to the orders of my officers than to the surrounding objects of curiosity. The temple which we had just visited covered a prodigious extent of ground, and diminished gradually from the base to the platform on the top, having five concavities like barbicans between the middle and the top, but without parapets. On the broad platform of the summit there was a tower in which the images were placed. But as there are many paintings of temples in the possession of the conquerors, one of which I have, it will be easy to form an idea of the structure of this temple from these representations. It was said by the Mexicans, that numerous offerings of gold, silver, jewels, productions of the earth, and human victims were deposited under the foundations of this great temple at the time of its erection; and it is certain, when the ground on which it stood was afterwards dug up for the church of St Jago, that we found great quantities of gold, silver, and other valuables on sinking the new foundations. A Mexican also, who obtained a grant of part of this ground, discovered a considerable treasure, about which there was a law-suit for the royal interest. This account was confirmed by King Guatimotzin, who assured us that the circumstances were recorded in ancient historical paintings. At a small distance from the great temple,