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

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as will appear in the sequel. When all this was arranged, and the crews
embarked along with their commanders, each brigantine hoisted a royal
standard, and every one a distinguishing flag. Cortes likewise gave the
captains written instructions for their guidance, dividing them into
squadrons, each of which was to co-operate with a particular leader of the
land forces.

Cortes now issued the following general orders to the army: 1. No person
to blaspheme the Lord Jesus, his Virgin Mother, the Holy Apostles, or any
of the Saints, under heavy penalties. 2. No soldier to maltreat any of our
allies in their persons or properties. 3. No soldier to be absent from
quarters on any pretence. 4. Every soldier to keep his arms, both
offensive and defensive, in the best order. 5. No soldier to stake his
horse or arms in gaming. 6. No soldier to sleep out of his armour, or
without his arms beside him, except when disabled by wounds or sickness.
Lastly, the penalty of death was denounced for sleeping on guard, for a
sentinel quitting his post, for absence from quarters without leave, for
quitting the ranks in the field, or for flight in battle.

At this time our allies of Tlascala arrived under the command of
Xicotencatl the younger, who was accompanied by his two brothers. Some of
the warriors of Huexotzinco and Cholula came along with the Tlascalans,
but not in any great numbers[12], yet the alacrity of our allies was such
that they joined us a day previous to that which was appointed by Cortes.
They marched in with great military parade, each of the chiefs carrying a
standard with their national device, a white spread eagle, and they were
all in high spirits, shouting out, Castilla! Castilla! Tlascala! Tlascala!
From the arrival of their van, till the rear came in, took up three hours.
Cortes received them with great courtesy, promising to make them all rich
on their return to their native country, and dismissed them with many
compliments to their respective quarters.

Cortes made the following arrangement of our land army for the investment
of Mexico, distributing our forces in three separate divisions, under the
respective commands of Alvarado, De Oli, and Sandoval, reserving to
himself to act where his presence might be most necessary, and taking in
the mean time the command of the fleet. Pedro de Alvarado, under whom I
served, had 150 infantry, 30 cavalry, 18 musketeers and crossbow-men, and
8000 Tlascalans, and was ordered to take post at Tacuba, having three
captains under his command, his brother Jorge de Alvarado, Pedro
Guttierrez, and Andres de Monjara, having each a company of 50 infantry,
with a third of the musketeers and crossbow-men, the cavalry being
commanded by Alvarado in person.--Christoval de Oli commanded the second
division, having under him Andres de Tapia, Francisco Verdugo, and
Francisco de Lugo, with 175 infantry, 30 cavalry, 20 musketeers and
crossbows, and 8000 of our Indian allies. This division was ordered to
take post at Cuyoacan or Cojohuacan.--The third division, under the
command of Gonzalo de Sandoval, who had under him captains Luis Marin and
Pedro de Ircio, consisted of 150 infantry, 24 cavalry, 14 musketeers and
crossbows, and above 8000 Indian warriors, was to take post at Iztapalapa.
The division of Alvarado and De Oli were ordered to march from Tezcuco by
the right, going round the northern side of the lake, and the third, under
Sandoval, by the left, to the south end of the lake; and his march being
much shorter, he was ordered to remain in Tezcuco until Cortes should sail
out with the fleet[13].

Before setting out on their march, Alvarado and De Oli directed our Indian
allies to go on a day before us, that we might not be interrupted by their
numbers, and ordered them to wait for us when they reached the Mexican
territory. While on their march, Chichimecatl remarked that Xicotencatl,
the commander in chief of the Tlascalans was absent; and it was found that
he had secretly gone off from Tezcuco for Tlascala on the preceding night,
in order to take possession of the territory and property of Chichimecatl,
thinking this a good opportunity during the absence of that chief and his
warriors, and being in no apprehension of any opposition, now that
Maxicatzin was dead. Chichimecatl returned immediately to Tezcuco, to
inform Cortes of what had taken place; and our general sent five chiefs of
Tezcuco and two Tlascalan chiefs, to request Xicotencatl to return. He
answered, that if his old father and Maxicatzin had listened to him, they
would not have been now domineered over by Cortes and the Spaniards, and
absolutely refused to go back. On this haughty answer being reported to
Cortes, he immediately sent off an alguazil with four horsemen and five
Tezcucan chiefs, ordering them to seize and hang Xicotencatl wherever they
could find him. Alvarado interceded strongly for his pardon, but
ineffectually; for though Cortes seemed to relent, the party who arrested
Xicotencatl in a town subject to Tezcuco, hung him up by private orders
from Cortes, and some reported that this was done with the approbation of
the elder Xicotencatl, father to the Tlascalan general. This affair
detained us a whole day, and on the next the two divisions of Alvarado and
De Oli marched by the same route, halting for the night at Aculma or
Alcolman, a town belonging to the state of Tezcuco, where a very ruinous
quarrel was near taking place between our two commanders and their
divisions. De Oli had sent some persons before to take quarters for his
troops, and had appropriated every house in the place for his men, marking
them by setting up green boughs on the terraces; so that when Alvarado
arrived with his division, we had not a single house for us to lodge in.
Our soldiers were much irritated at this circumstance, and stood
immediately to their arms to fight with those of De Oli, and the two
commanders even challenged each other; but several of the more prudent of
the officers on both sides interposed, and a reconciliation was effected,
yet Alvarado and De Oli were never afterwards good friends. An express was
sent off immediately to apprize Cortes of this misunderstanding, who wrote
to all the people of any influence in the two divisions, greatly
condemning the circumstances of this disagreement, which might have
produced fatal consequences to our whole army, and earnestly recommended a
reconcilement. We continued our march for two days more, by several
Mexican cities, which were abandoned by their inhabitants; and passing
through Coatitlan, Tenajoccan and Itzcapuzalco, where our allies waited
for us, we proceeded for Tacuba, otherwise called Tlacopan.

[1] According to Clavigero, II. 135, the Spanish force at this time
amounted to forty cavalry, divided into four troops, and 550 infantry,
in nine companies: But he swells the auxiliary force of the Tlascalans
to 110,000 men.--E.

[2] In the very imperfect maps of Diaz and Clavigero, Tezcuco is placed
near the mouth of a rivulet which discharges itself into the lake of
Mexico: In the former, the buildings are represented as extending two
miles and a half along the rivulet, and coming close to the edge of
the lake; but the map of Clavigero has no scale. In the map given by
Humboldt, Tezcuco is placed on a rising ground, near two miles from
the edge of the lake. But the lake has since the time of Cortes been
much diminished in extent by a grand drain, insomuch that Mexico,
formerly insulated, is now a mile and a half from the lake.--E.

[3] On this occasion Diaz mentions the inhabitants of Chalco, Tlalmalanco,
Mecameca, and Chimaloacan, as the allies of the Spaniards; but these
states do not appear to have submitted to the Spaniards till
afterwards. Cortes employed the interval, from his arrival at Tezcuco
in the end of December 1520, to the investment of Mexico, at the end
of May 1521, five months, in detaching a great number of the native
states from their dependence upon Mexico.--E.

[4] From the circumstance of the gold, it is probable Yuste and his
companions had been slain on their retreat from Mexico, not on their
way there as stated in the text. From this and other similar incidents,
of parties of Spaniards having been slain in different places after
the retreat from Mexico, it is highly probable that several detached
parties made their escape, who missed forming a junction with Cortes.
He, it will be recollected, made a detour round the west and south
sides of the lake; and it is probable that they had turned to the east,
as the nearest and most direct way to Tlascala and Villa Rica.--E.

[5] Clavigero, II. 146, exaggerates the armed escort to 30,000 Tlascalan
warriors, commanded by three chiefs, Chichimecatl, Ayotecatl, and
Teotlipil. Diaz calls the two last, Teuleticle and Teatical; but
though his facts are fully more to be depended upon, Clavigero may be
accounted better versant in Mexican orthography.--E.

[6] Clavigero, II. 146, quotes Diaz as saying that it extended six miles
from front to rear. This may very likely have been the case, but Diaz
nowhere specifies the length of the line.--E.

[7] Clavigero says, 350 Spanish infantry, 25 horsemen, and 30,000
Tlascalans, with six small cannon.--E.

[8] Clavigero, II. 147, says that Cortes endeavoured at this time, but in
vain, to come to an amicable agreement with the court of Mexico.--E.

[9] In this expedition Cortes appears, by the information of Clavigero,
II. 152, to have crossed the southern mountains of the Mexican vale,
and to have reduced Huastepec, Jautepec, Quauhnahuac, and other towns
belonging to the Tlahuicas, who were subject to the Mexican empire;
thus judiciously using his endeavours to strengthen his own party and
to weaken that of the Mexicans, before proceeding to assail the
capital of that powerful empire.--E.

[10] This beautiful city was the largest in the vale of Mexico, after the
capital and the royal residences of Tezcuco and Tlacopan, and was
famous for its floating gardens, whence it derived its name,
signifying flower gardens in the Mexican language.--Clavig. II. 155.

[11] Diaz mentions a poem circulated at the time, as beginning in
reference to the melancholy of Cortes on this occasion, somewhat in the
following strain:

In Tacuba was Cortes, with many a gallant chief;
He thought upon his losses, and bow'd his head with grief.

[12] Clavigero, II. 159, carries the number of allies which joined Cortes
on this occasion, to more than 200,000 men. In his enumeration of the
several divisions of the army appointed for the investment of Mexico,
Diaz makes the Indian allies very little more than 24,000 warriors.--E.

[13] Diaz mentions, that about this time intelligence came to Tezcuco,
that three of our soldiers who had been left by Pizarro to search for
mines in the country of the Zapotecas had been put to death by the
Mexicans, one only, named Barrientos, having escaped to Chinantla,
where he was protected by the natives.--E.


_Narrative of Occurrences from the commencement of the Siege of Mexico to
its Reduction, and the Capture of Guatimotzin_.

Having thus, by the occupation of Tacuba, commenced the investment of the
great and populous city of Mexico, we soon found the enemy around us in
great numbers; and as the first operation, it was determined on the
following day, that our divisions should march to Chapoltepec to destroy
the aqueduct at that place, by which the city of Mexico was supplied with
fresh water. We set out accordingly with our allies, and although the
enemy attacked us on our march, we repelled them and succeeded in our
object of cutting off the pipes, so that from that time the city of Mexico
was deprived of fresh water. It was now determined to endeavour to
penetrate to the city of Mexico by the causeway of Tacuba, or at least to
attempt getting possession of the first bridge on that causeway; but on
our arrival there, the prodigious number of boats which covered the water
on both sides, and the multitude of Mexican troops which thronged the
causeway to oppose us, was perfectly astonishing. By the first flight of
arrows which they discharged against us, three of our men were slain and
thirty wounded; yet we advanced to the bridge, the enemy retiring before
us, as if by a concerted stratagem, so that we were exposed on both flanks,
on a narrow road only twenty feet wide, as a butt for the innumerable
arrows of the Mexicans in the canoes, and neither our musquetry nor
crossbows were of any avail against the people in the canoes, as they were
effectually protected by high wooden screens. The horses of our cavalry
were all wounded, and when at any time they made a charge upon the enemy,
they were almost immediately stopt by barriers and parapets which the
enemy had drawn across the causeway for the purpose, and from whence they
defended themselves with long lances. Likewise, when the infantry advanced
along the causeway, instead of abiding our attack, the enemy threw
themselves into the water and escaped by swimming or into their canoes,
returning incessantly to the attack. We were thus engaged for more than an
hour to no useful purpose, the enemy continually increasing in number, by
reinforcements from every part of the lake; and our allies, instead of
being serviceable, only encumbered the causeway and hindered our movements.
Finding that we were unable any longer to resist the multitude of enemies
who assailed us perpetually from the water, and almost with entire
impunity, we determined to retreat to our quarters in Tacuba, having eight
of our men slain and above fifty wounded, and were closely followed up and
much harassed by the enemy during our retreat. De Oli laid the blame of
the disaster of this day on the rashness of Alvarado.

Next day[1], though we were all extremely solicitous for the two captains
to remain together, De Oli proceeded with his division to take possession
of Cojohuacan, according to the orders he had received from Cortes; but
this separation was assuredly extremely ill judged; as, if the enemy had
known the smallness of our numbers at the two stations, they might have
fallen upon and destroyed us separately, during the four or five days that
we remained divided before the arrival of Cortes with the brigantines. In
all that time we never ventured to make any more attempts against the
Mexican causeways, but the enemy frequently sent bodies of their troops to
the main land to make attacks on our quarters, on which occasions we
always drove them away.

Sandoval with his division did not leave Tezcuco until the fourth day
after the feast of Corpus Christi[2], when he marched through a friendly
country by the south side of the lake, and arrived without interruption in
front of Iztapalapa. Immediately on his arrival, he commenced an attack on
the enemy, and burnt many of the houses in that part of the town which
stood on the firm land; but fresh bodies of Mexican warriors came over in
canoes and by the causeway of Iztapalapa to relieve their friends in the
town, and made a determined resistance against Sandoval. While the
engagement was going on, a smoke was observed to arise from a hill above
the town, which was answered by similar signals at many other points
around the lake, which were afterwards found to have been made to apprize
the enemy of the appearance of our flotilla on the lake. On this, the
efforts of the enemy against Sandoval were much relaxed, as their canoes
and warriors were recalled to oppose our naval force; and Sandoval was
thus enabled to take up his quarters in a part of the town of Iztapalapa;
between which and Cojohuacan the only means of communication was by a
causeway or mound dividing the lake of Chalco from that of Mexico or
Tezcuco, which passage was at that time impracticable in the face of the

"Before proceeding to the narrative of the siege of Mexico, it may be
proper to give some account of the situation of the city of Mexico, and
the mounds or causeways by which it communicated with the land at the
several posts which were occupied by Cortes for its investment[3]. The
city of Mexico was built partly on an island and partly in the water, at
the west side of a considerable salt lake, named sometimes the lake of
Tezcuco, and sometimes the lake of Mexico, and appears to have been about
a mile from the firm land. It communicated with the land by three mounds
or causeways; that of Tepejacac on the north, about three miles long,
measuring from the great temple in centre of Mexico; that usually called
of Iztapalapa on the south, nearly five miles in length; and that of
Tacuba or Tlacopan on the west, about two miles long, likewise measuring
from the temple; but at least a mile may be abstracted from each of these
measurements, on account of the extent of the city from the great temple
to the commencement of the causeways. About the middle of the southern
causeway called that of Iztapalapa, another causeway branched off
obliquely to the south-east, to the town of Cojohuacan; and at the place
where these two causeways united stood the town of Xoloc, partly on the
sides of the causeways, but chiefly in the water intersected by canals and
ditches. Besides these three grand causeways for communicating with the
land, there was a smaller mound about two miles south from the causeway of
Tacuba, from a town named Chapoltepec, along which the aqueduct, or pipes,
for supplying Mexico with fresh water was carried; but this appears to
have been too narrow for allowing any passage, at least the Spaniards do
not seem to have availed themselves of it, in their long and arduous
endeavours to force their way into Mexico. Near the south-west angle of
the salt lake of Mexico, it communicated by a narrow neck or strait with
the fresh water lake of Chalco; and at their junction a mound or causeway
had been constructed across, to prevent the admixture of the salt and
fresh lakes, having a town called Mexicaltzinco at the eastern extremity
of this mound. Iztapalapa stood in the western end of the peninsula,
between the lakes of Mexico and Chalco, but on the borders and in the
waters of the former. The whole fertile vale of Mexico or Anahuac, around
these two lakes, and some others to the north of the great lake, was
thickly planted with cities, towns, and villages, and highly cultivated,
containing and giving subsistence to a prodigious population. The extent
of this extraordinary valley, elevated nearly 8000 feet above the level of
the sea, is about 50 miles from north to south, and forty miles from east
to west; being surrounded on every side by ridges of lofty mountains, some
of them perpetually covered with snow, and rising to about 10,000 feet in
perpendicular elevation above the ocean."

When Cortes brought out his fleet of brigantines upon the lake, he went in
the first place to attack an insular rock close beside Mexico, on which a
vast number of the inhabitants of that city and other places in the
neighbourhood had taken shelter. Immediately on perceiving his intentions,
their whole force collected from every part of the lake, and proceeded
against him in not less than 4000 large canoes full of warriors. On
perceiving this immense number of boats coming to attack him, Cortes
withdrew with his brigantines into an open part of the lake, ordering his
captains to wait patiently for a breeze of wind which then began to blow.
As the enemy supposed that this movement proceeded from fear, they
immediately closed up around the flotilla with shouts of triumph. The wind
now sprung up, and the whole fleet made sail through the throng of canoes,
plying their oars at the same time, and run down and overset great numbers
of the Mexican canoes, compelling all the rest to fly for shelter to the
recesses and shallows on the borders of the lake. After this, Cortes made
sail to Cojohuacan[4], where he was again attacked by the Mexicans, both
by means of their canoes on the water, and from their temples on the land:
But Cortes brought four guns to bear upon them, by which he did
considerable execution. During this action his powder magazine blew up,
owing to some mismanagement of the gunners, by which many of his people
were wounded. This unfortunate accident obliged him to detach his smallest
brigantine to Sandoval for a supply of ammunition. He remained at
Cojohuacan for two days with the flotilla, repairing the injury his ship
had sustained from the explosion.

When we were assured that the flotilla was out upon the lake, Alvarado
marched out with our division to the causeway of Tacuba, as far as the
bridge, in which we were constantly engaged with the enemy to very little
purpose, except that we repaired the passes in our rear as we advanced,
and did not now suffer the cavalry to come upon the causeway, as we had
found by experience that they were of very little service, and besides
that their horses were exposed to much danger. Finding that he could not
sufficiently annoy the enemy in his present post at Iztapalapa, where the
Mexicans had possession of the houses which were built in the water,
Sandoval advanced by a causeway to a more commanding situation[5]. When
this was noticed from Mexico, a large detachment of warriors came over in
canoes, with orders to cut the causeway in the rear of our troops. Cortes
observed this, and immediately made sail with his vessels to the relief of
Sandoval, giving orders at the same time to De Oli to march a body of
troops by the causeway for the same purpose. Having relieved Sandoval by
these means, Cortes ordered him to remove with his division from
Iztapalapa to Tepeaquilla or Tepejacac, where the church of our Lady of
Guadalupe now stands, in which many wonderful miracles have been performed.

As it was impossible for our troops to advance on the causeways, unless
their flanks were secured from attacks by water, the flotilla was
appointed to this service in three divisions, one of which was attached to
each of the three detachments of our land force: Four brigantines being
allotted to Alvarado, six to De Oli, and two to Sandoval[6]; twelve in all,
the thirteenth having been found too small for service, and was therefore
laid up, and her crew distributed to the rest, as twenty men had been
already severely wounded in the several vessels. Alvarado now led our
division to attack the causeway of Tacuba, placing two brigantines on each
flank for our protection. We drove the enemy before us from several of
their bridges and barricades; but after fighting the whole day, we were
obliged to retreat to our quarters at night, almost all of us wounded by
the incessant showers of stones and arrows of the enemy. We were
continually assailed on the causeway, by fresh troops of warriors,
carrying different banners or devices; and our brigantines were
excessively annoyed from the terraces of the houses which stood in the
water; and as we could not leave a party to keep possession of what we had
acquired during the day, the enemy repossessed themselves of the bridges
at night, and repaired and strengthened their parapets and other defences.
In some places they deepened the water, digging pits in the shallow places,
and placing the canoes in ambush, which they secured against the approach
of our brigantines by means of pallisades under water. Every day we were
employed in the same manner, driving the enemy before us, and every night
we returned to our quarters to bind up our wounds. The cavalry were of no
service, on account of the barricades defended by long lances; and the
soldiers even did not choose to risk their horses, as their price at this
time was from eight hundred to a thousand crowns. One Juan, a soldier from
Catalonia, used to heal our wounds by charms and prayers, which by the
mercy of God recovered us very fast; and this being observed by our allies,
all their wounded men applied to Juan, who had more business on his hands
than he was able for. But whether whole or wounded, we were obliged to go
out daily against the enemy, as otherwise our companies would have been
reduced to less than half their strength. Our ensign was disabled almost
every day, as he could not at the same time carry his colours and defend
himself from the enemy. We were abundantly supplied with corn, but were
much in want of refreshments for the wounded men; our chief resource being
_tunas_ or Indian figs, cherries while in season, and a plant called
_quilities_ by the natives. The situation of the other two attacks was
precisely similar to ours. Every day, when we marched to the attack, a
signal was made from the great temple of Tlaltelolco, the great division
of Mexico nearest Tacuba, on which the enemy rushed out against us, and
were continually relieved by fresh troops, marching out in succession.
Finding that we gained nothing by these daily attacks, we changed our plan
of operations. On our causeway there was a small open space, on which
stood some buildings for religious worship, where we formed a lodgment,
and established a post, leaving our cavalry and allies to secure our rear
in Tacuba, whence we were supplied with provisions. Though very badly
lodged in this place, as every shower of rain came in upon us, we
maintained this post and advanced a little towards the city every day,
filling up the trenches which intersected the causeway, and pulling down
the houses on each side, and using their materials to strengthen our
defences. We found it extremely difficult to set the houses on fire, nor
could the flames communicate from house to house, as all the houses were
separated by canals and ditches. During this operation we were subjected
to great danger, as the enemy destroyed us from their terraces when we
endeavoured to swim over from the causeway to these detached houses.

In this manner we gained some ground every day, which we secured by
parapets and other defences, and preserved during the night. Every
evening at sunset, the company which was first for duty, was entrusted
with the advanced post, to which they sent forty men; the second company
sent an equal number at midnight, and the relieved guard did not quit
their post, but had to remain sleeping on the ground; the third company
did the same the same two hours before day-break, and the second now lay
down to sleep, so that we now had 120 men on guard. Sometimes our whole
detachment had to remain under arms the whole night, especially on the
following occasion: We learnt from some of our prisoners, that the
Mexicans intended to force our post by a great effort, which would have
frustrated the other two attacks. For this purpose, all the warriors of
nine towns around the lake, including those of Tacuba, Izcapuzalco, and
Tenajocan, were by a joint attack upon our rear to carry off our baggage
and destroy our bakery in Tacuba, while the Mexicans were to assail us in
front on the causeway. We immediately communicated this intelligence to
our cavalry and allies at headquarters, warning them to keep on the alert.
In pursuance of this plan, we were attacked both in front and rear for
several successive nights, from midnight to day-break. Sometimes the enemy
came on with a prodigious noise of shouting and military instruments, and
at other times stole upon us in profound silence; but their night attacks
were never made with so much resolution as those during the day. Yet we
were harassed to death with continual watching, fatigue, and wounds, and
constantly exposed to cold winds and almost incessant rain. Our post was
reduced to a mere splash of mud and water, and our only food was maize and
miserable herbs. When we complained, the only comfort given us by our
officers, was that such is the fortune of war. Yet all our efforts,
fatigues, and privations, were of little avail; as the parapets we
destroyed and the ditches we filled up during the day, were uniformly
replaced next night by the enemy.

The destruction of the aqueduct of Chapoltepec, from which so much had
been expected, by cutting off the water which supplied the city of Mexico,
was unavailing, neither could we starve them into a surrender, as they
were regularly supplied with every thing they wanted by means of their
canoes from the towns around the lake. In order to prevent this, two of
our brigantines were ordered to cruize every night on the lake, to
intercept these supplies. This measure answered the purpose in some degree,
but not effectually, as some of the canoes escaped into the city every
night. At this time the Mexicans laid a plan to surprise our two cruizing
brigantines. Having concealed thirty of their largest piraguas among some
tall reeds on the borders of the lake, they sent several canoes, as if
carrying provisions, to decoy our vessels into the snare, and even fixed a
number of large wooden piles under water at the place to which our vessels
were to be inveigled. On the appearance of the decoy-canoes, our two
vessels made immediately towards them, the canoes rowing away towards the
ambush followed by our brigantines. As soon as they arrived at the place,
the thirty piraguas immediately surrounded them, and wounded every officer,
soldier, and mariner on board, by their first flight of arrows. Our
vessels could not move on account of the piles, and the enemy continued
the assault with the utmost vigour. One of the captains, named Portilla,
was slain, and Captain Pedro Barba, the commander of our crossbows, died
of his wounds. This ambush completely succeeded, as the two brigantines
fell into the hands of the enemy. They belonged to the principal division
of our flotilla, which was commanded by Cortes in person, who was much
exasperated by the loss; but he soon repayed the enemy in their own way.
He constantly sent out some vessels every night to scour the lake, and on
one occasion they brought in some prisoners of consequence, from whom he
learnt that the enemy had formed another ambuscade of forty large piraguas
and as many canoes. He now laid a plan to turn their schemes against
themselves; for which purpose he sent six vessels one night with muffled
oars, to conceal themselves in a water-cut at the edge of the lake,
covered with bushes and tall reeds, about a quarter of a league from the
ambushment of the enemy. A single brigantine was then sent out early in
the morning, as if in search of the canoes which carried provisions to
Mexico, and having the prisoners on board to point out the place where the
enemies fleet lay concealed. The enemy sent as before some loaded canoes
to decoy the brigantine towards the ambush, and our vessel pursued them
until near the place, where it lay-to, as if fearful to approach. The
Mexican fleet now sallied out upon them, and our brigantine rowed away
towards the place where the six others were concealed, closely followed up
by the enemy. When arrived near enough, the brigantine fired two shots as
a signal, on which the other vessels pushed out against the enemy, running
down many of their vessels, dispersing all the rest, and making a great
number of prisoners. This sickened them at ambushments, and from
henceforwards they did not attempt to cross the lake in their canoes so

Our three divisions of the land army continued to pursue their plan for
gradually advancing along the causeways. Always as we gained ground, we
pulled down the houses on each side, filling up the ditches or canals
which intersected the causeways, and strengthening our posts; in which,
and in all the operations of the war, we were excellently seconded by our
brave Tlascalan allies. On our attack, the Mexicans broke down one of the
bridges in the rear of their own barricades and parapets, leaving one
narrow passage at a place where the water was very deep as a decoy, and
even dug trenches and pitfalls where the water was more shallow, placing
pallisades in the deep water to prevent the approach of our vessels, and
constructing parapets on both sides of the breach. They had also a number
of canoes in readiness to sally out upon us on a concerted signal. When
all these preparations were in readiness, they made a combined attack upon
us in three several directions. One body advanced towards our rear from
the side of Tacuba, a second directly on our front along the causeway from
the city, and the third by the ruins of the houses which we had destroyed.
We repulsed the enemy on all sides; and one party of us, having forced
them from the works at the broken bridge, crossed the water up to our
necks at the place they had left open for us, and rashly pushed on to an
open place where there were some large temples and towers. We were here
assailed on all sides by fresh troops from the houses and terraces, and
those whom we pursued faced about and fought us in front. We now found it
necessary to retreat, which we did with the utmost order till we came to
the pass at the broken bridge, which was occupied by the enemy in canoes;
and as the others pressed upon our rear, we were forced to throw ourselves
into the lake and to get over any way we could. Those who could not swim
got entangled among the concealed ditches and pits in the shallow water,
where the enemy closed in upon us, wounding the whole party, and even
taking five of our soldiers alive. The vessels which came to our relief
were unable to approach, on account of the pallisades, and they lost two
of their soldiers on this occasion. It was wonderful we were not all
destroyed at this dangerous pass. At one time I was laid hold of by a
number of the enemy; but God gave me strength to disengage my arm, and
with the assistance of my good sword, I extricated myself from their grasp.
Though wounded, I escaped to the dry ground, where I fainted and remained
for some time insensible, owing to my great exertions and the loss of
blood. When the enemy had me in their clutches, I recommended myself to
the aid of God and his blessed Mother, and they heard my prayer: Glory be
to them for all their mercies! From the time that we had cleared the
flanks of our post by the destruction of the houses, Alvarado had brought
a part of his cavalry thither; and one of them, who had crossed along with
us at the broken bridge, lost both his horse and his own life. Fortunately
all the rest were then with Alvarado in Tacuba; for if they had been with
us they must have all been destroyed from the tops of the houses and
temples, as the action took place almost within the city of Mexico. The
enemy was much elated by the success of this day, and continued to assail
our posts day and night. Cortes was much displeased at the defeat we had
sustained, which he attributed to our having neglected his orders; which
were always to fill up the cuts in the causeway as we advanced, by means
of timber and rubbish.

In the space of four days, counting from our late defeat, we filled up the
great aperture at the broken bridge, and established our advanced post at
this place, but lost six of our soldiers in the course of this operation.
The enemy established a post directly in front of us, which they secured
by a ditch and parapet, so as to protect themselves from our shot. They
made a large fire in front of their post, by which they were concealed
from our view, except when they had occasion to renew the fire, which was
sometimes extinguished by the frequent heavy rains which prevailed at this
season. They kept profound silence on guard, except when interrupted by
loud whistling, which they used as signals. Every morning we marched
against the enemy, with whom we fought during the whole day, and retreated
to our post towards evening, covered with wounds. Before retreating, we
sent back our allies, whose numbers embarrassed us in the narrow causeway,
and then fell back step by step, flanked by our armed brigantines, and
firing on the enemy as they pressed upon us during the retreat.

About this time, the inhabitants of the cities on the lake grew weary of
the long protracted warfare, and sent deputations to our general, offering
to submit themselves to his authority, and declaring that they had been
constrained by the Mexicans to persist hitherto in their hostilities
against us. Cortes received them very graciously, and assured them of his
protection, providing that they should conduct themselves properly for the
future, and give him their assistance by supplying canoes and provisions
to our army, and in the construction of barracks for the troops. They
readily promised all this, but performed very badly. Cortes had huts built
for his detachment[7]; but the rest of us remained exposed to the weather,
which was exceedingly severe and distressing, as it rained almost
incessantly during June, July, and August.

Our detachment on the causeway of Tacuba continued our approach towards
Mexico, filling up every ditch and canal as we advanced by means of the
materials of the houses which we destroyed; and we every day gained
possession of temples or houses, which stood apart from each other, and of
the bridges by which they communicated. To avoid jealousy, our three
companies took the duties of working and fighting alternately, our allies
giving most important assistance in pulling down the houses and filling up
the ditches and cross-cuts of the causeway. Every evening the whole of our
men stood to their arms, and we sent off our allies before us, before
retreating to our post for the night. During all this time, Sandoval, who
carried on his approach from Tepejacac, was obliged to sustain continual
attacks from the enemy; as likewise was Cortes, who now commanded at the
third attack.

On his side there was an out-post of the Mexicans, at a place where one of
the apertures in the causeway was too deep to be forded, and which had
been strongly fortified by the enemy. He made a successful attack on this
place, where he commanded in person, although the enemy made a brave
resistance both by land and water; but he was obliged to retire at night
without filling up the ditch, and he lost four Spaniards killed, and had
above thirty wounded, the pass being commanded from the terraces of
several houses in the water, and his brigantines were unable to get
forward to protect his flanks, owing to the piles which the enemy had
fixed under water. Guatimotzin and his Mexicans defended themselves with
amazing bravery and resolution, trusting to wear us out and destroy us by
continual assaults. On the 21st of June, the anniversary of the day of our
first entry into Mexico, the enemy assailed us at every point of all our
three attacks, both by land and water, in front, flanks, and rear, about
two hours before day. The number fit for duty at our post on the causeway
of Tacuba was 120 men, and all the allies attached to our detachment, were
as usual off the causeway during the night. It was with the utmost
difficulty that we were able to resist and repulse the enemy, of whom a
great number were killed and wounded, losing two of our own soldiers. The
enemy repeated their assaults on all the posts for two other nights
successively; and on the third morning, just at day-break, they
concentrated their whole force and made a desperate attack on our post. If
our allies had been with us we should have been all lost. On this occasion
our cavalry saved our rear, and our brigantines did signal service by
clearing our flanks. After a most severe and long doubtful contest, we
beat off the enemy and made four of their chiefs prisoners, eight of our
soldiers being slain in this tough affair. I fear my readers may be tired
of this constant repetition of battles, which my duty of historian
compels me to relate: But if I were to give an account of every action
which took place during the ninety-three days in which we were engaged in
the siege of this great, strong, and populous city, every day and night of
which time brought a perpetual succession of battles and assaults, my work
would be without end, and would more resemble Amadis de Gaul and other
romances of chivalry than a true history, which it really is.

Cortes became impatient of delay, and proposed in a council of war to make
a general assault on the city, marching at once by all the three causeways,
and uniting our whole force in the great square, whence we could command
all the streets leading to that centre of Mexico. Some of the members of
the council objected greatly to this plan, giving the preference to our
present system of advancing gradually, filling up the ditches as we
proceeded, and destroying the houses to make roads and defences of their
materials. They alleged that if we were to succeed in forcing our way into
the great square, we should in our turn be besieged in the heart of the
city, exactly as we had been before our flight from Mexico, and be
involved in much greater difficulties than now; as the enemy would be
enabled to environ us with their whole force by land and water, and would
cut off all possibility of our retreat, by cutting through the causeways.
But Cortes, after hearing all these well founded reasons, still adhered to
his own plan, and issued orders for the whole army, including the allies,
to attack the city next day, and to use our utmost efforts to get
possession of the great square. On the next morning therefore, having
recommended ourselves to God in the solemn service of the mass, all our
three detachments marched to attack the posts of the enemy on their
several fronts. In our attack commanded by Alvarado, most of the Spaniards
were wounded at the first ditch and parapet of the enemy; one Spaniard was
slain, and above a thousand of our allies were killed or wounded. In the
attack commanded by Cortes in person, he carried every thing before him at
first, and having driven the enemy from a post where the water was very
deep and the causeway very narrow, he imprudently pushed on after the
enemy followed by the Indian allies. The enemy induced him by frequent
halts and feigned resistance to continue the pursuit, having even narrowed
the causeway on purpose, and Cortes negligently omitted to fill up the
deep ditch which he had passed. When the enemy perceived that our general
had fallen into the snare which they had laid for him, they attacked him
with fresh troops in front, while numerous canoes filled with warriors
issued out at an appointed signal and assailed him both on the flanks and
rear, his brigantines being unable to approach for his defence by the
pallisades under water. Retreat became now indispensably necessary, which
was at first conducted with perfect regularity; but when they came to the
narrow part of the causeway, which was all covered with mud and water, the
retreat changed to an absolute flight, our people flying from the enemy
with their utmost speed, without even attempting to defend themselves.
Cortes used every effort to rally his men, but all in vain, and was
wounded in the leg at the narrow pass by some of the enemy from the canoes.
At this pass, six of our horses were killed, and seventy-two Spaniards
were carried off alive. At this moment six Mexican chiefs seized Cortes,
but by the will of God, Christoval de Olea, that valiant soldier, and
another brave man named Lerma flew to the rescue of our general. De Olea
killed four of the chiefs with his own hand, and gallantly lost his life
in defence of Cortes, while Lerma narrowly escaped. Other brave soldiers
arrived at this moment to his aid, among whom was Quinones the captain of
his guards. By these men he was lifted out of the water and hurried off
from among a crowd of the enemy. At this critical moment, Guzman his
majordomo, brought up a horse on which our wounded general was mounted.
The enemy followed up their success with increasing ardour, Cortes and the
shattered remains of his troops, retreating to their quarters with the
utmost difficulty, pursued to the last by the Mexicans.

After our first attack, in which we defeated the enemy and drove them from
their post, we were met by fresh bodies of the enemy, marching in great
parade, bearing rich plumes of feathers and ornamented standards. On
coming near, they threw down before us five bleeding heads, saying these
were the heads of Cortes and his officers, and that we should soon meet
the same fate. They then marched up, and fought us hand to hand with the
utmost valour, insomuch that we were at length compelled to retreat. As
usual, we gave orders to our allies to clear the way, by retreating before
us; but the sight of the bloody heads had done this effectually, and not a
man of them remained on the causeway to impede our flight. Our cavalry
made several charges this day, but our great safety depended upon two guns
which raked the whole causeway, and were admirably managed by Pedro Morena,
an excellent officer, whose services this day were singularly useful, as
the whole causeway was crowded by the enemy. Before we arrived at our
quarters, and while pursued by the enemy, we heard the shrill timbals and
mournful sound of the great drum from the summit of the temple of the god
of war. The priests were then sacrificing the hearts of ten of our
companions to their accursed idols, and the sound of their dismal drum,
which might be heard at almost three leagues off, might be imagined to be
the music of the infernal deities. Soon after this, the horn of
Guatimotzin was heard, giving notice to the Mexican officers either to
make prisoners of their enemies, or to die in the attempt. It is utterly
impossible to describe the fury with which they assailed us on hearing
this dreadful signal, though the remembrance is still as lively as if now
passing before me: I can only say, that it was the good pleasure of God
that we got back in safety to our post; praised be his mercy now and for
ever. Amen! We were ignorant of the fate of our other detachments.
Sandoval was more than half a league from us, and Cortes still farther.
The melancholy sight of the heads of our countrymen, and the loss of one
of our brigantines in which three of our soldiers were slain, filled us
with melancholy, and we almost thought that we had reached the last hour
of our lives. Our captured vessel was afterwards recovered by Captain
Xaramillo. In the action of this day, Captain Caravajal, a most gallant
officer, had the honour of being the first who broke through the enemies
pallisades with his vessel: He now lives in La Puebla, and has been ever
since entirely deaf, having lost his hearing this day by excessive

Most of the soldiers in the detachment of Cortes were wounded, a good many
slain, and a great number taken prisoners, so that on his arrival in his
quarters, where he was immediately attacked, his men were little able to
defend themselves. To add to their distress, the enemy threw into their
post four bleeding heads, saying they were those of Alvarado, Sandoval,
and two other officers, in order to impress the soldiers of Cortes with
the belief that the two other detachments had been as roughly handled as
their own. On beholding this horrid spectacle, Cortes was severely
agitated, and his heart sunk within him; yet he kept up appearances,
encouraging his men to stand to their arms and defend their post against
the enemy. He now sent Tapia with three others on horseback to our
quarters, to ascertain our situation. They were attacked on their way by
several bodies of the enemy, who had been sent out by Guatimotzin to
obstruct our communications; but they forced their way through, and found
us engaged with the Mexicans.

On his side, Sandoval went on victoriously till the defeat of Cortes, when
the enemy sent a powerful reinforcement against him, by whom he was very
vigorously assailed; and in the first assault they killed two of his men
and wounded all the rest, Sandoval himself receiving three wounds, one of
which was on the head. As they had done at the other posts, they threw
down six bleeding heads, pretending they were the heads of Cortes and his
principal officers, and threatening Sandoval and his men with a similar
fate. Sandoval was not to be intimidated, and encouraged his men to behave
themselves bravely; yet, seeing no chance of ultimate success, he brought
his people back to their quarters, many of them being wounded, but having
only two slain. After this, though severely wounded himself, he left the
command of his quarters with Captain Luis Marin, and set out on horseback
to have an interview with Cortes. Like Tapia, he was frequently attacked
by the enemy on the road, yet made his way to Cortes, whom he addressed
with condolence and astonishment, asking the occasion of his severe
misfortune. Cortes laid the blame on Alderate, for neglecting to fill up
the bad pass where the enemy threw his men into confusion; but the
treasurer denied the charge, saying that Cortes had not given any such
orders, but hurried on his men after the feigned retreat of the enemy. In
fact Cortes was much blamed for his rashness, and for not sending the
allies soon enough out of his way. About this time, Cortes was agreeably
surprised by the arrival of two of his brigantines, which he had given
over for lost. Cortes requested Sandoval to visit our quarters at Tacuba,
being unable to go there himself, as he was apprehensive the brunt of the
attack might now fall upon our post. Sandoval arrived about the hour of
vespers, when he found us occupied in repelling the enemy, some of them
having attacked us by the causeway, and others from the ruined houses. I
and several other soldiers were at this time up to our middles in the
water, engaging the enemy in defence of a brigantine which had run aground,
and of which the enemy were endeavouring to gain possession. Just as
Sandoval arrived, we got her afloat by a great exertion, after the enemy
had slain two of her crew and badly wounded all the rest. The enemy
continued their attack with the utmost violence, and Sandoval received a
blow on the face with a stone. He called out to us to retreat; and as we
did not fall back as fast as he wished, he repeated his orders, asking us
if we wished to have all the cavalry destroyed. We then retreated to our
post, and though the two guns under Moreno frequently swept the causeway,
the execution they made did not prevent the enemy from pursuing us to our

We remained for some time at our quarters comparatively at rest,
recounting the events which had occurred at our post, and listening to a
relation of what had taken place at the two others. On a sudden, we were
struck by the horrifying sound of the great drum, accompanied by the
timbals, horns, and trumpets of the temple of the god of war: And,
shocking to tell! we could distinctly see our unfortunate companions who
had been made prisoners, driven by blows to the summit of the diabolical
temple. On their arrival at the platform, we could see the miserable
victims decorated for sacrifice, with plumes of feathers on their heads,
and fans in their hands, when they were forced to dance to the infernal
music before the accursed idols. After this, we saw them stretched on
their backs on the stone of sacrifice, where their hearts were cut out
alive, and presented yet palpitating to the damnable gods of the enemy,
and their bodies drawn by the feet down the steps. "O merciful GOD of
Heaven," said we among ourselves, "suffer not that we too may be
sacrificed by these wretches!" My readers may conceive how poignant were
our reflexions at this horrible scene, more especially as we were utterly
unable to afford the smallest aid to our poor friends, whom we saw thus
butchered before our eyes. At this moment the enemy assailed our post in
great force; but we maintained it with determined resolution, and drove
them back with much loss. During this assault, they reviled us, saying
that their gods had promised to deliver the whole of us into their hands,
and they threw over some of the mangled remains of the horrible repast
they had made on our countrymen, sending round other portions among the
neighbouring towns, as a bloody memorial of their victory over us.
Sandoval and Tapia, on their return to Cortes, reported the valiant manner
in which we defended our post; and Sandoval mentioned me in particular
with approbation, saying many handsome things of me, which it would be
improper for me to repeat, though the facts were perfectly well known to
all the army.

Our new allies on the lake had suffered considerably from the resentment
of the enemy, who had taken from them above half their canoes: Yet some
continued firm in their alliance with us, out of hatred to the Mexicans;
and others satisfied themselves with looking on, without attempting to
molest us. In consequence of our recent losses, having lost near eighty
men, killed and prisoners, and seven horses, and almost all the rest of us
being wounded, Cortes issued orders to cease from our attacks for four
days. But the enemy continued their attacks daily, and even gained ground,
making new ramparts and ditches. We had a deep ditch and very defensible
ramparts in front of our post; and during this cessation from offensive
operations, the whole of our infantry kept guard on the causeway every
night, flanked by our brigantines, one half of our cavalry patroling in
Tacuba, and the other half on the causeway to protect our rear. Every
morning we prepared ourselves to resist the attacks of the enemy, who
continued every day to sacrifice some of our miserable companions. During
their daily and incessant attacks, they reviled us, saying, that their
gods had promised to permit them to destroy us all within eight days; yet
that our flesh was too bitter to be eaten: And truly I believe that this
was miraculously the case. The threats of the Mexicans, and their
declaration that their gods had promised to deliver us into their hands in
eight days, had such an effect upon our allies, combined with the bad
appearance of our affairs, that they almost entirely deserted from us
about this time. The only one who remained with Cortes, was Suchel,
otherwise called Don Carlos, brother to our ally the prince of Tezcuco,
with about forty followers. The chief of Huexotzinco remained in the camp
of Sandoval with about fifty of his warriors; and the brave Chichimecatl,
with the two sons of Don Lorenzo de Vargas of Tlascala, and about eighty
Tlascalans, continued with us in the quarters of Alvarado. When they were
asked the reason of the desertion of their countrymen, they said, that the
Mexican gods had predicted our destruction, and the younger Xicotencatl
had foretold from the first we should all be put to death; they saw that
many of us were killed and all wounded, and they had already had above
twelve hundred of their own number slain; And, considering us all devoted
to inevitable ruin, they had fled to avoid sharing our fate. Though Cortes
secretly thought there was too much reason in what they alleged, he yet
assumed a cheerful appearance of perfect security as to the ultimate
result of the enterprize, and used his utmost endeavours to reassure our
remaining friends, turning the hopes and predictions of the Mexicans and
the promises of their false gods into ridicule, and had the good fortune
to persuade our few remaining friends to abide with us. The Indian Don
Carlos, or Suchel of Tezcuco, who was a brave warrior and a wise man,
strongly represented to our general that he had hitherto acted on a most
erroneous plan, especially considering the relative situations of us and
the enemy. "If you cut off their means of procuring water and provisions,"
he observed, "how is it possible that the many _xiquipils_[8] of warriors
can subsist? Their provisions must be at last expended: The water of their
wells is salt and unwholesome, and their only resource is from the present
rainy season. Combat them, therefore, by means of hunger and thirst, and
do not throw away your own force by unnecessary violence." Cortes embraced
Suchel, thanking him for his salutary advice; which indeed had already
more than once occurred to ourselves, but we were too impatient to act
with so much prudence. Our general began therefore to act upon this new
system, so judiciously recommended by our friend of Tezcuco, and sent
orders to all the detachments to confine themselves entirely to the
defensive for the next three days. As the canoes of the enemy were
numerous, our brigantines never ventured singly on the lake; and as they
had now found out the way to break through the pallisades of the enemy, by
using both sails and oars when favoured by the wind, we became absolute
masters of the lake, and were able to command all the insulated houses at
any distance from the city; and as the brigantines could now break through
the pallisades of the enemy, they could always secure our flanks, while we
were engaged in filling up the ditches in our front, which we did
effectually in a very few days, Cortes even assisting in person to carry
beams and earth for that purpose.

Every night of this period during which we remained on the defensive, the
enemy continued their infernal ceremonies, sacrificing some of our
unfortunate companions, which we could distinctly see as their temple was
brightly illuminated; the accursed drum continually stunned our ears, and
the shrieks and yells of the multitudes who surrounded the temple were at
times perfectly diabolical. Christoval de Guzman was the last executed,
who remained eighteen days in their hands. We learned every minute
circumstance respecting these horrible sacrifices from our prisoners, who
told us, that after each successive sacrifice, their war god renewed his
promise of delivering us all into their power. Sometimes, even during this
period, the enemy employed some of our own crossbows against us, obliging
our unfortunate companions who were in their custody to shoot them off;
but our post was protected by the excellent management of the two guns by
Morena, and we every day advanced, gaining possession of a bridge or a
parapet. Our brigantines also were of infinite service, as they were
continually intercepting the canoes which carried water and provisions to
the enemy, and those which were employed in procuring a certain nutritive
substance from the bottom of the lake, which, when dry, resembles cheese.
Twelve or thirteen days had now elapsed after the time when the Mexican
priest had predicted we had only eight days to live. Our allies, therefore,
recovered their courage when they saw the fallacy of the prediction, and
at the requisition of our steady friend Suchel, two thousand warriors of
Tezcuco returned to our quarters, with whom came Pedro Farfan and Antonio
Villareal, who had been left by Cortes at that city. About the same time,
many bodies of warriors returned to us from Tlascala and other places in
our alliance. After their return, Cortes called the chiefs together, to
whom he made a speech; partly reprimanding them for having abandoned us,
and partly encouraging their future fidelity by confident hopes of victory,
and promises of reward, and concluded by earnestly admonishing them not to
put any of their Mexican prisoners to death, as he wished to negociate
peace with Guatimotzin.

Though the heavy rains which fell at this season were both incommodious
and distressing to us, they operated in our favour, as the enemy always
relaxed their efforts against us during their continuance. By slow but
steady perseverance, we had now considerably advanced into the city at all
the three attacks, and had even reached the wells of brackish water which
the enemy had dug, and which we now destroyed. Our cavalry could now act
freely through the whole space which we had gained, as we had carefully
levelled the causeway behind us, destroying all the houses on each side
from which we could be annoyed, and carefully fortified our several fronts.
Cortes deemed the present conjuncture favourable for offering peace to the
Mexicans, and proposed to three of our principal prisoners to carry a
message to Guatimotzin to that effect; but they declined the commission,
alleging that he would put them to death. They were at length prevailed
upon to comply, and were instructed to represent to Guatimotzin in the
name of Cortes: "That from respect to the family of the great Montezuma,
and that he might prevent the destruction of the capital and the loss of
so many lives, he was willing to enter into a treaty of peace and amity;
desiring Guatimotzin to reflect that he and his people were now cut off
from all supplies of water and provisions; and that all the nations who
had formerly been the vassals of Mexico, were now in alliance with the
Spaniards." A great deal more was added, to the same effect, all of which
was perfectly understood by the messengers. Before they went into the city,
they required a letter from Cortes, to serve them as a token of credence;
with which they waited on their sovereign, weeping and lamenting
themselves bitterly, as they knew the danger to which they were exposed.
At first, Guatimotzin and his principal chiefs were filled with rage and
indignation at the proposal; but he at last consented to call a council of
all the princes, chiefs, and principal priests of the city, before whom he
laid the message of Cortes, and even expressed his own inclination to come
into terms of peace, considering the inefficacy of their resistance, the
desertion of their allies, and the miseries to which the people were
reduced. The priests obstinately opposed every idea of peace. They
represented the hostile conduct of the Spaniards to their nation ever
since they first came into the country; their profanation of the temples
and idols of their gods; their injurious treatment of the great Montezuma,
and of all the other princes who had fallen under their power; the death
of the two sons of Montezuma, the seizure of the royal treasures, and the
destruction of the city. They reminded Guatimotzin of his own martial fame,
which would be sullied and disgraced by submission; insisting, that all
the offers of Cortes were only insidiously meant to enslave and circumvent;
and concluded by repeating the assurances of victory which they had
received from their gods. Guatimotzin yielded to these arguments, and
declared his resolution to fight to the last: He gave orders, therefore,
to husband their provisions with the utmost frugality, to use their utmost
endeavours to procure supplies under night, and to sink new wells in
various parts of the city. Our army had remained two days quietly in their
posts, waiting an answer to our pacific message. On the third, we were
furiously assailed on all points by large bodies of the enemy, who rushed
upon us like lions, closing up as if utterly regardless of their lives,
and using their utmost efforts to make us prisoners; all the while, the
horn of Guatimotzin being continually sounded, to inspire them with fury.
For seven days we were thus continually assailed: After watching all night,
we had to go into action every morning at day-break; and having fought the
whole day, we retired in the evening to a miserable regale of maize calces,
with _tunas_ or Indian figs, herbs, and _agi_ or pepper. Our recent
pacific offer was employed as a subject of contempt, for which they
reproached us as cowards; saying that peace belonged only to women, arms
and war to brave men.

It has been already mentioned, that the horrible fragments of our wretched
companions had been sent round the provinces of the Mexican empire, to
encourage them to rise in support of the sovereign and his capital. In
consequence of this, a great force assembled from Matlatzinco, Malinalco,
and other places about eight leagues from Mexico, which was intended for
an attack on our rear, while the Mexicans should attack us in front. On
the assemblage of this force, they committed horrible ravages on the
country in our rear, seizing numbers of children in order to sacrifice
them to their idols. To disperse this hostile assemblage, Andres de Tapia
was detached with twenty cavalry and an hundred infantry, and effectually
executed his commission, driving the enemy back to their own country with
great loss. Soon after his return, Cortes sent Sandoval with a detachment
to the assistance of the country around Quauhnahuac, or Cuernabaca. Much
might be said of this expedition, were I to enter into a detail: but it
may suffice, that it was more like a peaceable triumph than a warlike
expedition, yet proved of most excellent service to us, as Sandoval
returned accompanied by two chiefs of the nation against which he was
sent[9]. Cortes, after these successes, sent a second message to
Guatimotzin, reminding him of the distresses to which his people were
reduced, and expressing great anxiety to save the city of Mexico from
destruction, which could only be done by immediate submission; and to
convince him that all hopes of assistance from his former allies were now
at an end, he sent this message by the two chiefs who had accompanied
Sandoval. Guatimotzin refused any answer, but sent back the chiefs unhurt.
The enemy continued their daily assaults upon the advanced works of our
several attacks, increasing even in their fury if possible, and exultingly
exclaiming, _Tenitotz re de Castila? Tenitotz axa a!_ "What says the
king of Castile? What does he now?"

We still continued to advance towards the centre of Mexico, regularly
destroying the houses on both sides of us, and carefully fortifying our
advanced post; and we now perceived a considerable relaxation in the
efforts of the enemy, who were not so eager as formerly to open up the
ditches; yet they continued to attack us with the utmost fury, as if
courting death. But we too had now serious cause of alarm, as our
gunpowder was almost entirely expended. At this critical moment, and most
fortunately for us, a vessel arrived at Villa Rica with soldiers and
ordnance stores, all of which, together with the men, were immediately
sent to Cortes by Rangel, who commanded at Villa Rica. This vessel
belonged to an armament which had been fitted out by Lucas Vasquez de
Aillon, and which had been destroyed or dispersed near Florida. On the
arrival of this reinforcement, Cortes and all the army determined to make
a grand push for the great square in that part of the city called
Tlaltelolco, as it would become an excellent place of arms, on account of
some principal temples and other strong buildings which were there
situated. For this purpose, each of our divisions continued their daily
efforts to advance in our usual cautious manner. Cortes got possession of
a small square in which were some temples, on the beams of which many of
the heads of our sacrificed companions were placed, their hair and beards
being much grown. I could not have believed this, if I had not myself seen
them three days afterwards, when our party had worked their way to the
same place, after having filled up three canals. In twelve days afterwards,
they were all reverently buried by us in that place where the Church of
the Martyrs is now built.

Our detachment under Alvarado continued to advance, and at last forced the
enemy from the barricades they had thrown up to defend the great square,
which cost us two hours hard fighting. Our cavalry was now of most
essential service in the large space which was now laid open, and drove
the enemy before them into the temple of the god of war, which stood in
the middle of the great square. Alvarado determined to gain possession of
the temple; for which purpose he divided his forces into three bodies, one
of which, commanded by Guttierrez de Badajoz, he ordered to gain
possession of the temple, while with the other two he occupied the
attention of the enemy below. A large force of the enemy, headed by the
priests, occupied the platform of the temple, with all its idol
sanctuaries and galleries, and repulsed the troops of Guttierrez, driving
them down the steps. The body to which I belonged was now ordered by
Alvarado to their support. We advanced boldly to the assault, and having
ascended to the platform, we drove the enemy from the post, of which we
took possession, setting fire to their abominable idols, and planting our
standard in triumph on the summit of the temple. The view of this signal
of victory greatly rejoiced Cortes, who would fain have joined us; but he
was still a quarter of a league from the place, and had many ditches to
fill as he advanced. In four days more, both he and Sandoval had worked
their way up to the great square of Tlaltelolco, where they joined us, and
thus communications from all our three attacks were opened up to the
centre of Mexico.

Our attack on the temple was truly perilous, considering the number of the
enemy, the height and difficulty of the ascent, and the fury with which
they continued to fight against us, even after we had attained the
platform and set their idols on fire, and it was night before we could
compel them to abandon the summit. The royal palaces were now levelled
with the ground, and Guatimotzin had retired with his troops to a more
distant quarter of the city towards the lake[10]. Still, however, the
enemy attacked us every day, and at night pursued us into our quarters;
and though apparently reduced to the last extremity, they made no offer
towards peace. Cortes now laid a plan for drawing the enemy into an ambush:
For this purpose, he one night placed 30 of our cavalry, with 100 of our
best foot soldiers, and 1000 Tlascalans, in some large houses which had
belonged to a principal nobleman of Mexico. Next morning he went in person
with the rest of our army to attack a post at a bridge, which was defended
by a large force of the Mexicans. After continuing the assault for some
time, Cortes slowly retreated with his men, drawing the enemy after him by
the buildings in which the ambush lay concealed. When he had led them to a
sufficient distance, he gave the concerted signal, by firing two guns in
quick succession. We immediately sallied out, and having thus enclosed the
enemy between us, we made a terrible havoc among them, and from that time
they never ventured to annoy us on our nightly retreat. Another trap was
laid for the enemy by Alvarado, which had not the same success; but as I
was now doing duty with the division which Cortes commanded in person, I
was not present, and cannot, therefore recount the particulars. Hitherto
we had continued to retreat every night to the posts we had established on
the causeways, which were at least half a league from the great temple;
but we now quitted these posts, and formed a lodgment for the whole army
in the great square of Tlaltelolco, where we remained for three days
without doing any thing worth notice, as Cortes wished to abstain from
destroying any more of the city, in hopes of prevailing on Guatimotzin to
accept of peace. He sent, therefore, a message, requesting him to
surrender, giving him the strongest assurances that he should continue to
enjoy the sovereignty, and should be treated with every honourable
distinction; and he accompanied this message with a considerable present
of provisions, such as fowls, game, bread, and fruit. Guatimotzin
pretended to be inclined towards a pacification, and even sent four of his
principal nobles to propose an interview between him and our general. But
this, was a mere stratagem to gain time for strengthening his
fortifications, and making preparations to attack us; as from the example
of what had befallen his uncle Montezuma, and the suggestions of his
advisers, he was afraid to trust himself in our hands. The mask was soon
thrown off, and the enemy attacked us with such extreme violence, and
having taken us in some measure by surprise, that they had some success at
first, killing one of our soldiers and two horses; but in the end we drove
them back with considerable loss.

Cortes now ordered us to proceed on our former system, of advancing daily
against that part of the city which was occupied by Guatimotzin, filling
up the ditches and destroying the houses as we proceeded; and we
accordingly gained ground as formerly. Guatimotzin, on seeing this, made
another offer of an interview with our general, proposing the conference
might take place across a large canal. To this Cortes readily assented,
and went accordingly to the appointed place, but Guatimotzin never
appeared; instead of which he sent some of his principal nobles, who said
the king was apprehensive of being shot during the conference. Cortes
engaged by the most solemn oaths that no injury should be offered, but all
to no purpose. At this time two of these nobles played a most ridiculous
farce: They took out from a sack a fowl, some bread, and a quantity of
cherries, which they began to eat deliberately, as if to impress us with
the belief that they had abundance of provisions. When Cortes found that
the proposed conference was only a pretext to gain time, he sent a message
of defiance to Guatimotzin and retired. For four days after this, we were
not attacked by the enemy; but numbers of famished Mexicans used to
surround our quarters every night. Cortes pitied their wretched situation,
and ordered us to refrain from hostilities, always hoping that the enemy
would offer terms of accommodation. One of our soldiers, named Sotela, who
had served in Italy, was always boasting of the great battles he had seen,
and of the wonderful military engines which he was able to construct, and
particularly that he could make a machine for throwing stones, by which he
would destroy the whole of that part of the city which Guatimotzin
occupied, in a very few days. Cortes was at last induced to listen to him,
and all kinds of materials were brought for him to construct his engine.
Stone and lime was procured; the carpenters were set to work to prepare
timber; two strong cables were made; and a number of large stones were
brought, which the machine was to project. When all was ready, a stone was
placed in the engine, and it was played off against the quarters of
Guatimotzin. But instead of taking that direction, the stone flew up
vertically into the air, and returned exactly to the place whence it was
launched. Cortes was angry and ashamed at the result, and ordered the
machine to be destroyed, reproaching the soldier for his ignorant

Sandoval was now sent with the command of the flotilla, to act against
that division of the city in which Guatimotzin still held out. He was
ordered to spare the Mexicans as much as possible, but to destroy all the
houses and advanced works which the enemy possessed in the lake. On this
occasion, Cortes ascended to the high platform of the great temple,
attended by many of his officers and soldiers, to observe the movements of
the fleet. Guatimotzin, on observing the approach of Sandoval, became very
apprehensive of being made prisoner, and determined to attempt making his
escape. For this purpose he had already fifty large piraguas in readiness,
on board of which he embarked with his family, principal officers and
courtiers, and all their most valuable effects, and endeavoured to escape
by the lake to the main land; all the piraguas taking different directions,
in order to distract the pursuit of the brigantines. At this time Sandoval
was occupied in tearing down some houses, that he might clear his way
towards the quarters of Guatimotzin, of whose flight he got immediate
notice. He set out therefore immediately in pursuit, giving strict orders
to all the captains of his brigantines to offer no injury or insult to the
royal fugitive; but to keep a watchful eye on that vessel in which
Guatimotzin was supposed to have embarked, using every effort to take it,
and paying no attention to the rest. In particular, he directed Garcia
Holguin, who commanded the swiftest sailing vessel of the fleet, to make
for that part of the shore to which it was supposed Guatimotzin was most
likely to go. Holguin accordingly fell in with several piraguas, one of
which, from the superior appearance of its structure and awning, he
supposed to be that which carried the king. He called out to the people on
board to bring to, but without effect, and then ordered his musketeers and
cross-bows to present. On seeing this, Guatimotzin called out to them not
to shoot, acknowledging who he was, and declared his readiness to submit,
requesting to be taken immediately to the general, and entreating that his
queen, children, and attendants might not be ill treated. Holguin received
him and his queen with the utmost respect, placing them and twenty of the
nobles who attended them on the poop of his vessel, setting such
refreshments before them as he had in his power, and ordered the piraguas
which carried the royal effects to follow untouched. At this time,
perceiving that Holguin had made Guatimotzin prisoner, and was carrying
him to Cortes, Sandoval made a signal for all the brigantines to close up
with him, and ordered his rowers to exert every effort to bring him up
with Holguin. On getting alongside, Sandoval demanded Guatimotzin to be
delivered up to him, as commander of the naval force, but Holguin refused,
and many high words passed between them. One of the vessels was sent to
inform Cortes of the great event which had taken place, and by the same
means he learnt the dispute which had occurred between Sandoval and
Holguin. He immediately sent the Captains Marin and De Lugo with orders to
bring the whole party to his quarters on the summit of the great temple,
ordering them to treat Guatimotzin and his queen with the highest respect.
In the meantime, he ordered a state canopy to be arranged as well as he
could, with cloths and mantles, to receive his prisoners, and a table to
be spread with such refreshments as could be procured.

On the approach of the prisoners, Cortes went forward to meet the king,
whom he embraced with much respect, and shewed all possible attention to
his followers. The unfortunate monarch sinking under his affliction,
addressed Cortes as follows, with his eyes full of tears: "_Malinatzin!_ I
have done every thing in my power to defend my kingdom and people, but all
my efforts have been in vain, and I am now your prisoner; I request of you,
therefore, to draw your dagger and stab me to the heart." Cortes used his
best endeavours to console him, assuring him of his high esteem for the
valour and firmness he had exerted, that he should continue to reign as
formerly, and that he had only required his submission when all reasonable
hope of defence was gone, in order to avoid the utter destruction of his
capital and people. Cortes then inquired after the queen, and was told
that she and her female attendants remained in the piragua till their fate
was decided. He then ordered them to be sent for, and treated them with
all respect. As the evening drew on, and it threatened to rain, the whole
royal family was sent to Cojohuacan, under the care of Sandoval, and a
sufficient escort. Guatimotzin was about twenty-three or twenty-four years
of age, of a noble appearance, both in person and countenance, having
large and cheerful features, with lively eyes, and his complexion was very
fair for an Indian. His queen, who was the niece[11] of Montezuma, was
young and very handsome.

The whole army was now ordered to withdraw from the great temple of
Tlaltelolco, and to return to their original head-quarters. Cortes
proceeded to Cojohuacan, where he took the command in person, sending
Sandoval to resume his station at Tepejacac, and our division, under
Alvarado, retired to Tacuba. Thus was the important seige of Mexico
brought to a successful conclusion, by the capture of Guatimotzin and his
family at the hour of vespers, on the day of St Hypolitus, 13th of August
1521. Glorified be our Lord Jesus Christ, and his Holy Virgin Mother, Amen!

In the night after the capture of Guatimotzin, about midnight, there was
the greatest tempest of thunder, lightning, and rain I ever witnessed. But
all the soldiers were as deaf as if they had been an hour in a belfrey,
and all the bells ringing about their ears. This proceeded from the
continual noise they had been accustomed to from the enemy during the
_ninety-three days_[12] of this memorable siege: Some bringing on their
troops to attack us on the causeways, with loud shouts, and shrill
whistling; others in canoes assailing our flanks; some at work on the
pallisades, water courses, and stone parapets, or preparing their
magazines of arms, and the shrieks and yells of the women, who supplied
the warriors with stones, darts, and arrows; the infernal noise of their
timbals, horns, and trumpets, and the dismal drum, and other shocking
noises, perpetually sounding in our ears: All of which immediately ceased
on the capture of Guatimotzin. In consequence of the dispute between
Sandoval and Holguin threatening unpleasant consequences, Cortes related
to them from the Roman history the dispute between Marius and Sylla,
about the capture of Iugurtha, which was ultimately productive of very
fatal civil wars. He assured them that the whole affair should be
represented to the emperor Don Carlos, by whose arbitration it should be
decided. But in two years after, the emperor authorised Cortes to bear in
his arms the seven kings whom he had subdued, Montezuma, Guatimotzin, and
the princes of Tezcuco, Cojohuacan, Iztapalapa, Tacuba, and Matlatzinco.

It is absolutely truth, to which I swear _amen_! that all the lake, the
houses, and the courts were filled with dead bodies, so that I know not
how to describe the miserable spectacle. All the streets, squares, courts,
and houses of Tlaltelolco, were so covered by them, that we could not take
a single step without treading on or between the bodies of dead Indians.
The lake and the canals were full of them, and the stench was intolerable.
It was for this reason that our troops retired from the city immediately
after the capture of Guatimotzin: Cortes was himself ill for some time,
owing to the dreadful effluvia arising from the putrifying bodies. I have
read the history of the destruction of Jerusalem, but I cannot conceive
that the mortality even there exceeded what I was witness to in Mexico; as
all the warriors from the most distant provinces of that populous empire
were concentrated there, and almost the whole garrison was cut off in
their almost perpetual encounters with us, or perished of famine.

Our vessels were now in the best situation for service; as those on board
had ready access to the houses in the water, which were beyond our reach,
whence they carried away all the best of the plunder. Their crews also
discovered a great many valuable articles which the Mexicans had concealed
among the tall reeds on the borders of the lake, and they intercepted a
great deal that the inhabitants of the city endeavoured to carry away in
their canoes; all of which was beyond our reach: Indeed the wealth which
our mariners procured at this time was quite incalculable, as Guatimotzin
and all his chiefs declared that far the greater part of the public
treasure fell into their hands.

Soon after the capture of Guatimotzin, it was ordered on his suggestion,
that all the remaining inhabitants of Mexico should remove to the
neighbouring towns, in order to have the the city cleared of the dead
bodies, to restore its salubrity. In consequence of this order, all the
causeways were full for three days and nights, of weak, sickly, and
squalid wretches, men, women, and children, covered with filth, worn out
by famine and disease, so that the sight was shocking in the extreme. When
all were gone who had been able to get away, we went to examine the
situation of the city, which was as I have already described, in a most
miserable state. All the streets, courts, and houses were covered with
dead bodies, among whom some miserable wretches were crawling about in the
different stages of the most offensive diseases, occasioned by famine, the
most unnatural food, and the pestilential smell of the corrupting carcases.
Even the trees were stripped of their bark, and the ground had been
everywhere dug up in search of any kind of roots it might be able to
afford. Not a drop of water could be any where procured; and though it was
the constant practice of all these nations to feast on the prisoners they
took in war, not one instance occurred, in the midst of their extreme
distress, of their having preyed on each other: and certainly there never
existed in the history of this world any instance of a people who suffered
so severely from hunger, thirst, and warfare. I must here observe, that in
all our combats, the Mexicans seemed much more anxious to carry our
soldiers away alive, that they might be sacrificed to their gods, than to
kill them.

After a solemn service of thanks to God for our victory, Cortes determined
upon giving a feast in Cojohuacan to celebrate our triumph, as a vessel
had arrived at Villa Rica with abundance of hogs, and a cargo of wine. He
invited all his officers, and all the soldiers of particular estimation to
this entertainment, and we all accordingly waited upon him at the time
appointed. When we came to sit down to dinner, there were not tables and
covers prepared for more than half of us, so that the company fell into
sad confusion. The wine occasioned many to commit follies and other worse
things. Some leapt over the tables, who were afterwards unable to get out
at the doors, and many rolled down the steps, who could not walk home to
their quarters. The private soldiers, in high expectations of immense
plunder, declared they would buy horses with gold trappings, and the
crossbow-men swore they would henceforth use only golden arrows. When the
tables were removed, the soldiers danced in their armour, with the few
ladies who were present; but the disproportion was very great, and the
scene became truly ludicrous. Father Olmedo became quite scandalized at
the conduct of the visitors at the feast, and was so disgusted at what was
going on during the dances, that he complained to Sandoval, who reported
to Cortes that the good Father was grumbling and scolding out of all
measure. Our general, always prudent in his proceedings, came up to Olmedo,
affecting to disapprove of the indecent conduct of his guests, and
requested of him to order a solemn mass and thanksgiving, and to give the
soldiers a sermon on their religious and moral duties. The good father was
quite delighted at this proposal; and accordingly the crucifixes and the
image of the blessed Virgin were carried in solemn procession, amid our
drums and military ensigns; Olmedo chanted the litany and administered the
sacrament, and we all gave thanks to God for our victory.

Cortes now dismissed the Tlascalan chiefs and our other allies, who had
rendered most important services during our long protracted warfare,
making them many compliments and great promises, that he would make them
all rich and great lords, with extensive territories and numerous vassals,
so that they all departed in high spirits: But they had secured something
more substantial than empty promises, as they were all well laden with the
plunder of Mexico. Neither were they behind our enemies in their cannibal
feasts, of which they had reserved some portions to give to their friends
on their return.

Now that I have concluded the narrative of so many furious and bloody
engagements, through which the Almighty has been pleased to protect me, I
must confess, that the sight of so many of my companions sacrificed alive
to the war-god of the Mexicans, inspired me with fear. This may appear to
some as an indication of want of courage, yet in that time I considered
myself, and was looked upon by all as a valiant soldier, and was never
exceeded by any in bold achievements. But when I saw the palpitating
hearts of my companions taken out alive, and their legs and arms cut off
to be served up in the barbarous feasts of our cannibal enemies, I feared
it might one day be my own lot; and in fact the enemy had me twice in
their hands, but by the blessing of God I escaped from their savage grasp.
Yet I ever afterwards remembered the dreadful scene which I had witnessed,
and on going to battle was much depressed and uneasy, fearing to be doomed
to that cruel death. Yet I always recommended myself to God and his
blessed Mother, and the moment I was engaged with the enemy all fear left
me. Let those valiant cavaliers who have been in desperate battles and
mortal dangers decide on the cause of my fears, for I declare I never knew
what fear was till I saw the savage immolation of my seventy-two
companions: In my own opinion it was from excessive courage, as I was
fully aware of the extent of danger which I was voluntarily about to
encounter. I have related many engagements in this history, at which I was
not present; for even if my body had been of iron I could not have been
present at all, and I was much oftener wounded than whole.

[1] According to Clavigero, II. 162, the 30th of May 1521, on which day
Cortes dated the commencement of this memorable siege.--E.

[2] Corpus Christi fell that year, according to Clavigero, on the 30th May,
so that the occupation of Iztapalapa, by which the investment of
Mexico was completed, was on the 3d of June.

[3] The whole of this topographical account of Mexico and its approaches
is added by the editor, and has been placed in the text, distinguished
by inverted commas, as too long for a note. A plan is added,
constructed from a comparison of the maps in Diaz and Clavigero, both
evidently drawn without any actual survey, and corrected by means of
the excellent map of the vale of Mexico given by Humboldt. By means of
a great drain, made considerably posterior to the conquest, the lake
has been greatly diminished in magnitude, insomuch that the city is
now above three miles from the lake; so that the accurate map of
Humboldt does not now serve for the ancient topography of Mexico and
its near environs.--E.

[4] It is hard to guess which way the brigantines could get there, as by
the maps both of Diaz and Clavigero, the great double causeway of
Xoloc or Iztapalapa, ought to have completely prevented his
penetrating to that part of the lake. It was probably Xoloc against
which this attack was made, and Diaz may have mistaken the name after
an interval of fifty-one years; for so long intervened between the
siege of Mexico in 1521, and 1572, when he informs us his history was

[5] Perhaps along the mound or causeway of Mexicaltzinco; by which he
approached towards the great causeway of Xoloc, and the position of De
Oli at Cojohuacan.--E.

[6] Though not mentioned by Diaz, this necessarily implies that one of the
bridges of each causeway must have been taken possession of by the
Spaniards, to allow the brigantines to get through into those parts of
the lake which were intersected by the causeways.--E.

[7] Though not especially mentioned by Diaz, it appears that Cortes had
taken the immediate command of the detachment of De Oli, at Cojohuacan,
which formed the southern attack.--E.

[8] On some former occasions the xiquipil has been already explained as
denoting eight thousand men.--E.

[9] Clavigero, II. 180, supplies the brevity used by Diaz on this occasion.
He says that the chiefs of the districts of Matlatzinco, Malinalco,
and Cohuixco came to Cortes and entered into a confederacy with him
against Mexico; by which means, added to his former alliances, he was
now able to have employed "more warriors against Mexico than Xerxes
did against Greece." Clavigero everywhere deals in monstrous
exaggeration, while Diaz is uniformly modest, and within due bounds of
credibility. Even in the few _miracles_ of which Diaz makes mention,
his credulity is modestly guarded by devout fear of the holy

[10] The whole western division of Mexico called Tlaltelolco was now in
possession of the Spaniards, and probably destroyed by them to secure
their communications; and the miserable remnant of the brave Mexicans
had retired into the eastern division, named Tenochtitlan.--E.

[11] According to the genealogy of the Mexican kings in Clavigero, I. 240,
this princess, whose name was Tecuichpotzin, was queen successively to
her uncle Cuitlahuatzin, and her cousin Guatimotzin. After the
conquest, she became a Christian, by the name of Donna Elizabeta
Montezuma, marrying three noble Spaniards in succession; and from her
descended the two noble families of Cano Montezuma, and Andrea
Montezuma. Montezuma left likewise a son, Don Pedro Johualicahuatxin
Montezuma, whose male descendants failed in a great-grandson; but
there are several noble families both in Spain and Mexico descended
from that sovereign of Mexico in the female line.--E.

[12] We have formerly said, on the authority of Clavigero, that the siege
of Mexico commenced on the 30th of May, and as it ended on the 13th of
August, the siege, by this mode of reckoning, could only have lasted
76 days. It is highly probable, therefore, that the commencement of
the siege must have been on the 13th of May, and the 30th of Clavigero
may only be an error of the press.--E.


_Occurrences in New Spain immediately subsequent to the reduction of

As soon as Cortes had leisure to think of objects of internal regulation,
he gave orders to have the aqueduct restored by which the city of Mexico
was supplied with water, and to have the city cleared of the dead bodies
and repaired, so that it might be again habitable within two months. The
palaces and houses were ordered to be rebuilt, and a certain portion of
the city was allotted for the natives, while another part was reserved for
the residence of the Spaniards. Guatimotzin made application to our
general, in the name of many of his principal nobles, requesting that all
their women of rank who had been taken by our soldiers, might be restored
to their husbands and fathers. This was a matter of considerable
difficulty; yet the general allowed a search to be made, with an assurance
that all should be delivered up who were inclined to return. Every house
was accordingly searched; and though many were found, three only of the
whole number were inclined to return to their families; all the rest
expressed their abhorrence at the idolatry of their countrymen, besides
which, many of them declared that they were pregnant, and refused to quit
the soldiers to whom they were attached.

One of the first public works undertaken in Mexico was an arsenal for the
reception of our flotilla which had been of such signal service during the
siege. To the best of my remembrance, Alvarado was appointed alcalde, or
chief magistrate, till the arrival of Salazar de la Pedrada. It was
currently reported that Guatimotzin had thrown great quantities of gold,
silver, and jewels, into the lake four days before his capture, and it was
well known that our allies had got large plunder as well as our own men
who served in the brigantines, and many of us suspected that Cortes was
well pleased that Guatimotzin had concealed much treasure, as he expected
to procure the whole for himself. It was then proposed in the army, that
Guatimotzin and the prince of Tacuba, his most confidential counsellor,
should be put to the torture, to extort confession of where the treasure
was secreted; this horrid act was certainly greatly against the
inclination of Cortes, yet he was forced to leave the unfortunate king and
the lord of Tacuba at the disposal of those avaricious wretches, who
alleged that our general objected to this infernal measure that he might
secure the gold for himself. In answer to all interrogatories on the
subject of the treasure, the royal Mexican officers uniformly protested
that no more existed than what had been produced; which, when melted, did
not exceed the value of 380,000 crowns; so that, when the royal fifth and
that for Cortes were deducted, those of the conquerors who were not
friends to Cortes were exceedingly dissatisfied. All that could be
extorted by the inhuman procedure of torture from the king and prince was,
that they had thrown some treasure into the lake, together with the
muskets and other arms captured during our flight from Mexico in the
preceding year, four days before the surrender. The place indicated was
repeatedly searched to no purpose by our best divers; but a sun of solid
gold, similar to one we got from Montezuma, with many ornaments of small
value, were found in a deep pond near his residence. The prince of Tacuba
declared under the torture that he had buried some gold at a place about
four leagues from Tacuba; but when Alvarado and six soldiers accompanied
him there, of whom I was one, he declared he had no gold, and had only
said so in hope of dying on the road. In fact the treasury was reduced
very low before the accession of Guatimotzin. I and several other good
divers searched that part of the lake which had been indicated by
Guatimotzin, but we found only some small pieces of gold, which were
immediately claimed by Cortes and Alederete the treasurer; who likewise
sent down other persons in their own presence, but all they got did not
reach the value of ninety crowns. We were all miserably disappointed to
find our shares so small; insomuch that Olmedo and all the captains
proposed to Cortes to divide the whole which belonged to the army among
the wounded, the lame, the blind, and the sick, all who were sound
renouncing their claims. We were all curious to know what our shares
amounted to, and it at length appeared that the share of a horseman was
only an hundred crowns. I forget how much belonged to a foot soldier; but
it was so small that none of us would accept the paltry sum, more
especially the soldiers of Narvaez, who never liked Cortes.

Many of our soldiers had incurred heavy debts. A crossbow cost fifty
crowns, a musket a hundred, a horse eight hundred or a thousand, and every
thing else in proportion. Our surgeon, master Juan, and Doctor Murcia our
apothecary and barber, charged very high, and there were various other
sources of debt, all to be satisfied from our miserable dividends. These
required to be regulated; and accordingly Cortes appointed two respectable
persons, Santa Clara and Lerena, to arbitrate all claims, which were
ordered to be cleared off within two years according to their award. The
value also of the gold was debased, to serve us in our dealings with the
merchants from Spain and Cuba; but it had the opposite effect, as they
charged more than double the difference on their goods. On these abuses
being known at court, our emperor was pleased to prohibit the farther
currency of this base metal, ordering it to be all received in payment of
certain duties, and no more of it to be made; and as two goldsmiths were
detected for putting off base metal with the legal mark of good, they were
hanged for the fraud.

As the best way to rid himself of troublesome demands, Cortes resolved to
send off colonies to make settlements at convenient situations. Sandoval
was sent for this purpose to occupy Coatzacualco and Tzapotecapan, the
south-eastern provinces of the Mexican empire. Juan Velasquez to Colima,
and Villa Fuerte to Zacatollan, the most westerly provinces on the south
sea. Christoval de Oli to take possession of the kingdom of Michuacan, and
Francisca de Orozco to Guaxaca or Oaxaco. The native chiefs of the distant
provinces could hardly be brought to believe that Mexico was destroyed,
and sent deputations to ascertain the truth of the report, bearing large
presents of gold to Cortes, and submitting themselves as vassals to our
emperor. Many came in person to Mexico, and even brought their children to
see the fallen condition of that great power which they had once held in
such awe and terror, expressing themselves in their own language, as who
should say, _Here stood Troy_. My readers may be curious to know how we,
the conquerors of Mexico, after encountering so many fatigues and dangers
to gain possession of that city, should now so readily abandon it in
search of new settlements. To this I answer: The books containing the
record of the Mexican revenues were examined to find whence Montezmna had
obtained the valuable articles of tribute, such as gold, cocoa, and cotton,
and we all wished to remove to these productive districts. Some especially
were led by the example of Sandoval, who was known to be the particular
friend of Cortes, and who would not, as they thought, be sent upon an
unprofitable errand. We all knew that the vicinity of Mexico had neither
mines, plantations, nor manufactures, being entirely occupied in the
cultivation of maize and _maguey_, which did not afford sufficient
prospects of advantage, and we anxiously removed therefore to other places,
where we were miserably disappointed. I among others, went to Cortes and
asked permission to accompany Sandoval to his government: "Brother Diaz,"
said he, "you had better stay with me: If you are resolved to accompany
your friend Sandoval, you may certainly go; but on my conscience you will
repent." All the gold got into the hands of the royal officers, as the
slaves were purchased by the soldiers at a public sale. The various
detachments were sent out at different periods to occupy the provinces,
but all within two months after the reduction of Mexico.

At this time, Christoval de Tapia, _veedor_ of Hispaniola, arrived at
Villa Rica with a commission to assume the government of New Spain, by
order of the emperor and under the direction of the bishop of Burgos. He
likewise brought letters from the bishop to Cortes and many persons in the
army, recommending him to be received with honour as governor, promising
great rewards to all who should assist him in assuming the government,
with severe threats of punishing all who opposed him: besides these sealed
letters, he had many others which he was authorised to address as he saw
occasion. Tapia in the first place presented his commission to Alvarado,
who now commanded at Villa Rica, who received it with the highest respect,
saying that it did not belong to him to decide on so important a subject,
and it would be proper, therefore, to assemble the alcaldes and regidors
of the settlement, that the commission might be verified in their presence,
and that it might be certainly known it came regularly from his majesty.
This did not exactly suit the views of Tapia, who was advised to proceed
to Mexico, and to produce his commission to the general; he therefore
forwarded to Cortes the letter of the bishop, and wrote to him on the
subject of his mission to New Spain, using smooth and persuasive terms,
and Cortes was by no means behind hand in the civility of his reply.
Cortes, however, sent off expresses to some of his most confidential
officers whom he had previously detached to settle colonies, ordering them
to go to meet Tapia, who had already begun his journey to Mexico, and was
met with on the road by Alvarado, Sandoval, Valdenegro, Andres de Tapia,
and Father Olmedo, all persons in the confidence of Cortes, by whom
Christoval de Tapia was persuaded to go back to Chempoalla, and to produce
his commission to them. Having examined it and finding it genuine, they
placed it on their heads in token of respect and submission to the will of
the emperor, yet hesitated as to acknowledging Tapia for governor,
alleging that it was necessary in the first place to be assured of his
majestys pleasure in the present state of New Spain, which had been
concealed from his knowledge by the bishop of Burgos, to serve his own
private views and to favour Tapia and Velasquez, one of whom it was
alleged was to marry his niece. Tapia saw evidently that it would be no
easy matter to enter upon his office of governor, and fell sick with
vexation. The before-mentioned deputies informed Cortes by letter of all
that had passed, and advised him to try the all-powerful influence of gold
on the would-be governor. Cortes complied with this advice, and
transmitted a good quantity of golden ingots by return of the express, by
means of which his friends gratified the avarice of Tapia, under pretence
of purchasing one of his ships, with some horses and negroes; and Tapia
set sail in his other vessel for Hispaniola, where he was very ill
received by the royal audience and the Jeronymite brotherhood, as he had
undertaken this business contrary to their express orders.

I have formerly mentioned some particulars of an unsuccessful expedition
set on foot by Garray, the governor of Jamaica, for the establishment of a
colony on the river of Panuco; and as Cortes was informed that Garray
intended to resume that project, he resolved to anticipate him,
considering the country on that river as included in New Spain. Having
likewise been informed that Narvaez, who still continued a prisoner at
Villa Rica, had held some confidential intercourse with Tapia, in which he
advised him to quit the country as soon as possible, and to lay a
statement of the whole before his patron the bishop of Burgos; Cortes
sent orders to Rangel, now commandant at Villa Rica, to send up Narvaez to
Cojohuacan, where Cortes resided until the palace he meant to inhabit at
Mexico was completed. On appearing before Cortes, Narvaez fell on his
knees and endeavoured to kiss his hand; but Cortes raised and embraced him,
and treated him with the utmost kindness. His residence in Mexico being
ready for his reception, Cortes went to live there in great splendour,
marking out a plan for the restoration of the city, in which ample
allotments were made for churches, monasteries, and public buildings, with
squares and markets, all the rest of the ground being set apart for the
private inhabitants; and both so speedily and splendidly was this capital
restored, that all who have seen it allow there is not in Christendom a
larger, better built, or more populous city. While thus employed,
intelligence was brought to Cortes that the province of Panuco was in arms,
and had killed many of the soldiers whom he had sent to make a settlement
at that place. He resolved, therefore, to proceed to Panuco in person, as
all his most confidential officers were now absent on different duties.

By this time our strength had been considerably augmented, both by means
of those formerly mentioned who had been on the expedition to Florida
under Aillon, and by several who had come over along with Tapia, and by
the arrival of many adventurers from the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, and
Jamaica. De Oli, likewise, had now returned from Mechoacan, which he had
reduced to submission, bringing with him the principal cacique of that
country and several other chiefs, with a considerable quantity of gold.
Cortes therefore left a respectable garrison in Mexico, under Diego de
Soto, and set out on his march for Panuco[1] with 130 cavalry, 250
infantry, and 10,000 Mexican warriors. As this expedition was very
expensive, Cortes, wished the charge to be defrayed from the royal funds,
but the officers of the treasury refused, under the pretext that it had
been undertaken from motives of private interest, to prevent Garray from
establishing a colony in that place, and not for the public service. The
Panuchese, otherwise called the Guastecas and Naguaticas, were numerous
and warlike, and had collected a force of above 70,000 warriors, with
which they fought two battles against Cortes in the course of a few days,
in which three Spaniards, four horses, and above a hundred Mexicans were
slain; but we obtained the victory in both actions, with such slaughter
of the rebels, as deprived them of all inclination to renew the war for
the present. By means of Father Olmedo and some prisoners, the Panuchese
were now induced to submit. Cortes in the next place proceeded with half
his army across the river Chila, to reduce the natives who had murdered
the messengers whom he sent to require their submission. On crossing the
river, the enemy fell upon our troops with great fury, but were soon
defeated, and our people advanced to a town in which they found abundance
of provisions. Some of our soldiers, on going into a temple next morning,
found the remains of some of our men, and even recognized their features,
a melancholy sight to us all; but we carefully collected and buried their
remains. From this place our detachment marched to another, where the
enemy concealed some of their troops among houses, intending to fall upon
our men when the cavalry had dismounted; but as their plan was discovered
it failed of success, yet they fought valiantly for half an hour, even
rallying three times, contrary to the usual custom of the Indians, and
three of our soldiers were so badly wounded that they afterwards died. On
the ensuing day, our soldiers scoured the country, and in some deserted
towns they found a number of earthen vessels filled with a species of wine
in underground cellars. After having marched for five days through the
country in various directions, the detachment returned to the river Chila,
and Cortes again summoned the the country to submission. They promised to
send a deputation for that purpose in four days, for which Cortes waited,
but to no purpose; he therefore sent a large body of Mexicans, during a
dark rainy night, across a lake to attack one of their largest towns,
which was entirely destroyed; after which most of the country submitted,
and Cortes established a town of 130 houses about a league from the river
of Chila, which he named Estevan del Puerto, leaving 63 Spanish soldiers
to keep the country under subjection, and giving the command of all the
neighbouring country to Pedro Valego. Before leaving this country, Cortes
was informed of three districts, which had now submitted, the inhabitants
of which had been very active in the murder of the Spaniards at Panuco on
the former occasion, and who had entered into a resolution to fall upon
the new settlement as soon as he quitted the country. He marched therefore
against them, and destroyed their towns, which they re-established soon
after his departure. In consequence of the loss of a vessel which Cortes
had ordered to bring provisions from Villa Rica, this new settlement was
reduced to much distress. The inhabitants of this province of Panuco were
the most barbarous of all the tribes in New Spain, being cruel to excess,
exceedingly addicted to human sacrifices, drunken, filthy, and wicked
beyond belief. They frequently rebelled, and were as often punished in a
most exemplary manner; but all would not reduce them under good government:
But when Nunez de Guzman became governor of New Spain, he reduced the
whole nation to slavery, and sold them among the different Islands of the
West Indies.

On his return towards Mexico, Cortes received complaints of various
depredations having been committed by the inhabitants of the neighbouring
mountains on the peaceable districts of New Spain[2], He determined
therefore to chastise these lawless tribes while on his way; but they
anticipated him, by assaulting his rear in a difficult pass of the
mountains, where they got possession of a considerable portion of the
baggage. But our Mexican allies severely revenged this insult, and made
prisoners of two of the principal hostile chiefs who were both hanged.
After this victory, Cortes suspended hostilities, and having summoned the
people to appear before him, they came in and submitted, on which Cortes
appointed the brother of the cacique who had been put to death to the
vacant government. About this time Alonza de Avila, who was formerly
mentioned, returned with full powers from the royal audience and the
Jeronymite brotherhood, to continue our conquests, to make settlements of
land and colonies according to the established rules in Hispaniola and
Cuba, and to brand slaves: And he brought notice that these tribunals had
transmitted a report of the steps they had now taken to the government in
Spain, whence it was transmitted to the emperor, then in Flanders. If
Avila had been in New Spain at the arrival of Tapia, he might have proved
troublesome, as he was entirely devoted to the Bishop of Burgos, having
been bred up in his house. On this account, and by the advice of Olmedo,
Cortes gave him the command of the district of Guatitlan, one of the most
profitable in New Spain, and also made him a considerable present of gold,
and many flattering words and promises by which he gained him over
entirely to his interest, insomuch that he sent him soon afterwards into
Spain as his agent, carrying a large quantity of gold, pearls, and jewels
to the emperor, together with several gigantic human bones that were found
in a temple at Cojohuacan, similar to those which had been formerly sent
from Tlascala, as already mentioned[3]. Besides these things, he carried
over three Mexican tigers, and many other curious things which I do not
now remember. One part of the business of this agency, was to carry a
memorial from the _cabildo_ of Mexico, and from us the conquerors of New
Spain, soliciting to be supplied with bishops and clergy of holy life and
exemplary manners, and requesting that all offices of honour and emolument
might be conferred on us who had conquered this vast empire for our
sovereign, and that the supreme government might be confided to our
general Cortes. We requested that his majesty might be pleased to prohibit
any lawyers from coming among us, who would throw us into confusion with
their learned quibbles; and we farther represented the insufficient
commission of Christoval de Tapia, who had been sent out by the Bishop of
Burgos, merely for the purpose of effectuating a marriage between him and
the bishops niece. We deprecated the interference of the bishop in the
affairs of New Spain, which had already obstructed our efforts of conquest
in the service of his majesty, and had manifested great enmity against us
by prohibiting the Casa de Contratation of Seville from sending us any
supplies. We concluded by declaring ourselves ready to receive his
majesties commands with the most perfect submission and obedience, but that
we had deemed it our bounden duty to lay all these particulars before his
majesty, which had hitherto been artfully kept from his knowledge. On his
part, Cortes sent a memorial to the king of twenty-one pages long, in
which he left no argument unemployed to serve his own and our interest. He
even requested permission to go over to the island of Cuba, and to send
the governor Velasquez a prisoner to Spain, that he might be tried and
punished for the injuries he had done to the public service, and
especially for having sent an order to put Cortes to death.

Our agents sailed from Vera Cruz on the 20th December 1522, and no
particular occurrence happened on the voyage to the Terceras or Acores,
except that one of the tigers broke loose and wounded some of the sailors,
who were likewise obliged to kill the other on account of its ferocity. At
the island of Tercera, Captain Quinones lost his life in a duel,
occasioned by a quarrel about a lady, by which means our business was left
in the hands of Alonzo de Avila. In continuing his voyage to Europe, he
was taken by a French privateer, commanded by one Jean Florin, who took
another ship from Hispaniola with a valuable cargo of sugar and hides, and
20,000 crowns in gold, and many pearls; so that with this and our treasure
he returned very rich to France, where he made magnificent presents to the
king and admiral of France, astonishing every body at the magnificence of
the presents which we had transmitted for our emperor. The king of France
observed on this occasion, that the wealth which we supplied from New
Spain was alone sufficient to enable our sovereign to wage war against him,
although Peru was not then discovered. It was also reported that the king
of France sent a message to our emperor, saying, That as he and the king
of Portugal had divided the world between them, he desired to see the will
of our father Adam, to know if he had made them exclusively his heirs. In
his next expedition, Florin was made prisoner by a strong squadron
belonging to Biscay, and was hanged in the island of Teneriffe.

Avila was made a close prisoner in France, but by gaining the friendship
of the officer to whose custody he had been confided, he was enabled to
correspond with his friends in Spain, to whom he transmitted all the
documents with which he had been entrusted, which were all laid before the
emperor Don Carlos by Martin Cortes, our generals father, and Diego de
Ordas, by means of the licentiate Nunez, _relator_ of the royal council,
who was cousin to Cortes. The emperor was pleased, on due consideration of
these documents, to order that all favour should be shewn to our general,
and that the proceedings respecting the government of New Spain should be
suspended until his majesty returned into Spain.

We were much disappointed on receiving intelligence of the loss of our
treasure, and the detention of our agent in France; yet Cortes honourably
reserved the district of Guatitlan for Avila, notwithstanding his
captivity, and gave it three years afterwards to a brother of Alonzo de
Avila, who was then promoted to be _contador_ of Yucutan.

[1] The province here named Panuco, is situated on the coast of the gulf
of Mexico, at the mouth of a considerable river which drains the
superfluous waters of the Mexican vale, named at first Rio del Desague,
then Rio de Tula, and Rio Tampico at its mouth, in about lat. 22 deg. 15'
N. The Modern town of Panuco is about 200 miles almost due north from

[2] These were probably the Chichimecas and Otomies, who inhabited to the
north-west of the Mexican empire.--E.

[3] From these slight notices, nothing certain can be gathered respecting
these large bones: Yet there is every reason to believe they must have
been of the same kind with those now familiar to the learned world,
under the name of _Mammoth_. The vale of Mexico has every indication
of having once been an immense inland lake, and the other _big bones_
of North America have all been found in places of a similar
description. The greatest deposit of these hitherto known, is at a
place called _big-bone-swamp_, near the Mississippi, in the modern
state of Kentucky.--E.


_Expeditions of Gonzalo de Sandoval, Pedro de Alvarado, and others, for
reducing the Mexican Provinces_.

After the settlement with Christoval de Tapia, the Captains Sandoval and
Alvarado resumed the expeditions with which they had been before entrusted,
and on this occasion I went along with Sandoval. On our arrival at
Tustepeque[1], I took my lodgings on the summit of a very high tower of a
temple, for the sake of fresh air, and to avoid the musquitoes, which were
very troublesome below. At this place, seventy-two of the soldiers who
came with Narvaez and six Spanish women were put to death. The whole
province submitted immediately to Sandoval, except the Mexican chief who
had been the principal instrument of the destruction of our soldiers, who
was soon afterwards made prisoner and burnt alive. Many others had been
equally guilty, but this example of severity was deemed sufficient.

Sandoval, in the next place, sent a message to the Tzapotecas, who inhabit
a mountainous district about ten leagues from Tustepeque or Tututepec,
ordering them to submit to his authority; and on their refusal, an
expedition was sent against them under Captain Briones, who according to
his own account had served with reputation in the wars of Italy. His
detachment consisted of 100 Spanish infantry, and about an equal number of
Indian allies; but the enemy were prepared for him, and so completely
surprised him in a difficult pass of the mountains, that they drove him
and his men over the rocks, rolling them down to the bottom, by which
above a third of them were wounded, of whom one afterwards died. The
district inhabited by the Tzapotecas is of very difficult access among
rocky mountains, where the troops can only pass in single file, and the
climate is very moist and rainy. The inhabitants are armed with long
lances, having stone heads about an ell long, which have two edges as
sharp as razors, and they are defended by pliable shields which cover
their whole bodies. They are extremely nimble, and give signals to each
other by loud whistlings, which echo among the rocks with inconceivable
shrillness. Their province is named Tiltepeque[2]; which, after its
submission, was confided to the charge of a soldier named Ojeda. On his
return to quarters, Sandoval ridiculed Briones on the bad success of his
expedition, asking him if he had ever seen the like in Italy; for Briones
was always boasting of his exploits there, as how he had severed men in
two, and the like. Briones was sore displeased with these sarcasms, and
swore he would rather fight against the Turks or Moors than the Tzapotecas.
There was another district of the Tzapotecas called Xaltepec, which was
then at war with a neighbouring tribe, and who immediately, on being
summoned by Sandoval, sent a deputation of their chiefs to wait upon him
with handsome presents; among which was a considerable quantity of gold,
partly made into toys, and partly in ten little tubes. Their chiefs were
dressed in long cotton robes, richly embroidered, and reaching to their
feet, like the upper garments worn by the Moors. They requested to be
assisted by some of our soldiers against their enemies, whom they named
the Minxes. The state of our force at this time did not permit him to
comply with this request, but he promised to transmit their request to our
general at Mexico, with an application for an auxiliary force to be sent
them, and said he could only now send a small number of his men along with
them, to observe the nature of the passes, but his real object was to
examine their mines. With this answer he dismissed them all except three,
sending eight of us along with them to explore the country and its mines.

There was another soldier of the same name with myself in this party, for
indeed there were three of us in the army named Castillo. At that time I
prided myself on my dress, and was called _Castillo the beau_. My namesake
who went on the present expedition was named _Castillo the thoughtful_, as
he was of slow speech, never replying to a question for a long while, and
then answering by some absurdity. The third was called _Castillo the
prompt_, as he was always very ready and smart in all his words. On our
arrival at the district of Xaltepec, the Indians turned over the soil in
three different rivers, in each of which they found gold, and soon filled
three tubes with it as large as a mans middle finger, with which we
returned to Sandoval, who now thought that all our fortunes would be made.
He took a district to himself, from which he very soon procured gold to
the value of 15,000 crowns. He gave the district of Xaltepec, whence we
had obtained the gold, to Captain Luis Marin, but it turned out very
indifferently. He gave me a very profitable district, which I wish to God
I had kept; it consisted of three places, named Matalan, Oztoequipa, and
Oriaca, where the _ingenio_ of the viceroy is now situated; but I thought
it more consistent with my character as a soldier to accompany Sandoval in
his military expeditions. Sandoval called his town Medellin, after the
birth-place of Cortes; and the Rio de las Vanderas, from which he procured
the 15,000 crowns, was for some time the port where the merchandise from
Spain was discharged, until Vera Cruz became the emporium.

We now marched into the province of Coatzacualco, through the district of
Citla[3], which is about twelve leagues in length and breadth, and is very
populous, having a fine climate and abounding in provisions. The chiefs
immediately submitted. On our arrival at the river of Coatzacualco, which
is the governing district of all the neighbouring tribes, the chiefs did
not make their appearance on being summoned, which we considered as an
indication of hostility, which was in fact their first intention; but
after five days, they came in and made their submissions, presenting some
trinkets of fine gold to Sandoval. By his orders, they collected a hundred
canoes, in which we crossed the river, sending four soldiers in advance to
examine and report the state of the country. A town was founded in this
place, which we named Villa del Espiritu Santo, because on that day we
defeated Narvaez, using that expression as our watchword, and because we
crossed this river on the same day. In this place the flower of our army
was established, which at this time mustered eighty cavalry, a greater
number in proportion than five hundred is now, horses being then very
scarce and dear. Having examined the surrounding districts, Sandoval
divided them among the different settlements. To the settlement of
Coatzacualco, he allotted Cuetzpaltepec, Tepeca, Chinantla, the Tzapotecas,
Copilco, Cimatan, Tabasco, Cachula, the Zoques, Techeapa, Cinacatan, the
Quilenes, and Papanahausta. We had a long litigation afterwards with the
district of Vera Cruz about three of these, Cuetzpaltepec, Chinantla, and
Tepeca; with Tabasco about Cimatan and Copilco; with Chiapa or Guatimala,
concerning the Quilenes and Zoques; and likewise with the town of St
Ildefonso about the Tzapotecas. I regretted having fixed myself in this
place, as the lands were very poor, and every thing turned out to my
disadvantage. We might indeed have done well enough if we had been left in
our original situation; but as new settlements were successively formed,
ours were curtailed to accommodate them, so that our colony fell into
decay; and from being the best, and containing the greatest number of the
true conquerors of Mexico, it has now very few inhabitants.

About this time Sandoval received intelligence of the arrival of Donna
Catalina, the lady of our general, in the river of Aguayalco[4],
accompanied by her brother. La Zembrana also with her family came along
with her, and Donna Elvira Lopez _the tall_, who married Juan de Palma,
who was afterwards hanged. We all went to pay our respects to the ladies,
the roads being almost impassable owing to constant heavy rain. Having
escorted Donna Catalina and the rest to our town of Coatzacualco, or
Espiritu Santo, intelligence was sent to Cortes of their arrival, and they
set out soon afterwards for Mexico. Cortes was sorry for their coming, but
he received them with great pomp, and we heard about three months
afterwards that Donna Catalina had died of an asthma.

Villafuerte had been sent to Zacatula, and Juan Alvarez Chico to Colima,
two provinces on the south sea to the west of Mexico, but were
unsuccessful; on which Cortes sent Christoval de Oli to reduce these
provinces to submission. The natives attacked him on his march, killing
two of his soldiers; yet he reached the station of Villafuerte, who was
afraid to stir out, and had four even of his soldiers killed by the enemy
in the town where he resided. I do not know what became of Captain Juan
Alvarez, but I believe he lost his life about this time in some action
with the natives. De Oli reduced both provinces to submission and returned
to Mexico, where he was hardly arrived when intelligence was brought that
they had again rebelled; on which Cortes sent Sandoval with a small party
of veterans to take the charge of them. He punished the ringleaders of the
rebellion, and regulated them in so effectual a manner, that they
continued ever afterwards submissive.

On the departure of Sandoval with the ladies, several of the districts
subjected to Coatzacualco rebelled, killing the soldiers who were
appointed to collect the tribute; among which were the Tzapotecas of
Xaltepec, Cimatan and Copilco, the first being difficult of access on
account of its rugged mountains, and the two others because of lakes and
marshes, so that they were not reduced to subjection without great
difficulty. While Captain Luis Marin was engaged in reducing these
districts, Juan Buono arrived at our settlement in a small vessel. He
immediately called us all together, and endeavoured to persuade us to
submit to Christoval de Tapia as governor of New Spain, being ignorant of
the return of that person to Hispaniola. Buono had a number of unaddressed
letters from the bishop of Burgos, making large offers to such as would
further his views of superseding Cortes, and which Buono had a
discretionary power of directing to any persons that he supposed might
support the cause in which he was engaged, and which he accordingly
transmitted to those who held offices in the settlement. Among the rest, I
was offered the appointment of regidor. When Buono learnt that Tapia had
left the country, he seemed much disappointed. We referred him to Cortes
at Mexico, to which place he went. I know not what passed between him and
Cortes, but I believe the general sent him back to Spain with some money
in his pocket.

Among the tribes that courted our alliance after the conquest of Mexico,
was a people of the Tzapotecan nation, named the Tutepecs, who earnestly
requested our assistance against a hostile tribe, who bore the same name
with themselves, and whom they represented as possessing a very rich
country. Accordingly, in the year 1522, Alvarado marched from Mexico with
a detachment of 180 soldiers, cavalry and infantry, with orders to take
twenty more on his march through the district of Oaxaco, and also to visit
and reduce during his march certain mountainous districts which were said
to be in rebellion. Alvarado was forty days on his march between Mexico
and Tutepec, and was very hospitably received on his arrival, being lodged
in the most populous part of the city, where the houses stood close
together, and were thatched with straw, it not being the custom of that
part of the country to have terraced roofs, on account of their climate
being very sultry. By the advice of Father Olmedo, Alvarado removed his
quarters to a more open part of the town; as in case of any treachery
being intended, the natives might easily have set fire to the first
quarters. In this place, Alvarado was plentifully supplied with provisions,
and the principal chief made him every day some rich present of gold; and
among other things gave him a pair of golden stirrups, made according to a
pattern. Yet, only a few days after, the cacique was made a prisoner, on
the information, as was said, of the Indians of Tecuantepec, that he meant
to burn the Spaniards in the quarters which had been assigned them in the
temples. Some of the Spaniards alleged that Alvarado made him a prisoner
in order to extort gold for his ransom. However this may have been, he
died in prison of vexation, after Alvarado had got from him to the value
of 30,000 crowns. His son was permitted to succeed him in the government,
from whom Alvarado obtained more gold than he had done from the father.
Alvarado now established a colony, which was called _Segura_, because most
of the colonists came from Tepeaca, named by us Segura de la Frontera.

Alvarado set out soon afterwards on his return to Mexico with all his
wealth, as Cortes had written to him to bring all the treasure he possibly
could, which he intended to send into Spain. The soldiers were much
dissatisfied at being thus excluded from any share, and several of them
entered into a conspiracy to assassinate Alvarado and his brothers. One of
the conspirators, named Tribejo, gave information of the plot to Father
Olmedo, only a few hours before it was intended to have been executed; and
the reverend Father informed Alvarado, just as he was riding out along
with some of the conspirators. He continued his intended excursion for a
short way; then turning suddenly, he complained of a pain in his side,
saying he must go back for a surgeon to bleed him. On his arrival at
quarters, he immediately sent for his two brothers, together with the
alcaldes and alguazils of the settlement, whom he ordered to arrest the
conspirators, two of whom were hanged. Alvarado returned to Mexico with
his gold; but the colonists finding all the gold taken away, and that the
place was hot and unhealthy, infested with musqutioes, bugs, and other
vermin, and themselve and slaves fast dying, they abandoned the settlement,
some going to Mexico, and others to different places. Cortes was much
displeased at this abandonment, and finding on inquiry that it had been
done by a resolution of the alcaldes and regidors in full cabildo, he
condemned them to suffer death; but their punishment, at the intercession
of Olmedo, was mitigated to banishment. Thus the settlement of Segura fell
to the ground, which had been established in a very fertile country, but
exceedingly unhealthy. By the cruelty and extortion of Alvarado, the minds
of the natives were alienated, and they threw off their allegiance; but he
reduced them again to submission, and they continued afterwards to behave
themselves peaceably.

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