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Full text of "Bernal Diaz Del Castillo The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico 1517 1521"


Wag; del Castillo 

The descovery and conquest of 



Diaz del Castillo $0.00 

The discovery and conquest oi 



... . . . .. ...... .... .. 










OF PERO TAFUR, 1435-1439 



DON JUAN OF PERSIA, 1560-1604 







BTM.HUC, 1844-46 


BT MADAME D'A ULNO r, 1 69 1 





















Published by 


A.PM. photo] 

From an oil painting in the Municipal Palace, City of Mexico 

I front. 











Edited from the only exact copy of the original MS. 
(and published in Mexico) by Genaro Garcia. 
Translated with an Introduction and Notes? by 


Honorary Professor of Archeology, National Museum, Mexico 

Published by 


First published in this Series in 1928 



TN 1908 the Hakluyt Society published my translation 
of The True Story of the Conquest of New Spain by 
Bernal Diaz del Castillo with maps and notes in five 
volumes, and I wish to express my thanks to the 
Council of that Society for permitting me to use that 
translation for the present volume, which tells the 
tory so far as it relates to the discovery and conquest 
of Mexico in Bernal Diaz's own words, omitting all 
unnecessary passages, and ends with the fall of 
Mexico City. 

Some extracts from the letters of Hernando Cortes 
are added to make clear the topography of the siege 
of the City. 

The latter part of Bernal Diaz's hilory deals with 
the march to Honduras, which is another tory. 

A. P. M. 

January, 1928. 





AND FLORIDA . ....... 42 





TO MEXICO CITY . . . . . . ,120 




PLAN OF THE CAUSEWAYS . . . . . . .278 





The Discovery and Conquest 
of Mexico 



From the only exaS copy made of the Original Manuscript 










^HE 'True History of the Conquest of New Spain, 
written by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of the 
Conquerors, was known to, and appreciated by 
historians and bibliographers before it was published. 
Antonio de Herrera 2 quotes it frequently, Friar Juan 
de Torquemada 3 also refers to it on several occasions, 
and the Licentiate Antonio de Leon Pinelo 4 devotes 
some lines to it in his brief bibliography. 

Although the original manuscript has always been 
kept in Guatemala, firft by the Author and after- 
wards by his descendants, and Still later by the 
Municipality of the Capital, in whose archives it is 
preserved to-day, a copy of it was made in the sixteenth 
century and sent to Spain to King Philip II 5 and was 

1 The following extracts are translated direct from Senor Don 
Genaro Garcia's Introdu6tion. Any differences entertained with, 
regard to the names of persons or pkces or the routes followed, 
will be explained in note attached to the translation of the text of 
Bernal Diaz's narrative. 

2 Hiftoria general de los hechos de los ca&ellanos en las Islas i 
Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano. Madrid, 172630, Decada 2* passim. 
The first edition was published in 1601. 

3 Los Peinte i un libros rituales y Monarchia Indiana. Madrid, 
1723, Tomo I passim. The first edition was published in 161 5. 

4 Epitome de la Eiblioteca Oriental i Occidental, Nautica y 
Geografica (Madrid, 1629), p. 75. 

5 So it was ated by Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo de Medrano in 
1579. In the Hifforia de Guatemala 6 Recordacion Florida, by 
D. Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmdn (Madrid, 18823), 
Vol. i, p. 398. G. G. 


there consulted by the Royal chroniclers. After its 
publication in Madrid by Friar Alonzo Rem6n of the 
Order of Mercy in the year 1632 the True History 
was universally accepted from that time onwards as 
the mot complete and trustworthy of the chronicles 
of the Conquest of New Spain. A second edition 
followed almost immediately, in the same city, some 
four years later, a third> a fourth, and a fifth. It was 
translated into English by Maurice Keatinge in 
1800 and John Ingram Lockhart in 1844 ; into 
German by Ph. J. von Rehfues in 1838 and Karl 
Ritter in 1848 ; into French by D. Jourdanet in 
1876 and Jose Maria de Heredia in I877, 1 and into 
Hungarian by Karoly Brozik in 1878 and Moses 
Gaal in 1899. 

Several of these translations obtained the honours 
of a second edition, as that of Keatinge in 1803, that 
of Rehfues in 1843, an< i that of Jourdanet in 1877. 
# * # 

It mul be pointed out that no secret has ever been 
made of Remon's extensive corruption of the original 
text. Don Antonio de Leon Pinelo, in his account of 
the True History in 1629, says, no doubt without 
malice, that Friar Alonzo Remon kept in readiness 
a " corrected " copy for publication. It was no 
sooner printed than the author of the Isagoge Historico 
Apologet'co 2 found in it " many things added which 
were not found in the original ". More explicitly 
and with a better judgment Don Francisco Antonio 

1 The French translations were although an interval of one 
year lay between their publication written simultaneously by 
the distinguished author of the Influence de la premon de Fair sur 
la vie de I'homme, and the excellent poet to whom France is indebted 
for the inimitable Les Trophies. This synchronism Wrongly indicates 
the extraordinary importance attributed to the Hiftoria Verdadera* 

2 Published in Madrid, 1892. 


de Fuentes y Guzman, the great-great-grandson of the 
author, and at that time the possessor of the manu- 
script, wrote at the end of the same century that the 
book, published by the reverend father Friar Alonzo 
Remon, differs considerably from the original, " for 
in some places there is more and in others less than 
what my great-grandfather the author wrote, for I 
find corruptions in chapters 164 and 171, and in the 
same way in other parts in the course of the history, 
in which not only is the credibility and fidelity of my 
Castillo clouded over, but many real heroes are 
defrauded of their ju^t merit." 

Fuentes y Guzman States that this corruption (of 
the text) was not the lea& important of the motives 
that induced him to write his own work. 1 At the 
beginning of the following century Friar Francisco 
Vasquez proved that Friar Bartolome de Olmedo 
was not in Guatemala at the time of its conquest, as 
is Stated in the edition of Remon, and therefore he 
was not the firl to spread the Christian faith through 
that province, unless, as he says, one should concede 
another miracle such as that of Saint Anthony of 
Padua, who managed to be in two different places 
at the same time. 

Some years afterwards Don Andres Gonzalez 
Barcia, referring to the charge that Fuentes y Guzmdn 
had launched against Remon, arbitrarily surmised 
that the differences that exited between the edition 
published by the latter and the original manuscript 
were matters of no importance, and simply inferred 
that it was " easy to believe that in copying the author 
should make some alterations, as ordinarily happens ". 
This defence was not convincing, and on this account 
our great bibliographer in Mexico, Don Juan Jose de 
Eguiara y Eguren, delicately objefted that P. Vasquez 
had declared even the firb edition to be falsified, while 

1 Hi ft on a de Guatemala 6 Rec ordactin Florida, p. 8. 


in Spain the indefatigable chronicler Don Juan 
Bautita Munoz endeavoured to procure a copy of 
the original manuscript with the objeft of ascertaining 
the alterations due to Padre Remon. 

Finally, if there could be any doubt remaining about 
the bad faith of Remon, it was completely dispelled 
by the Guatemalan historians Padre Domingo Juarros 
Don Jose Milk, the Bishop Don Francisco de Paula 
Garcia Palaez, and Don Ramon A. Salazar, who from 
personal inspection fully corroborated what had been 
asserted by their predecessors the author of the 
Isagoge^ Fuentes y Guzman, and Vasquez. 

As a matter of fa<t we can see at a glance in the 
following notes (par. iv, and Appendix No. 2) I that 
Fray Alonzo Remon in printing the True Hitfory 
suppressed whole pages of the manuscript, inter- 
polated others, garbled the fafts, changed the names 
of persons and places, increased or lessened the 
numbers, modified the byle, and modernized the 
orthography moved thereto either by religious 
fervour and false patriotism, or by personal sympathy 
and vile literary tafte. As all the later editions, and all 
the translations without exception were copied from 
the firt edition published by Remon, it results that 
in reality we do not know the True Hiftory. 
# # # 

On the 20th Oftober, 1895, Don Emilio Leon, 
the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipo- 
tentiary from the Republic of Guatemala accredited 

1 This paragraph and appendix has not been translated. As 
we have now before us an accurate copy of the original text, the 
reader would not be much Interested in a discussion of the corruptions 
of the text by Padre Remon. In mo inftances these corruptions 
of the text were introduced for the purpose of magnifying the 
importance of Padre Olmedo and the Friars of the Order of Mercy, 
of which Order Padre Rem6n was himself a member. In the edition 
of Don Genaro Garcia these matters are fully investigated, and a 
complete bibliography is given. 


to Mexico^ presented in the name of his Government 
to ours, " as a proof of friendship and especial regard ", 
a photographic reproduction of the original manu- 
script. It was then, with some reason, believed that, 
at lat, we should see the True Hittory published ; 
but this could not be carried out, for accompanying 
the gift of the reproduction was a prohibition against 
its being copied and printed. 

Five years later, when I wrote my book entitled 
Carafter de la ConquiSla Espanola en America y en 
Mexico, I was convinced that to perfedt our Ancient 
history an exaft edition of the True Hiffory was 
indispensable, and I desired to carry this work 

Soon afterwards, in August, 1901, I wrote to the 
then President of Guatemala, Don Manuel Estrada 
Cabrera, telling him of my wish to print the precious 

This distinguished official had the kindness to 
reply on the firt of the following month that on that 
very day he had decreed that " an exaft and complete 
copy of the manuscript " should be made and sent to 
me for the purpose that I had Stated. Senor Don Juan I. 
Argueta, Secretary of the Interior and Justice in that 
Republic, at once began punctually to send me intal- 
ments of the copy as soon as they were made, which 
copy I corrected here, and perfefted with all care and 
accuracy by comparing it with the photographic 
reproduction already referred to, which is preserved 

in our National Library. 

# # # 

The author says that, after making a fair copy of 
his narrative, two licentiates of Guatemala begged 
him to lend it to them, and that he did so mot 
willingly ; but he warned them not to correft it in 
any way, neither by addition nor deletion, for all 
that he had written was true. 


Assuredly with regard to truth the author 
would find no fault with us, for we have taken care to 
religiously respeft the original text, without intro- 
ducing the slighted variation, not even of the artless 
orthography or punftuation. 

Any change would have been dangerous, and we 
might have fallen into the same error that we attribute 
to Remon ; everybody knows that by a single comma 
one might reverse the meaning of a Statement. 

We reproduce in notes placed at the foot of the 
page all the erasures that can have any interest for 
inquiring readers, and in like manner we have trans- 
scribed all the various words blotted out, which, 
besides exhibiting important variations, give an idea 
of the method of composition employed by the author. 
Occasionally, when a full understanding of the 
text necessitates it, or for the purpose of finishing 
off a clearly implied word or phrase, or of corf efting 
some manifeft numerical error, we have ventured to 
insert some word or number between brackets, so 
that it can be known at once that it is not the author 
who is ^speaking, and the readers are left at liberty 
tq admit or rejed the slight interpolation ; finally, 
we have allowed ourselves to indicate by dotted lines 
the^ gaps that are found in the original manuscript, 
which, happily, are very few in number, except on 
the fir& and la& pages, which, in the course of time, 
have naturally suffered more than the others. 

May ^ our mode& effort meet with the approbation 
of the intelligent and learned, for we long for it as 
much as we fear their censure. 



BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO was born in the very noble,, 
famous, and celebrated town x of Medina del Campo 
in the year 1492 at the very time when Christopher 
Columbus was joining the two worlds. 

Bernal tells us that at the time that he made up 
his mind to come to New Spain, about the year 1517, 
he was a youth " of about twenty-four years ", a 
Statement which corroborates the date of his birth. 

His parents were Don Francisco Diaz del Castillo 

and Dona Maria Diez Rejon. 

# # # 

Bernal was not the only son, he tells us of his 
brother, probably older than himself, whom he wished 

to imitate. 

* # # 

Bernal himself writes that he was a gentleman, 1 
and that his grandparents, his father, and his brother 
were always servants of the Crown and of their Catholic 
Majesties Don Fernando and Dona Isabel, which 
Carlos V. confirms by calling them *' our retainers 
and servants ". 

If the family of Bernal had not enjoyed esteem and 
respeft in Medina del Campo, the inhabitants would 
not have chosen Don Francisco as their Regidor? 
On the other hand, his financial position mu& have 
been a very modest one, for the author mot certainly 

1 " Muy noble e insigne y muy nombrada Villa." In old Spain 
towns and cities were formally granted such titles of honour. 

2 Hijodalgo. 

3 Regidor = magistrate, prefect. 


came here to seek his fortune, and often complains of 
his poverty. 

After all, the faft that in the True HiSlory he discloses 
a very scrupulous moral sense, a fair amount of learning, 
accurate philosophy, and a piety out of the common, 
permits us to infer that his family educated him with 
great care : it would be exceptional for a man illiterate 
and untaught during his youth to acquire such qualities 
in his old age ; it is proven, on the other hand, that 
the author knew how to write when he reached New 
Spain. Nevertheless, we know nothing for certain 
about the childhood and youth of Bernal, our informa- 
tion begins in the year 1514. 

The author was then twenty-two years old. 

From some of his remarks one may judge that he 
was tall or of middle height, aftive, quick, well 
made, and graceful ; his comrades called him " the 
elegant " (el galan). 

# * * 

Following the example of so many other Spanish 
youths, Bernal left his country in the year 1514 to 
emigrate to America in search of adventures and 
riches, resolved to be worthy of his ancestry. He 
accompanied Pedro Arias de Avila, the Governor 
of Tierra Firme, as one of his soldiers. 

When he reached Nombre de Dios he remained 
there three or four months, until an epidemic that 
broke out and certain disputes that arose between 
the Governor and his son-in-law, Vasco Nunez de 
Balboa, obliged him to flee to Cuba, to his relation, 
Diego Velasquez, who was Governor of the Island. 

During three years Bernal " did nothing worthy 
of record", and on that account he determined to 
set out on the discovery of unknown land with the 
Captain Francisco Hernandez de Cordova and one 
hundred and ten companions. 

They sailed in three ships from the port of Ajaruco 



on the 8th February, 1517, and after enduring a 
passage occupying twenty-one days and one fierce 
gale, they arrived at Cape Catoche, where the natives 
gave them a hostile reception. 

After touching at Lazaro they flopped at Cham- 
poton, where the natives killed forty-eight Spaniards, 
captured two of them, and wounded the reft, including 
the captain, who received ten arrow wounds, and the 
author, who received " three, and one of them in 
the left side which pierced my ribs, and was very 
dangerous ". 

The survivors returned by way of Florida to Cuba, 
disillusioned and in ill-health, suffering from burning 
thirst and barely escaping shipwreck, for the ships 
were leaking badly. When recounting these calamities 
the author exclaims : 

" Oh ! what a troublesome thing it is to go and 
discover new lands and the risks we took it is hardly 
possible to exaggerate/' 

Nevertheless Bernal was not discouraged by ex- 
perience ; his poverty, which, of necessity, increased 
daily, impelled him to seek his fortune even at the 
risk of losing his life, and his youth made him naturally 
impatient ; he did not care to wait for the Indians 
which Diego Velasquez had promised to give him as 
soon as there were some unemployed, and he at once 
enlisted in a second expedition, composed of four 
ships and two hundred soldiers, under the command 
of Juan de Grijalva, which weighed anchor in the port 
of Matanzas on the 8th April, 1518. 

The author says that he went " as ensign ", but 
it is doubtful. 

The expedition went by way of Cozumel and 
Champoton, whose intrepid inhabitants wounded 
Grijalva and broke two of his teeth, and killed seven 
soldiers, by the Boca de Terminos, the Rio de Tabasco 
which they called the Rio de Grijalva, La Rambla, 



the Rios de Tonala or de Santo Anton, de Coatzacoal- 
cos, de Papaloapan or de Alvarado, and the Rio de 
Bander as, where they obtained by barter " more than 
sixteen thousand pesos in jewels and low grade gold ". 
They sighted the Isla Blanca and the Isla Verde and 
landed on the Isla de Sacrificios and the sand dunes of 
Uliia ; thence Alvarado, accompanied by certain 
soldiers, returned to Cuba in search of reinforce- 
ments, while Grijalva, with the re& of his folio wers^ 
including the author, pushed ahead by Tuxtla, 1 
Tuxpan and the Rio de Canoas, where the Spaniards 
were attacked by the natives of Cape Rojo ; then 
Grijalva, yielding to the entreaties of his soldiers, 
agreed to return to Cuba. 

Velasquez, fascinated beyond measure by the gold 
which Grijalva had obtained by barter, organized a 
third expedition consisting of " eleven ships great 
and small ", and appointed Hernan Cortes to com- 
mand it. Bernal again enlisted, as at this time he found 
himself much in debt. Cortes set out from the Port 
of Trinidad on the i8th February, 1519. The author 
had Started eight days earlier in the company of Pedro 
de Alvarado. All met together again at the Island of 
Cozumel, where a review was held, which showed 
a muster of five hundred and eight soldiers, " not 
including ship-masters, pilots, and seamen, who 
numbered one hundred and sixteen horses and mares ". 
Keeping on their course, they passed close by Cham- 
poton without venturing to land ; they Stopped at 
Tabasco, where they fought with the natives, who gave 
the author " an arrow wound in the thigh but it was 
not a severe wound ", and finally they arrived at Ultia. 

They went inland and marched to Cempoala and 
Quiahuiztlan, and in the neighbourhood of the latter 
they founded the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, and they 

1 Tliis is an error. Tuxtla was passed before reaching the Isla de 



determined to push on to Mexico, whose Prince, 
Motecuhzoma, 1 had been exciting their cupidity by 
rich presents of gold and other objects of value. 

Before undertaking this march, the friends of 
Cortes (one of whom was Bernal) advised him to 
destroy the ships, leSt any of the soldiers should 
mutiny and wish to return to Cuba, and so that he 
could make use of the ship-masters, pilots and seamen 
" who numbered nearly one hundred persons " as 
we have already Elated. When this had been done, 
" without concealment and not as the chronicler 
Gomara describes it ", they Started for Mexico in 
the middle of AuguSt, probably on the sixteenth, 
and passed without incident through Jalapa Xico- 
chimalco, Ixhuacan, Texutla, Xocotla, and Xala- 
cingo, but on reaching the frontiers of Tlaxcala they 
were flopped by the natives, who fought against them 
for several days. There the author received " two 
wounds, one on the head from a Stone, and the other 
an arrow wound in the thigh ", from which he was 
seriously ill in the Capital of Tlaxcala, after Cortes 
had made peace and an alliance with the inhabitants, 

"On the 1 2th Oftober " they continued their 
march by Cholula, where they committed a shocking 
massacre, Itzcalpan, Tlamanalco, and Itztapalatengo. 
Here Cacamatzin the Lord of Tetzcoco met them in 
royal State to welcome them in the name of Mote- 
cuhzoma, and they accompanied him along the 
causeway of Itztapalapa, which crossed the lake in 
a Straight line to Mexico, and from it could be seen 
on both sides innumerable " cities and towns," some 
in the water and others on dry land, all of them 
beautified by lately temples and palaces. This 
wonderful panorama, as pi&uresque as it was novel, 
made the deepeSt impression on Bernal and his 
companions, and he says, "we were amazed and 
1 Montezuma. 



said that it was like the enchantments they tell us of 
in the Story of Amadis,- on account of the great towers 
and cues * and buildings rising from the water, and 
all built of masonry. And some of our soldiers even 
asked whether the things that we saw were not all a 

When they reached the junction of the causeways 
of Itztapalapa and Coyohuacan they met many Caciques 
and Chieftains of importance coming in advance of 
Motecuhzoma, who received the Spaniards a little 
further on, almo& at the gates of Mexico, with 
sumptuous pomp and extreme ceremony. Many times 
the Mexican sovereign had contemplated attacking 
the Spaniards but weighted down by superstition and 
rendered powerless by a timid and vacillating character, 
he now condufted them into the great Tenochtitlan, 
only to deliver it up to them at once. The autocrat felt 
himself fatally conquered before beginning the 

Thence lep by lep within a few days he suffered 
seven Spaniards, among whom was Bernal, to make 
him a prisoner in his own palace ; he allowed his 
jailors to burn [to death] Quauhpopoca and other 
native chieftains, whose crime consisted in having, 
by his own orders, given battle to Juan de Escalante 
and other Spanish soldiers ; he handed over to 
Cortes Cacamatein, Totoquihuatzin, Cuitlahuac and 
Cuauhtemoc, lords respectively of Tetzcoco, Tlacopan, 
Itztapalapan and Tlatelolco, who wished to set their 
sovereign at liberty, and finally, weeping like a tender 
unhappy woman, he swore fealty to the King of 

With ease and in a short time Cortes was able to 
colleft an immense treasure which amounted to 
"seven hundred thousand gold dollars/' which he 

^ x Cue temple. This is not a Nahua or Maya word but one 
picked up by the Spaniards in the Antilles. 



found it necessary to divide among his soldiers ; 
nevertheless, he made the division with such trickery 
and cunning that there fell to the soldiers " a very 
small share, only one hundred dollars each, and it 
was so very little that many of the soldiers did not 
want to take it, and Cortes was left with it all." If 
the author did not complain of this as much as some 
of his companions, for example, as Cardenas, who even 
" fell ill from brooding and grief," it was owing to his 
having already received from Motecuhzoma some 
presents of "gold and cloths", as well as of "a 
beautiful Indian girl . . . the daughter of a chieftain",, 
whom he ventured to beg of the Sovereign through 
the good offices of the page Orteguilla, a gift which he 
certainly thought that he had gained by his respedtful 
courtesy " for whenever I was on guard over him, or 
passed before him, I doffed my helmet to him with 
the greatest respeft." 

The Spaniards began to enjoy the gold divided 
among them, abandoning themselves to a life of 
licentious pleasure, when in March, 1520, Panfilo de 
Narvaez arrived at Uliia with sixteen ships, 1 fourteen 
hundred soldiers, ninety crossbowmen, seventy 
musketeers, and eighty horses. 

Diego Velasquez had sent him to punish Cortes- 
and his followers as traitors, because they had rebelled 
against him without reason. However, as Cortes was 
immensely rich, and there is no power greater than 
riches, he soon won over almost all the soldiers of 
Narvaez with ingots and jewels of gold, in such a 
way that when the fight took place at Cempoala, 
Narvaez was the only man who fought in earnest, 
until he was wounded and loft an eye. The author 

1 The author says that there were nineteen, but the Oidor Lucas- 
Vasquez de Ayllon, who accompanied Narvaez, writes that there 
were sixteen (Hernan Cortes, Cart as y Relationes, Paris, 1866;. 
(p. 42 ).-G. G. 



iigures among his captors : " the firt to lay hands 
on him was Pedro Sanchez Farfan, a good soldier, 
and I handed him (Narvaez) over to Sandoval." 

After his viftory, Cortes returned with all speed 
to Mexico, where the inhabitants had risen in arms 
with the purpose of avenging the inhuman massacre 
carried out by Pedro de Alvarado in the precinfts 
of the great Teocalli, which Alonzo de Avila pro- 
nounced to be disgraceful, saying that it would for 
ever remain " an ill memory in New Spain ". Cortes 
now brought with him over thirteen hundred soldiers, 
eighty crossbowmen and as many musketeers, and 
ninety mounted men, without counting his numerous 
native allies. 

Although they all reached the great Tenochtitlan 
" on the day of San Juan de Junio (St John's Day) 
in the year 1520", they could not make a &and 
again& the Mexicans, who, under the command of 
Cuitlahuac and Cuauhtemoc, killed the greater number 
of the invaders and forced the reft, wounded and ruined, 
for they were unable to save the riches they had collected, 
to flee to Tlaxcala. The Tlaxcalans received them, 
lodged them and attended to them with affeftion. 
When they were somewhat recovered, the Spaniards 
began Vandal-like forays through Tepeyacac, Cachula, 
Guacachula, Tecamachalco, the town of the Guayabos, 
Ozticar, Xalacingo, Zacatami, and other places in the 
neighbourhood, enslaving and branding with a hot 
iron all the youths and women they met with ; " they 
did not trouble about the old men": the inhuman 
mark was placed " on the face ", and not even the 
moft beautiful young women escaped it. 

The author did not assist in all these forays because 
*' he was very ill from fever and was spitting 
blood." * * 

Cortes then founded a second city, which he named 
Segura de la Frontera. 



After the Spaniards had been reinforced by various 
expeditions that had come from Cuba 3 they resolved 
to return to Mexico to recover their loSt treasure, and 
they forthwith took the road to Tetzcoco. 

They took with them many thousands of native 

When the headquarters had been established at 
Tetzcoco, Cortes opened hostilities by an assault on 
Itztapalapa, where he and his followers nearly loSt 
their lives by drowning, for the Mexicans " bur& open 
the canals of fresh and salt water and tore down a 
causeway " : the author was " very badly wounded 
by a lance thruSt which they gave me in the throat 
near the windpipe, and I was in danger of dying from 
it, and retain the scar from it to this day/* 

Cortes did not think of a direft attack on Mexico, 
he understood that it could lead to no satisfactory 
result ; he proposed merely to invent the city and 
reduce it by Starvation ; so as to accomplish this he 
had entrusted to the Tlaxcalans the conStruftion of 
thirteen launches, which he anxiously awaited. 

Meanwhile, he attacked the neighbouring towns with 
fire and sword. The author did not join in these 
earlier combats as he was Still ill from his dangerous 
wound, but as soon as it healed, he again took up arms, 
and accompanied Cortes, who went to assiSt the natives 
of Chalco, and distinguished himself among the moSt 
intrepid soldiers. 

On his side, Cuauhtemoc, who was now Lord of 
Mexico, took measures for the defence of his country 
with unequalled courage ; he had obtained from his 
subjects a promise " that they would never make 
peace, but would either all die fighting or take our 

The Strife was remarkably prolonged and bloody, 
and no quarter was given. 

The siege began on the 2i& May, 1521, and laSted 



eighty-five days. Not for one moment did the Mexicans 
show signs of discouragement, notwithstanding the 
scarcity of fresh water and provisions, the superiority 
of the arms of the Spaniards, and the immense number 
of their native allies l ; each day as it came was for 
them as the firSt day of the Strife, so great was the 
determination and the Strength with which they 
appeared on the field of battle, and, moreover, they 
never ceased fighting " from dawn to dusk ". 

When the greater number of them had already 
perished, the few who ftill remained Stoically resisted 
thirSt, hunger, weariness, and pestilence in the defence 
of their country, and even then refused, with indomit- 
able fortitude, the proposals of peace which Cortes 
repeatedly made to them. In this manner only did 
they die. 

The army which was to attack the Mexicans by 
land . was divided from the beginning into three 
sections. It fell to the lot of the author to serve in 
that of Tlacopan, commanded by Pedro de Alvarado. 
Many times Bernal was in danger of losing his life, 
firSt of all when the siege had juSt been commenced ; 
a few days later when the Mexicans succeeded in 
seizing him, " many Indians had already laid hold of 
me, but I managed to get my arm free and our Lord 
Jesus ChriSt gave me llrength so that by some good 
sword thruSts that I gave them, I saved myself, but 
I was badly wounded in one arm " ; on another 
occasion they succeeded in taking him prisoner, but 
" it pleased God that I should escape from their 
power " ; and, finally, at the end of June on the day 

1 The author makes immoderate efforts to lessen the number 
of the allies, but Cortes informs us that there were " numberless 
people ", " an infinite number ", " which could not be counted ", 
that those that accompanied him alone numbered " more than one 
hundred and fifty thousand men." G. G. 



that Cortes suffered his terrible defeat, the author 
received " an arrow wound and a sword thrust ". 

The siege ended on the i3th August, 1521, with 
the capture of the north-eat corner of the city where 
the few surviving Mexicans till offered a heroic 



FOUR eye-witnesses of the discovery and conquest 
of Mexico have left -written records : 

Hernando Cortes^ who wrote five letters known as the 
Cartas de Relation to the Emperor Charles V. 

The Firft of these letters despatched from Vera 
Cruz, has never been found, but its place is supplied 
by a letter written to the Emperor at the same time 
by the Municipality of Vera Cruz, dated loth July, 

The Second letter, from Segura de la Frontera 
(Tepeaca), is dated 3Oth Oftober, 1520. 

The Third letter was written from Coyoacan, and 
dated 1 5th May, 1522. 

The Fourth letter was written from the city of 
Temixtitan (Mexico), and dated i^th Oftober, 

The Fifth letter, written from Temixtitan (Mexico), 
dated 3rd September, 1526, deals with the march 
to Honduras. 

The Anonymous Conqueror whose identity has never 
been ascertained. 

The original of this document is loft, and its 
contents are preserved to us in an Italian trans- 
lation. It deals only with the customs, arms, food, 
religion, buildings, etc., of the inhabitants of the 
city of Mexico, and adds nothing to our knowledge 
of events during the Conquest. 

Andres de Tafia,, whose short but interesting 
account of the expedition under Cortes ends with 
the defeat of Narvaez. 



This document was only brought to light during 
the la& century. 

Bernal Diaz del Cattillo, whose stirring and 
pi&uresque narrative is given in the following pages. 

To these may be added the Itinerario de Grijalva, 
an account written by the chaplain who accompanied 
Grijalva on his expedition when the coaft of Mexico 
was firt discovered ; but this account ends with 
the return of the expedition to Cuba, and does not 
deal with the con quell of the country. 

The original of this document has been lot, and 
it comes down to us in an Italian translation. If 
the title is corred, it muft have been written by the 
priest Juan Diaz who accompanied the expedition. 
It seems to be written in a hostile spirit, and its 
Statements should be received with caution. 

Many writers followed during the next forty 
years who had conversed with aftors in the events, 
and some of whom had heard the tory from the 
mouths of the conquered Indians, and much additional 
information was thus added to the record ; but 
for a vivid impression of this daring plunge into the 
unknown, and the triumphant Struggle of an isolated 
handful of Spaniards against a powerful and warlike 
race, we mut rely on the accounts given by those 
two great soldiers and adventurers, leader and follower, 
Hernando Cortes and Bernal Diaz del Castillo. 

The scene of the principal part of Bernal Diaz's 
narrative lies within the southern half of the present 
republic of Mexico, Western Central America and 
the peninsula of Yucatan, a land wholly within the 
tropics, which, however, owing to its physical conforma- 
tion, furnishes almost every variety of climate. 

A great range of volcanic mountains runs almost 
continuously through Mexico and the greater part 
of Central America, near the Pacific Coat and 
parallel to it. A second range of mountains not 



so continuous and ditin6t, runs almosl parallel to 
the Atlantic coat. The whole of the interior of the 
country between these two ranges may be said to be 
mountainous but intersected by many high-lying 
plains from 4,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, 
which form one of the mob characteristic features 
of the country. These plains are sometimes seamed 
with narrow barrancas' 1 hundreds of feet in depth, 
often with precipitous sides, caused by the washing 
away of the thick covering of light volcanic ash 
down to the bed rock. In common speech the 
land is divided into the tierra caliente^ the tierra 
tem-plada^ and the tierra fria, the hot, temperate and 
cold lands. As the slope of the mountains is rather 
more gradual towards the Atlantic than towards the 
Pacific, the tierra caliente is more extensive in the 
former direction. Three volcanic peaks, Orizaba, 
Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl, almost in the middle 
of Southern Mexico, rise above the line of perpetual 
snow and reach a height of about 17,000 feet, and 
several of the somewhat lower peaks are snow- 
capped during some months of the year. None of 
the rivers of Mexico wet of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec 
are navigable in the sense of being highways of com- 
mercial importance. Passing to the eat of the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec the country of Chiapas and Guatemala 
does not differ materially in its general charafteri&ics 
from that already described, with the exception that 
the rivers flowing into the Atlantic are relatively 
of greater importance, and the waters of the Usu- 
macinta and Grijalva form innumerable lagoons and 
swamps before entering the Gulf of Mexico. 

North and we& of the Usumacinta and its tributaries, 

the land, with the exception of the Cockscomb range 

in British Honduras, is all low, and the peninsula 

of Yucatan appears to be little more than a coral reef 

1 Canyons, ravines. 



slightly raised above sea level. There are no rivers, 
for the rain sinks easily through the porous limestone 
rock, and the natives have often to seek their drinking 
water 100 feet or more below the surface in the great 
cenotes (tznotes) or limestone caverns. 

The sea round the north and weft coaft of the 
peninsula is very shallow, the 100 fathom line 
being in some parts as much as ninety miles distant 
from the shore. 

The wet season in Mexico and Central America 
may (subjeft to local variations) be said to extend 
from June to Oftober, but it lafts somewhat longer 
on the Atlantic than on the Pacific slope. During 
these months the rainfall is often very heavy, the 
States of Tabasco and Vera Cruz probably receiving 
the larger amount. 

During the winter months occasional ftrong cold 
gales sweep the Gulf of Mexico from the North, 
the dreaded None so often mentioned in Bernal 
Diaz's narrative. This wind causes some discomfort 
even on the high plateau of the tterra templada, which, 
notwithstanding this drawback, may safely be said 
to possess one of the moft perfect climates in the world. 

The firft question always asked regarding the 
Conquest is : " Who were the Mexicans, and how 
did they get to Mexico ? " and to these questions 
no certain answer can be given. All that can be 
said is that the whole American race, although it 
may have originated from more than one ftock, reached 
America in a very early ftage of human development, 
and that the Nahua tribes to which Mexicans belong 
came from the north-weft coaft, which is generally 
assumed to have been the earlieft home of the American 
race. Whether the people came from Asia at a time 
when the Northern continents were continuous is a 
queftion not easily settled, but if such were the case, 
the migration muft have taken place before the 



cultivation of cereal crops or the smelting of iron 
ore was known to the Northern Asiatics, for no iron 
implements were found in America, and no cereal 
was found there that was known in the East, the only 
cereal cultivated in America being the Indian corn 
or maize, and this is clearly of indigenous origin. 

It is, therefore, not necessary to consider further 
such a very distant connection, if such existed, between 
the extreme eaft and weft. 

There is, of course, the possibility of isolated 
drifts from Asia to America ; several instances of 
Polynesians having drifted in their canoes almost 
incredible distances in the Pacific are on record, 
and derelift junks have been known to reach the coaft 
of America ; but the survivors of such drifts, although 
they may have introduced a new game or some slight 
modification of an existing art, are not likely to have 
affefted very materially the development of American 

The waves of migration from north to south > 
due probably to pressure of population or search 
for supplies of food, muft necessarily have been 
intermittent and irregular, and muft have been 
broken up by numerous cross currents due to natural 
obstacles. It seems natural to speak of a wave of 
migration, and to treat it as though it followed the 
laws governing a flow of water ; but to make the 
simile more complete we mut imagine not a flow 
of water, but of a fluid liable to marked chemical 
change due to its surroundings, which here may 
slowly crystallize into a Stable form, and there may 
boil over with noticeable energy, redissolving adjacent 
crystals and mixing again with a neighbouring 
Stream. There is no reason to suppose that this 
process had not been going on in America as long 
as it had in other parts of the world, but there we are 
often helped to understand the process by written 



or carved records, which go back for hundreds and 
even thousands of years, whereas in America written 
records are almost non-exitant, and carved records 
are confined to a small area, and both are almost 

In Mexico and Central America accepted tradition 
appears to begin with the arrival of the Toltecs, 
a branch of the Nahua race, and hi&ory with that 
of the later Nahua tribes, but as to who the people 
were whom the Toltecs found in possession of the 
country, tradition is silent. 

The commonly accepted tory is that the Toltecs, 
whose capital was at Tula, were a people of con- 
siderable civilization, who, after imparting some- 
thing of their culture to ruder Nahua hordes that 
followed them from the North, themselves migrated 
to Guatemala and Yucatan, where they built the 
great temples and carved the monuments which 
have been so often described by modern travellers. 
I am not, however, myself able to accept this explana- 
tion of the fafts known to us. The monuments 
and architectural remains of Guatemala and Yucatan 
are undoubtedly the work of the Mayas, who, although 
nearly related to the Nahuas, are admitted to be a 
di&inft race, speaking a different language ; and I am 
inclined to believe that the Maya race formerly 
inhabited a considerable portion of Central and Southern 
Mexico, and it is to it that we must give credit for 
Tula, Cholula, and, possibly, Teotehuacan, all lying 
within Central Mexico, as well as for the highelt 
culture ever attained by natives on the continent of 
North America. 

Driven from their Mexican homes by the pressure 
of Nahua immigrants, they doubtless took refuge 
in the high lands of Chiapas and Guatemala, and along 
the banks of the Rivers Usumacinta and Motagua, 
and pressed on as far as the present frontier of Guate- 



mala and Honduras ; but it muft be admitted that, 
so far, no account of this migration and settlement 
is known to us. 

Once settled in Central America, the Mayas would 
have held a Strong defensive position againft Nahua 
invaders, for they were protefted on the Gulf side 
by the intricate swamps and waterways which Cortes 
found so much difficulty in crossing on his march 
to Honduras, and on the land side by the mountain 
ranges which rise abruptly to the ea& of the Ifthmus 
of Tehuantepec. The passes through the great volcanic 
barrier which runs parallel to the Pacific Coa& could 
have been easily defended, while a road was left open 
along the lowlands between the mountains and the 
sea, of which the Nahua hordes apparently availed 
themselves, for Nahua names and dialefts are found 
as far eaft as Nicaragua. 

Judging from the architectural remains and the 
sculptured Atones, it may be safely assumed that it 
was in Central America that the Mayas reached the 
highest point of their culture, and that they there 
developed their peculiar script. No Maya hiero- 
glyphic inscriptions have yet been found in Central 
Mexico, and it is only within the last few years that 
attention has been called to what appears to be a 
somewhat crude form of Maya script unearthed as 
far weft as Monte Alban in the State of Oaxaca. 

I am further inclined to believe, that after some 
centuries of peaceful development had elapsed, 
the Maya defence failed, and that the people were 
again driven from their homes by invaders from the 
north-weft, and leaving Chiapas and Guatemala, 
took refuge in Yucatan, where they founded Chichen- 
Itza, Uxmal and the numerous towns whose ruins 
may Still be seen throughout the northern part of the 
peninsula. It is worthy of note that weapons of 
war are almost entirely absent from the Central 



American sculptures, and at Copan one of the moft 
important sculptured figures is that of a woman, 
whereas in Yucatan every man is depiftured as a 
warrior with arms in his hands, and the only repre- 
sentation of a woman known to me is in a mural 
painting at Chichen-Itza, where the women land 
among the houses of a beleagured town, apparently 
bewailing their fate, while the battle rages outside. 

At the time of the Spanish conqueft the highlands 
of Guatemala were held by tribes of the Maya 
Quiche race, who were probably descendants of the 
Mayas and their Nahua conquerors, and were of an 
entirely lower Standard of culture than the pure 

Yucatan was Still Maya, but the influence of its 
powerful Nahua neighbours was Strongly felt, and 
civil wars had caused the destruction and abandon- 
ment of mot of the old towns. 

There is yet one Maya area which has so far not 
been mentioned, the land of the Huastecs around 
the mouth of the Rio Panuco (the river dividing the 
modern States of Vera Cruz and Tamaulipas). It seems 
probable that the Huaftecs, and possibly also their 
neighbours the Totonacs, were the remnant of the 
Maya race left behind when the main body was 
driven to the south-eaL If they were a Maya colony 
from the south, as has sometimes been asserted, they 
would certainly have brought with them the Maya script, 
but no Maya hieroglyphs have, so far as I know, ever 
been found in the Huatec country. If, however, they 
were a remnant left behind when the Mayas migrated 
to the south-ea&, we should not expeft to find the 
Maya script in their country, for if my assumption 
is correft, at the time of the migration that script 
had not yet been developed. It should be noted 
that Tula, the reputed capital of the Toltecs, Elands 
on the head waters of the Rio Panuco, and it may 



be that if such people existed, on occupying Tula 
they acquired something of the Maya culture, and 
thus gained their reputation of great builders and 
the teachers of the later Nahua immigrants. 

The exaft reason for the disappearance of the 
easier races who inhabited Mexico, and of the 
abandonment of the Central American cities, may 
never be known, but religious differences cannot be 
left out of the question, and one way of regarding 
the change is as the triumph of the ruthless and 
sanguinary War God Huitzilopochtli over the mild 
and civilizing cult of Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan, 
Were I asked to give definitely all my reasons in 
support of the foregoing Statements, which differ 
very considerably from those made by such a recent 
authority as Mr Payne in his history of the American 
people, I muSt own that I should be at a loss how to 
do so. However, I think it will be admitted by all 
Students of the subjeft that we are a very long way 
indeed from having collefted and sifted all the 
evidence procurable, and until the architecture, sculp- 
ture and other remains of the very numerous ruined 
towns which may be found throughout the country 
are more carefully Studied and classified, and until the 
inscriptions have been deciphered, we muSt put up 
with such working hypotheses as may beSl enable us 
to group such information as has already been 

In my own case, a somewhat intimate acquaintance 
with the sculptures and ruined buildings both in 
Central America and Mexico has left impressions 
on my mind as to their relation to one another which 
it is not always easy to express in definite terms. In 
another place 1 I have given my reasons for believing 
that the ruined towns of Central America, and probably 

1 A Glimpse at Guatemala (London, 1899). 
2 9 


the majority of those of Yucatan, had been abandoned 
by their inhabitants long before the Spanish conquest, 
and consequently the Spaniards are not responsible 
for the amount of damage that is sometimes attributed 
to them. 

In the bory of Bernal Diaz we shall meet w;th 
the Mayas in the early pages describing the dis- 
covery of Yucatan and the passage of the three 
expeditions along the coat of the peninsula, and then 
again we shall come in touch with them after the 
conquest of Mexico on Cortes' journey across the 
base of the peninsula to Honduras. 

No attempt was made to subdue the Mayas until 
1527, six years after the fall of Mexico, and such 
redoubtable warriors did they prove themselves to 
be that, although Francisco de Montejo landed his 
forces and marched right across the northern part 
of the peninsula, he was eventually obliged to retreat, 
and by 1535 every Spaniard was driven out of the 
country. It was not until 1547 that the Spaniards 
brought the Mayas into subjection. 

To turn now to the time of the Spanish conquest 
we find Mexico peopled by a number of different 
tribes more or less nearly alike in habits and customs, 
and not differing greatly from each other in race, but 
speaking different languages and dialefts. Some 
of these people or tribes, such as the Zapotecs and 
Mixtecs of Oaxaca and the Tarascos of Michoacan, 
extended over a considerable extent of country ; they 
were not, however, homogeneous nations afting 
under the direction of one chief or of a governing 
council. The township or -pueblo appears to have been 
the unit of society, and the pueblos of the same race 
and speech afted together when compelled by necessity 
to do so, as it will be seen that the Tlaxcalans a&ed 
together owing to the continued hostility of the 
Mexicans. The main faftor in the situation at the 



time when the Spaniards landed was the dominance 
of the Pueblo of Tenochtitlan or Mexico. 

The Mexicans or Alecs were a people of Nahua 
race who, after many years of wandering on their 
way from the North, finally settled in the high plain 
or valley, which till retains their name. For some 
years they appear to have been almoSt enslaved by 
other tribes of the Nahua race, who had already 
settled in the valley, and it was not until the fourteenth 
century that they established their home on the two 
small muddy islands of Tlatelulco and Tenochtitlan 
in the Great Lake. 

By their own warlike prowess and diplomatic 
alliances with neighbouring towns they gradually 
increased in power until they gained the hegemony 
of the tribes and peoples of the valley, and then 
carried their warlike enterprises into distant parts 
of the country, even as far as Tabasco and Guatemala. 
In fact, they became the head of a military and predatory 
empire, dependent for their food, as well as their 
wealth, on tribute drawn from subjeft tribes and races. 
They were not a civilizing power, and as long as the 
tribute was paid, they did not appear to concern them- 
selves with the improvement of the local government of 
their dependencies. The education of the sons and 
daughters of the upper classes was carefully attended 
to under the direction of the priesthood, but, as was 
only natural in a society so constituted, soldierly 
qualities were those mol valued in the men, and 
the higheSt reward went to those who showed the 
greatest personal bravery in battle. 

As the field of tribute extended, and wealth accumu- 
lated, the office of the principal Cacique 1 of Mexico, 
who was also the natural leader of their armies, rose 
in importance and dignity ; and we learn from the 

1 Catique Is the term usually employed by tlie Spaniards as 
equivalent to chief or king. It is not a Mexican but a Cuban word. 

3 1 


narrative that Montezuma, who was the ninth in 
succession of the great Caciques of Mexico, was treated 
by his people with more than royal ceremonial. 

The arms and armour of all the Indian tribes 
appear to have been nearly alike, and they are often 
described by the conquerors, and are shown in the 
native pifture writings that have come down to us. 
They are the 

Macana or Maquahuitl, called by the Spaniards 
a sword, a flat blade of wood three to four feet long, 
and three inches broad, with a groove along either 
edge, into which sharp-edged pieces of flint or obsidian 
were inserted, and firmly fixed with some adhesive 

Bows and ftone-tipped arrows. 


Long Spears with heads of tone or copper. 

Javelins made of wood with points hardened in 
the fire (varas toftadas). These javelins, which were 
much dreaded by the Spaniards, were hurled from an 
Atlatl or throwing tick (tiradera}. 

It is worth noting that no bows or arrows are shown 
on any of the Maya sculptures, but in the ftone 
carvings in Yucatan (on which weapons are always 
prominent) all the men are represented as armed with 
short spears or javelins and an AtlatL 

It may be that bows and arrows were unknown to 
the Mayas, until they were introduced by the Nahua 
races. 1 

The defensive armour consisted of padded and 
quilted cotton worn on the arms or body a pro- 
teftion which the Spaniards themselves ha&ened to 
adopt and shields, usually round shields made of 

1 I cannot call to mind any Mexican or Central American sculpture 
showing bows and arrows. Suck representations appear to be confined 
to the lienzos (painted cloths) and picture writings, but I am not now 
able to verify this Statement. 



wicker and covered with hide or other material, and 
often beautifully decorated. Sometimes they were 
oblong in shape, and large enough to cover the whole 
body ; these latter could be folded up when not in 
use. Head-dresses or helmets, usually in the form 
of grotesque animals' heads, were used by the 
Chieftains and feathers were freely used in decoration, 
both in the form of beautiful feather patterns worked 
into cotton fabrics or as penachos> lofty head-dresses of 
feathers supported on a light wood or reed framework. 

A Mexican army in battle array muft have been 
both a beautiful and imposing speAacle, a blaze of 
colour and barbaric splendour. 

This is not the place to discuss fully the moral 
aspects of the Conquest, but in considering the 
conduft of the Conquiftadores and their leader we muft 
always keep in mind the traditions that influenced 
them and the laxity of the moral code of the time 
in which they lived. Some of the Spaniards had 
served in Italy under Gonsalvo de Cordova, el gran 
Capitan^ and may have seen Caesar Borgia himself 
what can we expeft from such associations ? All 
of them were adventurers seeking for wealth ; some, 
no doubt, were free-booting vagabonds who would 
have been a pet in any community. The wonder of 
it all is that Cortes with no authority from the Crown 
and only a few ardent partisans to support him, could 
have kept the control of such a company for so long. 
He dared to cheat these men out of part of their hard- 
earned spoil that he might have gold with which to 
bribe the leaders of the force which he mu& always 
have known would be sent in pursuit of him. When 
the city fell he allowed Guatemoc to be tortured to 
force him to disclose the supposed secret of where his 
treasure was hidden could even his authority have 
prevented it ? It would have been a splendid aft of 
heroism had he made the attempt ; but we mut 



think of the disappointed men around him, with the 
terrible Strain of the siege suddenly relaxed, and all 
their hopes of riches dissipated. Then there is the 
greatest blot of all on Cortes' career, the execution of 
Guatemoc during the march to Honduras ; no one 
can help feeling that it was wrong, but there is nothing 
to show that the reason advanced by Cortes was not 
a good one. It was only too probable that the Mexicans 
longing to return to their homes, were plotting againft 
the Spaniards to efFeft it. Had such a plot been 
successful the Spaniards were inevitably loft. That 
Cortes was not in a tate of mind propitious to the 
careful weighing of evidence may at once be admitted ; 
a long, dangerous and toilsome march through a 
tropical forest is not conducive to unruffled temper. 
However, the execution of Guatemoc, if it was an 
error, may have been more ditinftly an error than a 

From our point of view the Spaniards were cruel 
and ruthless enough ; an army of unbaptized Indians 
was no more to them than a herd of swine, but their 
callous cruelty can be no more surprising to us than 
their childlike belief in the miraculous power of the 
images and crosses which they substituted for the 
native idols, or their firm belief in the teaching of their 
Church, which did not admit that an Indian had the 
rights of a human being until he was baptized. 

Neither in the sixteenth nor the twentieth century 
would troops that have seen their companions-in- 
arms captured and led to execution to grace the 
festival of a heathen god, and afford material for a 
cannibal feast, be likely to treat their enemies with 
much consideration, but the fate of the vanquished 
Mexicans was humane to what it would have been 
had the viftors been Tlaxcalans or other tribes of their 
own race and religion. 

These concluding remarks are not made with the 



intention of whitewashing the charafter of the 
Conquiftadores^ their faults are sufficiently evident, 
but to impress on the reader the necessity of taking 
all the faftors of the case into consideration when 
forming a judgment. 

The bravery of the Indians was magnificent, and 
their courage and endurance during the lat days of 
the siege of Mexico is unrivalled, but Bernal Diaz's 
narrative is written from the Spanish point of view, 
and it is on the conduft of the Spaniards alone that I 
feel the need of making any comment. 

The charafter of Bernal Diaz himself shows clearly 
enough in his tory ; it is that of a lovable old soldier 
such as novelists have delighted to portray in 
Napoleon's " Old Guard ", simple, enduring, 
splendidly courageous and unaffectedly vain. 

Censure without tint has been heaped on Cortes 
and his followers for their treatment of the Indians, 
but no one has ever ventured to question the spirit 
and resource of that great leader nor the daring 
courage and endurance shown both by him and his 

I gladly take this opportunity of thanking Don 
Genaro Garcia for permission to make the Translation 
from his Edition of the True Hitforyznd for his unfailing 
courtesy and encouragement during the progress of 
the work, and of thanking Don Jose Romero of the 
Mexican Foreign Office for the loan of books of 
reference from his valuable collection and for other 
afts of kindness. 



GREAT difficulty has arisen over the spelling of the Indian names 
of persons and places. In the original text a native name has often 
several variants, and each one of these may differ from the more 
generally-accepted form. 

In the Translation a purely arbitrary course has been adopted, 
but it is one which will probably prove more acceptable to the general 
reader. Such words as Montezuma (Motecuhzoma) and Huichilobos 
(Huitzilopochtli) are spelt as Bernal Diaz usually spells them ; others, 
such as Gua9acalco, which occurs in the text in at leaft three different 
forms, has in the Translation always been given in the more generally- 
accepted form of Coatzacoalcos. 

Spanish names are always printed in the Translation in the generally- 
accepted forms : thus Xpvl de Oli of the test is printed as Cri&6bal 
de Olid. The names of certain Spanish offices, such as Alguacil, 
Regidor, are retained in the Translation, as well as the " Fraile (or 
Padre) de la Merced " for the " Friar of the Order of Mercy ", but all 
foreign words used in the Translation are printed in italics when 
they firft occur, and are referred to in foot-notes. 

Square brackets [ ] enclose words inserted by the Translator. 

Notes to the Mexican Edition of 1904, edited by S r Don Genaro 
Garcia, are marked " G. G." 

The Chapters have been divided into Books with sub-headings 
by the Translator for convenience of reference. No such division 
or sub-headings exift in the original Manuscript or in S r Garcfa's 
Mexican edition. 



8th Feb., 1517 

Sunday, day of San 

(Return Voyage) 

Santiago de Cuba 

Axaruco (Jaruco) 

Gran Cairo, Yucatan (near Cape Catoche) 

Campecne (San Lazaro) 

Champoton (or Potonchan) 

Estero de los Lagartos 


Los Martires The Shoals of the Martyrs 

Puerto de Carenas (the modern Havana) 


8th April, 1518 

The day of Santa 
Cruz, 3rd May 

Santiago de Cuba 


Puerto de Carenas (Havana) 

Cape San Anton 

Cozumel (Santa Cruz) 

Bakia de la. Ascencion 


Boca de Terminos (Puerto 

Deseado or P. Real) 
Rio de Grijalva (Tabasco) 
Sighted Ayagualulco (La 

Sighted Rio de TonaM (San 


Sighted Rio de Coatzacoalcos 
Sighted Sierra de San Martin 
Rio de Papaloapan (Rio de 

Alvarado) and Tlacotlalpan 
Rio de Banderas (Rio Jamapa) 
Sighted Isla Blanca and Isla 

Isla de Sacrificios 


1 8 April, 1518 
22 April, 1518 
i May 
3-1 1 May 

13-16 May 
25-28 May 
3 1 May to 5 June 

711 June 

17 June 


St John's 
24th June 

day, San Juan de Ulua 

Return Voyage 

Sighted the Sierra de Tuxpan 

Rio de Canoas (R. Tanguijo) 


Sighted Rio de Coatzacoalcos 

Rio de Tonala (San Anton) 

Puerto de Terminal 

Puerto Deseado 

Small island near Champoton 


Bajosde Sisal '(?) 

Rio de Lagartos 

Conil near Cape Catocke 

Sighted Cuba 

Puerto de Carenas (Havana) 


Santiago de Cuba 

18-24 June 

28 June 

9J ul 7 
12-20 July 
17-22 August 
I September 
3 September 
5-8 September 
1 1- 1 2 September 
14-15 September 
21 September 

29 September 

30 September 
4 October 

1 5 November x 


Santiago de Cuba 1 8th Nov., 1518 

Sailed from Trinidad January, 1519 

loth Feb., 1519 Sailed from (San Cristobal ?) de loth Feb., 1519 
Havana on the South Coast 
near Batabano 

Sailed from Cape San Anton nth Feb., 1519 

Sailed from Cozumel 5th March 

Sailed from Punta de las Mujeres 6th March 
Returned to Cozumel 

4th March Sailed from Cozumel ijth March 

Boca de Terminos 

1 2th March 2 Arrived at Rio de Grijalva or 22nd March 


2 5 th March, Battle of Cin tla 2 5 th March 

Lady Day 

Palm Sunday Sailed from Santa Maria de la 1 8th April 


Holy Thursday Arrived at San Juan de Ulua 2ist April, Holy 

Thursday ' 

1 See Padre Agustin Rivera, Anales Mexicanos> vol. i, p. 47. 

2 This is clearly an error. 



In the above Itineraries the dates given by Bernal Diaz, which 
are few in number, are placed on the left. 

Orozco y Berra (Hifl. Antigua^ vol. iv) has compiled an account 
of the voyage, with dates, from many sources, including " The 
Itinerario ", Oviedo, Las Casas, Herrera, Gomara, etc. These dates 
will be found on the right-hand column. 

Pkces not mentioned by Bernal Diaz as shopping-places of the 
expedition are printed in italics. 





I, BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, citizen and Regidor of 
the moft loyal city of Santiago de Guatemala, one of 
the firt discoverers and conquerors of New Spain 
and its provinces, and the Cape of Honduras and all 
that lies within that land, a Native of the very noble 
and distinguished town of Medina del Campo, and 
the son of its former Regidor,, Francisco Diaz del 
Castillo, who was also called " The graceful " (may 
his soul re& in glory), speak about that which concerns 
myself and all the true conquerors my companions 
who served His Majefby by discovering, conquering, 
pacifying, and settling mol of the provinces of New 
Spain, and that it is one of the bet countries yet 
discovered in the New World, we found out by our 
own efforts without His Majesty knowing anything 
about it. 

In the year 1514, there went out as Governor of 
Tierra-firme, 1 a gentleman named Pedrarias Davila. 
I agreed to go with him to his Government and the 
country conquered by him, and we arrived at Nombre 
de Dios, for so it was named. 

Some three or four months after the settlement was 
formed, there came a pestilence from which many 

1 Tierra-firme = the Spanish. Main. 


soldiers died, and in addition to this, all the reft of us 
fell ill and suffered from bad ulcers on the legs. Then 
disputes arose between the Governor and a nobleman 
named Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the captain, who had 
conquered that province, to whom Pedrarias Davila 
had given his daughter in marriage. But it seems that 
after marriage, he grew suspicious of his son-in-law, 
believing that he would rise in rebellion and lead a 
body of soldiers towards the South Sea, so he gave 
orders that Balboa should have this throat cut and 
certain of the soldiers should be punished. 

As we were witnesses of what I have related, and of 
other revolts among the captains, and as the news 
reached us that the Island of Cuba had lately been 
conquered and settled, and that a gentleman named 
Diego Velasquez, who was my kinsman, had been 
made Governor of the Island, some of us gentlemen 
and persons of quality, who had come out with 
Pedrarias Davila, made up our minds to ask him to 
give us permission to go to Cuba, and he willingly 
did so. 

As soon as leave was granted we embarked in a good 
ship and with fair weather reached the Island of Cuba. 
On landing we went at once to pay our respefts to 
the Governor, who was pleased at our coming, and 
promised to give us Indians as soon as there were any 
to spare. I was then twenty-four years old. 

When three years had gone by, counting both the 
time we were in Tierra-firme and that which we had 
passed in the Island of Cuba, and it became evident 
that we were merely wafting out time, one hundred 
and ten of us got together, moft of us comrades who 
had come from Tierra-firme, and the other Spaniards 
of Cuba who had had no Indians assigned to them, 
and we made an agreement with a gentleman named 
Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, that he should be 
our leader, for he was well fitted for the poft, and that 



we should try our fortune in seeking and exploring 
new lands where we might find employment. 

With this objeft in view, we purchased three ships, 
two of them of good capacity, and the third, a bark, 
bought on credit from the Governor, Diego Velasquez, 
on the condition that all of us soldiers should go in the 
three vessels to some islands lying between Cuba and 
Honduras, which are now called the Islands of the 
Guanajes, 1 and make war on the natives and load 
the vessels with Indians, as slaves, with which to pay 
him for his bark. However, as we soldiers knew that 
what Diego Velasquez asked of us was not just, we 
answered that it was neither in accordance with the 
law of God nor of the king, that we should make free 
men slaves. When he saw that we had made up our 
minds, he said that our plan to go and discover new 
countries was better than his, and he helped us in 
providing food for our voyage. 

To return to my tory, we now found ourselves with 
three ships Stored with Cassava bread, which is made 
from a root, and we bought some pigs which cost 
three dollars apiece, for in those days there were neither 
sheep nor cattle in the Island of Cuba, for it was only 
beginning to be settled, and we added a supply of oil, 
and bought beads and other things of small value to 
be used for barter. We then sought out three pilots, 
of whom the chief, who took charge of the fleet, was 
called Anton de Alaminos a native of Palos. We 
also engaged the necessary number of sailors and 
procured the beb supply that we could afford of 
ropes, cordage, cables, and anchors, and casks for 
water and other things needed for the voyage, and 
this all to our own co&. 

When all the soldiers were mustered, we set out for 
a port on the North coaft. In order that our voyage 

1 Roatan, Bonacca, etc. Isknds near the coaft of Honduras. 



should proceed on right principles we wished to take 
with us a priest named Alonso Gonzalez, and he 
agreed to come with us. We also chose for the office 
of Fee dor' 1 (in his Majesty's name) a soldier named 
Bernaldino Yniguez, so that if God willed that we 
should come on rich lands, or people who possessed 
gold or silver or pearls or any other kind of treasure, 
there should be a responsible person to guard the 
Royal Fifth. 

After all was arranged we set out on our voyage in 
the way I will now relate. 


ON the eighth day of the month of February in the year 
fifteen hundred and seventeen, we left the port on 
the North coat, and in twelve days we doubled Cape 
San Antonio. When we had passed this Cape we were 
in the open sea, and trusting to luck we Steered towards 
the setting sun, knowing nothing of the depth of 
water, nor of the currents, nor of the winds which 
usually prevail in that latitude, so we ran great risk 
of our lives, when a torm Struck us which lasted two 
days and two nights, and raged with such Strength 
that we were nearly lot. When the weather moderated, 
we kept on our course, and twenty-one days after 
leaving port, we sighted land, at which we rejoiced 
greatly and gave thanks to God. This land had never 
been discovered before, and no report of it had reached 
us. From the ships we could see a large town ^landing 
back about two leagues from the coa&, and as we had 
never seen such a large town in the Island of Cuba nor 
in Hispaniola, we named it the Great Cairo. 

We arranged that the two vessels which drew the 
leat water should go in as near as possible to the 

1 Fee dor = overseer. 

4 6 


Coaft, to examine the land and see if there was any 
anchorage near the shore. On the morning of the 
4th March, we saw ten large canoes, called piraguas, 
full of Indians from the town, approaching us with 
oars and sails. The canoes were large ones made like 
hollow troughs cleverly cut out from huge single logs, 
and many of them would hold forty Indians. 

They came close to our ships, and we made signs 
of peace to them, beckoning with our hands and 
waving our cloaks to induce them to come and speak 
to us, although at the time we had no interpreters who 
could speak the languages of Yucatan and Mexico. 
They approached quite fearlessly and more than 
thirty of them came on board the flagship, and we 
gave them each a present of a ftring of green beads, 
and they passed some time examining the ships. 
The chief man among them, who was a Cacique, 
made signs to us that they wished to embark in their 
canoes and return to their town, and that they would 
come back again another day with more canoes in 
which we could go ashore. 

These Indians were clothed in cotton shirts made 
like jackets, and covered their persons with a narrow 
cloth, and they seemed to us a people superior to the 
Cubans, for the Cuban Indians go about naked, 
only the women wearing a cloth reaching to the thighs. 

The next morning the same Cacique returned to 
the ships and brought twelve large canoes, with Indian 
rowers, and with a cheerful face and every appearance 
of friendliness, made signs that we should go to his 

He kept on saying in his language, " cones catoche ", 
" cones catoche ", which means " come to my houses ", 
and for that reason we called the land Cape Catoche, 
and it is H11 so named on the charts. 

When our captain and the soldiers saw the friendly 
overtures the chief was making to us, we agreed to 



lower the boats from our ships, and in the vessel of 
lea draught, and in the twelve canoes, to go ashore 
all together, and because we saw that the shore was 
crowded with Indians from the town, we arranged to 
land all of us at the same moment. When the Cacique 
saw us all on shore, but showing no intention of going 
to his town, he again made signs to our captain that 
we should go with him to his houses, and he showed 
such evidence of peace and good-will, that we decided 
to go on, and we took with us fifteen crossbows and 
ten muskets, so with the Cacique as our guide, we 
began our march along the road, accompanied by 
many Indians. 

We moved on in this way until we approached some 
brush-covered hillocks, when the Cacique began to 
shout and call out to some squadrons of warriors who 
were lying in ambush ready to fall upon us and kill us. 
On hearing the Cacique's shouts, the warriors 
attacked us in great hate and fury, and began to shoot 
with such skill that the firt flight of arrows wounded 
fifteen soldiers. 

These warriors wore armour made of cotton reaching 
to the knees and carried lances and shields, bows and 
arrows, slings and many Atones. 

After the flight of arrows, the warriors, with their 
feathered crests waving, attacked us hand to hand, and 
iurling their lances with all their might, they did us 
much damage. However, thank God, we soon put 
them to flight when they felt the sharp edge of our 
swords, and the eflfeft of our guns and crossbows, 
and fifteen of them fell dead. 

A short distance ahead of the place where they 
attacked us, was a small plaza with three houses built 
of masonry, which served as cues and oratories. 
These houses contained many pottery Idols, some 
with the faces of demons and others with women's 



Within the houses were some small wooden cheats, 
and in them were some other Idols, and some little 
discs made partly of gold but more than half of copper, 
and some necklaces and three diadems, and other 
small objefts in the form of fish and others like the 
ducks of the country, all made of inferior gold. 

When we had seen the gold and the houses of 
masonry, we felt well content at having discovered 
such a country. 

In these skirmishes we took two Indians prisoners, 
and later on, when they were baptized, one was named 
Julian and the other Melchior, both of them were 
cross-eyed. When the fight was over we returned to 
our ships, and as soon as the wounded were cared for, 
we set sail. 


WE travelled with the greatest caution, sailing 
along the coat by day only, and anchoring by night. 
After voyaging in this manner for fifteen days, we 
descried from the ship, what appeared to be a large 
town, and we thought that there might be a river or 
Stream there, where we could provide ourselves with 
water of which we had great need, because the casks 
and other vessels which we had brought with us, 
were not watertight. 

We agreed to approach the shore in the smallest 
of the vessels, and in the three boats, with all our arms 
ready, so as not to be caught as we had been at Cape 

In these roadsteads and bays the water shallows 
very considerably at low tide, so that we had to leave 
our ships anchored more than a league from the shore. 



We went ashore near the town which is called 
Campeche, where there was a pool of good water, 
for as far as we had seen there were no rivers in this 
country. We landed the casks, intending to fill them 
with water, and return to our ships. When the casks 
were full, and we were ready to embark, a company 
of about fifty Indians, clad in good cotton mantles, 
came out in a peaceful manner from the town, and 
asked us by signs what it was we were looking for, and 
we gave them to understand that we had come for 
water, and wished to return at once to our ships. 
They then made signs with their hands to find out 
whether we came from the direction of the sunrise, 
repeating the word " Catilan " " Ca&ilan " and 
we did not underhand what they meant by.Catilan. 
They then asked us by signs to go with them to their 
town, and we decided to go with them, keeping well 
on the alert and in good formation. 

They led us to some large houses very well built of 
masonry, which were the Temples ot their Idols, and 
on the walls were figured the bodies of many great 
serpents and other pictures of evil-looking Idols. 
These walls surrounded a sort of Altar covered with 
clotted blood. On the other side of the Idols were 
symbols like crosses, and all were coloured. At all 
this we tood wondering, as they were things never 
seen or heard of before. 

It seemed as though certain Indians had ju offered 
sacrifices to their Idols so as to ensure viftory over us. 
However, many Indian women moved about us, 
laughing, and with every appearance of good will, 
but the Indians gathered in such numbers that we 
began to fear that there might be some trap set for us, 
as at Catoche. While this was happening, many other 
Indians approached us, wearing very ragged mantles 
and carrying dry reeds, which they deposited on the 
plain, and behind them came two squadrons of Indian 



archers in cotton armour, carrying lances and shields, 
slings and Clones, and each captain drew up his 
squadron at a short distance from where we stood. 
At that moment, there sallied from another house, 
which was an oratory of their Idols, ten Indians clad 
in long white cotton cloaks, reaching to their feet, 
and with their long hair reeking with blood, and so 
matted together, that it could never be parted or even 
combed out again, unless it were cut. These were the 
priests of the Idols, and they brought us incense of a 
sort of resin which they call copal, and with pottery 
braziers full of live coals, they began to fumigate us, 
and by signs they made us understand that we should 
quit their land before the firewood which they had piled 
up there should burn out, otherwise they would attack us 
and kill us. After ordering fire to be put to the reeds, 
the priests withdrew without further speech. Then 
the warriors who were drawn up in battle array began 
to whittle and sound their trumpets and drums. 
When we perceived their menacing appearance and 
saw great squadrons of Indians bearing down on us 
we remembered that we had not yet recovered from 
the wounds received at Cape Catoche, and had been 
obliged to throw overboard the bodies of two soldiers 
who had died, and fear fell on us, so we determined 
to retreat to the coat in good order, and began to 
march along the shore towards a large rock which 
rose out of the sea, while the boats and the small 
bark laden with the water casks coached along close 
in shore. We had not dared to embark near the town 
where we had landed, on account of the great press of 
Indians, for we felt sure they would attack us as we 
tried to get in the boats. As soon as we had embarked 
and got the casks on board the ships, we sailed on for 
six days and nights in good weather, then we were 
Struck by a norther which is a foul wind on that coasl 
and it lasted four days and nights, and so Strong was 


the fborm that it nearly drove us ashore, so that we 
had to drop anchor, but we broke two cables, and one 
ship began to drag her anchor. Ah ! the danger was 
terrible, for if our last cable had given way we should 
have been driven ashore to destruction, but thank God 
we were able to ease the Strain on the cable by lashing 
it with pieces of rope and hawsers, and at lab the 
weather moderated. Then we kept on our course along 
the coaSt, going ashore whenever we were able to do 
so to get water, for, as I have already said, the casks 
we carried were leaky, and we hoped that by keeping 
near the coaSt we, should be able to find water, when- 
ever we landed, either in pools or by digging for it. 
As we were sailing along on our course, we came in 
sight of a town, and about a league on the near side of 
it, there was a bay which looked as though it had a river 
running into it ; so we determined to anchor. On 
this coaSt the tide runs out so far that there is a danger 
of ships being Stranded, so for fear of this we dropped 
anchor at the distance of a league from the shore, and 
we landed from the vessel of leaft draught and from 
the boats, well armed and carrying all our casks along 
with us. This landing place was about a league 
from the town, near to some pools of water, and maize 
plantations, and a few small houses built of masonry. 
The town is called Champoton. 


As we were filling our casks with water there came 
along the coaft towards us many squadrons of Indians 
clad in cotton armour reaching to the knees, and 
armed with bows and arrows, lances and shields, and 


swords like two handed broad swords, and slings and 
Clones and carrying the feathered crests, which they 
are accustomed to wear. Their faces were painted 
black and white, and ruddled and they came in silence 
straight towards us, as though they came in peace, 
and by signs they asked whether we came from where 
the sun rose, and we replied that we did come from the 
direction of the sunrise. We were at our wits end 
considering the matter, and wondering what the words 
were which the Indians called out to us for they were 
the same as those used by the people of Campeche, 
but we never made out what it was that they 

All this happened about the time of the Ave Maria, 
and the Indians then went off to some villages in the 
neighbourhood, and we ported watchmen and sentinels 
for security. 

While we were keeping watch during the night we 
heard a great squadron of Indian warriors approaching 
from the town and from the farms, and we knew well, 
that their assembly boded us no good, and we took 
counsel together as to what should be done. However, 
some said one thing and some said another. While 
we were bill taking counsel the dawn broke, and we 
could see that there were about two hundred Indians 
to every one of us, and we said one to the other " let 
us Strengthen our hearts for the fight, and after 
commending ourselves to God let us do our beft 
to save our lives*" 

As soon as it was daylight we could see, coming 
along the coa, many more Indian warriors with their 
banners raised. When their squadrons were formed 
up they surrounded us on all sides and poured in such 
showers of arrows and darts, and Clones thrown from 
their slings that over eighty of us soldiers were 
wounded, and they attacked us hand to hand, some 
with lances and the others shooting arrows, and others 



with two-handed knife edged swords, 1 and they 
brought us to a bad pass. At laft feeling the effects 
of our sword play they drew back a little, but it was 
not far, and only enabled them to shoot their ftones 
and darts at us with greater safety to themselves. 

While the battle was raging the Indians called to 
one another in their language " al Calachuni, Cala- 
chuni " which means " let us attack the Captain and 
kill him ", and ten times they wounded him with 
their arrows ; and me they struck thrice, one arrow 
wounding me dangerously in the left side, piercing 
through the ribs. All the other soldiers were wounded 
by spear thrums and two of them were carried off alive. 

Our captain then saw that our good fighting availed 
us nothing ; other squadrons of warriors were 
approaching us fresh from the town, bringing food 
and drink with them and a large supply of arrows. 
All our soldiers were wounded with two or three 
arrow wounds, three of them had their throats pierced 
by lance thrusts, our captain was bleeding from many 
wounds and already fifty of the soldiers were lying 

Feeling that our Strength was exhausted we deter- 
mined with tout hearts to break through the battalions 
surrounding us and seek shelter in the boats which 
awaited us near the shore ; so we formed in close 
array and broke through the enemy. 

Ah ! then to hear the yells, hisses and cries, as the 
enemy showered arrows on us and hurled lances with 
all their might, wounding us sorely. 

Then another danger befell us ; as we all sought shelter 
in the boats at the same time they began to sink, so 
in the bet way we could manage hanging on to the 
waterlogged boats and half swimming, we reached the 

^ x Macana (or MacuahuitI), a wooden sword edged with sharp 
flint or obsidian. 



vessel of lightest draught which came in haste to our 

Many of us were wounded while we embarked, 
especially those who were sitting in the Stern of the 
boats, for the Indians shot at them as targets, and even 
waded into the sea with their lances and attacked us 
with all their Strength. Thank God ! by a great effort 
we escaped with our lives from the clutches of those 

Within a few days we had to caSt into the sea five 
others who died of their wounds and of the great 
thirSt which we suffered. The whole of the fighting 
occupied only one hour. 


AFTER we had attended to the wounded (and there 
was not a man among us who had not two, three or 
four wounds, and the Captain was wounded in ten 
places and only one soldier escaped without hurt) we 
decided to return to Cuba. 

As almost all the sailors also were wounded we were 
shorthanded for tending the sails, so we abandoned 
the smallest vessel and set fire to her after removing 
the sails, cables and anchors, and we divided the 
sailors who were unwounded between the two larger 
vessels. However, our greatest trouble arose from the 
want of fresh water, for owing to the attack made on us 
and the haSte with which we had to take to the boats, 
all the casks and barrels which we had filled with 
water were left behind. 

So great was our thirSt that our mouths and tongues 
were cracked with the dryness, and there was nothing 
to give us relief. Oh ! what hardships one endures, 


when discovering new lands, in the way we set out to 
do it ; no one can appreciate the excessive hardships 
who has not passed through them as we did. 

We kept our course close to the land in hope of 
finding some lream or bay where we could get fresh 
water, and at the end of three days we found a bay 
where there appeared to be a creek which we thought 
might hold fresh water. Fifteen of the sailors who had 
remained on board and were unwounded and three 
soldiers who were out of danger from their wounds 
went ashore, and they took hoes with them, and some 
barrels ; but the water of the creek was salt, so they 
dug holes on the beach, but there also the water was 
as salt and bitter as that in the creek. However, bad 
as the water was, they filled the casks with it and 
brought it on board, but no one could drink such water 
and it did harm to the mouths and bodies of the few 
soldiers who attempted to drink it. 

There were so many large alligators in that creek that 
it has always been known as the estero de los Lagartos. 

While the boats went ashore for water there arose 
such a violent gale from the North Eat that the 
ships began to drag their anchors and drift towards 
the shore. The sailors who had gone on shore returned 
with the boats in hot hate and arrived in time to put 
out other anchors and cables, so that the ships rode in 
safety for two days and nights. Then we got up 
anchor and set sail continuing our voyage back to the 
island of Cuba. 

The pilot Alaminos then took counsel with the 
other two pilots, and it was settled that from the 
place we then were we should cross over to Florida, 
for he judged that it was about seventy leagues distant, 
and that it would be a shorter course to reach Havana 
than the course by which we had come. 

We did as the pilot advised, for it seems that he had 
accompanied Juan Ponce de Leon on his voyage of 



discovery to Florida fourteen or fifteen years earlier. 
After four days' sail we came in sight of the land of 


WHEN we reached land, it was arranged that twenty 
of the soldiers, those whose wounds were bet healed,, 
should go ashore. I went with them, and also the Pilot, 
Anton de Alaminos, and we carried with us such 
vessels as we still possessed, and hoes, and our cross- 
bows and guns. As the Captain was very badly 
wounded, and much weakened by the great thirft 
he had endured, he prayed us on no account to fail 
in bringing back fresh water, as he was parching and 
dying of thirt, for the water we had on board was 
salt and not fit to drink. 

We landed near a creek, the Pilot Alaminos carefully 
examined the coat and said that it was at this very 
spot when he came with Juan Ponce de Leon that 
the Indians of the country had attacked them and 
had killed many soldiers, and that it behoved us to 
keep a very sharp look out. We at once ported two 
soldiers as sentinels while we 'dug holes on a broad 
beach where we thought we should find fresh water, 
for at that hour the tide had ebbed. It pleased God 
that we come on very good water, and so overjoyed 
were we that what with satiating our thirft, and washing 
out cloths with which to bind up wounds, we mut 
have flayed there an hour. When, at la&, very wel I 
satisfied, we wished to go on board with the water, we 
saw one of the soldiers whom we had placed on guard 
coming towards us crying out, " to arms, to arms ! 
many Indian warriors are coming on foot and others 



down the creek in canoes." The soldier who came 
shouting^ and the Indians reached us nearly at the 
same time. 

These Indians carried very long bows and good 
arrows and lances, and some weapons like swords, 
and they were clad in deerskins and were very big men. 
They came Straight on and let fly their arrows and at 
once wounded six of us, and to me they dealt a slight 
arrow wound. However, we fell on them with such 
rapidity of cut and thrul of sword and so plied the 
crossbows and guns that they left us to ourselves and 
set off to the sea and the creek to help their com- 
panions who had come in the canoes and were fighting 
hand to hand with the sailors, whose boat was already 
captured and was being towed by the canoes up the 
creek, four of the sailors being wounded, and the 
Pilot Alaminos badly hurt in the throat. Then we fell 
upon them, with the water above our waists, and at 
the point of the sword, we made them abandon the 
boat. Twenty of the Indians lay dead on the shore or 
in the water, and three who were slightly wounded 
we took prisoners, but they died on board ship. 

As soon as the skirmish was over we asked the 
soldier who had been placed on guard what had 
become of his companion. He replied that he had seen 
him go off with an axe in his hand to cut down a small 
palm tree, and that he then heard cries in Spanish, 
and on that account he had hurried towards us to 
give us warning, and it was then that his companion 
mut have been killed. 

The soldier who had disappeared was the only man 
who had escaped unwounded from the fight at 
Champoton, and we at once set to work to search for 
him. We found a palm tree partly cut through, and 
near by the ground was much trampled by footsteps, 
and as there was no trace of blood we took it for certain 
that they had carried him off alive. We searched and 



shouted for more than an hour, but finding no trace 
of him we got into the boats and carried the fresh 
water to the ship, at which the soldiers were as over- 
joyed as though we had given them their lives. One 
soldier jumped from the ship into the boat, so great 
was his thirst, and clasping a jar of water to his chest 
drank so much water that he swelled up and died 
within two days. 

As soon as we had got the water on board and had 
hauled up the boats, we set sail for Havana, and during 
the next day and night the weather was fair and we 
were near some Islands called Los Martires, when the 
flagship Struck the ground and made water fal 5 and 
with all of us soldiers working at the pumps we were 
not able to check it, and we were in fear of foundering. 

Ill and wounded as we were, we managed to trim 
the sails and work the pump until our Lord carried 
us into the port, where now Stands the city of Havana, 
and we gave thanks to God. 

We wrote in great hate to the Governor of the 
Island, Diego Velasquez, telling him that we had 
discovered thickly-peopled countries, with masonry 
houses, and people who covered their persons and 
went about clothed in cotton garments, and who 
possessed gold and who cultivated maize fields, and 
other matters which I have forgotten. 

From Havana our Captain Francisco Hernandez 
went by land to the town of Santispiritus ; but he 
was so badly wounded that he died within ten days. 




IN the year 1518 the Governor of Cuba hearing the 
good account of the land which we had discovered., 
which is called Yucatan, decided to send out another 
fleet, and made search for four vessels to compose it. 
Two of these vessels were two of the three which had 
accompanied Francisco Hernandez, the other two 
were vessels which Diego Velasquez bought with his 
own money. 

At the time the fleet was being fitted out, there were 
present in Santiago de Cuba, where Velasquez resided 
Juan de Grijalva, Alonzo de Avila, Francisco de 
Montejo, and Pedro de Alvarado, who had come to 
see the Governor on business, for all of them held 
encomiendas of Indians in the Island. As they were men 
of di&in&ion, it was agreed that Juan de Grijalva 
who was a kinsman of Diego Velasquez, should go as 
Captain General, that Alonzo de Avila, Pedro de 
Alvarado, and Francisco de Montejo should each 
have command of a ship. Each of these Captains 
contributed the provisions and Stores of Cassava bread 
and salt pork, and Diego Velasquez provided the four 
ships, crossbows and guns, some beads and other 
articles of small value for barter, and a small supply 
of beans. Then Diego Velasquez ordered that I should 
go with these Captains as ensign. 

As the report had spread that the lands were very 
rich, the soldiers and settlers who possessed no 
Indians in Cuba were greedily eager to go to the new 
land, so that 240 companions were soon got together. 



Then every one of us, out of his own funds, added 
what he could of stores and arms and other suitable 
things ; and I set out again on this voyage as ensign, 
as I have already Stated. 

As soon as all of us soldiers had got together and 
the pilots had received their inStruftions and the 
lantern signals had been arranged, after hearing 
mass, we set out on the 8th April, 1518. 

In ten days we doubled the point of San Anton and 
after eight days sailing we sighted the Island of 
Cozumel, which was then first discovered, for with the 
current that was running we made much more lee-way 
than when we came with Francisco Hernandez de 
Cordova, and we went along the south side of the 
Island and sighted a town with a few houses, near 
which was a good anchorage free from reefs. 

We went on shore with the Captain and a large 
company of soldiers, and the natives of the town had 
taken to flight as soon as they saw the ships coming 
under sail, for they had never seen such a thing 

We soldiers who landed found two old men, who 
could not walk far, hidden in the maize fields and 
we brought them to the Captain. With the help of 
the two Indians Julianillo and Melchorejo whom 
Francisco Hernandez brought away, who thoroughly 
understood that language the captain spoke kindly 
to these old men and gave them some beads and sent 
them off to summon the cacique of the town, and 
they went off and never came back again. 

While we were waiting, a good-looking Indian 
woman appeared and began to speak in the language 
of the Island of Jamaica, and she told us that all the 
men and women of the town had fled to the woods, 
for fear of us. As I and many of our soldiers knew the 
language she spoke very well, for it is the same as that 
spoken in Cuba, we were very much astonished, and 



asked the woman how she happened to be there ; 
she replied that two years earlier she had Started from 
Jamaica with ten Indians in a large canoe intending 
to go and fish near some small islands, and that the 
currents had carried them over to this land where they 
had been driven ashore, and that her husband and all 
the Jamaica Indians had been killed and sacrificed to 
the Idols. When the Captain heard this it seemed to 
him that this woman would serve very well as a 
messenger, so he sent her to summon the people and 
caciques of the town, and he gave her two days in 
which to go and return. We were afraid that the 
Indians Melchorejo and Julianillo if once they got 
away from us would go off to their own country which 
was near by, and on that account we could not trut 
them as messengers. 

To return to the Indian woman from Jamaica, the 
answer she brought was that notwithstanding her 
efforts she could not persuade a single Indian to 
approach us. 

As the Captain Juan de Grijalva saw that it would 
be merely losing time to wait there any longer, he 
ordered us to go on board ship, and the Indian woman 
went with us, and we continued our voyage, and in 
eight days we reached the neighbourhood of the 
town of Champoton which was the place where the 
Indians of that province had defeated us, as I have 
already related. As the tide runs out very far in the 
bay, we anchored our ships a league from the shore 
and then making use of all the boats we disembarked 
half the soldiers close to the houses of the town. 

The Indians of the town and others from the neigh- 
bourhood at once assembled, as they had done on the 
other occasion when they killed over fifty-six of our 
soldiers and wounded all the reft, and for that reason 
they were now very proud and haughty, and many of 
them had their faces painted black and others red 



and white. They were drawn up in array and awaited 
us on the shore, ready to fall on us as we landed. 
As we had already gained experience from our former 
expedition, we had brought with us in the boat some 
falconets and were well supplied with crossbows and 

As we approached the shore they began to shoot 
arrows and hurl lances at us with all their might, 
and although we did them much damage with our 
falconets, such a hail torm of arrows fell on us before 
we could land that half of us were wounded. As soon 
as all the soldiers got on shore we checked their ardour 
with our good sword play and with our crossbows, 
and although they till shot at us we were protected by 
our cotton armour. However, they kept up the fight 
against us for a good while until we drove them back 
into some swamps near to the town. In this fight 
seven soldiers were killed, and our Captain Juan de 
Grijalva received three arrow wounds, and had two 
of his teeth broken, and more than sixty of us were 

When we saw that all the enemy had taken to flight 
we entered the town and attended to the wounded and 
buried the dead. We could not find a single person 
in the town, nor could we find those who had retreated 
into the swamp for they had all disappeared. In that 
skirmish we captured three Indians one of whom was a 
chief, and the Captain sent them off to summon the 
cacique of the town, giving them clearly to underhand 
through the interpreters Julianillo and Melchorejo 
that they were pardoned for what they had done, 
and he gave them some green beads to hand to the 
cacique as a sign of peace, and they went off and never 
returned again. So we believed that the Indians, 
Julianillo and Melchorejo had not repeated to the 
prisoners what they had been told to say to them but 
had said something quite different. 



At that town we stayed for three days. 

I remember that this fight took place in some fields 
where there were many locufts, and while we were 
fighting they jumped up and came flying in our faces, 
and as the Indian archers were pouring a hail torm 
of arrows on us we sometimes mistook the arrows for 
locu&s and did not shield ourselves from them and so 
got wounded ; at other times we thought that they 
were arrows coming towards us, when they were only 
flying locusts and it greatly hampered our fighting. 
Then we embarked and kept on our course and reached 
-what seemed to be the mouth of a very rapid river, 
very broad and open, but it was not a river as we at 
fir& thought it to be, but it was a very good harbour, 
and we called it the Boca de Terminos. 

The Captain Juan de Grijalva went ashore with all 
the other Captains and we spent three days taking 
soundings at the mouth of the Strait and exploring 
up and down the bay. On shore we found some houses 
built of masonry, used as oratories of their Idols, but 
we found out that the place was altogether uninhabited, 
and that the oratories were merely those belonging to 
traders and hunters who put into the port when passing 
in their canoes and made sacrifices there. We had 
much deer and rabbit hunting and with the help 
of a lurcher we killed ten deer and many rabbits. 
At lasT: when we had finished our soundings and 
explorations we made ready to go on board ship, 
but the lurcher got left behind. 

As soon as we were all on board again we kept our 
course close along the shore until we arrived at a river 
which they call the Rio de Tabasco, which we named 
Rio de Grijalva. 

\'*,m i\ 1 -*-' v-f >*f .^ 

krt^ 1 $'m'W 

?%:& :*&*.'?>' 

1 T^y/iti-" " ' * J ' 

From the Ball Court Temple, Chicken lisa, Yucatan 

[face p. 64 



As we came nearer in we saw the water breaking over 
the bar at the mouth of the river, so we got out boats, 
and by sounding we found out that the two larger 
vessels could not enter the river, so it was agreed that 
they should anchor outside in the sea, and that 
all the soldiers should go up the river in the 
other two vessels which drew less water and in 
the boats. 

When we arrived within half a league of the town 
we could hear the sound of chopping wood for the 
Indians were making barriers and Cockades and getting 
ready to give us battle. When we were aware of this, 
so as to make certain, we disembarked half a league 
from the town on a point of land where some palm 
trees were growing. When the Indians saw us there 
a fleet of fifty canoes approached us full of warriors. 
Many other canoes full of warriors were lying in the 
creeks, and they kept a little way off as though they 
did not dare approach as did the fir& fleet. When we 
perceived their intentions we were on the point of 
firing at them, but it pleased God that we agreed to 
call out to them, and through Julianillo and Mekhorejo, 
who spoke their language very well, we told them that 
they need have no fear, that we wished to talk to them, 
for we had things to tell them which when they under- 
&ood them they would be glad that we had come to 
their country and their homes. Moreover, we wished 
to give them some of the things we had brought with 
us. As they underwood what was said to them, 
four of the canoes came near with about thirty Indians 
in them, and we showed them brings of green beads 
and small mirrors and blue cut glass beads, and as 



soon as they saw them they assumed a more friendly 
manner, for they thought that they were chakhthuites l 
which they value greatly. 

Then through Julianillo and Melchorejo as inter- 
preters, the Captain told them that we came from a 
distant country and were the vassals of a great Emperor 
named Don Carlos, who had many great lords and 
chiefs as his vassals, and that they ought to acknowledge 
him as their lord, and it would be to their advantage 
to do so, and that in return for the beads they might 
bring us some food and poultry. 

Two of the Indians answered us, and said that they 
would bring the food which we asked for, and would 
barter their things for ours ; but as for the reft, they 
already had a chief, that we were only juft now arrived, 
and knew nothing about them, and yet we wanted to 
give them a chief. Let us beware not to make war on 
them as we had done at Champoton, for they had more 
than three jiquipiles of warriors from all the provinces 
around in readiness (every jiquipil numbers eight 
thousand men) and they said that they were well aware 
that only a few days earlier we had killed and wounded 
more than two hundred men at Champoton but that 
they were not weaklings such as those, and for this 
reason they had come to talk to us and find out what 
we wanted, and that whatever we should tell them 
they would go and report to the chiefs of many towns 
who had assembled to decide on peace or war. 

Then our Captain embraced the Indians as a sign of 
peace, and gave them some brings of beads and told 
them to go and bring back an answer as soon as possible, 
but he said that although we did not wish to anger 
them, that if they did not return we should have to 
force our way into their town. 

The following day more than thirty Indians with 

1 Chalchihuitli is Jadeite, which was treasured as a precious ftone 
by the Indians. 



their chief came to the promontory under the palm 
trees where we were camped and brought roadbed 
fish and fowls, and zapote fruit and maize bread, 
and braziers with live coals and incense, and they 
fumigated us all. Then they spread on the ground 
some mats, which here they call -petates^ and over them 
a cloth, and they presented some golden jewels, 
some were diadems, and others were in the shape of 
ducks, like those in Caftille, and other jewels like 
lizards and three necklaces of hollow beads, and other 
articles of gold but not of much value, for they were not 
worth more than two hundred dollars. They also 
brought some cloaks and skirts, such as they wear, and 
said that we mut accept these things in good part as 
they had no more gold to give us, but that further on, 
in the direction of the sunset, there was plenty of gold, 
and they said " Colua, Colua, Mejico, Mejico," but 
we did not know what this Colua or Mejico could be. 
Although the present that they brought us was not 
worth much, we were satisfied, because we thus 
knew for certain that they possessed gold. Captain 
Juan de Grijalva thanked them for their gift and gave 
them a present of beads. It was decided that we should 
go on board at once, for the two ships were in much 
danger should a northerly gale blow, for it would put 
them on a lee shore, and moreover we wanted to get 
nearer to where we were told there was gold. 

We returned on board and set our course along the 
coat and in two days came in sight of a town called 
Ayagualulco, and many of the Indians from that town 
marched along the shore with shields made of the shells 
of turtle, which sparkled as the sun shone on them, 
and some of our soldiers contended that they were 
made of low grade gold. 

The Indians who carried them as they marched along 
the sandy beach, knowing that they were at a safe 
distance, cut capers, as though mocking at the ships. 



We gave the town the name of La Rambla, and it is 
thus marked on the charts. 

Coasting along we came in sight of a bay into which 
flows the river Tonala. 

As we sailed along we noted the position of the great 
river Coatzacoalcos. Soon we came in sight of the 
great snow mountains, which have snow on them all 
the year round, and we saw other mountains, nearer 
to the sea. 

As we followed along the coat, the Captain Pedro 
de Alvarado, went ahead with his ship and entered a 
river which the Indians call Papaloapan, and which 
we then called the Rio de Alvarado because Alvarado 
was the firt to enter it. There, some Indian fisher- 
men, natives of a town called Tlacotalpa gave him 
some fish. We waited at the mouth of the river with 
the other three ships until Alvarado came out, and the 
General was very angry with him for going up the 
river without his permission, and ordered him never 
to go ahead of the other ships again, lel an accident 
should happen when we could not give him help. 

We kept on our course, all four ships together until 
we arrived at the mouth of another river, which we 
called the Rio de Banderas, 1 because we there came 
on a great number of Indians with long lances, and 
on every lance a great cloth banner which they waved 
as they beckoned to us. 


SOME ludious readers in Spain may have heard that 
Mexico was a very great city built in the water like 
Venice, and that it was governed by a great prince 
called Montezuma. Now it appears that Montezuma 

1 Rio de Banderas is the Rio Jamapa of the modern maps. 


had received news of our arrival when we came firt, 
with Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, and of what had 
happened at the battle of Catoche and at Champoton, 
and also what had happened at the battle of this same 
Champoton during this voyage, and he knew that we 
soldiers being few in number had defeated the warriors 
of that town and their very numerous allies, and he knew 
as well that we had entered the Rio Tabasco and what 
had taken place between us and the caciques of that 
town, moreover he underwood that our objeft was 
to seek for gold, in exchange for the things we had 
brought with us. All this news had been brought 
to him painted on a cloth made of hennequen * which 
is like linen, and as he knew that we were coasting 
along towards his provinces he sent orders to his 
governors that if we should arrive in their neighbour- 
hood with our ships that they should barter gold 
for our beads, especially the green beads, which are 
something like their chalchihuites, which they value as 
highly as emeralds ; he also ordered them to find out 
more about our persons and our plans. 

It is a faft, as we now know, that their Indian 
ancestors had foretold that men with beards would 
come from the direction of the sunrise and would rule 
over them. Whatever the reason may have been many 
Indians sent by the Great Montezuma were watching 
for us at the river I have mentioned with long poles, 
and on every pole a banner of white cotton cloth, which 
they waved and called to us, as though making signals 
of peace, to come to them. 

When from the ships we saw such an unusual sight 
we were fairly astonished and the General and mot 
of the Captains were agreed that to find out what it 
meant we should lower two of the boats, and that all 
those who carried guns or crossbows and twenty of 

1 Hennequen, or Sisal hemp, Is a species of Aloe (Agave Ixtli] now 
largely used for cordage, 

6 9 


the moft daring and ative soldiers should go in them, 
and that Francisco de Montejo should accompany 
us, and that if we should discover that the men who 
were waving the banners were warriors that we should 
at once bring news of it and of anything else that we 
could find out. 

Thank God at that time we had fine weather which 
is rare enough on this coat. When we got on shore 
we found three Caciques, one of them the governor 
appointed by Montezuma, who had many of the 
Indians of his household with him. They brought 
many of the fowls of the country and maize bread 
such as they always eat, and fruits such as pineapples 
and zapotes, which in other parts are called mameies, 
and they were seated under the shade of the trees, 
and had spread mats on the ground, and they invited 
us to be seated, all by signs, for Julianillo the man 
from Cape Catoche, did not understand their language 
which is Mexican. Then they brought pottery 
braziers with live coals, and fumigated us with a sort 
of resin. 

As soon as the Captain Montejo had reported all 
that had taken place the General determined to anchor 
his ships and go ashore with all his captains and 
soldiers. When the Caciques and governors saw him 
on land and knew that he was the Captain General 
of us all, according to their custom, they paid him 
the greatest respeft. In return he treated them in a 
mol caressing manner and ordered them to be given 
blue and green glass beads and by signs he made them 
understand that they should bring gold to barter with 
us. Then the Governor sent orders to all the neighbour- 
ing towns to bring jewels to exchange with us, and 
during the six days that we remained there they 
brought more than sixteen thousand dollars worth 
of jewelry of low grade gold, worked into various 



When the General saw that the Indians were not 
bringing any more gold to barter, and as we had 
already been there six days and the ships ran risk of 
danger from the North and North East wind, he 
thought it was time to embark. 

So we took [formal] possession of the land in the 
name of His Majesty, and as soon as this had been 
done the General spoke to the Indians and told them 
that we wished to return to our ships and he gave 
them presents of some shirts from Spain. We took one 
of the Indians from this place on board ship with us, 
and after he had learnt our language he became a 
Christian and was named Francisco, and later on I 
met him living with his Indian wife. 

As we sailed on along the coal we sighted some 
Islands of white sand which the sea washed over, 
and going on further we saw an Island somewhat 
larger than the others about a league and a half off 
the shore, and in front of it there was a good road- 
slead where the General gave orders for the ships 
to come to anchor. 

As soon as the boats were launched the Captain 
Juan de Grijalva and many of us soldiers went off to 
visit the Island for we saw smoke rising from it, and 
we found two masonry houses very well built, each 
house with &eps leading up to some altars, ^and on 
these altars were idols with evil looking bodies, and 
that very night five Indians had been sacrificed before 
them ; their chefts had been cut open, and the 
arms and thighs had been cut off and the walls were 
covered with blood. 

At all this we ftood greatly amazed, and gave the 
Island the name of the Isla de Sacrificios and it is 
so marked on the charts. 

We all of us went ashore opposite that Island, 
and many Indians had come down to the coa^l bringing 
gold made into small articles which they wished to 


barter as they had done at the Rio de Banderas, and,, 
as we afterwards found out the great Montezuma 
had ordered them to do so. These Indians who 
brought the gold were very timid and the gold was 
small in quantity, for this reason the Captain Juan 
de Grijalva ordered the anchors to be raised and sail 
set, and we went on to anchor opposite another 
Island, about half a league from land, and it is at this 
Island that the port of Vera Cruz is now established. 

We landed on a sandy beach, and so as to escape 
the swarms of mosquitos we built huts on the tops of 
the highest sand dunes, which are very extensive in 
these parts. 

We Stayed there for seven days, but we could not 
endure the mosquitos, and seeing that we were 
waiting time, and that our cassava bread was very 
mouldy and dirty with weevils and was going sour, 
and that the soldiers of our company were not numerous 
enough to form a settlement, all the more so as 
thirteen soldiers had died of their wounds, it was 
agreed that we should send to inform the Governor 
Diego Velasquez of our condition, so that he could 
send us help. 

It was therefore decided that the Captain Pedro de 
Alvarado should go in a very good ship called the San 
Sebatian to carry the message. 


AFTER the Captain, Pedro de Alvarado had left us 
it was decided to keep in close to the shore and dis- 
cover all that we were able on the coaft. Keeping 
on our course we came in sight of the Sierra de 



Tuzpa. As we coasted along, we saw many towns- 
apparently two or three leagues inland. Continuing 
our course, we came to a great and rapid river which 
we called the Rio de Canoas and dropped anchor at 
the mouth of it. 

When all three ships were anchored and we were a 
little off our guard, twenty large canoes filled with 
Indian warriors, came down the river and made 
straight for the smallest ship. The Indians shot a 
flight of arrows which wounded five soldiers, and they 
made fat to the ship with ropes intending to carry 
her off", and even cut one of her cables with their 
copper axes. However, the captain and soldiers 
fought well, and upset three of the canoes, and we 
hastened to their assistance in our boats. Then we 
got up anchor and set sail and followed along the coab 
until we came to a great Cape which was moSt 
difficult to double, for the currents were so Strong 
we could make no headway. 

Then the pilot, Alaminos, said to the General, 
that it was no use trying to go further in that direction, 
and gave many reasons for his opinion. Counsel was- 
taken as to what had bet be done, and it was settled 
that we should return to Cuba. 

So we turned round and set all sail before the wind> 
and aided by the currents, in a few days we reached 
the mouth of the great Rio de Coatzacoalcos, but we 
could not enter it on account of unfavourable weather, 
and going close in shore we entered the Rio de 
Tonala. There we careened one of the ships which 
was making water fat, for on entering the river she 
had Struck on the bar where the water is very shallow. 

While we were repairing the ship many Indians came 
in a mot friendly manner from the town of Tonala, 
which is about a league distant, and brought maize 
bread, and fish and fruit, and gave them to us with 
great good will. The captain showed them much 



attention and ordered them to be given white and 
green beads, and made signs to them that they should 
bring gold for barter and we would give them our 
goods in exchange ; so they brought jewels of low 
grade gold, and we gave them beads in return. People 
came also from Coatzacoalcos and the other towns 
in the neighbourhood, and brought jewelry, but 
this did not amount to anything. 

Besides these things for barter, the Indians of that 
province usually brought with them highly polished 
copper axes with painted wooden handles, as though 
for show or as a matter of elegance, and we thought 
that they were made of inferior gold, and began to 
barter for them, and in three days we had obtained 
more than six hundred, and we were very well con- 
tented thinking that they were made of debased gold, 
and the Indians were even more contented with their 
beads, but it was no good to either party, for the axes 
were made of copper and the beads were valueless. 

Going on board ship again, we went on our way 
and in forty-five days we arrived at Santiago de Cuba 
where Diego Velasquez was residing, and he gave us 
a very good reception. 

When the Governor saw the gold that we brought, 
which was worth four thousand dollars, and with that 
which had already been brought by Pedro de Alvarado, 
amounted in all to twenty thousand dollars, he was 
well contented. Then the officers of the King took 
the Royal Fifth, but when the six hundred axes which 
we thought were low grade gold were brought out, 
they were all rufty like copper which they proved to 
be, and there was a good laugh at us, and they made 
great fun of our trading. 






AFTER the return of the Captain Juan de Grijalva to 
Cuba, when the Governor Diego Velasquez understood 
how rich were these newly discovered lands, he 
ordered another fleet, much larger than the former one 
to be sent off, and he had already collefted in the Port 
of Santiago, where he resided, ten ships, four of them 
were those in which he had returned with Juan de 
Grijalva, which had at once been careened, and the 
other six had been got together from other ports in 
the Island. He had them furnished with provisions, 
consisting of Cassava bread and salt pork. These 
provisions were only to lat until we arrived at Havana, 
for it was at that port that we were to take in our 
Stores, as was afterwards done. 

I mut cease talking of this and tell about the disputes 
which arose over the choice of a captain for the 
expedition. There were many debates and much 

Mot of us soldiers who were there said that we 
should prefer to go again under Juan de Grijalva, 
for he was a good captain, and there was no fault to 
be found either with his person or his capacity for 


While things were going on in the way I have 
related, two great favourites of Diego Velasquez 
named Andres de Duero, the Governor's Secretary, 
and Amador de Lares, His Majesty's accountant, 
secretly formed a partnership with a gentleman named 
Hernando Cortes, a native of Medellin, who held a 
grant of Indians in the Island. A short while before, 
Cortes had married a lady named Catalina Juarez la 
Marcayda. As far as I know, and from what others 
say, it was a love match. 

I will go on to tell about this partnership, it came 
about in this manner : These two great favourites 
of Velasquez agreed that they would get him to 
appoint Cortes Captain General of the whole fleet, 
and that they would divide between the three of them,, 
the spoil of gold, silver and jewels which might fall 
to Cortes' share. For secretly Diego Velasquez was 
sending to trade and not to form a settlement, as was 
apparent afterwards from the instructions given about 
it, although it was announced and published that the 
expedition was for the purpose of founding a settle- 

Andres de Duero drew up the documents in very 
good ink, as the proverb says, in the way Cortes- 
wished with very ample powers. 


As soon as Hernando Cortes had been appointed 
General he began to search for all sorts of arms, guns, 
powder and crossbows, and every kind of warlike 
Stores which he could get together, and all sorts of 
articles to be used for barter, and other things necessary 
for the expedition. 

Moreover he began to adorn himself and be more 
careful of his appearance than before, and he wore a 


plume of feathers with a medal, and a gold chain, and 
a velvet cloak trimmed with knots of gold, in fact he 
looked like a gallant and courageous Captain. How- 
ever, he had no money to defray the expenses I have 
spoken about, for at that time he was very poor and 
much in debt, although he had a good encomienda of 
Indians who were getting him a return from his gold 
mines, but he spent all of it on his person and on finery 
for his wife, whom he had recently married, and on 
entertaining some guefbs who had come to visit him. 
For he was affable in his manner and a good talker, 
and he had twice been chosen Alcalde x of the town of 
Santiago Baracoa where he had settled, and in that 
country it is esteemed a great honour to be chosen 
as Alcalde. 

When some merchant friends of his saw that he had 
obtained this command as Captain General, they 
lent him four thousand gold dollars in coin and gave 
him merchandise worth another four thousand dollars 
secured on his Indians and elates. Then he ordered 
two Standards and banners to be made, worked in gold 
with the royal arms and a cross on each side with a 
legend which said, " Comrades, let us follow the sign 
of the holy Cross with true faith, and through it we 
shall conquer." And he ordered a proclamation to 
IDC made with the sound of drums and trumpets in 
the name of His Maje&y and by Diego Velasquez 
in the King's name, and in his own as Captain 
General, to the effeft that whatsoever person might 
wish to go in his company to the newly discovered 
lands to conquer them and to settle there, should 
receive his share of the gold, silver and riches which 
might be gained, and an encomienda of Indians after 
the country had been pacified, and that to do these 
things Diego Velasquez held authority from His 

1 Alcalde = Mayor. 



We assembled at Santiago de Cuba, whence we set 
out with the fleet more than three hundred and fifty 
soldiers in number. From the house of Velasquez 
there came Diego de Ordas, the chief Mayordomo, 
whom Velasquez himself sent with orders to keep his 
eyes open and see that no plots were hatched in the 
fleet, for he was always di&ru&ful of Cortes, although 
he concealed his fears. There came also Francisco 
de Morla and an Escobar, whom we called The Page, 
and a Heredia, and Juan Ruano and Pedro Escudero, 
and Martin Ramos de Lares, and many others who 
were friends and followers of Diego Velasquez ; and 
I place myself laft on the lift for I also came from the 
house of Diego Velasquez, for he was my kinsman. 

Cortes worked hard to get his fleet under way and 
hastened on his preparations, for already envy and 
malice had taken possession of the relations of Diego 
Velasquez who were affronted because their kinsman 
neither trusted them nor took any notice of them, 
and because he had given charge and command to 
Cortes, knowing that he had looked upon him as a great 
enemy only a short time before, on account of his 
marriage, so they went about grumbling at their 
kinsman Diego Velasquez and at Cortes, and by 
every means in their power they worked on Diego 
Velasquez to induce him to revoke the commission." 

Now Cortes was advised of all this, and for that 
reason never left the Governor's side, and always 
showed himself to be his zealous servant, and kept on 
telling him that, God willing, he was going to make 
him a very illustrious and wealthy gentleman in a very 
short time. Moreover Andres de Duero was always 
advising Cortes to hasten the embarkation of himself 
and his soldiers, for Diego Velasquez was already 
changing his mind owing to the importunity of his 

When Cortes knew this he sent orders to his wife 


that all provisions of food which he wished to take and 
any other gifts (such as women usually give to their 
husbands when starting on such an expedition) should 
be sent at once and placed on board ship. 

He had already had a proclamation made that on 
that day by nightfall all ships. Captains, pilots and 
soldiers should be on board and no one should remain 
on shore. When Cortes had seen all his company 
embarked he went to take leave of Diego Velasquez, 
accompanied by his great friends and many other 
gentlemen, and all the mot distinguished citizens of 
that town. 

After many demonstrations and embraces of Cortes 
by the Governor, and of the Governor by Cortes, he 
took his leave. The next day very early after having 
heard Mass we went to our ships, and Diego Velasquez 
himself accompanied us, and again they embraced 
with many fair speeches one to the other until we 
set sail. 

A few days later, in fine weather, we reached the 
Port of Trinidad, where we brought up in the 
harbour and went ashore, and nearly all the citizens 
of that town came out to meet us ; and entertained 
us well. 

From that town there came to join us five brothers, 
namely Pedro de Alvarado and Jorge de Alvarado, and 
Gonzalo and Gomez, and Juan de Alvarado, the elder, 
who was a bastard. There also joined us from this 
town Alonzo de Avila, who went as a Captain in 
Grijalva's expedition, and Juan de Escalante and Pedro 
Sanchez Farfan, and Gonzalo Mejia who later on 
became treasurer in Mexico, and a certain Baena and 
Juanes of Fuenterrabia, and Lares, the good horseman^ 
and Cristobal de Olid, the Valiant, and Ortis the 
Musician, and Caspar Sanchez, nephew of the 
treasurer of Cuba, and Diego de Pineda, and Alonzo 
Rodriguez, and Bartolome Garcia and other gentle- 



men whose names I do not remember, all persons 
of quality. 

From Trinidad Cortes wrote to the town of Santi- 
spfritus which was eighteen leagues distant, informing 
all the inhabitants that he was setting out on this 
expedition in His Majesty's service, adding fair words 
and inducements to attract many persons of quality 
who had settled in that town, among them Alonzo 
Hernandes Puertocarrero cousin of the Count of 
Medellin, and Gonzalo de Sandoval and Juan Velasquez 
de Leon came, a kinsman of Diego Velasquez, and 
Rodrigo Reogel, and Gonzalo Lopes de Jimena, and 
his brother, and Juan Sedeno also came. All these 
distinguished persons whom I have named came from 
the town of Santispiritus to Trinidad, and Cortes 
"went out to meet them with all the soldiers of his 
company and received them with great cordiality and 
they treated him with the highest respeft. 

We continued to enli& soldiers and to buy horses, 
which at that time were both scarce and costly, and 
as Alonzo Hernandes Puertocarrero, neither possessed 
a horse nor the wherewithal to buy one, Hernando 
Cortds bought him a gray mare, and paid for it with 
some of the golden knots off the velvet cloak which 
as I have said he had had made at Santiago de Cuba. 

At that very time a ship arrived in port from Havana, 
which a certain Juan Sedeno, a settler at Havana, was 
taking, freighted with Cassava bread and salt pork to 
sell at some gold mines near Santiago de Cuba. 

Juan Sedeno landed and went to pay his respefts to 
Cortes, and after a long conversation Cortes bought 
the ship and the pork and bread on credit, and it all 
came with us. So we already had eleven ships and 
thank God all was going well with us. 




I MUST go back a little from our tory to say that after 
we had set out from Santiago de Cuba with all the 
ships, so many things were said to Diego Velasquez 
against Cortes that he was forced to change his mind, 
for they told him that Cortes was already in rebellion, 
and that he left the port by Stealth, and that he had 
been heard to say that although Diego Velasquez and 
his relations might regret it, he intended to be Captain 
and that was the reason why he had embarked all his 
soldiers by night, so that if any attempt were made 
to detain him by force he might set sail. Those who 
took the leading part in persuading Diego Velasquez 
to revoke the authority he had given to Cortes were 
some members of the Velasquez family and an old 
man named Juan Millan whom some called the 
astrologer, but others said he had a touch of madness 
because he afted without reflection, and this old man 
kept repeating to Diego Velasquez : " Take care, 
Sir, for Cortes will take vengeance on you for putting 
him in prison, 1 and as he is sly and determined he 
will ruin you if you do not prevent it at once." 

And Velasquez li&ened to these speeches and was 
always haunted by suspicions, so without delay he 
sent two messengers whom he trusted, with orders and 
instructions to Francisco Verdugo, the Chief Alcalde 
of Trinidad, who was his brother-in-law, to the effeft 
that on no account should the fleet be allowed to sail, 
and he said in his orders that Cortes should be detained 
or taken prisoner as he was no longer its captain, for 
he had revoked his commission and given it to Vasco 
Porcallo. The messengers also carried letters to 

1 This refers to an earlier incident in the relations between Cortes 
and Diego Velasquez. 



Diego de Ordas and Francisco de Morla and other 
dependents of his begging them not to allow the fleet 
to sail. 

When Cortes heard of this, he spoke to Ordas and 
Francisco Verdugo, and to all the soldiers and settlers 
at Trinidad, whom he thought would be against him 
and in favour of the inftru&ions, and he made such 
speeches and promises to them that he brought them 
over to his side. Diego Ordas himself spoke at once 
to Francisco Verdugo, the Alcalde Mayor advising him 
to have nothing to do with the affair but to hush it 
up, and bade him note that up to that time they had 
seen no change in Cortes, on the contrary that he 
showed himself to be a faithful servant of the Governor,, 
and that if Velasquez wished to impute any evil to 
him in order to deprive him of the command of the 
fleet, it was as well to remember that Cortes had 
many men of quality among his friends, who were 
unfriendly to Velasquez, because he had not given 
them good grants of Indians. In addition to this, 
that Cortes had a large body of soldiers with him and 
was very powerful and might sow strife in the town, 
and perhaps the soldiers might sack the town and 
plunder it, and do even worse damage. 

So the matter was quietly dropped and one of the 
messengers who brought the letters and instructions, 
joined our company, and by the other messenger, 
Cortes sent a letter to Diego Velasquez written in a 
very friendly manner, saying that he was amazed at 
His Honour having come to such a decision, that 
his desire was to serve God and his Majesty, and to 
obey him as His Majesty's representative, and that 
he prayed him not to pay any more attention to what 
was said by the gentlemen of his family, nor to change 
his mind on account of the speeches of such an old 
lunatic as Juan Millan. He also wrote to all his friends 
and especially to his partners Duero and the Treasurer. 



When these letters had been written, Cortes ordered 
all the soldiers to polish up their arms, and he ordered 
the blacksmiths in the town to make head pieces, 
and the crossbowmen to overhaul their Stores and 
make arrows, and he also sent for the two black- 
smiths and persuaded them to accompany us, which 
they did. We were ten days in that town. 


WHEN Cortes saw that there was nothing more to be 
done at the town of Trinidad he sent Pedro ^de 
Alvarado by land to Havana 1 to pick up some soldiers 
who lived on farms along the road, and I went in his 
company, and he sent all the horses by land. Cortes 
then went on board the flagship to set sail with all the 
fleet for Havana. 

It appears that the ships of the Convoy loft sight of 
the flagship in the night time, and we all arrived at 
the town of Havana, but Cortes did not appear, and 
no one knew where he was delayed. Five days passed 
without news of his ship, and we began to wonder 
whether he had been lost. We all agreed that three 
of the smaller vessels should go in search of Cortes, 
and in preparing the vessels and in debates whether 
this or the other man Pedro or Sancho should go, 
two more days went by and Cortes did not appear. 
Then parties began to be formed, and we all played 
the game of " Who shall be Captain until Cortes 
comes ? " 

Let us leave this subjeft and return to Cortes. 
In the neighbourhood of the Isle of Pines, or near the 
Jardines, where there are many shallows, his ship ran 

1 This is the old Havana on the south coasT:, not the present port. 



aground and remained there hard and fat and could 
not be floated. 

Cortes ordered all the cargo which could be removed 
to be taken ashore in the boat, for there was land near 
by where it could be Stored, and when it was seen that 
the ship was floating and could be moved, she was 
taken into deeper water and was laden again with the 
cargo, sail was then set and the voyage continued 
to the port of Havana. 

When Cortes arrived nearly all of us gentlemen 
and soldiers who were awaiting him were delighted 
at his coming, all except some who had hoped to be 
Captains, for the game of choosing captains came to 
an end. 

It was here in Havana that Cortes began to organize 
a household and to be treated as a Lord. The firl 
Marshal of the household, whom he appointed was a 
certain Guzman who soon afterwards died or was killed 
by the Indians, and he had as camarero x Rodrigo* 
Ranguel, and for Mayordomo, Juan de Caceres. 

When all this was settled we got ready to embark 
and the horses were divided among all the ships, and 
mangers were made for them and a store of maize and 
hay put on board. I will now call to mind all the 
mares and horses that were shipped : 

The Captain Cortes : A vicious dark chestnut horse, 
which died as soon as we arrived at San Juan de Ulua. 

Pedro de Alvarado and Hernando Lopez de Avila : 
a very good sorrel mare, good both for sport and as a 
charger. When we arrived at New Spain Pedro de 
Alvarado bought the other half share in the mare or 
took it by force. 

Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero : a gray mare, 
a very good charger which Cortes bought for him with 
his gold buttons. 

Juan Velasquez de Leon : A very powerful gray 
1 Camarero = chamberlain. 


mare which we called " La Rabona "-, 1 very handy 
and a good charger. 

Cristoval de Olid : a dark che&nut horse, fairly 

Francisco de Montejo and Alonzo de Avila : a 
parched sorrel horse, no lise for warfare. 

Francisco de Morla : a dark chestnut horse, very 
fat and very easily handled. 

Juan de Escalante : a light chestnut horse with 
three white blockings, not much good. 

Diego de Ordas, a gray mare, barren, tolerably 
good, but not faft. 

Gonzalo Dominguez : a wonderfully good horse- 
man ; a very good dark chestnut horse, a grand 

Pedro Gonzalez de Trujillo : a good chestnut horse, 
all chestnut, a very good goer. 

Moron, a settler at Bayamo : a dappled horse with 
blockings on the forefeet, very handy. 

Baena : a settler at Trinidad : a dappled horse 
almost black, no good for anything. 

Lares, a very good horseman : an excellent horse 
of rather light chestnut colour, a very good goer. 

Ortiz the musician and Bartolome Garcia, who once 
owned gold mines : a very good dark horse called 
" El Arriero ", 2 this was one of the bet horses carried 
in the fleet. 

Juan Sedefio, a settler at Havana : a chestnut 
mare which foaled on board ship. 

This Juan Sedefio passed for the richest soldier in 
the fleet, for he came in his own ship with the mare, 
and a negro and a tore of cassava bread and salt pork, 
and at that time horses and negroes were worth their 
weight in gold, and that is the reason why more horses 
were not taken, for there were none to be bought. 

1 La Rabona = tke bob-tailed. 

2 El arriero the muleteer, carrier. 




To make my bory clear, I mu& go back and relate 
that when Diego Velasquez knew for certain that 
Francisco Verdugo not only refused to compel Cortes 
to leave the fleet, but, together with Diego de Ordas, 
had helped him to get away, they say that he was so 
angry that he roared with rage, and said that Cortes 
was mutinous. He made up his mind to send orders 
to Pedro Barba, his lieutenant at Havana, and to 
Diego de Ordas and to Juan Velasquez de Leon who 
were his kinsmen praying them neither for good nor 
ill to let the fleet get away, and to seize Cortes at once 
and send him under a Strong guard to Santiago de 

On the arrival of the messenger, it was known at 
once what he had brought with him, for by the same 
messenger Cortes was advised of what Velasquez 
was doing. It appears that a friar of the Order of 
Mercy wrote a letter to another friar of his order 
named Bartolom6 del Olmedo, who was with us, and 
in that letter Cortes was informed of all that had 

Not one of those to whom Diego Velasquez had 
written favoured his proposal, indeed one and all 
declared for Cortes, and lieutenant Pedro Barba above 
all, and all of us would have given our lives for Cortes. 
So that if in the Town of Trinidad the orders of 
Velasquez were slighted, in the town of Havana they 
were absolutely ignored. 

Cortes wrote to Velasquez in the agreeable and 
complimentary terms which he knew so well how to 
use, and told him that he should set sail next day 
and that he remained his humble servant. 




THERE was to be no parade of the forces until we 
arrived at Cozumel. Cort6s ordered the horses to be 
taken on board ship, and he direted Pedro de Alvarado 
to go along the North coat in a good ship named the 
San Sebaftian^ and he told the pilot who was in charge 
to wait for him at Cape San Antonio as all the ships 
would meet there and go in company to CozumeL 
He also sent a messenger to Diego de Ordas, who had 
gone along the North Coat to collect supplies of food 
with orders to do the same and await his coming. 

On the loth February, 1519, after hearing Mass, 
they set sail along the south coa& with nine ships and 
the company of gentlemen and soldiers whom I have 
mentioned, so that with the two ships absent from the 
north coat there were eleven ships in all, including 
that which carried Pedro de Alvarado with seventy 
soldiers and I travelled in his company. 

The Pilot named Camacho who was in charge of 
our ship paid no attention to the orders of Cort6s 
and went his own way and we arrived at Cozumel two 
days before Cortes and anchored in the port which I 
have often mentioned when telling about Grijalva's 

Cortes had not yet arrived, being delayed by the 
ship commanded by Francisco de Morla having lol 
her rudder in bad weather, however she was supplied 
with another rudder by one of the ships of the fleet, 
and all then came on in company. 

To go back to Pedro de Alvarado. As soon as we 
an ived in port we went on shore with all the soldiers 
to the town of Cozumel, but we found no Indians 
there as they had all fled. So we were ordered to go 
on to another town about a league distant, and there 
also the natives had fled and taken to the bush, but 


they could not carry off their property and left behind 
their poultry and other things and Pedro de Alvarado 
ordered forty of the fowls to be taken. In an Idol house 
there were some altar ornaments made of old cloths 
and some little cheats containing diadems. Idols, 
beads and pendants of gold of poor quality, and here 
we captured two Indians and an Indian woman, and 
we returned to the town where we had disembarked. 
While we were there Cortes arrived with all the 
fleet, and after taking up his lodging the firb thing he 
did was to order the pilot Camacho to be put in irons 
for not having waited for him at sea as he had been 
ordered to do. When he saw the town without any 
people in it, and heard that Pedro de Alvarado had 
gone to the other town and had taken fowls and cloths 
and other things of small value from the Idols, and some 
gold which was half copper, he showed that he was 
very angry both at that and at the pilot not having 
waited for him, and he reprimanded Pedro de Alvarado 
severely, and told him that we should never pacify 
the country in that way by robbing the natives of their 
property, and he sent for the two Indians and the 
woman whom we had captured, and through Melcho- 
rejo (Julianillo his companion was dead), the man 
we had brought from Cape Catoche who understood 
the language well, he spoke to them telling them to 
go and summon the Caciques and Indians of their 
town, and he told them not to be afraid, and he 
ordered the gold and the cloths and all the reft to be 
given back to them, and for the fowls (which had 
already been eaten) he ordered them to be given beads 
and little bells, and in addition he gave to each Indian 
a Spanish shirt. So they went off to summon the lord 
of the town, and the next day the Cacique and all his 
people arrived, women and children and all the 
inhabitants of the town, and they went about among us 
as though they had been used to us all their lives, and 


Cortes ordered us not to annoy them in any way. 
Here in this Island Cortes began to rule energetically, 
and Our Lord so favoured him that whatever he put 
his hand to it turned out well for him, especially 
in pacifying the people and towns of these lands > 
as we shall see further on. 

When we had been in Cozumel three days, Cortes 
ordered a muster of his forces so as to see how many 
of us there were, and he found that we numbered five 
hundred and eight, not counting the shipmasters,, 
pilots, and sailors, who numbered about one hundred. 
There were sixteen horses and mares all fit to be used 
for sport or as chargers. 

There were eleven ships both great and small, 
and one a sort of launch which a certain Gines Nortes- 
brought laden with supplies. 

There were thirty-two crossbowmen and thirteen 
musketeers, and some brass guns, and four falconets, 
and much powder and ball. 

After the review Cortes ordered Mesa surnamed 
" the gunner " and Bartolome de Usagre and 
Arbenga and a certain Catalan who were all artillery- 
men, to keep their guns clean and in good order, and 
the ammunition ready for use. He appointed Francisco 
de Orozco, who had been a soldier in Italy to be 
captain of the Artillery. He likewise ordered two 
crossbowmen named Juan Benitez and Pedro del 
Guzman who were masters of the art of repairing 
crossbows, to see that every crossbow had two or three 
[spare] nuts and cords and fore cords and to be 
careful to keep them Stored and to have smoothing 
tools and to see that the men should practise at a target. 
He also ordered all the horses to be kept in good 



CORTES sent for me and a Biscayan named Martin 
Ramos, and asked us what we thought about those 
words which the Indians of Campeche had used when 
we went there with Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, 
when they cried out " Caftilan, Ca&ilan ". We again 
related to" Cortes all that we had seen and heard about 
the matter, and he said that he also had often thought 
about it, and that perhaps there might be some Spaniards 
living in the country, and added " It seems to me 
that it would be well to ask these Caciques of Cozumel 
if they know anything about them/' So through 
Melchorejo, who already understood a little Spanish 
and knew the language of Cozumel very well, all the 
chiefs were questioned, and every one of them said 
that they had known of certain Spaniards and gave 
descriptions of them, and said that some Caciques, 
who lived about two days' journey inland, kept them 
as slaves. We were all delighted at this news, and 
Cortes told the Caciques that they mu& go at once 
and summon the Spaniards, taking with them letters. 
The Cacique advised Cortes to send a ransom to the 
owners who held these men as slaves, so that they 
should be allowed to come, and Cortes did so, and 
gave to the messengers all manner of beads. Then 
he ordered the two smallest vessels to be got ready, 
under the command of Diego de Ordas, and he sent 
them off to the coaSt near Cape Catoche where the 
larger vessel was to wait for eight days while the 
smaller vessel should go backwards and forwards 
and bring news of what was being done, for the land 
of Cape Catoche was only four leagues distant. 

In two days the letters were delivered to a Spaniard 
named Jeronimo de Aguilar, for that we found to be 


his name. When he had read the letter and received 
the ransom of beads which we had sent to him he was 
delighted, and carried the ransom to the Cacique 
his masher, and begged leave to depart, and the Cacique 
at once gave him leave to go wherever he pleased. 
Aguilar set out for the place, five leagues distant, 
where his companion Gonzalo Guerrero was living, 
but when he read the letter to him he answered : 
" Brother Aguilar, I am married and have three 
children and the Indians look on me as a Cacique and 
captain in wartime You go, and God be with you, 
but I have my face tattooed and my ears pierced, 
what would the Spaniards say should they see me 
in this guise ? and look how handsome these boys of 
mine are, for God's sake give me those green beads 
you have brought, and I will give the beads to them 
and say that my brothers have sent them from my own 
country/' And the Indian wife of Gonzalo spoke to 
Aguilar in her own tongue very angrily and said to 
him : " What is this slave coming here for talking to 
my husband go off with you, and don't trouble 
us with any more words." 

When Jeronimo de Aguilar saw that Gonzalo would 
not accompany him he went at once, with the two 
Indian messengers, to the place where the ship had 
been awaiting his coming, but when he arrived he saw 
no ship for she had already departed. The eight days 
during which Ordas had been ordered to await and 
one day more had already expired, and seeing that 
Aguilar had not arrived Ordas returned to Cozumel 
without bringing any news about that for which he 
had come. 

When Aguilar saw that there was no ship there he 
became very sad, and returned to his ma&er and to 
the town where he usually lived. 

When Cortes saw Ordas return without success 
or any news of the Spaniards or Indian messengers 



he was very angry, and said haughtily to Ordds that 
he thought that he would have done better than to 
return without the Spaniards or any news of them, 
for it was quite clear that they were prisoners in that 


WE embarked again, and set sail on a day in the 
month of March, 1519, and went on our way in fair 
weather. At ten o'clock that same morning loud 
shouts were given from one of the ships, which tried 
to lay to, and fired a shot so that all the vessels of the 
fleet might hear it, and when Cortes heard this he at 
once checked the flagship and seeing the ship com- 
manded by Juan de Escalante bearing away and 
returning towards Cozumel, he cried out to the other 
ships which were near him : " What is the matter ? 
What is the matter ? " And a soldier named Luis de 
Zaragoza answered that Juan de Escalante's ship 
with all the Cassava bread on board was sinking, and 
Cort6s cried, " Pray God that we suffer no such 
disafter ", and he ordered the Pilot Alaminos to make- 
signal to all the other ships to return to Cozumel. 

When the Spaniard who was a prisoner among the 
Indians, knew for certain that we had returned to 
Cozumel with the ships, he was very joyful and gave 
thanks to God, and he came in all ha&e with the two 
Indians who had carried the letters and ransom, 
and as he was able to pay well with the green beads 
we had sent him, he soon hired a canoe and six Indian 

When they arrived on the coa& of Cozumel and 
were disembarking, some soldiers who had gone out 
hunting (for there were wild pigs on the island) told 



Cortes that a large canoe, which had come from the 
direftion of Cape Catoche, had arrived near the 
town. Cortes sent Andres de Tapia and two other 
soldiers to go and see, for it was a new thing for 
Indians to come fearlessly in large canoes into our 
neighbourhood. When Andres de Tapia saw that they 
were only Indians, he at once sent word to Cortes 
by a Spaniard that they were Cozumel Indians who 
had come in the canoe. As soon as the men had landed, 
one of them in words badly articulated and worse 
pronounced, cried Dios y Santa Maria de Sevilla,, 
and Tapia went at once to embrace him. 
* Tapia soon brought the Spaniard to Cortes but before 
he arrived where Cortes was Standing, several Spaniards 
asked Tapia where the Spaniard was ? although he 
was walking by his side, for they could not distinguish 
him from an Indian as he was naturally brown and he 
had his hair shorn like an Indian slave, and carried a 
paddle on his shoulder, he was shod with one old 
sandal and the other was tied to his belt, he had on a 
ragged old cloak, and a worse loin cloth, with which 
he covered his nakedness, and he had tied up,- in a 
bundle in his cloak, a Book of Hours, old and worn. 
When Cortes saw him in this tate, he too was deceived 
like the other soldiers, and asked Tapia : " Where is 
the Spaniard ? " On hearing this, the Spaniard 
squatted down on his haunches as the Indians do 
and said " I am he." Cortes at once ordered him to 
be given a shirt and doublet and drawers and a cape 
and sandals, for he had no other clothes, and asked 
him about himself and what his name was and when 
he came to this country. The man replied, pronouncing 
with difficulty, that he was called Jeronimo de Aguilar, 
a native of Ecija, and that he had taken holy orders, 
that eight years had passed since he and fifteen other 
men and two women left Darien for the Island of 
Santo Domingo, and that the ship in which they 



sailed, Struck on the Alacranes so that she could not 
be floated, and that he and his companions and the 
two women got into the ship's boat, thinking to reach 
the Island of Cuba or Jamaica, but that the currents 
were very Strong and carried them to this land, and 
that the Calachiones of that diStrift had divided them 
among themselves, and that many of his companions 
had been sacrified to the Idols, and that others had 
died of disease, and the women had died of overwork 
only a short time before, for they had been made to 
grind corn ; that the Indians had intended him for 
a sacrifice, but that one night he escaped and fled to 
the Cacique with whom since then he had been 
living, and that none were left of all his party except 
himself and a certain Gonzalo Guerrero, whom he 
had gone to summon, but he would not come. 

Cortes questioned Aguilar about the country and 
the towns, but Aguilar replied that having been a 
slave, he knew only about hewing wood and drawing 
water and digging in the fields, that he had only 
once travelled as far as four leagues from home when 
he was sent with a load, but, as it was heavier than he 
could carry, he fell ill, but that he understood that 
there were very many towns. When questioned about 
Gonzalo Guerrero, he said that he was married and 
had three sons., and that his face was tattooed and his 
ears and lower lip were pierced, that he was a seaman 
and a native of Palos, and that the Indians considered 
him to be very valiant ; that when a little more than 
a year ago a captain and three vessels arrived at Cape 
Catoche, it was at the suggestion of Guerrero that 
the Indians attacked them, and that he was there 
himself in the company of the Cacique of the large 
town. When Cort6s heard this he exclaimed " I 
wish I had him in my hands for it will never do to 
leave him here." 

On the advice of Aguilar the Caciques asked Cortes 



to give them a letter of recommendation, so that if 
any other Spaniards came to that port they would treat 
the Indians well and do them no harm, and this letter 
was given to them. 


ON the 4th March, 1519, with the good fortune to 
carry such a useful and faithful interpreter along with 
us, Cortes gave orders for us to embark in the same 
order as before, and with the same lantern signals by 

We sailed along in good weather, until at nightfall 
a head wind Struck us so fiercely that the ships were 
dispersed and there was great danger of being driven 
ashore. Thank God, by midnight the weather 
moderated, and the ships got together again, excepting 
the vessel under the command of Juan Velasquez de 
Leon. However, when she Still failed to appear, it 
was agreed that the whole fleet should go back and 
search for the missing ship, and we found her at anchor 
in a bay which was a great relief to us all. We Stayed 
in that bay for a day and we lowered two boats and 
went on shore and found farms and maize planta- 
tions, and there were four Cues which are the houses 
of their Idols, and there were many Idols in them, nearly 
all of them figures of tall women so that we called that 
place the Punta de las Mugeresi 

On the 1 2th March, 1519, we arrived with all the 
fleet at the Rio de Grijalva, which is also called 
Tabasco, and as we already knew from our experience 
with Grijalva that vessels of large size could not 
enter into the river, the larger vessels were anchored 

1 Punta de las Mugeres = the Cape of the Women. 


out at sea, and from the smaller vessels and boats all 
the soldiers were landed at the Cape of the Palms 
(as they were in Grijalva's time) which was about half 
.a league distant from the town of Tabasco, The river, 
the river banks and the mangrove thickets were 
swarming with Indians, at which those of us who 
had not been here in Grijalva's time were much 

In addition to this there were assembled in the 
town more than twelve thousand warriors all prepared 
to make war on us, for at this time the town was of 
considerable importance and other large towns were 
subjeft to it and they had all made preparation for 
war and were well supplied with arms. 

The reason for this was that the people of Cham- 
poton and Lazaro and the other towns in that neigh- 
bourhood had looked upon the people of Tabasco as 
cowards, and had told them so to their faces, because 
they had given Grijalva the gold jewels and they said 
that they were too faint hearted to attack us although 
they had more towns and more warriors than the people 
of Champoton and Lazaro. This they said to annoy 
them and added that they in their towns had attacked 
us and killed fifty-six of us. So on account of these 
taunts, which had been uttered, the people of Tabasco 
had determined to take up arms. 

When Cortes saw them drawn up ready for war he 
told Aguilar the interpreter to ask the Indians who 
passed near us, in a large canoe and who looked like 
chiefs, what they were so much disturbed about, and 
to tell them that we had not come to do them any harm, 
tut were willing to give them some of the things 
~we had brought with us and to treat them like brothers, 
and we prayed them not to begin a war as they would 
regret it, and much else was said to them about 
keeping the peace. However, the more Aguilar talked 
to them the more violent they became, and they said 



that they would kill us all if we entered their town, and 
that it was fortified all round with fences and barricades 
of large trunks of trees. 

Aguilar spoke to them again and asked them to keep 
the peace, and allow us to take water and barter our 
goods with them for food, and permit us to tell the 
Calachones x things which would be to their advantage 
and to the service of God our Lord, but they ftill 
persisted in saying that if we advanced beyond the 
palm trees they would kill us. 

When Cortes saw the tate of affairs he ordered the 
boats and small vessels to be got ready and ordered 
three cannon to be placed in each boat and divided 
the crossbowmen and musketeers among the boats. 
We remembered that when we were here with Grijalva 
we had found a narrow path which ran across some 
Streams from the palm grove to the town, and Cortes 
ordered three soldiers to find out in the night if that 
path ran right up to the houses, and not to delay 
in bringing the news, and these men found out that 
it did lead there. After making a thorough examina- 
tion of our surroundings the ret of the day was spent 
in arranging how and in what order we were to go in 
the boats. 

The next morning we had our arms in readiness 
and after hearing mass Cort6s ordered the Captain 
Alonzo de Avila and a hundred soldiers among whom 
were ten crossbowmen, to go by the little path which 
led to the town, and, as soon as he heard the guns fired, 
to attack the town on one side while he attacked it on 
the other. Cortes himself and all the other Captains 
and soldiers went in the boats and light draft vessels 
up the river. When the Indian warriors who were 
on the banks and among the mangroves saw that we 
were really on the move, they came after us with a 
great many canoes with intent to prevent our going 
1 Cakchiones (?) 



ashore at the landing place, and the whole river bank 
appeared to be covered with Indian warriors carrying 
all the different arms which they use, and blowing 
trumpets and shells and sounding drums. When 
Cortes saw how matters tood he ordered us to wait a 
little and not to fire any shots from guns or crossbows 
or cannon, for as he wished to be justified in all that 
he might do he made another appeal to the Indians 
through the Interpreter Aguilar, in the presence of 
the King's Notary, Diego de Godoy, asking the 
Indians to allow us to land and take water and speak 
to them about God and about His Majesty, and adding 
that should they make war on us, that if in defending 
ourselves some should be killed and others hurt, theirs 
would be the fault and the burden and it would not 
lie with us, but they went on threatening that if we 
landed they would kill us. 

Then they boldly began to let fly arrows at us, and 
made signals with their drums, and like valiant men 
they surrounded us with their canoes, and they all 
attacked us with such a shower of arrows that they 
kept us in the water in some parts up to our waifts. 
As there was much mud and swamp at that place we 
could not easily get clear of it, and so many Indians 
fell on us, that what with some hurling their lances 
with all their might and others shooting arrows at us, 
we could not reach the land as soon as we wished. 

While Cortes was fighting he loSt a shoe in the mud 
and could not find it again, and he got on shore with 
one foot bare. Presently someone picked the shoe out 
of the mud and he put it on again. 

While this was happening to Cortes, all of us 
Captains as well as soldiers, with the cry of 
" Santiago ! " fell upon the Indians and forced them 
to retreat, but they did not fall back far, as they 
sheltered themselves behind great barriers and 
blockades formed of thick logs until we pulled them 


apart and got to one of the small gateways of the 
town. There we attacked them again, and we pushed 
them along through a street to where other defences 
had been erefted, and there they turned on us and met 
us face to face and fought moSt valiantly, making the 
greatest efforts, shouting and whistling and crying 
out " al calacheoni ", " al calacheoni ", which in their 
language meant an order to kill or capture our Captain. 
While we were thus surrounded by them Alonzo de 
Avila and his soldiers came up. 

As I have already said they came from the Palm 
grove by land and could not arrive sooner on account 
of the swamps and creeks. Their delay was really 
unavoidable, juSt as we also had been delayed over the 
summons of the Indians to surrender, and in breaking 
openings in the barricades, so as to enable us to attack 
them. Now we all joined together to drive the enemy 
out of their Strongholds, and we compelled them to 
retreat, but like brave warriors they kept on shooting 
showers of arrows and fire-hardened darts, and never 
turned their backs on us until [we gained] a great 
court with chambers and large halls, and three Idol 
houses, where they had already carried all the goods 
they possessed. Cortes then ordered us to halt, and 
not to follow on and overtake the enemy in their 

There and then Cortes took possession of that land 
for His Majesty, performing the aft in His Majesty's 
name. It was done in this way ; he drew his sword and 
as a sign of possession he made three cuts in a huge 
tree called a Cetba^ which &ood in the court of that 
great square, and cried that if any person should raise 
objection, that he would defend the right with the 
sword and shield which he held in his hands. 

All of us soldiers who were present when this 
happened cried out that he did right in taking possession 
of the land in His Majesty's name, and that we would 



aid him should any person say otherwise. This aft 
was done in the presence of the Royal Notary. The 
partizans of Diego Velasquez chose to grumble at 
this ah of taking possession. 

I call to mind that in that hard fought attack 
which the Indians made on us, they wounded fourteen 
soldiers, and they gave me an arrow wound in the 
thigh, but it was only a slight wound ; and we found 
eighteen Indians dead in the water where we disem- 

We slept there [in the great square] that night with 
guards and sentinels on the alert. 


THE next morning Cortes ordered Pedro de Alvarado 
to set out in command of a hundred soldiers, fifteen 
of them with guns and crossbows, to examine the 
country inland for a distance of two leagues, and to 
take Melchorejo the interpreter in his company. 
When Melchorejo was looked for he could not be 
found as he had run off with the people of Tabasco, 
and it appears that the day before he had left the 
Spanish clothes that had been given to him hung up 
in the palm grove, and had fled by night in a canoe. 
Cortes was much annoyed at his flight, fearing that 
he would tell things to his fellow countrymen to our 
disadvantage well, let him go as a bit of bad luck, 
and let us get back to our tory. Cortes also sent the 
Captain Francisco de Lugo, in another direftion, with 
a hundred soldiers, twelve of them musketeers and 
crossbowmen, with instructions not to go beyond two 
leagues and to return to the camp to sleep. 

When Francisco de Lugo and his company had 
marched about a league from camp he came on a great 
of Indian archers carrying lances and shields, 


drums and Standards and they made Straight for our 
company of soldiers and surrounded them on all 
sides. They were so numerous and shot their arrows 
so deftly that it was impossible to withstand them, and 
they hurled their fire-hardened darts and caft ftones 
from their slings in such numbers that they fell like 
hail, and they attacked our men with their two-handed 
knife-like swords, 1 Stoutly as Francisco de Lugo and 
his soldiers fought, they could not ward off the enemy, 
and when this ^ was clear to them, while till keeping 
a good formation, they began to retreat towards the 
camp. A certain Indian, a swift and daring runner, 
had been sent off to the camp to beg Cortes to come 
to their assistance, meanwhile Francisco de Lugo by 
careful management of his musketeers and cross- 
bowmen, some loading while others fired, and by 
occasional charges was able to hold his own again& 
all the squadrons attacking him. 

Let us leave him in the dangerous situation I have 
described and return to Captain Pedro de Alvarado, 
who after marching about a league came on a creek 
which was very difficult to cross, and it pleased God 
our Lord so to lead him that he should return by another 
road in the direction where Francisco de Lugo was 
fighting. When he heard the reports of the muskets 
and the great din of drums and trumpets and the 
shouts and whittles of the Indians, he knew that 
there mu& be a battle going on, so with the greatest 
hate but in good order he ran towards the cries 
and shots and found Captain Francisco de Lugo and 
his men fighting with their faces to the enemy, and 
five of the enemy lying dead. As soon as he joined 
forces with Francisco de Lugo they turned on the 
Indians and drove them back, but they were not able 
to put them to flight, and the Indians followed our 
men right up to the camp. 

Macanas> or Maquahuith : edged with flint or obsidian. 

J.rj.t*(,M/>CtJ, U JiTJ-UyUUUIAl.!,. 



In like manner other companies of warriors had 
attacked us where Cortes was guarding the wounded, 
but we soon drove them off with our guns, which laid 
many of them low, and with our good sword play. 

When Cortes heard of Francisco de Lugo's peril 
from the Cuban Indian who came to beg for help, we 
promptly went to his assistance, and we met the two 
captains with their companies about half a league from 
the camp. Two soldiers of Francisco de Lugo's com- 
pany were killed and eight wounded, and three of 
Pedro de Alvarado's company were wounded. When 
we arrived in camp we buried the dead and tended the 
wounded, and Stationed sentinels and kept a lrid 

In those skirmishes we killed fifteen Indians and 
captured three, one of whom seemed to be a chief, and 
through Aguilar, our interpreter, we asked them why 
they were so mad as to attack us, and that they could 
see that we should kill them if they attacked us again. 
Then one of these Indians was sent with some beads to 
give to the Caciques to bring them to peace, and that 
messenger told us that the Indian Melchorejo whom 
we had brought from Cape Catoche, went to the chiefs 
the night before and counselled them to fight us day 
and night, and said that they would conquer us as we 
were few in number ; so it turned out that we had 
brought an enemy with us instead of a help. 

This Indian, whom we despatched with the message 
went off and never returned. From the other two 
Indian prisoners Aguilar the interpreter learnt for 
certain that by the next day the Caciques from all 
the neighbouring towns of the province would have 
assembled with all their forces ready to make war on 
us, and that they would come and surround our camp, 
for that was Melchorejo's advice to them. 

As soon as Cortes knew this for certain, he ordered 
all the horses to be landed from the ships without 



delay, and the crossbowmen and musketeers and all 
of us soldiers, even those who were wounded, to have 
our arms ready for use* 

When the horses were brought on shore they were 
were very Stiff and afraid to move, for they had been 
many days on board ship, but the next day they moved 
quite freely. 

At that time it happened that six or seven sold'ers, 
young men and otherwise in good health, suffered from 
pains in their loins, so that they could not Sand on their 
feet and had to be carried on men's backs. We did 
not know what this sickness came from, some say that 
they fell ill on account of the [quilted] cotton armour 
which they never took off, but wore day and night, 
and because in Cuba they had lived daintily and were 
not used to hard work, so in the heat they fell ill. 
Cortes ordered them not to remain on land but to be 
taken at once on board ship. 

The bet horses and riders were chosen to form 
the cavalry, and the horses had little bells attached to 
their breastplates. The men were ordered not to 
lop to spear those who were down, but to aim their 
lances at the faces of the enemy. 

Thirteen gentlemen were chosen to go on horse- 
back with Cortes in command of them, and I here 
record their names : Cortes, Cristoval de Olid, Pedro 
de Alvarado, Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero, Juan 
de Escalante, Francisco de Montejo, and Alonzo de 
Avila to whom was given the horse belonging to 
Ortiz the musician and Bartolome Garcia, for neither 
of these men were good horsemen, Juan Velasquez de 
Leon, Francisco de Morla, and Lares the good 
horseman, Gonzalo Dominguez, an excellent horse- 
man, Moron of Bayamo, and Pedro Gonzalez of 
Trujillo. Cortes selected all these gentlemen and 
went himself as their captain. 

Cortes ordered Mesa the artilleryman to have his 



guns ready, and he placed Diego de Ordas in command 
of us foot soldiers and he also had command of the 
musketeers and bowmen, for he was no horseman. 

Very early the next day which was the day of Nueftra 
Sefiora de Marzo [Lady-day, 2^th March] after hear- 
ing mass, which was said by Fray Bartolome de 
Olmedo, we formed in order under our Standard 
bearer, and marched to some large savannas where 
Francisco de Lugo and Pedro de Alvarado had been 
attacked, about a league distant from the camp we 
had left ; and that savanna and township was called 
Cintla, and was subject to Tabasco. 

Cort6s [and the horsemen] were separated a short 
distance from us on account of some swamps which 
could not be crossed by the horses, and as we were 
marching along we came on the whole force of Indian 
warriors who were on the way to attack us in our 
camp. It was near the town of Cintla that we met 
them on an open plain. 

As they approached us their squadrons were so 
numerous that they covered the whole plain, and they 
rushed on us like mad dogs completely surrounding 
us, and they let fly such a cloud of arrows, javelins and 
ftones that on the firt assault they wounded over 
seventy of us, and fighting hand to hand they did us 
great damage with their lances, and one soldier fell 
dead at once from an arrow wound in the ear, and they 
kept on shooting and wounding us. With our muskets 
and crossbows and with good sword play we did not 
fail as tout fighters, and when they came to feel the 
edge of our swords little by little they fell back, but 
it was only so as to shoot at us in greater safety. Mesa, 
our artilleryman, killed many of them with his cannon, 
for they were formed in great squadrons and they did 
not open out so that he could fire at them as he 
pleased, but with all the hurts and wounds which we 
gave them, we could not drive them off. I said to 



Diego de Ordas : "it seems to me that we ought 
to close up and charge them ", for in truth they 
suffered greatly from the Strokes and thrusts of our 
swords, and that was why they fell away from us, both 
from fear of these swords, and the better to shoot their 
arrows and hurl their javelins and the hail of Atones. 
Ordas replied that it was not good advice, for there 
were three hundred Indians to every one of us, and 
that we could not hold out against such a multitude 
so there we lood enduring their attack. However, 
we did agree to get as near as we could to them, as I 
had advised Ordas, so as to give them a bad time with 
our swordsmanship, and they suffered so much from 
it that they retreated towards a swamp. 

During all this time Cortes and his horsemen failed 
to appear, although we greatly longed for him, and 
we feared that by chance some disaster had befallen 

I remember that when we fired shots the Indians 
gave great shouts and whi&les and threw dut and 
rubbish into the air so that we should not see the 
damage done to them, and they sounded their trumpets 
and drums and shouted and whirled and cried 
"Alalal Alala!" 

Jut at this time we caught sight of our horsemen, 
and as the great Indian hot was crazed with its attack 
on us, it did not at once perceive them coming up 
behind their backs, and as the plain was level ground 
and the horsemen were good riders, and many of the 
horses were very handy and fine gallopers, they came 
quickly on the enemy and speared them as they chose. 
As soon as we saw the horsemen we fell on the Indians 
with such energy that with us attacking on one side 
and the horsemen on the other, they soon turned tail. 
The Indians thought that the horse and its rider was 
all one animal, for they had never seen horses up to 
this time. 



The savannas and fields were crowded with Indians 
running to take refuge in the thick woods near by. 

After we had defeated the enemy, Cortes told us 
that he had not been able to come to us sooner as there 
was a swamp in the way, and he had to fight his way 
through another force of warriors before he could 
reach us, and three horsemen and five horses had been 

As it was Lady-day we gave to the town which was 
afterwards founded here the name of Santa Maria 
de la Victoria, on account of this great victory being 
won on Our Lady's day. This was the fir& battle that 
we fought under Cortes in New Spain. 

After this we bound up the hurts of the wounded 
with cloths, for we had nothing else, and we doftored 
the horses by searing their wounds with the fat from 
the body of a dead Indian which we cut up to get out 
the fat, and we went to look at the dead lying on the 
plain and there were more than eight hundred of them, 
the greater number killed by thrusts, the others by the 
cannon, muskets and crossbows, and many were 
Stretched on the ground half dead. Where the horse- 
men had passed, numbers of them lay dead or groaning 
from their wounds. The battle lasted over an hour, 
and the Indians fought all the time like brave warriors, 
until the horsemen came up. 

We took five prisoners, two of them Captains. As 
it was late and we had had enough of fighting, and 
we had not eaten anything, we returned to our camp. 
Then we buried the two soldiers who had been killed, 
one by a wound in the ear, and the other by a wound 
in the throat, and we seared the wounds of the others 
and of the horses with the fat of the Indian, and after 
polling sentinels and guards, we had supper and 




WHEN Aguilar spoke to the prisoners he found out 
from what they said that they were fit persons to be 
sent as messengers, and he advised Cortes to free 
them, so that they might go and talk to the Caciques 
of the town. These two messengers were given green 
and blue beads, and Aguilar spoke many pleasant 
and flattering words to them, telling them that they 
had nothing to fear as we wished to treat them like 
brothers, that it was their own fault that they had 
made war on us, and that now they had better colleft 
together all the Caciques of the different towns as 
we wished to talk to them, and he gave them much 
other advice in a gentle way so as to gain their good 
will. The messengers went off willingly and spoke to 
the Caciques and chief men, and told them all we 
wished them to know about our desire for peace. 

When our envoys had been listened to, it was 
settled among them that fifteen Indian slaves, all 
with Stained faces and ragged cloaks and loin cloths, 
should at once be sent to us with fowls and baked fish 
and maize cakes. When these men came before Cortes 
he received them graciously, but Aguilar the inter- 
preter asked them rather angrily why they had come 
with their faces in that tate, that it looked more as 
though they came to fight than to treat for peace ; 
and he told them to go back to the Caciques and 
inform them, that if they wished for peace in the way 
we offered it, chieftains should come and treat for it, 
as was always the custom, and that they should not 
send slaves. But even these painted faced slaves were 
treated with consideration by us and blue beads were 
sent by them in sign of peace, and to soothe their 



The next day thirty Indian Chieftains, clad in good 
cloaks, came to visit us, and brought fowls, fish, fruit 
and maize cakes, and asked leave from Cortes to burn 
and bury the bodies of the dead who had fallen in the 
recent battles, so that they should not smell badly or 
be eaten by lions and tigers. Permission was at once 
given them and they hastened to bring many people 
to bury and burn the bodies according to their 

Cortes learnt from the Caciques that over eight 
hundred men were missing, not counting those who 
had been carried off wounded. 

They said that they could not tarry with us either to 
discuss the matter or make peace, for on the morrow 
the chieftains and leaders of all the towns would 
have assembled, and that then they would agree 
about a peace. 

As Cort6s was very sagacious about everything^ 
he said, laughing, to us soldiers who happened to be 
in his company, " Do you know, gentlemen, that it 
seems to me that the Indians are terrified at the horses 
and may think that they and the cannon alone make 
war on them. I have thought of something which 
will confirm this belief, and that is to bring the mare 
belonging to Juan Sedeno, which foaled the other day 
on board ship, and tie her up where I am now ^handing 
and also to bring the &allion of Ortiz the musician, 
which is very excitable, near enough to scent the 
mare, and when he has scented her to lead each of them 
off separately so that the Caciques who are coming shall 
not hear the horse neighing as they approach, not 
until they are Standing before me and are talking to 
me." We did juSt as Cortes ordered and brought the 
horse and mare, and the horse soon detefted the scent 
of her in Cortes* quarters. In addition to this Cortes 
ordered the largelt cannon that we possessed to be 
loaded with a large ball and a good charge of powder. 

1 08 


About mid-day forty Indians arrived, all of them 
Caciques of good bearing, wearing rich mantles. 
They saluted Cortes and all of us, and brought incense 
and fumigated all of us who were present, and they 
asked pardon for their paS behaviour, and said that 
henceforth they would be friendly. 

Cortes, through Aguilar the Interpreter, answered 
them in a rather grave manner, as though he were 
angry, that they well knew how many times he had 
asked them to maintain peace, that the fault was theirs, 
and that now they deserved to be put to death, they 
and all the people of their towns, but that as we were 
the vassals of a great King and Lord named the 
Emperor Don Carlos, who had sent us to these 
countries, and ordered us to help and favour those 
who would enter his royal service, that if they were 
now as well disposed as they said they were, that 
we would take this course, but that if they were not, 
some of those Tepu&tes would jump out and kill them 
(they call iron Tepu&le in their language) for some of 
the FepuSlles were Sill angry because they had made 
war on us. At this moment the order was secretly 
given to put a match to the cannon which had been 
loaded, and it went off with such a thunderclap as 
was wanted, and the ball went buzzing over the hills, 
and as it was mid-day and very Sill it made a great 
noise, and the Caciques were terrified on hearing it. 
As they had never seen anything like it they believed 
what Cortes had told them was true. Then Cortes 
told them, through Aguilar, not to be afraid for he had 
given orders that no harm should be done to them. 

JuS then the horse that had scented the mare was 
brought and tied up not far distant from where Cortes 
was talking to the Caciques, and the horse began to 
paw the ground and neigh and become wild with 
excitement, looking all the time towards the Indians 
and the place whence the scent of the mare had 



reached him, and the Caciques thought that he was 
roaring at them and they were terrified. When Cortes 
observed their ftate of mind, he rose from his seat and 
went to the horse and told two orderlies to lead it 
far away, and said to the Indians that he had told the 
horse not to be angry as they were friendly and wished 
to make peace. 

While this was going on there arrived more than 
thirty Indian carriers, who brought a meal of fowls 
and fish and fruits and other food. 

Cortes had a long conversation with these chieftains 
and Caciques and they told him that they would all 
come on the next day and would bring a present and 
would discuss other matters, and then they went away 
quite contented. 


EARLY the next morning many Caciques and chiefs 
of Tabasco and the neighbouring towns arrived and 
paid great respeft to us all, and they brought a present 
of gold, consi&ing of four diadems and some gold 
lizards, and two [ornaments] like little dogs, and 
earrings and five ducks, and two masks with Indian 
faces and two gold soles for sandals, and some other 
things of little value. I do not remember how much 
the things were worth ; and they brought cloth, such 
as they make and wear, which was quilted hiff. 

This present, however, was worth nothing in com- 
parison with the twenty women that were given us, 
among them one very excellent woman called Dona 
Marina, for so she was named when she became a 
Christian. Cortes received this present with pleasure 
and went aside with all the Caciques, and with 
Aguilar, the interpreter, to hold converse, and he 



told them that he gave them thanks for what they had 
brought with them, but there was one thing that he 
mut ask of them, namely, that they should re-occupy 
the town with all their people, women and children^ 
and he wished to see it repeopled within two days,. 
for he would recognize that as a sign of true peace. 
The Caciques sent at once to summon all the inhabi- 
tants with their women and children and within two 
days they were again settled in the town. 

One other thing Cortes asked of the chiefs and that 
was to give up their idols and sacrifices, and this they 
said they would do, and, through Aguilar, Cortes 
told them as well as he was able about matters con- 
cerning our holy faith, how we were Christians and 
worshipped one true and only God, and he showed 
them an image of Our Lady with her precious Son in 
her arms and explained to them that we paid the 
greatest reverence to it as it was the image of the 
Mother of our Lord God who was in heaven. The 
Caciques replied that they liked the look of the great 
Teleciguata (for in their language great ladies are 
called Teleciguatas) and [begged] that she might be 
given them to keep in their town, and Cortes said that 
the image should be given to them, and ordered them? 
to make a well-con&rufted altar, and this they did 
at once. 

The next morning, Cortes ordered two of our 
carpenters, named Alonzo Yanez and Alvaro L6pez, 
to make a very tall cross. 

When all this had been settled Cortes asked the 
Caciques what was their reason for attacking us three 
times when we had asked them to keep the peace ; 
the chief replied that he had already asked pardon for 
their afts and had been forgiven, that the Cacique of 
Champoton, his brother, had advised it, and that he 
feared to be accused of cowardice, for he had already 
been reproached and dishonoured for not having 



attacked the other captain who had come with four 
ships (he must have meant Juan de Grijalva) and he 
also said that the Indian whom we had brought as an 
Interpreter, who escaped in the night, had advised 
them to attack us both by day and night, 

Cortes then ordered this man to be brought before 
him without fail, but they replied that when he saw 
that the battle was going against them, he had taken 
to flight, and they knew not where he was although 
search had been made for him ; but we came to know 
that they had offered him as a sacrifice because his 
counsel had cot them so dear. 

Cortes also asked them where they procured their 
gold and jewels, and they replied, from the direction 
of the setting sun, and said " Culua " and " Mexico ", 
and as we did not know what Mexico and Culua meant 
we paid little attention to it. 

Then we brought another interpreter named 
Francisco, whom we had captured during Grijalva's 
expedition, who has already been mentioned by me 
but he understood nothing of the Tabasco language 
only that of Culua which is the Mexican tongue. 
By means of signs he told Cortes that Culua was far 
ahead, and he repeated " Mexico " which we did not 

So the talk ceased until the next day when the sacred 
image of Our Lady and the Cross were set up on the 
altar and we all paid reverence to them, and Padre 
Fray Bartolome de Olmedo said mass and all the 
Caciques and chiefs were present and we gave the name 
of Santa Maria de la Victoria to the town, and by this 
name the town of Tabasco is now called. The same 
friar, with Aguilar as interpreter, preached many 
good things about our holy faith to the twenty Indian 
women who had been given us, and immediately 
afterwards they were baptized. One Indian lady, 
who was given to us here was christened Dofta 



Marina, and she was truly a great chieftainess and the 
daughter of great Caciques and the mi&ress of vassals, 
and this her appearance clearly showed. Later on I 
will relate why it was and in what manner she was 
brought here. 

Cortes allotted one of the women to each of his 
captains and Dona Marina, as she was good looking 
and intelligent and without embarrassment, he gave 
to Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero. When Puerto- 
carrero went to Spain, Dona Marina lived with Cortes, 
and bore him a son named Don Martin Cortes. 

We remained five days in this town, to look after 
the wounded and those who were suffering from pain 
in the loins, from which they all recovered. Further- 
more, Cortes drew the Caciques to him by kindly 
converse, and told them how our master the Emperor, 
whose vassals we were, had under his orders many 
great lords, and that it would be well for them also 
to render him obedience, and that then, whatever they 
might be in need of, whether it was our protection or 
any other necessity, if they would make it known 
to him, no matter where he might be, he would come 
to their assistance. 

The Caciques all thanked him for this, and there- 
upon all declared themselves the vassals of our great 
Emperor. These were the firt vassals, to render sub- 
mission to His Maje&y in New Spain. 

Cortes then ordered the Caciques to come with their 
women and children early the next day, which was 
Palm Sunday, to the altar, to pay homage to the holy 
image of Our Lady and to the Cross, and at the same 
time Cortes ordered them to send six Indian carpenters 
to accompany our carpenters to the town of Cinda, 
there to cut a cross on a great tree called a Ceiba, which 
grew there, and they did it so that it might la& a long 
time, for as the bark is renewed the cross will show 
there for ever. When this was done he ordered the 


Indians to get ready all the canoes that they owned to 
help us to embark, for we wished to set sail on that 
holy day because the pilots had come to tell Cortes 
that the ships ran a great risk from a Norther which 
is a dangerous gale. 

The next day, early in the morning, all the Caciques 
and chiefs came in their canoes with all their women 
and children and &ood in the court where we had 
placed the church and cross, and many branches of 
trees had already been cut ready to be carried in the 
procession. Then the Caciques beheld us all, Cortes, 
as well as the captains, and every one of us marching 
together with the greatest reverence in a devout 

? recession, and the Padre de la Merced and the priest 
uan Diaz, clad in their vestments, said mass, and we 
paid reverence to and kissed the Holy Cross, while the 
Caciques and Indians tood looking on at us. 

When our solemn festival was over the chiefs 
approached and offered Cortes ten fowls and baked 
fish and vegetables, and we took leave of them, and 
Cortes again commended to their care the Holy 
image and the sacred crosses and told them always to 
keep the place clean and well swept, and to deck the 
cross with garlands and to reverence it and then 
they would enjoy good health and bountiful harvests. 
It was growing late when we got on board ship and 
the next day, Monday, we set sail in the morning 
and with a fair wind laid our course for San Juan de 
Ulua, keeping close in shore all the time. 

As we sailed along in the fine weather, we soldiers 
who knew the coa& would say to Cortes, " Senor, 
over there is La Rambla, which the Indians call 
Ayagualulco," and soon afterwards we arrived off 
Tonala which we called San Antonio, and we pointed 
it out to him. Further on we showed him the great 
river of Coatzacoalcos, and he saw the lofty snow capped 
mountains, and then the Sierra of San Martin, and 



further on we pointed out the split rock, which is a 
great rock Standing out in the sea with a mark on the 
top of it which gives it the appearance of a seat. 
Again further on we showed him the Rio de Alvarado, 
which Pedro de Alvarado entered when we were with 
Grijalva, and then we came in sight of the Rio de 
Banderas, where we had gained in barter the sixteen 
thousand dollars, then we showed him the Isla Blanca, 
and told him where lay the Isla Verde, and close in 
shore we saw the Isla de Sacrificios, where we found 
the altars and the Indian victims in Grijalva's time ; 
and at lab our good fortune brought us to San Juan 
de Ulria soon after midday on Holy Thursday. 


BEFORE telling about the great Montezuma and his 
famous City of Mexico and the Mexicans, I wish to 
give some account of Dona Marina, who from her 
childhood had been the mistress and Cacica of towns 
and vassals. It happened in this way : 

Her father and mother were chiefs and Caciques 
of a town called Paynala, which had other towns 
subjeft to it, and &ood about eight leagues from 
the town of Coatzacoalcos. Her father died while 
she was till a little child, ar^d her mother married 
another Cacique, a young man, and bore him a son. 
It seems that the father and mother had a great 
affeftion for this son and it was agreed between them 
that he should succeed to their honours when their 
days were done. So that there should be no impedi- 
ment to this, they gave the little girl, Dona Marina, 
to some Indians from Xicalango, and this they did 
by night so as to escape observation, and they then 


spread the report that she had died, and as it happened 
at this time that a child of one of their Indian slaves 
died they gave out that it was their daughter and the 
heiress who was dead. 

The Indians of Xicalango gave the child to the 
people of Tabasco and the Tabasco people gave her 
to Cortes. I myself knew her mother, and the old 
woman's son and her half-brother, when he was 
already grown up and ruled the town jointly with his 
mother, for the second husband of the old lady was 
dead. When they became Christians, the old lady 
was called Marta and the son Lazaro. I knew all this 
very well because in the year 1523 after the conqueft 
of Mexico and the other provinces, when Cristoval 
de Olid revolted in Honduras, and Cortes was on 
his way there, he passed through Coatzacoalcos and 
I and the greater number of the settlers of that town 
accompanied him on that expedition as I shall relate 
in the proper time and place. As Dona Marina 
proved herself such an excellent woman and good 
interpreter throughout the wars in New Spain, Tlascala 
and Mexico (as I shall show later on) Cortes always 
took her with him, and during that expedition she 
was married to a gentleman named Juan Jaramillo 
at the town of Orizaba. 

Dona Marina was a person of the greatest importance 
and was obeyed without quelion by the Indians 
throughout New Spain. 

When Cortes was in the town of Coatzacoalcos he 
sent to summon to his presence all the Caciques of 
that province in order to make them a speech about 
our holy religion, and about their good treatment, 
and among the Caciques who assembled was the 
mother of Dona Marina and her half-brother, Lazaro. 

Some time before this Dona Marina had told me 
that she belonged to that province and that she was 
the mistress of vassals, and Cortes also knew it well, 



as did Aguilar, the interpreter. In such a manner it 
was that mother, daughter and son came together, 
and it was easy enough to see that she was the daughter 
from the Strong likeness she bore to her mother. 

These relations were in great fear of Dona Marina, 
for they thought that she had sent for them to put 
them to death, and they were weeping. 

When Dona Marina saw them in tears, she consoled 
them and told them to have no fear, that when they 
had given her over to the men from Xicalango, they 
knew not what they were doing, and she forgave them 
for doing it, and she gave them many jewels of gold 
and raiment, and told them to return to their town, 
and said that God had been very gracious to her in 
freeing her from the worship of idols and making her 
a Christian, and letting her bear a son to her lord and 
master Cortes and in marrying her to such a gentle- 
man as Juan Jaramillo, who was now her husband. 
That she would rather serve Rer husband and Cortes 
than anything else in the world, and would not 
exchange her place to be Cacica of all the provinces in 
New Spain. 

Dona Marina knew the language of Coatzacoalcos, 
which is that common to Mexico, and she knew the 
language of Tabasco, as did also Jeronimo de Aguilar, 
who spoke the language of Yucatan and Tabasco, 
which is one and the same. So that these two could 
underhand one another clearly, and Aguilar translated 
into CaHlian for Corts. 

This was the great beginning of our conquers 
and. thus, thanks be to God, things prospered with 
us. I have made a point of explaining this matter, 
because without the help of Dona Marina we could 
not have underwood the language of New Spain and 





ON Holy Thursday, in the year 1519, we arrived with 
all the fleet at the Port of San Juan de UMa, and as 
the Pilot Alaminos knew the place well from having 
come there with Juan de Grijalva he at once ordered 
the vessels to drop anchor where they would be safe 
from the northerly gales. The flagship hoisted her 
royal Standards and pennants, and within half an 
hour of anchoring, two large canoes came out to us, 
full of Mexican Indians. Seeing the big ship with 
the Standards flying they knew that it was there they 
irmSt go to speak with the captain ; so they went 
direft to the flagship and going on board asked who 
was the Tatuan x which in their language means the 
chief. Dona Marina who underwood the language 
well, pointed him out. Then the Indians paid many 
marks of respeft to Cortes, according to their usage, 
and bade him welcome, and said that their lord, a 
servant of the great Montezuma, had sent them to 
ask what kind of men we were, and of what we were 
in search, and added that if we were in need of any- 
thing for ourselves or the ships, that we should tell 
them and they would supply it. Our Cortes thanked 
them through the two interpreters, Aguilar and Dona 
Marina, and ordered food and wine to be given them 
and some blue beads, and after they had drunk he 
told them that we came to see them and to trade with 
them and that our arrival in their country should cause 

1 Tlatoan. 


them no uneasiness but be looked on by them as 
fortunate. The messengers returned on shore well 
content, and the next day, which was Good Friday, 
we disembarked with the horses and guns, on some 
sand hills which rise to a considerable height, for 
there was no level land, nothing but sand dunes ; and 
the artilleryman Mesa placed the guns in position 
to the bel of his judgment. Then we set up an altar 
where mass was said and we made huts and shelters 
for Cortes and the captains, and three hundred of the 
soldiers brought wood and made huts for themselves 
and we placed the horses where they would be safe 
and in this way was Good Friday passed. 

The next day, Saturday, Easier Eve, many Indians 
arrived sent by a chief who was a governor under 
Montezuma, named Pitalpitoque l (whom we after- 
wards called Ovandillo), and they brought axes and 
dressed wood for the huts of the Captain Cortes and 
the other ranchos near to it, and covered them with 
large cloths on account of the Strength of the sun, 
for the heat was very great and they brought fowls, 
and maize cakes and plums, which were then in 
season, and I think that they brought some gold jewels, 
and they presented all these things to Cortes ; and 
said that the next day a governor would come and 
would bring more food. Cortes thanked them heartily 
and ordered them to be given certain articles in 
exchange with which they went away well content. 
The next day, Easter Sunday, the governor whom they 
spoke of arrived. His name was Tendile, 2 a man of 
affairs, and he brought with him Pitalpitoque who was 
also a man of importance among^l the natives and there 
followed them many Indians with presents of fowls 
and vegetables. Tendile ordered these people to 
tand aside on a hillock and with much humility he 
made three obeisances to Cortes according to their 
1 Pitalpitoque = -Cuitklpitoc. 2 Teuhtlilli. 



cufbm, and then to all the soldiers who were landing 
around. Cortes bade them welcome through our 
interpreters and embraced them and asked them to 
wait, as he wished presently to speak to them. Mean- 
while he ordered an altar to be made as well as it 
could be done in the time, and Fray Bartolome de 
Olmedo, who was a fine singer, chanted Mass, and 
Padre Juan Diaz assifted, and the two governors and 
the other chiefs who were with them looked on. When 
Mass was over, Cortes and some of our captains and 
the two Indian Officers of the great Montezuma dined 
together. When the tables had been cleared away 
Cortes went aside with the two Caciques and our two 
interpreters and explained to them that we were 
Christians and vassals of the greatest lord on earth 
who had many great princes as his vassals and servants, 
and that it was at his orders that we had come to this 
country, because for many years he had heard rumours 
about the country and the great prince who ruled it. 
That he wished to be friends with this prince and to 
tell him many things in the name of the Emperor 
which things, when he knew and under&ood them, 
would please him greatly. Moreover, he wished to 
trade with their prince and his Indians in good friend- 
ship, and he wanted to know where this prince would 
wish that they should meet so that they might confer 
together. Tendile replied somewhat proudly, and 
said : " You have only jufc now arrived and you 
already ask to speak with our prince ; accept now 
this present which we give you in his name, and after- 
wards you will tell me what you think fitting." With 
that he took out a petaca which is a sort of chet, 
many articles of gold beautifully and richly worked 
and ordered ten loads of white cloth made of cotton 
and feathers to be brought, wonderful things to see, 
besides quantities of food. Cortes received it all with 
smiles in a gracious manner and gave in return, beads 

1 20 

/s x - 








s ^ 





? lfev 

IP . 

f '(& " 

\ v 












of twined glass and other small beads from Spain,, 
and he begged them to send to their towns to ask the 
people to come and trade with us as he had brought 
many beads to exchange for gold, and they replied 
that they would do as he asked. Cortes then ordered 
his servants to bring an arm-chair, richly carved and 
inlaid and some margaritas^ Clones with many [intricate] 
designs in them, and a firing of twilled glass beads. 
packed in cotton scented with musk and a crimson 
cap with a golden medal engraved with a figure of 
St George on horseback, lance in hand, slaying the 
dragon, and he told Tendile that he should send the 
chair to his prince Montezuma, so that he could be 
seated in it when he, Cortes, came to see and speak 
with him, and that he should place the cap on his head, 
and that the Clones and all the other things were 
presents from our lord the King, as a sign of his 
friendship, for he was aware that Montezuma was a 
great prince, and Cortes asked that a day and a place 
might be named where he could go to see Montezuma. 
Tendile received the present and said that his lord 
Montezuma was such a great prince that it would 
please him to know our great King, and that he 
would carry the present to him at once and bring back 
a reply. 

It appears that Tendile brought with him some clever 
painters such as they had in Mexico and ordered them 
to make piftures true to nature of the face and body of 
Cortes and all his captains, and of the soldiers, ships, 
sails and horses, and of Dona Marina and Aguilar, 
even of the two greyhounds, and the cannon and 
cannon balls, and all of the army we had brought with 
us, and he carried the pictures to his mafter. Cortes 
ordered our gunners to load the lombards with a great 
charge of powder so that they should make a great 
noise when they were fired off, and he told Pedro 
de Alvarado that he and all the horsemen should get 



ready so that these servants of Montezuma might see 
them gallop and told them to attach little bells to the 
horses' breastplates. Cortes also mounted his horse 
and said : "It would be well if we could gallop on 
these sand dunes but they will observe that even when 
on foot we get Stuck in the sand let us go out to 
the beach when the tide is low and gallop two and 
two " and to Pedro de Alvarado whose sorrel 
coloured mare was a great galloper, and very handy, 
he gave charge of all the horsemen. 

All this was carried out in the presence of the two 
ambassadors, and so that they should see the cannon 
fired, Cortes made as though he wished again to speak 
to them and a number of other chieftains, and the 
lombards were fired off, and as it was quite Still at 
that moment, the Stones went flying through the foreSt 
resounding with a great din, and the two governors 
and all the other Indians were frightened by things 
so new to them, and ordered the painters to record 
them so that Montezuma might see. It happened that 
one of the soldiers had a helmet half gilt but somewhat 
ruSty, and this Tendile noticed, for he was the more 
forward of the two ambassadors, and said that he 
wished to see it as it was like one that they possessed 
which had been left to them by their ancestors of the 
race from which they had sprung, and that it had 
been placed on the head of their god Huichilobos, 1 
and that their prince Montezuma would like to see 
this helmet. So it was given to him, and Cortes 
said to them that as he wished to know whether the 
gold of this country was the same as that we find 
in our rivers, they could return the helmet filled with 
grains of gold so that he could send it to our great 
Emperor. After this, Tendile bade farewell to Cortes 
and to all of us and after many expressions of regard 
from Cortes he took leave of him and said he would 
1 Huitzilopochtli. 


return with a reply without delay. After Tendile had 
departed we found out that besides being an Indian 
employed in matters of great importance, Tendile 
was the mob aftive of the servants whom his master, 
Montezuma, had in his employ, and he went with all 
hate and narrated everything to his prince, and 
showed him the pictures which had been painted and 
the present which Cortes had sent. When the great 
Montezuma gazed on it he was Struck with admira- 
tion and received it on his part with satisfaction. When 
he examined the helmet and that which was on his 
Huichilobos, he felt convinced that we belonged to 
the race which, as his forefathers had foretold would 
come to rule over that land. 


WHEN Tendile departed the other governor, Pital- 
pitoque, Stayed in our camp and occupied some huts 
a little distance from ours, and they brought Indian 
women there to make maize bread, and brought fowls 
and fruit and fish, and supplied Cortes and the 
captains who fed with him. As for us soldiers, if we 
did not hunt for shell fish on the beach, or go out 
fishing, we did not get anything. 

About that time, many Indians came from the towns 
and some of them brought gold and jewels of little 
value, and fowls to exchange with us for our goods, 
which consisted of green beads and clear glass beads 
and other articles, and with this we managed to supply 
ourselves with food. Almost all the soldiers had brought 
things for barter, as we learnt in Grijalva's time that 
it was a good thing to bring beads and in this 
manner six or seven days passed by. 



Then one morning, Tendile arrived with more than 
one hundred laden Indians, accompanied by a great 
Mexican Cacique, who in his face, features and appear- 
ance bore a Strong likeness to our Captain Cortes 
and the great Montezuma had sent him purposely, 
for it is said that when Tendile brought the portrait 
of Cortes all the chiefs who were in Montezuma's 
company said that a great chief named Quintalbor 
looked exaftly like Cortes and that was the name of 
the Cacique, who now arrived with Tendile ; and 
as he was so like Cortes, we called them in camp " our 
Cortes " and " the other Cort6s ". To go back to 
my tory, when these people arrived and came before 
our Captain they firb of all kissed the earth and then 
fumigated him and all the soldiers who were Standing 
around him, with incense which they brought in 
braziers of pottery. Cortes received them affectionately 
and seated them near himself, and that chief who came 
with the present had been appointed spokesman 
together with Tendile. After welcoming us to the 
country and after many courteous speeches had 
passed he ordered the presents which he had brought 
to be displayed, and they were placed on mats over 
which were spread cotton cloths. The firt article 
presented was a wheel like a sun, as big as a cart- 
wheel, with many sorts of piftures on it, the whole of 
fine gold, and a wonderful thing to behold, which 
those who afterwards weighed it said was worth more 
than ten thousand dollars. Then another wheel was 
presented of greater size made of silver of great 
brilliancy in imitation of the moon with other figures 
shown on it, and this was of great value as it was very 
heavy and the chief brought back the helmet full of 
fine grains of gold, juft as they are got out of the mines, 
and this was worth three thousand dollars. This gold 
in the helmet was worth more to us than if it had con- 
tained twenty thousand dollars, because it showed us 



that there were good mines there. Then were brought 
twenty golden ducks, beautifully worked and very 
natural looking, and some [ornaments] like dogs, and 
many articles of gold worked in the shape of tigers and 
lions and monkeys, and ten collars beautifully worked 
and other necklaces ; and twelve arrows and a bow 
with its String, and two rods like Staffs of justice, five 
palms long, all in beautiful hollow work of fine gold. 
Then there were presented cre&s of gold and plumes 
of rich green feathers, and others of silver, and fans 
of the same materials, and deer copied in hollow gold 
and many other things that I cannot remember for 
it all happened so many years ago, And then over 
thirty loads of beautiful cotton cloth were brought 
worked with many patterns and decorated with many 
coloured feathers, and so many other things were there 
that it is useless my trying to describe them for I know 
not how to do it. When all these things had been 
presented, this great Cacique Quintalbor and Tendile 
asked Cortes to accept this present with the same 
willingness with which his prince had sent it, and divide 
it among the teules and men who accompanied him. 
Cortes received the present with delight and then the 
ambassadors told Cortes that they wished to repeat 
what their prince, Montezuma, had sent them to 
say. Firt of all they told him that he was pleased that 
such valiant men, as he had heard that we were, should 
come to his country, for he knew all about what we 
had done at Tabasco, and that he would much like 
to see our great emperor who was such a mighty 
prince and whose fame was spread over so many lands, 
and that he would send him a present of precious 
Clones ; and that meanwhile we should tay in that 
port ; that if he could assist us in any way he would 
do so with the greatest pleasure ; but as to the inter- 
view, they should not worry about it ; that there was 
no need for it and they (the ambassadors) urged many 



objections. Corts kept a good countenance, and 
returned his thanks to them, and with many flattering 
expressions gave each of the ambassadors two holland 
shirts and some blue glass beads and other things, 
and begged them to go back as his ambassadors to 
Mexico and to tell their prince, the great Montezuma, 
that as we had come across so many seas and had 
journeyed from such distant lands solely to see and 
speak with him in person, that if we should return 
thus, that our great king and lord would not receive 
us well, and that wherever their prince Montezuma 
might be we wished to go and see him and do what 
he might order us to do. The ambassadors replied 
that they would go back and give this message to 
their prince, but as to the question of the desired 
interview they considered it superfluous. By these 
ambassadors Cortes sent what our poverty could 
afford as a gift to Montezuma ; a glass cup of 
Florentine ware, engraved with trees and hunting 
scenes and gilt, and three holland shirts and other 
things, and he charged the messengers to bring a 
reply. The two governors set out and Pitalpitoque 
remained in camp ; for it seems that the other servants 
of Montezuma had given him orders to see that food 
was brought to us from the neighbouring towns. 


As soon as the messengers had been sent off to Mexico, 
Cortes despatched two ships to explore the coa& 
further along, and to seek out a safe harbour, and 
search for lands where we could settle, for it was 
clear that we could not settle on those sand dunes, 
both on account of the mosquitoes and the distance 



from other towns. They did as they were told and 
arrived at the Rio Grande, which is close to Panuco. 
They were not able to proceed any further on account 
of the Strong currents. Seeing how difficult the 
navigation had become, they turned round and made 
for San Juan de UMa, without having made any 
further progress. 

I muft now go back to say that the Indian Pital- 
pitoque, who remained behind to look after the food, 
slackened his efforts to such an extent that no pro- 
visions reached the camp and we were greatly in need 
of food, for the cassava turned sour from the damp and 
rotted and became foul with weevils and if we had not 
gone hunting for shell fish we should have had nothing 
to eat. The Indians who used to come bringing 
gold and fowls for barter, did not come in such 
numbers as on our firt arrival, and those who did 
come were very shy and cautious and we began to 
count the hours that muft elapse before the return of 
the messengers who had gone to Mexico. We were 
thus waiting when Tendile returned accompanied 
by many Indians, and after having paid their respefts 
in the usual manner by fumigating Cort6s and the reft 
of us with incense, he presented ten loads of fine rich 
feather cloth, and four chalchihuites, which are green 
Clones of very great value, and held in the greatest 
esteem among the Indians, more than emeralds are 
by us, and certain other gold articles. Not counting 
the chalchihuites, the gold alone was said to be worth 
three thousand dollars. Then Tendile and Pitalpitoque 
went aside with Cortes and Dona Marina and Aguilar, 
and reported that their prince Montezuma had accepted 
the present and was greatly pleased with it, but as 
to an interview, that no more should be said about it ; 
that these rich Atones of chalchihuite should be sent 
to the great Emperor as they were of the highest value > 



each one being worth more and being esteemed more 
highly than a great load of gold, and that it was not 
worth while to send any more messengers to Mexico. 
Cortes thanked the messengers and gave .them 
presents, but it was certainly a disappointment to 
him to be told so ditinftly that we could not see 
Montezuma, and he said to some soldiers who 
happened to be Standing near : " Surely this mub be 
a great and rich prince, and some day, please God, we 
mut go and see him " and the soldiers answered : 
" We wish that we were already living with him ! " 
Let us now leave this question of visits and relate 
that it was now the time of the Ave Maria, and at the 
.sound of a bell which we had in the camp we all fell 
on our knees before a cross placed on a sand hill and 
said our prayers of the Ave Maria before the cross. 
When Tendile and Pitalpitoque saw us thus kneeling 
as they were very intelligent, they asked what was 
the reason that we humbled ourselves before a tree 
cut in that particular way. As Cortes heard this remark 
he said to the Padre de la Merced who was present : 
" It is a good opportunity, father, as we have good 
material at hand, to explain through our interpreters 
matters touching our holy faith." And then he delivered 
a discourse to the Caciques so fitting to the occasion 
that no good theologian could have bettered it. 
Cortes said many things very well expressed, which 
they thoroughly under&ood, and they replied that 
they would report them to their prince Montezuma. 
Cortes also told them that one of the objefts for which 
our great Emperor had sent us to their countries was 
to abolish human sacrifices, and the other evil rites 
which they practised and to see that they did not rob 
one another, or worship those cursed images. And 
Cortes prayed them to set up in their city, in the 
temples where they kept the idols which they believed 
to be gods, a cross like the one they saw before them, 



and to set up in the same place an image of Our 
Lady, which he would give them, with her precious 
son in her arms, and they would see how well it would 

?o with them, and what our God would do for them, 
recall to mind that on this lateft visit many Indians 
came with Tendile who were wishing to barter articles 
of gold, which, however, were of no great value. So 
all the soldiers set about bartering, and the gold which 
we gained by this barter we gave to the sailors who 
were out fishing in exchange for their fish so as to get 
something to eat, for otherwise we often underwent 
great privations through hunger. Cortes was pleased 
at this, although he pretended not to see what was 
going on. 


WHEN the friends of Diego Velasquez saw that some 
of us soldiers were bartering for gold, they asked 
Cortes why he permitted it, and said that Diego 
Velasquez did not send out the expedition in order 
that the soldiers should carry off mot of the gold, 
and that it would be as well to issue an order that for 
the future no gold should be bartered for by anyone 
but Cortes himself and that all the gold already 
obtained should be displayed so that the royal fifth 
might be taken from it, and that some suitable person 
should be placed in charge of the treasury. 

To all this Cortes replied that all they said was good, 
and that they themselves should name that person, and 
they chose Gonzalo Mejia. When this had been done, 
Cortes turned to them with angry mien and said : 
" Observe, gentlemen, that our companions are 
suffering great hardships from want of food, and it is 
for this reason that we ought to overlook things, so 

129 K 


that they may all find something to eat ; all the more 
so as the amount of gold they bargain for is but a 
trifle and God willing, we are going to obtain a 
large amount of it. However, there are two sides 
to everything ; the order has been issued that bartering 
for gold shall cease, as you desired ; we shall see 
next what we will get to eat." 

I will go on to relate how, one morning, we woke up 
to find not a single Indian in any of their huts, neither 
those who used to bring the food, nor those who came 
to trade, nor Pitalpitoque himself ; they had all fled 
without saying a word. The cause of this, as we after- 
wards learned, was that Montezuma had sent orders 
to avoid further conversation with Cortes and those 
in his company ; for it appears that Montezuma was 
very much devoted to his idols, named Tezcatepuca, 
and Huichilobos, the latter the god of war, and 
Tezcatepuca the god of hell ; and daily he sacrificed 
youths to them so as to get an answer from the gods 
as to what he should do about us ; for Montezuma 
had already formed a plan, if we did not go off in the 
ships, to get us all into his power, and to raise a breed 
of us and also to keep us for sacrifice. As we after- 
wards found out, the reply given by the gods was 
that he should not listen to Cortes, nor to the message 
which he sent about setting up a cross and an image 
of Our Lady, and that such things should not be 
brought to the city. This was the reason why the 
Indians left our camp without warning. When we 
heard the news we thought that they meant to make 
war on us, and we were very much on the alert. One 
day, as I and another soldier were Stationed on some 
sand dunes keeping" a look out, we saw five Indians 
coming along the beach, and so as not to raise a scare 
in camp over so small a matter, we permitted them to 
approach. When they came up to us with smiling 
countenances they paid us homage according to 



their custom, and made signs that we should take them 
into camp. I told my companion to remain where he 
was and I would accompany the Indians, for at that 
time my feet were not as heavy as they are now that 
I am old, and when we came before Cortes the Indians 
paid him every mark of respeft and said : Lope luzio, 
lope luzio which in the Totonac language means : 
" prince and great lord." These men had large holes 
in their lower lips, some with tone disks in them spotted 
with blue, and others with thin leaves of gold. They 
also had their ears pierced with large holes in which 
were placed disks of ftone or gold, and in their dress 
and speech they differed greatly from the Mexicans 
who had been laying with us. When Dona Marina 
and Aguilar, the Interpreters, heard the word Lope 
luzio they did not underhand it, and Dona Marina 
asked in Mexican if there were not among them 
NahuatatoS) that is, interpreters of the Mexican 
language, and two of the five answered yes, that they 
understood and spoke it, and they bade us welcome 
and said that their chief had sent them to ask who we 
might be, and that it would please him to be of service 
to such valiant men, for it appeared that they knew 
about -our doings at Tabasco and Champoton, and 
they added that they would have come to see us 
before but for fear of the people of Culua who had 
been with us (by Culua they meant Mexicans) and 
that they knew that three days ago they had fled back 
to their own country, and in the course of their talk 
Cortes found out that Montezuma had opponents 
and enemies, which he was delighted to hear, and 
after flattering these five messengers and giving them 
presents he bade them farewell, asking them to tell 
their chief that he would very soon come and pay them 
a visit. From this time on we called those Indians the 
Lope luzios* I mul leave them now and go on to say 
that in those sand dunes, where we were camped there 


were always many mosquitos, both long-legged ones 
and small ones which are called xexenes which are 
worse than the large ones, and we could get no sleep 
on account of them. We were very short of food and 
the cassava bread was disappearing, and what there 
was of it was very damp and foul with weevils. Some 
of the soldiers who possessed Indians in the Island 
of Cuba were continually sighing for their homes, 
especially the friends and servants of Diego Velasquez. 
When Cortes noted the bate of affairs and the wishes 
of these men he gave orders that we should go to the 
fortified town which had been seen by Montejo and 
the pilot, Alaminos, named Quiahuitztlan where the 
ships would be under the protection of the rock which 
I have mentioned. When arrangements were being 
made for us to tart, all the friends, relations and 
servants of Diego Velasquez asked Cortes why he 
wanted to make that journey without having any 
provisions, seeing that there was no possibility of 
going on any further and that over thirty-five soldiers 
had already died in camp from wounds inflicted at 
Tabasco, and from sickness and hunger ; that the 
country we were in was a great one and the settle- 
ments very thickly populated and that any day they 
might make war on us ; that it would be much 
better to return to Cuba and account to Diego Velasquez 
for the gold gained in barter, which already amounted 
to a large sum, and the great presents from Montezuma, 
the sun and the silver moon and the helmet full of 
golden grains from the mines, and all the cloths and 
jewels already mentioned by me. Cortes replied to 
them that it was not good advice to recommend our 
going back without reason ; that hitherto we could 
not complain of our fortune, and should give thanks 
to God who was helping us in everything, and as for 
those who had died, that that always happened in 
wars and under hardship ; that it would be as well 



to find out what the country contained ; that mean- 
while we could eat the maize and other food held by 
the Indians and by the neighbouring towns, unless 
our hands had lol their cunning. With this reply, the 
partisans of Diego Velasquez were somewhat, but not 
wholly appeased, for there were already cliques formed 
in camp who discussed the return to Cuba. 


IT appears that Cortes had already talked the matter 
over with Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero, and Pedro 
de Alvarado and his four brothers, Jorge, Gonzalo, 
Gomez, and Juan, and with Crit6bal de Olid, Alonzo 
de Avila, Juan de Escalante, Francisco de Lugo, and 
with me and other gentlemen and captains, and 
suggested that we should beg of him to be our captain. 
Francisco de Montejo understood what was going on 
and was on the watch. One night, after midnight, 
Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero, Juan de Escalante 
and Francisco de Lugo, came to my hut. Francisco 
de Lugo and I came from the same country and 
were distant kinsmen. They said to me : " Sefior 
Bernal Diaz, come out with your arms and go the 
rounds ; we will accompany Cortes who is ju<ft now 
going the rounds." When I was a little distance from 
the hut they said to me : " Look to it, sir, that you 
keep secret for a time what we wish to tell you, for it 
is a matter of importance, and see that your com- 
panions in your hut know nothing about it, for they 
are of the party of Diego Velasquez." What they said 
to me was : " Sir, does it seem to you to be right 
that Hernando Cortes should have deceived us all 
in bringing us here, he having proclaimed in Cuba 
that he was coming to settle, and now we find out that 


he has no power to do so, but only to trade, and they 
want us to return to Santiago de Cuba with all the gold 
that has been collefted, and we shall lose our all, for 
will not Diego Velasquez take all the gold as he did 
before ? Look, sir, counting this present expedition, 
you have already come to this country three times, 
spending your own property and contracting debts 
and risking your life many times with the wounds 
you have received. Many of us gentlemen who know 
that we are your honour's friends wish you to under- 
hand that this mu& not go on ; that this land muft 
be settled in the name of His Maje&y, and by 
Hernando Cortes in His Majesty's name, while we 
await the opportunity to make it known to our lord 
the King in Spain. Be sure sir, to cafc your vote so 
that all of us unanimously and willingly choose him 
captain, for it will be a service to God and our lord 
the King." I replied that it was not a wise decision to 
return to Cuba and that it would be a good thing for 
the country to be settled, and that we should choose 
Cortes as General and Chief Justice until his Majesty 
should order otherwise. This agreement passed from 
soldier to soldier and the friends and relations of 
Diego Velasquez, who were more numerous than 
we were, got to know of it, and with overbold words 
asked Cortes why he was craftily arranging to remain 
in this country instead of returning to render an 
account of his doings to the man who had sent him 
as captain, and they told him that Diego Velasquez 
would not approve of it, and that the sooner we 
embarked the better ; that there was no use in his 
subterfuges and secret meetings with the soldiers, 
for we had neither supplies nor men, nor any possibility 
of founding a settlement. Cortes answered without a 
sign of anger, and said that he agreed with them ; that 
he would not go against the inhruftions and notes 
which he had received from Diego Velasquez, and 



he issued an order for us all to embark on the following 
day, each one in the ship in which he had come. 
We who had made the agreement answered that it 
was not fair to deceive us so, that in Cuba he had 
proclaimed that he was coming to make a settlement, 
whereas he had only come to trade ; and we demanded 
on behalf of our Lord God and of His Maje&y that 
he should at once form a settlement and give up any 
other plan, because that would be of the greatest 
benefit and service to God and the King ; and they 
placed many other well-reasoned arguments before 
him saying that the natives would never let us land 
again as they had done this time, and that as soon as a 
settlement was made in the country soldiers would 
gather in from all the islands to give us help and that 
Velasquez had ruined us all by Stating publicly that 
he had received a decree from His Majesty to form a 
settlement, the contrary being the case ; that we 
wished to form a settlement, and to let those depart 
who desired to return to Cuba. So Cortes agreed to 
it, although he pretended to need much begging, as 
the saying goes : " You are very pressing, and I 
want to do it " and he Stipulated that we should 
make him Chief Justice and Captain General, and the 
wort of all that we conceded was that we should give 
him a fifth of all the gold which should be obtained, 
after the royal fifth had been deducted, and then we 
gave him the very fullest powers in the presence of 
the King's Notary, Diego de Godoy, embracing all 
that I have here Stated. We at once set to work to 
found and settle a town, which was called the " Villa 
rica de la Vera Cruz " because we arrived on Thursday 
of the (laSl) supper and landed on " Holy Friday 
of the Cross " and " rich " because of what that 
gentleman said, who approached Cortes and said to 
him : " Behold rich lands! May you know how to 


govern them well ! " and what he wanted to say was : 
" May you remain as their Captain General/ 7 That 
gentleman was Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero. 

To go back to my tory : as soon as the town was 
founded we appointed alcaldes and regidores ; the 
former were Alonzo Herndndez Puertocarrero and 
Francisco Montejo. In the case of Montejo, it was 
because he was not on very good terms with Cortes 
that Cortes ordered him to be named as Alcalde, so 
as to place him in the highest position. I need not give 
the names of the Regidores, for it is no use naming 
only a few of them ; but I mut mention the faft that 
a pillory was placed in the Plaza and a gallows set 
up outside the town. We chose Pedro de Alvarado 
as captain of expeditions and Crist6bal de Olid as 
Maestro de Campo. 1 Juan de Escalante was chosen 
chief Alguacil 2 ; Gonzalo Mejia, treasurer, and 
Alonzo de Avila accountant. A certain Corral was 
named as Ensign, because Villaroel who had been 
Ensign was dismissed from the po& on account of 
some offence he had given Cortes about an Indian 
woman from Cuba. Ochoa, a Biscayan, and Alonzo 
Romero were appointed Alguaciles of the Camp. 3 

It will be said that I have made no mention of the 
Captain Gonzalo de Sandoval. I say this was because 
at that time he was a youth, and we did not take such 
count of him and of other valiant captains until we 
saw him grow in worth in such a way that Cortes and 
all the soldiers held him in the same esteem as Cortes 
himself, as I shall tell later on. 

When the partisans of Diego Velasquez realized 
the faft that we had chosen Cortes for our Captain 
and Chief Justice, and had founded a town and chosen 
Alcaldes and Regidores, and had done all that I have 

1 Maestro de Campo = Quartermaster. ' 2 Alguacil Mayor = High 
Con&able. 3 Alguacil del Real = Conables and &orekeepers. 



narrated, they were angry and furious and they began 
to excite factions and meetings and to use abusive 
language about Cortes and those of us who had elefted 
him, saying that it was not right to do these things 
unless all the captains and soldiers who had come on 
the expedition had been parties to it ; that Diego 
Velasquez had given Cortes no such powers, only 
authority to trade, and that we partisans of Cortes 
should take care that our insolence did not so increase 
as to bring us to blows. Then Cortes secretly told Juan 
de Escalante that we should make him produce the 
instructions given him by Diego Velasquez. Upon 
this Cortes drew them from his bosom and gave them 
to the King's scribe to read aloud. In these intru<5tions 
were the words : " As soon as you have gained all 
you can by trading, you will return ", and the docu- 
ment was signed by Diego Velasquez and counter- 
signed by his Secretary, Andres de Duero. We 
begged Cortes to cause this document to be attached 
to the deed recording the power we had given him, 
as well as the proclamation which he issued in the 
Island of Cuba. And this was done so that his Majesty 
in Spain should know that all that we did was done in 
his royal service, and that they should not bring againft 
us anything but the truth. 

After this was done, these same friends and 
dependents of Diego Velasquez returned to Cortes 
to say that they did not wish to remain under his 
command, but to return at once to the Island of Cuba. 
Cortes replied that he would detain no one by force, 
and that to anyone who came to ask leave to return, 
he would willingly grant it, even although he were 
left alone. With this some of them were quieted, but 
not Juan Velasquez de Leon, and Diego de Ordas, 
and Escobar, and other friends of Diego Velasquez ; 
and it came to this, that they refused all obedience 
to Cortes. With our assistance, Cortes determined to 


make prisoners of Juan Velasquez de Leon and Diego 
de Ordas, and Escobar and Pedro Escudero and we 
took care that the others should create no disturbance. 
These men remained prisoners for some days, in 
chains and under guard. 


WHEN all that I have related had been settled and done 
with, it was arranged that Pedro de Alvarado should 
go inland to some towns which we had been told 
were near by and see what the country was like and 
bring back maize and some sort of supplies, for there 
was a great want of food in camp. Alvarado took one 
hundred soldiers with him, among them fifteen 
crossbowmen and six musketeers. More than half 
his soldiers were partisans of Diego Velasquez. All 
Cortes* party remained with him for fear there should 
be any further disturbance or tricks played or any 
rising against him, until things became more settled. 

Alvarado went firft to some small towns subjeft to 
another town called Cotaxtla, where the language of 
Culua was spoken. This name, Culua, means the 
common language of Mexico. 

When Pedro de Alvarado reached these towns he 
found that they had all been deserted that same day, 
and he found in the cues bodies of men and boys who 
had been sacrificed, and the walls and altars Stained 
with blood and the hearts placed as offerings before 
the Idols. He also found the Atones on which the 
sacrifices were made and the Stone knives with which 
to open the cheft so as to take out the heart. 

Pedro de Alvarado said that he found mot of the 
bodies without arms or legs, and that he was told by 
some Indians that they had been carried off to be 

' 138 


eaten, and our soldiers were abounded at such great 
cruelty. I will not say any more of the number of 
sacrifices, although we found the same thing in 
every town we afterwards entered. Alvarado found 
the towns well provisioned but deserted that very day 
by their inhabitants, so that he could not find more 
than two Indians to carry maize, and each soldier 
had to load himself with poultry and vegetables, and 
he returned to camp without doing any other damage 
(although he had good opportunity for doing it) 
because Cortes had given orders to that effeft, so 
that there should be no repetition of what happened 
in Cozumel. 

We were pleased enough in camp even with the 
little food that had been brought, for all evils and 
hardships disappear when there is plenty to eat, 

To go back to my fbory : As Cortes was mot 
energetic in every direction, he managed to make 
friends with the partisans of Diego Velasquez, for, 
with that solvent of hardness, presents of gold from 
our tore to some, and promises to others, he brought 
them over to his side, and took them out of prison ; 
all except Juan Velasquez de Leon and Diego de 
Ordas, who were in irons on board ship. These, too, 
he let out of prison after a few days, and made good 
and true friends of them as will be seen further on 
and all through gold which is such a pacifier ! 

When everything had been settled, we arranged to 
go to the fortified town already mentioned by me, 
which was called Quiahuitztlan. The ships were to 
go to the rock and harbour which was opposite that 
town, about a league diftant from it. I remember 
that as we marched along the coat we killed a large 
fish which had been thrown up high and dry by the 
sea. When we arrived at the river where Vera Cruz 
is now situated * we found the water to be deep, and 
1 The third site, now known as La Antigua. 



we crossed over it in some broken canoes like trough^ 
and others crossed by swimming or on rafts. 

Then we came on some towns subject to the large 
town named Cempoala, whence came the five Indians 
with the golden labrets, who came as messengers to 
Cortes at the sand dunes. We found some idol 
houses and places of sacrifice, and blood splashed about, 
and incense used for fumigation and other things 
belonging to the idols, and Clones with which they 
made the sacrifices, and parrots 7 feathers and many 
paper books doubled together in folds like Spanish 
cloth ; but we found no Indians, they having already 
fled, for as they had never before seen men like us, 
nor horses, they were afraid. 

We slept there that night, and went without supper, 
and next day, leaving the coat, we continued our march 
inland towards the web, without knowing the road 
we were taking, and we came on some good meadows 
called savanas where deer were grazing, and Pedro 
de Alvarado rode after one on his sorrel mare and 
Struck at it with his lance and wounded it, but it 
got away into the woods and could not be caught. 

While this was happening we saw twelve Indians 
approaching, inhabitants of the farms where we had 
passed the night. They came Straight from their 
Cacique, and brought fowls and maize cakes, and 
they said to Cortes through our interpreters, that 
their chief had sent the fowls for us to eat, and begged 
us to come to his town, which was, according to the 
signs they made, distant one sun's (that is one day's) 

Cortes thanked them and made much of them, and 
we continued our march and slept in another small 
town, where also many sacrifices had been made, 
but as many readers will be tired of hearing of the 
great number of Indian men and women whom we 
found sacrificed in all the towns and roads we passed, 



I shall go on with my story without flopping to say 
any more about them. 

They gave us supper at the little town and we learnt 
that the road to Quiahuitztlan, which I have already 
said is a fortress, passed by Cempoala. 


WE slept at the little town where the twelve Indians 
I have mentioned had prepared quarters for us, and 
after being well informed about the road which we 
had to take to reach the town on the hill, very early in 
the morning we sent word to the Caciques of Cempoala 
that we were coming to their town and that we hoped 
they would approve. Cortes sent six of the Indians 
with this message and kept the other six as guides. 
He also ordered the guns, muskets, and crossbows 
to be kept ready for use, and sent scouts on ahead on 
the look out, and the horsemen and all the reft of us 
were kept on the alert, and in this way we marched 
to within a league of the town. As we approached, 
twenty Indian chieftains came out to receive us in the 
name of the Cacique, and brought some cones made 
of the roses of the country with a delicious scent, which 
they gave to Cortes and those on horseback with every 
sign of friendliness, and they told Cortes that their 
Lord was awaiting us at our apartments, for, as he was 
a very Stout and heavy man, he could not come 
out to receive us himself. Cortes thanked them and 
we continued our march, and as we got among the 
houses and saw what a large town it was, larger than 
any we had yet seen, we were Struck with admiration. 
It looked like a garden with luxuriant vegetation, and 
the Streets were so full of men and women who had 
come to see us, that we gave thanks to God at having 
discovered such a country. 



Our scouts, who were on horseback, reached a great 
plaza with courts, where they had prepared our quarters, 
and it seems that during the la& few days they had 
been whitewashed and burnished, a thing they knew 
well how to do, and it seems to one of the scouts that 
this white surface which shone so brightly mub be 
silver and he came back at full speed to tell Cortes 
that the walls of the houses were made of silver ! 
Dona Marina and Aguilar said that it muft be planter 
or lime and we had a good laugh over the man's 
silver and excitement and always afterwards we told 
him that everything white looked to him like silver. 
I will leave our jokes and say that we reached the 
buildings, and the fat Cacique came out to receive 
us in the court. He was so fat that I shall call him by 
this name ; and he made deep obeisance to Cortes 
and fumigated him, as is their custom, and Cortes 
embraced him and we were lodged in fine and large 
apartments that held us all, and they gave us food and 
brought some baskets of plums which were very 
plentiful at that season, and maize cakes, and as we 
arrived ravenous and had not seen so much food for 
a long time, we called the town Villa Viciosa. 

Cortes gave orders that none of the soldiers should 
leave the plaza and that on no account should they 
give any offence to the Indians. When the fat Cacique 
heard that we had finished eating he sent to tell 
Cortes that he wished to come and visit him ; and 
he came in company with a great number of Indian 
chieftains, all wearing large gold labrets and rich 
mantles. Cortes left his quarters to go out and meet 
them, and embraced the Cacique with great show 
of caressing and flattery, and the fat Cacique ordered 
a present to be brought which he had prepared, con- 
silting of gold, jewels and cloths ; but although it 
did not amount to much and was of little value he 
said to Cortes : " Lope luzio^ Lope luzio, accept 



this in good part ; if I had more I would Vive it 
to you ! " 

Cortes replied through Dona Marina and Aguilar 
that he would pay for the gift in good works, and that 
if the Cacique would tell him what he wanted to be 
done that he would do it for them for we were the 
vassals of a great prince, the Emperor Don Carlos, 
who had sent us to redress grievances and punish 
evil doers, and to put an end to human sacrifices. 
And he explained to them many things touching 
our holy religion. When the fat Cacique heard 
this, he sighed, and complained bitterly of the great 
Montezuma and his governors saying that he had 
recently been brought under his yoke ; that all his 
golden jewels had been carried off, and he and his 
people were so grievously oppressed, that they dared 
do nothing without Montezuma's orders, for he was 
the Lord over many cities and countries and ruled 
over countless vassals and armies of warriors. 

As Cortes knew that he could not attend at that 
time to the complaints which they made, he replied 
that he would see to it that they were relieved of their 
burdens, that he was now on the way to visit his 
Acales (for so they call the ships in the Indian language) 
and take up his residence and make his headquarters 
in the town of Quiahuitztlan, and that as soon as he 
was settled there he would consider the matter more 
thoroughly. To this the fat Cacique replied that he 
was quite satisfied that it should be so. 

The next morning we left Cempoala, and there 
were awaiting our orders over four hundred Indian 
carriers, who carry fifty pounds weight on their backs 
and march five leagues with it. When we saw so many 
Indians to carry burdens we rejoiced, as before this, 
those of us who had not brought Indians with us from 
Cuba had to carry knapsacks on our own backs. And 
only six or seven Cubans had been brought in the 


fleet. Dona Marina and Aguilar told us that in these 
parts in times of peace the Caciques are bound to 
furnish tamenes to carry burdens, as a matter of course, 
and from this time forward wherever we went we asked 
for Indians to carry loads. 

Cortes took leave of the fat Cacique, and on the 
following day we set out on our march and slept 
at a little town which had been deserted near to 
Quiahuitztlan, and the people of Cempoala brought 
us food. 


THE next day about ten o'clock we reached the 
fortified town called Quiahuitztlan, which Elands 
amid great rocks and lofty cliffs and if there had been 
any resistance it would have been very difficult to 
capture it. Expecting that there would be fighting 
we kept a good formation with the artillery in front 
and marched up to the fortress in such a manner 
that if anything had happened we could have done 
our duty. 

We went half way through the town without 
meeting a single Indian to speak to, at which we were 
very much surprised, for they had fled in fear that 
very day when they had seen us climbing up to their 
houses. When we had reached the top of the fortress 
in the plaza near by where they had their cues and great 
idol houses, we saw fifteen Indians awaiting us all 
clad in good mantles, and each one with a brazier in 
his hand containing incense, and they came to where 
Cortes was landing and fumigated him and all the 
soldiers who were Standing near and with deep 
obeisances they asked pardon for not coming out to 
meet us, and assured us that we were welcome and 
asked us to re&. And they said that they had fled 



and kept out of the way until they could see what 
sort of things we were, for they were afraid of us and 
of our horses, but that night they would order all 
the people to come back to the town. 

Cortes displayed much friendship toward them, 
and he gave them some green beads and other trifles 
from Spain ; and they brought fowls and maize 
cakes. While we were talking, someone came to 
tell Cortes that the fat Cacique from Cempoala was 
coming in a litter carried on the shoulders of many 
Indian chieftains. When the fat Cacique arrived he, 
together with the Cacique and chiefs of the town, 
addressed Cortes, relating their many causes of com- 
plaint againft Montezuma and telling him of his 
great power, and this they did with such sighs and 
tears that Cortes and those who were Standing with 
him were moved to pity. Besides relating the way 
that they had been brought into subjection, they 
told us that every year many of their sons and daughters 
were demanded of them lor sacrifice, and others for 
service in the houses and plantations of their 
conquerors ; and they made other complaints which 
were so numerous that I do not remember them all ; but 
they said that Montezuma's tax-gatherers carried off 
their wives and daughters if they were handsome, and 
ravished them, and this they did throughout the land 
where the Totonac language was spoken, which 
contained over thirty towns. 

Cortes consoled them as well as he was able through 
our interpreters and said he would help them all he 
could, and would prevent these robberies and offences, 
as it was for that our lord the Emperor had sent us to 
these parts, and that they should have no anxiety, 
for they would soon see what we would do in the 
matter ; and they seemed to gather some satisfaction 
from this assurance but their hearts were not eased on 
account of the great fear they had of the Mexicans. 



While this conversation was going on, some Indians 
from the town came in great hate to tell the Caciques 
who were talking to Cortes, that five Mexicans, who 
were Montezuma's tax-gatherers, had juft arrived. 
When they heard the news they turned pale and 
trembled with fear, and leaving Cortes alone they 
went off to receive the Mexicans, and in the shortest 
possible time they had decked a room with flowers, 
and had food cooked for the Mexicans to eat, and 
prepared plenty of cacao, which is the bet thing they 
have to drink. 

When these five Indians entered the town, they came 
to the place where we were assembled, where were 
the houses of the Cacique and our quarters, and 
approaching us with the utmost assurance and arrogance 
without speaking to Cortes, or to any of us, they passed 
us by. Their cloaks and loin-cloths were richly 
embroidered, and their shining hair was gathered 
up as though tied on their heads, and each one was 
smelling the roses that he carried, and each had a 
crooked Baffin his hand. Their Indian servants carried 
fly-whisks and they were accompanied by many of 
the chief men of the other Totonac towns, who until 
they had shown them to their lodgings and brought 
them food of the beft, never left them. 

As soon as they had dined they sent to summon the 
fat Cacique and the other chiefs, and scolded them for 
entertaining us in their houses, for now they would 
have to speak and deal with us which would not 
please their lord Montezuma ; for without his per- 
mission and orders they should not have sheltered 
us, nor given us presents of golden jewels, and on this 
subjeA they uttered many threats against the fat 
Cacique and the other chiefs and ordered them at 
once to provide twenty Indians, men and women, 
to appease their gods for the wrong that had been 



When he saw what was going on, Cortes asked our 
interpreters. Dona Marina and Jeronimo de Aguilar 
why the Caciques were so agitated since the arrival 
of those Indians, and who they were. Dona Marina 
who understood full well what had happened, told 
him what was going on ; and then Cortes summoned 
the fat Cacique and the other chiefs, and asked them 
who these Indians were, and why they made such a 
fuss about them. They replied that they were the tax- 
gatherers of the great Montezuma and that they had 
come to inquire why they had received us in their 
town without the permission of their lord, and that 
they now demanded twenty men and women to 
sacrifice to their god, Huichilobos, so that he would 
give them vidory over us, for they [the tax-gatherers] 
said that Montezuma had declared that he intended 
to capture and make slaves of us. 

Cortes reassured them and bade them have no fear 
for he was here with all of us in his company and 
that he would chastise the tax-gatherers. 


As soon as Cortes underwood what the chiefs were 
telling him, he said that he had already explained to 
them that our lord the King had sent him to chastise 
evil doers and that he would not permit either sacrifice 
or robbery, and that as these tax-gatherers had made 
this demand, he ordered them to make prisoners of 
them at once and to hold them in custody until their 
lord Montezuma should be told the reason, namely, 
how they had come to rob them and carry off their 
wives and children as slaves and commit other violence. 
When the Caciques heard this they were thunderstruck 


at such daring. What ! to order the messengers of 
the great Montezuma to be maltreated ? They 
said that they were too much afraid, and did not dare 
to do it. But Cortes went on impressing on them that 
the messengers should be thrown into prison at once, 
and so it was done, and in such a way that with some 
long poles and collars (such as are in use among them) 
they secured them so that they could not escape, and 
they flogged one of them who would not allow himself 
to be bound. Then Cortes ordered all the Caciques 
to pay no more tribute or obedience to Montezuma, 
and to make proclamation to that effeft in all their 
friendly and allied towns, and if any tax-gatherers 
came to their other towns, to inform him of it, and he 
would send for them. So the news was known through- 
out that province, for the fat Cacique promptly sent 
messengers to spread the tidings, and the chiefs who 
had come in company with the tax-gatherers as soon 
as they had seen them taken prisoners, noised it 
abroad, for each one returned to his own town to 
deliver the order and relate what had happened. 

When they witnessed deeds so marvellous and of 
such importance to themselves they said that no human 
beings would dare to do such things, and that it was 
the work of Teules, for so they call the idols which 
they worship, and for this reason from that time forth, 
they called us Teules, which, is as much as to say that 
we were either gods or demons. 

I mut go back and tell about the prisoners. It 
was the advice of all the Caciques that they should be 
sacrificed so that none of them could return to Mexico 
to tell the lory ; but when Cortes heard this he said 
that they should not be killed, and that he would 
take charge of them, and he set some of our soldiers 
to guard them. At midnight, Cortes sent for these 
soldiers who were in charge and said to them : " See 
to it that two of the prisoners are loosened, the two that 



appear to you the moft intelligent, in such a way that 
the Indians of this town shall know nothing about it." 
And he told them to bring the prisoners to his lodging. 
When the prisoners came before him, he asked them 
through our interpreters, why they were prisoners 
and what country they came from, as though he knew 
nothing about them. They replied that the Caciques 
of Cempoala and of this town, with the aid of their 
followers and ours, had imprisoned them, and Cortes 
answered that he knew nothing about it, and was sorry 
for it, and he ordered food to be brought them and 
talked in a very friendly manner to them, and told 
them to return at once to their lord Montezuma, and 
tell him that we were all his good friends and entirely 
at his service, and that left any harm should happen 
to them he had taken them from their prison, and 
had quarrelled with the Caciques who had seized 
them and that anything he could do to serve them he 
would do with the greatest good will, and that he would 
order the three Indians their companions who were 
till held prisoners to be freed and protected. That 
they two should go away at once and not turn back 
to be captured and killed. 

The two prisoners replied that they valued his 
mercy and said they Still had fear of falling into the 
hands of their enemies, as they were obliged to pass 
through their territory. So Cortes ordered six sailors 
to take them in a boat during the night a distance of 
four leagues and set them on friendly ground beyond 
the frontier of Cempoala. When the morning came 
and the Caciques of the town and the fat Cacique 
found that the two prisoners were missing they 
were all the more intent on sacrificing those that 
remained, if Cortes had not put it out of their power 
and pretended to be enraged at the loss of the two 
who had escaped. He ordered a chain to be brought 
from the ships and bound the prisoners to it, and then 



ordered them to be taken on board ship, saying that 
he himself would guard them, as such bad watch had 
been kept over the others. When they were once on 
board he ordered them to be freed from their chains 
and with friendly words he told them that he would 
soon send them back to Mexico. 

Then all the Caciques of this town and of Cempoala, 
and all the other Totonac chiefs who had assembled, 
asked Cortes what was to be done, for all the force of 
the great Montezuma and of Mexico would descend 
upon them and they could not escape death and 

Cortes replied with the mo& cheerful countenance 
that he and his brothers who were here with him would 
defend them and would kill anyone who wished to 
molest them. Then the Caciques and other townsmen 
vowed one and all that they would tand by us in every- 
thing we ordered them to do and would join their 
forces with ours against Montezuma and all his allies. 
Then, in the presence of Diego de Godoy, the scribe, 
they pledged obedience to his Majesty and messengers 
were sent to relate all that had happened to the other 
towns in that province. And as they no longer paid 
any tribute and no more tax-gatherers appeared there 
was no end to the rejoicing at being rid of that tyranny. 


As soon as we had made this federation and friendship 
with more than twenty of the hill towns, known as 
the towns of the Totonacs, which at this time rebelled 
again& the great Montezuma, and gave their allegiance 
to His Majesty, and offered to serve us we determined 
with their ready help at once to found the Villa Rica de 



la Vera Cruz on a plain half a league from this fortress- 
like town, called Quiahuitztlan, and we laid out plans 
of a church, market-place and arsenals, and all those 
things that are needed for a town, and we built a fort, 
and from the laying of the foundations until the walls 
were high enough to receive the woodwork, loopholes, 
watch-towers, and barbicans, we worked with the 
greatest hate. 

Cortes himself was the fir& to set to work to carry 
out the earth and ftone on his back, and to dig founda- 
tions, and all his captains and soldiers followed his 
example ; and we kept on labouring without pause 
so as to finish the work quickly, some of us digging 
foundations and others building walls, carrying 
water, working in the lime kilns, making bricks and 
tiles, or seeking for food. Others worked at the timber, 
and the blacksmiths, for we had two blacksmiths with 
us, made nails. In this way we all laboured without 
ceasing, from the highest to the lowest ; the Indians 
helping us, so that the church and some of the houses 
were soon built and the fort almol finished. 

While we were thus at work it seems that the great 
Montezuma heard the news in Mexico about the 
capture of his tax-gatherers and the rebellion against 
his rule, and how the Totonac towns had withdrawn 
their allegiance and risen in revolt. He showed much 
anger against Cortes and all of us, and had already 
ordered a great army of warriors to make war on the 
people who had rebelled against him, and not to leave 
a single one of them alive. He was also getting ready 
to come again& us with a great army with many 

Jui at this moment there arrived two Indian prisoners 
whom Cortes had ordered to be set free, and when 
Montezuma knew that it was Cortes who had taken 
them out of prison, and had sent them to Mexico 
and when he heard the words and promises which 



he had sent them to report, it pleased our Lord God 
that his anger was appeased, and he resolved to send 
and gather news of us. For this purpose he despatched 
his two young nephews under the charge of four old 
men who were Caciques of high rank, and sent with 
them a present of gold and cloth, and told his 
messengers to give thanks to Cortes for freeing his 

On the other hand, he sent many complaints saying 
that it was owing to our protection that those towns 
had dared to commit such a great treason as to refuse 
to pay him tribute and to renounce their allegiance 
to him, and that now, having respeft for what he knew 
to be true that we were those whom his ancestors had 
foretold were to come to their country, and mut 
therefore be of his own lineage, how was it that we 
were living in the houses of these traitors ? He did 
not at once send to destroy them, but the time would 
come when they would not brag of such afts of treason. 

Cortes accepted the gold and the cloth, which was 
worth more than two thousand dollars, and he embraced 
the envoys and gave as an excuse that he and all of us 
were very good friends of the Lord Montezuma, and 
that it was as his servant that he ftill kept guard over 
the three tax-gatherers, and he sent at once to have 
them brought from the ships where they had been 
well treated and well clothed, and he delivered them 
up to the messengers. 

Then Cortes, on his part, complained greatly of 
Montezuma, and told the envoys how the Governor, 
Pitalpitoque, had left the camp one night without 
giving him notice, which was not well done and that 
he believed and felt certain that the Lord Montezuma 
had not authorized any such meanness, and that it 
was on account of this that we had come to these towns 
where we were now residing and where we had been 
well treated by the inhabitants. And he prayed him 



to pardon the disrespeft of which the people had been 
guilty. As to what he said about the people no longer 
paying tribute, they could not serve two makers 
and during the time we had been there they had 
rendered service to us in the name of our Lord and 
King ; but as he, Cortes, and all his brethren were on 
their way to visit him, and place themselves at his 
service, that when we were once there, then his 
commands would be attended to. 

When this conversation and more of the same 
nature was over, Cortes ordered blue and green glass- 
beads to be given to the two youths, who were Caciques 
of high rank, and to the four old men who had come 
in charge of them, who were also chieftains of 
importance, and paid them every sign of honour. 
And as there were some good meadows in the neigh- 
bourhood, Cortes ordered Pedro de Alvarado who had 
a good and very handy sorrel mare, and some of the 
other horsemen, to gallop and skirmish before the 
Caciques, who were delighted at the sight of their 
galloping, and they then took leave of Cortes and of 
all of us well contented, and returned to Mexico. 

About this time Cortes' horse died, and he bought or 
was given another called " El Arriero ", a dark 
chestnut which belonged to Ortiz, the musician, and 
Bartolome Garcia, the miner ; it was one of the be& 
of the horses that came in the fleet. 

I muft &op talking about this, and relate that as 
these towns of the sierra, our allies, and the town of 
Cempoala had hitherto been very much afraid of the 
Mexicans, believing that the great Montezuma would 
send his great army of warriors to destroy them, when 
they saw the kinsmen of the great Montezuma arriving 
with the presents I have mentioned, and paying such 
marked respeft to Cortes and to all of us, they were 
fairly abounded and the Caciques said to one another 
that we mu<a be Teules for Montezuma had fear of 


us, and had sent us presents of gold. If we already 
had reputation for valour, from this time forth it was 
greatly increased. 


As soon as the Mexican messengers had departed, 
the fat Cacique with many other friendly chieftains 
came to beg Cortes to go at once to a town named 
Cingapacinga, 1 two days' journey from Cempoala 
(that is about eight or nine leagues) as there were 
many warriors of the Mexicans, assembled there, 
who were destroying their crops and plantations and 
were waylaying and ill-treating their vassals, and doing 
other injuries. Cortes believed the &ory as they told 
it so earnestly. He had promised that he would help 
them, and would destroy the Culuas and other Indians 
who might annoy them, and noting with what 
importunity they pressed their complaints, he did not 
know what to answer them, unless it were to say that 
he would willingly go, or send some soldiers under one 
of us, to turn these Mexicans out. As he fftood there 
thinking the matter over he said laughingly to some 
of us companions who were with him : " Do you 
know, gentlemen, that it seems to me that we have 
already gained a great reputation for valour through- 
out this country, and that from what they saw us do 
in the matter of Montezuma's tax-gatherers, the people 
here take us for gods or beings like their idols. I am 
thinking that so as to make them believe that one of us 
is enough to defeat those Indian warriors, their enemies, 
who they say are occupying the town with the fortress, 
that we will send Heredia againft them." Now, this 
old man was a Biscayan musketeer who had a bad 
1 Not marked on the modern maps. 


twitch in his face, a big beard, a face covered with 
scars, and was blind of one eye and lame of one leg. 
Cortes sent for him and said : " Go with these 
Caciques to the river which is a quarter of a league 
distant, and when you get there, top to drink and 
wash your hands, and fire a shot from your musket, 
and then I will send to call you back. I want this to 
be done because the people here think that we are gods, 
or at leat they have given us that name and reputation, 
and as you are ugly enough, they will believe that you 
are an idol." Heredia did what he was told, for he 
was an intelligent and clever man who had been a 
soldier in Italy, and Cortes sent for the fat Cacique 
and the other chieftains who were waiting for his 
help and assistance, and said to them : " I am sending 
this brother of mine with you to kill or expel all the 
Culuas from this town you speak of, and to bring me 
here as prisoners all who refuse to leave." The 
Caciques were surprised when they heard this and 
did not know whether to believe it or not, but seeing 
that Cortes never changed his face, they believed 
that what he told them was true. So old Heredia 
shouldered his musket and set out with them, and he 
fired shots into the air as he went through the forel 
so that the Indians might see and hear him. And the 
Caciques sent word to the other towns that they 
were bringing along a Teule to kill all the Mexicans 
who were in Cingapacinga. I tell this lory here 
merely as a laughable incident, and to show the wiles 
of Cortes. When Cortes knew that Heredia had 
reached the river that he had been told about, he sent 
in hate to call him back, and when old Heredia and 
the Caciques had returned, he told them that on 
account of the good will he bore them that he, Cortes 
himself, would go in person with some of his brethren 
to afford them the help they needed and visit the 
country and fortresses ; and he ordered them at 



once to bring one hundred Indian carriers to transport 
the tepusques, that is, the cannon, and they came early 
the next morning, and we set out that same day with 
four hundred men and fourteen horsemen, and cross- 
bowmen and musketeers who were all ready. 

When the officers went to warn certain soldiers 
of the party of Diego Velasquez to go with us, and 
those who had them to bring their horses, they 
answered haughtily that they did not want to go on 
any expedition but back to their farms and estates 
in Cuba ; that they had already loft enough through 
Cortes having enticed them from their homes, and 
that he had promised them on the sand dunes that 
whosoever might wish to leave, that he would give 
them permission to do so and a ship and stores for 
the voyage ; and for that reason there were now seven 
soldiers all ready to return to Cuba. When Cortes 
heard this he sent to summon these men before him,, 
and when he asked them why they were doing such a 
mean thing they replied somewhat indignantly and 
said that they wondered at his honour, with so few 
soldiers under his command, wishing to settle in a 
place where there were reported to be such thousands 
of Indians and such great towns ; that as for them- 
selves, they were invalids and could hardly crawl 
from one place to another, and that they wished to 
return to their homes and estates in Cuba, and they 
asked him to grant them leave to depart as he had 
promised that he would do. Cortes answered them 
gently that it was true that he had promised it, but that 
they were not doing their duty in deserting from their 
captain's flag. And then he ordered them to embark 
at once without delay and assigned a ship to them 
and ordered them to be furnished with cassava bread 
and ajar of oil and such other supplies as we possessed. 

When these people were ready to set sail, all of us 
comrades, and the Alcaldes and Regidores of our town 



of Villa Rica, went and begged Cortes on no account 
to allow anyone to leave the country, for, in the 
interest of the service of our Lord God and His 
Maje&y any person asking for such permission should 
be considered as deserving the punishment of death, 
in accordance with military law, as a deserter from his 
captain and his flag in time of war and peril, especially 
in this case, when, as they had Elated, we were 
surrounded by such a great number of towns peopled 
by Indian warriors. 

Cortes afted as though he wished to give them 
leave to depart, but in the end he revoked the per- 
mission and they remained baffled, and even ashamed 
of themselves. 


WE set out on our expedition to Cingapacinga and 
slept that night at the town of Cempoala. Two 
thousand Indian warriors divided into four commands, 
were all ready to accompany us, and on the firt day 
we marched five leagues in good order. The next 
day, a little after dusk we arrived at some farms 
near the town of Cingapacinga, and the natives of 
the town heard the news of our coming. When we 
had already begun the ascent to the fortress and houses 
which tood amid great cliffs and crags, eight Indian 
chieftains and priests came out to meet us peacefully 
and asked Cortes with tears, why he wished to kill 
and de&roy them when they had done nothing to 
deserve it ; that we had the reputation of doing good 
to all and of relieving those who had been robbed, 
and we had imprisoned the tax-gatherers of Monte- 
zuma ; that these Cempoala Indians who accom- 
panied us were ho&ile to them on account of old 



enmities over the land claims and boundaries, and 
under our protection they had come to kill and rob 
them. It was true, they said, that there was formerly 
a Mexican garrison in the town, but that they had left 
for their own country a few days earlier when they 
heard that we had taken the other tax-gatherers 
prisoners, and they prayed us not to let the matter go 
any further, but to grant them proteftion. When 
Cortes thoroughly understood what they had 
said through Dona Marina and Aguilar, without 
delay he ordered Captain Pedro de Alvarado, and the 
quartermaster Cristoval de Olid, and all of us 
comrades who were with him, to restrain the Indians 
of Cempoala and prevent them from advancing ; and 
this we did. But although we made haSte to Stop them, 
they had already begun to loot the farms. This made 
Cortes very angry and he sent for the captains who 
had command of the Cempoala warriors, and with 
angry words and serious threats, he ordered them to 
bring the Indian men and women and cloths and 
poultry that they had Stolen from the farms, and 
forbade any Cempoala Indian to enter the town, and 
said that for having lied and for having come under 
our proteftion merely to rob and sacrifice their 
neighbours, they were deserving of death, they 
should keep their eyes wide open in order that such a 
thing did not happen again, otherwise he would not 
leave one of them alive. Then the Caciques and 
captains of the Cempoalans brought to Cortes every- 
thing they had seized, both Indian men and women 
and poultry, and he gave them all back to their 
owners and with a face full of wrath he turned to the 
Cempoalans and ordered them to retire and sleep in 
the fields and this they did. 

When the caciques and priests x of that town saw 
how juSt we were in our dealings and heard the 

1 Papas. 



affectionate words that Cortes spoke to them through 
our interpreters, including matters concerning our 
holy religion, which it was always our custom to explain, 
and his advice to them to give up human sacrifices 
and robbing one another, and the worship of their 
cursed Idols, and much other good counsel which 
he gave them, they showed such good will towards 
us that they at once sent to call together the people 
of the neighbouring towns, and all gave their fealty 
to his Maje%. 

They soon began to utter many complaints against 
Montezuma juft as the people of Cempoala had done. 
On the next morning Cortes sent to summon the 
captains and caciques of Cempoala, who were waiting 
in the fields to know what we should order them to do, 
and Still in terror of Cortes on account of the lies 
they had told him. When they came before him he 
made them make friends with the people of the town, 
a pa6t which was never broken by any of them. 

Then we set out for Cempoala by another road and 
passed through two towns friendly to Cingapacinga, 
where we re&ed, for the sun was very hot and we were 
wearied with carrying our arms on our backs. A 
soldier took two chickens from an Indian house in one 
of the towns, and Cortes who happened to see it, was 
so enraged at that soldier for Stealing chickens in a 
friendly town before his very eyes that he immediately 
ordered a halter to be put around his neck, and he 
would have been hanged there if Pedro de Alvarado, 
who chanced to be near Cortes, had not cut the halter 
with his sword when the poor soldier was half dead. 

When we had left those towns in peace and con- 
tinued our march towards Cempoala, we met the 
fat cacique and other chiefs waiting for us in some 
huts with food, for although they were Indians, they 
saw and understood that justice is good and sacred,. 


and that the words Cortes had spoken to them, that 
we had come to right wrongs and abolish tyranny, 
were in conformity with what had happened on that 
expedition, and they were better affefted towards us 
than ever before. 

We slept the night in those huts, and all the 
caciques bore us company all the way to our quarters 
in their town. They were really anxious that we should 
not leave their country, as they were fearful that 
Montezuma would send his warriors againfb them, 
.and they said to Cortes that as we were already their 
friends, they would like to have us for brothers, and 
that it would be well that we should take from their 
daughters, so as to have children by them ; and to 
cement our friendship, they brought eight damsels, 
all of them daughters of caciques, and gave one of 
these cacicas, who was the niece of the fat cacique, 
to Cortes ; and one who was the daughter of another 
great cacique was given to Alonzo Hernandez Puerto- 
carrero. All eight of them were clothed in the rich 
garments of the country, beautifully ornamented as 
is their custom. Each one of them had a golden collar 
around her neck and golden ear-rings in her ears, and 
they came accompanied by other Indian girls who were 
to serve as their maids. When the fat cacique pre- 
sented them, he said to Cortes : " Tecle (which in 
their language means Lord) these seven women 
are for your captains, and this one, who is my niece, 
is for you, and she is the senora of towns and vassals." 
Cortes received them with a cheerful countenance, 
and thanked the caciques for the gift, but he said 
that before we could accept them and become brothers, 
they mut get rid of those idols which they believed in 
and worshipped, and which kept them in darkness, 
and mu& no longer offer sacrifices to them, and that 
when he could see those cursed things thrown to the 
ground and an end put to sacrifices that then our bonds 

1 60 


of brotherhood would be most firmly tied. He added 
that these damsels muSt become Christians before 
we could receive them. Every day we saw sacrificed 
before us three, four or five Indians whose hearts were 
offered to the idols and their blood plastered on the 
walls, and the feet, arms and legs of the viftims were cut 
off and eaten, juSt as in our country we eat beef brought 
from the butchers. I even believe that they sell it by 
retail in the tianguex as they call their markets. Cortes 
told them that if they gave up these evil deeds and no 
longer practised them, not only would we be their 
friends, but we would make them lords over other 
provinces. All the caciques, priests and chiefs replied 
that it did not seem to them good to give up their 
idols and sacrifices and that these gods of theirs gave 
them . health and good harvests and everything of 
which they had need. 

When Cortes and all of us who had seen so many 
cruelties and infamies which I have mentioned heard 
that disrespectful answer, we could not Stand it, and 
Cortes spoke to us about it and reminded us of certain 
good and holy doctrines and said : " How can we 
ever accomplish anything worth doing if for the honour 
of God we do not firSt abolish these sacrifices made to 
idols ? " and he told us to be all ready to fight should 
the Indians try to prevent us ; but even if it coSt us 
our lives the idols muSt come to the ground that very 
day. We were all armed ready for a fight as it was 
ever our custom to be so, and Cortes told the caciques 
that the idols muSt be overthrown. When they saw 
that we were in earnest, the fat cacique and his 
captains told all the warriors to get ready to defend 
their idols, and when they saw that we intended to 
ascend a lofty cue which Stood high and was approached 
by many Steps the fat cacique and the other chieftains 
were beside themselves with fury and called out to 
Cortes to know why he wanted to deStroy their idols, 

161 M 


for if we dishonoured them and overthrew them, that 
they would all perish and we along with them. Cortes 
answered them in an angry tone, that he had already 
told them that they should offer no more sacrifices to 
those evil images ; that our reason for removing 
them was that they should no longer be deluded, and 
that either they, themselves, mut remove the idols 
at once, or we should throw them out and roll them 
down the &eps, and he added that we were no longer 
their friends, but their mortal enemies, for he had 
given them good advice which they would not believe ; 
besides he had seen their companies come armed for 
battle and he was angry with them and would make 
them pay for it by taking their lives. 

When the Indians saw Cortes uttering these threats, 
and our interpreter Dona Marina knew well how to 
make them understood, and even threatened them with 
the power of Montezuma which might fall on them 
any day, out of fear of all this they replied that they 
were not worthy to approach their gods, and that if 
we wished to overthrow them it was not with their 
consent, but that we could overthrow them and do 
what we chose. 

The words were hardly out of their mouths before 
more than fifty of us soldiers had clambered up [to 
the temple] and had thrown down their idols which 
came rolling down the leps shattered to pieces. 
The idols looked like fearsome dragons, as big as 
calves, and there were other figures half men and half 
great dogs of hideous appearance. When they saw 
their idols broken to pieces the caciques and prie&s 
who were with them wept and covered their eyes, 
and in the Totonac tongue they prayed their gods 
to pardon them, saying that the matter was no longer 
in their hands and they were not to blame, but these 
Teules who had overthrown them, and that they did 
not attack us on account of the fear of the Mexicans. 



When this was over the captains of the Indian 
warriors who, as I have said, had come ready to attack 
us, began to prepare to shoot arrows at us, and when 
we saw this, we laid our hands on the fat cacique and 
the six prie&s and some other chiefs, and Cortes 
cried out that on the leat sign of hostility they would 
all be killed. Then the fat cacique commanded his 
men to retire from our front and not attempt to fight. 


WHEN the Caciques, priests, and chieftains were 
silenced, Cortes ordered all the idols which we had 
overthrown and broken to pieces to be taken out of 
sight and burned. Then eight prie&s who had charge 
of the idols came out of a chamber and carried them 
back to the house whence they had come, and burned 
them. These priests wore black cloaks like cassocks 
and long gowns reaching to their feet, and some had 
hoods like those worn by canons, and others had 
smaller hoods like those worn by Dominicans, and 
they wore their hair very long, down to the wai&, 
with some even reaching down to the feet, covered 
with blood and so matted together that it could not 
be separated, and their ears were cut to pieces by way 
of sacrifice, and they &ank like sulphur, and they had 
another bad smell like carrion, and as they said, and 
we learnt that it was true, these priests were the sons 
of chiefs and they abstained from women, and they 
failed on certain days, and what I saw them eat was 
the pith or seeds of cotton when the cotton was being 
cleaned, but they may have eaten other things which 
I did not see. 

Cortes made them a good speech through our 
interpreters, and told them that now we would treat 



them as brothers and would help them all we could 
againft Montezuma and his Mexicans, and we had 
already sent to tell him not to make war on them or 
levy tribute, and that as now they were not to have 
any more idols in their lofty temples, he wished to 
leave with them a great lady who was the Mother of 
our Lord Jesus Christ whom we believe in and 
worship. He told them many things about our holy 
religion as well Stated as only a priest could do it 
nowadays, so that it was listened to with good will. 
Then he ordered all the Indian masons in the town 
to bring plenty of lime so as to clean the place and 
clear away the blood which encrusted the cues and 
to clean them thoroughly. The next day when they 
were whitewashed, an altar was set up, and he told the 
people to adorn the altar with garlands and always 
keep the place swept and clean. He then ordered 
four of the priests to have their hair shorn, and to 
change their garments and clothe themselves in 
white, and always keep themselves clean, and he placed 
them in charge of the altar and of that sacred image 
of our Lady. So that it should be well looked after, 
he left there as hermit one of our soldiers named 
Juan de Torres de Cordoba, who was old and lame. 
He ordered our carpenters to make a cross and place 
it on a tone support which we had already built and 
plastered over. 

The next morning, mass was celebrated at the altar 
by Padre Fray Bartolom.6 de Olmedo, and then an 
order was given to fumigate the holy image of Our 
Lady and the sacred cross with the incense of the 
country, and we showed them how to make candles 
of the native wax and ordered these candles always to 
be kept burning on the altar, for up to that time they 
did not know how to use the wax. The mo& important 
chieftains of that town and of others who had come 
together, were present at the Mass. 



At the same time the eight Indian damsels were 
brought to be made Christians, for they were Still in 
the charge of their parents and uncles. And they were 
admonished about many things touching our holy 
religion and were then baptized. The niece of the 
fat Cacique was named Dona Catalina, and she was 
very ugly ; she was led by the hand and given to 
Cortes who received her and tried to look pleased. 
The daughter of the great Cacique, Cuesco, was named 
Dona Francisca, she was very beautiful for an Indian, 
and Cortes gave her to Alonzo Hernandez Puerto- 
carrero. I cannot now recall to mind the names of the 
other six, but I know that Cortes gave them to different 
soldiers. When this had been done, we took leave 
of all the Caciques and chieftains, who from that time 
forward always showed us good will, especially when 
they saw that Cortes received their daughters and 
that we took them away with us, and after Cortes had 
repeated his promises of assistance againSt their 
enemies we set out for our town of Villa Rica. 


AFTER we had finished our expedition and the people 
of Cempoala and Cingapacinga had been reconciled 
to one another, and had given their /ealty to His 
MajeSty, and all the other things that I have told 
about had happened, we returned to our settlement, 
and took with us certain chieftains from Cempoala. 
On the day of our arrival there came into port a ship 
from the Island of Cuba, under the command of 
Francisco de Saucedo. 

At the same time there arrived Luis Marin (a man 
of great merit) and ten soldiers. Saucedo brought a 



horse, and Luis Marin a mare ; and they brought 
from Cuba the news that the decree had reached Diego 
Velasquez from Spain giving him authority to trade 
and found settlements, at which his friends were 
greatly rejoiced, all the more when they learned that 
he had received his commission appointing him 
Adelantado of Cuba. 

Being in that town without any plans beyond finish- 
ing the fort, for we were Still at work on it, mot of us 
soldiers suggested to Cortes to let the fort tand as 
it was, for a memorial (it was juft ready to be roofed), 
for we had already been over three months in the 
country, and it seemed to us better to go and see 
what this great Montezuma might be like and to earn 
an honest living and make our fortune ; but that 
before we Parted on our journey we should send out 
salutations to His Majesty the Emperor, and give 
him an account of all that had happened since we left 
the Island of Cuba. It also began to be debated whether 
we should send to His Majesty all the gold that we 
had received, both what we had got from barter, as 
well as the presents that Montezuma had sent us. 
Cortes replied that it was a very wise decision and that 
he had already talked to some of the gentlemen about 
it, and that as perchance in this matter of the gold 
there might be some soldiers who wished to keep 
their shares, and if it were divided up there would be 
very little to send, that for this reason he had appointed 
Diego de Ordas and Francisco de Montejo who were 
good men of business, to go from soldier to soldier 
among those whom it was suspefted would demand 
their share of the gold, and say these words : " Sirs, 
you already know that we wish to send His Majesty 
a present of the gold which we have obtained here, and 
,as it is the fir^l [treasure] that we are sending from 
this land it ought to be much greater ; it seems to us 
that we should all place at his service the portions that 

1 66 


fall to our share. We gentlemen and soldiers who have 
here written our names have signed as not wishing to 
take anything, but to give it all voluntarily to His 
Majesty, so that he may bestow favours on us. If 
anyone wishes for his share it will not be refused him, 
but whoever renounces it let him do as we have all 
done, and sign here." 

In this way they all signed to a man. When this 
was settled, Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero and 
Francisco de Montejo were chosen as proctors to go 
to Spain, for Cortes had already given them over two 
thousand dollars to keep them in his interest. The 
be& ship in the fleet was got ready, and two pilots 
were appointed, one of them being Anton de Alaminos, 
who knew the passage through the Bahama Channel, 
for he was the &rSt man to sail through it, and fifteen 
sailors were told off, and a full supply of ship's ^lores- 
given to them. When everything was ready, we agreed 
to write to tell His Majesty all that had happened. 
Cortes wrote on his own account, so he told us, an 
accurate narrative of the events, but we did not see 
his letter. 

The Cabildo * wrote a letter jointly with ten of the 
soldiers from among those who wished to settle in 
the land and had appointed Cortes as their general, 
and the letter was drawn up with great accuracy so 
that nothing was omitted, and I put my signature to 
it ; and besides these letters and narratives, all the 
captains and soldiers together wrote another letter. 

Besides these narratives, we begged His Majesty 
until he be pleased to order otherwise, to grant the 
government to Hernando Cortes, with the greatest 
resped: and humility as well as we were able and 
as was proper. 

1 Cabildo Municipality, the alguaciles, etc., already mentioned. 



WITHIN four days of the departure of our proftors to 
present themselves before our Lord the Emperor, 
some of the friends and dependents of Diego Velasquez, 
named Pedro Escudero, Juan Cermefio, and Gonzalo 
de Umbria a pilot, and a priest named Juan Diaz, and 
certain sailors who called themselves Penates, 1 who 
bore Cortes ill will, determined to seize a small ship 
and sail her to Cuba to give notice to Diego Velasquez 
and advise him how he might have an opportunity of 
capturing our proftors with all the gold and the 
messages. These men had already got their &ores in 
the ship, and made other preparations, and the time 
being paft midnight, were ready to embark, when 
one of them seems to have repented of his wish to 
return to Cuba, and went to report the matter to 
Cortes. When Cortes heard of it and learned how 
many there were and why they wished to get away, 
and who had given counsel and held the threads of 
the plot, he ordered the sails, compass and rudder 
to be removed at once from the ship, and had the men 
arrefted, and their confessions taken down. They all 
told the truth, and their confessions involved in their 
guilt others who were remaining with us, but Cortes 
kept this quiet at the time as there was no other course 
open to him. The sentence which Cortes delivered 
was that Pedro Escudero and Juan Cermefio should 
be hanged ; that the pilot Gonzalo de Umbria, 
should have his feet cut off, and the sailors, Penates, 
should receive two hundred lashes each, and Father 
Juan Diaz, but for the honour of the church, would 
have been punished as well ; as it was he gave him a 
great fright. I remember that when Cortes signed 

1 Penates = rockmeru 


that sentence, he said with great grief and sighs : 
" Would that I did not know how to write, so as not 
to have to sign away men's lives ! " 

As soon as the sentence was carried out, 1 Cortes 
rode off at break-neck speed for Cempoala which was 
five leagues diftant, and ordered two hundred of us 
soldiers, and all the horsemen to follow him. 

^ Being in Cempoala, as I have stated, and discussing 
with Cortes queftions of warfare, and our advance into 
the country, and going on from one thing to another, 
we, who were his friends, counselled him, although 
others opposed it, not to leave a single ship in the 
port, but to deftory them all at once, so as to leave 
no source of trouble behind, left, when we were 
inland, others of our people should rebel like the laft ; 
besides, we should gain much additional ftrength 
from the masters, pilots and sailors who numbered 
nearly one hundred men, and they would be better 
employed helping us to watch and fight than remaining 
in port. 

As far as I can make out, this matter of destroying 
the ships which we suggested to Cortes during our 
conversation, had already been decided on by him y 
but he wished it to appear as though it came from us, 
so that if any one should ask him to pay for the shipSy 
he could say that he had afted on our advice and we 
would all be concerned in their payment. Then he 
sent Juan de Escalante to Villa Rica with orders to 
bring on shore all the anchors, cables, sails, and every- 
thing else on board which might prove useful, and then 
to destroy the ships and preserve nothing but the 
boats, and that the pilots, sailing mailers and sailors, 
who were old and no use for war, should tay at the 
town, and with the two nets they possessed should 
undertake the fishing, for there was always fish in 

1 As the signature of Juan Cerrneno is attached to the letter written 
by the army in 1 520, it looks as though the sentence was not executed. 



that harbour, although they were not very plentiful. 
Juan de Escalante did all that he was told to do, and 
soon after arrived at Cempoala with a company 
of sailors, whom he had brought from the ships, and 
some of them turned out to be very good soldiers. 

When this was done, Cortes sent to summon all 
the Caciques of the hill towns who were allied to us 
and in rebellion against Montezuma, and told them 
how they mut give their service to the Spaniards who 
remained in Villa Rica, to finish building the church, 
fortress and houses, and Cortes took Juan de Escalante 
by the hand before them all, and said to them : " This 
is my brother," and told them to do whatever he should 
order them, and that should they need prote&ion or 
assistance against the Mexicans, they should go to 
him and he would come in person to their assistance. 

All the Caciques willingly promised to do what 
might be asked of them, and I remember that they 
at once fumigated Juan de Escalante with incense, 
although he did not wish it done. Escalante was a 
man well qualified for any pot and a great friend of 
Cortes, so he could place him in command of the 
town and harbour with confidence, so that if Diego 
Velasquez should send an expedition there, it would 
meet with resistance. 


WHEN the ships had been destroyed, with our full 
knowledge, one morning after we had heard mass, 
when all the captains and soldiers were assembled and 
were talking to Cortes about military matters, he 
begged us to HSten to him, and argued with us as 
follows : 

" We all understood what was the work that lay 
before us, and that with the help of our Lord Jesus 



Chril we muft conquer in all battles and encounters 
[that fell to our lot], and mut be as ready for them 
as was befitting, for if we were anywhere defeated, 
which pray God would not happen, we could not 
raise our heads again, as we were so few in numbers, 
and we could look for no help or assistance, but that 
which came from God, for we no longer possessed ships 
in which to return to Cuba, but mut rely on our own 
good swords and Stout hearts " and he went on to 
draw many comparisons and relate the heroic deeds 
of the Romans. One and all we answered him that 
we would obey his orders, that the die was ca& for 
good fortune, as Caesar said when he crossed the 
Rubicon, and that we were all of us ready to serve God 
and the King. After this excellent speech, which was 
delivered with more honied words and greater 
eloquence than I can express here, Cortes at once sent 
for the fat Cacique and reminded him that he should 
treat the church and cross with great reverence and 
keep them clean ; and he also told him that he meant 
to depart at once for Mexico to order Montezuma 
not to rob or offer human sacrifices, and that he now 
had need of two hundred Indian carriers to transport 
his artillery. He also asked fifty of the leading warriors 
to go with us. Jul as we were ready to set out, a 
soldier, whom Cort6s had sent to Villa Rica with orders 
for some of the men remaining there to join him, 
returned from the town bearing a letter from Juan de 
Escalante, saying that there was a ship sailing along 
the coa&, and that he had made smoke signals and 
others, and he believed that they had seen his signals, 
but. that they did not wish to come into the harbour, 
and that he had sent some Spaniards to watch to 
what place the ships should go, and they had reported 
that the ship had dropped anchor near the mouth of 
a river distant about three leagues, and that he wished 
to know what he should do. 



When Cortes had read the letter he at once ordered 
Pedro de Alvarado to take charge of all his army at 
Cempoala and with him Gonzalo de Sandoval. This 
was the firt time that Sandoval was given a command* 

Then Cortes rode off at once in company with four 
horsemen, leaving orders for fifty of the mot aftive 
soldiers to follow him, and he named those of us who 
were to form this company and that same night we 
arrived at Villa Rica. 

When we reached Villa Rica, Juan de Escalante 
came to speak to Cortes and said that it would be as 
well to go to the ship that night, let she should set 
sail and depart, and that he would go and do this with 
twenty soldiers while Cortes reeled himself. Cortes 
replied that he could not re&, that " a lame goat 
muSt not nap ", that he would go in person with the 
soldiers he had brought with him. So before we could 
get a mouthful of food we Started to march along the 
coa& and on the road we came on four Spaniards 
who had come to take possession of the land in the 
name of Francisco de Garay the governor of Jamaica. 

When Cortes heard this and knew that de Garay 
was Staying behind in Jamaica and sending captains 
to do the work, he asked by what right and title those 
captains came. The four men replied that in the year 
1518 as the fame of the lands we had discovered had 
spread throughout the Islands, that then Garay had 
information that he could beg from His Majefty 
the right to all the country he could discover from the 
Rio San Pedro and San Pablo towards the north. 

As Garay had friends at Court who could support 
his petition, he hoped to obtain their assistance, and 
he sent his Mayordomo to negotiate the matter, 
and this man brought back a commission for him as 
Adelantado and Governor of all the land he could 
discover north of the Rio San Pedro and San Pablo. 
Under this commission he at once despatched three 



ships with about two hundred and seventy soldiers 
and supplies and horses under the captain Alonzo 
Alvarez Pinedo, who was settling on the Rio Panuco, 
about seventy leagues away ; and these Spaniards 
said that they were merely doing what their captain 
told them to do, and were in no way to blame. 

When Cortes had learned their business he cajoled 
them with many flattering speeches and asked them 
whether we could capture the ship. Guillen de la Loa, 
who was the leader of the four men, answered that 
they could wave to the ship and do what they could, 
but although they shouted and waved their cloaks and 
made signals, they would not come near, for, as those 
men said, their captain knew that the soldiers of Cortes 
were in the neighbourhood and had warned them to 
keep clear of us. 

When we saw that they would not send a boat, we 
understood that they mut have seen us from the 
ship as we came along the coat, and that unless we 
could trick them they would not send the boat ashore 
again. Cortes asked the four men to take off their 
clothes so that four of our men could put them on, 
and when this was done we returned along the coat 
the way we had come so that our return could be 
seen from the ship and those on board might think 
that we had really gone away. Four of our soldiers 
remained behind wearing the other men's clothes, 
and we remained hidden in the wood with Cortes 
until pat midnight, and then when the moon set it 
was dark enough to return to the mouth of the creek 
but we kept well hidden so that only the four soldiers 
could be seen. When the dawn broke the four soldiers 
began to wave their cloaks to the ship, and six sailors 
put off from her in a boat. Two of the sailors jumped 
ashore to fill two jugs with water, and we who were 
with Cortes kept in hiding waiting for the other sailors 
to land ; but they flayed where they were and our 



four soldiers who were wearing the clothes of Garay's 
people pretended that they were washing their hands 
and kept their faces hidden. The men in the boat 
cried out : " Come on board, what are you doing ? 
Why don't you come ? " One of our men answered : 
" Come on shore for a minute and you will see." As 
they did not know his voice, they pushed off with 
their boat, and although we shouted to them they 
would answer nothing. We wanted to shoot at them 
with muskets and cross bows, but Cortes would not 
allow it, and said : " Let them go in peace and report 
to their captain/' 

So six soldiers from that ship remained in our com- 
pany, the four we had firt captured, and the two sailors 
who had come ashore. And we returned to Villa Rica 
without having had anything to eat since we firt 


Introductory Note to Chapter XL 

THE Spaniards left Cempoala on the i6th August and crossed the 
frontier into Tlaxcalan territory on the 315!: August. 

Bernal Dfaz says that they reached Jalapa on the firsl: day, but that 
is not probable. Between Jalapa and Ixtacmaxtitlan there is no name 
given by Bernal Diaz or Cortes which coincides with a name on the 
modern map, although the Socochima of the narrative is undoubtedly 
Xico Viejo, a few miles from the modern village of Xico. The ruins 
of Xico Viejo were recently visited by Dr J. W. Fewkes, who says 
that " the lasl: half mile of the road is pradically impassable for horses, 
and musT: be made on foot, justifying the statements of Gomara 
regarding the difficulties the horsemen of Corte*s encountered in 
reaching the pueblo." (Twenty-fifth Annual Report, Bureau of 
American Ethnology, 1903-4.) 

The Theuhixuacan mentioned by Gomara musT: be the Ixuacan 
of the modern map. 

The Spaniards passed to the south of the great mountain mass of 
the Cofre de Perote (13,403 ft.) between that mountain and the 
snowcapped volcano of Orizaba (17,365 ft.) to the tableland of 

There is a considerable rise between Cempoala and Jalapa, which 
ands at an elevation of 4,608 ft. 


I am unable to ascertain the height of the pass between Perote and 
Orizaba, but it probably exceeds 10,000 ft., followed by a descent of 
about 3,000 ft. to the plains of Tlaxcala and Puebla which are 7,000 ft. 
to 8,000 ft. above sea level. 

According to Bernal Diaz, the most difficult pass (Puerto de Nombre 
de Dios) was crossed before reaching the main divide. 

After the passage between the mountains the Spaniards came to the 
salt kkes, marshes, and inhospitable Wretches of sand and volcanic 
ash which extend along the western slope of the Cofre de Perote. 

It is impossible to locate the exact route between the mountain pass- 
and Zocotlan, as no names are given and part of the country is unin- 
habitable. Zocotlan itself was in all probability the Zautla of the 
modern map, but we are not on secure ground until the Spaniards 
reach Ixtacmaxtitlan, near the Tlaxcalan frontier. This frontier is still 
marked by the ruins of the wall built by the Tlaxcalans as a defence 
against their enemies, but the ruins are not marked on the Govern- 
ment map. However, the natural line of travel would be up ream 
from Ixtacmaxtitlan, and this would bring us to a place marked on 
the map Altlatlaya (no doubt Atalaya, which means a watch tower)* 
and I have taken this to be the spot where the Spaniards passed the 
wall, and have so marked it on the map which accompanies this volume. 

The march from Jalapa to Zocotlan must have been a most arduous 
one, and all the more difficult from the fact that it was undertaken 
in the middle of the rainy season. There is a much easier, although 
somewhat longer, route passing round the north of Cofre de Perote, 
but this was probably avoided by the Cempoalans as passing through 
too much of the enemies' country. 

Appended is an Itinerary, with dates compiled from the writings of 
Bernal Diaz, 1 Cortes, 2 Gomara, 3 and Andres de Tapia, 4 with the 
modern spelling of some of the names taken from Padre Agustin 
Rivera. 5 

1 6. Leave Cempoak. 


18. Jalapa. 

19. Xico (modern map), Cocochima (B. D.), Sienchimalen (C.), 

Sienchimatl (G.), Xicochimilco (R.). 

20. A high pass and Tejutla (B. D.), Puerto de Nombre de Dios and 

Ceyconacan (C.), Theuhixuacan (G.), Ceycoccnacan, now 
Ishuacan de los Reyes (note to Cortes' letter in Rivadeneyra 
Edition), Ixuacan, modern map. 

21. Finish ascent of Mountain (B.D.), Despoblado uninhabited 

i (B. D.) * (C .) 3 (G .) * (T.) 5 (R.) 




22. Despoblado. Lakes of salt water and Salitrales (T.). Salitrales 


23. Despoablado. Puerto de la Lena. March 2 leagues to 

24. Xocotlan (B. D.), Zaclotan (G.), Xocotla (R.), valley called 

Caltanmi (C.), Zacatami (G.), Spaniards called it Caftil 
Blanco. Probably the Zautla of modern maps. 

25. Xocotlan. 

26. Xocotlan. 

27. Xocotlan. March 2 leagues up the valley to 

28. Iztacmaftitan (C.), Iztacmixtlitan (G.), Ixtamaxtitlan (R.), 

Ixtacamasliitlan (modern map). 

Xalacingo of Bernal Diaz (evidently an error). 

29. Ixtacmaxtitlan. 

30. Ixtacmaxtitlan. 

31. Cross the frontier into Tlaxcala at the great wall. March 

4 leagues, skirmish with force of Tlaxcalans and Otomies. 

2. FirsT: battle with the Tlaxcalan army under Xicotenga. 
5. Second battle. 
23 . Spaniards enter the city of Tlaxcala. 


WHEN our departure for Mexico had received full 
consideration, we sought advice as to the road we 
should take, and the chieftains of Cempoala were 
agreed that the bet and moSt convenient road was 
through the province of Tlaxcala, for the Tlaxcalans 
were their allies and mortal enemies of the Mexicans. 
Forty chieftains, all warriors, were already prepared 
to accompany us and were of great assistance to us 
on that journey ; and they provided us as well with 
two hundred carriers to transport our artillery. We 
poor soldiers had no need of help, for at that time we 
had nothing to carry except our arms, lances, muskets, 
crossbows, shields, and the like, with which we both 
marched and slept, and we were shod with hempen 
shoes, and were always prepared for a fight. 


In the middle of August, 1519, we set out from 
Cempoala, keeping always in good formation, with 
scouts and some of the mot a&ive soldiers in advance. 

The fir& day we marched towards a town named 
Jalapa, and thence to Socochima, a Strong place with 
a difficult approach, and inside there were many vines 
of the grapes of the country * on trellises. In both 
these towns, through our interpreters, all matters 
touching our holy religion were explained to the 
people, and that we were the vassals of the Emperor 
Don Carlos, who had sent us to put an end to human 
sacrifices and robbery. As they were friends of the 
Cempoalans and did not pay tribute to Montezuma, 
we found them very well disposed towards us, and 
they provided us with food. A cross was erected in 
each town and its meaning was explained to them 
and they were told to hold it in great reverence. 

Beyond Socochima we crossed some high mountain 
ranges by a pass, and arrived at another town named 
Texutla, where we were also well received, for like 
the others they paid no tribute to Mexico. On leaving 
that town we finished the ascent of the mountains 
and entered an uninhabited country, and it was very 
cold and hail and rain fell that night. There was a 
great scarcity of food and a wind came down from the 
snowy hills on one side of us which made us shiver 
with cold. As we had come from the coaft, which is 
very hot, and had nothing with which to cover our- 
selves, only our armour, we suffered from the fro&, 
for we were not accustomed to a different temperature. 

Then we entered another pass where there were 
some hamlets and large temples with idols, and they 
had great piles of firewood for the service of the idols 
which were kept in those temples ; but ill there 
was nothing to eat, and the cold was intense. 

1 These were probably grenadilla$ y the fruit of passion-flowers. 



We next entered into the land belonging to ^ the 
town of Xocotlan, and we sent two Cempoala Indians 
to advise the Cacique how we were faring so that the 
people might receive us favourably. This town was 
subjeft to Mexico so we always marched on the 
alert and in good order for we could see that we were 
already in a different sort of country, and when we 
saw the white gleam of the roof tops and the houses 
of the Caciques and the cues and numerous oratories, 
which were very lofty and covered with white planter, 
they looked very pleasing like a town in our own 
Spain, so we called the place Catilblanco, and so it 
is called to this day. And when, through our 
messengers, they knew that we were approaching, the 
Cacique and other chieftains came out to meet us 
close by their houses. The name of the Cacique was 
Olintecle, and he conduced us to some lodgings and 
gave us food, but there was very little of it and it 
was given with ill will. 

As soon as we had eaten, Cortes asked through our 
interpreters about their Lord Montezuma. The 
chief told us of his great Strength in warriors, which 
he kept in all the provinces under his sway, without 
counting many other armies which were polled on the 
frontiers and in neighbouring provinces, and he [the 
chief] then spoke of the great fortress of Mexico, and 
how the houses were built in the water, and how one 
can only pass from one house to another by means 
of bridges, or canoes ; and how all the houses have 
flat roofs, which, by raising breastworks when they 
are needed, can be turned into fortresses. That 
the city is entered by three causeways, each causeway 
having four or five openings in it through which 
the water can flow from one part to another, and each 
opening has a wooden bridge over it so that when any 
one of those bridges is raised no one can enter the city 
of Mexico, Then the chief told us of the great tore 








[/ace p. 178 


of gold and silver, and chalchihuite Clones and other 
riches which Montezuma, his lord, possessed, and 
he never ceased telling us how great a lord he was, 
so that Cortes and all of us marvelled at hearing him. 
The more he told us about the great fortress and 
bridges, of such tuff are we Spanish soldiers made, 
the more we wanted to try our luck against them, 
although it seemed a hopeless enterprise, judging 
from what Olintecle explained and told us. In reality 
Mexico was much Stronger and had better munitions 
and defences than anything he told us about, for 
it is one thing to have seen the place itself and its 
Strength, and quite another thing to describe it as I do. 
He added that Montezuma was so great a prince that 
he placed anything he chose under his rule, and that 
he did not know if he would be pleased when he heard 
of our tay in that town, and that we had been given 
lodgings and food without his permission. 

Cortes replied through our interpreters : " I would 
have you know that we have come from distant lands 
at the order of our lord and King, who has many 
and great princes as his vassals, and he sends us to 
command your great Prince Montezuma not to 
sacrifice or kill any more Indians, or to rob his vassals, 
or to seize any more lands, but to give his fealty to 
our lord the King. And now I say the same to you, 
Olintecle, and to all the other Caciques who are with 
you, desi& from your sacrifices, and no longer eat the 
flesh of your own relations, and the other evil customs 
which you practise, for such is the will of our Lord 
God, whom we believe in and worship, the giver of 
life and death who will take us up to heaven." To all 
of which things they made no reply. 

Cortes said to the soldiers who were present around 
him : " It seems to me, gentlemen, that there remains 
nothing for us to do but to set up a cross." But 
Padre Fray Bartolome de Olmedo replied : " It seems 



to me, sir, that the time has not yet come to leave 
crosses in the charge of these people for they are 
somewhat shameless and without fear, and as they 
are vassals of Montezuma they may burn the crosses 
or do some other evil thing, and what you have said 
to them is enough until they know something more 
of our holy religion." So the matter was settled and 
no cross was set up. I will go on to say that we had with 
us a very large lurcher which belonged to Francisco 
de Lugo, which barked much of a night, and it seems 
that the Caciques of the town asked our friends whom 
we had brought from Cempoala, whether it was a 
tiger or a lion, or an animal with which to kill Indians, 
and they answered them : " They take it with them 
to kill anyone who annoys them." 

They also asked what we did with the artillery we 
had brought with us, and the Cempoalans replied 
that with some Atones which we put inside them we 
could kill anyone we wished to kill, and that the 
horses ran like deer and they would catch anyone we 
told them to run after. Then Olintecle said to the other 
chiefs : " Surely they mut be Teules " ! Our Indian 
friends replied : " So at lat you have found it out ! 
Take care not to do anything to annoy them, for they 
will know it at once ; they even know one's thoughts. 
These Teules are those who captured the tax-gatherers 
of your great Montezuma and decreed that no more 
tribute should be paid throughout the sierras nor in 
our town of Cempoala ; and they are the same who 
turned our Teules out of their temples and replaced 
them with their own gods and who have conquered 
the people of Tabasco and Champoton, and they are 
so good that they have made friendship between us 
and the people of Cingapacinga. In addition to this 
you have seen how the great Montezuma, notwith- 
ftanding all his power, has sent them gold and cloth, 
and now they have come to your town and we see 

r 80 


that you have given them nothing run at once and 
bring them a present ! " 

It seems that we had brought good advocates with 
us, for the townspeople soon brought us four pendants, 
and three necklaces, and some lizards, all made of 
gold, but all the gold was of poor quality ; and they 
brought us four Indian women who were good for 
grinding maize for bread, and one load of cloth. Cortes 
received these things with a cheerful good will and 
with many expressions of thanks, 

I remember that in the plaza where some of their 
oratories flood, there were piles of human skulls so 
regularly arranged that one could count them, and 
I estimated them at more than a hundred thousand, 
I repeat again that there were more than one hundred 
thousand of them. And in another part of the plaza 
there were so many piles of dead men's thigh bones 
that one could not count them ; there was also a large 
number of skulls flrung between beams of wood, and 
three priests who had charge of these bones and 
skulls were guarding them. We had occasion to see 
many such things later on as we penetrated into the 
country for the same custom was observed in all the 
towns, including those of Tlaxcala, 

After all that I have related had happened, we 
determined to set out on the road to Tlaxcala which 
our friends told us was very near, and that the boundary 
was close by where some boundary flones were placed 
to mark it. So we asked the Cacique Olintecle, which 
was the be& and mot level road to Mexico, and he 
replied the road which passed by the large town named 
Cholula, and the Cempoalans said to Cortes : " Sir, 
do not go by Cholula for the people there are 
treacherous, and Montezuma always keeps a large 
garrison of warriors in that town " ; and they advised 
us to go by way of Tlaxcala where the people were 
their friends and enemies of the Mexicans. So we 



agreed to take the advice of the Cempoalans, trusting 
that God would direft us. 

Cort6s demanded of Olintecle twenty warrior 
chiefs to go with us, and he gave them at once. The 
next morning we set out for Tlaxcala and arrived at a 
little town belonging to the people of Xalacingo. 



BETWEEN the 31$: August when the Spaniards crossed the Tlaxcalan 
frontier and fought a skirmish with some Otomi-Tlaxcalan troops, and 
the 2 3rd September when they entered the Capital of Tlaxcala, only- 
two dates are mentioned by Bernal Diaz. He gives the 2nd September 
(Gomara says the ist September) as the date of the firs! great battle 
against the Tlaxcalan army under Xicotenca (Xicotencatl), and the 
name of the battlefield as Tehuacingo or Tehuacacingo, which cannot 
now be identified. 

After the battle the Spaniards took shelter in a village with a temple 
on a hill ; this hill is still pointed out by the natives as the site of 
Cortes* camp. Here the Spaniards formed a fortified camp, which 
continued to be their headquarters until the war was over, and they 
marched to the Capital of Tlaxcala. 

Bernal Diaz tells us that this camp was near Cunpanzingo, probably 
the Tzompantzingo of the modern maps. 

Bernal Diaz gives the 5th September as the date of the second great 
battle, which was fought close by the camp. 

Although the accounts of the war in Tlaxcala given by Bernal Diaz 
and Cortis agree in the main points, they do not always give the 
-events in the same order. It seems probable that Bernal Diaz places 
the night attack too early, and that it took place after Xicotenga had 
sent the spies to the Spanish camp. 

The boundaries of the so-called Republic of Tlaxcala appear to 
have been almost identical with those of the modern state of the same 

It has become a commonplace to describe the Tlaxcalans as hardy 
mountaineers and their form of Government as Republican, but such 
discrimination is misleading. Their country was no more mountainous 
than that of the Mexicans, and their form of Government was much 
the same as that of other Nahua* communities ; but as they had 
achieved no foreign conquests, they were compelled to be self-support- 
ing, and in that differed from the Mexicans, who were becoming a 
military caste, supported to a great extent by tribute from conquered 
tribes. Their country was fertile, and there must have been a large 
agricultural population, and all the men were inured to hardship and 
continual border warfare. 

According to Andres de Tpia the exigence of the Tkxcakns as 
an independent nation was owing to the forbearance of the Mexicans 
themselves, for when he asked why they had not been conquered, 
Montezuma himself answered : " We could easily do so, but then there 
would be nowhere for the young men to exercise themselves without 
going a long way off, and besides we always like to have people to 
sacrifice to our Gods." 




FROM the little town belonging to Xalacingo, where 
they gave us a golden necklace and some cloth and 
two Indian women, we sent two Cempoalan chieftains 
as messengers to Tlaxcala, with a letter, and a fluffy 
red Flemish hat, such as was then worn. We well 
knew that the Tlaxcalans could not read the letter, 
but we thought that when they saw paper different 
from their own, they would underhand that it con- 
tained a message ; and what we sent to them was 
that we were coming to their town, and hoped they 
would receive us well, as we came, not to do them 
harm, but to make them our friends. We did this 
because in this little town they assured us that the 
whole of Tlaxcala was up in arms against us, for it 
appears that they had already received news of our 
approach and that we were accompanied by many 
friends, both from Cempoala and Xocotlan, and other 
towns through which we had passed. As all these 
towns usually paid tribute to Montezuma, the Tlax- 
calans took it for granted that we were coming to 
attack Tlaxcala, as their country had often been entered 
by craft and cunning and then laid waie, and they 
thought that this was another attempt to do so. So as 
soon as our two messengers arrived with the letter 
and the hat and began to deliver their message, they 
were seized as prisoners before their Story was finished', 
and we waited all that day and the next for an answer 
and none arrived. 



Then Cortes addressed the chiefs of the town where 
we had halted, and repeated all he was accuftomed to 
tell the Indians about our holy religion, and many 
other things which we usually repeated in mot of the 
towns we passed through, and after making them many 
promises of assistance, he asked for twenty Indian 
warriors of quality to accompany us on our march, 
and they were given us mo& willingly. 

After commending ourselves to God, with a happy 
confidence we set out on the following day for Tlaxcala, 
and as we were inarching along, we met our two 
messengers who had been taken prisoners. It seems 
that the Indians who guarded them were perplexed 
by the warlike preparations and had been careless of 
their charge, and in faft, had let them out of prison. 
They arrived in such a &ate of terror at what they had 
seen and heard that they could hardly succeed in 
expressing themselves. 

According to their account, when they were 
prisoners the Tlaxcalans had threatened them, saying : 
" Now we are going to kill those whom you call 
Teules, and eat their flesh, and we will see whether 
they are as valiant as you announce ; and we shall 
eat your flesh too, you who come here with treasons 
and lies from that traitor Montezuma ! " and for 
all that the messengers could say, that we were againft 
the Mexicans, and wished to be brothers to the 
Tlaxcalans, they could not persuade them of its 

When Cortes and all of us heard those haughty 
words, and learned how they were prepared for war, 
although it gave us matter for serious thought, we 
all cried : " If this is so, forward and good luck 
to us ! " We commended ourselves to God and 
marched on, the Alferez, Corral, unfurling our banner 
and carrying it before us, for the people of the little 
town where we had slept, as well as the Cempoalans 


assured us that the Tlaxcalans would come out to 
meet us and resist our entry into their country. 

In this way we marched about two leagues, when 
we came upon a fortress Wrongly built of tone and 
lime and some other cement, so lrong that with iron 
pickaxes it was difficult to demolish it and it was 
conftrufted in such a way both for offence and defence, 
that it would be very difficult to capture. We halted 
to examine it, and Cortes asked the Indians from 
Xocotlan for what purpose the fortress had been 
built in such a way. They replied that, as war was 
always going on between the people of Tlaxcala and 
their lord Montezuma, the Tlaxcalans had built this 
fort so throng the better to defend their towns, for 
we were already in their territory. We rented awhile 
and this, our entry into the land of Tlaxcala and the 
fortress, gave us plenty to think about. Cortes said : 
" Sirs, let us follow our banner which bears the sign 
of the holy cross, and through it we shall conquer ! " 
Then one and all we answered him : " May good 
fortune attend our advance, for in God lies the true 
Strength." So we began our march again in the 
order I have already noted. 

We had not gone far when our scouts observed 
about thirty Indians who were spying. These 
spies wore devices and feather head-dresses, and 
when our scouts observed them they came back to 
give us notice. Cortes then ordered the same scouts 
to follow the spies, and to try and capture one of 
them without hurting them ; and theft he sent five 
more mounted men as a support, in case there should 
be an ambush. Then all our army hastened on, for 
our Indian friends who were with us said that there 
was sure to be a large body of warriors waiting in 

When the thirty Indian spies saw the horsemen 
coming towards them, and beckoning to them with 



their hands, they would not wait for them to come 
up and capture one of them ; furthermore, they 
defended themselves so well, that with their swords 
and lances they wounded some of the horses. 

When our men saw how fiercely the Indians fought 
and that their horses were wounded, they were obliged 
to kill five of the Indians. As soon as this happened, 
a squadron of Tlaxcalans, more than three thousand 
Strong, which was lying in ambush, fell on them all 
of a sudden, with great fury and began to shower arrows 
on our horsemen who were now all together ; and 
they made a good fight with their arrows and fire- 
hardened darts, and did wonders with their two- 
handed swords. At this moment we came up with 
our artillery, muskets and crossbows, and little 
by little the Indians gave way, but they had 
kept their ranks and fought well for a considerable 

In this encounter, they wounded four of our men 
and I think that one of them died of his wounds a 
few days later. 

As it was now late the Tlaxcalans beat a retreat and 
we did not pursue them ; they left about seventeen 
dead on the field, and many wounded. Where these 
skirmishes took place the ground was level and there 
were many houses and plantations of maize and 
magueys, which is the plant from which they make 
their wine. 

We slept near a Stream, and with the grease from a 
fat Indian whom we had killed and cut open, we 
dressed our wounds, for we had no oil, and we supped 
very well on some dogs which the Indians breed > 
food] for all the houses were abandoned and the 
provisions carried off, and they had even taken the 
dogs with them, but these came back to their homes 
in the night, and there we captured them, and they 
proved good enough food. 


All night we were on the alert with watches and 
patrols and scouts, and the horses bitted and saddled, 
in fear left the Indians would attack us. 


THE next day, as we marched on, two armies of warriors 
approached to give us battle. They numbered six 
thousand men and they came on us with loud shouts 
and the din of drums and trumpets, as they shot their 
arrows and hurled their darts and afted like brave 
warriors. Cortes ordered us to halt, and sent forward 
the three prisoners whom we had captured the day 
before, to tell them not to make war on us as we wished 
to treat them as brothers. He also told one of our 
soldiers, named Diego de Godoy, who was a royal 
notary, to watch what took place so that he could bear 
witness if it should be necessary, so that at some 
future time we should not have to answer for the 
deaths and damages which were likely to take place, 
for we begged them to keep the peace. 

When the three prisoners whom we had sent forward 
began to speak to the Indians, it only increased their 
fury and they made such an attack on us that we could 
not endure it. Then Cort6s shouted : " Santiago 
and at them ! " and we attacked them with such 
impetuosity that we killed and wounded many of 
them with our fire and among them three captains. 
They then began to retire towards some ravines, 
where over forty thousand warriors and their captain 
general, named Xicotenga, were lying in ambush, all 
wearing a red and white device for that was the badge 
and livery of Xicotenga. 

As there was broken ground there we could make 
no use of the horses, but by careful manoeuvring we 
got pat it, but the passage was very perilous for they 

1 88 


made play with their good archery, and with their 
lances and broadswords did us much hurt., and the 
hail of Atones from their slings was even more damaging. 
When we reached the level ground with our horse- 
men and artillery, we paid them back and slew many 
of them, but we did not dare to break our formation, 
for any soldier who left the ranks to follow some of the 
Indian captains and swordsmen was at once wounded 
and ran great danger. As the battle went on they 
surrounded us on all sides and we could do little or 
nothing. We dared not charge them, unless we charged 
all together, left they should break up our formation ; 
and if we did charge them, as I have said, there were 
twenty squadrons ready to resist us, and our lives 
were in great danger for they were so numerous they 
could have blinded us with handfuls of earth, if God 
in his great mercy had not succoured us. 

While we found ourselves in this conflict among 
these great warriors and their fearful broadswords, 
we noticed that many of the &ronget among them 
crowded together to lay hands on a horse. They set 
to work with a furious attack, laying hands on a good 
mare known to be very handy either for sport or for 
charging. The rider, Pedro de Moron, was a very 
good horseman, and as he charged with three other 
horsemen into the ranks of the enemy the Indians 
seized hold of his lance and he was not able to drag it 
away, and others gave him cuts with their broadswords, 
and wounded him badly, and then they slashed at 
the mare, and cut her head off at the neck so that it 
hung by the skin, and she fell dead. If his mounted 
companions had not come at once to his rescue they 
would also have finished killing Pedro de Moron. 
We might possibly have helped him with our whole 
battalion, but I repeat again that we hardly dared to 
move from one place to another for fear that they 
would finally rout us, and we could not move one 



way or another ; it was all we could do to hold our own 
and prevent ourselves from being defeated. How- 
ever, we rushed to the conflift around the mare and 
managed to save Moron from the hands of the enemy 
who were already dragging him off half dead, and we 
cut the mare's girths, so as not to leave the saddle 
behind. In that aft of rescue, ten of our men were 
wounded and I remember that at the same time we 
killed four of the (Indian) captains, for we were 
advancing in close order and we did great execution 
with our swords. When this had happened, the enemy 
began to retire, carrying the mare with them, and 
they cut her in pieces to exhibit in all the towns of 
Tlaxcala, and we learnt afterwards that they made an 
offering to their idols of the horseshoes, of the Flemish 
felt hat, and the two letters which we had sent them 
offering peace. 

We were a full hour fighting in the fray and our 
shots mut have done the enemy much damage for 
they were so numerous and in such close formation, 
that each shot muft have hit many of them. Horse- 
men, musketeers, crossbowmen, swordsmen and those 
who used lance and shield, one and all, we fought like 
men to save our lives and to do our duty, for we were 
certainly in the greatest danger in which we had ever 
found ourselves. Later on they told us that we killed 
many Indians in this battle, and among them eight 
of their leading captains, sons of the old Caciques who 
] ived in their principal towns, and for this reason they 
drew off in good order. We did not attempt to follow 
them, and we were not sorry for it as we were so tired 
out we could hardly ftand, and we byed where we 
were in that little town. All the country round was 
thickly peopled, and they even have some houses 
underground like caves in which many of the Indians 

The place where this battle took place is called 



Tehuacingo, and it was fought on the 2nd day of the 
month of September in the year 1519. When we 
saw that victory was ours, we gave thanks to God 
who had delivered us from such great danger. 

From the field of battle we withdrew the whole 
force to some Cues which were Strong and lofty like a 
fortress. We dressed the wounded men, who numbered 
fifteen, with the fat of an Indian. One man died of 
his wounds. We also doftored four or five horses 
which had received wounds, and we reeled and supped 
very well that night, for we found a good supply of 
poultry and little dogs in the houses. And taking 
every precaution by porting spies, patrols and scouts, 
we reeled until the next morning. 

In that battle we captured fifteen Indians, two of 
them chieftains. There was one peculiarity that the 
Tlaxcalans showed in this and all the other battles 
that was to carry off any Indian as soon as he was 
wounded so that we should not be able to see their 


As we felt weary after the battles we had fought, 
and many of the soldiers and horses were wounded 
and some died there, and it was necessary to repair 
the crossbows and replenish our Stock of darts, we 
passed one day without doing anything worthy of 
mention. The following morning Cortes said that it 
would be as well for all the horsemen who were fit for 
work to scour the country, so that the Tlaxcalans 
should not think that we had given up fighting on 
account of the la& battle, and that they should see 
that we meant to follow them up ; and it was better 
for us to go out and attack them than for them to 
come and attack us and thus find out our weakness. 
As the country was level and thickly populated, we 



set out with seven horsemen and a few musketeers and 
crossbowmen and about two hundred soldiers and 
our Indian allies, leaving the camp as well guarded as 
was possible. In the houses and towns through which 
we passed, we captured about twenty Indian men and 
women without doing them any hurt, but our allies, 
who are a cruel people, burnt many of the houses and 
carried off much poultry and many dogs for food. 
When we returned to the camp which was not far off, 
Cortes set the prisoners free, after giving them some- 
thing to eat, and Dona Marina and Aguilar spoke 
kindly to them and gave them beads and told them 
not to be so mad any longer, but to make peace with us, 
as we wished to help them and treat them as brothers. 
Then we also released the two prisoners who were 
chieftains and they were given another letter, and were 
to tell the high Caciques who lived in the town 
which was the capital of all the towns of the province 
that we had not come to do them any harm or to annoy 
them, but to pass through their country on our way to 
Mexico to speak to Montezuma. The two messengers 
went to Xicotenga's camp which was distant about 
two leagues, and when they gave him the letter and 
our message the reply that their captain Xicotenga 
gave them was, that we might go to his town where 
his father was living ; that there peace would be made 
by satiating themselves on our flesh, and honour paid 
to his gods with our hearts and blood, and that we 
should see his answer the very next day. 

When Cortes and all of us heard thathaughty message, 
as we were already tired out with the battles and 
encounters we had passed through, we certainly did 
not think that things looked well. So Cortes flattered 
the messengers with soft words for it seemed that 
they had lot all fear, and ordered them to be given 
some firings of beads, as he wished to send them back 
as messengers of peace. 



Cortes then learned from them more fully all about 
the Captain Xicotenga, and what forces he had with 
him. They told him that Xicotenga had many more 
men with him now than he had when he attacked us 
before, for he had five captains with him and each 
captain had brought ten thousand warriors. This 
was the way in which the count was made : Of the 
followers of Xicotenga who was blind from age the 
father of the captain of the same name ten thousand ; 
of the followers of another great chief named Mase 
Escasi, another ten thousand ; of the followers of 
another great chief named Chichimecatecle the same 
number ; of another great Cacique, lord of Tope- 
yanco, named Tecapacaneca, another ten thousand ; 
and of another great chief named Guaxoban, another 
ten thousand ; so that there were in all fifty thousand. 
That their banner and Standard had been brought 
out, which was a white bird with the appearance of 
an ostrich, with wings outstretched, as though it 
wished to fly, and that each company had its device 
and uniform, for each Cacique had a different one, 
as do our dukes and counts in our own Castile. 

All that I have here said we accepted as perfectly 
true, for certain Indians among those whom we had 
captured and who were released that day, related it 
very clearly, although they were not then believed. 
When we knew this, as we were but human and feared 
death, many of us, indeed the majority of us, confessed 
to the Padre de la Merced and to the prie&, Juan Diaz, 
who were occupied all night in hearing our repentance 
and commending us to God and praying that He would 
pardon us and save us from defeat. 



THE next morning, the jth September, 1519, we 
mustered the horses. There was not one of the wounded 
men who did not come forward to join the ranks and 
give as much help as he could. The crossbowmen 
were warned to use the Store of darts very cautiouslyj 
some of them loading while the others were shooting,, 
and the musketeers were to aft in the same way,, 
and the men with sword and shield were inStrufted 
to aim their cuts and thrusts at the bowels [of their 
enemies] so that they would not dare to come as close 
to us as they did before. With our banner unfurled,, 
and four of our comrades guarding the Standard- 
bearer, Corral, we set out from our camp. We had 
not marched half a quarter of a league before we began 
to see the fields crowded with warriors with great 
feather creels and distinguishing devices, and to hear 
the blare of horns and trumpets. 

All the plain was swarming with warriors and we 
ftood four hundred men in number, and of those 
many sick and wounded. And we knew for certain 
that this time our foe came with the determination to* 
leave none of us alive excepting those who would be 
sacrificed to their idols. 

How they began to charge on us ! What a hail of 
Stones sped from their slings ! As for their bowmen, 
the javelins lay like corn on the threshing floor ; all 
of them barbed and fire-hardened, which would pierce 
any armour and would reach the vitals where there is 
no prote&ion ; the men with swords and shields and 
other arms larger than swords, such as broadswords, 
and lances, how they pressed on us and with what 
valour and what mighty shouts and yells they charged 
upon us ! The &eady bearing of our artillery,, 



musketeers, and crossbowmen, was indeed a help to 
us, and we did the enemy much damage, and those 
of them who came close to us with their swords and 
broadswords met with such sword play from us that 
they were forced back and they did not close in on us 
so often as in the lat battle. The horsemen were 
so skilful and bore themselves so valiantly that, after 
God who protefted us, they were our bulwark. How- 
ever, I saw that our troops were in considerable con- 
fusion, so that neither the shouts of Cortes nor the 
other captains availed to make them close up their 
ranks, and so many Indians charged down on us that 
it was only by a miracle of sword play that we could 
make them give way so that our ranks could be 
reformed. One thing only saved our lives, and that 
was that the enemy were so numerous and so crowded 
one on another that the shots wrought havoc among 
them, and in addition to this they were not well com- 
manded, for all the captains with their forces could 
not come into aftion and from what we knew, since 
the last battle had been fought, there had been disputes 
and quarrels between the Captain Xicotenga and 
another captain the son of Chichimecatecle, over 
what the one had said to the other, that he had not 
fought well in the previous battle ; to this the son 
of Chichimecatecle replied that he had fought better 
than Xicotenga, and was ready to prove it by personal 
combat. So in this battle Chichimecatecle and his 
men would not help Xicotenga, and we knew for a 
certainty that he had also called on the company of 
Huexotzinco to abstain from fighting. Besides this, 
ever since the Iat battle they were afraid of the horses 
and the musketry, and the swords and crossbows, 
and our hard fighting ; above all was the mercy of 
God which gave us Strength to endure. So Xico- 
tenga was not obeyed by two of the commanders, 
and we were doing great damage to his men, for we 



were killing many of them, and this they tried to 
conceal ; for as they were so numerous, whenever 
one of their men was wounded, they immediately 
bound him up and carried him off on their shoulders, 
so that in this battle, as in the laft, we never saw a 
dead man. 

The enemy were already losing heart, and knowing 
that the followers of the other two captains whom I 
have already named, would not come to their assistance, 
they began to give way. It seems that in that battle 
we had killed one very important captain, and the 
enemy began to retreat in good order, our horsemen 
following them at a hard gallop for a short distance, 
for they could not sit their horses for fatigue, and 
when we found ourselves free from that multitude of 
warriors, we gave thanks to God. 

In this engagement, one soldier was killed, and 
sixty were wounded, and all the horses were wounded 
as well. They gave me two wounds, one in the head 
with a Stone, and one in the thigh with an arrow ; 
but this did not prevent me from fighting, and keeping 
watch, and helping our soldiers, and all the soldiers 
who were wounded did the same ; for if the wounds 
were not very dangerous, we had to fight and keep 
guard, wounded as we were, for few of us remained 

Then we returned to our camp, well contented, and 
giving thanks to God. We buried the dead in one of 
those houses which the Indians had built underground, 
so that the enemy should not see that we were mortals, 
but should believe that, as they said, we were Teules. 
We threw much earth over the top of the house, so 
that they should not smell the bodies, then we doftored 
all the wounded with the fat of an Indian. It was cold 
comfort to be even without salt or oil with which to 
cure the wounded. There was another want from 
which we suffered, and it was a severe one and that 



was clothes with which to cover ourselves, for such a 
cold wind came from the snow mountains, that it 
made us shiver, for our lances and muskets and cross- 
bows made a poor covering. That night we slept with 
more tranquillity than on the night before, when we 
had so much duty to do, with scouting, spies, watch- 
men and patrols. 


AFTER the battle which I have described was over, i# 
which we had captured three Indian chieftains, our 
Captain Cortes sent them at once in company with 
the two others who were in our camp and who had 
already been sent as messengers and ordered them 
to go to the Caciques of Tlaxcala and tell them that 
we begged them to make peace and to grant us a 
passage through their country on our way to Mexico, 
and to say that if they did not now come to terms, we 
would slay all their people, but that as we were well 
disposed towards them we had no desire to annoy 
them, unless they gave us reason to do so ; and he 
said many flattering things to them so as to make 
friends of them, and the messengers then set out 
eagerly for the capital of Tlaxcala and gave their 
message to all the Caciques already mentioned by me 
whom they found gathered in council with many 
other elders and prie&s. They were very sorrowful 
both over the want of success in the war and at the 
death of those captains, their sons and relations, who 
had fallen in battle. As they were not very willing to 
listen to the message, they decided to summon all 
the soothsayers, prices, and those others called 3*aca/ 
naguas, and they told them to find out from their 



witchcraft, charms, and lots what people we were, 
and if by giving us battle day and night without 
ceasing we could be conquered, and to say if we were 
Teules, as the people of Cempoala asserted, and to 
tell them what things we ate, and ordered them to look 
into all these matters with the greatest care. 

When the soothsayers and wizards and many priests 
had got together and made their prophecies and 
forecasts, and performed all the other rites according 
to their use, it seems that they said that by their 
divinations they had found out we were men of flesh 
and blood and ate poultry and dogs and bread and 
fruit, when we had them, and that we did not eat the 
flesh nor the hearts of the Indians whom we killed. 
It seems that our Indian friends whom we had brought 
from Cempoala had made them believe that we were 
Teules, and that we ate the hearts of Indians, and that 
the cannon shot forth lightning, such as falls from 
heaven and that the Lurcher, which was a sort of 
lion or tiger, and the horses, were used to catch Indians 
when we wanted to kill them, and much more nonsense 
of the same sort. 

The wort of all that the priests and wizards told 
the Caciques was, that it was not during the day, but 
only at night that we could be defeated, for as night 
fell, all our Strength left us. When the Caciques heard 
this, and they were quite convinced of it, they sent 
to tell their captain general Xicotenga that as soon 
as it was possible he should come and attack us in 
great force by night. On receiving this order Xico- 
tenga assembled ten thousand of the bravest of his 
Indians and came to our camp, and from three sides 
they began alternately to shoot arrows and throw single 
pointed javelins from their spear throwers, and from 
the fourth side the swordsmen and those armed with 
macanas and broadswords approached so suddenly 
that they felt sure that they would carry some of us ofF 



to be sacrificed. Our Lord God provided otherwise, 
for secretly as they approached, they found us well 
on the alert, and as soon as our outposts and spies 
perceived the great noise of their movement, they ran 
at breakneck speed to give the alarm, and as we 
were all accustomed to sleep ready shod, with our 
arms on us and our horses bitted and saddled, and 
with all our arms ready for use, we defended ourselves 
with guns, crossbows and sword play so that they soon 
turned their backs. As the ground was level and there 
was a moon the horsemen followed them a little way, 
and in the morning we found lying on the plain 
about twenty of them dead and wounded. So they 
went back with great loss and sorely repenting 
this night expedition, and I have heard it said, that 
as what the priests and wizards had advised did not 
turn out well they sacrificed two of them. 

That night, one of our Indian friends from Cempoala 
was killed and two of our soldiers were wounded and 
one horse, and we captured four of the enemy. When 
we found that we had escaped from that impetuous 
attack we gave thanks to God, and we buried our 
Cempoala friend and tended the wounded and the 
horse, and slept the ret of the night after taking every 
precaution to protect the camp as was our cuftom. 

When we awoke and saw how all of us were wounded, 
even with two or three wounds, and how weary 
we were and how others were sick and clothed in rags, 
and knew that Xicotenga was always after us, and 
already over forty-five of our soldiers had been killed 
in battle, or succumbed to disease and chills, and 
another dozen of them were ill, and our Captain Cortes 
himself was suffering from fever as well as the Padre 
de la Merced, and what with our labours and the 
weight of our arms which we always carried on our 
backs, and other hardships from chills and the want 
of salt, for we could never find any to eat, we began to 



wonder what would be the outcome of all this fighting, 
and what we should do and where we should go when 
it was finished. To march into Mexico we thought too 
arduous an undertaking because of its great armies, 
and we said to one another that if those Tlaxcalans, 
which our Cempoalan friends had led us to believe 
were peacefully disposed, could reduce us to these 
traits, what would happen when we found ourselves 
at war with the great forces of Montezuma ? In 
addition to this we had heard nothing from the Spaniards 
whom we had left settled in Villa Rica, nor they of us. 
As there were among us very excellent gentlemen 
and soldiers, Steady and valiant men of good counsel, 
Cort6s never said or did anything [important] without 
fir^l asking advice, and afting in concert with us. 

One and all we put heart into Cortes, and told him 
that he mu& get well again and reckon upon us, and 
and that as with the help of God we had escaped 
from such perilous battles, our Lord Jesus Christ 
mut have preserved us for some good end ; that 
he [Cortes] should at once set our prisoners free and 
send them to the head Caciques, so as to bring them 
to peace, when all that had taken place would be 
pardoned, including the death of the mare. 

Let us leave this and say how Dofia Marina who, 
although a native woman, possessed such manly valour 
that, although she had heard every day how the Indians 
were going to kill us and eat our flesh with chili, and had 
seen us surrounded in the late battles, and knew that 
all of us were wounded and sick, yet never allowed 
us to see any sign of fear in her, only a courage passing 
that of woman. So Dona Marina and Jer6nimo de 
Aguilar spoke to the messengers whom we were now 
sending and told them that they mub come and make 
peace at once, and that if it was not concluded within 
two days we should go and kill them all and destroy 
their country and would come to seek them in their 



city, and with these brave words they were despatched 
to the capital where Xicotenga the elder and Mase 
Escasi were residing. 


WHEN the messengers arrived at Tlaxcala, they found 
the two principal Caciques in consultation, namely : 
Mase Escasi and Xicotenga, the elder (the father of 
the Captain General Xicotenga). When they had heard 
the embassy, they were undecided and kept silence 
for a few moments, and it pleased God to guide their 
thoughts towards making peace with us ; and they 
sent at once to summon all the other Caciques and 
captains who were in their towns, and those of a 
neighbouring province called Huexotzingo who were 
their friends and allies, and when all had come together 
Mase Escasi and Xicotenga, the elder, who were very 
wise men, made them a speech, as we afterwards 
learned, to the following effeft, if not exaftly in these 
words : 

" Brothers and friends, you have already seen how 
many times these Teules who are in this country 
expecting to be attacked, have sent us messengers 
asking us to make peace, saying that they come to 
assist us and adopt us as brothers ; and you have also 
seen how many times they have taken prisoners 
numbers of our vassals to whom they do no harm, and 
whom they quickly set free. You well know how we 
have three times attacked them with all our forces, 
both by day and by night, and have failed to conquer 
them, and that they have killed during the attacks we 
made on them, many of our people, and of our sons, 
relations and captains. Now, again, they have sent 
to ask us to make peace and the people of Cempoala 



whom they are bringing in their company say that 
they are the enemies of Montezuma and his Mexicans, 
and have ordered the towns of the Totonac sierra and 
those of Cempoala no longer to pay tribute to Monte- 
zuma. You will remember well enough that the 
Mexicans make war on us every year, and have done 
so for more than a hundred years, and you can readily 
see that we are hemmed in in our own lands, so that 
we do not dare to go outside even to seek for salt, so 
that we have none to eat, and we have no cotton, and 
bring in very little cotton cloth, and if some of our 
people go out or have gone out to seek for it, few of 
them return alive, for those traitorous Mexicans and 
their allies kill them or make slaves of them. Our 
wizards 1 and soothsayers and priests have told us 
what they think about the persons of these Teules, 
and that they are very valiant. It seems to me that 
we should seek to be friends with them, and in either 
case, whether they be men or Teules, that we should 
make them welcome, and that four of our chieftains 
should set out at once and take them plenty to eat, 
and should offer them friendship and peace, so that 
they should assist us and defend us again& our enemies, 
and let us bring them here to us, and give them women, 
so that we may have relationship with their offspring, 
for the ambassadors whom they have sent to treat for 
peace, tell us that they have some women with them." 
When they had likened to this discourse, all the 
Caciques and chiefs approved of it and said that it 
was a wise decision and that peace should be made 
at once, and that notice should be sent to the Captain 
Xicotenga and the other captains who were with him 
to return at once and not to attack again, and that 
they should be told that peace was already made, and 
messengers were immediately sent off to announce it. 
However, the Captain Xicotenga the younger would 

1 Tacal naguas. 


not li&en to the four chiefs, and got very angry and 
used abusive language against them, and said he 
was not for peace, for he had already killed many of 
the Teules and a mare, and that he wished to attack us 
again by night and completely conquer us and slay us. 
When his father, Xicotenga the elder, and Mase 
Escasi and the other Caciques heard this reply they 
were very angry and sent orders at once to the captains 
and to all the army that they should not join Xicotenga 
in attacking us again, and should not obey him in 
anything that he ordered unless it was in making 
peace. And even so he would not obey, and when they 
[the Caciques] saw the disobedience of their captain, 
they at once sent the same four chieftains whom they 
had sent before, to bring food to our camp and treat 
for peace in the name of all Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo, 
but, from fear of Xicotenga the younger, the four old 
men did not come at that time. 


As two days had passed without our doing anything 
worthy of record, we suggested to Cortes, and it was 
agreed to, that as there was a town about one league 
distant from our camp, which had sent no reply when 
summoned to make peace, that we should march again& 
it by night and take it by surprise, not with^ intent to 
do it any harm, I mean not to kill or wound its 
inhabitants, or take them prisoners, but to carry off 
food and to frighten or talk them into making peace, 
according to the way they might aft. 

This town was called Tzumpantzingo, and was the 
capital of many other small towns, and the township 
where our camp was placed was subjeft to it, and all 
round about it was thickly peopled. 



So one night, long before the approach of dawn, we 
rose early to go to that town with six of the bet horse- 
men and the healthiest of the soldiers and ten cross- 
bowmen and eight musketeers, with Cortes as our 
captain, although he was suffering from tertian fever, 
and we left the camp as well guarded as was possible* 
We Started on our march two hours before dawn came, 
and there was such a cold wind that morning blowing 
down from the snowy mountains that it made us shiver 
and shake, and the horses we had with us felt it keenly, 
for two of them were seized with colic and were 
trembling all over, which worried us a good deal as 
we feared that they would die. Cortes ordered their 
owners to take them back to the camp and try to 
cure them. 

As the town was not far off we arrived there before 
daylight, and when the natives perceived our approach, 
they fled from their houses shouting to one another 
to look out for the Teules who were coming to kill 
them, and the parents, in their panic, did not even 
wait to look after their children. When we saw what 
was happening, we halted in a court until it was day- 
light, so as not to do the people any harm. As soon as 
the prie&s who were in the temples, the elders of the 
town and some of the old chieftains saw that we &ood 
there without doing any harm, they came to Corts 
and asked his pardon for not coming to our camp 
peacefully and bringing food when we had summoned 
them to do so, the^ reason being that the captain 
Xicotenga, who was in the neighbourhood, had sent 
to them to say that they should not give us any, because 
his camp was supplied from that town and from 
many others, and he had with him as warriors the sons 
of the people of that town and from all the territory 
of Tlaxcala. Cortes told them through Dona Marina 
and Aguilar, who always went with us on every 
expedition even when it took place at night to have 



no fear, but to go at once to the Caciques at the capital 
and tell them to come and make peace, for the war was 
disastrous to them, and he [Cortes] sent those [same] 
priests [as messengers], for, by the other messengers 
whom we had sent we had so far received no reply 

These priests of the town quickly searched for 
more than forty cocks and hens and two women to 
grind tortillas, and brought them to us, and Cortes 
thanked them for it, and ordered them at once to send 
twenty Indians to our camp, and they came with the 
food without any fear whatever and flayed in the camp 
until the afternoon, and they were given little beads 
with which they returned well contented to their 
homes, and in all the small hamlets in our neighbour- 
hood they spread word that we were good because we 
caused them no annoyance, and the priests and elders 
sent notice to the captain Xicotenga and told him 
how they had given us the food and the women, and 
he rated them severely, and they went at once to the 
capital to make it known to the old Caciques. As soon 
as they heard that we had not done the people any 
harm, although we might have killed many of them 
that night, and that we were sending them to treat 
for peace, they were greatly pleased, and ordered that 
we should be supplied every day with all that we 
needed ; and they again ordered the four Caciques, 
whom they had before charged with the mission of 
peace, to depart in&antly for our camp, and carry with 
them all the food that had been prepared. We then 
returned to our camp with our supplies of food and 
the Indian women, all of us well contented. 

However, on our return, we found that there had 
been meetings and discussions in camp about the very 
great danger we were running day by day during this 
war, and on our arrival the discussion grew 
lively. Those who talked mol and were 



persi&ent, were those who had left houses and assign- 
ments of Indians behind them in Cuba, and as many 
as seven of these men (whose names I will not mention 
so as to save their honour) met together and went 
to the hut where Cortes was lodging, and one of them 
who spoke for all, for he was very fluent of speech 
and knew very well what they had come to propose, 
said, as though he were giving advice to Cortes, that 
if he should wish to preserve his life and the lives of 
us all, that we should at once return to Villa Rica as 
the country there was at peace ; that we ought not to 
wait for another battle like the lat ; and they said 
more to the same effeft. 

Cortes noticing that they spoke somewhat haughtily, 
considering that their words took the form 'of unasked 
advice, answered them very gently. 

It is true enough that they grumbled at Cortes and 
cursed him, and even at us who had advised him, and 
at the Cempoalans who had brought us here, and 
said other unworthy things, but in such times they 
were overlooked. Finally all were fairly obedient. 


WHEN Mase Escasi and Xicotenga the elder, and the 
greater number of the Caciques of the capital of 
Tlaxcala sent four times to tell their captain not to 
attack us but to go and treat for peace, he was very 
close to our camp, and they sent to the other captains 
who were with him and told them not to follow him 
unless it was to accompany him when he went to see 
us peacefully. 

As Xicotenga was bad tempered and ob&inate and 
proud, he decided to send forty Indians with food, 
poultry, bread and fruit and four miserable looking old 



Indian women, and much copal and many parrots* 
feathers. From their appearance we thought that the 
Indians who brought this present came with peaceful 
intentions, and when they reached our camp they 
fumigated Cortes with incense without doing him 
reverence, as was usually their custom. They said : 
** The Captain Xicotenga sends you all this so that 
you can eat. If you are savage Teules, as the Cem- 
poalans say you are, and if you wish for a sacrifice, 
take these four women and sacrifice them and you can 
eat their flesh and hearts, but as we do not know your 
manner of doing it, we have not sacrificed them now 
before you ; but if you are men, eat the poultry and 
the bread and fruit, and if you are tame Teules we 
have brought you copal and parrots' feathers ; make 
your sacrifice with that." 

Cortes answered through our interpreters that he 
had already sent to them to say that he desired peace 
and had not come to make war, but had come to 
entreat them and make clear to them that they should 
not kill or sacrifice anyone as was their custom to do. 
That we were all men of bone and flesh jut as they 
were, and not Teules but Christians, and that it was 
not the custom to kill anyone ; that had we wished 
to kill people, many opportunities of perpetrating 
cruelties had occurred during the frequent attacks 
they had made on us, both by day and night. That 
for the food they had brought he gave them thanks, 
and that they were not to be as foolish as they had 
been, but should now make peace. 

It seems that these Indians whom Xicotenga had 
sent with the food were spies. They remained with us 
that day and the following night, and some of them 
went with messages to Xicotenga and others arrived* 
Our friends from Cempoala were sure that they were 
spies, and were the more suspicious of them in that 
they had been told that Xicotenga was all ready with 



a large number of warriors to attack our camp by 
night, and the Cempoalans at that time took it for a 
joke or bravado, and not believing it they had said 
nothing to Cortes ; but Dona Marina heard of it at 
once and she repeated it to Cortes. 

So as to learn the truth, Cortes had two of the mo& 
honest looking of the Tlaxcalans taken apart from the 
others, and they confessed that they were spies ; then 
two others were taken and they also confessed and 
added that their Captain Xicotenga was awaiting their 
report to attack us that night with all his companies. 
When Cortes heard this he let it be known throughout 
the camp that we were to keep on the alert. Then he 
had seventeen of those spies captured and cut off the 
hands of some and the thumbs of others and sent 
them to the Captain Xicotenga to tell him that he 
had had them thus punished for daring to come in 
such a way, and to tell him that he might come when 
he chose by day or by night, for we should await him 
here two days, and that if he did not come within those 
two days that we would go and look for him in his 
camp, and that we would already have gone to attack 
them and kill them, were it not for the liking we had 
for them, and that now they should quit their foolish- 
ness and make peace. 

They say that it was at the very moment that those 
Indians set out with their hands and thumbs cut off, 
that Xicotenga wished to set out from his camp with 
all his forces to attack us by night as had been arranged ; 
but when he saw his spies returning in this manner he 
wondered greatly and asked the reason of it, and 
they told him all that had happened, and from this 
time forward he lo& his courage and pride, and in 
'addition to this one of his commanders with whom 
he had wrangles and disagreements during the 
tattles which had been fought, had left the camp with 
all his men. 




WHILE we were in camp and were busy polishing our 
arms and making arrows, each one of us doing what 
was necessary to prepare for battle, at that moment 
one of our scouts came hurrying in to say that many 
Indian men and women with loads were coming along 
the high road from Tlaxcala, and were making for 
our camp. Cortes and all of us were delighted at 
this news, for we believed that it meant peace, as in 
fa6l it did, and Cortes ordered us to make no display 
of alarm and not to show any concern, but to tay 
hidden in our huts. Then, from out of all those people 
who came bearing loads, the four chieftains advanced 
who were charged to treat for peace, according to the 
instructions given by the old caciques. Making signs 
of peace by bowing the head, they came Straight to 
the hut where Cortes was lodging and placed one 
hand on the ground and kissed the earth and three 
times made obeisance and burnt copal, and said that 
all the Caciques of Tlaxcala and their allies and 
vassals, friends and confederates, were come to place 
themselves under the friendship and peace of Cortes 
and of his brethren the Teules who accompanied him. 
They asked his pardon for not having met us peace- 
fully, and for the war which they had waged on us, for 
they had believed and held for certain that we were 
friends of Montezuma and his Mexicans, who have 
been their mortal enemies from times long pat, for 
they saw that many of his vassals who paid him tribute 
had come in our company, and they believed that they 
were endeavouring to gain an entry into their country 
by guile and treachery, as was their custom to do, so 
as to rob them of their women and children ; and this 



was the reason why they did not believe the messengers 
whom we had sent to them ; that now they came to beg 
pardon for their audacity, and had brought us food, 
and that every day they would bring more and tru&ed 
that we would receive it with the friendly feeling with 
which it was sent ; that within two days the captain 
Xicotenga would come with other Caciques and give 
a further account of the sincere wish of all Tlaxcala to 
enjoy our friendship. 

As soon as they had finished their discourse they 
bowed their heads and placed their hands on the 
ground and kissed the earth. Then Cortes spoke to 
them through our interpreters very seriously, pretend- 
ing he was angry, and said that there were reasons why 
we should not li&en to them and should rejeft their 
friendship, for as soon as we had entered their country 
we sent to them offering peace and had told them that 
we wished to assist them against their enemies, the 
Mexicans, and they would not believe it and wished to 
kill our ambassadors ; and not content with that, they 
had attacked us three times both by day and by night, 
and had spied on us and held us under observation ; 
and in the attacks which they made on us we might 
have killed many of their vassals, but he would not, 
and he grieved for those who were killed ; but it was 
their own fault and he had made up his mind to go 
to the place where the old chiefs were living and to 
attack them ; but as they had now sought peace in the 
name of that province, he would receive them in the 
name of our lord the King and thank them for the food 
they had brought. He told them to go at once to their 
chieftains and tell them to come or send to treat for 
peace with fuller powers, and that if they did not come 
we would go to their town and attack them. 

He ordered them to be given some blue beads to 
be handed to their Caciques as a sign of peace, and 
he warned them that when they came to our camp it 



should be by day and not by night, left we should 
kill them. 

Then those four messengers departed, and left in 
some Indian houses a little apart from our camp, the 
Indian women whom they had brought to make bread, 
some poultry, and all the necessaries for service, and 
twenty Indians to bring wood and water. From now 
on they brought us plenty to eat, and when we saw 
this and believed that peace was a reality, we gave 
great thanks to God for it. It had come in the nick 
of time, for we were already lean and worn oat and 
discontented with the war, not knowing or being able 
to forecast what would be the end of it. 

As our Lord God, through his great loving kindness, 
was pleased to give us viftory in those battles in 
TIaxcala, our fame spread throughout the surrounding 
country, and reached the ears of the great Montezuma 
in the great City of Mexico ; and if hitherto they took 
us for Teules, from now on they held us in even greater 
respeft as valiant warriors, and terror fell on the 
whole country at learning how, being so few in number 
and the Tlaxcalans in such great force, we had 
conquered them and that they had sued us for peace. 
So that now Montezuma, the great Prince of Mexico, 
powerful as he was, was in fear of our going to his 
city, and sent five chieftains, men of much importance, 
to our camp at TIaxcala to bid us welcome, and say 
that he was rejoiced at our great viftory againft so 
many squadrons of warriors, and he sent a present, a 
matter of a thousand dollars' worth of gold, in very rich 
jewelled ornaments, worked in various shapes, and 
twenty loads of fine cotton cloth, and he sent word 
that he wished to become the vassal of our great 
Emperor, and that he was pleased that we were already 
near his city, on account of the good will that he 
bore Cortes and all his brothers, the Teules, who were 
with him and that he [Cortes] should decide how much 



tribute he wished for every year for our great Emperor, 
and that he [Montezuma] would give it in gold and 
silver, cloth and chalchihuites, provided we would 
not come to Mexico. This was not because he would 
not receive us with the greatest willingness, but because 
the land was rough and Sterile, and he would regret to 
see us undergo such hardships which perchance he 
might not be able to alleviate as well as he could wish. 
Cortes answered by saying that he highly appreciated 
the good will shown us, and the present which had 
been sent, and the offer to pay tribute to his Majesty, 
and he begged the messengers not to depart until he 
went to the capital of Tlaxcala, as he would despatch 
them from that place, for they could then see how that 
war ended. 


WHILE Cortes was talking to the ambassadors of 
Montezuma, and he wanted to take some ret, for 
he was ill with fever, they came to tell him that the 
Captain Xicotenga was arriving with many other 
Caciques and Captains, all clothed in white and red 
cloaks, half of the cloak was white and the other half 
red, for this was the device and livery of Xicotenga, 
[who was approaching] in a very peaceful manner, and 
was bringing with him in his company about fifty 

When Xicotenga reached Cortes' quarters he paid 
him the greatest respeft by his obeisance, and ordered 
much copal to be burned. Cortes, with the greate& 
show of affeftion, seated him by his side and Xicotenga 
said that he came on behalf of his father and of Mase 
Escasi and all the Caciques, and Commonwealth of 
Tlaxcala to pray Cortes to admit them to our friend- 
ship, and that he came to render obedience to our King 



and Lord, and to ask pardon for having taken up arms 
and made war upon us. That this had been done because 
they did not know who we were, and they had taken 
it for certain that we had come on behalf of their 
enemy Montezuma, and for that reason had 
endeavoured to defend themselves and their country, 
and were obliged to show fight. He said that they were 
a very poor people who possessed neither gold, nor 
silver, nor precious Clones, nor cotton cloth, nor even 
salt to eat, because Montezuma gave them no oppor- 
tunity to go out and search for it, and that although 
their ancestors possessed some gold and precious 
Clones, they had been given to Montezuma on former 
occasions when, to save themselves from destruction, 
they had made peace or a truce, and this had been in 
times long pat ; so that if they had nothing to give 
now, we mut pardon them for it, for poverty and not 
the want of good will was the cause of it. He made 
many complaints of Montezuma and his allies who 
were all hostile to them and made war on them, but 
they had defended themselves very well. Now they 
had thought to do the same against us, but they could 
not do it although they had gathered against us three 
times with all their warriors, and we mut be invincible, 
and when they found this out about our persons they 
wished to become friends with us and the vassals of 
the great prince the Emperor Don Carlos, for they 
felt sure that in our company they and their women 
and children would be guarded and protected, and 
would not live in dread of the Mexican traitors, and 
he said many other words placing themselves and their 
city at our disposal. 

Xicotenga was tall, broad shouldered and well 
made ; his face was long, pockmarked and coarse, 
he was about thirty-five years old and of a dignified 

Cortes thanked him very courteously, in a moft 



flattering manner, and said that he would accept them 
as vassals of our King and Lord, and as our own friends. 
Then Xicotenga begged us to come to his city, for 
all the Caciques, elders and priests were waiting to 
receive us with great rejoicing. Cortes replied that 
he would go there promptly, and would &art at once, 
were it not for some negotiations which he was carrying 
on with the great Montezuma, and that he would come 
after he had despatched the messengers. Then Cortes 
spoke somewhat more sharply and severely about the 
attacks they had made on us both by day and night, 
adding that as it could not now be mended he would 
pardon it. Let them see to it that the peace we now 
were granting them was an enduring one, without 
any change, for otherwise he would kill them and 
deftroy their city and that he [Xicotenga] should 
not expert further talk about peace, but only of war. 

When Xicotenga and all the chieftains who had 
come with him heard these words they answered one 
and all, that the peace would be firm and true, and 
that to prove it they would all remain with us as 

The Mexican Ambassadors were present during 
all these discussions and heard all the promises that 
were made, and the conclusion of peace weighed on 
them heavily, for they fully understood that it boded 
them no good. And when Xicotenga had taken his 
leave these Ambassadors of Montezuma half laughingly 
asked Cortes whether he believed any of those promises 
which were made on behalf of all Tlaxcala [alleging] 
that it was all a trick which deserved no credence, 
and the words were those of traitors and deceivers ; 
that their objeft was to attack and kill us as soon as 
they had us within their city in a place where they 
could do so in safety ; that we should bear in mind 
how often they had put forth all their Strength to 
destroy us and had failed to do so, and had lot many 



killed and wounded, and that now they offered a sham 
peace so as to avenge themselves. Cortes answered 
them, with a brave face, that their alleged belief that 
such was the case did not trouble him, for even if it 
were true he would be glad of it so as to punish 
them [the Tlaxcalans] by taking their lives, that it 
did not matter to him whether they attacked him by 
day or by night, in the city or in the open, he did not 
mind one way or the other, and it was for the purpose 
of seeing whether they were telling the truth that he 
was determined to go to their city. 

The Ambassadors seeing that he had made up his 
mind begged him to wait six days in our camp as they 
wished to send two of their companions with a 
message to their Lord Montezuma, and said that 
they would return with a reply within six days. To 
this Cortes agreed, on the one hand because, as I have 
said he was suffering from fever, and on the other 
because, although when the Ambassadors had made 
these statements he had appeared to attach no import- 
ance to them, he thought that there was a chance of 
their being true, and that until there was greater 
certainty of peace, they were of a nature requiring 
much consideration. 

As at the time that this peace was made the towns 
all along the road that we had traversed from our 
Villa Rica de Vera Cruz were allied to us and friendly, 
Cortes wrote to Juan de Escalante who, as I have said, 
remained in the town to finish building the fort, and 
had under his command the sixty old or sick soldiers 
who had been left behind. In these letters he told 
them of the great mercies which our Lord Jesus Chri& 
had vouchsafed to us in the vi&ories which we had 
gained in our battles and encounters since we had 
entered the province of Tlaxcala, which had now sued 
for peace with us, and asked that all of them would 
give thanks to God for it. He also told them to see 



to it that they always kept on good terms with our 
friends in the towns of the Totonacs, and he told him 
to send at once two jars of wine which had been left 
behind, buried in a certain marked place in his 
lodgings, and some sacred wafers for the Mass, which 
had been brought from the Island of Cuba for those 
which we had brought on this expedition were already 

These letters were moSt welcome, and Escalante 
wrote in reply to say what had happened in the town, 
and all that was asked for arrived very quickly. 

About this time we set up a tall and sumptuous 
cross in our camp, and Cortes ordered the Indians of 
Tzumpantzingo and those who dwelt in the houses 
near our camp to whitewash it, and it was beautifully 

cease writing about this and return to our 
new friends the Caciques of Tlaxcala, who when they 
saw that we did not go to their city, came themselves 
to our camp and brought poultry and tunas, 1 which 
were then in season, each one brought some of the 
food which he had in his house and gave it to us with 
the greatest good will without asking anything in 
return, and they always begged Cortes to come with 
them soon to their city. As we had promised to wait 
six days for the return of the Mexicans, Cortes put 
off the Tlaxcalans with fair speeches. When the time 
expired, according to their word, six chieftains, men 
of great importance, arrived from Mexico, and 
brought a rich present from the great Montezuma 
consisting of valuable gold jewels wrought in various 
shapes worth three thousand pesos in gold, and two 
hundred pieces of cloth, richly worked with feathers 
and other patterns. When they offered this present 
the Chieftains said to Cortes that their Lord Monte- 
zuma was delighted to hear of our success, but that 
1 Tuxa = the prickly pear, the fruit of the Nopal Cactus (Qpuntia). 



he prayed him mot earnestly on no account to go 
with the people of Tlaxcala to their town, nor to 
place any confidence in them, that they wished ta 
get him there to rob him of his gold and cloth, for 
they were very poor, and did not possess a decent 
cotton cloak among them, and that the knowledge that 
Montezuma looked on us as friends, and was 
sending us gold and jewels and cloth, would Still 
more induce the Tlaxcalans to rob us. 

Cortes received the present with delight, and said 
that he thanked them for it, and would repay their 
Lord Montezuma with good works, and if he should 
perceive that the Tlaxcalans had that in mind against 
which Montezuma had sent them to warn him, they 
would pay for it by having all their lives taken, but he 
felt sure they would be guilty of no such villainy, 
and he till meant to go and see what they would do. 

Cortes begged the Mexican Ambassadors to wait 
for three days for the reply to their prince, as he had 
at present to deliberate and decide about the pat 
hostilities and the peace which was now offered, and 
the Ambassadors said that they would wait. 


WHEN the old Caciques from all Tlaxcala saw that 
we did not come to their city, they decided to come 
to us, some in litters, others in hammocks or carried 
on men's backs, and others on foot. These were the 
Caciques already mentioned by me, named Mase 
Escasi, Xicotenga the elder, Guaxolocingo, Chichi- 
mecatecle, and Tecapaneca of Topeyanco. _ They 
arrived at our camp with a great company of chieftains, 
and with every sign of respeft made three obeisances 
to Cortes and to all of us, and they burnt copal and 



touched the ground with their hands and kissed it, 
and Xicotenga the elder began to address Cortes in 
the following words 

" Malinche, Malinche, we have sent many times 
to implore you to pardon us for having attacked you 
and to &ate our excuse, that we did it to defend our- 
selves from the hostility of Montezuma and his 
powerful forces, for we believed that you belonged 
to his party and were allied to him. If we had known 
what we now know, we should not only have gone 
out to receive you on the roads with supplies of food, 
but would even have had them swept for you, and we 
would even have gone to you to the sea where you keep 
your acales (which are the ships). Now that you 
have pardoned us, what I and all these Caciques have 
come to request is, that you will come at once with us 
to our City, where we will give you of all that we possess 
and will serve you with our persons and property. 
Look to it Malinche that you do not decide other- 
wise or we will leave you at once, for we fear that 
perchance these Mexicans may have told you some of 
the falsehoods and lies that they are used to tell 
about us. Do not believe them nor listen to them, for 
they are false in everything, and we well know that 
it is on their account that you have not wished to 
come to our City." 

Cortes answered them with cheerful mien and said, 
that it was well known, many years before we had 
come to these countries, what a good people they were 
and that it was on this account that he wondered at 
their attacking us. 

He said that the Mexicans who were there were 
[merely] awaiting a reply which he was sending to 
their Lord Montezuma. 

He thanked them heartily for what they said about 
our going at once to their city and for the food which 
they were continually sending and for their other 



civilities, and he would repay them by good deeds. 
He said that he would already have set out for their 
City if he had had anyone to carry the tepuzques (that is 
the cannon). As soon as they heard these words 
the Tlaxcalans were so pleased that one could see it 
in their faces, and they said : "So this is the reason 
why you have delayed, and never mentioned it." And 
in less than half an hour they provided over five 
hundred Indian carriers. 

The next day, early in the morning we began our 
march along the road to the Capital of Tlaxcala. 

The messengers of Montezuma had already begged 
Cortes that they might go with us to see how affairs 
were settled at Tlaxcala and that he would despatch them 
from there, and that they should be quartered in his 
own lodgings so as not to receive any insults, for, as 
they said, they feared such from the Tlaxcalans. 

Before going on any further I wish to say that in 
all the towns we had passed through, and in others 
where they had heard of" us, Cortes was called Malinche, 
and so I will call him Malinche from now henceforth 
in all the accounts of conversations which were held 
with any of the Indians. 

The reason why he was given this name is that 
Dona Marina, our interpreter, was always in his 
company, particularly when any Ambassadors arrived, 
and she spoke to them in the Mexican language. So 
that they gave Cortes the name of" Marina's Captain " 
and for short Malinche. 

I also wish to say that from the time we entered 
the territory of Tlaxcala until we set out for the city, 
twenty-four days had elapsed, and we entered the 
city on the 23rd September, 1519. 

When the Caciques saw that our baggage was on the 
way to their city, they at once went on ahead to see 
that everything was ready for our reception and that 
our quarters were decked with garlands. 



When we arrived within a quarter of a league of the 
city, these same Caciques who had gone on ahead came 
out to receive us, and brought with them their sons 
and nephews and many of the leading inhabitants, each 
group of kindred and clan and party by itself. There 
were four parties in Tlaxcala, without counting that 
of Tecapaneca the lord of Topeyanco which made 
five. Their followers also came from all parts of the 
country wearing their different liveries, and although 
they were made of henequen, for there was no cotton 
to be obtained, they were very fine and beautifully 
embroidered and painted. Then came the priests 
from all parts of the province, and they were very 
numerous on account of the great oratories which they 
possess, the places where they keep their idols and 
offer sacrifices. These priests carried braziers with live 
coals and incense and fumigated all of us, and some 
of them were clothed in very long garments like fur 
cloaks and these were white, and they wore hoods over 
them which looked like those used by canons, and their 
hair was very long and tangled so that it could not 
be parted unless it were cut, and it was clotted with 
blood which oozed from their ears, which on that day 
they had cut by way of sacrifice ; and they lowered 
their heads as a sign of humility when they saw us. 

The nails on their fingers were very long, and we 
heard it said that these prie&s were very pious and led 
good lives. 

Many of the chieftains came near to Cortes and 
accompanied him, and when we entered the town there 
was not space in the Streets and on the roofs for all 
the Indian men and women with happy faces who 
came out to see us. They brought us about twenty 
cones made of sweet scented native roses of various 
colours, and gave them to Cortes and to the other 
soldiers whom they thought were Captains, especially 
to the horsemen. When we arrived at some fine courts 



where our quarters were, Xicotenga the elder and 
Mase Escasi took Cortes by the hand and led him 
into his lodging. For each one of us had been prepared 
a bed of matting such as they use, and sheets of hene- 
quen. Our friends whom we had brought from Cem- 
poala and Xocotlan were lodged near to us, and Cortes 
asked that the messengers from the great Montezuma 
might also be given quarters close to his lodging. 

Although we could see clearly that we were in a 
land where they were well disposed towards us, and 
were quite at peace, we did not cease to be very much 
on the alert as was always our custom, and it appears 
that one captain whose duty it was to Station the 
scouts and spies and watchmen said to Cortes, " It 
seems, sir, that the people are very peaceful and we do 
not need so many guards, nor to be so circumspeft 
as we are accustomed to be." Cortes replied, " Well, 
gentlemen, I can myself see all that you have brought 
to my notice, but it is a good custom always to be 
prepared, and although these may be very good people, 
we mut not truSt to their peacefulness, but mut 
be as alert as we should be if they intended to make 
war on us and we saw them coming on to the attack, 
and whether it was done in good faith or bad, we mu& 
remember that the great Montezuma has sent to 
warn us." Xicotenga the elder and Mase Escasi 
were greatly annoyed with Cortes, and said to him 
through our interpreters : " Malinche, either you 
take us for enemies or you show signs in what we see 
you doing that you have no confidence in us or in 
the peace which you promised to us and we promised 
to you, and we say this to you because we see that you 
keep watch, and travelled along the road all ready for 
aftion in the same way as when you attacked our 
squadrons, and we believe that you, Malinche, do this 
on account of the treasons and abominations which 
the Mexicans had told you in secret so as to turn 



you against us. See to it that you do not believe them, 
for you are established here, and we will give you all 
that you desire, even ourselves and our children, and 
we are ready .to die for you, so you can demand as 
hostages whatever you may wish." 

Cortes and all of us marvelled at the courtesy and 
affeftion with which they spoke, and Cortes answered 
them that he had always believed them, and there was 
no need of hostages, it was enough to note their good 
will, and that as to being on the alert, it was always 
our cu&om, and they xrmSt not be offended at it. 
When this conversation was over, other chiefs arrived 
with a great supply of poultry and maize bread, and 
tunas and other fruits and vegetables which the 
country produced, and supplied the camp very 
liberally, and during the twenty days that we Stayed 
there there was always more than enough to eat. 


EARLY next day Cortes ordered an Altar to be put up 
and Mass to be said, for now we had both the wine 
and the sacred wafers. 

It was the priest Juan Diaz who said the Mass, for 
the Padre de la Merced was ill with fever and very 
feeble. There were present Mase Escasi and Xicotenga 
the elder and other Caciques. When Mass was over 
Cortes entered his lodging with some of us soldiers 
who usually accompanied him, and the two old 
Caciques, and Xicotenga said to him that they wished 
to bring him a present, and Cortes showed much 
affe<5Hon to them, and said that they should bring it 
whenever they wished, so some mats were at once 
spread out and covered with a cloth, and they brought 
six or seven trifles of gold, and some Clones of small 



value, and some loads of henequen cloth ; it was all 
very poor and not even worth twenty dollars and when 
it had been presented, those Caciques said, laughing : 
" Malinche, we know well enough that as what 
we have to give is so small you will not receive it with 
good grace. We have already sent to tell you that we 
are poor and that we own neither gold nor riches, and 
the reason of it is that these traitorous and evil 
Mexicans and Montezuma, who is now their Lord, 
have taken all that we once possessed, when we asked 
them for peace or a truce, to prevent their making war 
on us, so do not consider the small value of the gift, 
but accept it with a good grace as the gift of friends and 
servants which we will be to you/' Then they brought, 
separately, a large supply of food. 

Cortes accepted it mok cheerfully, and said to them 
that he valued it more as coming from their hands 
with the good will with which it was offered, than he 
would a house full of grains of gold brought by others, 
and it was in this spirit that he accepted it, and he 
displayed much affetion towards them. 

It appears that it had been arranged among all the 
Caciques to give us from among their daughters and 
nieces the mot beautiful of the maidens who were ready 
for marriage, and Xicotenga the elder said : 
" Malinche, so that you may know more clearly 
our good will towards you and our desire to content 
you in everything, we wish to give you our daughters, 
to be your wives, so that you may have children by 
them, for we wish to consider you as brothers as you 
are so good and valiant. I have a very beautiful 
daughter who has not been married, and I wish to 
give her to you", so also Mase Escasi and all the 
other Caciques said that they would bring their 
daughters, and that we should accept them as wives, 
and they made many other speeches and promises. 
Throughout the day Mase Escasi and Xicotenga 



the elder never left Cortes' immediate neighbour- 
hood. As Xicotenga the elder was blind from old 
age, he felt Cortes all over his head and face and 
beard and over all his body. 

Cortes replied to them that, as to the gift of the 
women, he and all of us were very grateful and would 
repay them with good deeds as time went on. The 
Padre de la Merced was present and Cortes said to 
him : " Senor Padre, it seems to me that this would 
be a good time to make an attempt to induce these 
Caciques to give up their Idols and their sacrifices, 
for they will do anything we tell them to do on account 
of the great fear they have of the Mexicans." The 
friar replied : " Sir, that is true, but let us leave the 
matter until they bring their daughters and then 
there will be material to work upon, and your honour 
can say that you do not wish to accept them until they 
give up sacrifices if that succeeds, good, if not we 
.shall do our duty." 

The next day the same old Caciques came and 
brought with them five beautiful Indian maidens, and 
for Indians they were very good looking and well 
adorned, and each of the Indian maidens brought 
another Indian girl as her servant, and all were the 
daughters of Caciques, and Xicotenga said to Cortes : 
" Malinche, this is my daughter who has never been 
married and is a maiden, take her for your own ", 
and he gave her to him by the hand, " and let the 
others be given to the captains." Cortes expressed his 
thanks, and with every appearance of gratification 
-said that he accepted them and took them as our own, 
but that for the present they should remain in the care 
of their parents. The Chiefs asked him why he would 
not take them now, and Cortes replied that he wished 
firt to do the will of God our Lord, and that for which 
our Lord the King had sent us, which was to induce 
them to do away with their Idols, and no longer to 



kill and sacrifice human beings, and to lead them to 
believe in that which we believed, that is in one true 
God, and he told them much more touching our holy 
faith, and in truth he expressed it very well, for Dona 
Marina and Aguilar, our interpreters, were already 
so expert at it that they explained it very clearly. 
He also told them that if they wished to be our 
brothers and to have true friendship with us, so 
that we should willingly accept their daughters and 
take them, as they said, for our wives, that they should 
at once give up their evil Idols and believe in and 
worship our Lord God and things would prosper with 
them, and when they died their souls would go to 
Heaven to enjoy glory everlasting ; but that if they 
went on making sacrifices as they were accu&omed to 
do to their Idols, they would be led to Hell where 
they would burn for ever in live flames, and what 
they replied to it all is as follows : 

" Malinche, we have already understood from you 
before now, and we thoroughly believe that this God 
of yours and this great Lady are very good, but look 
you, you have only ju& come to our homes, as time 
goes on we shall underhand your beliefs much more 
clearly, and see what they are, and will do what is 
right. But how can you ask us to give up our Teules 
which for many years our ancestors have held to be 
gods and have made sacrifices to them and have 
worshipped them ? Even if we, who are old men, 
might wish to do it to please you, what would our 
priests say, and all our neighbours, and the youths 
and children throughout the province ? They would 
rise against us, especially as the prie&s have already 
consulted the greatest of our Teules, and he told 
them not to forget the sacrifice of men and all the 
rites they were used to practise, otherwise the gods 
would destroy the whole province with famine, 
pestilence and war." Thus they spoke and gave as 

225 Q 


their answer that we should not trouble to talk of them 
on that subjeft again for they were not going to leave 
off making sacrifices even if they were killed for it. 
When we heard that reply which they gave so 
honestly and without fear, the Padre de la Merced, 
who was a wise man, and a theologian, said : "^Sir, 
do not attempt to press them further on this subjeft, 
for it is not jul to make them Christians by force, 
and I would not wish that you should do what we did 
in Cenipoala, that is, destroy their Idols, until they 
have some knowledge of our Holy Faith/' Further- 
more two gentlemen, namely Juan Velasquez de 
Leon and Francisco de Lugo, spoke to Cortes and 
said : " The Padre is right in what he says, you 
have fulfilled your duty with what you have done, 
and do not touch again on this matter when speaking 
to these Caciques", and so the subject dropped. What 
we induced the Caciques to do, by entreaty, was at 
once to clear out one of the cues, which was close by and 
had been recently built, and after removing the Idols, 
to clean it and whitewash it so that we could place a 
cross in it and the image of Our Lady, and this they 
promptly did. Then Mass was said there and the 
Cacicas were baptized. The daughter of the blind 
Xicotenga was given the name of Dona Luisa, and 
Cortes took her by the hand and gave her to Pedro de 
Alvarado, and said to Xicotenga that he to whom he 
gave her was his brother and his Captain, and that 
he should be pleased at it as she would be well treated 
by him, and Xicotenga was contented that it should 
be so. The daughter or niece of Mase Escasi was 
named Dona Elvira and she was very beautiful and 
it seems to me that she was given to Juan Velasquez 
de Leon. The others were given baptismal names, 
always with the title of nobility (dona) and Cortes 
gave them to Gonzalo 7 de Sandoval and Cri&oval de 
Olid and Alonzo de Avila. When this had been done 



Cortes told them the reason why he put up two crosses, 
and that it was because their Idols were afraid of them, 
and that wherever we were encamped or wherever we 
slept they were placed in the roads ; and at all this 
they were quite content. 

Before I go on any further I wish to say about the 
Cacica the daughter of Xicotenga, who was named 
Dona Luisa and was given to Pedro de Alvarado, that 
when they gave her to him all the greater part of 
Tlaxcala paid reverence to her, and gave her presents, 
and looked on her as their mistress, and Pedro de 
Alvarado, who was then a bachelor, had a son by her 
named Don Pedro and a daughter named Dona 
Leonor, who is now the wife of Don Francisco de la 
Cueva, a nobleman, and a cousin of the Duke of 
Alberquerque, who had by her four or five sons, very 
good gentlemen. 


CORTES then took those Caciques aside and questioned 
them very fully about Mexican affairs. Xicotenga, as 
he was the bet informed and a great chieftain, took 
the lead in talking, and from time to time he was 
helped by Mase Escasi who was also a great chief. 

He said that Montezuma had such great Strength 
in warriors that when he wished to capture a great 
city or make a raid on a province, he could place a 
hundred and fifty thousand men in the field, and this 
they knew well from the experience of the wars and 
hostilities they had had with them for more than a 
hundred yelars paL 

Cort6s asked them how it was that with so many 
warriors as they said came down on them they had 
never been entirely conquered They answered that 
although the Mexicans sometimes defeated them and 
killed them, and carried off many of their vassals for 



sacrifice, many of the enemy were also left dead on 
the field and others were made prisoners, and that 
they never could come so secretly that they did not 
get some warning, and that when they knew of their 
approach they mustered all their forces and with the 
help of the people of Huexotzingo they defended 
themselves and made counter attacks. That as all 
the provinces which had been raided by Montezuma 
and placed under his rule were ill disposed towards 
the Mexicans, and that as their inhabitants were 
carried off by force to the wars, they did not fight with 
good will ; indeed, it was from these very men that 
they received warnings, and for this reason they had 
defended their country to the beft of their ability. 

The place from which the moSt continuous trouble 
came to them was a very great city a day's march 
distant, which is called Cholula, whose inhabitants 
were mot treacherous. It was there that Montezuma 
secretly mustered his companies and, as it was near 
by, they made their raids by night. Moreover, Mase 
Escasi said that Montezuma kept garrisons of many 
warriors Stationed in all the provinces in addition to 
the great force he could bring from the city, and 
that all the provinces paid tribute of gold and silver, 
feathers, Clones, cloth and cotton, and Indian men 
and women for sacrifice and others for servants, that 
he [Montezuma] was such a great prince that he 
possessed everything he could desire, that the houses 
where he dwelt were full of riches and [precious] 
Clones and chalchihuites which he had robbed and 
taken by force from those who would not give them 
willingly, and that all the wealth of the country was 
in his hands. 

^ Then they spoke of the great fortifications of the 
city, and what the lake was like, and the depth of 
water, and about the causeways that gave access to 
the city, and the wooden bridges in each causeway, 



and how one can go in and out [by water] through 
the opening that there is in each bridge, and how when 
the bridges are raised one can be cut off between bridge, 
and bridge and not be able to reach the city. How the 
greater part of the city was built in the lake, and 
that one could not pass from house to house except 
by draw-bridges and canoes which they had ready. 
That all the houses were flat-roofed and all the roofs 
were provided with parapets so that they could fight 
from them. 

They brought us pidhires of the battles they had 
fought with the Mexicans painted on large henequen 
cloths, showing their manner of fighting. 

As our captain and all of us had already heard about 
all that these Caciques were telling us, we changed 
the subjeft, and Parted them on another more profound, 
which was, how was it that they came to inhabit that 
land, and from what direction had they come ? and 
how was it that they differed so much from and were 
so hostile to the Mexicans, seeing that their countries 
were so close to one another ? 

They said that their ancestors had told them, that 
in times pat there had lived among them men and 
women of giant size with huge bones, and because 
they were very bad people of evil manners that they 
had fought with them and killed them, and those of 
them who remained died off. So that we could see 
how huge and tall these people had been they brought 
us a leg bone of one of them which was very thick 
and the height of a man of ordinary Stature, and that 
was the bone from the hip to the knee. I measured 
myself against it and it was as tall as I am although 
I am of fair size. They brought other pieces of bone 
like the fir& but they were already eaten away and 
destroyed by the soil. We were all amazed at seeing 
those bones and felt sure that there mut have been 
giants in this country, and our Captain Cortes said 



to us that it would be well to send that great bone to 
Ca&ile so that His Maje&y might see it, so we sent 
it with the firft of our agents who went there. 

These Caciques also told us that they had learnt 
from their forefathers that one of their Idols, to which 
they paid the greatest devotion, had told them that 
men would come from distant lands in the direction 
of the rising sun to subjugate them and govern them, 
and that if we were those men, they were rejoiced at 
it, as we were so good and brave, and that when they 
made peace with us they had borne in mind what their 
Idols had said, and for this reason they had given us 
their daughters so as to obtain relations who would 
defend them against the Mexicans. 

When they had finished their discourse we were all 
astounded and said, can they possibly have spoken 
the truth ? Then our Captain Cortes replied to them 
and said that certainly we came from the direction 
of the sunrise and that our Lord the King had sent 
us for this very purpose that we should become as 
brothers to them ; for he had heard of them, and that 
he prayed God to give us grace, so that by our hands 
and our intercession they would be saved, and we all 
said Amen, 

I feel bound to dwell on one other thing which 
they discussed with us, and that is the volcano near 
Huexotzingo which at the time we were in Tlaxcala 
was throwing out much fire, much more than usual. 
Our Captain Cortes and all of us were greatly astonished 
as we had never seen such a thing before. One of our 
Captains named Diego de Ordas was very anxious 
to go and see what sort of a thing it was, and asked 
leave of the general to ascend the mountain, and leave 
was given, 1 and he even expressly ordered him to 

1 Tills account of the ascent of Popocatepetl appears to be given in 
the wrong place by Bernal Diaz : it probably took pkce when the 
Spaniards left Choluk. See Cortes' Second Letter. 



do it. He took with him two of our soldiers and certain 
Indian chiefs from Huexotzingo, and the chiefs that 
he took with him frightened him by saying that when 
one was half way up Popocatepetl, for so the volcano 
is called, one could not endure the shaking of the 
ground and the flames and stones and ashes which 
were thrown out of the mountain, and that they would 
not dare to ascend further than where ftood the cues 
of the Idols which are called the Teules of Popo- 
catepetl. Nevertheless Diego de Ordas and his two 
companions went on up until they reached the summit, 
and the Indians who had accompanied them remained 
below and did not dare to make the ascent. It appears 
from what Ordas and the two soldiers said afterwards, 
that, as they ascended, the volcano began to throw 
out great tongues of flame, and half burnt Clones of 
little weight and a great quantity of ashes, and that 
the whole of the mountain range where the volcano 
Stands was shaken, and that they flopped Still without 
taking a Step in advance for more than an hour, when 
they thought that the outburst had passed and not so 
much smoke and ashes were being thrown out ; then 
they climbed up to the mouth which was very wide 
and round, and opened to the width of a quarter of a 
league. From this summit could be seen the great 
city of Mexico, and the whole of the lake, and all the 
towns which were built in it. This volcano is distant 
twelve or thirteen leagues from Mexico. 

Ordas wa& delighted and astonished at the sight of 
Mexico and its cities and after having had a good look 
at the view he returned to Tlaxcala with his com- 
panions, and the Indians of Huexotzingo and of 
Tlaxcala looked on it as a deed of great daring. When 
he told his tory to Captain Cortes and all of us, we 
were greatly astonished at it, for at that time we had 
not seen nor heard of such things as we have to-day, 
when we know all about it, and many Spaniards and 



even some Franciscan friars have made the ascent 
to the crater. 

When Diego de Ordas went to Catille he asked 
the King for it [the mountain] as his [coat of] arms 
and his nephew who lives at Puebla, now bears them. 

Since we have been settled in this land we have 
never known the volcano to throw out so much fire 
or make such a noise as it did when we fir ft arrived, 
and it has even remained some years without throwing 
out any fire, up to the year 1539 when it threw up 
great flames and Atones and ashes. 

I mut tell how in this town of Tlaxcala we 
found wooden houses furnished with gratings, full 
of Indian men and women imprisoned in them, being 
fed up until they were fat enough to be sacrificed and 
eaten. These prisons we broke open and destroyed, 
and set free the prisoners who were in them, and these 
poor Indians did not dare to go in any direction, only 
to iay there with us and thus escape with their lives. 
From now on, in all the towns that we entered, the 
firt thing our Captain ordered us to do was to break 
open these prisons and set free the prisoners. 

These prisons are common throughout the land 
and when Cortes and all of us saw such great cruelty, 
he showed that he was very angry with the Caciques 
of Tlaxcala, and they promised that from that time 
forth they would not kill and eat any more Indians 
in that way. I said [to myself] of what benefit were 
all those promises, for as soon as we turned our heads 
they would commit the same cruelties. 


WHEN our Captain remembered that we had already 
been renting in Tlaxcala for seventeen days, and that 
we had heard so much said about the great wealth of 



Montezuma and his flourishing city, he arranged 
to take counsel with all those among our captains 
and soldiers whom he could depend on as wishing to 
advance, and it was decided that our departure should 
take place without delay, but there was a good deal of 
dissent expressed in camp about this decision, for some 
soldiers said that it was a very rash thing to go and 
enter into such a Strong city, as we were so few in 
number, and they spoke of the very great Strength 
of Montezuma. Our Captain Cortes replied that 
there was now no other course open to us, for we had 
constantly asserted and proclaimed that we were going 
to see Montezuma, so that other counsels were 

When Xicotenga and Mase Escasi, the lords of 
Tlaxcala, saw that we were determined to go to 
Mexico, their spirits were weighed down, and they 
were constantly with Cortes advising him not to enter 
on such an undertaking. 

Our captain said to them that he thanked the 
Caciques for their good counsel, and he showed them 
much affection, and made them many promises, and 
he gave as presents to Xicotenga the elder, and to Mase 
Escasi and moSl of the other Caciques a great part of 
the fine cloth which Montezuma had presented, and 
told them that it would be a good thing to make peace 
between them and the Mexicans, so that they should 
become friends and they could then obtain salt and 
cotton and other merchandise. Xicotenga replied that 
peace was useless, and that enmity was deeply rooted 
in their hearts, for such were the Mexicans that, 
under cover of peace, they would only be guilty of 
greater treachery, for they never told the truth in 
anything that they promised, and that he was not to 
trouble about saying more on the subjeft, and that 
they could only again implore us to take care not to 
fall into the hands of such bad people. 


We went on to talk about the road which we should 
take to reach Mexico, for the ambassadors from 
Montezuma, who remained with us and were to be 
our guides, said that the mot level and the beft road 
was by the city of Cholula, where the people were 
vassals of Montezuma and there we should receive 
proper attention. To all of us this appeared to be good 
advice, that we should go by that city. When however 
the Caciques of Tlaxcala heard that we wished to go 
by a road which the Mexicans were choosing for us, 
they became very sorrowful, and begged us in any 
case to go by Huexotzingo, where the people were 
their relations and our friends, and not by way of 
Cholula, for in Cholula Montezuma always kept his 
double dealings concealed. 

For all that they talked and advised us not to enter 
into that city, our Captain, (in accordance with our 
counsel which had been well talked over,) Still 
determined to go by Cholula, on the one hand, because 
all agreed that it was a large town, and well furnished 
with towers, and fine and tall cues, and situated on a 
beautiful plain, and on the other hand, because it 
was almo& surrounded by other considerable towns 
and could provide ample supplies, and our friends 
of Tlaxcala were near at hand. We intended to tay 
there until we could decide how to get to Mexico 
without having to fight for it, for the great power of 
the Mexicans was a thing to be feared, and unless 
God our Lord, by His Divine mercy which always 
helped us and gave us Strength, should firt of all so 
provide, we could not enter Mexico in any other 

After much discussion it was settled that we should 
take the road by Cholula, and Cortes at once sent 
messengers to ask the people of Cholula how it 
happened that being so near to us they had not come 
to visit us, and pay that respeft which was due to us 



as the messengers of so great a prince as the King who 
had sent us to the country to tell them of their salva- 
tion. He then requeued all the Caciques and prie&s 
of that city to come and see us and give their fealty to 
our Lord and King, and if they did not come he would 
look upon them as ill disposed towards us. 


WHILE Cortes was talking to us all and to the Caciques 
of Tlaxcala about our departure and about warfare, 
they came to tell him that four Ambassadors, all four 
chieftains who were bringing presents, had arrived 
in the town. 

Cortes ordered them to be called, and when they 
came before him they paid the greatest reverence to 
him and to all of us soldiers who were there with him, 
and presented their gift of rich jewels of gold and many 
sorts of workmanship, well worth two thousand 
dollars, and ten loads of cloth beautifully embroidered 
with feathers. 

Cortes received them moft graciously, and the 
Ambassadors said, on behalf of their Lord Monte- 
zuma, that he greatly wondered that we should &ay 
so many days among a people who were so poor and 
so ill bred, who were so wicked, and such traitors 
and thieves that they were not fit even to be slaves, 
and that when either by day or by night we were mol 
off our guard they would kill us in order to rob us. 
That he begged us to come at once to his city, and he 
would give us of all that he possessed, although 
it would not be as much as we deserved or he would 
like to give, and that although all the supplies had 
to be carried into the city, he would provide for us 
as well as he was able. 



Montezuma did this so as to get us out of Tlaxcala, 
for he knew of the friendship we had made, and how, 
to perfect it, the Tlaxcalans had given their daughters 
to Malinche, and the Mexicans fully understood that 
our confederation could bring no good to them. 

Cortes thanked the messengers with many caressing^ 
expressions and signs of affeftion, and gave as his 
answer that he would go very soon to see their Lord 
Montezuma, and he begged them to remain a few 
days with us. 

At that time Cortes decided that two of our Captains, 
should go and see and speak to the great Montezuma, 
and see the great city of Mexico and Pedro de Alvarado 
and Bernaldino Vasquez de Tapia had already set 
out on the journey, accompanied by some of the 
ambassadors of the great Montezuma who were 
used to being with us, and the four ambassadors who 
had brought the present remained with us as hostages. 
However, we did not think it well advised, so he wrote 
to them telling them to return at once. 

The ambassadors with whom they had been travel* 
ling gave an account of their doings to Montezuma, 
and he asked them what sort of faces and general 
appearance had these two Teules who were coming 
to Mexico, and whether they were Captains, and it 
seems that they replied that Pedro de Alvarado was 
of very perfeft grace both in face and person, that he 
looked like the Sun, and that he was a Captain, and in 
addition to this they brought with them a pifture of 
him with his face very naturally portrayed, and from 
that time forth they gave him the name of Tonatio, 
which means the Sun or the child of the Sun, and so 
they called him ever after. Of Bernaldino Vasquez de 
Tapia, they said that he was a robust man, and of a 
very ^ pleasant disposition, and that he also was a 
captain, and Montezuma was much disappointed 
that they had turned back again. 



I have already said how our Captain sent messengers 
to Cholula to tell the Caciques of that City to come 
and see us at Tlaxcala. When the Caciques under- 
&ood what Cortes ordered them to do, they thought 
that it would be sufficient to send four unimportant 
Indians to make their excuses. The Caciques of 
Tlaxcala were present when these messengers arrived, 
and they said to our Captain that the people of Cholula 
had sent those Indians to make a mock of him and 
of all of us, for they were only commoners of no 
standing ; so Cortes at once sent them back with 
four other Cempoala Indians to tell the people of 
Cholula that they mui send some chieftains, and as 
the distance was only five leagues that they mu& arrive 
within three days, otherwise he should look on them 
as rebels ; that when they came he wished to receive 
them as friends and brothers as he had received their 
neighbours the people of Tlaxcala, and that if they 
did not wish for our friendship that we should take 
measures which would displease them and anger them. 

When the Caciques of Cholula had likened to that 
embassy they answered that they were not coming to 
Tlaxcala, for the Tlaxcalans were their enemies, and 
they knew that they [the Tlaxcalans] had said many 
evil things about them and about their Lord Monte- 
zuma ; that it was for us to come to their city and to 
leave the confines of Tlaxcala, and that then if they 
did not do what they ought to do we could treat them 
as such as we had sent to say they were 

When our Captain saw that the excuse that they 
made was a ju& one we resolved to go to Cholula, and 
as soon as the Caciques of Tlaxcala perceived that 
we were determined to go there, they said to Cortes : 
" So you wish to truh to the Mexicans and not to us 
who are your friends, we have already told you many 
times that you muSt beware of the people of Cholula 
and of the power of Mexico, and so that you can 



receive all the support possible from us 5 we have got 
ready ten thousand warriors to accompany you." 
Cortes thanked them very heartily for this, but after 
consultation with all of us it was agreed that it would 
not be advisable to take so many warriors to a country 
in which we were seeking friends, and that it would 
be better to take only one thousand, and this number 
we asked of the Tlaxcalans and said that the reft should 
remain in their houses. 


PADRE SAHAGUN, in his history of the Conquest, Sates that 
the first presents sent by Montezuma to Cortes were the 
ornaments of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma is 
reported to have said to his messengers : " Our Lord Quetzal- 
coatl has arrived, go and receive him and listen to what he says 
with great attention, see to it that you do not forget anything 
that he may say, you see that these jewels that your are presenting 
to him on my behalf, are all the priestly ornaments that belong 
to him." Then follows a detailed description of the ornaments 
of the deity beginning with " A mask worked in a mosaic 
of turquoise ; this mask has a double and twilled snake worked 
in the same Stones whose fold was (on) the projection of the nose, 
then the tail was parted from the head and the head with 
part of the body went above one of the eyes so that it formed 
an eyebrow, and the tail with a part of the body went over 
the other eye to form the other eyebrow. This mask was decked 
with a great and lofty crown, full of rich feathers, very long 
and beautiful, so that on placing the crown on the head, the 
mask was placed over the face ", etc. The messengers also 
carried for presentation to Cortes "The ornaments or finery 
with which Tezcatlipoca was decorated ", and " the ornaments 
and finery of the God called Tlalocantecutli " (Tlaloc). Also 
other ornaments of the same Quetzalcoatl, a mitre of tiger- 
skins, etc. 

It is interesting to know that the masks belonging to these 
four costumes and adornments of the Gods are still in exigence, 
and that three of them can be seen in the room devoted to 
American Antiquities in the British Museum. 



The mask of Quetzalcoatl with the folds of the snake's 
body forming the eyebrows is easily identified, and the mask 
with the eyes of pyrites and the bands across the face is probably 
the mask of the God Tezcatlipoca. 

The presents sent by Cortes to Charles V were conveyed 
to Spain in the charge of Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero and 
Francisco de Montejo, who sailed from Villa Rica in July,, 

1519, and reached Valladolid probably in Oftober of the same 
year, where they awaited the arrival of the Emperor. Bernal 
Diaz says that Charles V was in Flanders when the presents 
arrived in Spain, but this is not correft ; the Emperor was in 
Catalonia and did not return to Valladolid until some time in 

1520, when he was on his way to Coruna, whence he sailed 
for Flanders in May, 1520. 

It is, however, remarkable that these masks and ornaments 
of the Gods do not appear in the lift of the presents, signed by 
Puertocarrero and Montejo, which accompanied the letter 
from the Municipality of Vera Cruz, dated loth July, I5i9> 
nor in the Manual del Tesorero de la Casa de Contratacion 
de Seviila, both of which documents were published in the 
Document os Ineditos far a la historia de Espana, Madrid, 1842. 
A note to the former document States that the gifts and the 
letter from the Municipality were received by the King, Don 
Carlos, in Valladolid during Holy Week, in the beginning of 
April, 1520. 

As, however, this note mentions the letter from tne 
Municipality only (cm la carta y relation de suso dicha que et 
concejo de la Vera Cruz envib\ and makes no mention of the 
firft letter sent to the Emperor by Cortes himself, which letter 
has never yet been found, it is possible that the masks and 
ornaments of the Gods were sent separately with Cortes' firft 
letter, and were therefore not included in the list of gifts sent 
by Cortes in conjunction with the Municipality. 

Las Casas (Hist, de las Indias, cap. ocxi), writing about 
these presents, which included two great discs, one of gold 
and the other of silver, says : " These wheels were certainly 
wonderful things to behold. I saw them and all the re (of 
the presents) in the year 1520 at Valladolid, on the day that 
the emperor saw them, for they arrived there then sent by 



There is a tradition that Charles V presented these gifts 
to the Pope (a Medici) for the family Museum, which is 
well known to have exited, and of which the present Museum 
of Natural History at Florence is an outcome. If these gifts 
were sent to Rome, as is probable, soon after their arrival in 
Spain, they must have been sent to Leo X (Giovanni de Medici), 
who died in 1521. If they were not sent before the death of 
Leo X, it is not likely that they were sent to Italy during the 
troublous years that followed, but they may have been taken to 
Spain by Cortes himself when he returned in 1528 and have been 
given to Clement VII (Giulio de Medici) when Charles V 
ivas crowned by him as King of the Romans at Bologna in 

However that may be, I have the authority of Professor 
H. Giglioli, the Direftor of the Museum of Natural Hi&ory 
in Florence, for Stating that nearly all the known group of 
objects namely, mosaic masks, mosaic decorated knife-handles, 
gold-plated and figured atlatls (spear throwers), etc. were at 
one time in Florence. At the end of the sixteenth century, when 
Aldrovandi, who was a friend of the Medici, founded his cele- 
brated Museum at Bologna, he was given some of these articles 
from the Medici Collection at Florence 5 and these, with the 
exception of the turquoise mosaic mask mentioned below, 
were discovered by Professor L. Pigorini in the attics of the 
Bologna University and transferred to the Ethnographic 
Museum in Rome, which he was then forming, and which now 
contains perhaps the finest collection of these relics. However, 
the greater number of them up to the years 181921 were 
registered in the Florentine Museum under the tide ofMaschere 
e strumenti de popoll larbari, and were partly sent thence to the 
-Officina delh pietre dure in that city to be broken up and used 
for mosaic work, being Maschere di cattivi turchesi ! 

The last turquoise mosaic mask (now in Rome) was found a 
few years ago by Professor Luigi Pigorini in the ^lore-room 
of the pietre dure laboratory, labelled with an inventory value 
of two francs and a half ! As this mask shows the remains oL , 
tusk-like teeth, it is probably the Mask of Tlaloc. 

Five years ago two magnificent plated atlatls 1 were found 

1 Described and figured in the American Anthropologist (N.S,), 
vol. vii, No. 2, April-June, 1905. 



in the garret of a nobleman *s palace in Florence, and sold by a 
dealer to the Ethnographical Museum in that city, for 500 
lire,, as " Indian Sceptres " ; they were in a leathern case, 
Stamped with the Medici arms. One of them is double-grooved, 
for throwing two darts at a time. 

The whole number of known examples of this class of 
Mexican work did not exceed twenty in 1893, and of these eight 
are now in the British Museum. Many of them were bought 
by Mr Christy and Sir Augustus Franks in Northern Italy, 
where they had been scattered after the dispersal of the Medicean 

A full account of these interesting objects, by Mr C. H. 
Read, is given, with ill ust rations, in Archceologia^ vol. liv, 1895. 
Professor Pigorini published, in 1885, a full account, with 
coloured plates, of the collection in the Ethnographical Museum 
at Rome, in the Memorie of the R. Accademia dei Lincei 
at Rome. Another interesting paper on the subject was 
published by Dr W. Lehmann in Globus (Bd. 91, No. 21), 
6th June, 1907. 




ONE morning we Started on our march to the city of 
Cholula and that day we went on to sleep at a river 
which runs within a short league of the city, and there 
they put up for us some huts and ranchos. This same 
night the Caciques of Cholula sent some chieftains 
to bid us welcome to their country, and they brought 
supplies of poultry and maize bread, and said that 
in the morning all the Caciques and priests would come 
out to receive us, and they asked us to forgive their 
not having come sooner. Cortes thanked them both 
for the food they had brought and for the good will 
which they showed us. 

At dawn we began to march and the Caciques and 
prie&s and many other Indians came out to receive 
us, moft of them were clothed in cotton garments 
made like tunics. They came in a mol peaceful 
manner and willingly, and the priests carried braziers 
containing incense with which they fumigated our 
Captain and us soldiers who were Standing near him. 
When these priests and chiefs saw the Tlaxcalan 
Indians who came with us, they asked Dona Marina 
to tell the General that it was not right that their 
enemies with arms in their hands should enter their 
city in that manner. When our Captain understood 
this, he ordered the soldiers and the baggage to 
halt, and, when he saw us all together and that no one 
was moving, he said : " It seems to me, Sirs, that 
before we enter Cholula these Caciques and prices 



should be put to the proof with a friendly speech, so 
that we can see what their wishes may be ; for they 
come complaining of our friends the Tlaxcalans and 
they have much cause for what they say, and I want to 
make them underhand in fair words the reason why 
we come to their city, and as you gentlemen already 
know, the Tlaxcalans have told us that the Cholulans 
are a turbulent people, and, as it would be a good 
thing that by fair means they should render their 
obedience to His Majesty, this appears to me to be 
the proper thing to do/' 

Then he told Dona Marina to call up the Caciques 
and prices to where he was Rationed on horseback 
with all of us around him, and three chieftains and 
two pries came at once, and they said : " Malinche, 
forgive us for not coming to Tlaxcala to see you 
and to bring food, it was not for want of good will but 
because Mase Escasi and Xicotenga and all Tlaxcala 
are our enemies, and have said many evil things of 
us and of the Great Montezuma our Prince, and as 
though what they said were not enough, they now 
have the boldness, under your protection, to come 
armed into our city, and we beg you as a favour to 
order them to return to their own country, or at leat 
to tay outside in the fields and -not to enter our city 
in such a manner," But as for us they said that we 
were very welcome. 

As our Captain saw that what they said was reason- 
able, he at once sent Pedro de Alvarado and Crist6bal 
de Olid to ask the Tlaxcalans to put up their huts and 
ranchos there in the fields, and not to enter the city 
with us, excepting those who were carrying the 
cannon, and our friends from Cempoala, and he told 
them to explain to the Tlaxcalans that the reason why 
he asked them to do so was that all the Caciques and 
prices were afraid of them, and that when we left 
Cholula on our way to Mexico we would send to 



summon them, and that they were not to be annoyed 
at what he was doing. When the people of Cholula 
knew what Cortes had done, they appeared to be 
much more at ease. 

Then Cortes began to make a speech to them, saying 
that our Lord and King had sent us to these countries 
to give them warning and command them not to worship 
Idols, nor sacrifice human beings, or eat their flesh, 
and as the road to Mexico, whither we were going to 
speak with the Great Montezurna, passed by there, 
and there was no other shorter road, we had come to 
visit their city and to treat them as brothers. As other 
great Caciques had given their obedience to His 
Majesty, it would be well that they should give theirs 
as the others had done. 

They replied that we had hardly entered into their 
country, yet we already ordered them to give up their 
Teules, and that they could not do it. As to giving 
their obedience to our King they were content to do 
so. And thus they pledged their word, but it was not 
done before a notary. When this was over we at once 
began our march towards the City, and so great was 
the number of people who came out to see us that 
both the Streets and house tops were crowded, and I 
do not wonder at this for they had never seen men 
such as we are, nor had they ever seen horses. 

They lodged us in some large rooms where we were 
all together with our friends from Cempoala and the 
Tlaxcalans who carried the baggage, and they fed us 
on that day and the next very well and abundantly. 


AFTER the people of Cholula had received us in the 
festive manner already described, and moSt certainly 
with a show of good will, it presently appeared that 







3 I 


Montezuma sent orders to his ambassadors, who 
were till in our company, to negotiate with the 
Cholulans that an army of 20,000 men which Monte- 
zuma had sent and equipped should, on entering the 
city, join with them in attacking us by night or by day, 
get us into a hopeless plight and fc bring all of us that 
they could capture bound to Mexico. And he sent 
many presents of jewels and cloths, also a golden drum, 
and he also sent word to the priests of the city that 
they were to retain twenty of us to sacrifice to their 

The warriors whom Montezuma sent were Stationed 
in some ranches and some rocky thickets about half 
a league fron Cholula and some were already polled 
within the houses. 

They fed us very well for the firt two days, but 
on the third day they neither gave us anything to 
eat nor did any of the Caciques or priefts make their 
appearance, and if any Indians came to look at us, 
they did not approach us, but remained some distance 
off, laughing at us as though mocking us* When our 
Captain saw this, he told our interpreters to tell the 
Ambassadors of the Great Montezuma to order the 
Caciques to bring some food, but all they brought 
was water and fire wood, and the old men who brought 
it said there was no more maize. 

That same day other Ambassadors arrived from 
Montezuma, and joined those who were already with 
us and they said to Cortes, very impudently, that 
their Prince had sent them to say that we were not 
to go by his city because he had nothing to give us 
to eat, and that they wished at once to return to 
Mexico with our reply. When Cortes saw that their 
speech was unfriendly, he replied to the Ambassadors 
in the blandest manner, that he marvelled how such a 
great Prince as Montezuma should be so vacillating, 
and he begged them not to return *to Mexico, for he 



wished to hart himself on the next day, to see their 
Prince, and aft according to his orders, and I believe 
that he gave the Ambassadors some strings of beads 
and they agreed to tay 

When this had been done, our Captain called us 
together, and said to us : "I see that these people 
are very much disturbed, and it behoves us to keep 
on the alert, in case some trouble is brewing among 
them ", and he at once sent for the principal Cacique, 
telling him either to come himself or to send some 
other chieftains. The Cacique replied that he was ill 
and could not come. 

When our Captain heard this, he ordered us to 
bring before him, with kindly persuasion, two of the 
numerous priests who were in the great Cue near our 
quarters. We brought two of them, without doing 
them any disrespect, and Cortes ordered each of them 
to be given a Chalchihuite, and addressing them with 
friendly words he asked them what was the reason 
that the Cacique and chieftains and mot of the priests 
were frightened, for he had sent to summon them and 
they did not want to come. It seems that one of these 
priests was a very important personage among them, 
who had charge of or command over all the Cues in 
the City, and was a sort of Bishop among the priests 
and was held in great respeft. He replied that they, 
who were priests, had no fear of us, and if the Cacique 
and chieftain did not wish to come, he would go 
himself and summon them, and that if he spoke to 
them he believed they would do as he told them and 
would come. 

Coitus at once told him to go, and that his com- 
panion should await his return. So the priet departed 
and summoned the Cacique and chieftains who 
returned in his company to Cortes* quarters. Cortes 
asked them what it was they were afraid of, and why 
they had not given us anything to eat, and said that 



if our presence in their city were an annoyance to 
them, we wished to leave the next day for Mexico to 
see and speak to the Lord Montezuma, and he asked 
them to provide carriers for the transport of the baggage 
and te-pusques and to send us some food at once. 

The Cacique was so embarrassed that he could 
hardly speak, he said that they would look for the food, 
but their Lord Montezuma had sent to tell them not 
to give us any, and was not willing that we should 
proceed any further. 

While this conversation was taking place, three of 
our friends, the Cempoala Indians, came in and said 
secretly to Cortes, that close by where we were 
quartered they had found holes dug in the Greets, 
covered over with wood and earth, so that without 
careful examination, one could not see them, that 
they had removed the earth from above one of the 
holes and found it full of sharp pointed flakes to kill 
the horses when they galloped, and that the Azoteas 
had breastworks of adobes l and were piled up with 
Clones, and certainly this was not done with good 
intent for they also found barricades of thick timbers 
in another Street. At this moment eight TIaxcalans 
arrived, from the Indians whom we had left outside 
in the fields with orders that they were not to enter 
Cholula, and they said ' to Cortes : " Take heed, 
Malinche, for this City is ill disposed, and we know 
that this night they have sacrificed to their Idol* 
which is the God of War, seven persons, five of them 
children, so that the God may give them viftory over 
you, and we have further seen that they are moving 
all their baggage and women and children out of the 
city." When Cortes heard this, he immediately sent 
these TIaxcalans back to their Captains, with orders 
to be folly prepared if we should send to summon 

1 Sun-dried bricks. 


them, and he turned to speak to the Caciques, priests 
and chieftains of Cholula and told them to have no 
fear and show no alarm, but to remember the obedience 
which they had promised to him, and not to swerve 
from it, let he should have to chastise them. That 
he had already told them that we wished to set out on 
the morrow and that he had need of two thousand 
warriors from the city to accompany us, just as the 
Tlaxcalans had provided them, for they were necessary 
on the road. They replied that the men would be 
given, and asked leave to go at once to get them 
ready, and they went away very well contented, for 
they thought that between the warriors with whom 
they were to supply us, and the regiments sent by 
Montezuma, which were hidden in the rocky thickets 
and barrancas, we could not escape death or capture, 
for the horses would not be able to charge on account 
of certain breastworks and barricades which they 
immediately advised the troops to con&ruft, so that 
only a narrow lane would be left through which it 
would be impossible for us to pass. They warned the 
Mexicans to be in readiness as we intended to tart 
on the next day and told them that our capture would 
be sure, for they had made sacrifices to their War 
Idols who had promised them victory. 

As our Captain wished to be more thoroughly 
informed about the plot and all that was happening, 
he told Dona Marina to take more chalchihuites to 
the two priests who had been the first to speak, for 
they were not afraid, and to tell them with friendly 
words that Malinche wished them to come back and 
speak to him, and to bring them back with her. Dona 
Marina went and spoke to the priests in the manner 
she knew so well how to use, and thanks to the presents 
they at once accompanied her. Cortes addressed 
them and asked them to say truly what they knew, for 
they were the priests of Idols and chieftains and ought 



not to lie, and that what they should say would not 
be disclosed in any manner, for we were going to leave 
the next morning, and he would give them a large 
quantity of cloth. They said the truth was that their 
Lord Montezuma knew that we were coming to their 
city, and that every day he was of many minds and 
could not come to any decision on the matter, that 
sometimes he sent orders to pay us much respeft 
when we arrived and to guide us on the way to his. 
city, and at other times he would send word that it 
was not his wish that we should go to Mexico, and now 
recently his Gods Tescatepuca and Huichilobos, to 
whom he paid great devotion, had counselled him 
that we should either be killed here in Cholula or 
should be sent, bound, to Mexico. That the day 
before he had sent out twenty thousand warriors, and 
half of them were already within this city, and the 
other half were Stationed near by in some gullies, and 
that they already knew that we were about to bart 
to-morrow ; they also told us about the barricades 
which they had ordered to be made and the two 
thousand warriors that were to be given to us, and how 
it had already been agreed that twenty of us were to 
be kept to be sacrificed to the Idols of Cholula, 

Cortes ordered these men to be given a present of 
richly embroidered cloth, and told them not to say 
anything about the information they had given us for, 
if they disclosed it, on our return from Mexico we 
would kill them. He also told them that we should 
iart early the next morning, and he asked them to 
summon all the Caciques to come then so that he 
might speak to them. 

That night Cortes took counsel of us as to what 
should be done, for he had very able men with him 
whose advice was worth having, but as in such cases 
frequently happens, some said that it would be advisable 
to change our course and go by Huexotzingo, others 



that we mu& manage to preserve the peace by every 
possible means and that it would be better to return 
to Tlaxcala, others of us gave our opinion that if we 
allowed such treachery to pass unpunished, wherever 
we went we should be treated to worse treachery, 
and that being there in the town, with ample provisions, 
we ought to make an attack, for the Indians would feel 
the effect of it more in their own homes than they 
would in the open, and that we should at once warn 
the Tlaxcalans so that they might join in it. All 
thought well of this lat advice. As Cortes had already 
told them that we were going to set out on the following 
-day, for this reason we should make a show of tying 
together our baggage, which was little enough, 
and then in the large courts with high walls, where 
we were lodged, we should fall on the Indian warriors, 
who well deserved their fate. As regards the Am- 
bassadors of Montezuma, we should dissemble and 
tell them that the evil-minded Cholulans had intended 
treachery and had attempted to put the blame for it 
on their Lord Montezuma, and on themselves as 
his Ambassadors, but we did not believe Montezuma 
had given any such orders, and we begged them to tay 
in their apartments and not have any further converse 
with the people of the city, so that we should not have 
reason to think they were in league with them in their 
treachery, and we asked them to go with us as our 
guides to Mexico. 

They replied that neither they themselves nor their 
Lord Montezuma knew anything about that which we 
were telling them. Although they did not like it, 
we placed guards over the Ambassadors, so that they 
could not go out without our permission. 

All that night we were on the alert and under arms 
with the horses saddled and bridled, for we thought 
that for certain all the companies of the Mexicans as 
well as the Cholulans would attack us during the night. 



There was an old Indian woman, the wife of a 
Cacique, who knew all about the plot and trap which 
had been arranged, and she had come secretly to 
Dona Marina, having noticed that she was young and 
good looking and rich, and advised her, if she wanted 
to escape with her life, to come with her to her house, 
for it was certain that on that night or during the 
next day we were all going to be killed. Because she 
knew of this, and on account of the compassion she 
felt for Dona Marina, she had come to tell her that 
she had better get all her possessions together and 
come with her to her house, and she would there marry 
her to her son, the brother of a youth who accom- 
panied her. 

When Dona Marina understood this (as she was 
always very shrewd) she said to her : " O mother, 
thank you much for this that you have told me, I would 

?o with you at once but that I have no one here whom 
can trust to carry my clothes and jewels of gold of 
which I have many, for goodness sake, mother, wait 
here a little while, you and your son, and to-night we 
will set out, for now, as you can see, these Teules are 
on the watch and will hear us/* 

The old woman believed what she said, and remained 
chatting with her, and Dona Marina asked her how 
they were going to kill us all, and how and when and 
where the plot was made. The old woman ^told her 
neither more nor less than what the two priests had 
already stated, and Dona Marina replied : " If this 
affair is such a secret, how is it that you came to know 
about it ? " and the old woman replied that her husband 
had told her, for he was a captain of one of the parties 
in the city ; as to the plot she had known about it 
for three days, for a gilded drum had been sent to her 
husband from Mexico, and rich cloaks and jewels of 
gold had been sent to three other captains to induce 
them to bring us bound to their Lord Montezuma. 



When Dona Marina heard this she deceived the old 
woman and said : " How delighted I am to hear that 
your son to whom you wish to marry me is a man of 
distinction. We have already talked a good deal, 
and I do not want them to notice us, so Mother you 
wait here while I begin to bring my property, for I 
cannot bring it all at once, and you and your son, my 
brother, will take care of it, and then we shall be able 
to go." The old woman believed all that was told her, 
and she and her son sat down to resl. Then Dona 
Marina went swiftly to the Captain and told him all 
that had passed with the Indian woman. Cortes 
at once ordered her to be brought before him, and 
questioned her about these treasons and plots, and 
she told him neither more nor less than the priests 
had already said, so he placed a guard over the woman 
so that she could not escape. 


WHEN dawn broke it was a sight to see the hate with 
which the Caciques and priests brought in the warriors, 
laughing and contented as though they had already 
caught us in their traps and nets, and they brought 
more Indian warriors than we had asked for, and large 
as they are (for they Still Stand as a memorial of the pall) 
the courtyards would not hold them all. 

We were already quite prepared for what had to 
be done. The soldiers with swords and shields were 
Rationed at the gate of the great court so as not to let 
a single armed Indian pass out. Our Captain was 
mounted on horseback with many soldiers round him, 
as a guard, and when he saw how very early the Caciques 
and prie&s and warriors had arrived, he said : " How 
these traitors long to see us among the barrancas so 



as to gorge on our flesh, but Our Lord will do better 
for us." Then he asked for the two priests who had 
let out the secret, and he sent our interpreter, Aguilar, 
to tell them to go to their houses, for he had no need 
of their presence now. This was in order that, as they 
had done us a good turn, they should not suffer for it, 
and should not get killed. Cortes was on horseback 
and Dona Marina near to him, and he asked the 
Caciques why was it, as we had done them no harm 
whatever, that they had wished to kill us, and why 
should they turn traitors against us, when all we 
had said or done was to warn them against certain things 
of which we had already warned all the towns that we 
had passed through, and to tell them about matters 
concerning our holy faith, and this without compulsion 
of any kind ? To what purpose then had they quite 
recently prepared many long and Strong poles with 
collars and cords and placed them in a house near to 
the Great Temple, and why for the lat three days 
had they been building barricades and digging holes 
in the Streets and raising breastworks on the roofs 
of the houses, and why had they removed their children 
and wives and property from the city ? Their ill will 
however has been plainly shown, and they had not been 
able to hide their treason. They had not even given 
us food to eat, and as a mockery had brought us 
firewood and water, and said that there was no maize. 
He knew well that in the barrancas near by, there were 
many companies of warriors lying in wait for us, 
ready to carry out their treacherous plans, thinking 
that we should pass along that road towards Mexico. 
So in return for our having come to treat them like 
brothers and to tell them what Our Lord God and 
the King have ordained, they wished to kill us and eat 
our flesh, and had already prepared the pots with salt 
and peppers and tomatoes. If this was what they wanted 
it would have been better for them to make war on 



us in the open field like good and valiant warriors, 
as did their neighbours the Tlaxcalans. He knew for 
certain all that had been planned in the city and that 
they had even promised to their Idol, that twenty of 
us should be sacrificed before it, and that three nights 
ago they had sacrificed seven Indians to it so as to 
ensure viftory, which was promised them ; but as the 
Idol was both evil and false, it neither had, nor would 
have power against us, and all these evil and traitorous 
designs which they had planned and put into effect 
were about to recoil on themselves. Dona Marina 
told all this to them, and made them understand it 
very clearly, and when the priests, Caciques, and captains 
had heard it, they said that what had been Stated was 
true but that they were not to blame for it, for the 
Ambassadors of Montezuma had ordered it at the 
command of their Prince. 

Then Cortes told them that the royal laws decreed 
that such treasons as those should not remain unpunished 
and that for their crime they mut die. Then he ordered 
a musket to be fired, which was the signal that we had 
agreed upon for that purpose, and a blow was given to 
them which they will remember for ever, for we killed 
many of them, so that they gained nothing from the 
promises of their false idols. 

Not two hours had passed before our allies, the 
Tlaxcalans, arrived, and they had fought very fiercely 
where the Cholulans had polled other companies to 
defend the Greets and prevent their being entered, 
but these were soon defeated. The Tlaxcalans went 
about the city, plundering and making prisoners and 
we could not llop them, and the next day more companies 
from the Tlaxcalan towns arrived, and did great damage, 
for they were very hostile to the people of Cholula, 
and when we saw this, both Cortes and the captains 
and the soldiers, on account of the compassion that 
we had felt, retrained the Tlaxcalans from doing 



further damage, and Cortes ordered Cristobal de Olid 
to bring him all the Tlaxcalan captains together so 
that he could speak to them, and they did not delay 
in coming ; then he ordered them to gather together 
all their men and go and camp in the fields, and this they 
did, and only the men from Cempoala remained with us- 

Just then certain Caciques and priests of Cholula 
who belonged to other diltrifts of the town, and said 
that they were not concerned in the treasons against 
us (for it is a large city and they have parties and 
factions among themselves), asked Cortes and all of 
us to pardon the provocation of the treachery that had 
been plotted against us, for the traitors had already 
paid with their lives. Then there came the two priests 
who were our friends and had disclosed the secret 
to us, and the old woman, the wife of the captain, 
who wanted to be the mother-in-law of Dona Marina, 
and all prayed Cortes for pardon. 

When they spoke to him, Cortes made a show of great 
anger and ordered the Ambassadors of Montezuma, who 
were detained in our company, to be summoned. He 
then said that the whole city deserved to be delroyed> 
but that out of respeft for their Lord Montezuma, 
whose vassals they were, he would pardon them, and 
that from now on they mut be well behaved, and let 
them beware of such affairs as the la& happening again, 
lel they should die for it. 

Then, he ordered the Chiefs of Tlaxcala, who were in 
the fields, to be summoned, and told them to return the 
men and women whom they had taken prisoners, 
for the damage they had done was sufficient. Giving 
up the prisoners went againft the grain with the 
Tlaxcalans, and they said that the Cholulans had 
deserved far greater punishment for the many 
treacheries they had constantly received at their hands. 
Nevertheless as Cortes ordered it, they gave back 
many persons, but they Still remained rich, both in 



gold and mantles, cotton cloth, salt and slaves. Besides 
this Cortes made them and the people of Cholula 
friends, and, from what I have since seen and 
ascertained, that friendship has never been broken. 

Furthermore, Cortes ordered all the priests and 
Caciques to bring back the people to the city, and to 
hold their markets and fairs, and not to have any fear, 
for no harm would be done to them. They replied 
that within five days the city would be fully peopled 
again, for at that time nearly all the inhabitants were 
in hiding. They said it was necessary that Cortes 
should appoint a Cacique for them, for their ruler 
was one of those who had died in the Court, so he asked 
them to whom the office ought to go, and they said to 
the brother of the late Cacique, so Cortes at once 
appointed him to be Governor. 

In addition to this, as soon as he saw the city was 
reinhabited, and their markets were carried on in safety, 
he ordered all the prie&s, captains and other chieftains 
of that city to assemble, and explained to them very 
clearly all the matters concerning our holy faith, and 
told them that they could see how their Idols had 
deceived them, and were evil things not speaking the 
truth ; he begged them to destroy the Idols and 
Tbreak them in pieces. That if they did not wish to 
do it themselves we would do it for them. He also 
ordered them to whitewash a temple, so that we might 
set up a cross there. 

They immediately did what we asked them in the 
matter of the cross, and they said that they would remove 
their Idols, but although they were many times ordered 
to do it, they delayed. Then the Padre de la Merced 
said to Cortes that it was going too far, in the beginning, 
to take away their Idols until they should understand 
things better, and should see how our expedition to 
Mexico would turn out, and time would show us what 
we ought to do in the matter, that for the present the 



warnings we had given them were sufficient, together 
with the setting up of the Cross. 

The city is situated on a plain, in a locality where 
there were many neighbouring towns, and it is a land 
fruitful in maize and other vegetables, and much 
Chili pepper, and the land is full of Magueys from which 
they make their wine. They make very good pottery 
in the city of red and black and white clay with various 
designs, and with it supply Mexico and all the 
neighbouring provinces. At that time there were many 
high towers in the city where the Idols iood, especially 
the Great Cue which was higher than that of Mexico, 
although the Mexican Cue was very lofty and mag- 

As soon as the Squadrons sent by the Great Monte- 
zuma, which were already Rationed in the ravines 
near Cholula, learned what had taken place they 
returned, faster than at a walk, to Mexico and told 
Montezuma how it all happened. But fa& as they went 
the news had already reached him, through the two 
Chieftains who had been with us and who went to 
him po^l-hasle. We learned on good authority 
that when Montezuma heard the news he was greatly 
grieved and very angry, and at once sacrificed some 
Indians to his Idol Huichilobos, whom they looked on 
as the God of War, so that he might tell him what was 
to be the result of our going to Mexico, or if he should 
permit us to enter the city. We even knew that he was 
shut in at his devotions and sacrifices for two days 
in company with ten of the Chief Priests, and that a 
reply came from those Idols which was, that they 
advised him to send messengers to us to disclaim all 
blame for the Cholulan affair, and that with demon&ra- 
tions of peace we should be allowed to enter into 
Mexico, and that when we were inside, by depriving 
us of food and water, or by raising some of the bridges, 
they would kill us. 


This affair and punishment at Cholula became known 
throughout the provinces of New Spain and if we had a 
reputation for valour before, from now on they took 
us for sorcerers, and said that no evil that was planned 
against us could be so hidden from us that it did not 
come to our knowledge, and on this account they 
showed us good will. 

I think that the curious reader must be already 
satiated hearing this lory about Cholula and I wish 
that I had finished writing about it, but I cannot avoid 
calling to mind the prisons of thick wooden beams 
which we found in the city, which were full of Indians 
and boys being fattened so that they could be sacrificed 
and their flesh eaten. We broke open all these prisons, 
and Cortes ordered all the Indian prisoners that were 
confined within them to return to their native countries, 
and with threats he ordered the Caciques and captains 
and priests of the city not to imprison any more Indians 
in that way, and not to eat human flesh. They promised 
not to do so, but what use were such promises ? as they 
never kept them. 


FOURTEEN days had already passed since we had come 
to Cholula and we had nothing more to do there, for 
we saw that the city was again fully peopled, and we 
had established friendship between them and the 
people of Tlaxcala. But as we knew that the Great 
Montezuma was secretly sending spies to our camp 
to enquire and find out what our plans were, our 
Captain determined to take counsel of certain captains 
and soldiers, whom he knew to be well disposed 
towards him, because he never did anything without 
asking our advice about it. It was agreed that 


we should send to tell the Great Montezuma, gently 
and amicably, that in order to carry out the purpose 
for which our Lord and King had sent us to these parts, 
we had crossed many seas and distant lands, and that 
while we were marching towards his city, his 
ambassadors had guided us by way of Cholula, where 
the people had plotted a treason with the intention of 
killing us, and we had punished some of those who 
intended to carry out the plot. As our Captain knew 
that the Cholulans were his subjects, it was only out of 
respeft for his person, and on account of our great 
friendship, that he refrained from destroying and killing 
all those who were concerned in the treason. How- 
ever, the wor^l of it all is that the priests and Caciques 
say it was done on his advice and command. This of 
course we never believed, that such a great prince 
as he is could issue such orders, especially as he had 
declared himself our friend, and we had inferred from 
his charafter that since his Idols had put such an evil 
thought as making war on us into his head, he would 
surely fight us in the open field, But as we look upon 
him as our great friend and wish to see and speak to 
him, we are setting out at once for his city to give him 
a more complete account of what Our Lord the King 
had commanded us to do. 

When Montezuma heard this message and learned 
through the people of Cholula that we did not lay all 
the blame on him, we heard it said that he returned 
again with his priests to fai and make sacrifices to 
his Idols, to know if they would again repeat their 
permission to allow us to enter into the city or no, and 
whether they would reiterate the commands they had 
already given him. The answer which they gave was 
the same as the firft, that he should allow us to enter 
and that once inside the city he could kill us when 
he chose. His captains and prie&s also advised him 
that if he should place obstacles in the way of our 



entry, we would make war on him through his subjeft 
towns, seeing that we had as our friends the Tlaxcalans, 
and all the Totonacs of the hills, and other towns 
which had accepted our alliance, and to avoid these 
evils the besT: and most sensible advice was that which 
Huichilobos had given. 

When Montezuma heard the message which we 
sent to him concerning our friendship and the other 
fearless remarks, after much deliberation he despatched 
six chieftains with a present of gold and jewels of a 
variety of shapes which were estimated to be worth over 
two thousand pesos, and he sent certain loads of very 
rich mantles beautifully worked. 

When the Chiefs came before Cortes with the present 
they touched the ground with their hands and with 
great reverence, such as they use among themselves, 
they said : " Malinche, Our Lord the Great Monte- 
zuma, sends thee this present, and asks thee to accept 
it with the great affeftion which he has for thee and all 
thy brethren, and he says that the annoyance that 
the people of Cholula have caused him weighs heavily 
on him, and he wishes to punish them more in their 
persons, for they are an evil and a lying people in that 
they have thrown the blame of the wickedness which 
they wished to commit upon him and his ambassadors/' 
that we might take it as very certain that he was our 
friend, and that we could go to his City whenever 
we liked, for he wished to do us every honour as very 
valiant men, and the messengers of such a great King. 
But because he had nothing to give us to eat, for 
everything has to be carried into the city by carriers 
as it is built on the lake, he could not entertain us 
very satisfactorily, but he would endeavour to do us 
all the honour that was possible, and he had ordered 
all the towns through which we had to pass to give 
us what we might need. Cortes received the present 
with demonstrations of affe&ion and embraced the 



messengers, and ordered them to be given certain 
twisted cut glass beads. 

Cortes gave the ambassadors a suitable and affec- 
tionate reply and ordered the messengers who had 
come with the present to remain with us as guides 
and the other three to return with the answer to their 
Prince, and to advise him that we were already on the 

When the Chief Caciques of Tlaxcala underwood 
that we were going, their souls were affli&ed and they 
sent to say to Cortes that they had already warned him 
many times that he should be careful what he was 
about, and should refrain from entering such a &rong 
city where there was so much war-like preparation and 
such a multitude of warriors, for one day or the other 
we would be attacked, and they feared that we would 
not escape alive, and on account of the good will 
that they bore us, they wished to send ten thousand 
men under brave captains to go with us and carry 
food for the journey. 

Cortes thanked them heartily for their good wishes 
and told them that it was not juft to enter into Mexico 
with such a hoSt of warriors, especially when one party 
was so hostile to the other, that he only had need of 
one thousand men to carry the tepusques and the 
baggage, and to clear some of the roads, and 
they at once sent us the thousand Indians very well 

Jut as we were ready to set out, there came to 
Cort6s all the Caciques and all the principal warriors 
whom we had brought from Cempoala, who had 
marched in our company and served us well and loyally, 
and said that they wanted to go back to Cempoala 
and not to proceed beyond Cholula in the direftion 
of Mexico, for they felt certain that if they went there 
it would be for them and for us to go to our deaths. The 
Great Montezuma would order them to be killed 



because they had broken their fealty by refusing to 
pay him tribute and by imprisoning his tax-gatherers. 
When Cortes observed the determination with which 
they demanded permission, he answered that they need 
not have the slightest fear that they would come to 
any harm, for, as they would go in our company, 
who would dare to annoy either them or us r and he 
begged them to change their minds and slay with us, 
and he promised to make them rich. Although Cortes 
pressed them to tay, and Dona Marina put it in the 
mo& warm-hearted manner, they never wished to iay, 
but only to return to their homes. When Cortes 
perceived this he said : " God forbid that these 
Indians who have served us so well should be forced 
to go," and he sent for many loads of rich mantles and 
divided them among them, and he also sent to our 
friend the fat Cacique two loads of mantles for himself 
and for his nephew the other great Cacique named 


WE set out from Cholula in carefully arranged order 
as we were always accustomed to do, and arrived 
that day at some ranchos standing on a hill about four 
leagues from Cholula, they are peopled from Huexo- 
tzingo, and I think they are called the Ranchos of 
Yscalpan. To this place soon came the Caciques and 
priests of the towns of Huexotzingo which were 
near by, and people from other small towns, which 
ftand on the slopes of the volcano near their boundary 
line, who brought us food and a present of golden 
jewels of small value, and they asked Cortes to accept 
them and not consider the insignificance of the gift 
but the good will with which it was offered. They 
advised him not to go to Mexico as it was a very Strong 



city and full of warriors, where we should run much 
risk. They also told us to look out, if we had decided 
upon going, for when we had ascended to the pass 
we should find two broad roads, one leading to a town 
named Chalco, and the other to another town called 
Tlamanalco, 1 both of them subject to Mexico ; that 
the one road was well swept and cleared so as to induce 
us to take it, and that the other road had been closed 
up and many great pines and other trees had been 
cut down so that horses could not use it and we could 
not march along it. That a little way down the side 
of the mountain along the road that had been cleared, 
the Mexicans (thinking that we mul take that road) 
had cut away a piece of the hill side, and had made 
ditches and barricades, and that certain squadrons 
of Mexicans had waited at that point so as to kill 
us there. So they counselled us not to go by the road 
which was clear, but by the road where the felled 
trees were, saying that they would send many men 
with us to clear it. 

Cortes thanked them for the counsel they had given 
him, and said that with God's help he would not 
abandon his march but would go the way they advised 
him. Early the next morning we began our march, 
and it was nearly midday when we arrived at the 
ridge of the mountain where we found the roads 
jut as the people of Huexotzingo had said. There 
we rented a little and began to think about the Mexican 
squadrons on the intrenched hillside where the earth 
works were that they had told us about, 

Then Cortes ordered the Ambassadors of the great 
Montezuma who came in our company to be 
summoned, and he asked them how it was that 
those two roads were in that condition, one very clean 
and swept and the other covered with newly-felled 
trees. They replied that it was done so that we should 
1 B. D. writes Tkma.nalco in error Cortes says it was Amecameca. 



go by the cleared road which led to a city named 
Chalco, where the people would give us a good 
reception, for it belonged to their Prince Montezuma, 
and that they had cut the trees and closed up the 
other road to prevent our going by it, for there were 
bad passes on it, and it went somewhat round about 
before going to Mexico, and came out at another 
town which was not as large as Chalco. Then Cortes 
said that he wished to go by the blocked up road, and 
we began to ascend the mountain with the greatest 
caution, our allies moving aside the huge thick tree 
trunks with great labour, and some of them Still lie 
by the roadside to this very day. As we rose higher 
it began to snow and the snow caked on the ground. 
Then we descended the hill and went to sleep at a 
group of houses which they build like inns or hostels 
where the Indian traders lodge, and we supped well, 
but the cold was intense, and we polled our watchmen, 
sentinels, and patrols and even sent out scouts. The 
next day we set out on our march, and, about the 
hour of high mass, arrived at a town (Amecameca), 
where they received us well and where there was no 
scarcity of food. 

When the other towns in the neighbourhood heard 
of our arrival, people soon came from Chalco and 
from Chimaloacan and from Ayotzingo, where the 
canoes are, for it is their port. All of them together 
brought a present of gold and two loads of mantles 
and eight Indian women and the gold was worth 
over one hundred and fifty pesos and they said : 
" Malinche, accept these presents which we give you 
and look on us in the future as your friends/' Cortes 
received them with great good will and promised to 
help them in whatever they needed and when he 
saw them together he told the Padre de la Merced 
to counsel them regarding matters touching our holy 
faith, and that they should give up their Idols. Cortes 



also explained to them about the great power of our 
Lord, the Emperor, and how we had come to right 
wrongs and to slop robbery. 

When they heard this, all these towns that I have 
named, secretly, so that the Mexican Ambassadors 
should not hear them, made great complaints about 
Montezuma, and his tax-gatherers, who robbed them 
of all they possessed, and carried off their wives and 
daughters, and made the men work as though they 
were slaves, and made them carry pine timber and 
stone and firewood and maize either in their canoes 
or over land, and many other services such as planting 
cornfields, and they took their lands for the service 
of the Idols. 

Cortes comforted them with kindly words which he 
knew well how to say to them through Dona Marina, 
but added that at the present moment he could not 
undertake to see justice done them and they mut 
bear it awhile and he would presently free them from 
that rule. The Caciques replied : " We are of opinion 
that you should tay here with us, and we will give 
you what we possess, and that you should give up 
going to Mexico, as we know for certain it is very 
&rong and full of warriors, and they will not spare 
your lives." 

Cortes replied to them, with a cheerful mien, that 
we had no fear that the Mexicans, or any other 
nation, could destroy us and, as we wished to &art 
at once, he asked them to give him twenty of their 
principal men to go in his company, and they brought 
us the twenty Indians. 


JUST as we were Parting on our march to Mexico there 
came before Cortes four Mexican chiefs sent by 



Montezuma who brought a present of gold and cloths. 
After they had made obeisance according to their 
custom, they said : " Malinche, our Lord the Great 
Montezuma sends you this present and says that he 
is greatly concerned for the hardships you have 
endured in coming from such a distant land in order 
to see him, and that he has already sent to tell you that 
he will give you much gold and silver and chalchihuites 
as tribute for your Emperor and for yourself and the 
other Teules in your company, provided you do not 
come to Mexico, and now again he begs as a favour, 
that you will not advance any further but return whence 
you have come, and he promises to send you to the 
port a great quantity of gold and silver and rich Clones 
for that King of yours, and, as for you> he will give you 
four loads of gold and for each of your brothers one 
load, but as for going on to Mexico your entrance into 
it is forbidden, for all his vassals have risen in arms to 
prevent your entry, and besides this there is no road 
thither, only a very narrow one, and there is no food 
for you to eat." And he used many other arguments 
about the difficulties to the end that we should advance 
no further. 

Cortes with much show of affeftion embraced the 
Ambassadors, although the message grieved him, and 
he accepted the present, and said that he marvelled 
how the Lord Montezuma, having given himself 
out as our friend, and being such a great Prince, 
should be so inconstant ; that one time he says one 
thing and another time sends to order the contrary, 
and regarding what he says about giving gold to our 
Lord the Emperor and to ourselves, he is grateful 
to him for it, and what he sends him now he will pay 
for in good works as time goes on. How can he deem 
it befitting that being so near to his city, we should 
think it right to return on our road without carrying 
through what our Prince has commanded us to do ? 



If the Lord Montezuma had sent his messengers and 
ambassadors to some great prince such as he is him- 
self, and if, after nearly reaching his house, those 
messengers whom he sent should turn back without 
speaking to the Prince about that which they were 
sent to say, when they came back into his [Monte- 
zuma's] presence with such a fcory, what favour would 
he show them ? He would merely treat them as 
cowards of little worth ; and this is what our Emperor 
would do with us, so that in one way or another we 
were determined to enter his city, and from this time 
forth he must not send any more excuses on the subject, 
for he [Cortes] was bound to see him, and talk to 
him and explain the whole purpose for which we had 
come, and this he mu& do to him personally. Then 
after he understood it all, if our presence in the city 
did not seem good to him, we would return whence 
we had come. As for what he said about there being 
little or no food, not enough to support us, we were 
men who could get along even if we have but little 
to eat, and we were already on the way to his city, 
so let him take our coming in good part. 

As soon as the messengers had been despatched, 
we set out for Mexico, and as the people of Huexot- 
zingo and Chako had told us that Montezuma had 
held consultations with his Idols and prices, who had 
said he was to allow us to enter and that then he could 
kill us, and as we are but human and feared death, we 
never ceased thinking about it. As that country is 
very thickly peopled we made short marches, and 
commended ourselves to God and to Our Lady his 
blessed Mother, and talked about how and by what 
means we could enter the City, and it put courage into 
our hearts to think that as our Lord Jesus Christ 
had vouchsafed us protection through pa& dangers, 
lie would likewise guard us from the power of the 



We went to sleep at a town called Iztapalatengo * 
where half the houses are in the water and the other 
half on dry land, and there they gave us a good 

The Great Montezuma when he heard the reply 
which Cortes had sent to him, at once determined to 
send his nephew named Cacamatzin, the Lord of 
Texcoco, with great pomp to bid welcome to Cortes 
and to all of us, and one of our scouts came in to tell 
us that a large crowd of friendly Mexicans was coming 
along the road clad in rich mantles. It was very early 
in the morning when this happened, and we were 
ready to &art, and Cortes ordered us to wait in our 
quarters until he could see what the matter was. 

At that moment four chieftains arrived, who made 
deep obeisance to Cortes and said that close by there 
was approaching Cacamatzin, the great Lord of 
Texcoco, a nephew of the Great Montezuma, and he 
begged us to have the goodness to wait until he 

He did not tarry long, for he soon arrived with 
greater pomp and splendour than we had ever beheld 
; n a Mexican Prince, for he came in a litter richly 
worked in green feathers, with many silver borderings, 
and rich Clones set in bosses made out of the finest 
gold. Eight Chieftains, who, it was said were all 
Lords of Towns, bore the litter on their shoulders, 
When they came near to the house where Cortes was 
quartered, the Chieftains assisted Cacamatzin to 
descend from the litter, and they swept the ground, 
and removed the &raws where he had to pass, and 
when they came before our Captain they made him a 
deep reverence, and Cacamatzin said : 

" Malinche, here we have come, I and these 
Chieftains to place ourselves at your service, and to 
give you all that you may need for yourself and 

1 This is clearly a mi^ake ; the town was Ayotzingo. 


your companions and to place you in your home, which 
is our city, for so the Great Montezuma our Prince 
has ordered us to do, and he asks your pardon that 
he did not come with us himself, but it is on account 
of ill-health that he did not do so, and not from want 
of very good will which he bears towards you." 

When our Captain and all of us beheld such pomp 
and majesty in those chiefs, especially in the nephew 
of Montezuma, we considered it a matter of the 
greatest importance, and said among ourselves, if 
this Cacique bears himself with such dignity, what 
will the Great Montezuma do ? 

When Cacamatzin had delivered his speech, Cortes 
embraced him, and gave many caresses to him and all 
the other Chieftains, and gave him three Atones which 
are called Margaritas, which have within them many 
markings of different colours, and to the other chief- 
tains he gave blue glass beads, and he told them that 
he thanked them and when he was able he would 
repay the Lord Montezuma for all the favours which 
every day he was granting us. 

As soon as the speech-making was over, we at 
once set out, and as the Caciques whom I have spoken 
about brought many followers with them, and as many 
people came out to see us from the neighbouring 
towns, all the roads were full of them. 

During the morning, we arrived at a broad Cause- 
way 1 and continued our march towards Iztapalapa, 
and when we saw so many cities and villages built 
in the water and other great towns on dry land and 
that Straight and level causeway going towards Mexico, 
we were amazed and said that it was like the enchant- 
ments they tell of in the legend of Amadis, on account 
of the great towers and cues and buildings rising from 
the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our 

1 The Causeway of Coithhuac separating tibe lake of Cfaako from 
the kke of Xochimiko. 



soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw 
were not a dream ? It is not to be wondered at that 
I here write it down in this manner, for there is so 
much to think over that I do not know how to describe 
it, seeing things as we did that had never been heard 
of or seen before, not even dreamed about. 

Thus, we arrived near Iztapalapa, to behold the 
splendour of the other Caciques who came out to 
meet us, who were the Lord of the town named Cuitla- 
huac, and the Lord of Culuacan, both of them near 
relations of Montezuma. And then when we entered 
the city of Iztapalapa, the appearance of the palaces 
in which they lodged us ! How spacious and well 
built they were, of beautiful bone work and cedar 
wood, and the wood of other sweet scented trees, with 
great rooms and courts, wonderful to behold, covered 
with awnings of cotton cloth. 

When we had looked well at all of this, we went to 
the orchard and garden, which was such a wonderful 
thing to see and walk in, that I was never tired of 
looking at the diversity of the trees, and noting the scent 
which each one had, and the paths full of roses and 
flowers, and the many fruit trees and native roses, 
and the pond of fresh water. There was another 
thing to observe, that great canoes were able to pass 
into the garden from the lake through an opening 
that had been made so that there was no need for 
their occupants to land. And all was cemented and 
very splendid with many kinds of ftone [monuments] 
with pi&rures on them, which gave much to think 
about. Then the birds of many kinds and breeds 
which came into the pond. I say again that I Stood 
looking at it and thought that never in the world 
would there be discovered other lands such as these, 
for at that time there was no Peru, nor any thought 
of it. Of all these wonders that I then beheld to-day 
all is overthrown and loft, nothing left landing. 



Let us go on, and I will relate that the Caciques of 
that town and of Coyoacan brought us a present of 
gold, worth more than two thousand pesos. 


EARLY next day we left Iztapalapa with a large escort 
of those great Caciques whom I have already men- 
tioned. We proceeded along the Causeway which is 
here eight paces in width and runs so Straight to the 
City of Mexico that it does not seem to me to turn 
either much or little, but, broad as it is, it was so 
crowded with people that there was hardly room for 
them all, some of them going to and others returning 
from Mexico, besides those who had come out to 
see us, so that we were hardly able to pass by the 
crowds of them that came ; and the towers and cues, 
were full of people as well as the canoes from all 
parts of the lake. It was not to be wondered at, for 
they had never before seen horses or men such as- 
we are. 

Gazing on such wonderful sights, we did not know 
what to say, or whether what appeared before us was 
real, for on one side, on the land, there were great 
cities, and in the lake ever so many more, and the 
lake itself was crowded with canoes, and in the Cause- 
way were many bridges at intervals, and in front of 
us tood the great City of Mexico, and we we did 
not even number four hundred soldiers ! and we well 
remembered the words and warnings given us by the 
people of Huexotzingo and Tlaxcala, and the many 
other warnings that had been given that we should 
beware of entering Mexico, where they would kill 
us, as soon as they had us inside. 

Let the curious readers consider whether there is 
not much to ponder over in this that I am writing* 



What men have there been In the world who have 
shown such daring ? But let us get on, and march 
along the Causeway. When we arrived where another 
small causeway branches off 1 [leading to Coyoacan, 
which is another city] where there were some buildings 
like towers, which are their oratories, many more 
chieftains and Caciques approached clad in very rich 
mantles, the brilliant liveries of one chieftain differing 
from those of another, and the causeways were crowded 
with them. The Great Montezuma had sent these 
great Caciques in advance to receive us, and when 
they came before Cortes they bade us welcome in 
their language, and as a sign of peace, they touched 
their hands against the ground, and kissed the ground 
with the hand. 

There we halted for a good while, and Cacamatzin, 
the Lord of Texcoco, and the Lord of Iztapalapa and 
the Lord of Tacuba and the Lord of Coyoacan went 
on in advance to meet the Great Montezuma, who 
"was approaching in a rich litter accompanied by other 
great Lords and Caciques, who owned vassals. When 
we arrived near to Mexico, where there were some 
-other small towers, the Great Montezuma got down 
from his litter, and those great Caciques supported 
him with their arms beneath a marvellously rich 
canopy of green coloured feathers with much gold 
and silver embroidery and with pearls and chalchi- 
huites suspended from a sort of bordering, which 
was wonderful to look at. The Great Montezuma 
was richly attired according to his usage, and he was 
shod with sandals, the soles were of gold and the upper 
part adorned with precious Clones. The four Chieftains 
^who supported his arms were also richly clothed 
according to their usage, in garments which were 
apparently held ready for them on the road to enable 
them to accompany their prince, for they did not 
1 AcacMnango. 


appear in such attire when they came to receive us. 
Besides these four Chieftains, there were four other 
great Caciques who supported the canopy over their 
heads, and many other Lords who walked before the 
Great Montezuma, sweeping the ground where he 
would tread and spreading cloths on it, so that he 
should not tread on the earth. Not one of these 
chieftains dared even to think of looking him in the 
face, but kept their eyes lowered with great reverence, 
except those four relations, his nephews, who supported 
him with their arms. 

When Cortes was told that the Great Montezuma 
was approaching, and he saw him coming, he dis- 
mounted from his horse, and when he was near 
Montezuma, they simultaneously paid great reverence 
to one another. Montezuma bade him welcome and 
our Cortes replied through Dona Marina wishing him 
very good health. And it seems to me that Cortes, 
through Dona Marina, offered him his right hand, 
and Montezuma did not wish to take it, but he did 
give his hand to Cortes and then Cortes brought out 
a necklace which he had ready at hand, made of glass 
Clones, which I have already said are called Margaritas, 
which have within them many patterns of diverse 
colours, these were Strung on a cord of gold and with 
musk so that it should have a sweet scent, and he 
placed it round the neck of the Great Montezuma and 
when he had so placed it he was going to embrace 
him, and those great Princes who accompanied 
Montezuma held back Cortes by the arm so that he 
should not embrace him, for they considered it an 

Then Cortes through the mouth of Dona Marina 
told him that now his heart rejoiced at having seen 
such a great Prince, and that he took it as a great 
honour that he had come in person to meet him and 
had frequently shown him such favour. 


Then Montezuma spoke other words of politeness 
to him, and told two of his nephews who supported 
his arms, the Lord of Texcoco and the Lord of Coyoa- 
can, to go with us and show us to our quarters, and 
Montezuma with his other two relations, the Lord of 
Cuitlahuac and the Lord of Tacuba who accompanied 
him, returned to the city, and all those grand com- 
panies of Caciques and chieftains who had come with 
him returned in his train. As they turned back after 
their Prince we &ood watching them and observed 
how they all marched with their eyes fixed on the 
ground without looking at him, keeping close to the 
wall, following him with great reverence. Thus space 
was made for us to enter the Greets of Mexico, without 
being so much crowded. But who could now count 
the multitude of men and women and boys who were 
in the Streets and on the azoteas, and in canoes on 
the canals, who had come out to see us. It was indeed 
wonderful, and, now that I am writing about it, it all 
comes before my eyes as though it had happened but 
yesterday. Coming to think it over it seems to be a 
great mercy that our Lord Jesus Christ was pleased to 
give us grace and courage to dare to enter into such a 
city ; and for the many times He has saved me from 
danger of death, as will be seen later on, I give Him 
sincere thanks, and in that He has preserved me to 
write about it, although I cannot do it as fully as is 
fitting or the subject needs. Let us make no words 
about it, for deeds are the be& witnesses to what I 
say here and elsewhere. 

Let us return to our entry to Mexico. They took 
us to lodge in some large houses, where there were 
apartments for all of us, for they had belonged to the 
father of the Great Montezuma, who was named 
Axayaca, and at that time Montezuma kept there the 
great oratories for his idols, and a secret chamber 
where he kept bars and jewels of gold, which was 



the treasure that he had inherited from his father 
Axayaca, and he never disturbed it. They took us to 
lodge in that house, because they called us Teules, 
and took us for such, so that we should be with the 
Idols or Teules which were kept there. However, 
for one reason or another, it was there they took us, 
where there were great halls and chambers canopied 
with the cloth of the country for our Captain, and for 
every one of us beds of matting with canopies above, 
and no better bed is given, however great the chief 
may be, for they are not used. And all these palaces 
were coated with shining cement and swept and 

As soon as we arrived and entered into the great 
court, the Great Montezuma took our Captain by the 
hand, for he was there awaiting him, and led him to 
the apartment and saloon where he was to lodge, which 
was very richly adorned according to their usage, and 
he had at hand a very rich necklace made of golden 
crabs, a marvellous piece of work, and Montezuma 
himself placed it round the neck of our Captain 
Cortes, and greatly astonished his [own] Captains 
by the great honour that he was bestowing on him. 
When the necklace had been fastened, Cortes thanked 
Montezuma through our interpreters, and Montezuma 
replied " Malinche you and your brethren are in 
your own house, rest awhile," and then he went to 
his palaces, which were not far away, and we divided 
our lodgings by companies, and placed the artillery 
pointing in a convenient direction, and the order which 
we had to keep was clearly explained to us, and that 
we were to be much on the alert, both the cavalry and 
all of us soldiers. A sumptuous dinner was provided 
for us according to their use and custom, and we ate 
it at once. So this was our lucky and daring entry 
into the great city of Tenochtitlan Mexico on the 
8th day of November the year of our Saviour Jesus 
Chri^l, 1519. 



Thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for it all. And if 
I have not said anything that I ought to have said, 
may your honours pardon me, for I do not know now 
even at the present time how better to express it, 

Let us leave this talk and go back to our &ory of 
what else happened to us, which I will go on to relate. 




THE Valley of Mexico is a level plain about 7,244 feet above the sea, 
completely surrounded by mountains winch leave no exit for the 
escape of the water from a fairly abundant rainfall, and as a conse- 
quence the whole valley at one period mu have formed one vaft 
lake, whose volume was limited only by soakage and the very rapid 
evaporation due to a tropical sun. At the time of the Conquest the 
area of the surface of the lakes was (very roughtly) 442 square miles, 

The mountains surrounding the valley may be roughly divided 
into three ranges. To the Eaft the Sierra Nevada, with the great 
peaks of Popocatepetl (17,887 ft) and Ixtaccihuatl (17,342 ft.) capped 
with perpetual snow, and the three lower peaks to the North, Papayo, 
Telapon and Tlaloc; to the South lies the great volcanic barrier 
of Ajusco, to the We& the range of Las Cruces, and to the North that 
of Pachuca. * 

Although the kkes have received different names, the water surface 
muft have been continuous until separated by the earthworks of the 
Indians. Starting from the North the kkes are named Zumpango, 
Xaltocan, Texcoco, Xochimilco and Chalco. All these lakes were very 

The site of the City was originally, in all probability, two reed- 
covered mud banks or islands, which may have been cultivated in 
much the same manner as were the chinampas or floating gardens 
at the time of the Conque&, or as the chinampas of Xochimilco are 
at the present day, and these two isknds became respectively the 
sites of the towns of Tktelolco and Tenochtitlan, and the space between 
them was eventually reduced to a rather broad canal. 

The chinampas were formed by heaping up the soft mud from the 
kke on to wattles in order to form seed beds for flowers and vegetables^ 
and these floating gardens gradually increased in size and became more 
compaS from the growth of the interkting roots of the willows and 
other water-loving plants until they may have supported a small hut 
for the owner and his family, and the lengthening roots eventually 
anchored them on the shallow margin of the kke. 

These gardens are divided into long narrow Strips with canals 
running between ju& wide enough for the passage of a dag-out canoe. 
The Indian cultivator poles his canoe along the narrow channels and 


scoops up the soft mud from the bottom to spread It over the land, and 
splashes the water over the growing pknts with his paddle. It was 
probably this method of cultivation which gave the mainly rectangular 
arrangement of the streets of the City of Mexico, the more unsym- 
metrical canals showing the original water-ways between the mud banks, 
while the aggregation of chinampas may have left an irregular margin 
of outlying houses and gardens. 

The very slight difference in level between the Lake of Texcoco and 
the site of the City made the ktter liable to frequent inundations, and 
this difficulty was met by the inhabitants by engineering works of 
considerable importance. A causeway was built passing through the 
island town of Tlahuac, dividing the Lake of Chalco from that of 
Xochimilco, and a second causeway separated the waters of Xochimilco 
from those of Texcoco. The City of Mexico had probably already 
been joined to the mainland, for purposes of communication, by the 
causeways of Tlacopan (Tacuba) and Tepeyac (Guadalupe), and a 
third and longer causeway was added by connecting the City with the 
barrier holding back the waters of Xochimilco ; this third causeway 
was known as the causeway of Iztapalapa. The lakes of Zumpango 
and Zaltocan were also traversed by causeways, but it is not now 
possible to locate their position. 

These various causeways did much to control the movement of 
the waters of the kkes during the rainy season, but they were not 
sufficient to prevent serious inundations, and native tradition and 
a picture in a Mexican codex 1 go to prove that during the reign of 
Motecuhzoma (Montezuma) IHhuicamina, between the years 1440 
and 1450, a very wet season caused the waters of Lake Texcoco to 
rise so much that the City was almost destroyed and the inhabitants 
had to take refuge in their canoes and piraguas. Montezuma applied 
for assistance and advice to his friend Netzahualcoyotl the King of 
Texcoco, and under his sage direction a great dyke was contru<Eted, 
known as the " Albarradon of Nezhualcoyotl ". 

" This gigantic dyke Started from Atzacualco on the North and 
followed a &raight line to the South as far as Ixtapalapa at the foot 
of the hill called la E&relk. This great work, which was sixteen 
kilometres 2 in length, was con&ructed of &one and cky and crowned 
with a Strong wall of rubble masonry, and was protected on both sides 
by a Strong Cockade which broke the force of the waves. 

" The dyke divided the kke into two parts, the krger to the East 
was known as the Lake of Texcoco, from the city situated on its shores, 
the ^lesser to the West was called the Lake of Mexico because the 
capital was surrounded by its waters on all sides. From this arrange- 
ment Mexico derived an aggregate of inestimable benefits. The 

1 Gedex Tflleriaxo Remeusio. 2 Ten Miles. 



great lake, like all kkes having no outlet for their waters, was salt, 
notwithstanding the volume of all the rivers which Sowed into it, for 
in fact it owed its saltness to this very flow which carried in its current 
the soluble salts which the falling rain has robbed from the land. The 
salt water saturating the soil has little by little rendered it sterile, and 
in addition, the carbonate of soda and the thousand other impurities 
with which it is charged are hostile to animal life to such an extent that 
fishes could not live in it, neither to-day nor at the time of the Conquest, 
as was slated by the writers at that epoch, although the water was then 
less salt that it is at the present. As die kkes of fresh water to the south 
poured their surplus water into the kke of Mexico through the narrows 
of Culhuacan and Mexicaltzingo, those waters spread through the 
western kke, the Lake of Mexico, and completely filled it, separated as 
it was from the salt lake by the dyke of Netzahuakoyotl. In this way 
the basin of fresh water was converted into a fish pond and a home for 
all sorts of aquatic fowl. Chinampas covered its surface, separated by 
limpid spaces which were furrowed by swift canoes, and all the 
suburbs of this enchanting capital became flowery orchards." * 

The great dyke was provided with numerous openings for the 
passage of canoes, but these openings were furnished with sluice 
gates, which could be closed during the rainy season when the water 
of Texcoco rose and threatened to flood the City, and could be opened 
again to let out the fresh water from Mexico when the rapid evapora- 
tion during the summer months had lowered the level of Texcoco. 

There must have been one or more springs on the site of the City 
which supplied its earliest inhabitants with drinking water, although in 
kter Indian times the supply was brought in an aqueduct, from a fine 
spring near Chapultepec. 

44 The popuktion of Tenochtitlan (the City of Mexico) at the time 
of the conquest is variously stated. No contemporary writer estimates 
it at less than sixty thousand houses, which by the ordinary rules of 
reckoning would give three hundred thousand souls. If a dwelling 
often contained, as it asserted, several families, it would swell the amount 
considerably higher." 2 

The supply of food for such a popuktion must have been a matter 
of no little difficulty, for the soil on the hill-sides is scanty, many of 
the slopes are composed of tepetatle> a mixture of volcanic ash and 
scoria fit only for growing Maguey, 3 and considerable surfaces are 
covered with kva and carry no loam at all. The scarcity of good soil 
must have led to an intensive cultivation, and this is also shown by 

1 Francisco de Garay, El valle ds Mexico, apnntes hlSarlcos sobre 
su hidrographia^ pp. 13 and 14, 

2 Prescott, ConqusS of Mexico. 

3 The American aloe, Agave americana^ from which pulque is made. 



the care with which manure was collected as is the case in China and 
Japan today. 

Food mus'l have been brought from very considerable distances, 
a*nd the want of sufficient supply from the near neighbourhood musl: 
have had much to do with the predatory nature of the Aztec dominion. 

The lakes of Zaltocan and Zumpango are now almost dry during 
the summer months. The Lake of Chalco has been drained dry, 
excepting the southern edge round Mixcuic, and is now one vasi 
maize field. 

Zochimilco is reduced to a swamp traversed by many water-ways 
and the water from its springs is being utilized for the supply of 
drinking water to the City. Tezcoco alone remains, in a shrunken 
condition, and no further drainage of its waters is contemplated, 
as the evaporation from its surface is one of the main factors con- 
tributing to the equable climate of the valley. 


The two towns of Tenochtitlan and Tlaltelolco appear to have 
risen side by side, each retaining control of its own local affairs, until 
the time of Axayacatl, the sixth ruler of Tenochtitlan (1473), when, 
after a fierce battle in the Greets of the City, Tlaltelolco was conquered, 
its chiefs killed, and it became a part of the City of Tenochtitlan. It is, 
however, this growth of the City in two dislincl: parts that accounts for 
the exigence of the two centres of religious worship, the great teocalli 
of Tenochtitlan with its surrounding courts and temples (where the 
Cathedral of Mexico now Stands), and the slill larger and more impor- 
tant teocalli of Tlaltelolco and the adjacent temples, courts, and priesV 
houses, etc., which are so fully described by Bernal Diaz in the text. 

The following quotation is from the writings of the " Anonymous 
Conqueror " who himself beheld Mexico in the days of Montezuma : 
" The great city of Temiftan (Tenochtitlan) Mexico, has and had 
many wide and handsome Streets ; of these two or three are the principal 
streets, and all the others are formed half of hard earth like a brick 
pavement, and the other half of water, so that they can go out along 
the knd or by water in the boats and canoes which are made of 
hollowed wood, and some are krge enough to hold five persons. The 
inhabitants go abroad some by water in these boats and others by land, 
and they can talk to one another as they go. There are other principal 
streets in addition, entirely of water which can only be traversed by 
boats and canoes, as is their wont, as I have already said, for without 
these boats they could neither go in nor out of their houses." 



Cortes in liis second letter to the Emperor says : 

" There are many very large and fine houses in this City, and the 
reason of there being so many important houses is that all the Lords 
of the land who are vassals of the said Montezuma have houses in this 
City and reside therein for a certain time of the year, and in addition 
to this there are many rich Citizens who also possess very fine houses. 
All these houses in addition to having very fine and krge dwelling 
rooms, have very exquisite flower gardens both on the upper apart- 
ments as well as down below." 1 

" The principal houses were of two Tories, but the greater number 
of houses were of one Storey only. The materials, according to the 
importance of the buildings, were tezontli 2 and lime, adobes 3 formed 
the walls pkStered with lime, and in the suburbs and shores of the 
island (the houses were constructed) of reeds and Straw, appropriate 
for the fishermen and the lower classes" 4 

Of the external ornament or decoration of the more important 
houses or palaces we know nothing, as the destruction of the City was 
complete. If the ornamentation was elaborate we hear nothing about 
it from the conquerors, and it must in any case have been of plaster or 
some perishable material, otherwise some fragments of it would have 
survived. It seems therefore probable that the architectural decora- 
tion of the houses was of a very simple character, and that the more 
elaborate Stone work was reserved for the teocallis and temples of 
their gods. 

Notwithstanding the above qualifications, the ancient City of 
Tenochtitlan must have been a place of much beauty and even of 
considerable magnificence, and it could not have failed to make a vivid 
impression on the Spaniards, who, it must be remembered, until 
they set foot in Yucatan, two years earlier, had seen nothing better 
during the twenty-five years of exploration of America than the houses 
of poles and thatch of Indkn tribes, none of whom had risen above a 
State of barbarism. Much no doubt was due to the natural surround- 
ings ; the white City with its numerous teocallis was embowered in 
trees and surrounded by the blue waters of the kke sparkling under a 
tropical sun, a kke that was alive with a multitude of canoes passing 
and repassing to the other white cities on its shores, and in every 
direction the horizon was closed with a splendid panorama of forest- 
covered hills, while to the south-east the eye always rested with delight 
on the beautiful slopes and snow-covered peaks of the two great 

1 Cortes* Second Letter. 

2 Tezontli, a volcanic Stone, easily worked, of a beautiful dull-red 

3 Adobes^ sun-dried bricks, 

4 Orozco y Berra, HIM. de Mexico, vol. iv, p. 2 8 1 . 


volcanoes. It Is an enchanting scene to-day, in spite of the shrinkage 
of the lakes, the smoke from factory chimneys, and the somewhat 
squalid surroundings of a modern city, and but little effort of imagina- 
tion is needed to appreciate the charm that it must have exercised in 
the days of Montezuma. 

Gardens and groves were evidently numerous in the City itself; 
the Mexicans were distinguished for their love of flowers, and there is 
no climate where gardening is more remunerative than in these tropical 
highlands when water is plentiful. The flowering plants cultivated 
on the roofs of the houses musl: have added greatly to the picturesque 
aspe& of the Greets and canals. 

Bernal Diaz tells us how clean the surroundings of the great temple 
were kept, where not a straw or a spot of dust could be seen (filth 
seems to have been confined to the temples themselves where the 
horrid rites of their religion were performed) and this cleanliness 
probably extended to the City itself, for it will be observed by any 
traveller in Mexico or Central America that the purely Indian villages 
of considerable size are almost always kept swept and tidy, while this 
is not the case in the towns and villages inhabited by the mixed race. 





WHEN the Great Montezuma had dined and he knew 
that some time had passed since our Captain and all 
of us had done the same, he came in the greatest late 
to our quarters with a numerous company of chief- 
tains, all of them his kinsmen. When Cortes was told 
that he was approaching he came out to the middle of 
the Hall to receive him, and Montezuma took him 
by the hand, and they brought some seats, made 
according to their usage and very richly decorated and 
embroidered with gold in many designs, and Monte- 
zuma asked our Captain to be seated, and both of 
them sat down each on his chair. Then Montezuma 
began a very good speech, saying that he was greatly 
rejoiced to have in his house and his kingdom such 
valiant gentlemen as were Cortes and all of us. That 
two years ago he had received news of another Captain 
who came to Champoton and likewise lai year they 
had brought him news of another Captain who came 
with four ships, and that each time he had wished to 
see them, and now that he had us with him he was at 
our service, and would give us of all that he possessed ; 
that it mul indeed be true that we were those of whom' 
his ancestors in years long pal had spoken, saying that 
men would come from where the sun rose to rule over 
these lands, and that we mul be those men, as we had 
fought so valiantly in the affairs at Champoton and 
Tabasco and against the Tlaxcalans ; for they had 
brought him piftures of the battles true to life. 



Cortes answered him through our interpreters 
who always accompanied him, especially Dona Marina, 
and said to him that he and all of us did not know how 
to repay him the great favours we received from him 
every day. It was true that we came from where the 
sun rose, and were the vassals and servants of a great 
Prince called the Emperor Don Carlos, who held 
beneath his sway many and great princes, and that 
the Emperor having heard of him and what a great 
prince he was, had sent us to these parts to see him, 
and to beg them to become Christians, the same as 
our Emperor and all of us, so that his soul and those 
of all his vassals might be saved. Later on he would 
further explain how and in what manner this should 
be done, and how we worship one only true God, and 
who He is, and many other good things which he 
should listen to, such as he had already told to his 
ambassadors Tendile and Pitalpitoque and Quintalbor 
when we were on the sand dunes. When this conference 
was over, the Great Montezuma had already at hand 
some very rich golden jewels, of many patterns, which 
he gave to our Captain, and in the same manner to 
each one of our Captains he gave trifles of gold, and 
three loads of mantles of rich feather work, and to the 
soldiers also he gave to each one two loads of mantles, 
and he did it cheerfully and in every way he seemed 
to be a great Prince. When these things had been 
distributed, he asked Cortes if we were all brethren 
and vassals of our great Emperor, and Cortes replied 
yes, we were brothers in affection and friendship, and 
persons of great di&in<5tion, and servants of our 
great King and Prince. Further polite speeches passed 
between Montezuma and Cortes, and as this was the 
firl time he had come to visit us, and so as not to be 
wearisome, they ceased talking. Montezuma had 
ordered his Rewards that, according to our own use 
and customs in all things, we should be provided with 



maize and grinding slones, and women to make 
bread, and fowls and fruit, and much fodder for the 
horses. Then Montezuma took leave of our Captain 
and all of us with the greatest courtesy, and we went 
out with him as far as the lreet. Cortes ordered us 
not to go far from our quarters for the present, until 
we knew better what was expedient. 

The next day Cortes decided to go to Montezuma's 
palace, and he firl sent to find out what he intended 
doing and to let him know that we were coming. He 
took with him four captains, namely Pedro de Alvarado, 
Juan Velasquez de Leon, Diego de Ordds, and 
Gonzalo de Sandoval, and five of us soldiers also went 
with him. 

When Montezuma knew of our coming he advanced 
to the middle of the hall to receive us, accompanied 
by many of his nephews, for no other chiefs were 
permitted to enter or hold communication with 
Montezuma where he then was, unless it were on 
important business. Cortes and he paid the greatest 
reverence to each other and then they took one another 
by the hand and Montezuma made him sit down on 
ids couch on his right hand, and he also bade all of 
us to be seated on seats which he ordered to be 

Then Cortes began to make an explanation through 
Dona Marina and Aguilar, and said that he and all 
of us were reeled, and that in coming to see and 
converse with such a great prince as he was, we had 
completed the journey and fulfilled the command 
which our great King and Prince had laid on us. But 
what he chiefly came to say on behalf of our Lord God 
had already been brought to his [Montezuma's] 
knowledge through his ambassadors, Tendile, Pital- 
pitoque, and Quintalbor, at the time when he did us 
the favour to send the golden sun and moon to the 
sand dunes ; for we told them then that we were 



Christians and worshipped one true and only God y 
that we believe in Him and worship Him, but that 
those whom they look upon as gods are not so, but 
are devils, which are evil things, and if their looks 
are bad their deeds are worse, and they could see 
that they were evil and of little worth, for where we 
had set up crosses such as those his ambassadors had 
seen, they dared not appear before them, through fear 
of them, and that as time went on they would notice 

He also told them that, in course of time, our 
Lord and King would send some men who among us 
lead very holy lives, much better than we do, who will 
explain to them all about it, for at present we merely 
came to give them due warning, and so he prayed him 
to do what he was asked and carry it into effeft. 

As Montezuma appeared to wish to reply, Cortes 
broke off his argument, and to all of us who were with 
him he said : " with this we have done our duty 
considering it is the firt attempt," 

Montezuma replied : " Senor Malinche, I have 
underwood your words and arguments very well 
before now, from what you said to my servants at the 
sand dunes, this about three Gods and the Cross, 
and all those things that you have preached in the 
towns through which you have come. We have not 
made any answer to it because here throughout all 
time we have worshipped our own gods, and thought 
they were good, as no doubt yours are, so do not 
trouble to speak to us any more about them at present. 
Regarding the creation of the world, we have held 
the same belief for ages past, and for this reason we 
take it for certain that you are those whom our 
ancestors predicted would come from the direction 
of the sunrise. As for your great King, I feel that I 
am indebted to him, and I will give him of what 
I possess, for as I have already said, two years ago I 



heard of the Captains who came in ships from the 
direction in which you came, and they said that they 
were the servants of this your great King, and I wish 
to know if you are all one and "the same/' 

Cortes replied : Yes, that we were all brethren 
and servants of our Emperor, and that those men came 
to examine the way and the seas and the ports so as 
to know them well in order that we might follow as 
we had done. Montezuma was referring to the 
expeditions of Francisco Hernandez de Cordova and 
of Grijalva, and he said that ever since that time he 
had wished to capture some of those men who had 
come so as to keep them in his kingdoms and cities 
and to do them honour, and his gods had now fulfilled 
his desires, for now that we were in his home, which we 
might call our own, we should rejoice and take our re&, 
for there we should be well treated. And if he had on 
other occasions sent to say that we should not enter 
his city, it was not of his free will, but because his 
vassals were afraid, for they said that we shot our flashes 
of lightning, and killed many Indians with our 
horses, and that we were angry Teules, and other 
childish stories, and now that he had seen our persons 
and knew we were of flesh and bone, and had sound 
sense, and that we were very valiant, for these reasons 
he held us in much higher regard than he did from 
their reports, and he would share his possessions with 
us. Then Cortes and all of us answered that we 
thanked him sincerely for such signal good will, and 
Montezuma said, laughing, for he was very merry in 
his princely way of speaking : " Malinche, I know 
very well that these people of Tlaxcala with whom 
you are such good friends have told you that I am a 
sort of God or Teule, and that everything in my houses 
is made of gold and silver and precious liones, I know 
well enough that you are wise and did not believe it 
but took it as a joke. Behold now, Senor Malinche > 



my body is of flesh and bone like yours, my houses 
and palaces of tone and wood and lime ; that I am 
a great king and inherit the riches of my ancestors 
is true, but not all the nonsense and lies that they 
have told you about me, although of course you treated 
it as a joke, as I did your thunder and lightning/' 

Cortes answered him, also laughing, and said that 
opponents and enemies always say evil things, without 
truth in them, of those whom they hate, and that he 
well knew that he could not hope to find another 
Prince more magnificent in these countries, and 
that not without reason had he been so vaunted to 
our Emperor. 

While this conversation was going on, Montezuma 
secretly sent a great Cacique, one of his nephews who 
was in his company, to order his Rewards to bring 
certain pieces of gold, which it seems muSt have been 
put apart to give to Cortes, and ten loads of fine cloth, 
which he apportioned, the gold and mantles between 
Cortes and the four captains, and to each of us soldiers 
he gave two golden necklaces, each necklace being 
worth ten pesos, and two loads of mantles. The 
gold that he then gave us was worth in all more than 
a thousand pesos and he gave it all cheerfully and with 
the air of a great and valiant prince. As it was now pat 
midday, so as not to appear importunate, Cortes 
said to him : " Senor Montezuma, you always have 
the habit of heaping load upon load in every day con- 
ferring favours on us, and it is already your dinner 
time." Montezuma replied that he thanked us for 
coming to see him, and then we took our leave with 
the greatest courtesy and we went to our lodgings. 

And as we went along we spoke of the good manners 
and breeding which he showed in everything, and 
that we should show him in all ways the greatest 
respeft, doffing our quilted caps when we passed 
before him, and this we always did. 




THE Great Montezuma was about forty years old, 
of good height and well proportioned, slender and 
spare of flesh, not very swarthy, but of the natural 
colour and shade of an Indian. He did not wear 
his hair long, but so as just to cover his ears, his scanty 
black beard was well shaped and thin. His face was 
somewhat long, but cheerful, and he had good eyes 
and showed in his appearance and manner both 
tenderness and, when necessary, gravity. He was 
very neat and clean and bathed once every day in the 
afternoon. He had many women as mistresses, 
daughters of Chieftains, and he had two great Cacicas 
as his legitimate wives. He was free from unnatural 
offences. The clothes that he wore one day, he did not 
put on again until four days later. He had over two 
hundred chieftains in his guard, in other rooms close 
to his own, not that all were meant to converse with 
him, but only one or another, and when they went 
to speak to him they were obliged to take off their 
rich mantles and put on others of little worth, but 
they had to be clean, and they had to enter barefoot 
with their eyes lowered to the ground, and not to 
look up in his face. And they made him three 
obeisances, and said : " Lord, my Lord, my Great 
Lord", before they came up to him, and then they 
made their report and with a few words he dismissed 
them, and on taking leave they did not turn their backs, 
but kept their faces towards him with their eyes to the 
ground, and they did not turn their backs until they 
left the room. I noticed another thing, that when 
other great chiefs came from distant lands about 
disputes or business, when they reached the apart- 
ments of the Great Montezuma, they had to come 
barefoot and with poor mantles, and they might not 
enter direftly into the Palace, but had to loiter about a 

289 v 


little on one side of the Palace door, for to enter 
hurriedly was considered to be disrespectful. 

For each meal, over thirty different dishes were 
prepared by his cooks according to their ways and 
usage, and they placed small pottery braziers beneath 
the dishes so that they should not get cold. They 
prepared more than three hundred plates of the food 
that Montezuma was going to eat, and more than a 
thousand for the guard. When he was going to eat, 
Montezuma would sometimes go out with his chiefs 
and Rewards, and they would point out to him which 
dish was be&t, and of what birds and other things it 
was composed, and as they advised him, so he would 
eat, but it was not often that he would go out to see 
the food, and then merely as a pastime. 

I have heard it said that they were wont to cook 
for him the flesh of young boys, but as he had such 
a variety of dishes, made of so many things, we could 
not succeed in seeing if they were of human flesh 
or of other things, for they daily cooked fowls, turkeys, 
pheasants, native partridges, quail, tame and wild 
ducks, venison, wild boar, reed birds, pigeons, hares 
and rabbits, and many sorts of birds and other things 
which are bred in this country, and they are so 
numerous that I cannot finish naming them in a 
hurry ; so we had no insight into it, but I know for 
certain that after our Captain censured the sacrifice 
of human beings, and the eating of their flesh, he 
ordered that such food should not be prepared for 
him thenceforth. 

Let us cease speaking of this and return to the way 
things were served to him at meal times. It was in this 
way : if it was cold they made up a large fire of live 
coals of a firewood made from the bark of trees which 
did not give off any smoke, and the scent of the bark 
from which the fire was made was very fragrant, and 
so that it should not give off more heat than he 



required, they placed in front of it a sort of screen 
adorned with figures of idols worked in gold. He 
was seated on a low stool, soft and richly worked, and 
the table, which was also low, was made in the same 
style as the seats, and on it they placed the table 
cloths of white cloth and some rather long napkins 
of the same material. Four very beautiful cleanly 
women brought "water for his hands in a sort of deep 
basin which they call sdcalesj- and they held others 
like plates below to catch the water, and they brought 
him towels. And two other women brought him tortilla 
bread, and as soon as he began to eat they placed 
before him a sort of wooden screen painted over with 
gold, so that no one should watch him eating. Then 
the four women tood aside, and four great chieftains 
who were old men came and stood beside them, and 
with these Montezuma now and then conversed, and 
asked them questions, and as a great favour he would 
give to each of these elders a dish of what to him tasted 
best. They say that these elders were his near rela- 
tions, and were his counsellors and judges of law 
suits, and the dishes and food which Montezuma gave 
them they ate standing up with much reverence and 
without looking at his face. He was served on Cholula 
earthenware either red or black. While he was at his 
meal the men of his guard who were in the rooms near 
to that of Montezuma, never dreamed of making any 
noise or speaking aloud. They brought him fruit of 
all the different kinds that the land produced, but he 
ate very little of it. From time to time they brought 
him, in cup-shaped vessels of pure gold, a certain 
drink made from cacao, and the women served this 
drink to him with great reverence. 

Sometimes at meal-times there were present some 
very ugly humpbacks, very small of Stature and their 
bodies almost broken in half, who are their je&ers, and 

1 Gourds. 


other Indians, who mut have been buffoons, who told 
him witty sayings, and others who sang and danced, 
for Montezuma was fond of pleasure and song, and 
to these he ordered to be given what was left of the 
food and the jugs of cacao. Then the same four women 
removed the table cloths, and with much ceremony 
they brought water for his hands. And Montezuma 
talked with those four old chieftains about things 
that interested him, and they took leave of him with 
the great reverence in which they held him, and he 
remained to repose. 

As soon as the Great Montezuma had dined, all 
the men of the Guard had their meal and as many 
more of the other house servants, and it seems to me 
that they brought out over a thousand dishes of the 
food of which I have spoken, and then over two 
thousand jugs of cacao all frothed up, as they make it 
in Mexico, and a limitless quantity of fruit, so that 
with his women and female servants and bread makers 
and cacao makers his expenses mut have been very 

Let us cease talking about the expenses and the 
food for his household and let us speak of the Stewards 
and the Treasurers and the Stores and pantries and of 
those who had charge of the houses where the maize 
was Stored. I say that there would be so much to write 
about, each thing by itself, that I should not know 
where to begin, but we Stood astonished at the 
excellent arrangements and the great abundance of 
provisions that he had in all, but I muSt add what I 
had forgotten, for it is as well to go back and relate 
It, and that is, that while Montezuma was at table 
eating, as I have described, there were waiting on 
him two other graceful women to bring him tortillas, 
kneaded with eggs and other sustaining ingredients, 
and these tortillas were very white, and they were 
brought on plates covered with clean napkins, and 



they also brought him another kind of bread, like long 
balls kneaded with other kinds of sustaining food, and 
pan pachol^ for so they call it in this country, which 
is a sort of wafer. There were also placed on the table 
three tubes much painted and gilded, which held 
liquidambar mixed with certain herbs which they call 
tabaco^ and when he had finished eating, after they 
had danced before him and sung and the table was 
removed, he inhaled the smoke from one of those tubes, 
but he took very little of it and with that he fell asleep. 
I remember that at that time his Reward was a 
great Cacique to whom we gave the name of Tdpia, 
and he kept the accounts of all the revenue that was 
brought to Montezuma, in his books which were 
made of paper which they call amal^ and he had a 
great house full of these books. Now we mut leave 
the books and the accounts for it is outside our &ory> 
and say how Montezuma had two houses full of every 
sort of arms, many of them richly adorned with 
gold and precious stones. There were shields great and 
small, and a sort of broad-swords, and others like two- 
handed swords set with one knives which cut much 
better than our swords, and lances longer than ours 
are, with a fathom of blade with many knives set in 
it, which even when they are driven into a buckler 
or shield do not come out, in faft they cut like razors 
so that they can shave their heads with them. There 
were very good bows and arrows and double-pointed 
lances and others with one point ? as well as their 
throwing sticks, and many slings and round Hones 
shaped by hand, and some sort of artful shields which 
are so made that they can be rolled up 3 so as not to be 
in the way when they are not fighting, and when they 
are needed for fighting they let them fall down, and 
they cover the body from top to toe. There was also 
much quilted cotton armour, richly ornamented on 
the outside with many coloured feathers, used as 



devices and distinguishing marks, and there were 
casques or helmets made of wood and bone, also 
highly decorated with feathers on the outside, and 
there were other arms of other makes which, so as 
to avoid prolixity, I will not describe, and there 
were artisans who were skilled in such things and 
worked at them, and Stewards who had charge of the 

Let us leave this and proceed to the Aviary, and 
I am forced to abstain from enumerating every kind 
of bird that was there and its peculiarity, for there 
was everything from the Royal Eagle and other smaller 
eagles, and many other birds of great size, down to 
tiny birds of many-coloured plumage, also the birds 
from which they take the rich plumage which they 
use in their green feather work. The birds which 
have these feathers are about the size of the magpies 
in Spain, they are called in this country Queza/es, 1 
and there are other birds which have feathers of five 
colours green, red, white, yellow and blue ; I don't 
remember what they are called ; then there were 
parrots of many different colours, and there are so 
many of them that I forget their names, not to mention 
the beautifully marked ducks and other larger ones 
like them. From all these birds they plucked the 
feathers when the time was right to do so, and the 
feathers grew again. All the birds that I have spoken 
about breed in these houses, and in the setting season 
certain Indian men and women who look after the 
birds, place the eggs under them and clean the ne&s 
and feed them, so that each kind of bird has its proper 
food. In this house that I have spoken of there is 
a great tank of fresh water and in it there are other 
sorts of birds with long lilted legs, with body, wings 
and tail all red ; I don't know their names, but in 
the Island of Cuba they are called Tpiris> and there 
1 Trogm 



are others something like them, and there are also 
in that tank many other kinds of birds which always 
live in the water. 

Let us leave this and go on to another great house, 
where they keep many Idols, and they say that they 
are their fierce gods, and with them many kinds of 
carnivorous bealls of prey, tigers and two kinds of 
lions, and animals something like wolves and foxes, 
and other smaller carnivorous animals, and all these 
carnovores they feed with flesh, and the greater number 
of them breed in the house. They give them as food 
deer and fowls, dogs and other things which they are 
used to hunt, and I have heard it said that they feed 
them on the bodies of the Indians who have been 
sacrificed. It is in this way : you have already heard 
me say that when they sacrifice a wretched Indian 
they saw open the chel with tone knives and hasten 
to tear out the palpitating heart and blood, and offer 
it to their Idols, in whose name the sacrifice is made. 
Then they cut off the thighs, arms and head and eat 
the former at feasts and banquets, and the head they 
hang up on some beams, and the body of the man 
sacrificed is not eaten but given to these fierce animals. 
They also have in that cursed house many vipers and 
poisonous snakes which carry on their tails things 
that sound like bells. These are the wor& vipers of 
all, and they keep them in jars and great pottery 
vessels with many feathers, and there they lay their 
eggs and rear their young, and they give them to 
eat the bodies of the Indians who have been sacrificed, 
and the flesh of dogs which they are in the habit of 

Let me speak now of the infernal noise when the 
lions and tigers roared and the jackals and the foxes 
howled and the serpents hissed, it was horrible to 
li&en to and it seemed like a hell. Let us go on and 
speak of the skilled workmen Montezuma employed 



in every craft that was pra&ised among them. We will 
begin with lapidaries and workers in gold and silver 
and all the hollow work, which even the great gold- 
smiths in Spain were forced to admire, and of these 
there were a great number of the bet in a town named 
Atzcapotzalco, a league from Mexico. Then for 
working precious Clones and chalchihuites, which 
are like emeralds, there were other great artists. Let 
us go on to the great craftsmen in feather work, and 
painters and sculptors who were moh refined ; then 
to the Indian women who did the weaving and the 
washing, who made such an immense quantity of 
fine fabrics with wonderful feather work designs ; 
the greater part of it was brought daily from some 
towns of the province on the north coab near Vera Cruz 
called Cotaxtla. 

In the house of the great Montezuma himself, 
all the daughters of chieftains whom he had as 
mistresses always wore beautiful things, and there 
were many daughters of Mexican citizens who lived 
in retirement and wished to appear to be like nuns, 
who also did weaving but it was wholly of feather 
work. These nuns had their houses near the great 
Cue of Huichilobos and out of devotion to it, or to 
another idol, that of a woman who was said to be their 
mediatrix in the matter of marriage, their fathers 
placed them in that religious retirement until they 
married, and they were only taken out thence to be 

Let us go on and tell about the great number of 
dancers kept by the Great Montezuma for his amuse- 
ment, and others who used Stilts on their feet, and 
others who flew when they danced up in the air, and 
others like Merry-Andrews, and I may say that there 
was a ditrift full of these people who had no other 
occupation. Let us go on and speak of the workmen 
that he had as tone cutters, masons and carpenters^ 


By Padre Bernadino de Sahagun 

I face p. 296 


all of whom attended to the work of his houses, I 
say that he had as many as he wished for. We mul 
not forget the gardens of flowers and sweet-scented 
trees, and the many kinds that there were of them, 
and the arrangement of them and the walks, and the 
ponds and tanks of fresh water where the water entered 
at one end and flowed out of the other ; and the 
baths which he had there, and the variety of small 
birds that nested in the branches, and the medicinal 
and useful herbs that were in the gardens. It was a 
wonder to see, and to take care of it there were many 
gardeners. Everything was made in masonry and well 
cemented, baths and walks and closets, and apart- 
ments like summer houses where they danced and 
sang. There was as much to be seen in these gardens 
as there was everywhere else, and we could not tire 
of witnessing his great power. Thus as a consequence 
of so many crafts being practised among them, a 
large number of skilled Indians were employed. 


As we had already been four days in Mexico and 
neither the Captain nor any of us had left our lodgings 
except to go to the houses and gardens, Cortes said 
to us that it would be well to go to the great Plaza 
of Tlaltelolco and see the great Temple of Huichilobos, 
and that he wished to consult the Great Montezuma 
and have his approval. For this purpose he sent 
Jeronimo de Aguilar and the Dona Marina as 
messengers, and with them went our Captain's small 
page named Orteguilla, who already understood 
something of the language. When Montezuma knew 
his wishes he sent to say that we were welcome to 
go ; on the other hand, as he was afraid that we 
might do some dishonour to his Idols, he determined 



to go with us himself with many of his chieftains. 
He came out from his Palace in his rich litter, but 
when half the distance had been traversed and he was 
near some oratories, he Stepped out of the litter, for he 
thought it a great affront to his idols to go to then- 
house and temple in that manner. Some of the great 
chieftains supported him with their arms, and the 
tribal lords went in front of him carrying two Slaves 
like sceptres held on high, which was the sign that 
the Great Montezuma was coming. (When he went 
in his litter he carried a wand half of gold and half 
of wood, which was held up like a wand of justice.) 
So he went on and ascended the great Cue accom- 
panied by many priests, and he began to burn incense 
and perform other ceremonies to Huichilobos. 

Our Captain and all of those who had horses went 
to Tlaltelolco on horseback, and nearly all of us 
soldiers were fully equipped, and many Caciques 
whom Montezuma had sent for that purpose went 
in our company. When we arrived at the great 
market place, called Tlaltelolco, we were abounded 
at the number of people and the quantity of merchandise 
that it contained, and at the good order and control 
that was maintained, for we had never seen such a 
thing before. The chieftains who accompanied us 
afted as guides. Each kind of merchandise was kept 
by itself and had its fixed place marked out. Let us 
begin with the dealers in gold, silver, and precious 
Atones, feathers, mantles, and embroidered goods. 
Then there were other wares consisting of Indian 
slaves both men and women ; and I say that they 
bring as many of them to that great market for sale 
as the Portuguese bring negroes from Guinea ; and 
they brought them along tied to long poles, with 
collars round their necks so that they could not escape, 
and others they left free. Next there were other 
traders who sold great pieces of cloth and cotton, and 



articles of twisted thread, and there were cacahuateros 
who sold cacao. In this way one could see every sort 
of merchandise that is to be found in the whole of 
New Spain. There were those who sold cloths of 
hennequen and ropes and the sandals with which they 
are shod,, which are made from the same plant, and 
sweet cooked roots, and other tubers which they 
get from this plant, all were kept in one part of the 
market in the place assigned to them. In another part 
there were skins of tigers and lions, of otters and 
jackals, deer and other animals and badgers and 
mountain cats, some tanned and others untanned, 
and other classes of merchandise. 

Let us go on and speak of those who sold beans and 
sage and other vegetables and herbs in another part, 
and to those who sold fowls, cocks with wattles, 
rabbits, hares, deer, mallards, young dogs and other 
things of that sort in their part of the market, and let 
us also mention the fruiterers, and the women who sold 
cooked food, dough and tripe in their own part of 
the market ; then every sort of pottery made in a 
thousand different forms from great water jars to 
little jugs, these also had a place to themselves ; 
then those who sold honey and honey pafte and other 
dainties like nut pate, and those who sold lumber, 
boards, cradles, beams, 'blocks and benches, each 
article by itself, and the vendors of ocote 1 firewood, 
and other things of a similar nature. But why do I 
wate so many words in recounting what they sell 
in that great market ? for I shall never finish if I 
tell it all in detail. Paper, which in this country is 
called amal) and reeds scented with llquidambar^ 
and full of tobacco, and yellow ointments and things 
of that sort are sold by themselves, and much cochineal 
is sold under the arcades which are in that great 
market place, and there are many vendors of herbs 
1 Pitch-pine for torches. 


and other sorts of trades. There are also buildings 
where three magistrates sit in judgment, and there 
are executive officers like Alguadh who inspeft the 
merchandise. I am forgetting those who sell salt, 
and those who make the Stone knives, and how they 
split them off the Stone itself ; and the fisherwomen 
and others who sell some small cakes made from a 
sort of ooze which they get out of the great lake, which 
curdles, and from this they make a bread having a flavour 
something like cheese. There are for sale axes of brass 
and copper and tin, and gourds and gaily painted 
jars made of wood. I could wish that I had finished 
telling of all the things which are sold there, but they 
are so numerous and of such different quality and 
the great market place with its surrounding arcades 
was so crowded with people, that one would not have 
been able to see and inquire about it all in two days. 

Then we went to the great Cue, and when we 
were already approaching its great courts, before 
leaving the market place itself, there were many more 
merchants, who, as I was told, brought gold for sale 
in grains, juSt as it is taken from the mines. The gold 
is placed in thin quills of the geese of the country 
white quills, so that the gold can be seen through, 
and according to the length and thickness of the quills 
they arrange their accounts with one another, how 
much so many mantles or so many gourds full of cacao 
were worth, or how many slaves, or whatever other 
thing they were exchanging. 

Before reaching the great Cue there is a great 
enclosure of courts, it seems to me larger than the 
plaza of Salamanca, with two walls of masonry 
surrounding it, and the court itself all paved with 
very smooth great white flagstones. And where there 
were not these Stones it was cemented and burnished 
and all very clean, so that one could not find any duSt 
or a Straw in the whole place. 



When we arrived near the Great Cue and before 
we had ascended a single ftep of it, the Great Monte- 
^uma sent down from above, where he was making 
his sacrifices, six priests and two chieftains to accom- 
pany our Captain. On ascending the leps, which are 
one hundred and fourteen in number, they attempted 
to take him by the arms so as to help him to ascend, 
(thinking that he would get tired,) as they were 
accustomed to assist their lord Montezuma, but Cortes 
would not allow them to come near him. When we 
got to the top of the great Cue, on a small plaza 
which has been made on the top where there was a 
space like a platform with some large Stones placed 
on it, on which they put the poor Indians for sacrifice, 
there was a bulky image like a dragon and other evil 
figures and much blood shed that very day. 

When we arrived there Montezuma came out of an 
oratory where his cursed idols were, at the summit 
of the great Cue, and two prieSts came with him, and 
after paying great reverence to Cortes and to all of 
us he said : " You muSt be tired, Senor Malinche, 
from ascending this our great Cue ", and Cortes 
replied through our interpreters who were with us 
that he and his companions were never tired by any- 
thing. Then Montezuma took him by the hand and 
told him to look at his great city and all the other 
cities that were landing in the water, and the many 
other towns on the land round the lake, and that if 
he had not seen the great market place well, that from 
where they were they could see it better. 

So we Stood looking about us, for that huge and 
cursed temple Stood so high that from it one could see 
over everything very well, and we saw the three cause- 
ways which led into Mexico, that is the causeway of 
Iztapalapa by which we had entered four days before, 
and that of Tacuba, and that of Tepeaquilla, 1 and we 
1 Guadelupe. 



saw the fresh water that comes from Chapultepec 
which supplies the city, and we saw the bridges on 
the three causeways which were built at certain 
distances apart through which the water of the lake 
flowed in and out from one side to the other, and we 
beheld on that great lake a great multitude of canoes, 
some coming with supplies of food and others returning 
loaded with cargoes of merchandise ; and we saw 
that from every house of that great city and of all the 
other cities that were built in the water it was impossible 
to pass from house to house, except by drawbridges 
which were made of wood or in canoes ; and we saw 
in those cities Cues and oratories like towers and 
fortresses and all gleaming white, and it was a wonderful 
thing to behold ; then the houses with flat roofs, 
and on the causeways other small towers and oratories 
which were like fortresses. 

After having examined and considered all that we 
had seen we turned to look at the great market place 
and the crowds of people that were in it, some buying 
and others selling, so that the murmur and hum of 
their voices and words that they used could be heard 
more than a league off". Some of the soldiers among us 
who had been in many parts of the world, in Constant!- 
nople, and all over Italy, and in Rome, said that so 
large a market place and so full of people, and so well 
regulated and arranged, they had never beheld before. 

Let us leave this, and return to our Captain, who 
said to Fray Bartolom de Olmedo, who happened to 
be near by him : " It seems to me, Sefior Padre, 
that it would be a good thing to throw out a feeler 
to Montezuma, as to whether he would allow us to 
build our church here " ; and the Padre replied that 
it would be a good thing if it were successful, but it 
seemed to him that it was not quite a suitable time to 
speak about it, for Montezuma did not appear to be 
inclined to do such a thing, 



Then our Cortes said to Montezuma : " Your 
Highness is indeed a very great prince and worthy of 
even greater things. We are rejoiced to see your cities,, 
and as we are here in your temple, what I now beg 
as a favour is that you will show us your gods and 
Teules." Montezuma replied that he mul first 
speak with his high priefts, and when he had spoken 
to them he said that we might enter into a small 
tower and apartment, a sort of hall, where there were 
two altars, with very richly carved boardings on the 
top of the roof. On each altar were two figures, like 
giants with very tall bodies and very fat, and the firt 
which tood on the right hand they said was the figure 
of Huichilobos their god of War ; it had a very broad 
face and monstrous and terrible eyes, and the whole 
of his body was covered with precious Clones, and gold 
and pearls, and with seed pearls Stuck on with a pale 
that they make in this country out of a sort of root, 
and all the body and head was covered with it, and 
the body was girdled by great snakes made of gold 
and precious Atones, and in one hand he held a bow 
and in the other some arrows. And another small 
idol that lood by him, they said was his page, and he 
held a short lance and a shield richly decorated with 
gold and Clones. Huichilobos had round his neck 
some Indians' faces and other things like hearts of 
Indians, the former made of gold and the latter of 
silver, with many precious blue Clones. 

There were some braziers with incense which they 
call copal, and in them they were burning the hearts, 
of the three Indians whom they had sacrificed that 
day, and they had made the sacrifice with smoke and 
copaL All the walls of the oratory were so splashed 
and encrusted with blood that they were black, the 
floor was the same and the whole place &ank vilely* 
Then we saw on the other side on the left hand there 
the other great image the same height as- 



Huichilobos, and it had a face like a bear and eyes 
that shone, made of their mirrors which they call 
Fezcat, and the body plastered with precious Atones 
like that of Huichilobos, for they say that the two 
are brothers ; and this Tezcatepuca was the god of 
Hell and had charge of the souls of the Mexicans, 
and his body was girt with figures like little devils 
with snakes' tails. The walls were so clotted with 
blood and the soil so bathed with it that in the slaughter 
houses of Spain there is not such another Stench. 

They had offered to this Idol five hearts from the 
day's sacrifices. In the highest part of the Cue there 
was a recess of which the woodwork was very richly 
worked, and in it was another image half man and half 
lizard, with precious Atones all over it, and half the 
body was covered with a mantle. They say that the 
body of this figure is full of the seeds that there are in 
the world, and they say that it is the god of seed time 
and harvest, but I do not remember its name, and 
everything was covered with blood, both walls and 
altar, and the Stench was such that we could hardly 
wait the moment to get out of it. 

They had an exceedingly large drum there, and 
when they beat it the sound of it was so dismal and 
like > so to say, an instrument of the infernal regions, 
that one could hear it a distance of two leagues, and 
they said that the skins it was covered with were 
those of great snakes. In that small place there were 
many diabolical things to be seen, bugles and trumpets 
and knives, and many hearts of Indians that they 
had burned in fumigating their idols, and everything 
iffas so clotted with blood, and there was so much of 
it, that I curse the whole of it, and as it Stank like a 
slaughter house we hastened to clear out of such a 
bad Stench and worse sight. Our Captain said to 
Montezuma through our interpreter, half laughing : 
^ Montezuma, I do not understand how such 


a great Prince and wise man as you are has not come 
to the conclusion, in your mind, that these idols of 
yours are not gods, but evil things that are called devils, 
and so that you may know it and all your priests may 
see it clearly, do me the favour to approve of my 
placing a cross here on the top of this tower, and that 
in one part of these oratories where your Huichilobos 
and Tezcatepuca Sand we may divide off a space 
where we can set up an image of Our Lady (an image 
which Montezuma had already seen) and you will see 
by the fear in which these Idols hold it that they are 
deceiving you." 

Montezuma replied half angrily (and the two priests 
who were with him showed great annoyance), and 
said : " Senor Malinche, if I had known that you 
would have said such defamatory things I would 
not have shown you my gods, we consider them to be 
very good, for they give us health and rains and good 
seed times and seasons and as many victories as we 
desire, and we are obliged to worship them and make 
sacrifices, and I pray you not to say another word to 
their dishonour/' 

When our Captain heard that and noted the angry 
looks he did not refer again to the subjeft, but said 
with a cheerful manner : " It is time for your 
Excellency and for us to return," and Montezuma 
replied that it was well, but that he had to pray and 
offer certain sacrifices on account of the great tatacul^ 
that is to say sin, which he had committed in allowing 
us to ascend his great Cue, and being the cause of 
our being permitted to see his gods, and of our dis- 
honouring them by speaking evil of them, so that 
before he left he mut pray and worship. 

Then Cortes said : " I ask your pardon if it be so," 
and then we went down the teps, and as they numbered 
one hundred and fourteen, and as some of our soldiers 
were suffering from tumours and abscesses, their 
legs were tired by the descent. 




I WILL leave off talking about the oratory, and I will 
give my impressions of its surroundings, and if I do 
not describe it as accurately as I should do, do not 
wonder at it, for at that time I had other things to 
think about, regarding what we had on hand, that is 
to say my soldier's duties and what my Captain ordered 
me to do, and not about telling Tories. To go back to 
the fafts, it seems to me that the circuit of the great 
Cue was equal to that of six large sites, 1 such as they 
measure in this country, and from below up to where 
a small tower tood, where they kept their idols, it 
narrowed, and in the middle of the lofty Cue up to 
its highest point, there were five hollows like barbicans, 
but open, without screens, and as there are many Cues 
painted on the banners of the conquerors, and on one 
which I possess, any one who has seen them can infer 
what they looked like from outside, better than I 
myself saw and understood it. There was a report 
that at the time they began to -build that great Cue, 
all the inhabitants of that mighty city had placed 
as offerings in the foundations, gold and silver and 
pearls and precious Clones, and had bathed them with 
the blood of the many Indian prisoners of war who 
were sacrificed, and had placed there every sort and 
kind of seed that the land produces, so that their Idols 
should give them viftories and riches, and large crops. 
Some of my inquisitive readers will ask, how could 
we come to know that into the foundations of that 
great Cue they caft gold and silver and precious 
chalchihuites and seeds, and watered them with the 
human blood of the Indians whom they sacrificed, 
when it was more than a thousand years ago that 

1 Solares. Solar is a town lot for house-building. 


they built and made it ? The answer I give to this 
is that after we took that great and Strong city, and 
the sites were apportioned, it was then proposed that 
in the place of that great Cue we should build a church 
to our patron and guide Senor Santiago, and a great 
part of the site of the great temple of Huichilobos was 
occupied by the site of the holy church, and when 
they opened the foundations in order to Strengthen 
them, they found much gold and silver and chalchi- 
huites and pearls and seed pearls and other Clones. 
And a settler in Mexico who occupied another part 
of the same site found the same things, and the officers 
of His Majesty's treasury demanded them saying 
that they belonged by right to His MajeSty, and there 
was a lawsuit about it. I do not remember what 
happened except that they sought information from 
the Caciques and Chieftains of Mexico, and from 
Guatemoc, who was then alive, and they said that it 
was true that all the inhabitants of Mexico at that 
time caSt into the foundations those jewels and all 
the reSl of the things, and that so it was noted in their 
books and piftures of ancient things, and from this 
cause those riches were preserved for the building of 
the holy church of Santiago. 

Let us leave this and speak of the great and splendid 
Courts which were in front of the temple of Huichi- 
lobos, where now Stands the church of Senor Santiago, 
which was called Tlaltelolco, for so they were 
accustomed to call it. 

I have already said that there were two walls of 
masonry which had to be passed before entering, and 
that the court was paved with white Stones, like 
flagstones, carefully whitewashed and burnished and 
clean, and it was as large and as broad as the plaza of 
Salamanca. A little way apart from the great Cue there 
was another small tower which was also an Idol house, 
or a true hell, for it had at the opening of one gate a 



mot terrible mouth such as they depift, saying that 
such there are in hell. The mouth was open with 
great fangs to devour souls, and here too were some 
groups of devils and bodies of serpents close to the 
door, and a little way off was a place of sacrifice all 
blood-plained and black with smoke, and encrusted 
with blood, and there were many great ollas and 
cantaros and tinajas 1 of water inside the house, for 
it was here that they cooked the flesh of the unfortunate 
Indians who were sacrificed, which was eaten by the 
priests. There were also near the place of sacrifice 
many large knives and chopping blocks, such as those 
on which they cut up meat in the slaughter houses. 
Then behind that cursed house, some distance away 
from it, were some great piles of firewood, and not 
far from them a large tank of water which rises and 
falls, the water coming through a tube from the 
covered channel which enters the city from Chapul- 
tepec. I always called that house " the Infernal 
Regions ". 

' Let us go on beyond the court to another Cue 
where the great Mexican princes were buried, where 
also there were many Idols, and all was full of blood 
and smoke, and it had other doorways with hellish 
figures, and then near that Cue was another full of 
skulls and large bones arranged in perfeft order, which 
one could look at but could not count, for there were 
too many of them. The skulls were by themselves 
and the bones in separate piles. In that place there were 
other Idols, and in every house or Cue or oratory that 
I have mentioned there were prie&s with long robes 
of black cloth and long hoods like those of the 
Dominicans and slightly resembling those of the 
Canons. The hair of these priests was very long and 
so matted that it could not be separated or disentangled, 

1 Names of various large pottery vessels for holding water and 


and most of them had their ears scarified, and their 
hair was clotted with blood. Let us go on ; there 
were other Cues, a little way from where the skulls 
were, which contained other Idols and places of 
sacrifice decorated with other evil paintings. And 
they said that those idols were intercessors In the 
marriages of men. I do not want to delay any longer 
telling about idols, but will only add that all round 
that great court there were many houses, not lofty, 
used and occupied by the priests and other Indians 
who had charge of the Idols. On one side of the great 
Cue there was another much larger pond or tank of 
very clear water dedicated solely to the service of 
Huichilobos and Tezcatepuca, and the water entered 
that pond through covered pipes which came from 
Chapultepec. Near to this were other large buildings 
such as a sort of nunnery where many of the daughters 
of the inhabitants of Mexico were sheltered like nuns 
up to the time they were married, and there tood two 
Idols with the figures of women, which were the 
intercessors in the marriages of women, and women 
made sacrifices to them and held festivals so that 
they should give them good husbands. 

I have spent a long time talking about this great 
Cue of Tlaltelolco and its Courts, but I say that it 
was the greatest temple in the whole of Mexico although 
there were many others, very splendid. Four or five 
parishes or ditrits possessed, between them, an 
oratory with its Idols, and as they were very numerous 
I have not kept count of them all. I will go on and say 
that the great oratory that they had in Cholula was 
higher than that of Mexico, for it had one hundred 
and twenty teps, and according to what they say 
they held the Idol of Cholula to be good, and they 
went to it on pilgrimages from all parts of New Spain 
to obtain absolution, and for this reason they built 
for it such a splendid Cue ; but it is of another form 



from that of Mexico although the courts are the 
same, very large with a double wall. I may add that 
the Cue in the City of Texcoco was very lofty, having 
one hundred and seventeen teps, and the Courts 
were broad and fine, shaped in a different form from 
the others. It is a laughable matter that every province 
had its Idols and those of one province or city were of 
no use to the others, thus they had an infinite number 
of Idols and they made sacrifices to them all. 

After our Captain and all of us were tired of walking 
about and seeing such a diversity of Idols and their 
sacrifices, we returned to our quarters, all the time 
accompanied by many Caciques and chieftains whom 
Montezuma sent with us. 


WHEN our Captain and the Friar of the Order of 
Mercy saw that Montezuma was not willing that we 
should set up a cross on the Temple of Huichilobos 
nor build a church there, and because, ever since we 
entered this city of Mexico, when Mass was said, we 
had to place an altar on tables and then to dismantle 
it again, it was decided that we should ask Monte- 
zuma's Rewards for masons so that we could make 
a church in our quarters. 

The Rewards said that they would tell Montezuma 
of our wishes, and Montezuma gave his permission 
and ordered us to be supplied with all the material 
we needed. In two days we had our church finished 
and the holy cross set up in front of our apartments, 
and Mass was said there every day until the wine 
gave out. As Cortes and some of the other Captains 
and the Friar had been ill during the war in Tlaxcala, 
they made the wine that we had for Mass go too fa, 
but after it was all finished we Skill went to the church 



daily and prayed on our knees before the altar and 
images, for one reason, because we were obliged to 
do so as Christians and it was a good habit, and for 
another reason, in order that Montezuma and all 
his Captains should observe it, and should witness 
our adoration and see us on our knees before the Cross, 
especially when we intoned the Ave Maria, so that 
it might incline them towards it. 

When we were all assembled in those chambers, 
as it was our habit to inquire into and want to know 
everything while we were looking for the bet and 
mot convenient site to place the altar, two of our 
soldiers, one of whom was a carpenter named Alonzo 
Yafies, noticed on one of the walls marks showing 
that there had been a door there, and that it had been 
closed up and carefully pla&ered over and burnished. 
Now as there was a rumour and we had heard the 
Story that Montezuma kept the treasure of his father 
Axayaca in that building, it was suspe&ed that it 
might be in this chamber which had been closed up 
and cemented only a few days before. Yanes spoke 
about it to Juan Velasquez de Leon and Francisco de 
Lugo, and those Captains told the &ory to Cortes, 
and the door was secretly opened. When it was opened 
Cortes and some of his Captains went in firt, and they 
saw such a number of jewels and slabs and plates of 
gold and chalchihuites and other great riches, that 
they were quite carried away and did not know what 
to say about such wealth. The news soon spread among 
all the other Captains and soldiers, and very secretly 
we went in to see it. When I saw it I marvelled, and 
as at that time I was a youth and had never seen such 
riches as those in my life before, I took it for certain 
that there could not be another such &ore of wealth 
in the whole world. It was decided by all our captains 
and soldiers, that we should not dream of touching 
a particle of it, but that the Atones should immediately 



be put back in the doorway and it should be sealed 
up and cemented jut as we found it, and that it should 
not be spoken about, lest it should reach Montezuma's 
ears, until times should alter. 

Let us leave this about the riches, and say that 
four of our captains took Cortes aside in the church, 
with a dozen soldiers in whom he trusted and confided, 
and I was one of them, and we asked him to look at 
the net and trap in which we found ourselves, and to 
consider the great strength of that city, and observe 
the causeways and bridges, and to think over the words 
of warning that we had been given in all the towns we 
had passed through, that Montezuma had been 
advised by his Huichilobos to allow us to enter into 
the city, and when we were there, to kill us. That he 
[Corts] should remember that the hearts of the men 
are very changeable, especially those of Indians, and 
he should not repose tru in the good will and affeftion 
that Montezuma was showing us, for at some time or 
other, when the wish occurred to him, he would order 
us to be attacked, and by the Stoppage of our supplies 
of food or of water, or by the raising of any of the 
bridges, we should be rendered helpless. Then, 
considering the great multitude of Indian warriors 
that Montezuma had as his guard, what should we 
be able to do either in offence or defence ? and as all 
the houses were built in the water, how could our 
friends the Tlaxcalans enter and come to our aid ? 
He should think over all this that we had said, and if 
we wished to safeguard our lives, that we should at 
once, without further delay, seize Montezuma and 
should not wait until next day to do it. He should 
also remember that all the gold that Montezuma had 
given us and all that we had seen in the treasury of 
his father Axayaca, and all the food which we ate, 
all would be turned to arsenic poison in our bodies, 
for we could neither sleep by night nor day nor reft 



ourselves while these thoughts were in our minds, 
and that if any of our soldiers should give him other 
advice short of this, they would be senseless beasts 
who were dazed by the gold, incapable of looking 
death in the face. 

When Cortes heard this he replied : " Don't you 
imagine, gentlemen, that I am asleep, or that I am 
free from the same anxiety, you mut have felt that 
it is so with me ; but what possibility is there of our 
doing a deed of such great daring as to seize such a 
great prince in his own palace, surrounded as he is 
by his own guards and warriors, by what scheme or 
artifice can we carry it out, so that he should not call 
on his warriors to attack us at once ? " Our Captains 
replied, (that is Juan Velasquez de Leon and Diego 
de Ordas, Gonzalo de Sandoval and Pedro de Alvarado), 
that with smooth speeches he should be got out of his 
halls and brought to our quarters, and should be 
told that he must remain a prisoner, and if he made a 
disturbance or cried out, that he would pay for it 
with his life ; that if Cortes did not want to do this at 
once, he should give them permission to do it, as they 
were ready for the work, for, between the two great 
dangers in which we found ourselves, it was better 
and more to the purpose to seize Montezuma than 
to wait until he attacked us ; for if he began the attack, 
what chance should we have ? Some of us soldiers 
also told Cortes that it seemed to us that Montezuma's 
Stewards, who were employed in providing us with 
food, were insolent and did not bring it courteously 
as during the firt days. Also two of our Allies the 
TIaxcalan Indians said secretly to Jer6nimo de Aguilar,, 
our interpreter, that the Mexicans had not appeared 
to be well disposed towards us during the kt two 
days. So we Stayed a good hour discussing the question 
whether or not we should take Montezuma prisoner, 
and how it was to be done, and to our Captain this 


lat advice seemed opportune, that in any- case we 
should take him prisoner, and we left it until the next 
day. All that night we were praying to God that our 
plan might tend to His Holy service. 

The next morning after these consultations, there 
arrived, very secretly, two Tlaxcalan Indians with 
letters from Villa Rica and what they contained was 
the news that Juan de Escalante, who had remained 
there as Chief Alguacil, and six of our soldiers had 
been killed in a battle againft the Mexicans, that his 
horse had also been slain, and many Totonacs who 
were in his company. Moreover, all the towns of the 
Sierra and Cempoala and its subjeft towns were in 
revolt, and refused to bring food or serve in the fort. 
They [the Spaniards] did not know what to do, for 
as formerly they had been taken to be Teules, that 
now after this disaster, both the Totonacs and Mexicans 
were like wild animals, and they could hold them to 
nothing, and did not know what &eps to take. 

When we heard this news, God knows what sorrovr 
affected us all, for this was the firt disaster we had 
suffered in New Spain. 


As we had determined the day before to seize Monte- 
zuma, we were praying to God all that night that it 
would turn out in a manner redounding to His Holy 
service, and the next morning the way it should be 
done was settled. 

Cortes took with him five captains who were Pedro 
de Alvarado, Gonzalo de Sandoval, Juan Velasquez 
de Leon, Francisco de Lugo and Alonzo de Avila, and 
he took me and our interpreters Dona Marina and 
Aguilar, and he told us all to keep on the alert, and 
the horsemen to have their horses saddled and bridled. 


As for our arms I need not call them to mind, for by 
day or night we always went armed and with our 
sandals on our feet, for at that time such was our foot- 
gear, and Montezuma had always seen us armed in 
that way when we went to speak to him, so did not take 
it as anything new, nor was he disturbed at all. 

When we were all ready, our Captain sent to tell 
Montezuma that we were coming to his Palace, for 
this had always been our custom, and so that he should 
not be alarmed by our arriving suddenly. 

Montezuma understood more or less that Cortes was 
coming because he was annoyed about the Villa Rica 
affair, and he was afraid of him, but sent word for him 
to come and that he would be welcome. 

When Cortes entered, after having made his usual 
salutations, he said to him through our interpreters : 
" Senor Montezuma, I am very much astonished that 
you, who are such a valiant Prince, after having 
declared that you are our friend should order your 
Captains, whom you have Stationed on the coaSt near 
to Tuxpan, to take arms againSt my Spaniards, and 
that they should dare to rob the towns which are in the 
keeping and under the protection of our King and 
maSter and to demand of them Indian men and women 
for sacrifice, and should kill a Spaniard, one of my 
brothers, and a horse." (He did not wish to speak of 
the Captain nor of the six soldiers who died as soon 
as they arrived at Villa Rica, for Montezuma did not 
know about it, nor did the Indian Captains who had 
attacked them), and Cortes went on to say : " Being 
such a friend of yours I ordered my Captains to do all 
that was possible to help and serve you, and you have 
done exaftly the contrary to us. Also in the affair 
at Cholula your Captains and a large force of warriors 
had received your own commands to kill us. I forgave 
it at the time out of my great regard for you, but 
now again your vassals and Captains have become 


insolent, and hold secret consultations Stating that 
you wish us to be killed. I do not wish to begin 
a war on this account nor to de&roy this gity, I am 
willing to forgive it all, if silently and without raising 
any disturbance you will come with us to our quarters, 
where you will be as well served and attended to as 
though you were in your own house, but if you cry out 
or make any disturbance you will immediately be killed 
by these my Captains, whom I brought solely for this 
purpose." When Montezuma heard this he was 
terrified and dumbfounded, and replied that he had 
never ordered his people to take arms againSl us, and 
that he would at once send to summon his Captains 
so that the truth should be known, and he would 
chastise them, and at that very moment he took from 
his arm and wrist the sign and seal of Huichilobos,, 
which was only done when he gave an important 
and weighty command which was to be carried out 
at once. With regard to being taken prisoner and 
leaving his Palace again& his will, he said that he was 
not the person to whom such an order could be given, 
and that he would not go. Cortes replied to him with 
very good arguments and Montezuma answered him 
with even better, showing that he ought not to leave 
his house. In this way more than half an hour was 
spent over talk, and when Juan Velasquez de Leon 
and the other Captains saw that they were waiting 
time over it and could not longer await the moment 
when they should remove him from his house and 
hold him a prisoner, they spoke to Cortes somewhat 
angrily and said : " What is the good of your making 
so many words, let us either take him prisoner, or 
Sab him, tell him once more that if he cries out or 
makes an uproar we will kill him, for it is better at 
once to save our lives or to lose them ", and as Juan 
Velasquez said this with a loud and rather terrifying 
voice, for such was his way of speaking, Montezuma, 



who saw that our Captains were angered, asked Dona 
Marina what they were saying in such loud tones. As 
Dona Marina was very clever, she said : " Seiior 
Montezuma, what I counsel you, is to go at once to 
their quarters without any disturbance at all, for I 
know that they will pay you much honour as a great 
Prince such as you are, otherwise you will remain here 
a dead man, but in their quarters you will learn the 
truth." Then Montezuma said to Cortes : " Sefior 
Malinche, if this is what you desire, I have a son and two 
legitimate daughters, take them as homages, and do not 
put this affront on me, what will my chieftains say 
if they see me taken off as a prisoner ? " Cortes 
replied to him that he musl come with them himself 
and there was no alternative. At the end of much more 
discussion that took place, Montezuma said that he 
would go willingly, and then Cortes and our Captains 
bellowed many caresses on him and told him that they 
begged him not to be annoyed, and to tell his captains 
and the men of his guard that he was going of his own 
free will, because he had spoken to his Idol Huichilobos 
and the priests who attended him, and that it was 
beneficial for his health and the safety of his life that 
he should be with us. His rich litter, in which he was 
used to go out with all the Captains who accompanied 
him was promptly brought, and he went to our 
quarters where we placed guards and watchmen 
over him. 

All the attentions and amusements which it was 
possible for him to have, both Cortes and all of us 
did our bet to afford him, and he was not put under 
any personal restraint, and soon all the principal 
Mexican Chieftains, and his nephews came to talk 
with him, and to learn the reason of his seizure;, and 
whether he wished them to attack us. Montezuma 
answered them, that he was delighted to be here some 
days with us of his own free will and not by force, 


and that when he wished for anything he would tell 
them so, and that they mub not excite themselves nor the 
City, nor were they to take it to heart, for what had 
happened about his being there was agreeable to his 
Huichilobos, and certain priests who knew had told 
him so, for they had spoken to the Idol about it. In 
this way which I have now related the capture of the 
Great Montezuma was effefted. 

There, where he remained, he had his service and 
his women and his baths in which he bathed himself, 
and twenty great chiefs always flayed in his company 
holding their ancient offices, as well as his councillors 
and captains, and he flayed there a prisoner without 
showing any anger at it, and Ambassadors from 
distant lands came there with their suites, and brought 
him his tribute, and he 'carried on his important 

I will not say anything more at present about this 
imprisonment, and will relate how the messengers whom 
Montezuma sent with his sign and seal to summon the 
Captains who had killed our soldiers, brought them 
before him as prisoners and what he said to them 
I do not know, but he sent them on to Cortes, so that 
he might do justice to them, and their confession was 
taken when Montezuma was not present and they 
confessed that what I have already Stated was true, 
that their Prince had ordered them to wage war and 
to extraft tribute, and that if any Teules should appear 
in defence of the towns, they too should be attacked 
or killed. When Cort6s heard this confession he sent 
to inform Montezuma how it implicated him in the 
affair, and Montezuma made all the excuses he could > 
and our captain sent him word that he believed the 
confession himself, but that although Montezuma 
deserved punishment in conformity with the ordinances 
of our King, to the effeft that any person causing others, 
whether guilty or innocent, to be killed, shall die for it, 



yet he was so fond of him and wished him so well y 
that even if that crime lay at his door, he, Cortes, 
would pay the penalty with his own life sooner than 
allow Montezuma's to pass away. With all this that 
Cortes sent to tell him, Montezuma felt anxious, and 
without any further discussion Cortes sentenced those 
captains to death and to be burned in front of Monte- 
zuma's palace. This sentence was promptly carried 
out, and, so that there could be no ob&rudion while 
they were being burned, Cortes ordered shackles to 
be put on Montezuma himself, and when this was 
done Montezuma roared with rage, and if before this 
he was scared, he was then much more so. After the 
burning was over our Cortes with five of our captains- 
went to Montezuma's apartment and Cortes himself took 
off the fetters, and he spoke such loving words to 
him that his anger soon passed off, for our Cortes 
told him that he not only regarded him as a brother, 
but much more, and that, as he was already Lord and 
King of so many towns and provinces, if it were possible 
he would make him Lord of many more countries as 
time went on, such as he had not been able to subdue,, 
and which did not now obey him, and he told him that 
If he now wished to go to his Palace, that he would give 
him leave to go. Cortes told him this through our 
interpreters and while Cortes was saying it the tears 
apparently sprang to Montezuma's eyes. He answered 
with great courtesy, that he thanked him for it (but 
he well knew that Cortes speech was mere words), 
and that now at present it was better for him to ftajr 
there a prisoner, for there was danger, as his chieftains 
were numerous, and his nephews and relations came 
every day to him to say that it would be a good thing 
to attack us and free him from prison, that as soon as 
they saw him outside they might drive him to it. 
He did not wish to see revolutions in his city, but 
if he did not comply with their wishes possibly 


they would want to set up another Prince in his place, 
and so he was putting those thoughts out of their heads 
by saying that Huichilobos had sent him word that 
he should remain a prisoner. (From what we under- 
tood, and there is no doubt about it, Cortes had told 
Aguilar to tell Montezuma secretly, that although 
Malinche wished to release him from his imprisonment, 
that the reft of our captains and soldiers would not 
agree to it.) When he heard this reply, Cortes threw 
his arms round him and embraced him and said : 
" It is not in vain Senor Montezuma that I care for 
you as I care for myself." Then Montezuma asked 
Cortes that a Spanish page named Orteguilla who 
already knew something of his language might attend 
on him, and this was very advantageous both for 
Montezuma and for us, for through this page Monte- 
zuma asked and learned many things about Spain, 
and we learned what his captains said to him, and in 
truth this page was so serviceable that Montezuma 
got to like him very much. 

Let us cease talking about how Montezuma became 
fairly contented with the great flattery and attention 
he received and the conversation that he had with us, 
and whenever we passed before him, even if it was 
Cortes himself, we doffed our mailed caps or helmets, 
for we always went armed, and he treated us all 
with politeness. The name of the principal captain 
who was punished by being burned was Quetzalpopoca. 
I may say that when the news of this punishment 
spread about throughout the provinces of New Spain, 
they were terrified, and the towns of the Coaft, where 
they had killed our soldiers, returned again ajad 
rendered good service to the settlers who remained 
in Villa Rica. 




AFTER justice had been done on Quetzalpopoca and 
his captains and the Great Montezuma had been 
tamed, our Captain decided to send to Villa Rica, 
as his lieutenant, a soldier named Alonzo de Grado, 
for he was a very prudent man of good address and 
presence, and a musician and a great writer. 

This Alonzo de Grado was one of those who were 
always in opposition to our Cortes about going to 
Mexico, and wished us to go back to Villa Rica. And 
when at the time of the Tlaxcala affair there were 
certain meetings of the discontented, it was always 
Alonzo de Grado who agitated. Had he been as good 
a man of war as he was a man of good manners, it 
would have been to his advantage. I say this because 
when Cortes gave him this appointment, as he was not 
a bold man, he was facetious in his remarks, and said 
to him : " Here, Senor Alonzo de Grado, you have 
your wish fulfilled, for you are going now to Villa 
Rica as you have wished, and you will take charge 
of the fortress, and take care that you don't go out 
on any expeditions and get killed as Juan de Escalante 
did/' And when he was saying this to him Cortes 
winked his eye, so that we soldiers who were ^landing 
round might see it, and we knew why he said this, 
for it was well known of Alonzo de Grado that he 
would not go on such an expedition even if he were 
ordered to do so with threats. Cortes charged him to 
look well after the settlers and to see that he caused 
no annoyance to our Indian Allies and should take 
nothing from them by force. 

When Alonzo de Grado arrived at the town he 
gave himself great importance towards the settlers, 

321 Y 


and wished to make them do him service as a great 
Lord, and to the allied towns which numbered more 
than thirty, he sent to demand jewels of gold and 
pretty Indian women, and he paid no attention at all 
to the fortress. How he spent his time was in feeding 
well and in gambling, and what was worse than all this, 
he secretly called together his friends, and even 
some who were not his friends and suggested that 
if Diego Velasquez or any of his captains should come 
from Cuba to that country, that they should join 
him and give up the land to him. All this news was 
at once sent in hate by letter to Cortes in Mexico, 
and it seemed to Cortes advisable to send some man 
whom he could truft to the port and town, so he sent 
Gonzalo de SandovaL 

When Gonzalo de Sandoval arrived at Villa Rica 
he sent Alonzo de Grado as a prisoner to Mexico 
under a guard of Indians, for so Cortes had told him 
to do. 

When Alonzo de Grado reached Mexico, Cortes 
would not allow him to be brought before him but 
ordered him to be imprisoned in some wooden 
Stocks which had jul been newly made, and he 
remained a prisoner for two days. 

As~ Alonzo de Grado was very plausible and a man 
of many expedients, he made many promises to 
Cortes that he would be his humble servant and loyal 
to him in all things, and gave so many indications of 
his desire to serve him that at length he convinced 
him, and he gained his release. I mut not forget 
to say that when Cortes sent Gonzalo de Sandoval 
to Villa Rica he had ordered him, as soon as he arrived, 
to send two blacksmiths, with all their apparatus of 
bellows and tools and much iron from the ships which 
we had destroyed, and two great iron chains which were 
already made, and he told him to send also sails and 
tackle, and pitch and tow and a mariner's compass, 



and everything else that was needed to build two 
sloops to sail on the lake of Mexico. These things 
Sandoval sent at once following in every particular 
the orders he had received. 

As our captain was careful in all things, and seeing 
that Montezuma was a prisoner, and fearing that he 
might become depressed at being shut in and confined, 
he endeavoured every day, after prayers (for we then 
had no wine for Mass) to go and pay court to him, 
and he went accompanied by four Captains, usually 
by Pedro de Alvarado, Juan Velasquez and Diego de 
Ordas, and with much reverence they asked Montezuma 
how he was, and that he should issue his orders and 
they would all be carried out, so that he should not 
be weary of his confinement. He answered that on 
the contrary, being a prisoner rented him, and this 
was because our gods gave us power to confine him 
or his Huichilobos permitted it, and in one conversa- 
tion after another they gave him to underhand more 
fully the things about our holy faith, and the great 
power of the Emperor our Lord. 

Then sometimes Montezuma and Cortes would play 
at Totoloque, which is the name they give to a game 
played with some very smooth small pellets made of 
gold for this game, and they toss these pellets to some 
distance as well as some little slabs which were also 
made of gold, and in five Strokes [tries] they gained 
or loSt certain pieces of gold or rich jewels that they 
&aked. I remember that Pedro de Alvarado was 
keeping the score for Cortes, and one of his nephews, 
a great cacique, was marking for Montezuma, and 
Pedro de Alvarado always marked one point more 
than Cortes gained, and when Montezuma saw 
it he said courteously and laughingly that he did 
not like Tonatio (for so they called Pedro de Alvarado) 
to keep the score for Cortes, because he made so much 
j#0#0/in what he marked, which in their language means 



to say that he cheated, in that he always marked one 
point too many. Cortes and all of us soldiers who 
were on guard at the time, could not restrain our 
laughter at what the great Montezuma said, because 
Pedro de Alvarado, although he was so handsome 
and well mannered, had a mania for excessive talking, 
and we knew his temperament. To return to the game, 
if Cortes won, he gave the jewels to those nephews 
and favourites of Montezuma who attended on him, 
and if Montezuma won he divided them among us 
soldiers on guard, and in addition to what he gave us 
from the game, he never omitted giving us every day 
presents of gold and cloth, both to us and to the 
captain of the Guard, who, at that time, was Juan 
Velasquez de Leon, whq showed himself in every way 
to be the friend and servant of Montezuma. 

A soldier named Pedro Lopez was placed as sentinel 
over Montezuma, and on the question whether it 
was time to change the watch during the night, he 
had words with an officer and said, " Oh ! curse this 
dog, I am sick to death of keeping constant guard 
over him." Montezuma heard the expression, and 
weighed it in his mind, and when Cortes came to 
pay his court to him, he heard of it, and was so angry 
about it, that he had Pedro Lopez, good soldier as 
he was, flogged in our quarters, and from that time 
on all the soldiers who came on guard, went through 
their watch in silence and good manners. However 
it was not necessary to give orders to many of us who 
&ood guard over him about the civility that we ought 
to show to this great cacique ; he knew each one of 
us and even knew our names and our characters and 
he was so kind that to all of us he gave jewels and to 
some mantles, and handsome Indian women. As I was 
a young man in those days, whenever I was on guard, 
or passed in front of him, I doffed my headpiece with 
the greatest respeft, and the page Orteguilla had told 


him that I had been on two expeditions to discover 
New Spain before the time of Cortes, so I asked Orte- 
guilla to beg Montezuma to do me the favour of 
giving me a very pretty Indian woman, and when 
Montezuma heard this he told them to call me, and 
he said to me : " Bernal Diaz del Caftillo, they tell 
me that you have quantities of cloth and gold, and I 
will order them to give you to-day a pretty maid. 
Treat her very well for she is the daughter of a 
chieftain, and they will also give you gold and mantles ", 
and I answered him with much reverence, that I kissed 
his hands for his great favour, and might God our 
Lord prosper him, and it seems that he asked the 
page what I had replied to him, and he told him ; and 
Montezuma said to him : " Bernal Diaz seems to 
me to be a gentleman," for as I have said, he knew 
all our names, and he told them to give me three small 
slabs of gold and two loads of mantles. 

Let us Stop talking of this and tell how of a morning 
after saying his prayers and making sacrifices to 
his idols, he took his breakfast, which was a small 
matter, for he ate no meat, only chili peppers, then he 
was occupied for an hour in hearing suits from many 
parts brought by Caciques who came to him from 
distant lands. 


As ^ all the materials for building the two sloops had 
arrived, Cortes at once went to tell the great Monte- 
zuma that he wished to build two small ships so as 
to take pleasure trips on the lake, and asked him to 
send his carpenters to cut the wood, together with 
our experts in boat-building, who were named Martin 
Lopez and Andres Nunez. As the oak timber was 
distant about four leagues, it was soon brought and 



shaped, and as there were many Indian carpenters, 
the boats were soon built and caulked and tarred, and 
their rigging was set up and their sails cut to the right 
size and measurement, and an awning provided 
for each one, and they turned out to be as good and 
fat as though they had taken a month to set up the 
models, for Martin Lopez was a pasl masher of the art. 
Let us leave this and say that Montezuma told Cortes 
that he wished to go to his temples and make sacrifices, 
and pay the devotion to his gods that it was his duty 
to do, so that his Captains and chieftains might 
observe it, especially certain nephews of his, who came 
every day to tell him that they wished to free him and 
to attack us, and he answered them, that it pleased 
him to be with us, so they should think it was as he 
had told them, that his God Huichilobos had com- 
manded him to &ay with us, as he had made them 
believe before. Cortes replied that as to this per- 
mission he asked for, he should beware not to do 
anything for which he might lose his life, and so as 
to prevent any disorders, or commands to his Captains 
or priests either to release him, or attack us, he would 
send Captains and soldiers with him who would 
immediately tab him to death, should any change be 
noticed in his bearing. He might go and welcome, 
but mut not sacrifice any human beings, for that was 
a great offence against the true God, that was to the 
God we were preaching to him about, and there Stood 
our altars and the image of Our Lady, before whom he 
could pray. Montezuma said that he would not 
sacrifice a single human being, and he set off in his 
rich litter in great tate with many great Caciques 
in his company as was his custom, and they carried 
his insignia in front of him in the form of a sort of 
taff or rod, which was the sign that his royal presence 
was going that way (ju& as they do now to the Viceroys 
of New Spain). There went with him as a guard four 



of our Captains, and one hundred and fifty soldiers, 
and the Padre de la Merced also went with us to lop 
the sacrifice if he should offer human beings. So we 
went to the Cue of Huichilobos and when we came 
near to that cursed temple, Montezuma ordered them 
to take him from his litter and he was carried on the 
shoulders of his nephews and of other Caciques 
until he arrived at the temple ; as I have already 
Stated, as he went through the Greets all the chieftains 
cat down their eyes and never looked at his face. 
When we arrived at the foot of the sleps leading to 
the oratory there were many priests waiting to help 
him with their arms in the ascent. 

There had already been sacrificed the night before 
four Indians, and in spite of what our Captain said 
and the dissuasions of the Padre de la Merced, he paid 
no heed but persisted in killing men and boys to 
accomplish his sacrifice, and we could do nothing at 
that time only pretend not to notice it, for Mexico 
and the other great cities were very ready to rebel 
under the nephews of Montezuma, as I shall explain 
further on. When Montezuma had completed his 
sacrifices, and he did not tarry much in making them, 
we returned with him to our quarters, and he was 
very cheerful, and gave presents of golden jewels 
to us soldiers who had accompanied him. 

When the two sloops were finished building and 
had been launched and the mats and rigging had 
been set up and adorned with the Royal and Imperial 
banners, and the sailors had been got ready to navigate 
them, they went out in them both rowing and sailing, 
and they sailed very well. When Montezuma heard 
of it, he said to Cortes that he wished to go hunting 
on a rocky Island, 1 Standing in the lake which was 
preserved so that no one dared to hunt there, however 
great a chief he might be, under pain of death. 
1 The Penon de Tepepolco or del Marques. 

3 2 7 


Cortes replied that he was very welcome to go, but 
he mu& remember what he had told him on the former 
occasion when he went to visit his Idols, that to raise 
any disturbances was more than his life was worth ; 
moreover, he could go in the sloops, as it was better 
sailing in them than in the canoes and pirogues however 
large they might be. Montezuma said that he would 
be delighted to sail in the sloop that was the swiftest, 
and he took with him many lords and chieftains, and 
advised his huntsmen to follow in canoes and pirogues. 
A son of Montezuma and many Caciques went in the 
other sloop. Then Cortes ordered Velasquez de Leon 
who was captain of the Guard and Pedro de Alvarado 
and Cristobal de Olid, Alonzo de Avila with two hundred 
soldiers, to accompany Montezuma, and to remember the 
great responsibility he was placing on them in looking 
after him, and as all those Captains whom I have 
named were very alert, they took on board all the 
soldiers I have spoken about, and four bronze cannon 
and all the powder that we possessed, and our gunners, 
and they put up a highly decorated awning as a protec- 
tion from the weather, and Montezuma and his 
chieftains went under it. As at that time there was a 
trong breeze blowing, and the sailors were delighted 
to please and content Montezuma, they worked the 
sails so well that they went flying along, and the 
canoes which held his huntsmen and chieftains were 
left far behind in spite of the large number of rowers 
they carried. Montezuma was charmed, and said 
that it was a great art this of combining sails and oars 
together. So he arrived at the Penol, which was not 
very far off, and Montezuma killed all the game he 
wanted, deer and hares and rabbits, and returned 
very contented to the city. When we arrived near 
Mexico, Pedro de Alvarado and Juan Velasquez de 
Leon and the other Captains ordered the cannon 
to be discharged, and this delighted Montezuma, and 



as we saw him so frank and kind, we treated him 
with the respeft in which the Kings of these countries 
are held, and he behaved in the same manner to us. 
If I were to relate the traits and qualities that he 
showed as a great Prince, and the reverence and service 
that all the Lords of New Spain paid to him, I should 
never come to an end. There was not a thing that 
he ordered to be brought that was not immediately 


As Cacamatzin, lord of the City of Texcoco, which 
after Mexico is the largest and mo& important city 
that there is in New Spain, knew that his uncle, 
Montezuma, had been imprisoned for many days, 
and that we were taking the upper hand in every way 
that was possible, and also got to know that we had 
opened the chamber where the great treasure of his 
grandfather Axayaca was kept, but had not taken 
anything from it, he determined, before we could 
take possession of the treasure, to call together all 
the Lords of Texcoco, who were his vassals, and the 
lord of Coyoacan, who was his cousin and Montezuma's 
nephew, and the lord of Tacuba, and, the lord of 
Iztapalapa, and another great Cacique who was 
lord of Matalfingo, who was very nearly related to 
Montezuma and of whom it was even said that he 
was the rightful heir to the kingdom and lordship 
of Mexico, and who was a chieftain known among 
the Indians for his personal bravery. While Caca- 
matzin continued to negotiate with these and other 
Mexican chieftains that on a given day they should 
come with all their forces and attack us, it seems 
that the Cacique whom I have said was known for 
his personal bravery (whose name I do not know) 


said that if Cacamatzin would assure to him the 
Kingship of Mexico, to which he was the rightful 
heir, that he and all his relations, and the people of 
the province called Matalfingo, would be the firh 
to take up arms and turn us out of Mexico, or not 
leave anyone of us alive. It appears that Cacamatzin 
replied that the Chieftainship of Mexico belonged 
to him and that he himself mut be King, for he 
-was the nephew of Montezuma ; and that if the Lord 
of Matalfingo did not wish to come, that they would 
make war on us without his help or that of his people, 
for it seems that Cacamatzin had got ready all the 
Lords and towns already named by me, and had 
already arranged the day on which they were to fall 
on Mexico, and that the chieftains of his faHon who 
were then in the city would facilitate their entry. 

While these negotiations were going on, Monte- 
zuma knew all about them from the lord of Matal- 
^ingo, and to be more sure of it, Montezuma sent to 
summon all the Caciques and chieftains of Texcoco, 
and they told him how Cacamatzin was going about 
persuading them all with words and gifts to join 
liim in an attack on us, and to free his uncle. As 
Montezuma was prudent and did not wish to see 
his city rise up in arms or riots, he told Cortes what 
was happening. Our Captain and all of us soldiers 
knew a good deal about this disturbance, but not so 
fully as Montezuma now detailed it. The advice 
that Cortes now gave him was that he should give 
us his Mexican followers and we would fall on Texcoco 
and capture or destroy that city and its neighbour- 
hood. As that advice did not suit Montezuma, Cortes 
sent to tell Cacamatzin that he should cease his 
preparations for war, which would be the means of 
his de&rudtion, for he wished to have him as a friend. 
Now Cacamatzin was a young man who found many 
others, who shared his opinions, ready to support 



him in the war, so he sent to tell Cortes, that he under- 
fcood his flatteries and did not want to hear any more 
of them. Cortes again sent to tell him that he should 
beware not to do an ill turn to our King and Lord, 
for he would pay for it with his person, and lose his 
life for it. He replied that he knew no King and wished 
he had never known Cortes, who, for all his fair 
words, had imprisoned his uncle. 

As Montezuma had both great Caciques and kins- 
men in Texcoco who were not friendly with Caca- 
matzin (who was very haughty and much disliked) 
and as he had with him there in Mexico a brother of 
this same Cacamatzin, a youth of a good disposition, 
who had fled from his own brother to escape being 
killed by him (for after Cacamatzin he was the heir 
to the kingdom of Texcoco) our captain implored 
Montezuma to concert measures with his people in 
Texcoco to seize Cacamatzin, of to send secretly to 
summon him to come to Mexico, and if he did come, 
to lay hands on him and keep him in his power until 
he had quieted down and later on should promote 
this other nephew to be the Lord of Texcoco and take 
the chieftainship from Cacamatzin. 

Montezuma said that he would at once send to 
summon Cacamatzin, but he did not think he would 
come, and that if he did not come he would make 
arrangements with his Captains and relations to 
seize him. 

Cort6s thanked him heartily for this, and even 
said : " Senor Montezuma, you may indeed believe 
me that if you wish to go to your Palace, you are 
free to do so, for since I understand that you are 
well disposed towards me, I am so devoted to you, 
that were I not in such a difficult position, I would 
not even insist upon accompanying you when you 
proceed to your palace with all your nobility. If I 
have failed to carry out such a plan, it is on account 

33 1 


of my Captains who went to seize you, for they are 
not willing that I should set you free, and also because 
you say that you prefer to Stay in confinement so as 
to avoid the disturbances through which your nephews 
would attempt to obtain power over this City of yours, 
and deprive you of your rule/' 

Montezuma thanked him, and as he began to 
underhand Cortes' flattering speeches and saw that 
he made them, not with any intention of setting him 
free, but only to teft his good will, he added that it 
was as well for him to remain a prisoner until he 
could see whither the treachery of his nephews would 
lead. Moreover he would immediately send messengers 
to Cacamatzin, begging him to appear before him, 
as he wished to speak to him about friendship between 
him and us. Montezuma sent the same message to 
the Captains of Texcoco, telling them that he was 
sending to summon his nephew to make friends, 
adding that they should beware how that youth turned 
their brains so that they would take up arms again& us. 
Cacamatzin took counsel with his chiefs as to what 
should be done, and began to blu&er and say that 
he would kill us all within four days, and that his 
uncle was a chicken not to attack us when he advised 
him to do so. 

Cacamatzin promised his followers there and then> 
that if the Lordship of Mexico should fall to him, he 
would make them great chieftains, and he also gave 
them many golden jewels, and told them that he had 
already made arrangements with his cousins, the lords 
of Coyoacan and Iztapalapa and Tacuba and other 
relations, to help him, and there were other chieftains 
in Mexico itself who would assist him and let him into 
the city at whatever hour he might choose. He said 
that some of them might go along the causeway and 
all the ret could go across the lake in their pirogues 
and small canoes, and they would enter the city 



without meeting opponents to defend it, for his 
uncle was a prisoner, and they need have no fear of 
us, for they knew that only a few days ago, in the 
affair of Almeria, his uncle's Captains had killed 
many Teules and a horse, and they had seen the head 
of the Teule and the body of the horse ; that they 
could kill us all in an hour and could have feafts and 
stuff themselves with our bodies. 

When this speech was finished, they say that 
the Captains looked at one another, waiting for those 
who usually spoke firt in councils of war, and that 
four or five of these Captains replied to him how was 
it possible for them to go without the permission of 
their great prince Montezuma, and wage war in his 
very house and city ? that they should firt send to 
let him know about it, and if he consented, they 
would accompany Cacamatzin with the greatest good 
will ; but otherwise they did not wish to turn traitors. 
It seems that Cacamatzin was angered with the 
Captains and ordered three of those who gave that 
reply to be imprisoned. As there were present at that 
meeting and council others, who were his relations, 
who were longing for a riot, they said that they would 
aid him to the death. So he decided to send to his 
uncle the great Montezuma to say that he ought to 
be ashamed of sending him word to come and make 
friends with those who had done him such harm and 
dishonour in holding him a prisoner, that such a 
thing was only possible because we were wizards and 
had Stolen away all his great Strength and bravery 
with our witchcraft, and that our gods and this great 
lady from Ca&ile, whom we said was our Counsellor, 
had given us the great power to do what we had done. 
The gi& of his message was, that he would come in 
spite of us and of his uncle to speak to us and to 
kill us. 

When the great Montezuma heard that insolent 



reply, he was greatly angered, and at once sent to 
summon six of his mot trusted captains. And he 
gave them his seal, and ordered them to go to Texcoco 
and secretly to show that seal to certain Captains and 
relations of his, who were on bad terms with Caca- 
matzin on account of his haughtiness, and so to 
manage that they should make prisoners of Cacamatzin 
and those who were in his confidence, and bring them 
before him at once. When those Captains had 
departed, and it was understood in Texcoco what it 
was that Montezuma had ordered, as Cacamatzin 
was greatly disliked, he was taken prisoner in his 
own palace while he was discussing the subject of 
the war with his confederates, and they brought five 
of them as prisoners in his company. 

As that city Stands close to the lake, they got ready 
a great pirogue with awnings, and they placed Caca- 
matzin and the othei prisoners in it and with a great 
crew of rowers they brought them to Mexico. When 
they had disembarked, they placed Cacamatzin in a 
richly adorned litter fit for a king such as he was, 
and with the greatest show of respeft they brought 
him before Montezuma. 

It seems that in his interview with Montezuma, 
he was even more insolent than he had been before, 
and if Montezuma was angry with his nephew before, 
he was now doubly so, and he promptly sent him to 
our Captain to be held as a prisoner, and the other 
prisoners he ordered to be set free. 

Cortes went at once to the palace to Montezuma's 
chamber to thank him for so great a favour and the 
order was given that the youth, who was in Monte- 
zuma's company, who was also his nephew and the 
brother of Cacamatzin, should be raised to the Kingship 
of Texcoco. 

So as to make the appointment with all solemnity 
and with the consent of all the city, Montezuma 



summoned before him the principal chieftains of the 
whole province and after fully discussing the matte^ 
they elected him as King and Lord of that great city, 
and he was named Don Carlos. 

After all this was over, when the Caciques and 
Kinglets, nephews of the great Montezuma, namely 
the Lord of Coyoacan, and the Lord of Iztapalapa, 
and he of Tacuba saw and heard of the imprisonment 
of Cacamatzin, and learnt that the great Montezuma 
knew that they had joined in the conspiracy to deprive 
him of his kingdom, and give it to Cacamatzin, they 
were frightened and did not come to pay their court 
to Montezuma as they were used to do. So with the 
consent of Cortes, who clamoured and persuaded him 
to order them to be seized, within eight days they were 
all in prison and attached to the great chain, and our 
Captain and all of us felt not a little relieved. 


WHEN Captain Cortes saw that those kinglets named 
by me were prisoners, and that all the cities were at 
peace, he said to Montezuma that, before we had 
entered Mexico, he [Montezuma] had twice sent to 
say that he wished to pay tribute to His Maje&y, 
and that as he now underwood about the great power 
of our Lord and King, to whom many lands pay 
tribute and taxes and many great kings are subjeft, 
it would be well for him and all his vassals to give 
him their fealty, for such is the custom, firb to give 
fealty and then to give tribute and taxes. Montezuma 
replied that he would gather his vassals together, 
and talk to them about it. And within ten days nearly 
all the Caciques of that territory assembled together, 
but that Cacique who was mo& nearly related to 



Montezuma did not come, and said that he would 
neither come, nor pay taxes, for he was not able to 
keep himself with the income from his provinces. 
Montezuma was very angry at this reply, and at once 
sent some Captains to take him prisoner, but as he 
"was a great Lord, and had many relations, he was 
warned of this and withdrew to his province where 
they were not then able to catch him. 

I muft leave him now and Slate how, in the discussion 
that Montezuma held with the Caciques of all the 
territory whom he had called together, after he had 
made a speech without Cortes or any of us, excepting 
Orteguilla the page, being present, it was reported 
that he had told them to consider how for many years 
pat they had known for certain, through the traditions 
of their ancestors, which they had noted down in their 
books of records, that men would come from the 
direction of the sunrise to rule these lands, and that 
then the lordship and kingdom of the Mexicans would 
come to an end. Now he believed, from what his 
Gods had told him, that we were these men, and the 
priests had consulted Huichilobos about it and 
offered up sacrifices, but their Gods would no longer 
answer them as they had been acculomed to do. 

All that Huichilobos would give them to under- 
hand was that what he had told them before he now 
again gave as his reply, and they were not to ask him 
again, so that they took it to mean that they should 
give their fealty to the King of Spain whose vassals 
these Teules say that they are. He went on to say : 
" As for the present it does not imply anything, and 
as in time to come we shall see whether we receive 
another and better reply from our Gods, so we will 
aft according to the time. For the present, what I 
order and beg you all to do with good will is to give 
and contribute some sign of vassalage, and I will 
soon tell you what is mot suitable, and as jut now I 

33 6 


am importuned about it by Malinche, I beg that no 
one will refuse it. During the eighteen years that 
I have been your Prince, you have always been very 
loyal to me, and I have enriched you and have 
broadened your lands, and have given you power 
and wealth, and if at this present time, our Gods permit 
me to be held captive here, it would not have happened, 
unless, as I have told you many times, my great 
Huichilobos had commanded it." 

When they heard these arguments, all of them 
gave as an answer that they would do as he had 
ordered them, and they said it with many tears and 
sighs, and Montezuma more tearful than any of them. 
Then he sent a chieftain to say that on the following 
day they would give their fealty and vassalage to His 

Montezuma returned after this to talk about the 
matter with his Caciques, and in the presence of Cortes 
and our Captains and many of our soldiers, and of 
Pedro Hernandez, Cortes' secretary, they gave their 
fealty to His Maje&y, and they showed much emotion 
in doing so, and Montezuma could not keep back 
his tears. He was so dear to us, and we were so much 
affefted at seeing him weep, that our own eyes were 
softened and one soldier wept as much as Montezuma, 
such was the affeftion we had for him. I will leave 
off here, and say that Cortes and the Fraile de la 
Merced, who was very wise, were constantly in 
Montezuma's palace, trying to amuse him and to 
persuade him to give up his Idols. 


As Captain Diego de Ordas and the other soldiers 
[who had been sent by Cortes on an exploring expedi- 
tion] arrived with samples of gold and the report 



that all the land was rich, Cortes by the advice of 
Ordas and the other Captains and soldiers, decided 
to speak to, and demand of Montezuma, that all the 
Caciques and towns of the land should pay tribute 
to His Majesty, and that he himself as the greatest 
Chieftain, should also contribute from his treasure. 
Montezuma replied that he would send to all his 
towns to ask for gold, but that many of them did not 
possess any, only some jewels of little worth which 
had come to them from their ancestors. He at once 
despatched chieftains to the places where there were 
mines and ordered each town to give so many ingots 
of fine gold, of the same size and thickness as others 
that they were used to pay as tribute, and the 
messengers carried with them as samples two small 
ingots. From other parts they only brought small 
jewels of little worth. 

He also sent to the province whose Cacique and 
Lord was that near kinsman of his who would not 
obey him. This province was distant from Mexico 
about twelve leagues, and the reply the messengers 
brought back was to the effeft that neither would 
he give any gold nor obey Montezuma, that he also 
was Lord of Mexico, and that the dominion belonged 
to him as much as to Montezuma himself, who was 
sending to ask him to pay tribute. 

When Montezuma heard this he was so enraged 
that he immediately sent his seal and sign by some 
faithful captains with orders to bring him as a prisoner. 
When this kinsman was brought into Montezuma's 
presence he spoke to him very disrespectfully, and 
without any fear, and very valiantly, and they say, 
that he had intervals of madness, for he was as though 
thunderstruck. Cortes came to know all about this, 
and he sent to beg Montezuma as a favour, to give this 
man to him as he wished to place a guard over him, 
for he had been told that Montezuma had ordered 



'him to be killed. When the Cacique was brought before 
him Cortes spoke to him in a mot amiable manner 
and told him not to aft like a madman against his 
prince, and wished to set him free. However, when 
Montezuma heard this he said that he should not be 
set free but should be attached to the great chain 
like the other Kinglets already named by me. 

Let us go back to say that within twenty days all 
the chieftains whom Montezuma had sent to colled 
the tribute of gold,, came back again. And as they 
arrived Montezuma sent to summon Cortes and our 
captains and certain soldiers whom he knew, who 
belonged to his guard, and said these formal words, 
or others of like meaning : 

" I wish you to know, Senor Malinche and Senores 
Captains and soldiers, that I am indebted to your great 
King, and I bear him good will both for being such a 
great Prince and for having sent to such distant lands 
to make inquiries about me ; and the thought that 
most impresses me is that he mut be the one who is to 
rule over us, as our ancestors have told us, and as even 
our gods have given us to understand in the answers 
we have received from them. Take this gold which 
has been collefted ; on account of hate no more has 
been brought. That which I have got ready for the 
emperor is the whole of the Treasure which I have 
received from my father, which is in your possession 
and in your apartments. 

" I know well enough that as soon as you came here 
you opened the chamber and beheld it all, and that 
you sealed it up again as it was before. When you 
send it to him, tell him in your papers and letters, 
* This is sent to you by your true vassal Montezuma/ 
I will also give you some very valuable tones which 
you will send to him in my name ; they are Chalchi- 
huites, and are not to be given to any one else but 
only to him, your Great Prince. Each lone is worth 



two loads of gold. I also wish to send him three blow 
guns with their bags and pellet moulds for they have 
such good jewel work on them that he will be pleased 
to see them, and I also wish to give him of what I 
possess although it is but little, for all the re& of the 
gold and jewek that I possessed I have given you 
from time to time," 

When Cortes and all of us heard this we &ood 
amazed at the great goodness and liberality of the 
Great Montezuma, and with much reverence we all 
doffed our helmets, and returned him our thanks, and 
with words of the greatest affeftion Cortes promised 
him that we would write to His Majesty of the 
magnificence and liberality of this gift of gold which 
he gave us in his own royal name. After some more 
polite conversation Montezuma at once sent his 
Mayordomos to hand over all the treasure and gold 
and wealth that was in that plastered chamber, and 
in looking it over and taking off all the embroidery 
with which it was set, we were occupied for three 
days, and to assist us in undoing it and taking it to 
pieces, there came Montezuma's goldsmiths from 
the town named Azcapotzalco, and I say that there was 
so much, that after it was taken to pieces there were 
three heaps of gold, and they weighed more than six 
hundred thousand pesos, as I shall tell further on, 
without the silver and many other rich things, and not 
counting in this the ingots and slabs of gold, and the 
gold in grains from the mines. We began to melt it 
down with the help of the Indian goldsmiths, and 
they made broad bars of it, each bar measuring three 
fingers of the hand across. When it was already 
melted and made into bars, they brought another 
present separately which the Grand Montezuma had 
said that he would give, and it was a wonderful thing 
to behold the wealth of gold and the richness of the 
other jewels that were brought, for some of the 



Chalchihuites were so fine that among these Caciques 
they were worth a va& quantity of gold. The three 
blow guns with their pellet moulds, and their cover- 
ings of jewels and pearls, and pictures in feathers 
of little birds covered with pearlshell and other birds, 
all were of great value. I will not speak of the plumes 
and feathers and other rich things for I shall never 
finish calling them to mind. 

The gold I have spoken about was marked with 
an iron tamp, and the &amp was the royal arms. 
The mark was not put on the rich jewels which it did 
not seem to us should be taken to pieces. 

As we had neither marked weights nor scales, 
some iron weights were made, some as much as an 
arroba, 1 others of half an arroba, two pounds, one 
pound and half a pound, and of four ounces, not that 
they would turn out very exaft, but within half an 
ounce more or less in each lot that was weighed. 

After the weight was taken the officers of the King 
said that there was gold worth more than six hundred 
thousand pesos, and this was without counting the 
silver and many other jewels which were not yet valued. 

Some soldiers said that there was more. As there 
was now nothing more to do than to take out the royal 
fifth, and to give to each captain and soldier his share, 
and to set aside the shares of those who remained at 
the port of Villa Rica, it seems that Cortes endeavoured 
not to have it divided up so soon, but to wait until 
there was more gold, and there were good weights, 
and proper accounts of how it turned out. But moft 
of us captains and soldiers said that it should be 
divided up at once, for we had seen that at the time 
when the pieces were given out of the Treasury 
of Montezuma, there was much more gold in the 
heaps, and that a third part of it was missing, which 
they had taken and hidden both on behalf of Cort6s, 

1 An arroba = 25 IBs. 



as well as of the Captains and the Fraile de la Merced, 
and it went on diminishing. The next day they 
were to distribute the shares, and I will tell how it 
was divided, and the greater part remained with 
Captain Cortes and other persons, and what was done 
about it I will go on to relate. 

Firft of all the royal fifth was taken out, then Cortes 
said that they should take out for him another fifth, 
the same as for His Majesty, for we had promised 
it to him at the sand dunes when we elefted him 
Captain General and Chief Juftice. After that, he said 
that he had been put to certain expenses in the Island 
of Cuba and that what he had spent on the expedition 
should betaken from the heap, and in addition to this that 
there should be taken from the same heap the expenses 
incurred by Diego Velasquez in the ships which we 
had destroyed, and we all agreed to it, and beside 
this the expenses of the procurators who were sent 
to Spain. Then there were the shares of those who 
remained in Villa Rica, and there were seventy of 
them, and for his horse that had died, and for the 
mare which had belonged to Juan Sedeno which the 
Tlaxcalans had killed with a sword cut ; then for the 
Fraile de la Merced, and the prieft Juan Diaz and the 
Captains and for those who had brought horses, 
double shares, and for musketeers and crossbowmen 
the same, and other trickeries, so that very little was 
left to each as a share, and it was so little that many 
of the soldiers did not want to take it, and Cortes was 
left with it all. At that time we could do nothing but 
hold our tongues, for to ask for justice in the matter 
was useless. There were other soldiers who took their 
shares at the rate of one hundred pesos and clamoured 
for the reft, and to content them Cortes secretly gave 
to one and the other, apparently bestowing favours 
so as to satisfy them, and with the smooth speeches 
that he made to them they put up with it. 



At that time many of our Captains ordered very 
large golden chains to be made by the Great Monte- 
zuma's goldsmiths. Cortes, too, ordered many jewels 
to be made, and a great service of plate. Some of our 
soldiers had their hands so full, that many ingots of 
gold, marked and unmarked, and jewels of a great 
diversity of patterns were openly in circulation. 
Heavy gaming was always going on with some playing 
cards which were made from drum skins by Pedro 
Valenciano and were as well made and painted as the 
originals. So this was the condition we were in, but 
let us Stop talking of the gold and of the bad way it 
was divided, and worse way in which it was spent. 

As Cortes heard that many of the soldiers were 
discontented over their share of the gold and the way 
the heaps had been robbed, he determined to make a 
speech to them all with honeyed words, and he said 
that all he owned was for us, and he did not want 
the fifth but only the share that came to him as 
Captain General, and that if any one had need of 
anything he would give it to him, and that the gold 
we had collected was but a breath of air, that we 
should observe what great cities there were there and 
rich mines, and that we should be lords of them all 
and very prosperous and rich, and he used other 
arguments very well expressed which he knew well 
how to employ. 


ONE day Montezuma said : " Look here, Malinche, 
I love you so much that I want to give you one of my 
daughters, who is very beautiful, so that you can 
marry her and treat her as your legitimate wife " ; 
Cortes doffed his cap in thanks, and said that it was 



a great favour that Montezuma was conferring on 
him, but that he was already married and had a wife, 
and that among us we were not permitted to have 
more than one wife, he would however, keep her 
[Montezuma's daughter] in the rank to which the 
daughter of so great a prince was entitled, but that 
firft of all he desired her to become a Christian, as 
other ladies, the daughters of Chieftains, already 
were ; and to this Montezuma consented. 

The Great Montezuma always showed good will 
to us, but he never ceased his sacrifices at which human 
beings were killed, and Cortes tried to dissuade him from 
this but met with no success. So Cortes took counsel 
with his captains as to what should be done in the 
matter, for he did not dare to put an end to it for fear 
of a rising in the City and of the priests who were in 
charge of Huichilobos. On the advice of his Captains, 
Cortes went to the Palace where Montezuma was 
imprisoned and took seven captains and soldiers with 
him, and said to Montezuma : " Seiior, I have often 
asked you not to sacrifice any more human beings to 
your gods who are deceiving you, and you will not 
cease doing it, I wish you to know that all my com- 
panions and these captains who are with me have come 
to beg you to give them leave to remove the gods from 
your temple and put our Lady Santa Maria and a Cross 
in their place, and, if you will not give them leave 
now, they will go and remove them, and I would 
not like them to kill any priels." 

When Montezuma heard those words, and saw 
that the Captains were rather angry, he said : " Oh ! 
Malinche, how can you wish to destroy the city 
entirely ! for our gods are very angry with us, and 
I do not know that they will top even at your lives, 
what I pray you to do for the present is to be patient, 
and I will send to summon all the prices and I will 
see their reply." When Cortes heard this he made a 



sign that he wished to speak quite privately to Monte- 
zuma. When they were left alone he said to Monte- 
zuma, that in order to prevent this affair from becoming 
known and causing a di&urbance and becoming an 
offence to the prielts on account of their Idols being 
overturned, that he would arrange with these Captains 
to the effed that they should do nothing of the sort, 
provided they were given an apartment in the Great 
Cue where they might make an altar on which to 
place the Image of Our Lady and set up a Cross, 
Then Montezuma, with sighs and a very sorrowful 
countenance, said that he would confer with his prie&s. 
After much discussion had taken place, it was agreed 
to, and our altars and an image of Our Lady and a 
Cross were set up, apart from their cursed Idols, with 
great reverence and with thanks to God from all 
of us, and the Padre de la Merced chanted Mass 
assisted by the prieft Juan Diaz and many of our 
soldiers. Our Captain ordered an old soldier to be 
Stationed there as guardian, and begged Montezuma 
to order the priests not to touch the altar, but only to 
keep it swept and to burn incense and keep wax candles 
burning there by day and night, and to decorate it 
with branches and flowers. 

There was never a time when we were not subject 
to surprises of such a kind, that had our Lord God 
not assisted us, they would have co& us our lives. 
Thus as soon as we had placed the image of Our Lady 
and the Cross on the Altar which we had made on the 
Great Cue and the Holy Gospel had been preached 
and Mass said, it seems that Huichilobos and Tezcate- 
puca spoke to the priests, and told them that they 
wished to leave their country as they were so badly 
treated by the Teules, and they did not wish to &ay 
where those figures and the Cross had been placed> 
nor would they remain there unless we were killed, 
and this was their answer and they need not expert 



any other, and they should inform Montezuma and 
all his Captains, so that they might at once go to war 
and kill us. The Idols further told them that they 
could see how all the gold that used to be kept for their 
honour, had been broken up by us and made into ingots, 
and let them beware how we were making ourselves 
lords over the country, and were holding five great 
Caciques prisoners, and they told them of other mis- 
deeds so as to induce them to attack us. In order 
that Cortes and all of us should know about this, the 
Great Montezuma sent word to tell Cortes that he 
wished to speak to him on very important matters, 
and the page Orteguilla came and said to him that 
Montezuma was very sad and much disturbed, and 
that during the previous night and part of the day 
many prie&s and leading Captains had been with 
him and had said things to him privately that he [the 
page] could not understand. 

When Cortes heard this he went in haSte to the 
palace where Montezuma was Staying and took with 
him Cristoval de Olid, who was Captain of the Guard, 
and four other Captains and Dona Marina and 
Jeronimo de Aguilar, and, after they had paid much 
respeft to him, Montezuma said : " Oh ! Senor 
Malinche and Captains, how distressed I am at the 
reply and command which our Teules have given to 
our prie&s and to me and all my Captains, which is 
that we should make war on you and kill you, and drive 
you back across the sea. I have thought it over, and 
what seems to me beSt is that you should at once 
leave this city before you are attacked, and that not 
one of you should remain here. This, Senor Malinche, 
I say that you should not fail to do, for it is to your 
interest, if not you will be killed, remember it is a 
question of your lives/' Cortes and our Captains felt 
grief at what he said and were even a good deal 
disquieted, and it was not to be wondered at, the affair 



coming so suddenly and with such insistence that our 
lives were at once placed in the greatest danger by it, 
for the warning was given us with the greatest urgency. 
Cortes replied that he thanked Montezuma sincerely 
for the warning, and that at the present time there 
were two things that troubled him, one was that he 
had no vessels in which to sail, for he had ordered 
those in which he had come to be broken up, and the 
other was that Montezuma would be forced to come 
with us so that our great Emperor might see him, and 
that he begged as a favour that he would place restraint 
on his priests and captains while three ships were 
being built at the sand dunes, as it would be more 
advantageous to them, for if they began the war 
they would all of them be killed. 

He also asked, so that Montezuma might see that 
he wished to carry out what he had said without delay, 
that carpenters might be sent with two of our soldiers 
who were great experts in shipbuilding, to cut wood 
near the sand dunes. 

Montezuma was even more sorrowful than before 
because Cortes told him that he would have to come 
with us before the Emperor ; he said that he would 
send the carpenters, and that they should hurry and 
not wate time in talk, but work, and that meanwhile 
he would command the priests and captains not to 
ferment disturbances in the city and he would order 
Huichilobos to be appeased with sacrifices, but not 
of human lives. After this exciting conversation 
Cortes and his captains took leave of Montezuma, 
and we were all in the greatest anxiety wondering 
when they would begin the attack. 

Then Cortes ordered Martin Lopez, the ship 
carpenter, to be summoned and Andres Nunez, and 
the Indian carpenters whom the Great Montezuma 
had given him and after some discussion as to the size 
of the three vessels to be built he ordered him at once 



to set about the work and to get them ready, for in 
Villa Rica there was everything necessary in the way 
of iron and blacksmiths, tackle, tow, and calkers and 
pitch. So they set out and cut the wood on the coai 
near Villa Rica, and in hate began to build ships. 

Let us leave him building the ships and say how 
we all went about in that city very much depressed, 
fearing that at any moment they might attack us ; 
and our friends from Tlaxcala and Dona Marina also 
told the captain that an attack was probable, and 
Orteguilla, Montezuma's page, was always in tears. 
We all kept on the alert and placed a Strong Guard 
over Montezuma, and we slept shod and armed and 
with all our weapons to hand, and our horses tood 
saddled and bridled all day long. There is another 
thing I muft say, but not with the intention of boating 
about it, that I grew so accustomed to go about armed, 
and to sleep in the way I have said, that after the 
conqueft of New Spain I kept to the habit of sleeping 
in my clothes and without a bed, and I slept thus 
better than on a mattress. 





WE muSt now go a little way back in our Story so that 
what I am about to relate may be clearly understood. 
Diego Velasquez, the Governor of Cuba, knew that 
we had sent our Prodtors to His MajeSty, with all 
the gold that we had obtained, and that we were 
not asking his assistance about anything. He also 
knew that Don Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, Bishop 
of Burgos and President of the Indies, had everything 
absolutely under his authority, because His Majesty 
was in Flanders, and that the Bishop had treated our 
Proftors very badly. They say that the Bishop 
advised Diego Velasquez to have us captured, and 
that he, from Spain, would afford him full support 
for so doing. So Diego Velasquez got together a fleet 
of nineteen ships and fourteen hundred soldiers, and 
they brought with them over twenty cannon and much 
powder and all sorts of Stores of Stones and balls, 
and two gunners, eighty horsemen and ninety cross- 
bowmen and seventy musketeers. Diego Velasquez, 
although he was very fat and heavy, himself went 
about from village to village, and from town to town, 

Erovisioning the fleet and inviting the settlers who had 
ndians, as well as his relations and friends, to go with 
Panfilo Narvaez to capture Cortes and us his Captains 
and soldiers, or at leaSt not to leave any of us alive, 
and he went about so incensed and angry and with 



such energy, that he got as far as Guaniguanico which 
is seventy leagues beyond Havana. It seems that 
when the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo got 
to hear of it, they decided to send a Licentiate named 
Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, who was Oidor of this same 
Royal Audiencia, to ftop this fleet of Diego Velasquez 
and not to let it sail, under pain of heavy penalties, 
but all the injunctions and penalties that the Oidor 
proclaimed were of no avail, and when the Oidor saw 
this he himself accompanied Narvaez so as to keep 
the peace and to promote agreement between Cortes 
and Narvaez, 

As Panfilo de Narvaez came across the sea with all 
his fleet of nineteen ships, it appears that on nearing 
the Sierra of San Martin, he was Struck by a north 
wind, which is a head wind on that coaft, and during 
the night he loft one ship of small burden which 
foundered ; her Captain and a number of other 
persons were drowned. All the reft of the fleet arrived 
at San Juan de Uliia. 

When the arrival of this great fleet came to the ears 
of those soldiers whom Cortes had sent to look for 
mines, these three men came to the ships of Narvaez. 
When they found themselves safe on board ship and 
in Narvaez's Company, it is said that they raised their 
hands to God who had delivered them from the power 
of Cortes and got them out of the great City of 
Mexico where every day they expected to be killed. 
When they had eaten with Narvaez and drunk wine, 
and were satiated with too much drink, they kept 
saying to one another before the General himself : 
" See here, is it not better to be here drinking wine 
than to be unhappy in the power of Cortes who made 
such slaves of us night and day that we hardly dared 
to speak, expefting from day to day to meet death 
ftaring us in the face." And one of them named 
Cervantes, who was a buffoon, even said by way of 



pleasantry : " Oh, Narvaez, Narvaez, how fortunate 
you are to have come at this time, for this traitor of a 
Cortes has got together more than seven hundred 
thousand dollars of gold, and all the soldiers are very 
discontented with him because he has taken a great 
part of their share of the gold, and they do not want 
to accept what he is giving them." So those soldiers 
who had deserted from us as they were mean and 
worthless, told Narvaez much more that he wanted 
to know. They also informed him that eight leagues 
distant from where he was, a town had been founded 
named Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz and that Gonzalo 
de Sandoval was in command of it with seventy 
soldiers, all of them old and invalid, and that if he 
should send some fighting men there at once, they 
would surrender to him, and they told him many other 

Now the great Montezuma soon got to know that 
there were ships anchored in the port with many 
captains and soldiers on board, and he secretly sent 
some of his chiefs, without Cortes knowing anything 
about it, and ordered the Spaniards in the ships to be 
given food, gold and cloth, and the neighbouring 
villages were told to furnish them with supplies of food. 
Narvaez sent to tell Montezuma many abusive and 
many uncivil things about Cortes and all of us, such 
as that we were bad men and thieves who had fled from 
Caftile without the permission of our Lord and King, 
and that when our Lord the King had heard that 
we were in this country, and knew about the evil deeds 
and robberies we had committed and that we had taken 
Montezuma prisoner, he had ordered Narvaez to 
set out at once with all these ships and soldiers and 
horses, to put an end to such evils and to free him 
[Montezuma] from his prison, and either to kill 
Cortes and all of us evil-doers, or to capture us and send 
us back to Spain in these same ships, and that when 


we arrived there we should be condemned to death ; 
and he sent to tell him much more nonsense. The 
interpreters who explained all this to the Indians 
were the three soldiers who already understood the 
language. In addition to these messages, Narvaez 
also sent some gifts of things from Spain. 

When Montezuma heard all this he was very well 
satisfied with the news, for he believed that they would 
take us prisoners. In addition to this when his chieftains 
saw our three soldiers with Narvaez and perceived 
that they said much evil of Cortes, they accepted as 
the truth all that Narvaez had told them to say. They 
brought with them a pifture of the fleet painted quite 
correctly on some cloths. Then Montezuma sent Narvaez 
much more gold and cloths and ordered all the towns 
in his neighbourhood to take them plenty to eat, 
and for three days Montezuma was in possession of 
this news and Cortes knew nothing at all. 

One day when our Captain went to see Montezuma 
and to pay him court, after the usual civilities had 
passed between them, it seemed to Captain Cortes 
that Montezuma was looking very cheerful and 
happy, and he asked him how he felt, and Montezuma 
replied that he was better. When Montezuma saw 
that he came to visit him twice in one day, he was 
afraid that Cortes knew about the ships, and so as to 
get ahead of him and to avoid suspicion, he said to 
him : " Senor Malinche, only jut now messengers 
have come to tell me that at the port where you 
landed there have arrived eighteen more ships and 
many people and horses, and they have brought it all 
to me painted on some cloths, and as you came twice 
to visit me to-day I thought that you mut have come 
to bring me this news ; now you will have no need 
to build ships. Because you did not tell me about 
it, on the one hand I was annoyed with you for keeping 
me in ignorance, and on the other hand I was delighted 



at the arrival of your brothers, for now you can all 
return to Spain and there need be no further excuse/' 
When Cortes heard about the ships and saw the 
pifhire on the cloth, he rejoiced greatly and said : 
** Thank God ! who at the right moment provides 
for us," and we soldiers were so delighted that we 
could not keep quiet, and the horsemen rode skirmish- 
ing round about and we fired off shots. But Cortes 
was very thoughtful, for he well underwood that that 
fleet was sent by Diego Velasquez the Governor of 
Cuba against him and again^l all of us, and, wise man 
as he was, he said what he felt about it to all of us 
captains and soldiers, and by great gifts of gold to us, 
and promises to make us rich, he induced us all to 
&and by him. He did not know who had come in 
command of the fleet, but we were greatly rejoiced 
at the news, and at the gold that Cortes had given us 
by the way of gratuity, as if he had taken it from his 
own property and not from that which should have 
been our share. 


As those three scoundrelly soldiers of ours had gone 
over to Narvaez, and had given him news of all the 
things that Cortes and all of us had done since we 
entered New Spain, and had told him that Captain 
Gonzalo de Sandoval was about eight leagues distant 
at Vera Cruz, and that he had with him seventy settlers 
nearly all of them old or invalids, Narvaez determined 
to send to the town a priet named Guevara, who had 
good address, and another man of considerable 
importance named Amaya, a relation of Diego 
Velasquez of Cuba, and a notary named Vergara, and 
three witnesses whose names I do not remember. 



He sent them to give notice to Sandoval to surrender 
at once to Narvaez, and for this purpose they said 
that they brought copies of the decrees. It is said 
that Gonzalo de Sandoval had already received news 
from some Indians about the ships and the great 
number of persons that had come in them, and as he 
was very much of a man, he always had everything in 
readiness and his soldiers armed, and as he suspefted 
that that fleet came from Diego Velasquez and that 
some of the crew would be sent to that town to take 
possession of it, and so as not to be hampered by his 
old and invalid soldiers, he sent them off at once to 
an Indian town named Papalote, and kept with himself 
the healthy ones. 

Sandoval called his soldiers together and impressed 
on them that if Diego Velasquez or any one else should 
come, they mut not surrender the town to him, and 
all the soldiers answered that they would do as he 
wished ; he furthermore ordered a gallows to be set 
up on a hill. The spies whom he had ported on the 
road hurried in to give him notice that six Spaniards 
and some Cuban Indians were approaching the town, 
and Sandoval awaited them in his house, for he would 
not go out to receive them, and he had already ordered 
that none of his soldiers should leave their houses or 
speak to them. When the priest and those whom he 
had brought in his company met with no Spanish 
settlers to speak to but only Indians who were working 
at the fort and did not understand them, they entered 
the town, and went to the church to say their prayers, 
and then went to the house of Sandoval, as it seemed 
to them to be the largest in the place. After giving 
Sandoval a friendly salutation to which he replied, 
they say that the priest commenced a speech saying 
that Diego Velasquez, the Governor of Cuba, had 
spent much money on the fleet, and that Cortes and 
all the others whom he had brought in his company 



had been traitors to him, and that they had come to 
give notice that they mut go at once and give their 
obedience to Senor Panfilo de Narvaez who came as 
Captain General on behalf of Diego Velasquez. When 
Sandoval heard these words and the rudeness with 
which the Padre Guevara spoke, he was biting his 
lips with annoyance at what he heard, and said : 
" Senor Padre, you are speaking very maliciously, in 
using these words about traitors we are here all 
better servants of His Majesty than Diego Velasquez 
but that you are a priefc I would chastise you as you 
deserve for your bad manners. Be off with you and 
go to Mexico, where you will find Cortes who is 
Captain General and Chief Justice of this New Spain, 
.and he will give you your answer, here you need say 
no more." 

Then the priest in a blustering way told the notary 
named Vergara whom he had brought with him, to 
take out at once the decrees that he carried in his 
bosom to notify Sandoval and the settlers who were 
with him, but Sandoval told the notary that he should 
not read a single paper, that he did not care whether 
they were decrees or any other documents. While 
they were disputing, the notary began to take out from 
his bosom the documents he had brought, and San- 
doval said to him : " Look here, Vergara, I have 
already told you not to read any papers here, but to 
go to Mexico, and I promise you that if you do read 
them I will have you given a hundred lashes, for we 
do not know whether you are a king's notary or not ; 
show us your title, and if you have got that, read it ; 
nor do we know if these decrees are the originals or 
copies or other documents." The prie& who was a 
very haughty man, exclaimed : " How are you 
dealing with these traitors ? Bring out the decrees 
and notify them," and he said this with much anger. 
When Sandoval heard that expression he told him 



that he lied like a vile prieft, and at once ordered his 
soldiers to take them all prisoners to Mexico. He 
had hardly uttered the words when a number of the 
Indians who were at work at the fort, snatched them 
up in net hammocks like sinful souls, and carried 
them off on their backs, and in four days arrived with 
them close to Mexico, for they travelled day and night 
with relays of Indians. They were indeed frightened 
when they saw so many cities and large towns, and 
food was brought to them, and one party dropped them 
and another carried them on their way, and it is said 
that they were wondering whether it was all witchcraft 
or a dream. 

Sandoval wrote in hate to Cortes to tell him who 
was Captain of the fleet, and all that had happened. 
As soon as Cortes knew that the prisoners were close 
to Mexico, he sent out horses for the three principal 
persons and ordeied them at once to be released from 
their confinement and wrote to them that he regretted 
that Sandoval should have treated them so disrespeft- 
fully, as he would have wished him to do them much 
honour, and when they arrived at Mexico he went 
out to meet them, and brought them very honourably 
into the city. When the prie& and his companions 
saw how great a city was Mexico and the wealth of 
gold that we possessed, and the many other cities 
in the waters of the lake, and all us captains and 
soldiers, and the frank open-heartedness of Cortes, 
they were amazed, and by the end of the two days 
they flayed with us, Cortes had talked to them in such 
a way with promises and flattery and even by greasing 
their palms with little ingots and jewels of gold, that 
when he sent them back to their Narvaez with food 
for the road, although they had set out as fierce lions, 
they returned thoroughly tamed, and offered them- 
selves to Cortes as his servants. So when they returned 
.to Cempoala to report to their Captain, they began 



to persuade all the camp of Narvaez to come over to 
our side. 


As Cortes always exercised great care and forethought 
and no matter escaped him that he did not try and put 
right, and as I have often said before, he had truSt- 
worthy and good captains and soldiers who, besides 
being very valiant, gave him good advice, it was 
agreed to by all of us that he should at once write 
and send the letters by Indians pot haSte to Narvaez, 
before the priest Guevara could arrive, and should 
tell Narvaez with friendly expressions and promises 
which we one and all made him, that we would do 
what his honour should command but that we begged 
him as a favour not to create a disturbance in the land, 
or to allow the Indians to see any division among us. 
This promise was made because we who formed the 
party of Cortes were only a few soldiers in comparison 
with those whom Narvaez had brought, and in order 
to gain his good will, and to see how he would aft. 
So we offered ourselves as his servants, while at the 
same time, beneath all these good words, we did not 
negleft any chances to look for friends among the 
Captains of Narvaez 3 for the Padre Guevara and the 
Notary Vergara had told Cortes that Narvaez was not 
much liked by his captains, and advised us to send 
them some slabs and chains of gold, for "gifts break 
rocks ", Cortes wrote to them that he and all his 
companions were rejoiced at their arrival at the port, 
and, as they were old friends, he begged Narvaez to 
do nothing towards the release of Montezuma who 
was a prisoner, or to cause a rising in the city, for it 
would involve the destruction of himself and his men 
as well as all our lives on account of the great power 
that Montezuma wielded ; that he Slated this because 



Montezuma was very much excited and all the city 
was in revolt on account of the messages that had been' 
sent to him. That he (Cortes) thought and felt certain 
that things expressed in such a way and at such a 
time could never have come from the mouth of such 
a wise and valiant man as Narvaez, but were such 
things as Cervantes the jester and the soldiers he had 
with him might say. Beside other words that were 
written in this letter, he placed his person and his 
property at the disposal of Narvaez, and said that he 
would do whatever Narvaez might command. 

Cortes also wrote to the Secretary, Andres de Duero, 
and to the Oidor, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, and he 
secretly ordered the Oidor to be given ingots and chains 
of gold. Then he begged the Padre de la Merced to 
follow the letters to the camp of Narvaez without 
delay, and he gave him more golden chains and ingots 
and some very valuable jewels to give to his friends 
there. So the firt letter which Cortes wrote and sent 
by the Indians arrived before the Padre Guevara, and 
Narvaez went about showing it to his Captains and 
jeering at it and even at us. It is said that one of the 
Captains whom Narvaez had brought with him, named 
Salvatierra, who had come as Veedor, raised a clamour 
when he heard it, reproving Narvaez for reading such 
a letter from a traitor like Cortes, and saying that he 
ought to proceed againsT: us at once, and not leave one 
of us alive, and he swore that he would roal Cortes' 
ears and eat one of them, and other such ribaldry. 
So Narvaez would not answer the letter, nor consider 
us worth a snap of the fingers. 

]uk at that time the priest Guevara and his com- 
panions arrived in camp, and told Narvaez that Cortes 
was a very excellent gentleman and a faithful servant 
of the King, and he told him of the great power of 
Mexico and of the many cities he had seen on the 
way, and that they underwood that Cortes wished to 



serve him, and do all that he ordered, and it would be 
a good thing, if, peaceably and without disturbance, 
an agreement should be come to between them : 
he added that Senor Narvaez should consider that 
all New Spain lay before him and he could take the 
people he had brought with him wherever he chose, 
and leave the other provinces to Cortes, for there were 
territories and to spare where one might settle. When 
Narvaez heard this, they say that he was so angry with 
Padre Guevara and Amaya that he would not see or 
listen to them again. When the people in the camp 
saw the Padre Guevara and the Notary Vergara and 
the others so greatly enriched, and the followers of 
Narvaez heard from them secretly so much good of 
Cortes and of all of us, and how they had seen such 
quantities of gold Staked at play in our camp, many of 
them wished that they were already there. Jut about 
this time our Padre de la Merced arrived at Narvaez's 
camp, with the ingots of gold which Cortes had given 
him and the private letters, and he went to kiss hands 
to Narvaez, and to tell him how Cortes wished for 
peace and friendship and was ready to obey his 
orders. But Narvaez who was very obstinate, and felt 
very aggressive, would not listen to him, and chose 
to say before the Padre himself, that Cortes and all 
of us were traitors, and because the Friar replied that 
on the contrary we were very loyal subjefts of the 
King, Narvaez used abusive language to him. 

Then the Friar very secretly distributed the ingots 
and chains of gold to those whom Cortes had named, 
and he got together and won over the chief persons 
in Narvaez's camp. 


IT appears that the Oidor Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon 
came in order to favour the cause of Cortes, and all of 



us, according to his instruction from the Royal 
Audiencia of Santo Domingo, who were aware of 
the many good and loyal services which we had done 
to God, and to our Lord the King. Moreover, in 
addition to what the Royal Audiencia had ordered 
him to do in his official capacity, the Oidor had now 
seen the letters from Cortes, and with them the blocks 
of gold ; and whereas he had said previously that 
the despatch of the fleet was contrary to all right and 
justice, from this time forward he spoke so much more 
clearly and openly, and said so much good of Cortes 
and of all of those who were with him, that in the 
camp of Narvaez nothing else was talked about. 

In addition to this it was seen that in Narvaez there 
was nothing but the utmost Stinginess, for he took 
for himself all the gold and cloths which Montezuma 
had sent them and did not give a scrap of it either to 
a captain or a soldier, on the contrary he said very 
loudly to his Steward, with a haughty voice, " See to 
it that not a mantle be missing, for they have all been 
noted down." 

As they knew him to be so mean, and heard what I 
have already said about Cortes, and how we who were 
with him were very generous, his entire camp was- 
more than half mutinous. Narvaez thought that 
the Oidor was at the bottom of it, and was sowing 
discord. Beside this, when Montezuma sent them 
food which the caterer or Steward of Narvaez dis- 
tributed, he did it without paying the attention to 
the Oidor or his servants that he should have done, 
and there was some irritation and uproar about it 
in the camp. Then owing to the advice given him by 
Salvatierra, and others, and above all trusting in the 
great support that he had received from the Bishop 
of Burgos, Narvaez had the daring to seize the King's 
Oidor and some of his servants and his clerk, and put 
them on board ship and send them as prisoners to 



Spain, or to the Island of Cuba. Also, because a 
gentleman, named Oblanca, a learned man, said that 
Cortes was a very good servant of the King, and it 
seemed to him wrong to call us traitors, Narvaez 
ordered him to be imprisoned. As Gonzalo de Oblanca 
was a very high-bred nobleman, he fretted himself 
to death within four days. Narvaez also made prisoners 
of two other soldiers whom he had brought in his 
ship who knew and spoke well of Cortes. 

The Oidor, whom they were carrying as a prisoner 
to Castile, spoke kindly to the Captain and pilot 
and master who had charge of him on board the ship, 
but at the same time he frightened them by saying 
-that when they arrived in Spain, that instead of 
paying them for what they had done, His Majesty 
would order them to be hanged. When they heard 
these words they told him that if he would pay them 
for their trouble they would take him to Santo Domingo 
and so they changed their course from what Narvaez 
had ordered and arrived and disembarked at the 
Island of Santo Domingo. When the Royal Audiencia 
heard the tory of the Licentiate Lucas Vasquez de 
Ayllon, and took into consideration the great dis- 
respedl and effrontery that had been shown they felt 
it deeply, and were so much annoyed that they at 
once wrote to Ca&ile to His Majesty's Royal Council. 

Then certain soldiers, friends and relations of the 
Oidor Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, seeing that Narvaez 
had committed that great disrespeft and irregularity 
against an Oidor of His Maje&y, agreed to flee from 
the sand dunes to the town where Captain Sandoval 
was Rationed, Sandoval treated them with much 
honour, and learnt from them all that I have here 

As soon as Narvaez had sent away the Oidor as a 
prisoner, he at once proceeded with all his baggage 
and supplies and munitions of war to form a camp in 


the town of Cempoala which at that time had a large 
population, and the firt thing that he did was to take 
by force from the fat Cacique all the mantles and 
cloths and gold which Cortes had given into his 
charge before we left for Tlaxcala, and he also took 
the Indian women whom the Caciques of that town had 
given us, who had been left in the houses of their 
parents because they were daughters of chieftains, 
and too delicate to go to the war. When he did this 
the fat Cacique said many times to Narvaez that he 
muft not touch any of the things that Cortes had left 
in his charge for if Cortes knew that anything had 
been taken he would kill him for it. He also complained 
to Narvaez himself of the many evil deeds and robberies 
that his people committed in the town, and told him 
that when Malinche was there with his people, they 
had not taken a single thing from them, and that he 
was very good and juft, and that Narvaez should at 
once give him back his Indian women, and gold and 
mantles, for if he did not, he would send and complain 
to Malinche. When they heard that, they made fun 
of what he said, and the Veedor, Salvatierra, who was 
the one who boasted mol, said to his friends and to 
Narvaez himself : " Don't you hear what a fright all 
these Caciques are in of this nonentity of a Cortes/' 

Let us go on and say that Cortes promptly took 
counsel with our Captains and all of us whom he knew 
to be his faithful followers, and whom he was 
accustomed to call in council in such important 
affairs as this. And it was decided by us all, that at 
once, without waiting for any more letters or other 
information, we should fall upon Narvaez and that 
Pedro de Alvarado should remain in Mexico to take 
charge of Montezuma with all the soldiers who were 
not inclined to go on that expedition, so that all those 
persons whom we suspected of being friends of Diego 
Velasquez could be left behind. 



Jut about that time, Cortes had sent to TIaxcala 
for a large supply of maize, for there had been a bad 
seed time in the Mexican territory from want of 
rain, and we were in want of maize, for as we had 
with us many of our Tlaxcalan friends, there was 
great need of it. So they brought the maize and fowls 
and other food and we left it with Pedro de Alvarado, 
and we even made some barricades and fortifications 
for him and mounted some bronze cannon, and we 
left with him all the powder we possessed and fourteen 
musketeers, eight crossbowmen and five horses, and 
we left with him in all eighty soldiers* 


WHEN as usual Cortes and the great Montezuma 
were conversing, Montezuma said to Cortes: " Senor 
Malinche, I noticed that all your captains and soldiers 
are agitated, and I have also observed that you only 
come to see me now and then, and Orteguilla the page 
tells me that you intend to go against those, your 
brothers, who have come in the ships, and to leave 
Tonatio here to guard me ; do me the favour to tell 
me if there is anything I can do to assist you, for I will 
do it with the greatest good will Moreover, Senor 
Malinche, I do not wish any calamity to befall you, 
for you have very few Teules with you, and those who 
have now come are five times as numerous, and they 
say that they are Chri&ians like yourselves, and vassals 
and subjefts of your Emperor, and they possess 
images and set up crosses and say Mass and say and 
announce that you are persons who have fled from 
your King, and that they have come to capture and 



kill you. I do not understand it at all, so take care 
what you are doing." 

Cortes answered with a pretence of lighthearted- 
ness, and said through Dona Marina, who was always 
with him during all these conversations, that she 
should inform him that if he had not come to tell 
him all about it, it was because he loved him very 
much and did not wish to grieve him by our departure, 
and this was why he had postponed telling him, for 
he felt certain that Montezuma was well disposed 
towards him. That regarding what he said as to all 
of us being vassals of our great Emperor, it was true, 
also that they were Christians as we were, but as to 
what they said about our fleeing from our Lord the 
King, that it was not so, for our King had sent us to 
see him and tell him all that had been said and done 
in his royal name. As for what he said about their 
bringing many soldiers and ninety horses and many 
cannon and powder, and our being few in number,, 
and that they had come to kill us and take us prisoners,, 
that Our Lord Jesus ChriSt in whom we believe, and 
our Lady Santa Maria, his blessed Mother, would 
give more Strength to us than to them, for they were 
bad people and had come with a bad purpose. As our 
Emperor ruled over many kingdoms and princi- 
palities, there were great differences of race among 
them, some very valiant, and others even much more 
so. We came from CaStile itself, which is called Old 
CaStile, and we called ourselves CaStilians, and the 
Captain who was now at Cempoala and the people 
he had brought with him came from another province, 
named Biscaya and called themselves Biscayans, and 
spoke like the Otomis of this land of Mexico, and he 
would see how we would bring them as prisoners. 
He need have no anxiety about our departure, for 
we would soon return victorious, and what he now 
begged of him was to Slay quietly with his brother 
Tonatio and eighty soldiers. And, so that there should 



be no disturbance after we left the city, he mu& not 
countenance his captains and priests in doing any- 
thing for which, as soon as we returned, the rebellious 
ones would have to pay with their lives, and he begged 
him to provide our people with anything they might 
need in the way of food. Then Cortes embraced 
Montezuma twice, and Montezuma also embraced 
Cortes, and Dona Marina, who was very sagacious, 
said to him artfully that he was pretending sadness 
at our departure. Then Montezuma offered to do 
all that Cortes had asked him, and even promised 
that he would send five thousand warriors to our 
assi&ance, Cortes thanked him for it, but he well 
knew that he would not send them, and said that he 
needed no more than firt of all the help of God, and 
then that of his companions. 

Then Cortes spoke to Alvarado and all the soldiers 
who were remaining with him, and he charged them 
to take the greatest care that the great Montezuma 
did not escape, and to obey Pedro de Alvarado, and 
he promised with the help of our Lord God, to make 
them all rich men. The Prieft, Juan Diaz, also 
remained behind with them, as did also other suspefted 
persons. Then we embraced one another and without 
taking any Indian women or any servants with us, 
and marching in light order, we set out on our journey 
for Cholula. 

While on the road Cort6s sent to TIaxcala to beg 
our friends Xicotenga and Mase Escasi, to send us at 
once five thousand warriors, and they sent to say in 
reply that if It were against Indians like themselves 
they would do so, and even much more, but against 
Teules like us, and against lombards, and crossbows, 
they had no wish to fight. However they sent us 
twenty loads of fowls. Cortes also wrote to Sandoval 
that he should join us with all his soldiers as 
quickly as possible and that we were going to some 



towns about twelve leagues from Cempoala named 
Tanpaniguita and Mitlanguita. 

Then as our scouts were marching on the look 
out, they saw Alonzo de Mata approaching, who 
said that he was a Notary, and was coming to serve 
the papers or copies of the decrees, and four Spaniards 
who came with him as witnesses. Two of our horse- 
men at once came to give notice, while the other 
scouts entered into conversation with Alonzo de 
Mata and his four witnesses. We hurried up and 
quickened our fteps, and when they came near to us, 
they made deep bows to Cort6s and to all of us, and 
Cortes dismounted from his horse, and as he knew 
why they came and that Alonzo de Mata wished to 
serve the decrees that he had brought, Cortes asked 
him if he was a King's Notary, and he replied yes ; 
then he ordered him at once to exhibit his title, and 
if he had brought it that he should read the messages, 
and he [Cortes] would do what he should consider 
would be to the service of God and of His Majesty. 
That if he had not brought his title he should not read 
those documents, also that he ["Cortes] mut see the 
originals of the documents signed by His Majesty. 
So Mata, who was somewhat confused and timid, 
for he was not a King's Notary, and those who had 
come with him, did not know what to say. Cortes 
ordered them to be given food, for we were making 
a halt there, and he told them that we were going to 
some towns named Tanpaniguita near to the camp 
of Senor Narvaez, and that there he would be able to 
proclaim what his Captain might direft. Cortes 
was so tolerant that he never said a hard word about 
Narvaez, and he spoke privately with them and took 
their hands and gave them some gold, and soon after- 
wards they went back to their Narvaez, speaking well 
of Cortes and of all of us. As many of our soldiers at 
that time, out of orientation, had jewels of gold on 



their arms and golden chains and collars round their 
necks, and these men who came to serve the decrees 
saw them, they told wonderful Glories of us in Cem- 
poala, and there were many of the principal people in 
the camp of Narvaez who wanted to come and make 
peace, and negotiate with Cortes, because they saw 
that we were all rich. So we arrived at Tanpaniguita, 
and the next day Captain Sandoval came with his 
soldiers numbering about sixty, for he had left behind 
all the old men and the invalids in a town named 
Papalote belonging to our Indian allies, so that 
they could be provided with food. There also came 
with him the five soldiers who were friends and 
relations of the Licentiate, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, 
who had fled from the camp of Narvaez, and came to 
kiss hands to Cortes, by whom they were all very well 
and gladly received. 

Sandoval told Cortes that he had sent two soldiers 
disguised as Indians with Indians* clothes, to the camp 
of Narvaez, and Sandoval said that as they were dark- 
complexioned men they did not look like Spaniards, 
but like real Indians, and each one carried a load of 
plums on his back, for this was the plum season (this 
happened when Narvaez was Still at the sand dunes, 
and before they had moved to the town of Cempoala), 
and they went to the hut of the fierce Salvatierra, who 
gave them a String of yellow beads for the plums, and 
when they had sold the plums, Salvatierra, believing 
them to be Indians, sent them to bring grass for his 
horse from the banks of a Stream that ran near by the 
ranches. So they went and brought several loads of 
grass, and, as it was about the hour of Ave Maria 
when they returned with the grass, they squatted 
down on their heels like Indians in the hut until 
night fell, and they kept their eyes and ears open to 
what some of the soldiers of Narvaez were saying who 
had come to pay their respefts to and keep company 



with Salvatierra. They reported that Salvatierra said 
to them : " Ah ! at what a lucky moment we have 
come, for this traitor Cortes has collected more than 
seven hundred thousand dollars of gold, so we shall 
all be rich, and his captains and soldiers whom he has 
with him can hardly be less rich for they possess much 
gold ! " and they went on with their conversation. 
When it was quite dark our two soldiers silently 
crept out of the hut to where Salvatierra kept his 
horse, and as the bridle and saddle were close by, they 
saddled and bridled the animal and jumped on its 
back and rode off towards the town, and on the way 
they came upon another horse hobbled near the 
Stream, and they took that also. 

Cortes asked Sandoval where these horses were, 
and he replied that he had left them at the town of 
Papalote where he had placed the invalids, for the 
road by which he and his companions had come was 
impassable by horses, for it was very rough and crossed 
high mountains, and he had come that way so as not 
to fall in with any of the soldiers of Narvaez. When 
Cortes heard of the capture of Salvatierra's horse he 
was perfectly delighted, and said, " Now he will 
brag all the more since he finds it missing." 

When Salvatierra woke up to find that the two 
Indians who had brought the plums for sale were 
missing, and could not find his horse or his saddle 
or his bridle, he said things that raised a laugh at 
his expense, for he soon found out that they were 
some of Cortes' Spaniards who had carried off his 
horse ; and from that time on they kept watch. 


As we had now all got together in that town, we 
agreed that another letter should be written to Narvaez 
to be carried by the Padre de la Merced, which, after 



an expression of respeft and the utmost politeness, 
was more or less to the following effeft : That we 
had rejoiced at his arrival and had believed that with 
his magnanimous chara&er we should do great 
service to our Lord God and to his Majesty, but that 
he had replied to us nothing whatever ; on the other 
hand he had called us who were loyal servants of 
His Majesty, traitors ! and had Stirred up trouble 
throughout the land by the messages he had sent 
to Montezuma ; that Cortes had sent to beg him to 
choose whatever province he might prefer wherein to 
settle with his people, or that he should advance, 
and we would go to other territory and would under- 
take what it was the duty of faithful servants of His 
Majesty to accomplish ; we had also begged as a 
favour that if he had brought any decrees from His 
Majesty that he would send the originals to us, so 
that we might examine them to see whether they had 
the royal signature and what orders they contained, 
so that with our breasts bowing before them on the 
ground, we might at once obey them. However, he 
would do neither one thing nor the other, but merely 
used abusive language to us and ftirred up the country 
against us ; that we begged and entreated him to 
send within three days and proclaim through His 
Maje&y's Notary the Decrees he had brought, and 
we would obey ; that if he had not brought the 
Decrees and wished to return to Cuba, he had better 
return and not disturb the country any more with 
threats, for if he made any more trouble, we would 
come against him and arreft him, and send him a 
prisoner to our Lord the King, because without the 
royal permission he had come to make war on us and 
disturb all the cities, and all the evils and deaths and 
burnings and losses that might thereon happen would 
be on his responsibility and not on ours ; that he 
[Cortes] wrote and sent this letter now by hand, for 

369 Bb 


no King's Notary dared to go to Narvaez to proclaim 
it for fear of being treated with as great disrespeft 
as that with which Narvaez had treated the Oidor of 
His Majesty ; where was there ever seen such audacity 
as to send him away a prisoner ? In addition to what 
he had already said, he [Cortes] felt bound in duty to 
the honour and justice of our King, to punish that 
great disrespeft and crime, and as Captain General 
and Chief Justice of New Spain which offices he held, 
he summoned and cited him on this charge and 
accused him, as in justice bound, for the crime in 
which he was involved was that of" laesio Majebatis ", 
and that he called God to witness what he now said. 
Cortes also sent to tell Narvaez that he mut at once 
return to the fat Cacique the mantles and cloth and 
jewels of gold which he had taken from him by force, 
and also the daughters of the chieftains who had been 
given to us by their parents, and that he mub order 
his soldiers not to rob the Indians of that town nor of 
any other. After the usual expressions of courtesy, 
Cortes placed his signature, as did our Captains and 
some of the soldiers and I added mine. There accom- 
panied the Friar a soldier named Bartolome de Usagre, 
because he was a brother of the artilleryman Usagre 
who had charge of the artillery of Narvaez. 

I will not wate further words on repeating how the 
Fraile de la Merced reached the Camp of Narvaez, 
for he did what Cortes ordered, which was to call 
together certain gentlemen followers of Narvaez, and 
the gunners Rodrigo Martin and Usagre. So as to 
be sure of attracting Usagre, his brother carried some 
gold ingots which he secretly gave to him. In the 
same manner the Friar distributed the gold as Cortes 
had commanded him, and told Andres de Duero to 
come to our camp soon to meet Cortes. In addition 
to this the Friar went to see Narvaez, and speak to 
him and pretend to be his mot humble servant. 



While this was going on the partisans of Narvaez 
were very suspicious of what our Friar was about 
and advised Narvaez to seize him at once, and this 
he was willing to do. When Andres de Duero heard 
of it he went to Narvaez and said to him that he had 
been told that he wished to arrest the Fraile de la 
Merced who was the messenger and Ambassador from 
Cortes, and although some suspicions might be 
entertained that the Friar was saying things In favour 
of Cortes, It would not be wise to arrest him, for it 
had been clearly shown what great honours and gifts 
Cortes bellowed on all the adherents of Narvaez who 
went to visit him ; that the Friar had spoken to him 
[Andres de Duero] as soon as he had arrived and 
given him to understand his desire that he himself 
and other gentlemen from Cortes' camp should come 
to give Narvaez a reception, and that they should all 
be friends. Moreover, that it would be mean to arrest 
a cleric. It were better that Usagre the gunner whose 
brother had come to visit him should invite the Friar 
to dinner and find out from him what it was that all 
the followers of Cortes desired. With those and 
other palatable speeches Andres de Duero calmed 
Narvaez, and when this had come to pass he took 
leave of him and secretly told the prieft what had 
taken place. 

Narvaez sent at once to summon the Friar, and 
when he came he showed him great respe&, and the 
Friar half laughing, for he was very sly and sagacious, 
begged him to come aside with him in privacy, and 
Narvaez went trolling with him in a courtyard, and 
the Friar said to him : " I know well that your Honour 
wished to have me arrested but I wish you to know, 
Sir, that you have no better or more devoted servant 
In the camp than I am, and you may feel sure that 
many gentlemen and captains among the followers of 
Cortes would be glad to see him already in your hands, 


and I think that we shall all see him there ; and so 
as more surely to bring about his undoing they have 
made him write a nonsensical letter which was signed 
by the soldiers and was given to me to present to 
your Honour. I have not wished to show it until 
now, when we can chat together, and I longed to throw 
it in a river on account of the foolishness that it 
contains, and the soldiers and Captains of Cortes 
have done this so as to ensure his undoing." Narvaez 
said that ^ie letter should be given to him, and the 
Friar replied that he had left it at his lodging and that 
he would go for it, and so he took his leave and went 
for the letter. Meanwhile the blustering Salvatierra 
came to the quarters of Narvaez. 

The Friar quickly called Duero to go at once to 
the house of Narvaez for the presentation of the 
letter, for Duero and others among the captains who 
had shown themselves favourable to Cortes, knew all 
about it, as the Friar carried it about with him, but he 
desired that many persons from that camp should be 
assembled to hear it read. 

When the Friar arrived with the letter he at once 
gave it to Narvaez himself and said : " Do not be 
astonished at it. Sir, for Cortes talks as though out of 
his mind, but I know for certain that if your Honour 
will speak to him with affeftion he will promptly yield 
himself up with all his followers." 

The Captains and soldiers told Narvaez to read 
the letter. When they heard it, Narvaez and Salvatierra 
roared with anger, the others laughed as though 
making fun of it, and then Andres de Duero said ; 
" Now I do not see how this can be, and I do not 
understand it, for this Cleric has told me that Cortes 
and a : ll the reSt would yield to your Honour, and now 
he writes these ravings." Then one Augu&in 
Bermtidez, who was Captain and chief constable 
of the -Camp of Narvaez, ably helped Duero and said : 

37 2 


" I certainly learnt from this Friar of the Order of 
Mercy, in &rift privacy, that if we were to send good 
mediators that Cortes himself would come to visit 
your Honour in order to give himself up with his 
soldiers, and it will be a good thing to send to his camp, 
which is not far off, the Senor Veedor Salvatierra and 
the Senor Andres de Duero, and I will go with them " : 
this he said purposely to see what Salvatierra would 
say, Narvaez at once said that Andres de Duero and 
Salvatierra should go, but Salvatierra answered that 
he was indisposed, and that he would not go to see a 
traitor. The Friar said to him : " Senor Veedor, it 
is good to have moderation, for it is certain that you 
will have him a prisoner before many days/' 

As soon as the departure of Andres de Duero was 
agreed upon, it seems that, in &ri<5t secrecy, Narvaez 
planned with Duero himself and three other Captains, 
that he should arrange with Cortes for an interview 
at some farms and Indian houses, which &ood between 
the camp of Narvaez and ours, and that there an arrange- 
ment would be come to as to where we should go with 
Cortes to settle, and where boundaries should be 
drawn, and that during the interviews he [Narvaez] 
would arre& Cortes, and to this effeft Narvaez had 
already bespoken twenty soldiers who were his friends. 

The Friar knew about this at once, and so did 
Andres de Duero, and they informed Cortes qf 


LET us go back. As soon as Cortes heard news of the 
fleet that Narvaez was bringing he at once despatched 
a soldier to a province called the land of the Chinantecs, 
near to where our soldiers had flayed when they went 
to search for mines, for the people of that province 
were very hostile to the Mexicans and they had 



accepted our friendship a few days before. They 
used as arms very long lances, longer than ours 
from Caftile, with two fathoms of flint and bone 
knives, so he sent to beg them to bring him promptly 
three hundred of them, and to remove the knives, 
and, as they possessed much copper, to make for each 
one two metal points. The soldier took with him the 
model which the points should resemble, and they 
fashioned the points far more perfeftly than those we 
sent to order from them. He also commanded our 
soldier to demand of them two thousand warriors, and 
by the day of the feaft of Espiritu Santo to come with 
them to the town of Tanpaniguita, and that the two 
thousand men should bring lances. The Caciques 
said that they would come with the warriors, and the 
soldier soon came with a matter of two hundred 
Indians who carried the lances, and another of our 
soldiers remained behind to accompany the other 

The lances proved to be extremely good, and the 
soldier trained us and taught us how to handle them, 
and how we were to cope w!th the horsemen. When 
we had made our muster and the lit and record of 
all the soldiers and captains of our army, we found 
that there were two hundred and sixty-six including 
the drummer and fifer, and not counting the Friar. 
There were five horsemen and two small cannon, a few 
crossbowmen and fewer musketeers ; what we relied 
on for fighting with Narvaez was the lances, and they 
were very good as will be seen further on. 

I have already Plated that when we were in Santiago 
de Cuba, Cortes settled with Andres de Duero and 
with Amador de Lares that they should use their 
influence with Diego Velasquez to have [him] Cortes 
appointed Captain General to go with that fleet and, 
that he would divide with them all the gold, silver 
and jewels that might fall to his lot. As Andres de 



Duero saw that his partner Cortes was at this moment 
so rich and powerful, under pretext of making peace 
and adting in favour of Narvaez, he concealed his 
real intention, which was to claim his share in the 
partnership, for his other partner Amador de Lares 
was already dead. As Cortes was far-sighted and 
crafty he not only promised to give Andres de Duero 
great wealth, but also to give him a command over the 
whole force neither more nor less than he himself 
held, provided that he would induce Auguftin Ber- 
mudez, who was Chief Constable in the camp of 
Narvaez, and other gentlemen (whom I will not name 
here), to endeavour to lead Narvaez a&ray, so that 
he should not escape with his life or honour and should 
be defeated. 

The better to lure and bind Duero to what had 
been said, Cortes loaded his two Cuban Indians with 
gold, and it seems that Duero gave a promise to him. 
Cortes also sent many ingots and jewels of gold to 
Bermudez and to a prieft named Juan de Leon and 
the prieft Guevara. 

Andres de Duero flayed in our camp from the day 
of his arrival until after dinner the following day which 
was the fea& of Espiritu Santo, He dined with Cortes 
and conversed a while with him in private. When 
dinner was over, Duero took leave of all of us both 
Captains and soldiers and then, already on horse- 
back, he once more approached Cortes and said : 
" What are your orders, your honour ; I wish to 
depart." Cortes answered him : " God be with you, 
and look to it, Senor Andres de Duero, that what we 
have been talking about be well arranged, if not, 
by my conscience, (for it was thus Cortes swore,) before 
three days are passed I shall be there in your camp, 
and, if I find anything contrary to what we have agreed 
upon, your honour will be the firi to be pierced by 
my lance." 



Duero laughed and said : "I shall fail in nothing 
which concerns my service to your honour," and he 
set off at once, and when he arrived at his camp it is 
said that he told Narvaez that Cortes and all of us 
who were with him were very willing to go over to 
Narvaez himself. 

Let us &op talking about this Duero affair and I 
will relate how Cortes promptly sent to summon one 
of our Captains named Juan Velasquez de Leon. 
When he had come before Cortes and made his salute 
he said : " What are your orders, sir," and as Cortes 
at times spoke honeyed words with a smile on his 
lips, he said half laughingly : " What made me 
summon the Sefior Juan Velasquez is what Andres 
de Duero has reported, which is that Narvaez says, 
and such is the report throughout his camp, that if 
your honour should go there that I would be at 
once undone and defeated, for they believe that you 
would join with Narvaez, and for this reason I have 
resolved that, for the life of me, if you really love 
me, you shall go on your good gray mare, and take 
all your gold and the fanfarrona (which was a very 
heavy golden chain) and other trifles that I will 
give you, in order to give them in my name to whom- 
soever I may direft. Your heavy fanfarrona you shall 
carry over one shoulder, and another chain which 
weighs even more than it, you shall wear wound twice 
round, then you will see how Narvaez loves you. 
Try to come away again soon, for then the Senor 
Diego de Ordas may go there, whom they wish to 
see in Narvaez's camp as he has been a Mayor-domo 
of Diego Velasquez." 

Juan Velasquez answered that he would do what 
His Excellency commanded him,! but that he would 
not take his own gold and his chains with him, only 
such as might be given him with orders to hand over 
to certain persons, but, wherever he might be, he would 

37 6 


be at all times ready to render His Excellency such 
service as no amount of gold or diamonds could 
procure. " That was my belief/' said Cortes, tc and with 
this confidence in you, sir, I send you, but unless you 
take all your gold and jewels as I command, I do not 
wish you to go." Juan Velasquez replied : " Whatever 
your honour commands shall be done ", but he did 
not wish to take his jewels. Cortes spoke to him then 
in private and he at once set out and took with him 
one of Cortes' orderlies named Juan del Rio to 
attend on him. Within two hours of the departure 
of Juan Velasquez, Cortes ordered Canillas to beat 
the drum and Benito de Beger our fifer to sound his 
tambourine, and he ordered Gonzalo de Sandoval 
who was Captain and Chief Constable to summon 
all the soldiers, and we at once began our march in 
quick time along the road to Cempoala. While we 
were on the march two native swine were killed which 
have a scent gland on the back, and many of the 
soldiers said that it was a sign of victory, and we slept 
on a bank near a small Stream, with our scouts on ahead 
and spies and patrols. 

When dawn broke we went Straight along and 
marched until midday when we had a re by a river 
where the town of Villa Rica de Vera Cruz now Elands. 1 


JUAN VELASQUEZ made such speed on the road, that 

he reached Cempoala by dawn and dismounted at 

the house of the fat Cacique, and thence went afoot 

to the quarters of Narvaez. The Indians recognized 

Juan Velasquez and were delighted to see and speak 

to him and said aloud to some of the soldiers of 

1 The third site of the city, on the Rao Antigua. 



Narvaez, who were quartered in the house of the 
fat Cacique, that this was Juan Velasquez de Leon one 
of Malinche's Captains. As soon as the soldiers heard 
this they went running to Narvaez to demand rewards 
for bringing the good news that Juan Velasquez de 
Leon had come. 

When Narvaez heard of his arrival, before Juan 
Velasquez could reach his quarters, he went out to 
receive him in the Street accompanied by some soldiers. 
On meeting they made a great show of reverence to 
one another, and Narvaez embraced Juan Velasquez, 
and asked him why he did not dismount at his quarters, 
and he ordered his servants to go at once for the horse 
and baggage, if he had brought any. Juan Velasquez 
replied that he wished to return at once, and that he 
had only come to kiss his hands and those of all the 
gentlemen of his camp, and to see if his Excellency 
and Cortes could agree to keep peace and friendship. 
Then it is said that Narvaez promptly repelled Juan 
Velasquez, greatly annoyed that such words should 
be spoken to him. " What ! to make friends and 
peace with a traitor who had rebelled with the fleet 
against his cousin Diego Velasquez?" and Juan 
Velasquez replied that Cortes was no traitor but a 
faithful servant of His Majesty, and that to appeal 
to our Lord and King as he had done should not be 
imputed to him as treason, and he begged Narvaez 
to use no such word in his presence. Then Narvaez 
began to bribe Juan Velasquez with great promises 
so as to persuade him to remain with him and to 
arrange with the followers of Cortes to give Cortes up 
and to come at once and place themselves under his 
command, promising him with oaths that he should 
be the foremost captain in all the camp and be the 
second in command. Juan Velasquez answered that 
it would be a great treason to desert the Captain to 
whom he had sworn obedience during war, and to 



abandon him knowing as he did that all that he had 
done in New Spain was in the service of God our 
Lord and His Majesty, and that Cortes could not 
avoid appealing, in the way he had appealed, to our 
King and Master, and he begged Narvaez to say no 
more about it. 

By that time all the moSt important Captains from 
the Camp of Narvaez had come to see Juan Velasquez 
and they embraced him with the greatest courtesy, 
for Juan Velasquez was much of a courtier, well 
made, robust, of good presence and features and with 
a becoming beard, and he wore a great golden chain 
thrown over his shoulder giving it two turns under 
his arm, and it suited him well in the part of the 
gallant and brave captain. 

It seems that at that time certain captains of 
Narvaez advised him to arrest Juan Velasquez at 
once, for it seemed to them that he was speaking very 
freely in favour of Cortes. When Narvaez had already 
secretly ordered his Captains and Constables to take 
him prisoner, Auguftin Bermudez and Andres de 
Duero and our Padre de la Merced and a priest 
named Juan de Leon, and other persons from among 
those who had professed themselves friends of Cortes, 
heard about it, and they said to Narvaez that they were 
astonished at his ordering Juan Velasquez de Leon 
to be arreed, for what could Cortes do against him 
[Narvaez] even if he had another hundred Juan 
Velasquezes in his Company ? that Cortes might 
easily have arrested Andres de Duero and the priest 
Guevara and others who had gone to his camp, and 
he did not do so ; on the contrary, as they have Sated, 
he paid them great honour ; and it would be better 
once again to speak to Juan Velasquez with much 
courtesy and to invite him to dinner. This seemed to 
Narvaez to be good advice, and he promptly spoke 
again to Juan Velasquez in very affectionate terms so 



that he should be the mediator through whom Cortes 
might give himself up with all of us ; and he invited 
him to dinner. Juan Velasquez replied that in that 
case he would do what he could, although he held 
Cortes to be very obstinate and Stubborn in the 
matter, and that it would be better to divide the 
provinces, and his honour [Narvaez] should choose 
the land that pleased him bet. This Juan Velasquez 
said in order to pacify him. 

While these conversations were going on the 
Padre de la Merced whispered to Narvaez as his 
confidant and adviser which he had already become, 
u Order them to muter all your artillery and cavalry 
and musketeers and crossbowmen and soldiers so 
that Juan Velasquez de Leon and the orderly Juan del 
Rio may see them, and so that Cortes may fear your 
force. " So on the advice of our Friar Narvaez held a 
review before Juan Velasquez de Leon and Juan del 
Rio, and in the presence of our cleric. When it was 
finished Juan Velasquez said to Narvaez : " You have 
brought a great force with you, may God increase it." 
Then Narvaez replied : " Ah, you can see that had 
I wished to go against Cortes I should have taken 
him prisoner and all of you that are with him." Then 
Juan Velasquez answered and said : " Look on him 
as taken and us soldiers too, but we shall know well 
how to defend ourselves," and so the conversation 

The next day Juan Velasquez was invited to dinner, 
and there was dining with Narvaez a nephew of Diego 
Velasquez the Governor of Cuba, who was also one 
of his captains, and while they were eating at table 
be began to talk of how Cortes had failed to surrender 
to Narvaez, and of the letter and summons that he 
sent him. And from one speech to another, the nephew 
of Diego Velasquez (who was also called Diego 
Velasquez like his uncle) exceeded all bounds and 



said that Cortes and all of us who were with him 
were traitors, because they did not come to submit 
themselves to Narvaez. When Juan Velasquez heard 
this he rose from the chair on which he was seated and 
with great ceremony said : " Senor Captain Narvaez, 
I have already told you that I cannot acquiesce in 
such words being spoken against Cortes or against 
any of those who are with him, as those that have 
been uttered, for it is truly malicious to speak evil of 
us who have served His Majesty so loyally." 

Diego Velasquez replied that his words were well 
said and that he [Juan Velasquez] was upholding a 
traitor, and that traitors were as worthless as he was, 
and that he was not a good Velasquez. Juan Velasquez 
grasped his sword and said that he lied and that he 
was a better gentleman than he was, and a good 
Velasquez, better than him or his uncle, and that he 
would let him know it, if the Senor Captain Narvaez 
would give him leave. As there were many captains 
present, they placed themselves between them and 
they advised Narvaez that he should promptly order 
Juan Velasquez to leave the camp, both him and the 
Friar and Juan del Rio for they felt sure that they 
were doing no good there. At once without further 
delay they were ordered to leave, and they, who could 
hardly await the hour of getting back to our camp, 

It is said that Juan Velasquez mounted on his good 
mare in his coat of mail, which he always wore, and 
helmet and great golden chain, went to take leave of 
Narvaez, and Diego Velasquez, the youth who had 
quarrelled, was there with Narvaez, and Juan Velasquez 
said to Narvaez : " What are your Honour's orders 
for our camp ? " Narvaez replied in a great rage that 
he should get him gone and that it would have been 
better had he never come, and the youth Diego 
Velasquez uttered threats and offensive words to 



Juan Velasquez, who answered that he was very 
audacious and deserved chastisement for the words 
he had spoken, and placing his hand on his beard he 
cried by this my beard I swear that I will see before 
many days whether your courage is as good as your 
words. So they parted, and keeping on their way they 
met us at the river near Vera Cruz. 

When they arrived where we were, what delight 
and happiness we all experienced, and how many 
caresses and what praise did Cortes beStow on Juan 
Velasquez and on our Friar, and he had good cause, 
for they were his faithful servants. 

Then Juan Velasquez related, &ep by ep, all that I 
have already Elated had happened to them with Narvaez 
and how he sent secretly to give the chains and ingots 
and jewels of gold to the persons whom Cortes had 
indicated. Then you should have heard our Friar ! 
Being of a merry disposition, he well knew how to 
mimic his own behaviour as Narvaez's faithful 
servant, and to tell how, in sheer mockery, he advised 
him to hold the review and call out his artillery, and 
with what astuteness and cunning he gave him the 
letter. Then he next related what happened to him 
with Salvatierra, and told us what fierce threats 
Salvatierra uttered as to what he would do and what 
would happen when he captured Cortes and all of us, 
and that he even complained to him about the soldiers 
who had Stolen his horse and that of the other captain, 
and we were all as delighted at hearing about it as 
though we were going to a wedding or a merry- 
making, [although] we knew that the next day we 
should be going into battle and muSt conquer or die 
in it, we being but two hundred and sixty-six soldiers 
and those of Narvaez being five times as numerous 
as we were. We all marched at* once, and we went 
to sleep near a small Stream about a league from 
Cempoala where there was a bridge. 



It seems that when Juan Velasquez and the Friar 
and Juan del Rio went back, Narvaez was told by his 
captains that a belief had arisen in the camp that 
Cortes had sent many jewels of gold, and had gained 
friends to his side in the camp itself, and that it would 
be well to be much on the alert, and to warn the 
soldiers to have their arms and horses ready. In 
addition to this the fat Cacique was in great fear of 
Cortes because he had allowed Narvaez to take the 
cloths and gold and to seize the Indian women, more- 
over he always had spies out to see where we slept and 
by what road we were coming, for so Narvaez had 
compelled him to do by force. When he knew that 
we were already arriving near to Cempoala the fat 
Cacique said to Narvaez : " What are you about ? 
you are behaving very carelessly ; do you think that 
Malinche and the Teules that he brings with him are 
the same as you are ? Well, I tell you that when you 
leat expert it he will be here and will kill you." 
Although they made fun of those words that the fat 
Cacique said to them, they did not fail to get ready, 
and the fir& thing they did was to declare war against 
us with fire and sword and free loot. This we heard 
from a soldier called El Galleguillo, who came fleeing 
from the camp of Narvaez, and he informed Cortes 
about the proclamation and about other things that 
it was as well to know. 

Let us return to Narvaez, who ordered all the 
artillery, horsemen, musketeers and crossbowmen to 
be taken out to a plain about a quarter of a league 
from Cempoala to await us there, and not to let one of 
us escape either death or capture. As it rained hard 
that day the followers of Narvaez had already had 
enough of waiting for us in the wet, and as they were 
accustomed neither to rain nor hardships and did not 
think we were of any account, his captains gave him 
notice that they would return to their quarters, as it 



was an outrage to be kept there waiting for two or 
three men, as they said we were. They further advised 
Narvaez to place his artillery, which numbered eighteen 
large cannon, in front of their quarters and that forty 
horsemen should remain all night waiting on the road 
by which we had to come to Cempoala ; furthermore 
that he should Station his spies by the ford of the river 
which we would have to cross, selefting good riders 
and lithe runners to carry messages, and that twenty 
horsemen should patrol throughout the night in the 
courtyards of their quarters. This plan which they 
communicated to him was to induce him to return to 
his quarters. Moreover, his captains said to him : 
" What, Senor ? do you take Cortes to be so valiant 
as to dare with the three cats which he commands to 
come to this camp merely because this fat Indian 
says so ? Don't you believe it, your Honour, he had 
only made this fuss and pretence of coming so that 
your Honour may grant good terms." It was in this 
way, as I have said, that Narvaez returned to his 
camp, and after his return he publicly promised to 
give two thousand pesos to whoever should kill 
Cortes or Gonzalo de Sandoval. He at once placed 
spies at the river, and the cry and countersign that he 
gave when they should fight against us in the camp 
" Santa Maria, Santa Maria ! " 


WHEN we -arrived at the Stream about a league from 
Cempoala, where there were some good meadows, 
Captain Cortes sent to summon us, both Captains 
and soldiers, and when he saw us assembled, he said 
to us that he begged the favour of silence. Then he 
began a speech in such charming lyle, with sentences 



so neatly turned, that I assuredly am unable to write 
the like, so delightful was it and so full of promises, 
in which he at once reminded us of all that had 
happened to us since we set out from the Island of 
Cuba until then, and he said to us : " You well know 
that Diego Velasquez, the Governor of Cuba, chose me 
as Captain General, not that there were not many gentle- 
men among you worthy of the po&, and you knew and 
believed that we were coming to settle, for thus it was 
published and proclaimed ; however, as you have 
seen, he was merely sending to trade. You are already 
aware of what happened about my wishing to return 
to the Island of Cuba to render an account to Diego 
Velasquez of the task that he entrusted to me, in 
accordance with his instructions ; but Your Honours 
ordered and obliged me to form a settlement in this 
country in His Majesty's name, and thanks to our 
Lord the settlement has been made and it was a very 
wise decision. In addition to this you made me your 
Captain General and the Chief Justice of the settle- 
ment until His Maje&y may be pleased to order 
otherwise. As I have already mentioned there was 
certain talk of returning to Cuba among some of 
you, but I do not wish to dwell further on that ; it is, 
so to say, a bygone and our flaying was a blessed 
and good thing, for it is clear that we have done great 
service to God and His Maje&y. You already know 
that we told His Maje&y that this land is, so far as 
we have seen and know, four times larger than Caile 
and has great cities and is very rich in gold and mines, 
and how we begged His Maje&y not to give it away 
to be governed in any other manner by any one 
whosoever, for we believe that the Bishop of Burgos 
would ask it from His Maje&y for Diego Velasquez, 
or for some relation or friend of the Bishop's own. 
This land is so good that it would be proper to be&ow 
it on an Infante or great Prince, and we are determined 



not to give it up to any one until His Majesty shall have 
heard our Prodlors and we behold his royal signature 
and approval, so that in all humility we may do what 
he may be pleased to order. You also know that we 
sent with the letters and placed at His Majesty's 
service all the gold and silver and jewels and every- 
thing that we possessed or had acquired, moreover 
you will well remember, gentlemen, how often we 
have been at the point of death in the wars and battles 
we have passed through ; let me also remind you how 
inured we are to hardship, rains, winds and some- 
times hunger, always having to carry our arms on 
our backs and to sleep on the ground whether it is 
snowing or raining, and if we examine it closely our 
skin is already tanned from suffering. I do not wish 
to refer to over fifty of our comrades who have died 
in the wars, nor to all of you who are bandaged in 
rags, and maimed from wounds which are not even 
yet healed. I should like to remind you of the troubles 
we had at sea and in the battles of Tabasco, and, those 
who were present at them, of the affairs of Almeria 
or Cingapacinga, and how often in the mountains and 
on the roads attempts were made to take our lives. 
In what Straits they placed us in the battles of Tlaxcala 
and how they handled us ; then in the affair of Cholula,, 
they had even prepared the earthen pots in which to 
cook our bodies ; at the ascent of the passes you will 
not have forgotten the forces that Montezuma had 
gathered to exterminate us and you saw all the roads 
blocked with felled trees. Then during the dangers 
of the entry into and &ay in the great City of Mexico, 
how many times did we look death in the face ? who 
is able to count them ? 

" Then look at those among you who have come 
here twice before I did, firt with Francisco Hernandez 
de Cordova, and the other time with Juan de Grijalva ; 
consider the hardships you underwent in discovering 



these countries, the hunger and thirst of the wounded 
and loss by death of so many soldiers and all the 
property of your own that you expended in those two 
voyages. Let us add now, gentlemen, that as Panfilo 
de Narvaez marches against us with great fury and 
desire to get us in his power, calling us traitors and 
malefaftors even before he had landed, and sends 
messages to the great Montezuma not in the words 
of a wise Captain, but of a mischief-maker, and as in 
addition to this he had the audacity to arrefc one of 
His Majesty's Judges, for this great crime alone he 
deserves condign punishment. You have already heard 
how in his camp he has proclaimed war again^l us, 
and outlawed us as though we were Moors/' Soon 
after saying this Cortes began to extol our appearance 
and courage in the late wars and battles, saying that 
then we were fighting to save our lives, and that now 
we had to fight with all our brength both for life and 
honour, for they were coming to capture us and drive 
us from our houses and rob us of our property, 
"moreover", he added, "we do not even know if he 
brings authority from our King and Lord or only 
support from our opponent the Bishop of Burgos, 
and if by ill luck we should fall into the hands of 
Narvaez, which God prevent, all the services that we 
have done both to God and His Majelty will turn to 
disservice, they will bring law suits against us, saying 
that we killed and robbed and destroyed the land, 
where in truth they are the ones to rob, brawl and 
disserve our Lord and King but they will claim that 
they have served him " ; then he said that all that 
he had related we had seen with our own eyes, and 
that as true gentlemen we were bound to &and up 
for His Majesty's honour and our own homes and 
properties ; he left Mexico on that understanding 
with confidence in God and in us, that fir he 
tru^ed everything in the hands of God and next 



in ' our hands, and let us consider what we thought 
of it. 

Then one and all we answered him, jointly with 
Juan Velasquez de Leon and Francisco de Lugo and 
other captains, that he might feel sure that, God helping 
us, we would conquer or die over it, and he should 
look to it that they did not persuade him to terms, 
for if he should do anything underhand that we would 
tab him. 

Then when he saw our determination he rejoiced 
greatly. When this was over he turned to beg us as 
a favour to keep silence. As the firt thing to be done 
was to seize their artillery, which numbered eighteen 
cannon, and was ported in front of the quarters of 
Narvaez, he appointed a relation of his own to go as 
Captain, whose name was Pizarro, and he assigned 
to him sixty young soldiers, and he named me among 
them, and ordered that after the artillery was taken, 
we should all run to the quarters of Narvaez which 
were on a very lofty Cue. For the capture of Narvaez 
he named as Captain Gonzalo de Sandoval with sixty 
companions, and as he was chief Constable he gave 
him an order which read thus : Gonzalo de Sandoval 
Chief Constable of this New Spain, in His Majesty's 
name I command you to seize the person of Panfilo 
Narvaez, and should he resist, to kill him, for the 
benefit of the service of God and the King, insomuch 
as he has committed many a<5ts to the disservice of 
God and of His Majesty, and arrested an Oidor. 
Given in this camp and signed Hernando Cortes, 
countersigned by his Secretary Pedro Hernandez. 

After issuing the order, he promised to give three 
thousand pesos to the soldier who firt laid hand on 
Narvaez, and to the second two thousand, and one 
thousand to the third. Then he chose Juan Velasquez 
de Leon to arrel the youth Diego Velasquez with 
whom he had had the quarrel, and gave him another 



sixty soldiers, and he likewise named Diego de Ordas 
to arrest Salvatierra and gave him another sixty soldiers, 
and there was Cortes himself ready for an emergency 
with another twenty soldiers, to hasten to where he 
was moft needed, and where he intended to be present 
was at the capture of Narvaez and Salvatierra, 

As soon as the lifts were given to the Captains, 
Cortes said : "I well know that the followers of 
Narvaez are in all four times as numerous as we are, 
but they are not used to arms, and as the greater part 
of them are hostile to their captain, and many of them 
are ill, and we shall take them by surprise, I have an 
idea that God will give us the viftory, and that they 
will not persist much in their defence, for we shall 
procure them more wealth than their Narvaez can. 
So, gentlemen, our lives and honour depend, after 
God, on your courage and your Strong arms, I have 
no other favour to ask of you or to remind you of but 
that this is the touchstone of our honour and our glory 
for ever and ever, and it is better to die worthily than 
to live dishonoured." And as at that time it was 
raining and was late he said no more. There is one 
thing I have thought about since, he never told us : 
" I have such and such an arrangement in the camp 
made with so and so, which is in our favour ", nor 
anything of that kind, but merely that we were to 
fight like brave men ; and this omitting to tell us 
that he had friends in the camp of Narvaez, was the 
aftion of a very astute Captain, so that we should 
not fail to fight as very valiant men, and should place 
no hope in them, but only, after God, in our own 
great courage. 

Later on they secretly gave us the password that 
we were to use while fighting, which was " Espfritu 
Santo, Espfritu Santo ! " The followers of Narvaez 
had as their password and battle cry " Santa Maria, 
Santa Maria ! " 



When all this was finished, as I was a great friend 
and servant of Captain Sandoval, he begged me as a 
favour to keep by him that night and follow him if I 
were lill alive after capturing the artillery, and I 
promised him that I would do so, as will be seen 
later on. 


LET me say now that we spent part of the night in 
preparations and in thinking about what we had 
before us, for we had nothing at all on which to sup. 
I myself and one other soldier were polled as sentinels, 
and before long a scout came to ask me if I had per- 
ceived anything, and I said " No." Then came an 
officer and said that the Galleguillo who came from 
the camp of Narvaez had disappeared and that he 
was a spy sent by Narvaez, and that Cortes ordered 
us to march at once on the road to Cempoala, and we 
heard our fifer and the beating of the drum and the 
Captains getting their soldiers ready, and we began 
to march. The Galleguillo was found asleep under 
some cloths, for as it was raining and the poor fellow 
was not accustomed to be in the wet and cold he went 
there to sleep. Then going along at a good pace and 
without any playing on the fife or drum, and with the 
scouts reconnoitring the road, we reached the river 
where the spies of Narvaez were ported, and they were 
so little on the look out that we had time to capture 
one and the other fled shouting to the camp of 
Narvaez, crying " To arms ! to arms ! Cortes is 

I remember that when we passed through that 
river, as it was raining, it had become rather deep and 
the Clones were slippery and we were much encumbered 
with our pikes and our arms, and I also remember 



that when the spy was captured he said to Cortes in 
a loud voice : " Take care, Senor Cortes, don't you 
go on there, for I swear that Narvaez is waiting for 
you in camp with all his army." 

The order " To arms, to arms " and Narvaez 
calling to his captains, and our charging with our 
pikes and engaging the artillery, happened simul- 
taneously, and the gunners had time only to fire four 
shots, and some of the balls passed overhead but one 
of them killed three of our comrades. 

At that moment all our Captains came up with 
the fife and drum beating the charge, and as many 
of the followers of Narvaez were mounted, they were 
delayed for a few moments by them, but they promptly 
unhorsed six or seven of them. Then we who had 
seized the guns did not dare to leave them, for Narvaez 
was shooting at us with arrows and muskets from his 
quarters and wounded seven of us. At that moment 
Captain Sandoval arrived and made a rush to scale 
the Steps, and, in spite of the strong resistance which 
Narvaez made with muskets, partisans and lances 
and flights of arrows, Sandoval and his soldiers Sill 
gained ground. Then as soon as we soldiers saw that 
the guns were ours and no one was left to dispute 
possession of them, we gave them over to our gunners, 
and Captain Pizarro and many of us went to the 
assistance of Sandoval, for the soldiers of Narvaez 
had driven them back down two of the Steps. On our 
arrival he turned to ascend the Steps again and we Stood 
for some time fighting with our pikes which were 
very long, and when I was leaSt expe6ting it we heard 
shouts from Narvaez who cried : " Holy Mary 
protet me, they had killed me and destroyed my 

When we heard this we at once shouted : " Victory, 
Victory for those of the password of Espiritu Santo, 
for Narvaez is dead ; Victory ! Viftory 1 for Cortes, 

39 i 


for Narvarez has fallen ! " but for all this we were 
not able to force the entrance to the Cue where they 
were polled, until a certain Martin Lopez who was 
very tall, set fire to the thatch of the lofty Cue and all 
the companions of Narvaez came tumbling down the 
steps. Then we seized Narvaez, and the first to lay 
hands on him was Pedro Sanchez Farfan, a good 
soldier, and I gave him to Sandoval and the other 
Captains who were with him, and we were Still shouting 
and crying : " Long live the King, long live the King, 
and in his Royal Name, Cortes, Cortes, Viftory, 
Vi&ory, for Narvaez is dead ! " 

Let us leave this Struggle and return to Cortes 
and the other Captains who were each one of them 
Still fighting against the Captains of Narvaez who had 
not yet yielded, notwithstanding the shots that our 
gunners fired at them, and our shouts and the death 
of Narvaez, for they were ported in very lofty temples. 
As Cortes was very sagacious he promptly ordered it 
to be proclaimed that all the followers of Narvaez 
should come at once and yield themselves up under 
the banner of His Majefty, and to Cortes in his 
Royal name, under pain of death. Yet with all this 
the followers of the youth Diego Velasquez and those 
of Salvatierra did not give in, for they were in very 
lofty temples and could not be reached until Gonzalo 
de Sandoval went with half of us who were with him, 
with the cannon and the proclamation, and forced 
his way in and seized Salvatierra and those in his 
company as well as the youth Diego Velasquez. 
Then Sandoval came with all those who had gone to 
capture Narvaez to put him in a safer place. And, 
after Cortes and Juan Velasquez and Ordas had made 
prisoners of Salvatierra and the youth Diego Velasquez 
and Gamarra, and Juan Yu&e and Juan Bono the 
Biscayan and other persons of importance, Cortes 
came, without being re'cognized, in company with 



our Captains to where we held Narvaez. As the heat 
was great, and as Cortes was burdened with his 
arms, and had been going from place to place shouting 
to our soldiers and giving out proclamations, he arrived 
sweating and tired and panting for breath, and he 
spoke to Sandoval twice, and did not succeed in 
saying what he wanted on account of the trouble he 
was in ; and he said : " What about Narvaez, what 
about Narvaez ? " and Sandoval said : " He is 
here ; he is here and well guarded." Then Cortes, 
still much out of breath, turned to say: "Take care, 
my son Sandoval, that you do not leave him, and that 
you and your comrades do not let him break away 
while I go and attend to other matters, and see to it 
that these other captains who are prisoners with him 
are guarded in every way." Then he promptly went 
off to issue other proclamations to the effeft that under 
pain of death all the followers of Narvaez should at 
once come to that place to surrender themselves under 
the banner of His Majesty and in his royal name to 
Hernando Cortes his Captain General and Chief 
Justice, and that no one should carry arms, but that 
all should give them up and hand them over to our 

All this was done in the night, for it was not 
yet dawn, and it Still rained from time to time ; then 
the moon came out, but when we had arrived there it 
was very dark and was raining. However, the darkness 
was a help, for as it was so dark there were many 
fire-flies which give light by night, and the soldiers 
of Narvaez believed that they were the match fires 
of muskets, 

Let us leave this and go on to say that as Narvaez 
was very badly wounded and had lo$t an eye, he asked 
leave of Sandoval for his surgeon named Mae&re 
Juan, whom he had brought in his fleet, to attend to 
his eye and to the other captains who were wounded, 



and permission was given. While they were being 
doftored, Cort6s came near by, on the sly, so that they 
should not recognize him, to see Narvaez. Some one 
whispered to Narvaez that Cortes was there, hardly 
was this said to him than Narvaez exclaimed : " Senor 
Captain Cortes, you muft consider this a great feat, 
this victory which you have won over me and the 
capture of my person " ; and Cortes answered him 
that he gave many thanks to God for giving the viftory 
to him and to the gallant gentlemen and comrades 
who had a share in it, but that to capture and defeat 
him [Narvaez] who had seen fit to dare to arre& one 
of His Majesty's Judges, was one of the leaft important 
things he had done in New Spain. As soon as he had 
said this he went away and said no more, but ordered 
Sandoval to place a Strong guard over Narvaez and 
to tay with him himself and not leave him in charge 
of others. We had already placed two pairs of fetters 
on him, and we carried him to an apartment and 
Rationed soldiers to guard him, and Sandoval desig- 
nated me as one of them, and privately he ordered me 
not to allow any of the followers of Narvaez to speak 
to him until it was daytime and Cortes could place 
him in greater security. 

Let us leave this, and relate how Narvaez had sent 
forty horsemen to wait for us on the road, when we 
were on our way to his camp, and we were aware 
that they were till wandering in the country and were 
fearful let they should come and attack us, and 
rescue their captains and Narvaez himself whom we 
held prisoners. So we kept much on the alert, and 
Cortes determined to send and beg them as a favour 
to come into camp, and made great offers and promises 
to them all. 

He despatched Cri&obal de Olid, who was our 
quartermaller, and Diego de Ordas, to bring them 
in, and they went on horses that we had captured from 



the followers of Narvaez (for our horsemen brought 
no horses with them, but left them picketed in a small 
wood near Cempoala ; we brought only pikes, swords, 
shields and daggers) and they went out into the 
country with one of the soldiers of Narvaez who 
showed them the track by which they had gone, and 
they came upon them, and gave expression to so 
many offers and promises on behalf of Cortes that 
they won them over, but some gentlemen among 
them bore Cortes ill will. 

Before they reached our camp it was broad daylight, 
and the drummers brought by Narvaez, without word 
from Cortes or any of us, began to beat their kettle- 
drums and play on their fifes and tambourines and 
cry : " Viva, Viva the gala of the Romans ! who few 
as they are have conquered Narvaez and his soldiers " ; 
and a negro named Guidela whom Narvaez had brought 
with him, who was a very witty jefter cried out and 
said : " Behold ! The Romans never accomplished 
such a feat " ; and although we told them to keep 
quiet and not to beat their drums, they would not do 
so until Cortes sent to arrest the drummer, who was 
named Tapia and was half crazy. At this moment 
came Cristobal de Olid and Diego de Ordds and 
brought in the horsemen whom I have mentioned, 
and among them came Andres de Duero and Aguin 
Bermiidez and many of our Captains' friends, who 
as soon as they came went to kiss hands to Cortes 
who with us around him was seated on an armchair, 
wearing a long orange-coloured robe with his armour 
beneath it. Then to see the graciousness with which 
he addressed and embraced them, and the flattering 
words that lie said to them were matters worthy of 
note, and how cheerful he was, and he had good cause 
in seeing himself at that moment such a lord and so 
powerful, and so after kissing his hands each one 
passed to his quarters. 



Let us speak now of those who were killed and 
wounded on that night. The &andard-bearer of 
Narvaez named Fuentes, a gentleman from Seville, 
died. Another of Narvaez' captains named Rojas, 
a native of Old Ca&ile, also died, and two of the other 
followers of Narvaez died. There also died one of the 
three soldiers who had belonged to us and had gone 
over to Narvaez. Many of the followers of Narvaez 
were wounded, and four of our men died and more 
were wounded, and the fat Cacique also was wounded, 
for when he knew that we were nearing Cempoala he 
took refuge in the quarters of Narvaez and there he 
was wounded, and Cortes at once ordered him to be 
well attended to and placed him in his house so that 
he should not be molested. Then the mad Cervantes 
and Escalonilla, who were those who had been of our 
party and had gone over to Narvaez, fared badly, for 
Escalona was severely wounded and Cervantes well 

Let us go to those in the quarters of Salvatierra 
the fierce, of whom his soldiers say that never in all 
their lives did they see a more worthless man, or one 
so much alarmed at death when he heard us beat to 
arms. It is reported that when we cried out " Victory, 
Vidory for Narvaez is dead ", he promptly said that 
he was very sick at the Stomach and was no good for 
anything. This I have related because of his threats 
and bravado ; some of the men of his company were 

Our Captain Juan Velasquez de Leon captured 
Diego Velasquez, him with whom he had the strife 
when he dined with Narvaez, and he took him to his 
quarters, and ordered him to be cared for and treated 
with all honour. 




I HAVE already said that Cortes had sent to advise the 
towns of Chinantla that two thousand of their Indians 
with their lances should come to aid us, and they came 
late in the afternoon of this very day, after Narvaez 
had been made prisoner, under the command of their 
own Caciques. They entered Cempoala in good array, 
two by two, so gallantly that it was an affair worthy 
of note. When the followers of Narvaez beheld them 
they were astonished, and it is reported that they said 
to one another, if those people had caught them in 
the rear or had come in with us, what could have 
flopped them ? Cortes thanked the Indian Captains 
for coming, and he gave them beads from Castile 
and ordered them to return at once to their towns. 

After Panfilo de Narvaez had been defeated, and all 
his followers disarmed, Cortes directed Captain 
Francisco de Lugo to proceed to the port where the 
fleet of Narvaez, which numbered eighteen ships, 
was lying, and to order all the mates and masters of 
the ships to come up to Cempoala, and to remove the 
sails, rudders and compasses, so that they should not 
carry the news to Diego Velasquez in Cuba, and that, 
if they refused to obey him, he was to make them 

The Masters and mates promptly came to kiss 
hands to Captain Cortes, and he made them take an 
oath that they would not leave his command, and 
would obey whatever orders he gave them. 

Then he appointed as Admiral and Captain of the 
Sea one Pedro Cavallero who had been ma&er of one 
of the ships of Narvaez, a person whom Cortes 
thoroughly trusted. 

Orders were given that Juan Velasquez de Leon 



should proceed to conquer and form a settlement in 
the region of Panuco, and for this Cortes allotied 
him one hundred and twenty sailors, one hundred 
were to be followers of Narvaez with twenty of our 
men mixed with them as they had more experience in 

He also gave another command to Diego de Ordas 
of another hundred and twenty soldiers to go and 
settle in the region of Coatzacoalcos. 

In order that those Captains and their soldiers could 
set out fully armed, Cortes had them equipped, and 
ordered all the prisoners who were captains under 
Narvaez to be set free, except Narvaez himself and 
Salvatierra who said that he was ill of the Stomach. 
Now as to furnishing them with all their arms, as 
some of our soldiers had already taken some of their 
horses, swords and other things, Cortes ordered them 
all to be given back to them, and over our refusal to 
give them up there occurred certain angry discussions. 
Cortes till contended that we mut give them up, and 
as he was Captain General we had to do what he 
ordered. I gave them a horse which I had hidden 
away saddled and bridled, and two swords and three 
poignards and a dagger. Many others of our soldiers 
also gave up horses and arms. Alonzo de Avila was a 
^captain and a person who dared to speak his mind to 
* Cortes, and he and the Padre de la Merced together 
spoke privately to Cortes, and told him that all the 
golden jewels that the Indians had presented to 
him, and all the food, he had given to the Captains of 
Narvaez forgetting us as though he had never known 
us, and it was not well done, but a very great ingratitude 
after we had placed him in his present position. 

To this Cortes replied that all that he possessed 
both his person and his property was ours, but for the 
present he could do no less than propitiate the followers 
of Narvaez with gifts, good words and promises, for 



they were many in number, and we were few, left 
they should rise against him and us and kill him. 

Let us return now to Narvaez and a black man 
whom he brought covered with smallpox, and a very 
black affair it was for New Spain, for it was owing to 
him that the whole country was Stricken and filled 
with it, from which there was great mortality, for 
according to what the Indians said they had never 
had such a disease, and, as they did not underhand it> 
they bathed very often, and on that account a great 
number of them died ; so that dark as was the lot 
of Narvaez, ill blacker was the death of so many 
persons who were not Christians. 

Let me say how ill luck suddenly turns the wheel,, 
and after great good fortune and pleasure follows 
sadness ; it so happened that at this moment came 
the news that Mexico was in revolt, and that Pedro 
de Alvarado was besieged in his fortress and quarters, 
and that they had set fire to this same fortress in two 
places, and had killed seven of his soldiers and wounded 
many others, and he sent to demand assistance with 
great urgency and hate. This news was brought by 
two Tlaxcalans without any letter, but a letter soon 
arrived by two other Tlaxcalans sent by Pedro de 
Alvarado in which he told the same Story. When 
we heard this bad news, God knows how greatly it 
depressed us. 

By forced marches we began our journey to Mexico,, 
Narvaez and Salvatierra remaining as prisoners in 
Villa Rica. 

Jut at this moment, as we were ready to art, there 
arrived four great chieftains sent to Cortes by the 
great Montezuma to complain to him of Pedro de 
Alvarado, and what they said, with tears breaming 
from their eyes, was that Pedro de Alvarado sallied 
out from his quarters with all the soldiers that Cortes 
had left with him, and, for no reason at all, fell on their 



chieftains and Caciques who were dancing and 
celebrating a feab in honour of their Idols Huichilobos 
and Tezcatepuca, Pedro de Alvarado having given 
them leave to do so. He killed and wounded many of 
them and in defending themselves they had killed 
six of his soldiers. Thus they made many complaints 
again& Pedro de Alvarado, and Cortes, somewhat 
disgusted, replied to the messengers that he would 
go to Mexico and put it all to rights. So they went 
off with that reply to their great Montezuma, who it 
is said, resented it as a very bad one and was enraged 
at it. 

Cortes also promptly despatched letters to Pedro 
de Alvarado in which he advised him to look out that 
Montezuma did not escape, and that we were 
coming by forced marches, and he informed him 
about the victory we had gained over Narvaez, which 
Montezuma knew about already, and I will leave off 
here and tell what happened later on. 





WHEN the news came which I have recorded that 
Pedro de Alvarado was besieged and Mexico in 
revolt, the commands that had been given to Juan 
Velasquez de Leon and Diego de Ordas for the 
purpose of going to form settlements at Panuco and 
Coatzacoalcos were rescinded and neither of them 
went, for all joined with us. Cortes spoke to the 
followers of Narvaez, for he felt that they would not 
accompany us willingly, and to induce them to give 
that assistance, he begged them to leave behind them 
their resentment over the affair of Narvaez, and he 
promised to make them rich and give them office, 
and as they came to seek a livelihood, and were in a 
country where they could do service to God and His 
Majesty and enrich themselves, now was their chance ; 
and so many speeches did he make to them that one 
and all offered themselves to him to go with us, and 
if they had known the power of Mexico, it is certain 
that not one of them would have gone. 

We were soon on our way by forced inarches until 
we reached Tlaxcala, where we learnt that up to the 
time that Montezuma and his captains heard that we 
had defeated Narvaez they did not cease to attack, and 
had already killed seven of Alvarado's soldiers and 
burnt his quarters, but as soon as they heard of our 
viftory they ceased attacking him ; but they added 
that Alvarado's company were much exhausted through 

401 Dd 


want of water and food, for Montezuma had failed 
to order food to be given to them. 

Some Tlaxcalan Indians brought this news at the 
very moment we arrived, and Cortes at once ordered 
a muster to be made of the men he had brought with 
him and found over thirteen hundred soldiers counting 
both our people and the followers of Narvaez, and 
over ninety-six horses and eighty crossbowmen, and 
as many musketeers, and with these it seemed to 
Cortes that he had force enough to enter Mexico in 
safety. In addition to this the Caciques of Tlaxcala 
gave us two thousand Indian warriors, and we at 
once set out by forced marches to Texcoco, and they 
paid no honour to us there and not a single chieftain 
made his appearance, for all were hidden away and 
ill disposed. 

We arrived at Mexico on the day of Senor San 
Juan de Junio l 1520, and no Caciques or Captains 
or Indians, whom we knew appeared in the Streets, 
and all the houses were empty when we reached the 
quarters where we used to lodge. The great Monte- 
zuma came out to the courtyard to embrace and speak 
to Cortes and bid him welcome, and congratulate 
him on his viftory over Narvaez, and as Cortes was 
arriving victorious he refused to listen to him, and 
Montezuma returned to his quarters very sad and 

When each one of us was lodged in the quarters 
he had occupied before we set out from Mexico, and 
the followers of Narvaez were lodged in other quarters, 
we then saw and talked with Pedro de Alvarado and 
the soldiers who had Stayed with him ; they gave us 
an account of the attacks made on them, and the 
traits in which the Mexicans had placed them, and we 
told them the tory of our viftory over Narvaez. 

Cortes tried to find out what was the cause of the 
1 Midsummer day. 


revolt in Mexico, for we clearly understood that it 
made Montezuma unhappy if we should think it 
had been his desire or had been done by his advice. 
Many of the soldiers who had remained with Pedro 
de Alvarado through that critical time said, that if 
Montezuma had had a hand in it 3 all of them would 
have been killed, but Montezuma calmed his people 
until they ceased to attack. 

What Pedro de Alvarado told Cortes about the 
matter was that it was done by the Mexicans in order 
to liberate Montezuma, and because their Huichilobos 
ordered it, on account of our having placed the image 
of our Lady the Virgin Santa Maria and the Cross 
in his house. Moreover he said that many Indians 
had come to remove the holy image from the altar 
where we placed it, and were not able to move it, 
and that the Indians looked upon it as a great miracle 
and had said so to Montezuma, who had told them 
to leave it in the place and altar in which it tood, and 
not to attempt to do otherwise, and so it was left. 

Pedro de Alvarado further stated that because 
Narvaez' message to Montezuma, that he was coming 
to release him from prison and to capture us, had not 
turned out to be true, and because Cortes had told 
Montezuma that as soon as we possessed ships we 
should go and embark and leave the country entirely, 
and we were not going, and it was nothing but empty 
words, and because it was evident that many more 
Teules were arriving, it seemed well to the Mexicans 
to kill him (Pedro de Alvarado) and his soldiers and 
release the great Montezuma before the followers of 
Narvaez or our own men re-entered Mexico, and 
afterwards not to leave one of us or of the followers of 
Narvaez alive. 

Cortes turned and asked Pedro de Alvarado what 
was the reason that he attacked them when they were 
dancing and holding a fe&ivaL He replied that he 



knew for certain that as soon as they had finished 
the festivals and dances and the sacrifices that they 
were offering to their Huichilobos and Tezcatepuca, 
they would at once come and make an attack according 
to the agreement they had made between themselves, 
and this and all the ret he learned from a prieft and 
from two chieftains and from other Mexicans. 

Cortes said to him : " But they have told me that 
they asked your permission to hold festivals and 
dances " ; he replied that it was true, and it was in 
order to take them unprepared and to scare them, so 
that they should not come to attack him, that he 
hastened to fall on them. 

When Cortes heard this he said to him, very angrily, 
that it was very ill done and a great mistake and that 
he wished to God that Montezuma had escaped 
and not heard such an account from his Idols, So he 
left him and spoke no more to him about it. 

Pedro de Alvarado himself also said that when he 
advanced againft them in that conflict, he ordered a 
cannon, that was loaded with one ball and many small 
shot, to be fired, for as many squadrons of Indians 
were approaching to set fire to his quarters he sallied 
forth to fight them, and he ordered the cannon to be 
fired, but it did not go off, and after he had made a 
charge against the squadrons which were attacking 
him, and many Indians were bearing down on him, 
while he was retreating to the fortress and quarters, 
then, without fire being applied to the cannon, the ball 
and the small shot was discharged and killed many 
Indians ; and had it not so happened the enemy 
would have killed them all, and they did on that 
occasion carry off two of his soldiers alive. 

Another thing Pedro de Alvarado Stated, and this 
was the only thing that was also reported by the other 
soldiers, for the reft of the Stories were told by Alvarado 
alone, and it is that they had no water to drink, and 



they dug in the courtyard, and made a well and took 
out fresh water, all around being salt ; in all it 
amounted to many gifts that our Lord God bellowed 
on us. 


WHEN Cortes saw that they had given us no sort of a 
reception in Texcoco, and had not even given us food, 
except bad food and with bad grace, and that we found 
no chieftains with whom to parley, and he saw that all 
were scared away and ill disposed, and observed the 
same condition on coming to Mexico, how no market 
was held and the whole place was in revolt, and he heard 
from Pedro de Alvarado about the disorderly manner 
in which he made his attack, and as it appears that on 
the march Cortes had spoken to the Captains of 
Narvaez glorifying himself on the great veneration 
and command that he enjoyed, and how on the road 
the Indians would turn out to receive him and celebrate 
the occasion and give him gold, and that in Mexico 
he ruled as absolutely over the great Montezuma as 
over all his Captains, and that they would give him 
presents of gold, as they were used to do, and 
when everything turned out contrary to his expec- 
tations and they did not even give us food to 
eat, he was greatly irritated, and haughty towards the 
numerous Spaniards that he was bringing with him, 
and very sad and fretful. At this moment the great 
Montezuma sent two of his chieftains to beg our 
Cortes to go and see him, for he wished to speak to 
him, and the answer that Cortes gave them was " Go 
to, for a dog, who will not even keep open a market, 
and does not order food to be given us." Then when 
our Captains, that is, Juan Velasquez de Leon, Cri&6bal 
de Olid, Alonzo de Avila, and Francisco de Lugo, heard 



Cortes say this, they exclaimed : " Senor, moderate 
your anger and refleft how much good and honour 
this king of these countries has done us, who is so 
good that had it not been for him we should all of us 
already be dead, and they would have eaten us, and 
remember that he has even given you his daughters/' 

When Cortes heard this he was more angry than 
ever at the words they said to him, as they seemed to 
be a reproof, and he said : " Why should I be civil 
to a dog who was treating secretly with Narvaez, and 
now you can see that he does not even give us food 
to eat." Our Captains replied : " That is to our 
minds what he ought to do and it is good advice." 
As Cortes had so many Spaniards there with him in 
Mexico, both of our own party and of the followers of 
Narvaez he did not trouble himself a whit about any- 
thing, and he spoke angrily and rudely again, addressing 
the chieftains and telling them to say to their Lord 
Montezuma that he should at once order the markets 
and sales to be held, if not he would see what would 

The chieftains well understood the offensive remarks 
that Cortes made about their Lord and even the 
reproof that our Captains gave to Cortes about it, 
for they knew them well as having been those who 
used to be on guard over their Lord, and they knew 
that they were good friends of their Montezuma, and 
according to the way they understood the matter 
they repeated it to Montezuma. Either from anger 
at this treatment, or because it had already been agreed 
on that we were to be attacked, it was not a quarter 
of an hour later that a soldier arrived in great haSte 
and badly wounded. He came from a town close by 
Mexico named Tacuba and was escorting some Indian 
women who belonged to Cortes, one of them a daughter 
of Montezuma, for it appears that Cort6s had left 
them there in charge of the Lord of Tacuba, for they 



were relations of this same Lord, when we went off 
on the expedition against Narvaez. This soldier said 
that all the city and road by which he had come was 
full of warriors fully armed, and that they had taken 
from him the Indian women he was bringing and had 
given him two wounds and that if he had not let the 
women go, the Mexicans would have captured him, 
and would have put him in a canoe and carried him off 
to be sacrificed, and that they had broken down a 

Let me go on and say that Cortes promptly ordered 
Diego de Ordas to go with four hundred soldiers, 
and among them moSt of the crossbowmen and 
musketeers and some horsemen, and examine into 
what the soldier had reported, and that if he found that 
he could calm the Indians without fighting and 
disturbance that he should do so. 

Diego de Ordas set out in the way that he was 
ordered with his four hundred soldiers, but he had 
hardly reached the middle of the Street along which he 
was to march, when so many squadrons of Mexican 
warriors fell on him and so many more were on the 
roofs of the houses, and they made such fierce attacks 
that on the firSt assault they killed eight soldiers and 
wounded all the reSt, and Diego de Ordas himself 
was wounded in three places, and in this manner 
he could not advance one Step further but had to return 
little by little to his quarters. During the retreat they 
killed another good soldier named Lyscano who, 
with a broadsword, had done the work of a very 
valiant man. 

At that moment, while many squadrons came out 
againSt Ordas, many more approached our quarters 
and shot off so many javelins and Stones from slings, 
and arrows, that they wounded on that occasion alone 
over forty-six of our men, and twelve of them died of 
their wounds ; and such a number of warriors fell 



upon us that Diego de Ordas, who was coining in 
retreat, could not reach our quarters on account of 
the fierce assaults they made on him, some from the 
rear and others in front and others from the roofs. 

Little availed our cannon, or our muskets, crossbows 
and lances, or the thrusts we gave them, or our good 
fighting, for although we killed and wounded many of 
them, yet they managed to reach us by pushing 
forward over the points of our swords and lances, and 
closing up their squadrons never desisted from their 
brave attack, nor could we push them away from us. 

At lat, what with cannon and muskets and the 
damage we did them with our sword-thru&s, Odds 
found an opportunity to enter our quarters, and not 
until then, much as he desired it, could he force a 
passage with his badly wounded soldiers, fourteen 
fewer in number. Still many of the squadrons never 
ceased from attacking us, and telling us that we were 
like women, and they called us rogues and other 
abusive names. But the damage they had done us up 
to this time was as nothing to what they did after- 
wards, for such was their daring that, some attacking 
on one side and some on the other, they penetrated 
into our quarters and set fire to them, and we could 
not endure the smoke and the fire until it was remedied 
by flinging much earth over it, and cutting off other 
rooms whence the fire came. In truth, they believed 
that they would burn us alive in there. These conflicts 
la&ed all day long, and even during the night so many 
squadrons of them fell on us, and hurled javelins, 
Atones and arrows in masses, and random Atones so 
that what with those that fell during the day and those 
that then fell in all the courts and on the ground, it 
looked like chaff on a threshing floor. 

We passed the night in dressing wounds and in 
mending the breaches in the walls that the enemy had 
made, and in getting ready for the next day. Then, 



as soon as it was dawn, our Captain decided that all 
of us and Narvaez' men should sally out to fight with 
them and that we should take the cannon and muskets 
and crossbows and endeavour to defeat them, or at 
Ieat to make them feel our Strength and valour better 
than the day before. I may tate that when we came 
to this decision, the Mexicans were arranging the 
very same thing. We fought very well, but they 
were so Strong, and had so many squadrons which 
relieved each other from time to time, that even if 
ten thousand Trojan Heftors and as many more 
Roldans had been there, they would not have been able 
to break through them. 

We noted their tenacity in fighting, but I declare 
that I do not know how to describe it, for neither 
cannon nor muskets nor crossbows availed, nor 
hand-to-hand fighting, nor killing thirty or forty of 
them every time we charged, for they Still fought on 
in as close ranks and with more energy than in the 
beginning. Sometimes when we were gaining a little 
ground or a part of the ftreet, they pretended to retreat, 
but it was merely to induce us to follow them and cut 
us off from our fortress and quarters, so as to ,fall on 
us in greater safety to themselves, believing that we 
could not return to our quarters alive, for they did us 
much damage when we were retreating. 

Then, as to going out to burn their houses, I have 
already said that between one house and another 
they have wooden drawbridges, and these they raised 
so that we could only pass through deep water. Then 
we could not endure the rocks and Clones hurled from 
the roofs, in such a way that they damaged and 
wounded many of our men. I do not know why I 
write thus, so lukewarmly, for some three or four 
soldiers who were there with us and who had served 
in Italy, swore to God many times that they had never 
seen such fierce fights, not even when they had taken 



part in such between Christians and againSt the artillery 
of the King of France, or of the Great Turk, nor had 
they seen men like those Indians with such courage 
in closing up their ranks. 

With great difficulty we withdrew to our quarters, 
many squadrons of warriors Still pressing on us with 
loud yells and whiStles, and trumpets and drums, 
calling us villains and cowards who did not dare to 
meet them all day in battle, but turned in flight. 

On that day they killed ten or twelve more soldiers 
and we all returned badly wounded. What took place 
during the night was the arrangement that in two 
days' time all the soldiers in camp, as many as were 
able, should sally out with four engines like towers 
built of Strong timber, in such a manner that five 
and twenty men could find shelter under each of them, 
and they were provided with apertures and loopholes 
through which to shoot, and musketeers and cross- 
bowmen accompanied them, and close by them were 
to march the other soldiers, musketeers and cross- 
bowmen and the guns, and all the reSt, and the horse- 
men were to make charges. 

When this plan was settled, as we spent all that 
day in carrying out the work and in Strengthening 
many breaches that they had made in the walls, we 
did not go out to fight. 


I DO not know how to tell of the great squadrons 
of warriors who came to attack us that day in our 
quarters, not only in ten or twelve places, but in more 
than twenty, for we were distributed over them all 
and in many other places, and while we built up and 
fortified ourselves, as I have related, many other 



squadrons openly endeavoured to penetrate into our 
quarters, and neither with guns, crossbows nor 
muskets, nor with many charges and sword-thrusts 
could we force them back, for they said that not one 
of us should remain alive that day and they would 
sacrifice our hearts and blood to their gods, and would 
have enough to glut their appetites and hold feals 
on our arms and legs, and would throw our bodies to 
the tigers, lions, vipers and snakes, which they kept 
caged, so that they might gorge on them, and for that 
reason they had ordered them not to be given food for 
the paft two days. As for the gold we possessed, we 
would get little satisfaftion from it or from all the 
cloths ; and as for the Tlaxcalans who were with us, 
they said that they would place them in cages to 
fatten, and little by little they would offer their bodies 
in sacrifice ; and, very tenderly, they said that we 
should give up to them their great Lord Montezuma, 
and they said other things. Night by night, in like 
manner, there were always many yells and whittles 
and showers of darts, Clones and arrows. 

As soon as dawn came, after commending ourselves 
to God, we sallied out from our quarters with our towers, 
with the cannon, muskets, and crossbows in advance, 
and the horsemen making charges, but, as I have 
Stated, although we killed many of them it availed 
nothing towards making them turn their backs, indeed 
if they had fought bravely on the two previous days, 
they proved themselves far more vigorous and dis- 
played much greater forces and squadrons ^ on this 
day. Nevertheless, we determined, although it should 
co& the lives of all of us, to push on with our towers 
and engines as far as the great Cue of Huichilobos. 
I will not relate at length the fights we had with 
them in a fortified house, nor will I tell how they 
wounded the horses, nor were the horses of any use 
to us, because although the horsemen charged the 



squadrons to break through them, so many arrows, 
darts and Stones were hurled at them, that they, well 
protected by armour though they were, could not 
prevail against the enemy, and if they pursued and 
overtook them, the Mexicans promptly dropped for 
safety into the canals and lagoons where they had 
raised other walls against the horsemen, and many 
other Indians were Stationed with very long lances to 
finish killing them. Thus it benefited us nothing to 
turn aside to burn or demolish a house, it was quite 
useless, for, as I have said, they all Stood in the water, 
and between house and house there was a movable 
bridge, and to cross by swimming was very dangerous, 
for on the roofs they had such &ore of rocks and 
Atones and such defences, that it was certain destruction 
to risk it. In addition to this, where we did set fire to 
some houses, a single house took a whole day to burn, 
and the houses did not catch fire one from the other ; 
thus it was useless toil to risk our persons in the 
attempt, so we went towards the great Cue of their 
Idols. Then, all of a sudden, more than four thousand 
Mexicans ascended it, 1 not counting other Companies 
that were ported on it with long lances and Stones and 
darts, and placed themselves on the defensive, and 
resisted our ascent for a good while, and neither the 
towers nor the cannon or crossbows, nor the muskets 
were of any avail, nor the horsemen, for, although they 
wished to charge, the whole of the courtyard was paved 
with very large flagstones, so that the horses loSt their 
foothold, and the Stones were so slippery that the 
horses felL While from the Steps of the lofty Cue they 
forbade our advance, we had so many enemies both 
on one side and the other that although our cannon 
shots carried off ten or fifteen of them and we slew 

1 This was the Great TeocalJi of Tenochtitlan, quite close to the 
Spanish Quarters. Cortes says that five hundred Mexicans ascended 
the Teocalli itself to defend it. 



many others by sword-thrusts and charges, so many 
men attacked us that we were not able to ascend the 
lofty Cue. However with great unanimity we persisted 
in the attack, and without taking the towers (for they 
were already destroyed) we made our way to the 

Here Cortes showed himself very much of a man, 
as he always was. Oh ! what a fight and what a fierce 
battle it was that took place ; it was a memorable 
thing to see us all Streaming with blood and covered 
with wounds and others slain. It pleased our Lord 
that we reached the place where we used to keep the 
image of Our Lady, and we did not find it, and it 
appears, as we came to know, that the great Montezuma 
paid devotion to Her, and ordered the image to be 
preserved in safety. 

We set fire to their Idols and a good part of the 
chamber with the Idols Huichilobos and Tezcatepuc 
was burned. On that occasion the Tlaxcalans helped 
us very greatly. After this was accomplished, while 
some of us were fighting and others kindling the fire, 
as I have related, oh 1 to see the priests who were 
Stationed on this great Cue, and the three or four 
thousand Indians, all men of importance. While we 
descended, oh ! how they made us tumble down six 
or even ten teps at a time ! And so much more there 
is to tell of the other squadrons poSted on the battle- 
ments and recesses of the great Cue discharging so 
many darts and arrows that we could face neither one 
group of squadrons nor the other. We resolved to 
return, with much toil and risk to ourselves, to our 
quarters, our castles being destroyed, all of us wounded 
and sixteen slain, with the Indians constantly pressing 
on us and other squadrons on our flanks. 

However clearly I may tell all this, I can never fully 
explain it to any one who did not see us. So far, I 
have not spoken of what the Mexican squadrons 


did who kept on attacking our quarters while we 
were marching outside, and the great obstinacy and 
tenacity they displayed in forcing their way in. 

In this battle, we captured two of the chief priests, 
whom Cortes ordered us to convey with great care. 

Many times I have seen among the Mexicans and 
Tlaxcalans, paintings of this battle, and the ascent 
that we made of the great Cue, as they look upon it 
as a very heroic deed. And although in the piftures 
that they have made of it, they depift all of us as badly 
wounded and Streaming with blood and many of us 
dead they considered it a great feat, this setting fire 
to the Cue, when so many warriors were guarding it 
both on the battlements and recesses, and many 
more Indians were below on the ground and the 
Courts were full of them and there were many more 
on the sides ; and with our towers destroyed, how was 
it possible to scale it ? 

Let us top talking about it and I will relate how 
with great labour we returned to our quarters and if 
many men were then following us, as many more 
were in our quarters, for they had already demolished 
some walls so as to gain an entry, but on our arrival 
they desisted. Nevertheless, during all the ret of the 
day they never ceased to discharge darts, Atones and 
arrows, and during the night yells and stones and 

That night was passed in dressing wounds and in 
burying the dead, in preparations for going out to 
fight the following day, in Strengthening and adding 
parapets to the walls they had pulled down, and to 
other breaches they had made, and in consulting how 
and in what way we could fight without suffering 
such great damage and death, and throughout the 
discussion we found no remedy at all. 

Then I also wish to speak of the malediftions that 
the followers of Narvaez hurled at Cortes, and the 



words that they used, cursing him and the country 
and even Diego Velasquez who had sent them there 
when they were peacefully settled in their homes in 
the Island of Cuba, and they were crazy and out of 
their minds. 

Let us go back to our tory. It was decided to sue 
for peace so that we could leave Mexico, and as soon 
as it was dawn many more squadrons of Mexicans 
arrived and very effectually surrounded our quarters 
on all sides, and if they had discharged many stones 
and arrows before, they came much thicker and with 
louder howls and whittles on this day, and other 
squadrons endeavoured to force an entrance in other 
parts, and cannon and muskets availed nothing, 
although we did them damage enough. 

When Cortes saw all this, he decided that the great 
Montezuma should speak to them from the roof and 
tell them that the war must cease, and that we wished 
to leave his city. When they went to give this message 
from Cortes to the great Montezuma, it is reported 
that he said with great grief : " What more does 
Malinche want from me ? I neither wish to live nor 
to listen to him, to such a pass has my fate brought 
me because of him." And he did not wish to come, 
and it is even reported that he said he neither wished 
to see nor hear him, nor listen to his false words, 
promises or lies. Then the Padre de la Merced and 
Cristobal de Olid went and spoke to him with much 
reverence and in very affectionate terms, and Monte- 
zuma said : "I believe that I shall not obtain any 
result towards ending this war, for they have already 
raised up another Lord and have made up their minds 
not to let you leave this place alive, therefore I believe 
that all of you will have to die," 

Montezuma was placed by a battlement of the 
roof with many of us soldiers guarding him, and he 
began to speak to his people, with very affectionate 



expressions telling them to desist from the war, and 
that we would leave Mexico. Many of the Mexican 
Chieftains and Captains knew him well and at once 
ordered their people to be silent and not to discharge 
darts, Clones or arrows, and four of them reached a 
spot where Montezuma could speak to them, and 
they to him, and with tears they said to him : " Oh ! 
Senor, and our great Lord, how all your misfortune 
and injury and that of your children and relations 
afflifts us, we make known to you that we have already 
raised one of your kinsmen to be our Lord ", and 
there he Stated his name, that he was called Cuitlahuac, 
the Lord of Ixtapalapa, and moreover they said that 
the war mut be carried through, and that they had 
vowed to their Idols not to relax it until we were all 
dead, and that they prayed every day to their Huichi- 
lobos and Texcatepuca to guard him free and safe 
from our power,- and that should it end as they desired, 
they would not fail to hold him in higher regard as 
their Lord than they did before, and they begged him 
to forgive them. They had hardly finished this speech 
when suddenly such a shower of Atones and darts 
were discharged that (our men who were shielding 
him having neglected for a moment their duty, 
because they saw how the attack ceased while he spoke 
to them) he was hit by three Atones, one on the head, 
another on the arm and another on the leg, and although 
they begged him to have the wounds dressed and to 
take food, and spoke kind words to him about it, he 
would not. Indeed, when we leal expefted it, they 
came to say that he was dead. Cortes wept for him, 
and all of us Captains and soldiers, and there was no 
man among us who knew him and was intimate with 
him, who did not bemoan him as though he were 
-our father, and it is not to be wondered at, considering 
how good he was. It was Elated that he had reigned 
for seventeen years and that he was the bel kifig there 



had ever been in Mexico, and that he had conquered 
in person, in three wars which he had carried on in 
the countries he had subjugated. 

I have already told about the sorrow that we all of 
us felt about it when we saw that Montezuma was 
dead. We even thought badly of the Fraile de la 
Merced because he had not persuaded him to become 
a Christian, and he gave as an excuse that he did not 
think that he would die of those wounds, but that he 
ought to have ordered them to give him something 
to Stupefy him. At the end of much discussion Cortes 
ordered a priest and a chief from among the prisoners 
to go and tell the Cacique whom they had chosen for 
Lord, who was named Cuitlahuac, and his Captains, 
that the great Montezuma was dead, and they had 
seen him die, and about the manner of his death and 
the wounds his own people had inflifted on him, and 
they should say how grieved we all were about it, and 
that they should bury him as the great king that he 
was, and they should raise the cousin of Montezuma 
who was with us, to be king, for the inheritance was 
his, or one of Montezuma's other sons, and that he 
whom they had raised to be king was not so by right, 
and they should negotiate a peace so that we could 
leave Mexico ; and if they did not do so, now that 
Montezuma was dead, whom we held in respeft and 
for that reason had not destroyed their city, we should 
sally out to make war on them and burn all their 
houses and do them much damage. So as to convince 
them that Montezuma was dead, he ordered six 
Mexicans who were high chieftains, and the priests 
whom we held as prisoners, to carry him out on their 
shoulders, and to hand the body over to the Mexican 
Captains, and to tell them what Montezuma had 
commanded at the time of his death, for those who 
carried him out on their backs were present at his 
death ; and they told Cuitlahuac the whole truth, 

417 *e 


how his own people killed him with blows from three 

When they beheld him thus dead, we saw that they 
were in floods of tears and we clearly heard the shrieks 
and cries of distress that they gave for him, but for all 
this, the fierce assault they made on us never ceased, 
and then they came on us again with greater force and 
fury, and said to us : " Now for certain you will pay 
for the death of our King and Lord, and the dishonour 
to our Idols ; and as for the peace you sent to beg for, 
come out here and we will settle how and in what 
way it is to be made ", and they said that they had 
already chosen a good king, and he would not be so 
faint-hearted as to be deceived with false speeches 
like their good Montezuma, and as for the burial, we 
need not trouble about that, but about our own lives, 
for in two days there would not be one of us left so 
much for the messages we had sent them. With these 
words they fell on us with loud yells and whittles and 
showers of Clones, darts and arrows, while other 
squadrons were Still attempting to set fire to our 
quarters in many places. 

When Cortes and all of us observed this, we agreed 
that next day we would all of us sally out from our 
camp and attack in another dire&ion, where there 
were many houses on dry land, and we would do all 
the damage we were able and go towards the causeway, 
and that all the horsemen should break through the 
squadrons and spear them with their lances or drive 
them into the water, even though the enemy should 
kill the horses. This was decided on in order to find out 
if by chance, with the damage and slaughter that we 
should inflift on them, they would abandon their 
attack and arrange some sort of peace, so that we could 
go free without more deaths and damage. Although 
the next day we all bore ourselves very manfully and 
killed many of the enemy and burned a matter of 



twenty houses and almost reached dry land, it was all 
of no use, because of the great damage and deaths and 
wounds they inflifted on us, and we could not hold a 
single bridge, for they were all of them half broken 
down. Many Mexicans charged down on us, and 
they had set up walls and barricades in places which 
they thought could be reached by the horses, so that 
if we had met with many difficulties up to this time, 
we found much greater ones ahead of us. 


Now we saw our forces diminishing every day and 
those of the Mexicans increasing, and many of our 
men were dead and all the ret wounded, and although 
we fought like brave men we could not drive back nor 
even get free from the many squadrons which attacked 
us both by day and night, and the powder was giving 
out, and the same was happening with the food and 
water, and the great Montezuma being dead, they 
were unwilling to grant the peace and truce which we 
had sent to demand of them. In fa& we were Glaring 
death in the face, and the bridges had been raised. 
It was therefore decided by Cortes and all of us captains 
and soldiers that we should set out during the night. 
That very afternoon we sent to tell them, through one 
of their prlels whom we held prisoner and who was a 
man of great importance among them, that they should 
let us go in peace within eight days and we would give 
up to them all the gold ; and this was done to put them 
off their guard so that we might get out that night. 

The order was given to make a bridge of very Strong 
beams and planks, so that we could carry it with us 
and place it where the bridges were broken. Four 
hundred Tlaxcalan Indians and one hundred and fifty 



soldiers ^ were told off to carry this bridge and place it 
in position and guard the passage until the army and 
all the baggage had crossed. Two hundred Tlaxcalan 
Indians and fifty soldiers were told off to carry the 
cannon, and Gonzalo de Sandoval, Diego de Ordas, 
Francisco de Sauzedo, Francisco de Lugo and a 
company of one hundred young and aftive soldiers 
were selefted to go in the van to do the fighting. It 
was agreed that Cortes himself, Alonzo de Avila, 
Cristobal de Olid, and other Captains should go 
in the middle and support the party that mot needed 
help in fighting. Pedro de Alvarado and Juan 
Velasquez de Leon were with the rearguard, and placed 
in the middle between them and the preceding section 
were two captains and the soldiers of Narvaez, and 
three hundred Tlaxcalans and thirty soldiers were told 
off to take charge of the prisoners and of Dona Marina 
and Dona Luisa ; by the time this arrangement 
was made, it was already night, 

In order to bring out the gold and divide it up and 
carry it, Cortes ordered his Steward named Cri&obal 
de Guzman and other soldiers who were his servants 
to bring out all the gold and jewels and silver, and he 
gave them many Tlaxcalan Indians for the purpose, 
and they placed it in the Hall. Then Cortes told the 
King's officers named Alonzo Davila and Gonzalo 
Mejia to take charge of the gold belonging to His 
Majesty, and he gave them seven wounded and lame 
horses and one mare, and many friendly Tlaxcalans, 
more than eighty in number, and they loaded them 
with parcels of it, as much as they could carry, for it 
was put up into very broad ingots, and much gold Still 
remained in the Hall piled up in heaps. Then Cortes 
called his secretary and the others who were King's 
Notaries, and said : " Bear witness for me that I 
can do no more with this gold. We have here in this 
apartment and Hall over seven hundred thousand pesos 



in gold, and, as you have seen, it cannot be weighed nor 
placed in safety. I now give it up to any of the soldiers 
who care to take it, otherwise it will be lofc among these 
dogs of Mexicans/' 

When they heard this many of the soldiers of 
Narvaez and some of our people loaded themselves 
with it. I declare that I had no other desire but the 
desire to save my life, but I did not fail to carry off 
from some small boxes that were there, four chalchi- 
huites, which are Atones very highly prized among 
the Indians, and I quickly placed them in my bosom 
under my armour, and, later on, the price of them 
served me well in healing my wounds and getting 
me food. 

After we had learnt the plans that Cortes had made 
about the way in which we were to escape that night 
and get to the bridges, as it was somewhat dark and 
cloudy and rainy, we began before midnight to bring 
along the bridge and the baggage, and the horses 
and mare began their march, and the Tlaxcalans who 
were laden with the gold. Then the bridge was quickly 
put in place, and Cortes and the others whom he took 
with him in the firft detachment and many of the 
horsemen, crossed over it. While this was happening, 
the voices, trumpets, cries and whittles of the Mexicans 
began to sound and they called out in their language 
to the people of Tlaltelolco, " Coine out at once with 
your canoes for the Teules are leaving ; cut them 
off so that not one of them may be left alive/' When I 
leal expected it, we saw so many squadrons of warriors 
bearing down on us, and the lake so crowded with 
canoes that we could not defend ourselves. Many of 
our soldiers had already crossed the bridge, and while 
we were in this position, a great multitude of Mexicans 
charged down on us with the intention of removing the 
bridge and wounding and killing our men who were 
unable to assist each other ; and as fortune is perverse 



at such times, one mischance followed another, and 
as it was raining, two of the horses slipped and fell 
into the lake. When I and others of Cortes Company 
saw that, we got safely to the other side of the bridge, 
and so many warriors charged on us, that despite all 
our good fighting, no further use could be made of 
the bridge, so that the passage or water opening was 
soon filled up with dead horses, Indian men and women, 
servants, baggage and boxes. 

Fearing that they would not fail to kill us, we thrust 
ourselves ahead along the causeway, and we met many 
squadrons armed with long lances waiting for us, and 
they used abusive words to us, and among them they 
cried : " Oh ! villains, are you till alive ? " and 
with the cuts and thrusts we gave them, we got through, 
although they then wounded six of those who were 
going along with me. Then if there was some sort of 
plan such as we had agreed upon it was an accursed 
one ; for Cortes and the captains and soldiers who 
passed firt on horseback, so as to save themselves 
and reach dry land and make sure of their lives, 
spurred on along the causeway, and they did not fail 
to attain their objeft, and the horses with the gold and 
the Tlaxcalans also got out in safety. I assert that if 
we had waited (the horsemen and the soldiers one for 
the other) at the bridges, we should all have been put 
an end to, and not one of us would have been left 
alive ; the reason was this, that as we went along the 
causeway, charging the Mexican squadrons, on one 
side of us was water and on the other azoteas, 1 and 
the lake was full of canoes so that we could do nothing. 
Moreover the muskets and crossbows were all left 
behind at the bridge, and as it was night time, what 
could we do beyond what we accomplished ? which 
was to charge and give some sword-thruls to those 
who tried to lay hands on us, and to march and get on 
ahead so as to get off the causeway. 

1 The flat roofs of the houses. 


Had it been in the day-time, it would have been 
far worse, and we who escaped did so only by the 
Grace of God. To one who saw the hosts of warriors 
who fell on us that night and the canoes full of them 
coming along to carry off our soldiers, it was terrifying. 
So we went ahead along the causeway in order to get 
to the town of Tacuba where Cortes was already 
Rationed with all the Captains. Gonzalo de Sandoval, 
Cri&obal de Olid and others of those horsemen who 
had gone on ahead were crying out : " Senor Capitan, 
let us halt, for they say that we are fleeing and leaving 
them to die at the bridges ; let us go back and help 
them, if any of them survive " ; but not one of them 
came out or escaped. Cortes' reply was that it was a 
miracle that any of us escaped. However, he promptly 
went back with the horsemen and the soldiers who 
were unwounded, but they did not march far, for Pedro 
de Alvarado soon met them, badly wounded, holding 
a spear in his hand, and on foot, for the enemy had 
already killed his sorrel mare, and he brought with 
him four soldiers as badly wounded as he was himself, 
and eight Tlaxcalans, all of them with blood flowing 
from many wounds. 

While Cortes was on the causeway with the re& of 
the captains, we repaired to the courtyard in Tacuba. 
Many squadrons had already arrived from Mexico, 
shouting out orders to Tacuba and to the other town 
named Azcapotzalco, and they began to hurl darts, 
Clones and arrows and attack with their long lances. 
We made some charges and both attacked them and 
defended ourselves* 

Let us go back to Pedro de Alvarado. When Cortes 
and the other Captains met him in that way, and saw 
that no more soldiers were coming along the causeway, 
tears sprang to his eyes. Pedro de Alvarado said that 
Juan Velasquez de Leon lay dead with many other 
gentlemen both of our own company and that of 



Narvaez, and that more than eighty of them were at 
the bridge ; that he and the four soldiers whom he 
brought with him, after their horses had been killed, 
crossed the bridge in great peril, over the dead bodies, 
horses and boxes with which that passage at the 
bridge was choked. Moreover, he said that all the 
bridges and causeways were crowded with warriors. 
At the bridge of sorrow, which they afterwards called 
" Alvarado's leap ", I assert that at the time not a 
single soldier Stopped to see if he leaped much or 
little, for we could hardly save our own lives, as we 
were in great danger of death on account of the 
multitude of Mexicans charging down on us. I never 
heard of this leap of Alvarado until after Mexico was 
captured, and it was in some satirical verses made by 
a certain Gonzalo de Ocampo, which, as they were 
somewhat naly, I will not fully quote here, except 
that he says : " Thou shouldt remember the leap 
that thou tooke& from the bridge " ; but I will not 
dwell on this subjeft. 

Let us go on and I will relate how, when we were 
waiting in Tacuba, many Mexican warriors came 
together from all those towns and they killed three 
of our soldiers,- so we agreed to get out of that town 
as quickly as we could, and five Tlaxcalan Indians, 
who found out a way towards Tlaxcala without follow- 
ing the main road, guided us with great precaution 
until we reached some small houses placed on a hill, 
and near to them a Cue or Oratory built like a fort, 
where we halted. 

As we marched along we were followed by the 
Mexicans who hurled arrows and darts at us and Clones 
from their slings, and the way in which they surrounded 
us and continually attacked us, was terrifying, as I 
have already said many times and am tired of 
repeating it. 

We defended ourselves in that Cue and fortress, 



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where we lodged and attended to the wounded and 
made many fires, but as for anything to eat, there 
was no thought of it. At that Cue or Oratory, after 
the great city of Mexico was captured, we built a 
church^ which is called " Nue&ra Senora de los 
Remedies ", and is very much visited, and many of 
the inhabitants and ladies from Mexico now go there 
on pilgrimages and to hold novenas.' 1 

It was pitiable to see our wounds being dressed 
and bound up with cotton cloths, and as they were 
chilled and swollen they were very painful. However 
what was more to be wept over was the loss of the 
gentlemen and brave soldiers who were missing, 
namely, Juan Velasquez de Leon, Francisco de 
Sauzedo, Francisco de Morla, Lares the good horse- 
man and many others of us followers of Cortes. I name 
these few only because it would be a long business to 
write the names of the great number of our com- 
panions who were missing. Of the followers of 
Narvaez, the greater number were left at the bridges 
weighed down with gold. 

Let us go on to say how there were left dead at the 
bridges the sons and daughters of Montezuma as well as- 
the prisoners we were bringing with us, also Cacamatzin 
the Lord of Texcoco and other kings of provinces. 
Let us top relating all these hardships and say how we 
were thinking of what we had in front of us, for we 
were all wounded, and only twenty-three horses 
escaped ; then of the cannon and artillery and powder,, 
we saved nothing ; the crossbows were few in number 
and we promptly mended their cords and made 
arrows but the wor& of all was that we did not know 
what we should find the disposition of our friends the 
Tlaxcalans would be towards us. In addition to this, 
always surrounded by Mexicans who fell on us with 
yells, we determined to get out of that place at 
1 Novenas : religious exercises extending over nine days. 


midnight with the Tlaxcalans in front as guides, 
takingevery precaution. We marched with the wounded 
in the middle and the lame supported with Staffs, 
and some, who were very bad and could not walk, 
on the croups of the horses that were lame and were 
not fit for fighting. Those horsemen who were not 
wounded went in front or were divided some on one 
side, some on the other, and marching in this manner 
all of us who were mot free from wounds kept our 
faces towards the enemy. The wounded Tlaxcalans 
went in the body of our squadron and the reft of 
them who were sufficiently sound faced the enemy 
in company with us. The Mexicans were always 
harassing us with loud cries, yells and whittles, 
shouting out, " You are going where not one of you 
will be left alive ", and we did not understand why 
they said so, but it will be seen later on. But I have 
forgotten to write down how happy we were to see 
Dona Marina Still alive, and Dona Luisa the daughter 
of Xicotenga, whose escape at the bridges was due 
to some Tlaxcalans, and also a woman named Maria 
de Estrada, who was the only Spanish woman in 
Mexico. Those who escaped and got away firft from 
the bridges were some sons of Xicotenga, the brothers 
of Dona Luisa. Moft of our servants who had been 
given to us in Tlaxcala and in the city of Mexico 
itself were left behind dead. 1 

1 The distances traversed on the Noche Trifte are approximately 
as follows : 

Yards. Miles. 
Prom the Spanish quarters to Tecpantzingo . . roool 

Tecpantzingo to Tolteacalli . . . 740 my I J 
Tolteacalli to Toltecaacalopan . . . 5J 
Toltecaacalopan to the Ahuehuete Tree at 

Popotla on the margin of the lake zj 

The Ahuehuete Tree to the Pkza of Tacuba i 

Tacuba to Los Remedies ...... 4 




THAT day we reached some farms and huts belonging 
to a large town named Cuautitlan. Thence we went 
through some farms and hamlets with the Mexicans 
always in pursuit of us, and as many of them had 
got together, they endeavoured to kill us and began to 
surround us, and hurled many Clones with their slings 
and javelins and arrows, and with their broadswords they 
killed two of our soldiers in a bad pass, and they also 
killed a horse and wounded many of our men, and 
we also with cut and thrust killed some of them, and 
the horsemen did the same. We slept in those houses 
and we ate the horse they had killed, and the next 
day very early in the morning we began our march, 
with the same and even greater precautions than we 
observed before, half of the horsemen always going 
ahead. On a plain a little more than a league further 
on, (when we began to think that we could march in 
safety,) our scouts, who were on the look out, returned 
to say that the fields were full of Mexican warriors 
waiting for us. When we heard this we were indeed 
alarmed but not so as to be faint-hearted or to fail to 
meet them and fight to the death. There we halted 
for a short time and orders were given how the horse- 
men were to charge and return at a hand gallop, and 
were not to top to spear the enemy but to keep their 
lances aimed at their faces until they broke up their 
squadrons ; and that all the soldiers, in the thrusts 
they gave, should pass their swords through the bodies 
of their opponents, and that we should aft in such a 
way as to avenge thoroughly the deaths and wounds 
of our companions, so that if God willed it we should 
escape with our lives. 

After commending ourselves to God and the Holy 



Mary, full of courage, and calling on the name of 
Senor Santiago, as soon as we saw that the enemy 
began to surround us, and that the horsemen, keeping 
in parties of five, broke through their ranks, we all 
of us charged at the same time. 

Oh ! what a sight it was to see this fearful and 
detru6tive battle, how we moved all mixed up with 
them foot to foot, and the cuts and thrusts we gave 
them; and with what fury the dogs fought, and what 
wounds and deaths they inflifted on us with their 
lances and macanas. Then, as the ground was level, 
to see how the horsemen speared them as they chose, 
charging and returning, and although both they and 
their horses were wounded, they never topped fighting 
like very brave men. As for all of us who had no 
horses, it seemed as if we all put on double Strength, 
for although we were wounded and again received 
other wounds, we did not trouble to bind them up so 
as not to halt to do so, for there was not time, but with 
great spirit we closed with the enemy so as to give them 
sword thrusts. I wish to tell about Cortes and Cristobal 
de Olid, Gonzalo de Sand oval, Gonzalo Domfnguez 
and a Juan de Salamanca who although badly wounded 
rode on one side and the other, breaking through the 
squadrons ; and about the words that Cortes said 
to those who were in the thick of the enemy, that the 
cuts and thrums that we gave should be aimed at 
distinguished chieftains, for they all of them bore 
great golden plumes and rich arms and devices. 
Then to see how the valiant and spirited Sandoval 
encouraged us and cried : " Now, gentlemen, this 
is the day when we are bound to be victorious ; have 
truSt in God and we shall come out of this alive for 
some good purpose." They killed and wounded a 

Seat number of our soldiers, but it pleased God that 
>rtes and the Captains whom I have already named 
who went in his Company reached the place where 



the Captain General of the Mexicans was marching 
with his banner displayed, and with rich golden 
armour and great gold and silver plumes. When 
Cortes saw him with many other Mexican Chieftains 
all wearing great plumes, he said to our Captains : 
" Now, Senores, let us break through them and 
leave none of them un wounded" ; and commending 
themselves to God, Cortes, Cristobal de Olid, Sandoval, 
Alonzo de Avila, and the other horsemen charged, 
and Cortes Struck his horse against the Mexican 
Captain, which made him drop his banner, and the 
reft of our Captains succeeded in breaking through 
the squadron which consisted of many Indians follow- 
ing the Captain who carried the banner, who never- 
theless had not fallen at the shock that Cortes had given 
him, and it was Juan de Salamanca, who rode with 
Cortes on a good piebald mare, who gave him a lance 
thruft and took from him the rich plume that he wore, 
and afterwards gave it to Cortes, saying that as it 
was he who firft met him and made him lower his 
banner and deprived his followers of the courage to 
fight, that the plume belonged to him (Cortes). 
However, three years afterwards, the King gave it 
to Salamanca as his coat of arms, and his descendants 
bear it on their tabards. 

Let us go back to the battle. It pleased Our Lord 
that when that Captain who carried the Mexican 
banner was dead (and many others were killed there) 
their attack slackened, and all the horsemen followed 
them and we felt neither hunger nor thirft, and it 
seemed as though we had neither suffered nor passed 
through any evil or hardship, as we followed up our 
viftory killing and wounding. Then our friends the 
Tlaxcalans were very lions, and with their swords and 
broadswords which they there captured from the 
enemy behaved very well and valiantly. When the 
horsemen returned from following up the viftory we 



all gave many thanks to God for having escaped from 
such a great multitude of people, for there had never 
been seen or found throughout the Indies such a 
great number of warriors together in any battle that 
was fought, for there was present there the flower of 
Mexico and Texcoco and all the towns around the 
lake, and others in the neighbourhood, and the people 
of Otumba and Tepetexcoco and Saltocan, who all 
came in the belief that this time not a trace of us would 
be left. Then what rich armour they wore, with so 
much gold and plumes and devices, and nearly all 
of them were captains and chieftains. Near the spot 
where this hard-fought and celebrated battle took 
place, and where one can say God spared our lives, 
there Stands a town named Otumba. 

Our escape from the City of Mexico was on the 
tenth of the month of July [1520], and this celebrated 
battle of Otumba was fought on the fourteenth of July. 

I assert that within a matter of five days over eight 
hundred and sixty soldiers were killed and sacrificed, 
as well as seventy-two who were killed in a town 
named Tu&epec,' together with five Spanish women 
(those who were killed at Tu&epec belonged to the 
company of Narvaez) and over a thousand Tlaxcalans 
were slain. At that time they also killed Juan de 
Alcantara the elder, with three other settlers from 
Villa Rica. If many more of the followers of Narvaez 
than those of Cortes died at the bridges, it was because 
they went forth laden with gold, and owing to its 
weight they could neither escape nor swim. 

We went on to some othefr farms and a small town 
where there was a good Cue and Strong house where 
we defended ourselves that night and dressed our 
wounds and got some ret. Although squadrons of 
Mexicans till followed us they did not dare to come 
up to us, and those who did come were as though 
they said " There you go out of our country." 



From that small town where we slept, the hills 
over against Tlaxcala could be seen, and when we 
saw them we were as delighted as though they had been 
our own homes. But how could we know for certain 
that they were loyal to us or what their disposition was, 
or what had happened to those who were settled at 
Villa Rica, whether they were alive or dead ? Cortes 
said to us that, although we were few in number, and 
there were only four hundred and forty of us left 
with twenty horses and twelve crossbowmen and seven 
musketeers, and we had no powder and were all 
wounded, lame, and maimed, we could see very 
clearly how our Lord Jesus Christ had been pleased 
to spare our lives, and for that we should always give 
Him great thanks and honour. Moreover, we had 
come again to be reduced to the number and Strength 
of the soldiers who accompanied him the firt time 
we entered Mexico, namely four hundred soldiers. 
He begged us not to give annoyance to the people 
in Tlaxcala, and not to take anything from them, and 
this he explained to the followers of Narvaez, for they 
were not used to obey their Captains in the wars as 
we were. Moreover, he said he trusted in God that 
we should find the Tlaxcalans true and very loyal, 
and that if it were otherwise, which God forfend, we 
mut turn aside the blows of fate with Stout hearts 
and Strong arms, and for this we mut be well 

With our scouts ahead of us, we reached a spring 
on the hillside where there were some walls and 
defences made in pal times, and our friends the 
Tlaxcalans said that this was the boundary between 
them and the Mexicans, and, in welcome tranquillity 
after the misery we had gone through, we halted to- 
wash and to eat. Then we soon resumed our march 
and went to a Tlaxcalan town named Hueyotlipan 
where they received us and gave us to eat, but not much > 


unless we paid them with some small pieces of gold and 
chalchilmites which some of us carried with us ; they 
gave us nothing without payment. There we remained 
one day reeling and curing our wounds and we also 
attended to the horses. Then as soon as they heard 
the news at the Capital of Tlaxcala, Mase Escasi and 
Xicotenga the elder, and Chichimecatecle and many 
other Caciques and Chieftains and nearly all the 
inhabitants of Huexotzingo promptly came to us. 
When they reached the town where we were camped 
they came to embrace Cortes and all of us captains 
and soldiers, some of them weeping, especially Mase 
Escasi, Xicotenga, and Chichimecatecle, and Tapaneca, 
and they said to Cortes : " Oh ! Malinche, Malinche ! 
How grieved we are at your misfortunes and those of 
all your brothers, and at the number of our own people 
who have been killed with yours. We have told you 
so many times not to put trul in the Mexican people, 
for one day or the other they were sure to attack you, 
but you would not believe us. Now it has come to 
pass, and no more can be done at present than to tend 
you and give you to eat ; reft yourselves for you are 
at home, and we will soon go to our town where we 
will find you quarters. Do not think, Malinche, that 
it is a small thing you have done to escape with your 
lives from that impregnable city and its bridges, and 
I tell you that if we formerly looked upon you as very 
brave, we now think you much more valiant ; and 
although many Indian women in our towns will bewail 
the deaths of their sons, husbands, brothers and 
kinsmen, do not trouble yourself about that. Much 
do you owe to your Gods who have brought you here 
and delivered you from such a multitude of warriors 
who were awaiting you at Otumba. For four days 
I had known that they were waiting for you to slay 
you. I wanted to go in search of you with thirty 
thousand of our own warriors, but I could not tart 

43 2 


because they were not assembled and men were out 
collefting them." 

Cortes and all our Captains and soldiers embraced 
them and told them that we thanked them, and Cortes 
gave to all the chieftains golden jewels and precious 
Itones, and as every soldier had escaped with as much 
as he could carry some of us gave presents to our 
acquaintances from what we possessed. Then what 
rejoicing and happiness they showed when they saw that 
Dona Luisa and Dona Marina were saved, and what 
weeping and sorrow for the other Indians who did 
not come but were left behind dead. Especially did 
Mase Escasi weep for his daughter Dona Elvira and 
the death of Juan Velasquez de Leon to whom he had 
given her. 

In this way we went to the Capital of Tlaxcala with 
all the Caciques, and Cortes lodged in the houses of 
Mase Escasi, and Xicotenga gave his quarters to 
Pedro de Alvarado, and there we tended our wounds 
and began to recover our Strength, but, nevertheless, 
four soldiers died of their wounds and some other 
soldiers failed to recover. 


WE were also uneasy at not knowing about the 
people at Villa Rica, let some disaster had happened 
to them, so Cort6s at once wrote to them and sent 
the letter by three Tlaxcalans, and he asked them 
whether they had any powder or crossbows because 
he wished to return and scour the neighbourhood of 
Mexico. He also wrote to the officer named Caballero 
whom he had left there as Captain of the Sea, to keep 
watch that neither Narvaez nor any of the ships should 
leave for Cuba, and if he considered the two ships 
belonging to Narvaez which were in the harbour to 

433 rf 


be unfit for sea that he should de&roy them and send 
their crews to him with all the arms they possessed. 

Caballero wrote and said he would soon despatch 
the succour they were sending from Villa Rica, 
numbering seven in all, including four sailors. ^ Their 
Captain was a soldier named Lencero, as they arrived at 
Tlaxcala thin and ill, we often for our own diversion 
and to make fun of them spoke of " Lencero's Help," 
for of the seven that came five had liver complaint and 
were covered with boils and the other two were swelled 
out with great bellies. 

I will tell what happened to us there in Tlaxcala 
with Xicotenga the younger and his ill will. The truth 
is that when it became known in that City that we 
were fleeing from Mexico, and that the Mexicans 
had killed a great number of soldiers, and that we were 
coming for aid and shelter to Tlaxcala, Xicotenga 
the younger went about appealing to all his friends 
and relations and to others who he thought were on 
his side, and said to them that they should kill us and 
make friends with Cuitlahuac, the Lord of Mexico, 
and that in addition to this they should rob us of the 
cloaks and cloth which we had left in Tlaxcala to be 
taken care of, and the gold that we were now bringing 
from Mexico, and they would all become rich with 
the spoil. 

This came to the ears of the elder Xicotenga, his 
father, who quarrelled with him and told him that 
no such thought should have entered his head, that 
it was disgraceful, but much as his father rebuked 
him he paid no heed nor did it Stop him from talking 
about and working at his evil purpose. This reached 
the ears of Chichimecatecle, who was the mortal enemy 
of Xicotenga the younger, and he told it to Mase 
Escasi, and they called together Xicotenga the elder 
and the chiefs of Huexotzingo, and ordered Xicotenga 
the younger to be brought prisoner before them. 



Then Mase Escasi made a speech to them all and 
asked if they could remember or had heard it said that 
during the laft hundred years there had ever been 
throughout Tlaxcala such prosperity and riches as 
there had been since the Teules had arrived in their 
country, or if in any of their provinces they had ever 
been so well provided for. For they possessed much 
cotton cloth and gold and they ate salt, and that 
wherever the Tlaxcalans went with the Teules, honour 
was paid to them out of respeft to the Teules, and 
although many of them had now been killed in Mexico, 
they should bear in mind what their ancestors had 
said to them many years ago, that from where the 
sun rises there would come men who would rule over 
them. Why then was Xicotenga now going about 
with these treasons and infamies, scheming to make 
war on us and kill us ? It was evilly done, and there 
was no excuse to be made for the knavery and mischief 
which he always had hidden in his breast, and now at 
the very moment when he saw us coming back defeated, 
when he ought to help us to recover ourselves, so as to 
turn again upon his enemies the towns of Mexico, 
he wished to carry out this treachery. 

To these words Xicotenga the younger replied, 
that what he had said about making peace with the 
Mexicans was a very wise decision, and he said other 
things that they could not tolerate. Then Mase Escasi 
and Chichimecatecle and the old man, his father, 
blind as he was, arose and took Xicotenga the younger 
by the collar and by his mantle and tore it and roughly 
pushing him and with reproachful words they cal 
him down the &eps with his mantle all torn, and 
had it not been for his father they would have slain 
him. The others who had been in his confidence were 
made prisoners. As we were all taking refuge there, 

and it was not the time to punish him, Cortes said 

nothing more about it. 



I have called this to mind so that it may be seen 
how loyal and good were these people of Tlaxcala, 
and how much we are indebted to them, and especially 
to the good Xicotenga the elder, who is said to have 
ordered his son to be killed when he knew of his plots 
and treason. 

Let us leave this, and I will relate how we remained 
twenty-two days in that town curing our wounds and 
recovering. Then Cortes determined that we should 
go to the province of Tepeaca which was near by. 
When Cortes told this to our Captains, and they were 
preparing the soldiers of Narvaez to go to the war, 
as these men were not accustomed to fighting, and 
having escaped from the defeat at Mexico and at the 
bridges, and from the battle of Otumba, they were 
moSt anxious to return to the Island of Cuba, to their 
Indians, and their gold mines, they cursed Cortes 
and his conquests. Especially was this the case with 
Andres de Duero, the partner of Cortes. When they 
saw that words had no effeft on Cortes, they drew up a 
formal requisition before a King's Notary demanding 
that he should go at once to Villa Rica and abandon 
the war, giving as a reason that we had neither horses 
nor muskets, crossbows nor powder, nor thread with 
which to make crossbow Strings, nor Stores, that we 
were all wounded, and out of all our company and the 
soldiers of Narvaez there only survived four hundred 
and forty, and that the Mexicans would hold the Strong- 
holds, sierras and passes againSt us, and that if we 
delayed any longer the ships would be eaten by worms 
and many other things were Stated in this petition. 

After Cortes had given his answer to the requisition, 
the men who were pressing their demands upon him 
saw that many of us, who Stood firmly by Cortes, would 
put a Stop to the importunity with which they expressed 
their demands merely by insisting that it would be 
neither to the service of God nor His MajeSty to 



desert their captain during war time. At the end of 
much discussion they gave their obedience so far 
as to go with us on any expeditions that might be 
undertaken, but it was on condition that Cortes 
promised that when an opportunity should occur he 
would allow them to return to the Island of Cuba. 





As Cortes had asked the Caciques of Tlaxcala for 
five thousand warriors, in order to overrun and chastise 
the towns where Spaniards had been killed, namely 
Tepeaca and Quecholac and Tecamachalco, distant 
from Tlaxcala six or seven leagues, they got ready 
four thousand Indians, with the greatest willingness. 

Then as we were all ready, we began our march. 
On that expedition we took neither artillery nor 
muskets, for all had been lot at the bridges, and for 
the few that were saved, we had no powder. We had 
with us seventeen horses and six crossbows, and 
four hundred and twenty soldiers, moSt of them 
armed with sword and shield, and about two thousand 
friends of Tlaxcala. 

The next day we had a fine battle with the 
Mexicans and Tepeacans, on a plain, and as the field 
of battle was among maize and maguey plantations, 
although the Mexicans fought fiercely, they were 
soon routed by those on horseback, and those who 
had no horses were not behindhand. Then to see 
with what spirit our Tlaxcalan allies attacked them 
and followed them up and overtook them ! and many 
of the Mexicans and Tepeacans were slain, but of our 
Tlaxcalan allies only three were killed, and two horses 
were wounded, and one of them died, and two of our 
soldiers were wounded, but not in a manner to cause 
them any danger. 



Then we went to the town of Tepeaca and founded 
a town there, which was named La Villa de Segura 
de la Frontera, because it was on the road to Villa 
Rica, and it tood in a good neighbourhood of excellent 
towns subjeft to Mexico, and there was plenty .of 
maize, and we had our allies the Tlaxcalans to guard 
the frontier. There, Alcaldes and Regidores were 
chosen, and orders were given that the neighbourhood 
subjeft to Mexico was to be raided, especially the 
towns where Spaniards had been killed. An iron was 
made with which to brand those whom we took for 
slaves, it was shaped thus $% which means Guerra 
[war]. From the Villa Segura de la Frontera we 
scoured the neighbourhood which included Quecholac 
and Tecamachalco, and the town of the Guayavas, 
and other towns of which I do not remember the names. 
It was in Quecholac that they had killed fifteen Spaniards 
in their quarters, and here we made many slaves, so 
that within forty days we had all these towns punished 
and thoroughly subdued. 

At that time, in Mexico, they had raised up [to 
the throne] another Prince, because the Prince who 
had driven us out of Mexico had died of Smallpox. 
He whom they now made Lord over them was a 
nephew or very near relation of Montezuma-, named 
Guatemoc, a young man of about twenty-five years, 
very much of a gentleman for an Indian, and very 
valiant, and he made himself so feared that all his 
people trembled before him, and he was married to 
a daughter of Montezuma, a very handsome woman 
for an Indian. When this Guatemoc, Prince of Mexico, 
learned that we had defeated the Mexican squadrons 
Rationed in Tepeaca, and that the people of Tepeaca 
had given their fealty to His Majesty, and served us 
and gave us food, and that we had settled there, he 
feared that we should overrun Oaxaca and other 
provinces and bring them all into our alliance ; so 



he sent messengers through all the towns and told 
them to be on the alert with all their arms, and he 
gave golden jewels to some Caciques, and to others 
he remitted their tribute, and above all he despatched 
great companies and garrisons of warriors to see that 
we did not enter his territory, and charged them to 
fight very fiercely against us, so that it should not 
happen again, as it did at Tepeaca and Quecholac. 

Letters came to Cortes from Villa Rica to say that 
a ship had arrived in port, and that her Captain was a 
gentleman named Pedro Barba, a great friend of 
Cortes. He brought with him only thirteen soldiers, 
a horse and a mare, for the vessel that he came in was 
very small. He also brought letters for Panfilo de 
Narvaez in the belief that New Spain was now his, 
and in these letters Velasquez sent to tell him that 
if he had not already killed Cortes that he should 
at once send him a prisoner to Cuba, so that he could 
be sent to Castile, for so it had been ordered by the 
Bishop of Burgos. 

As soon as Pedro Barba arrived in port with his 
ship, and let go his anchor, Pedro Caballero went off 
to visit and welcome him in a boat well manned by 
sailors with their arms hidden. 

They told Pedro Barba and his companions so many 
yarns that they induced them to go ashore in the 
boat, and when they had got them clear of their ship 
Pedro Caballero said to Pedro Barba, " Surrender, in 
the name of the Sefior Capitan Hernando Cortes, 
my commander." Thus they were captured, and they 
were thunderstruck. Then they sent Pedro Barba 
and his companions to where we were Stationed with 
Cortes in Tepeaca, and we were delighted to receive 
them for the help that it brought us in the very nick 
of time. 

Cortes paid much honour to Pedro Barba, and made 
him Captain of the crossbowmen. Another small vessel 



arrived within eight days, and a gentleman named 
Rodrigo Morejon de Lobera came in her as Captain, 
and brought with him eight soldiers and six cross- 
bows and much twine for making bow&rings, and one 
mare. In exaftly the same way that they had taken 
Pedro Barba, so did they take this Rodrigo Morejon,, 
and they were sent at once to Segura de la Frontera, 
and we rejoiced to see all of them, and Cortes paid 
them much honour and gave them employment. 


GUATEMOC, the chieftain who had recently been raised 
to be King of Mexico, was sending garrisons to his 
frontiers, and in particular he sent one very powerful 
and numerous body of warriors to Guacachula and 
another to Izucar, distant two or three leagues from 
Guacachula. It seems that this hoSt of warriors 
committed many robberies and als of violence again& 
the inhabitants of those towns where they were 
quartered ; so much so, that four chieftains of 
Guacachula came very secretly to Cortes and asked 
him to send Teules and horses to put a lop to these 
robberies and injuries which the Mexicans were 
committing, and said that all the people of that town 
and others in the neighbourhood would aid us in 
slaying the Mexican squadrons. 

When Cortes heard this he despatched Cristobal 
de Olid as Captain with nearly all the horsemen and 
crossbowmen and a large force of Tlaxcalans. Cortes 
[also] told off certain captains from among those 
who had come with Narvaez, to accompany Captain 
Crit6bal de Olid, so he took with him over three 
hundred soldiers and all the be& horses that we had. 

About a league from Guacachula the Caciques of the 



town came out to tell them how and where the men 
of Culua were ported, and how they should be attacked, 
and in what way the Spaniards could be assisted, 
and they fell on the troops of Culua, and although the 
latter fought well for a good while and wounded some 
of our soldiers and killed two horses and wounded eight 
more at some barricades and ditches that were in the 
town, within an hour all the Mexicans were put to 
flight. Olid did not tarry long in that town but went 
on at once to Izucar, and with those who could follow 
him and with our allies from Cuacachula he crossed 
the river and fell on the Mexican squadrons and 
quickly defeated them. There they killed two horses 
and gave Olid two wounds, one of them in the thigh, 
and his horse was badly wounded. 

While we were Stationed at Segura de la Frontera, 
letters reached Cortes to say that one of the ships 
which Francisco de Garay, the Governor of Jamaica, 
had sent to form a settlement at Panuco, had come into 
port, and that her Captain was named Camargo, and 
that she brought over sixty soldiers, all of them ill, 
and very yellow and with swollen bellies. They brought 
the news that the other Captain whom,Garay had sent 
to settle at Panuco, whose name was Alvarez Pinedo, 
and all the soldiers and horses that had been sent to 
that province, had been killed by the Indians, and 
their ships burned. This Camargo, seeing how badly 
things had turned out, re-embarked his soldiers and 
came for help to the port, for they knew well that we 
had settled there. It was because they had to endure 
the constant attacks of the Indians of Panuco, that 
they had nothing to eat and arrived so thin and yellow 
and swollen. These soldiers and their captain came 
on very slowly (for they could not walk, owing to 
their weakness) to the town of Frontera. When 
Cortes saw them so swollen and yellow he knew that 
they were no good as fighting men and that we should 



hardly be able to cure them, and he treated them with 
much consideration. I fancy that Camargo died very 
soon, but I do not well remember what became of 
him, and many others of them died, and then for a 
joke we gave the others a nickname, and called them 
the " verdigris bellies " for they were the colour of 
death and their bellies were so swollen. 

One Miguel Diaz de Auz arrived soon after, who 
had been sent as one,of Francisco de Garay' s captains 
to succour Captain Alvarez Pinedo, for he thought 
that Pinedo was at Panuco. When Miguel Diaz 
de Auz arrived at the port of Panuco and found no 
vestige, neither hide nor hair, of the Armada of Garay 
he underwood at once from what he saw, that they 
were all dead. The Indians of that province attacked 
Miguel Diaz as soon as he arrived with his ship, and 
for that reason he came on to our port and disem- 
barked his soldiers, who numbered more than fifty 
with seven horses, and he soon arrived where we were 
Stationed with Cortes, and this help was moSt welcome 
juSt at the time when we needed it moSt. 

A few days after Miguel Diaz de Auz had come to 
port, another ship arrived in port which Garay had 
also sent to help and succour his expedition, believing 
that they were all safe and well in the Rio de Panuco. 
The Captain who came in her was an old man named 
Ramirez. Thus, Francisco de Garay shot off one 
shaft after another to the assistance of his Armada, 
and each one went to assist the good fortune of Cortes 
and of us. It was of the greatest help to us, and all 
these men from Garay, as I have already said, came 
to Tepeaca where we were Stationed. Because the 
soldiers brought by Miguel Dfaz de Auz arrived 
very hearty and fat, we called them " the Strong 
backs ", and those who came with the elder Ramirez, 
who wore cotton armour so thick that no arrow could 
penetrate it, and it was very heavy, we called " the 



pack saddles ". When the captains and soldiers whom 
I have mentioned, presented themselves before Cortes, 
he paid them much honour. 

Cortes had now an abundance of soldiers and horses 
and crossbows. He had received news that in some 
towns named Zocotla and Xalatcinco and in others in 
the neighbourhood, many of the soldiers of Narvaez. 
had been killed when on their way from Mexico, 
and also that it was in those towns that they had killed, 
and Stolen the gold from Juan de Alcantara and the 
other two settlers from the town of Villa Rica. 

Cortes sent Gonzalo de Sandoval, the chief Alguacil, 
as the captain of that expedition, a valiant man of good 
counsel, and he took with him two hundred soldiers, 
nearly all of them from us, the followers of Cortes, 
and twenty horsemen and twelve crossbowmen and 
a large force of Tlaxcalans. 

Without relating anything more that happened 
on this expedition, I may say that the enemy were 
defeated and the Mexicans and the Caciques of those 
towns were put to flight. 

They found in the Cues of that town clothes and 
armour and horses' bridles and two saddles, and other 
things belonging to horsemen, which had been 
offered to the Idols. Sandoval returned with a great 
spoil of women and boys who were branded as slaves, 
and Cortes was delighted when he saw him arrive 
Strong and well, although eight soldiers had been 
badly wounded, and three horses killed, and Sandoval 
himself had one arrow wound. 

I did not go on that expedition as I was very ill with 
fever and was vomiting blood, and thank God I got well 
for they bled me. 




WHEN Gonzalo de Sandoval arrived at the town of 
Segura de la Frontera after having made the expeditions 
I have spoken of, we had all the people of that province 
pacified. So Cortes decided, with the officials of the 
King, that all the slaves that had been taken should 
be branded so that his fifth might be set aside after 
the fifth had been taken for His Majesty, and to 
this effeft he had a proclamation made in the town 
and camp, that all the soldiers should bring to a 
house chosen for the purpose all the women whom 
we were sheltering, to be branded, and the time 
allowed for doing this was the day of the proclamation 
and one more. 

We all came with all the Indian women and girls 
and boys whom we had captured, but the grown-up 
men we did not trouble about as they were difficult to 
watch and we had no need of their services, as we had 
our friends the Tlaxcalans. When they had all been 
brought together and had been marked with the iron 
which was like this ^ , which &ands for guerra [war], 
when we were not expeting it they set aside the 
Royal fifth, and then took another fifth for Cortes, 
and, in addition to this, the night before, after we had 
placed the women in that house as I have Stated, they 
took away and hid the be& looking Indian women, 
and there was not a good-looking one left, and when 
it came to dividing them, they allotted us the old and 
ugly women, and there was a great deal of grumbling 
about it against Cortes and those who ordered the 
good-looking Indian women to be tolen and hidden ; 
so much so that some of the soldiers of Narvaez said 
to Cortes himself, that they took God to witness that 
such a thing had never happened as to have two Kings 
in the country belonging to our Lord the King, and 



to deduft two-fifths. One of the soldiers who said 
this to him was Juan Bono de Quejo, and moreover 
he said that they would not remain in such a county 
and that he would inform His Majesty in Spain about 
it, and the Royal Council of the Indies. Another 
soldier told Cortes very clearly that it did not suffice 
to divide the gold which has been secured in Mexico 
in the way in which he had done it, for when he was 
dividing it he said that it was three hundred thousand 
pesos that had been collected, and when we were fleeing 
from Mexico, he had ordered witness to be taken 
that there remained more than seven hundred 
thousand ; and that now the poor soldier who had 
done all the hard work and was covered with wounds 
could not even have a good-looking Indian woman ; 
besides the soldiers had given the Indian women skirts 
and chemises, and all those women had been taken and 
hidden away. Moreover when the proclamation had 
been issued that they were to be brought and 
branded, it was thought that each soldier would 
have his women returned to him, and they would be 
appraised according to the value of each in pesos,, 
and that when they had been valued a fifth would be 
paid to His Majesty and there would not be any 
fifth for Cortes ; and other complaints were made 
worse than these. 

When Cortes saw this, he said with smooth words 
that he swore on his conscience (for that was his usual 
oath) that from that time forward he would not aft 
in that way, but that good or bad, all the Indian women 
should be put up to auction, and that the good-looking 
ones should be sold for so much, and those that were 
not good looking for a lower price, so that there 
should be no cause of quarrel with him. However, 
here in Tepeaca no more slaves were made, but after- 
wards in Texcoco it was done nearly in this manner,, 
as I will relate further on. 



I will Stop talking about this and will refer to another 
matter almost worse than this of the slaves, which was 
that when on that night of sorrow * we were fleeing 
from Mexico, Cortes declared before a King's Notary 
that whoever should wish to take gold from what was 
left there, might carry it off and welcome, for their 
own, as otherwise it would be loL As in our camp and 
town of Segura de la Frontera Cortes got to know that 
there were many bars of gold, and that they were 
changing hands at play, and as the proverb has it : 
" El oro y amores eran malos de encubrir " (gold and 
love affairs are difficult to hide), he ordered a proclama- 
tion to be made, that under heavy penalty they should 
bring and declare the gold that they had taken, and 
that a third part of it should be returned to them, 
and that if they did not bring it, all would be seized. 
Many of the soldiers who possessed gold did not 
wish to give it up, and some of it Cortes took as a 
loan, but more by force than by consent, and as nearly 
all the Captains possessed gold and even the officials 
of the King, the proclamation was all the more ignored 
and no more spoken of ; however, this order of Cortes" 
seemed to be very wrong. 


WHEN the Captains of Narvaez observed that now we 
had reinforcements both through those who had 
come from Cuba, and those whom Francisco de Garay 
had sent to join his expedition from Jamaica, and they 
saw that the towns of the province of Tepeaca were 
all at peace, after much discussion with Cortes, and 
many promises and entreaties, they begged him to 
give them leave to return to the Island of Cuba, as 
he had promised. Cort6s promptly granted their 
1 The no'che trifle. 


request, and even promised them that if he regained 
New Spain and the city of Mexico that he would give 
his partner Andres de Duero much more gold than 
he had given him before, and he made similar promises 
to the other Captains, especially to Augu&in Bermtidez, 
and he ordered them to be given supplies such as 
could be procured at that time, maize, and salted dogs, 
and a few fowls, and one of the be& ships. Cortes 
wrote to his wife. Dona Catalina Juarez, la Marcaida, 
and to Juan Juarez his brother-in-law, who at that 
time lived in the Island of Cuba, and sent them some 
bars and jewels of gold, and told them about all the 
disasters and hardships that had happened to us, 
and how we had been driven out of Mexico. 

When Cortes gave the men leave to go, we asked him 
why he gave it, as we who remained behind were so 
few, and he replied that it was to avoid brawls and 
importunities, and that we could see for ourselves 
that some of those who were returning were not fit 
for warfare, and that it was better to remain alone 
than in useless company. Cortes sent Pedro de 
Alvarado to despatch them from the port, and told 
him that after they were embarked he was to return 
at once to the town. 

I will now say that he also sent Diego de Ordas 
and Alonzo de Mendoza to Castile, with certain 
messages from himself, and I do not know if he sent 
any from us, for he did not tell us a thing about the 
business that he was negotiating with His Majely. 

Cortes also sent Alonzo de Avila to the Island of 
Santo Domingo to give an account of all that had 
happened to the Royal Audiencia. 

I well know that some inquiring readers will ask 
how without money could Diego de Ordas be sent 
on business to Ca&ile, for it is clear that in Castile 
and elsewhere money is a necessity, and in the same 
way how could Alonzo de Avila and Francisco 



Alvarez el Chico be sent on business to Santo Domingo, 
and to the Island of Jamaica for horses and mares ? 
I may answer this, that when we were fleeing from 
Mexico by Cortes' orders more than eighty Tlaxcalan 
Indians were laden with gold, and they were amongst 
the firl who got clear of the bridges, so that it is clear 
that many loads of it were saved, and it was not all 
loft on the causeway. 

Let us leave this subject, and I will say that now as 
all the towns in the neighbourhood of Tepeaca were 
at peace, Cortes settled that one Francisco de Orozco 
should tay in our town of Segura de la Frontera as 
captain, with a batch of twenty soldiers who were 
wounded or ill, and that all the reb of the army should 
go to Tlaxcala, He also gave orders that timber 
should be cut for the building of thirteen launches 
so that we could return to Mexico again, for we 
knew for certain that we could never mafcer the lake 
without launches, nor carry on war, nor enter that 
great city another time by the causeways, without 
great risk to our lives. 

He who was the expert to cut the wood and make 
the model and the measurement, and give instructions 
how the launches were to be fat sailors and of light 
draught for their special purpose, and the one who 
built them, was Martin L6pez, who certainly, besides 
being a good sailor in all the wars, served His Majesty 
very well in this matter of the launches and worked 
at them like a Strong man. 

When we arrived at Tlaxcala our great friend Mase 
Escasi had died of smallpox. We all grieved over his 
death very much and Cortes said he felt it as though 
it were the death of his own father, and he put on 
mourning of black cloth, and so did many of our 
Captains and soldiers. Cortes and all of us paid much 
honour to the children and relations of Mase Escasi. 
As there were disputes in Tlaxcala about the Cacique- 

449 eg 


ship and command, Cortes ordered and decreed 
that It should go to a legitimate son of Mase Escasi, 
for so his father had ordered before he died, and he 
had also said to his sons and relations, that they should 
take care always to obey the commands of Malinche 
and his brethren, for we were certainly those who 
were destined to govern the country, and he gave 
them other good advice. 

Xicotenga the elder and Chichimecatecle and 
nearly all the other caciques of Tlaxcala offered their 
services to Cortes, both in the matter of cutting wood 
for the launches and anything else he might order for 
the war against Mexico. Cortes embraced them with 
much affeftion and thanked them for it, especially 
Xicotenga the elder and Chichimecatecle, and soon 
persuaded them to become Christians and the good 
old Xicotenga with much willingness said that he 
wished to be a Christian, and he was baptized by the 
Padre de la Merced with the greatest ceremony that 
at that time it was possible to arrange in Tlaxcala, 
and was given the name of Don Lorenzo Vargas. 

Let us go back to speak of the launches, Martin 
Lopez made such speed in cutting the wood with the 
great assistance rendered him by the Indians, that he 
had the whole of it cut within a few days, and each 
beam marked for the position for which it was intended 
to occupy, after the manner that the master carpenters 
and boat builders have of marking it. / He was also 
assisted by another good soldier named Andrez Nunez, 
and an old carpenter who was lame from a wound, 
called Ramirez the elder. 

Then Cortes sent to Villa Rica for much of the 
iron and the bolts of the ships which we had destroyed, 
and for anchors, sails and rigging and for cables and 
tow and all the other material for building ships, and 
he ordered all the blacksmiths to come, and one 
Hernando de Aguilar who was half a blacksmith and 



helped in the forging. Cortes sent a certain Santa 
Cruz as Captain to Villa Rica with orders to bring 
all the material I have mentioned. He brought 
everything, even to the cauldrons for melting the 
pitch, and all the things that they had taken out of 
the ships, and transported them with the help of more 
than a thousand Indians, for all the towns of those 
provinces were enemies of the Mexicans, and at once 
gave men to carry the loads. Then as we had no pitch 
with which to caulk the launches, and the Indians 
did not know how to extraft it, Cortes ordered four 
sailors who understood the work to go and make pitch 
in some fine pine woods near Huexotzingo. 

As soon as Cortes saw that the timber for the 
launches was cut, and the persons named by me had 
Started for Cuba he settled that we should go with all 
our soldiers to the city of Texcoco. Over this there 
were many and great discussions, for some of the 
soldiers said that there was a better position, and better 
canals and ditches in which to build the sloops at 
Ayotzingo near Chalco than in the ditch and lake [at 
Texcoco], and others contended that Texcoco was 
the better, as it was nearer to many other towns, and 
that when we held that city in our power, we could 
make expeditions to the country in the vicinity of 
Mexico, and that once Stationed in that city we could 
form a better opinion as to how things were going on. 

News now reached us that a large ship had arrived 
from Spain and the Canary Islands, laden with a 
great variety of merchandise, muskets, powder, cross- 
bows and crossbow cords, and three horses, and other 
arms. Cortes sent at once to buy all the arms and 
powder and everything else that she carried, and 
Juan de Burgos, the owner of the ship, and Amedel 
the sailing mailer, and all the passengers on board 
soon came to our camp, and we were very well satisfied 
at receiving such timely assi&ance. 



WHEN Cortes saw that he possessed such a goodly 
&ore of muskets and powder and crossbows and 
realized the Strong desire of all of us, both Captains 
and soldiers, again to attack the great City of Mexico, 
he decided to ask the Caciques of Tlaxcala to give him 
ten thousand Indian warriors to join us on an expedi- 
tion to Texcoco ; which after Mexico is one of the 
largest cities in the whole of New Spain. Xicotenga 
the elder promptly said that he would give him with 
the utmost willingness not only ten thousand men 
but many more if he chose to take them, and that 
another valiant Cacique, our great friend Chichime- 
catecle would go as their captain. On the day after 
the feat of the Nativity in the year 1520 we began 
our march, and slept at (Tesmelucan) a pueblo subjeft 
to Tlaxcala, and the people of the town gave us what 
we needed. From there onward it was Mexican 
territory, and we went more cautiously, for it was 
well known in Mexico and Texcoco that we were 
marching towards their city. That day we met no 
obstacles whatever and camped at the foot of the Sierra, 
a march of about three leagues. The night was very 
cold, but we got through it safely thanks to our 
patrols, and scouts. When the dawn came we began 
to ascend a small pass and in some difficult places 
like barrancas the hillside had been cut away so that 
we could not pass, and many pine trees and other 



timber had been placed across the track, but having 
so many friendly Tlaxcalans with us, a clearing was 
soon made, and sending a company of musketeers 
and crossbowmen in advance we marched on with 
the utmost caution, our allies cutting and pushing 
aside trees to enable the horsemen to pass, until \ye 
got to the top of the range. Then we descended -a 
little and caught sight of the lake of Mexico and its 
great cities Standing in the water, and when we saw. it 
we gave great thanks to God for allowing us to see 
it again. 

We descended the mountain to where we saw great 
smoke signals, and marching onward we came upon a 
large squadron of Mexican and Texcocan warriors 
who were waiting for us at a pass through a rocky 
thicket where there was an apparently broken down 
wooden bridge, and a deep gulch and waterfall 
below it. However, we soon defeated the squadron 
and passed in perfeft safety. To hear the shouts 
that they gave from the farms and from the barrancas: 1 
However they did nothing else, and shouted only 
from places where the horsemen could not reach 
them. Our friends the Tlaxcalans carried off fowls 
and whatever else they could fteal, and they did not 
abstain from this although Cortes had ordered them 
not to make war on the people if they were not 
attacked. The Tlaxcalans answered that if the people 
were well disposed and peaceable they would not 
come out on the road and attack us as they did at the 
passage of the barranca and bridge, where they tried 
to Stop our advance. 

We went to sleep that night at (Coatepec) a deserted 
pueblo subjeft to Texcoco, and took every precaution 
left we should be attacked during the darkness. 

As soon as dawn came we began our march towards 
Texcoco, which was about two leagues distant from 
where we slept. However, we had not advanced 



half a league when we saw our scouts returning at a 
breakneck pace and looking very cheerful, and they 
told Cortes that ten Indians were approaching unarmed 
and carrying golden devices and banners, and that 
yells and shouts no longer came from the huts and 
farms they had passed on the road as had happened 
the day before. 

Then Cort6s ordered a halt until seven Indian 
Chieftains, natives of Texcoco, came up to us. They 
carried a golden banner, and a long lance, and before 
reaching us they lowered the banner and knelt down 
(which is a sign of peace), and when they came before 
Cortes who had our interpreters ^landing by him, 
they said : " Malinche, our Lord and Chieftain of 
Texcoco, Coanacotzin sends to beg you to receive 
him into your friendship, and he is awaiting you 
peaceably in the City, and in proof thereof accept this 
banner of gold, and he begs as a favour that you will 
order your Tlaxcalans and your brethren not to 
do any harm to his land, and that you will come and 
lodge in the city where he will provide you with all 
that you need." Moreover they said that the troops 
which had been Stationed in the ravines and bad 
passes did not belong to Texcoco, but were Mexicans 
sent by Guatemoc. 

When the message had been considered Cortes at 
once sent for the Tlaxcalan Captains and ordered 
them, in the mot friendly way, not to do any damage 
nor to take anything whatever in this country because 
peace had been made, and they did as he told them, 
but he did not forbid their taking food if it were only 
maize and beans, or even fowls and dogs, of which 
there was an abundance, all the houses being full of 

Then Cortes took counsel with his Captains, and it 
seemed to them all that this begging for peace was a 
trick, for if it had been true it would not have been 



done so suddenly, and they would have brought food. 
Nevertheless, Cortes accepted the banner, which 
was worth about eighty pesos, and thanked the 
messengers and said to them, that he was not in the 
habit of doing evil or damage to any vassals of His 
Majesty, and if they kept the peace which they had 
announced he would proteft them againft the 
Mexicans ; that as they might have seen, he had 
already ordered the Tlaxcalans not to do any damage 
in their country, and they would avoid doing so for 
the future, although they knew how in that city over 
forty Spaniards our brethren, and two hundred Tlax- 
calans had been killed at the time when we were 
leaving Mexico, and many loads of gold and other 
spoil which belonged to them had been Stolen, and 
that he mut beg their chieftain Coanacotzin and the 
other chiefs and captains of Texcoco to restore to us 
the gold and the cloths, but as to the death of the 
Spaniards, there was no remedy for it, he would 
therefore not ask them for any. 

The messengers replied that they would report to 
their Lord as he ordered them to do, but that he who 
had ordered the Spaniards to be killed and who took 
all the spoil was a chieftain named Cuitlahuac who 
had been chosen King of Mexico after Montezuma's 
death, and that they took to him in Mexico nearly 
all the Teules and they had been promptly sacrificed 
to Huichilobos. 

When Cortes heard that reply, he made no answer, 
left he should lose his temper or threaten them, but 
he bade them Godspeed. One of the ambassadors 
remained in our company, and we went on to a 
suburb of Texcoco called Coatlinchan, and there they 
gave us plenty to eat and all that we had need of, 
and we caft down some Idols that were in the houses 
where we lodged, and early the next day we went to 
the city of Texcoco. In none of the Greets nor houses 



did we see any women, boys or children, only terrified 
looking men. We took up our quarters in some great 
rooms and halls, and Cortes at once summoned the 
captains and mot of us soldiers and told us not to 
leave the precinfts of the great courts, and to keep 
well on the alert until we could see how things were 
going, for it did not seem to him that the city was 
friendly. He ordered Pedro de Alvarado and Critoval 
de Olid and some other soldiers, and me among 
them, to ascend the great Cue which was very lofty, 
and to look from the lofty Cue over the City and the 
lake, and what we saw was that all the inhabitants 
were moving off with their goods and chattels, and 
women and children, some to the hills and others to 
the reed thickets in the lake, and that the lake was 
thronged with canoes great and small. 

As soon as Cortes knew this he wanted to capture 
the Lord of Texcoco who had sent him the golden 
banner, and when certain priests whom Cortes sent 
as messengers went to summon him, he had already 
placed himself in safety, for he was the very firl to 
flee to Mexico with many other chieftains. We passed 
that night with great precautions, and very early the 
next day Cortes ordered all the Indian chieftains who 
had remained in Texcoco to be summoned before 
him, for as it was a very large city there were many 
other chieftains of the parties opposing the Cacique 
who had fled, with whom there had been discussions 
and disputes about the command and Kingship of 
that city. When they came before Cortes he learned 
from them how and since when Coanacotzin had ruled 
over the city. They told him that Coanacotzin in his 
desire to seize the power had infamously killed his 
elder brother Cuicuitzcatzin with the assistance 
given him for that purpose by Cuitlahuac, the Prince 
of Mexico, the one that made war on us when we were 
fleeing after the death of Montezuma. Furthermore, 



there were among them other Lords who had a better 
right to the kingdom of Texcoco than he who now 
held it, and that it should go to a youth who at that 
time became a Christian with much religious pomp, 
and was named Don Hernando Cortes, for our Captain 
was his Godfather. They said that this youth was the 
legitimate son of Nezahualpilli, the Lord and King 
of Texcoco, and presently without any further delay, 
and with the greatest festive celebration and rejoicing 
throughout Texcoco, they appointed him their natural 
Lord and King, with all the ceremonies which they 
were accustomed to render to their so-called Kings ; 
and in perfect peace and with the love of all his vassals, 
and of the neighbouring towns, he governed absolutely 
and was obeyed. For his better instruction in the 
matters of our faith and to improve his manners, and 
so that he should learn our language, Corts ordered 
that he should have as his tutors Antonio de Villa Real, 
and a Bachelor of Arts named Escobar ; Cortes then 
asked for a large force of Indian labourers to broaden 
and deepen the canals and ditches through which we 
were to draw the launches to the lake when they were 
finished and ready to sail. He also explained to Don 
Hernando himself and the other chieftains what 
was the reason and purpose in having the launches 
built, and how we were going to blockade Mexico. 
Don Hernando offered all the assistance within his 
power, and of his own accord promised to send 
messengers to all the neighbouring pueblos and tell 
them to become vassals of His Majesty, and accept 
our friendship and authority against Mexico. 


AFTER spending twelve days in Texcoco the Tlaxca- 
lans had exhausted their provisions, and they were 



so numerous that the people of Texcoco were unable 
to furnish them with sufficient food. As we were 
unwilling that they should become a burden to the 
people of Texcoco and as the Tlaxcalans themselves 
were mot desirous of fighting the Mexicans and 
avenging the death of the many Tlaxcalans who had 
been killed and offered as sacrifices during their pat 
defeats, Cortes determined that we should set out 
on our march to Iztapalapa with himself as Com- 
mander in Chief, and with Andres de Tapia, Cri&6bal 
de Olid, and thirteen horsemen, twenty crossbowmen, 
six musketeers and two hundred and twenty soldiers, 
and our Tlaxcalan allies, besides twenty chieftains 
from Texcoco given us by Don Hernando. I have 
already said that more than half the houses in Izta- 
palapa were built in the water and the other half on 
dry land. We kept on our way in good order, and as 
the Mexicans always held watchmen and garrisons 
and warriors ready to oppose us and to reinforce any 
of their towns, when they knew that we were going 
to attack them, they warned the people of Iztapalapa 
to be prepared, and sent over eight thousand Mexicans 
to help them. Like good warriors they awaited our 
coming on dry land, and for a good while they fought 
very bravely against us. Then the horsemen broke 
through their ranks, followed by the crossbows and 
muskets, and all our Tlaxcalan allies who charged on 
them like mad dogs, and the enemy quickly abandoned 
the open ground and took refuge in the town. How- 
ever, they had arranged a tratagem, and this was 
the way they did it ; they fled and got into their 
canoes which were in the water, and into the houses 
which tood in the lake, others retired among the 
reeds, and as it was a dark night, they gave us a chance 
to take up quarters in the town, well contented with 
the spoil we had taken and till more with the vi&ory 
we had gained. While we were in this situation, when 



we leaSt expefted it such a flood of water rushed 
through the whole town, that if the chieftains whom 
we had brought from Texcoco had not cried out, and 
warned us to get out of the houses to dry land as 
quickly as we could, we should all have been drowned, 
for the enemy had burSt open the canals of fresh and 
salt water and torn down a causeway, so that the 
water rose up all of a sudden. As our allies the 
Tlaxcalans were not accustomed to water and did 
not know how to swim, two of them were drowned, 
and we, at great risk to bur lives, all thoroughly 
drenched and with our powder spoilt, managed to get 
out without our belongings, and in that condition, 
very cold, and without any supper, we passed a bad 
night. WorSt of all were the jeers and the shouts and 
whittles which the people of Iztapalapa and the 
Mexicans uttered from their houses and canoes. 
However, there was Still a worse thing to happen to us, 
for as they knew in Mexico about the plan that had 
been made to drown us by breaking down the causeway 
and canals, we found waiting for us on land and in the 
lake many battalions of warriors, and, as soon as day 
dawned, they made such an attack on us that we 
could hardly bear up againSt it ; but they did not 
defeat us, although they killed two soldiers and one 
horse, and wounded many both of us and the Tlaxca- 
lans. Little by little the attack slackened and we 
returned to Texcoco, half ashamed at the trick and 
Stratagem to throw us into the water, and also because 
we gained very little credit in the battle they fought 
againSt us afterwards, as our powder was exhausted. 
Nevertheless, it frightened them, and they had 
enough to do in burying and burning their dead, and 
curing their wounds and rebuilding their houses. 

When we had been two days in Texcoco after our 
return from the expedition to Ixtapalapa, three pueblos 
came peaceably to Cortes to beg pardon for the paSt 



wars and the deaths of Spaniards whom they had 

As Cortes saw that there was nothing else to be 
done at the time, he pardoned them, but he gave 
them a severe reprimand, and they bound themselves 
by many promises always to be hostile to the Mexicans 
and to be the vassals of His Majesty, and to serve 
us, and so they did. 

About the same time the inhabitants of the pueblo 
named Mixquic, which is also called Venezuela, which 
Stands in the lake, came to beg for peace and friend- 
ship. These people had apparently never been on good 
terms with the Mexicans, and in their hearts they 
detected them. Cortes and all of us were greatly pleased 
at these people coming to seek our friendship, because 
their peblo was in the lake, and through them we hoped 
to get at their neighbours who were likewise established 
on the water, so Cortes thanked them greatly and 
dismissed them with promises and gentle speeches. 
While this was taking place they came to tell Cortes 
that great squadrons of Mexicans were advancing on 
the four pueblos which had been the fir& to seek our 
friendship, one named Coatlinchan and others whose 
names I forget, and they told Cortes that they did not 
dare to &ay in their houses and that they wished to 
flee to the mountains or to come to Texcoco where 
we were, and they said so many things to Cortes to 
induce him to help them, that he promptly got ready 
twenty horsemen and two hundred soldiers, thirteen 
crossbowmen, and ten musketeers and took with him 
Pedro de Alvarado and Crit6bal de Olid, and went to 
the pueblos, a diftance from Texcoco of about two 
leagues. It appeared to be true that the Mexicans 
had sent to threaten them and warn them that they 
would be destroyed for accepting our friendship, but the 
point of dispute over which they uttered the wor ft threats 
concerned some large maize plantations lying near the 



lake which were ready for the harvest, whence the 
people of Texcoco were providing our camp. The 
Mexicans wanted to take the maize, for they said that 
it was theirs, for it had been the custom for those 
four pueblos to sow and harvest the maize plantations 
on that plain for the priests of the Mexican Idols. 
Over this question of the maize field many Indians 
had been killed. When Cortes understood about it, 
he promised the people that when the time came for 
them to go and gather maize, he would send a Captain 
and many horsemen and soldiers to protect those who 
went to fetch it. They were well pleased with what 
Cortes had said to them, and we returned to Texcoco. 
From that time forward, whenever we had need of 
maize in our camp, we mustered the Indian warriors 
from all those towns and with our Tlaxcalan allies and 
ten horsemen and a hundred soldiers, with some 
musketeers and crossbowmen, we went after the 
maize. I say this because I went twice for it myself 
and on one occasion we had a capital skirmish with 
some powerful Mexican Squadrons which had come 
in more than a thousand canoes, and awaited us in 
the maize fields, and as we had our allies with us, 
although the Mexicans fought like brave men, we 
made them take to their canoes, but they killed one 
of our soldiers and wounded twelve, and they also 
wounded some Tlaxcalans, but the enemy had not 
much to brag about for fifteen or twenty of them 
were lying dead, and we carried off five of them as 

The next day we heard the news that the people of 
Chalco and Tlamanalco and their dependencies wished 
to make peace, but on account of the Mexican garrisons 
Rationed in their towns, they had no opportunity to 
do so, and that these Mexicans did much damage in 
their country and took their women, especially if they 
were handsome. 



We had also heard that the timber for building the 
launches had been cut and prepared at Tlaxcala, and 
as the time was passing, and none of the timber had 
yet been brought to Texcoco, mot of the soldiers 
were a good deal worried about it. Then, in addition 
to this, the people came from the pueblo of Mixquic 
and from other friendly pueblos to tell Cortes that the 
Mexicans were coming to attack them because they 
had accepted our friendship. Moreover some of our 
friends the Tlaxcalans, who had already grabbed 
clothing and salt and gold and other spoil, wished to 
return home, but they did not dare to do so because 
the road was not safe. 


WHEN Cort6s found that to succour some of those 
towns that clamoured for help and to give assistance 
to the people of Chalco as well would make it 
impossible to give security to either one or the other, 
he decided to put aside all other matters and first of all 
to go to Chalco and Tlamanalco. For that purpose 
he sent Gonzalo de Sandoval and Francisco de Lugo 
with fifteen horsemen and two hundred soldiers and 
musketeers and crossbowmen and our Tlaxcalan 
allies, with orders by all means to break up and disperse 
the Mexican garrisons and to drive them out of 
Chalco and Tlamanalco, and leave the road to Tlaxcala 
quite clear, so that one could come and go to Villa 
Rica without any molestation from the Mexican 
warriors. As soon as this was arranged he sent some 
Texcocan Indians very secretly to Chalco to advise 
the people about it, so that they might be fully pre- 
pared to fall on the Mexican garrison either by day 
or night. As they wished for nothing better, the 
people of Chalco kept thoroughly prepared. 



When Gonzalo de Sandoval marched with his army 
he left a rearguard of five horsemen and as many 
crossbowmen to proteft the large number of the 
Tlaxcalans, who were laden with the spoil that they 
had seized. The Mexicans knew that our people 
were marching on Chalco, and had got together many 
squadrons of warriors, who fell on the rearguard where 
the Tlaxcalans were marching with their spoil, and 
punished them severely, and our five horsemen and 
the crossbowmen could not hold out against them, for 
two of the crossbowmen were killed and the others 
were wounded, and although Gonzalo de Sandoval 
promptly turned round on the enemy and defeated 
them, and killed ten Mexicans, the lake was so near 
by that the enemy managed to take refuge in the canoes 
in which they had come. 

When the enemy had been put to flight and 
Sandoval saw that the five horsemen, in the rearguard 
with the musketeers and crossbowmen, were wounded 
both they and their horses, and that two crossbowmen 
were dead and the others wounded, although, I repeat,, 
he saw all this, he did not fail to say to them that they 
were not worth much for not having been able to 
resist the enemy and defend themselves and our 
allies, and that he was very angry with them ; they 
were from among those who had lately come from 
Spain, and he told them that it was very clear that 
they did not know what fighting was like. Then he 
placed in safety all the Tlaxcalan Indians with their 
spoil, and he also despatched some letters which 
Cort6s was sending to Villa Rica. In these Cortes 
told the Captain, who had remained in command 
there, that if there were any soldiers who were disposed 
to take part in the fighting, that he should send them 
to Tlaxcala, but that they should not go beyond that 
town until the roads were safer, for they would run 
great risk. 



When the messengers had been despatched and the 
Tlaxcalans sent off to their homes, Sandoval turned to- 
wards Chalco. As he marched on he sawmanysquadrons 
of Mexicans coming against him, and on a level plain, 
where there were large plantations of maize and 
magueys, they attacked him fiercely with darts, arrows, 
and Phones from slings, and long lances with which 
to kill the horses. When Sandoval saw such a hot 
of warriors opposed to him, he cheered on his men 
and twice broke through the ranks of the enemy, and 
with the aid of the muskets and crossbows, and the 
few allies who had flayed with him, he defeated them, 
although they wounded five soldiers and six horses, 
and many of our allies. However, he had fallen on 
them so quickly and with such fury that he made 
them pay well for the damage they had firt done. 
When the people of Chalco knew that Sandoval was 
near, they went out to receive him on the road with 
much honour and rejoicing. In that defeat eight 
Mexicans were taken prisoners, three of them chieftains 
of importance. 

When all this had been done, Sandoval said that on 
the following day he wished to return to Texcoco, 
and the people of Chalco said they wanted to go with 
him to see and speak to Malinche and take with them 
the two sons of the Lord of that province who had 
died of small-pox a few days before, and before dying 
had charged all his chieftains and elders to take his 
sons to see the Captain, so that by his hand they might 
be installed Lords of Chalco, and that all should 
endeavour to become subjects of the Great King of 
the Teules, for it was quite true that his ancestors 
had told him that men with beards who came from the 
direction of the sunrise would govern these lands, 
and from what he had seen, we were those men. 

Sandoval soon returned with all his army to Texcoco 
and took in his company the sons of the Lord of 



Chalco and the other chieftains, and the eight Mexican 
prisoners and Cortes was overjoyed at his arrival. 
The Caciques presented themselves at once before 
Cortes, and, after having paid him every sign of respeft, 
they told him of the willingness with which they would 
become vassals of His Majesty, as their father had 
commanded them to do, and begged that they might 
receive the chieftainship from his hands. When they 
had made their speeches, they presented Cortes with 
rich jewels worth about two hundred pesos de oro. 
When Cortds thoroughly understood what they 
had said, he showed them much kindness and embraced 
them, and under his hand gave the Lordship of Chalco 
to the elder brother with more than the half of the 
subjedl pueblos, and those of Tlamanalco and Chimal 
he gave to the younger brother together with Ayot- 
zingo and other subjeft pueblos. 

Cortes begged the chieftains to wait in Texcoco for 
two days, as he was about to send a Captain to Tlaxcala, 
for the timber and planking, who would take them in 
his company, and conduft them to their country, so 
that the Mexicans should not attack them on the 
road ; for this they thanked him greatly and went 
away well contented. 

Let us Stop talking about this and say how Cortes 
decided to send to Mexico the eight prisoners, whom 
Sandoval had captured in the rout at Chalco, to tell 
the Prince named Guatemoc, whom the Mexicans had 
then chosen as king, how greatly he desired to avoid 
being the cause of his ruin and that of so great a city ; 
he therefore begged them to sue for peace, and he 
would pardon them for the losses and deaths we had 
suffered, and would ask nothing from them. He 
reminded Guatemoc that it is easy to remedy a war 
in the beginning but very difficult towards the middle 
and at the end, and that it would end in their deftrudion 

465 nh 


and how could Guatemoc desire all his people to be 
slain and his city destroyed ? He should bear in mind 
the great power of our Lord God in whom we believe 
and whom we worship, and who always helps us, and 
he should always remember that all the pueblos 
in the neighbourhood were now on our side, that 
the Tlaxcalans had no wish but for war, in order to 
avenge the deaths of their compatriots. Let the 
Mexicans lay down their arms and make peace, and 
he [Cortes] would promise them that he would 
always treat them with great honour. Dona Marina 
and Aguilar made use of many other sound arguments 
and gave them good advice on the subjel. Those 
eight Indians went before Guatemoc, but he refused 
to send any answer whatever, and went on making 
dykes and gathering lores, and sending to all the 
provinces an order that if any of us could be captured 
Graying, we should be brought to Mexico to be 
sacrificed, and that when he sent to summon them, 
they should come at once with their arms, and he sent 
to remit and free them from much of their tribute. 


As we were always longing to get the launches finished, 
and to begin the blockade of Mexico, our Captain 
Cortes, so as not to wate time to no purpose, ordered 
Gonzalo de Sandoval to go for the timber, and to take 
with him two hundred soldiers, twenty musketeers 
and crossbowmen, fifteen horsemen and a large com- 
pany of Tlaxcalans as well as twenty chieftains from 
Texcoco ; also to take in his company the youths 
and the elders from Chalco and to place them in safety 
in their towns. 

Before they set out Cortes established a friendship 
between the Tlaxcalans and the people of Chalco. 



Cortes also ordered Gonzalo de Sandoval to go to 
a pueblo subjeft to Texcoco, where more than forty 
soldiers of the followers of Narvaez and some of our 
own men and many Tlaxcalans had been killed, and 
the people had also Stolen three loads of gold, when we 
were turned out of Mexico. 

Before our soldiers arrived at this pueblo the people 
already knew through their spies that they were 
coming down on them and they abandoned the pueblo 
and fled to the hills, and Sandoval followed them and 
killed only three or four of them, for he felt pity for 
them, but they took some women and girls and 
captured four chieftains. Much blood of the Spaniards 
who had been killed was found on the walls of the 
Temple in that pueblo, for they had sprinkled their 
Idols with it, and Sandoval also found two faces 
which had been flayed, and the skin tanned like skin 
for gloves, the beards were left on, and they had been 
placed as offerings upon one of the altars. There were 
also found four tanned skins of horses very well pre- 
pared, with the hair on and the horse shoes, and they 
were hung up before the Idols in the great Cue. There 
were also found many garments of the Spaniards who 
had been killed hung up as offerings to these same 
Idols, and on the pillar of a house where they had 
been imprisoned there was found written with char- 
coal : " Here was imprisoned the unfortunate Juan 
Yute and many others whom I brought in my com- 
pany." This Juan Yute was a gentleman, and was 
one of the persons of quality whom Narvaez had 
brought with him. Sandoval and all his soldiers were 
moved to pity by all this and it grieved them greatly, 
but, how could the matter now be remedied except 
by being merciful to the people of the pueblo, however 
they had fled and would not wait, and had taken their' 
women and children with them. A few women who 
were captured wept for their husbands and fathers,. 



and when Sandoval saw this, he liberated four chief- 
tains whom he had captured and all the women and 
sent them to summon the inhabitants of the pueblo, 
who came and begged for pardon and gave their 
fealty to His Majesty, and promised always to oppose 
the Mexicans and to serve us well with all possible 
affeftion and good will. When they were asked 
about the gold they had Stolen from the Tlaxcalans 
who passed that way, they replied that they had taken 
three loads of it from them, but the Mexicans and the 
lords of Texcoco had carried it off, for they said that 
the gold had belonged to Montezuma, "^ho when he 
was a prisoner had taken it from their temples and 
given it to Malinche. 

So Sandoval went on his way towards Tlaxcala, 
and when near the capital where the Caciques reside, 
he met eight thousand men carrying on their backs 
all the timber and boards for the launches, and as 
many more men with their arms and plumes afting as 
a guard, and two thousand others who brought food 
and relieved the carriers. There came as commanders 
of the whole force of Tlaxcalans, Chichimecatecle, and 
all came in the charge of Martin Lopez who was the 
Master carpenter who cut the timber and gave the 
model and dimensions for the boards. When Sandoval 
saw them approaching he was delighted that they 
had relieved him from his task, for he expected to be 
detained some days in Tlaxcala waiting for them to 
get off with all the timber and planking. In the same 
order in which they came up to us we accompanied 
them for two days until we entered Mexican territory, 
The Mexicans whittled and shouted from their 
farms and from the barrancas and from other places 
where we could do them no harm either with our 
horsemen or our muskets. 

Then Martin Lopez said that it would be as well 
to change the order in which they had hitherto marched 



for the Tlaxcalans had told him they feared that the 
powerful forces of Mexico might make a sudden 
attack in that part of the road, and might defeat them, 
as they were so heavily laden and hampered by the 
timber and food they were carrying. So Sandoval 
at once divided the horsemen and musketeers and 
crossbowmen, so that some should go in advance and 
others on the flanks, and he ordered Chichimecatecle 
to take charge of the Tlaxcalans who were to march 
behind as a rearguard with Gonzalo de Sandoval him- 
self. The Cacique was offended at this, thinking that 
they did not consider him a brave man, but they 
said so much to him on that point, that he became 
reconciled, seeing that Sandoval himself was to- 
remain with him, and that he was given to under- 
hand that the Mexicans always made their attacks, 
on the baggage which was kept towards the rear. 
When he clearly understood this he embraced Sandoval 
and said that he felt honoured by what had been done. 

Another two days' march brought them to Texcoco, 
and before entering the city they put on very fine 
cloaks and plumes, and marched in good order to 
the sound of drums and trumpets, and in an unbroken 
line they were half a day marching into the City, 
shouting, whittling and crying out " Viva, Viva for 
the Emperor our Lord and Ca&ile ! Ca&ile and 
Tlaxcala ! Tlaxcala ! " 

From that time forward the greatest despatch was 
used in building the thirteen launches. Martin 
Lopez was the Master builder, aided by other 
Spaniards and two blacksmiths with their forges, 
and some Indian carpenters ; and all worked with 
the greatest speed until the launches were put together, 
and they only needed to be caulked, and their ma&s, 
rigging and sails to be set up. I want to say how great 
were the precautions that we took in our camp while 
this was being done, in the matter of spies and scouts 



and guards for the launches, for they lay near the 
Lake, and three times the Mexicans tried to set 
them on fire, and we even captured fifteen of the 
Indians who had come to set fire to them, and from these 
men Cortes learned fully what was being done in 
Mexico and what Guatemoc was planning, and it 
was that they would never make peace but would 
either all die fighting, or kill every one of us. 

I wish now to mention the summonses and 
messengers that the Mexicans sent to all their subject 
pueblos, and how they remitted their tribute, and the 
work that they carried on both by day and night, of 
digging ditches and deepening the passages beneath 
the bridges, and making Strong entrenchments and 
preparing their darts and dart throwers and making 
very long lances with which to kill the horses, to 
which were attached the swords that they had captured 
from us on the night of our defeat. 

Let us also speak of the canal and trench by which 
the launches were to go out into the great Lake, for 
it was already very broad and deep so that ships of 
considerable size were able to float in it, for, as I have 
already said, there were eight thousand Indians always 
employed on the work. 





As over fifteen thousand Tlaxcalans had come to 
Texcoco with the timber for the launches, and had 
already been five days in the city without doing any- 
thing worth mentioning, and, as they had not brought 
supplies with them, food was getting scarce, and 
Chichimecatecle the Captain of the Tlaxcalans being 
a very valiant and proud man said to Cortes that he 
wished to go and render some service to our great 
Emperor by fighting against the Mexicans, both to 
show his Strength and the goodwill he bore us, as well 
as to avenge the deaths of his brethren and his vassals, 
and he begged as a favour from Cortes that he would 
command and inbru<5t him in what direftion he should 
go and encounter our enemies. Cortes replied to 
him that he thought very highly of his good-will, 
and said that he wished to go himself, the next day, 
to a pueblo named Saltocan, five or six leagues distant 
from the City of Texcoco, where, although the houses 
were built In the waters of a lake, there was an entrance 
from the land. He had sent three times to summon 
the people of that pueblo to make peace and they 
refused to do so, but ill-treated the messengers and 
wounded two of them, and sent as an answer that if 
we came there we would find forces and a fortress 
as Strong as Mexico, and come when we might, we 
would find them on the field of battle, for they had 
received word from their Idols that they would kill 
us there, and their Idols had advised them to send 
this reply. 


Cortes got ready to go in person on this expedition, 
and ordered two hundred and fifty soldiers to go in 
his company with thirty horsemen, and he took with 
him, Pedro de Alvarado and Cristobal de Olid and many 
musketeers and crossbowmen, and all the Tlaxcalans, 
and a company of warriors from Texcoco, nearly all of 
them chieftains. He left Gonzalo de Sandoval on guard 
at Texcoco, and told him to keep a good look out both 
on the Texcocans, and the launches and the camp, 
and see that no attack was made on it by night for, 
as I have already said, we had always to keep on 
the alert, on the one hand to guard againlt the Mexicans 
themselves and on the other, because we were in such 
a great city, as was Texcoco, where all the inhabitants 
of the city were relations and friends of the Mexicans. 
He also ordered Sandoval and Martin Lopez to have 
the vessels ready to be launched and to sail within 
fifteen days. 

Then after hearing Mass, Cortes set out with his 
army ; and not far from Saltocan he met great 
squadrons of Mexicans who were awaiting him in a 
place where they believed that they could get the 
better of our Spaniards and kill the horses. Cortes 
ordered the horsemen as soon as the muskets and 
crossbows had been discharged, to break in upon the 
enemy; however, they killed only a few of the Mexicans, 
who at once took refuge in the bush, and in places 
where the horsemen could not follow them, but our 
friends the Tlaxcalans captured and killed about 
thirty of them. 

That night Cortes went to sleep at some huts, and 
kept a good look-out for they were in a thickly peopled 
country, and he knew that Guatemoc had sent many 
squadrons of warriors to Saltocan as reinforcements, 
and these troops had come in canoes along some deep 
creeks. Early the next morning the Mexicans and 
the people of Saltocan began to attack our troops 



and they shot many darts and arrows at them and 
slung Atones from their slings, from the canals where 
they were ported, and they wounded ten of our soldiers 
and many of our Tlaxcalan allies, and our horsemen 
could do them no hurt, for they could not gallop nor 
cross the creeks. The causeway and road by which 
they were used to enter the town from the land had 
been destroyed and broken down by hand only a few 
days before. Owing to this, our soldiers found no 
way by which they could enter the town, or do any 
damage to its defenders, although they kept up a fire 
against those who went about in canoes, but the canoes 
were protefted by bulwarks of wood, and besides 
they took good care not to expose themselves. Our 
soldiers seeing that they could gain no advantage what- 
ever, and that they could not hit on the road and 
causeway which was there before, because it was all 
covered with water, cursed the town and our profitless 
expedition, and were half ashamed because the 
Mexicans and townspeople shouted at them and called 
them women, and said that Malinche was a woman 
too, and that his only bravery was in deceiving them 
with Stories and lies. Jut at this moment, two of the 
Indians, who had come there with our people, who 
belonged to the pueblo Tepetezcuco and were very 
hostile to the people of Saltocan, said to one of our 
soldiers that three days before they had seen the people 
of Saltocan breaking open the causeway and they 
made a ditch across it and turned the water of another 
canal into it, but that not very far ahead the road began 
again and led to the town. When our soldiers 
thoroughly understood this, the musketeers and 
crossbowmen were ranged in good order, and little 
by little and not altogether, sometimes skipping along 
and at other times wading waift deep, all our soldiers 
crossed over, with many of our allies following them. 
Cortes and the horsemen, turning their backs on our 



soldiers, kept guard on the land, for they feared that 
the Mexican squadrons might again fall on our rear. 
When our men had passed the canals, the enemy fell 
on them with fury, and wounded many of them, but 
as they had made up their minds to gain the cause- 
way which was close by, they Still forged ahead until 
they could attack the enemy on land, clear of the water, 
and then they got to the town. Without further wate 
of words they fell on the enemy so fiercely that they 
killed many of them and repaid them well for the 
trick they had played. Much cotton cloth and gold 
and other spoil was taken, but, as the town was built 
in the lake, the Mexicans and the inhabitants soon 
got into their canoes with all the property they were 
able to carry, and went off to Mexico. 

When our people saw the town deserted, they 
burned some of the houses, and as they did not dare 
to sleep there because the town Stood in the water, 
they returned to where Captain Cortes was awaiting 

The next day they marched to the great pueblo 
named Guautitlan, and as they went on their way, the 
Indians from the neighbouring villages, and many 
Mexicans who had joined them, yelled and whittled 
and shouted insults at our men, but they kept to the 
canals and the places where the horsemen could 
not gallop and no harm could be done to them. In 
this way, our troops arrived at the town, which had 
been abandoned that same day and all property carried 
off. That night they slept there, well guarded by 
sentinels and patrols, and the following day marched 
on to the great pueblo called Tenayuca. They 
found this pueblo deserted like the la&, and all the 
Indian inhabitants had assembled together in another 
town further on called Tacuba. From Tenayuca they 
marched to Atzcapotzalco, about half a league distant 
one from the other, and this too was deserted. This 



town of Atzcapotzalco was where they used to work 
the gold and silver for the great Montezuma. From 
there they marched to Tacuba, a distance of half a 
league, and this is the place where we halted on that 
sad night when we came out from Mexico routed. 

Before our army could reach the town it was met in 
the open by a large number of troops which were lying 
in wait, gathered from all the pueblos through which 
our army had passed, as well as those from Tacuba and 
Mexico, for Mexico was close by. All of them together 
began an attack on our people in such a manner that 
our Captain and the horsemen had all they could do 
to break through their ranks, so close did they keep 
together. However, our soldiers with good sword 
play forced them to retreat ; then, as it was night-time, 
they went to sleep in the town after porting sentinels 
and watchmen. 

If there had been many Mexicans gathered together 
that day, there were many more on the next morning, 
and in excellent order they advanced to attack our 
people with such energy that they killed and wounded 
some of our soldiers. Nevertheless, our men forced 
them to retreat to their houses and fortresses, so that 
they found time to enter Tacuba and burn and sack 
many of the houses. When this was known in Mexico, 
many more squadrons were ordered to go forth from 
the city to fight against Cortes, and it was arranged 
that when they fought with him, they should pretend 
to turn in flight towards Mexico, and little by little 
they should draw our army on to the causeway until 
they had them well on to it, and that they should 
behave as though they were retreating out of fear. 

As it was arranged, so they carried it out> and 
Cortes believing that he was gaining a viftory, ordered 
the enemy to be followed as far as a bridge. When the 
Mexicans thought that they had already got Cortes 
in their trap, and the bridge had been crossed, a huge 



multitude of Indians turned on him, some in canoes 
and others by land, and others on the azoteas, and they 
placed him in such Straits and .matters looked so 
serious that he believed himself to be defeated, for at 
the bridge that he had reached, they fell on him with 
such force that he could effect little or nothing. A 
Standard bearer in resisting the charge of the enemy, 
was badly wounded and fell with his banner from the 
bridge into the water, and was in danger of being 
drowned, and the Mexicans had even seized him to 
drag him into a canoe, but he was so Strong that he 
escaped with his banner. In that fight they killed 
four or five of our soldiers and wounded many of them, 
and Cortes recognizing the great audacity and want 
of forethought that he had shown in going on to the 
causeway in the way I have related, and feeling that 
the Mexicans had caught him in a trap, ordered all 
his followers to retire in the be& order possible without 
turning their backs, but with their faces towards the 
enemy and hand to hand as though resisting an onset. 
The horsemen made some charges, but they were 
very few, for the horses were soon wounded. In this 
way, Cortes escaped that time from the power of the 
Mexicans, and when he got on dry land he gave great 
thanks to God. 

During the five days that Cortes Stayed in Tacuba, 
he had encounters and battles with the Mexicans, 
and he then returned to Texcoco along the road by 
which he had come. 

By long marches, Cortes arrived at a pueblo subjeft 
to Texcoco, named Acolman, about two leagues and 
a half distant from Texcoco, and as soon as we knew 
that he had arrived there we went out with Gonzalo 
de Sandoval to see him and receive him, accom- 
panied by the Caciques of Texcoco. We were greatly 
delighted at the sight of Cortes, for we had known 
nothing of what had happened to him for fifteen 



days. After welcoming him we returned to Texcoco 
that afternoon, for we did not dare to leave the camp 
without a sufficient guard. The Tlaxcalans, as they 
were now rich and came laden with spoil, asked leave 
to return to their homes, and Cortes granted it, and 
they went by a road where the Mexicans could not 
spy on them and saved their property. 

At the end of four days, during which our Captain 
was renting, and hurrying on the building of the 
launches, the people from some pueblos on the North 
CoaSt came to ask for peace and offer themselves as 
vassals to His Majesty. At this same time, there 
came messengers from other pueblos who had become 
our friends, saying that we muft come and help them 
because great squadrons of Mexicans were coming 
against them and had entered their territory and were 
carrying off many of their Indians as prisoners, and 
had wounded others. There also came people from 
Chalco and Tlamanalco who said that if we did not 
come to their assistance they would all be lot, and told 
a moft pitiful tale, and brought a piece of henequen 
cloth, painted with an exaft representation of the 
squadrons of Mexicans which had come against them. 
Cortes did not know what to say, nor how to answer 
them or help them, for he had seen that many of our 
soldiers were wounded and ill, and eight had died of 
pains in the back, and from throwing up clotted blood 
mixed with mud from the mouth and nose, and it 
was from the fatigue of.always wearing armour on our 
backs, and from the everlasting going on expeditions 
and from the dut that we swallowed. In addition to 
this, three or four horses had died of their wounds, 
yet we never Stopped going on expeditions. So the 
answer he gave to the firSt pueblos was to flatter them, 
and to say that he would soon come to help them, but 
that while he was on the way they should get help 
from their neighbours. He said so much to them, 



through our interpreters, that he encouraged and put 
heart into them. As Cortes had ordered them, they 
awaited the Mexicans in the open and fought a battle 
with them, and with the help of our allies, their 
neighbours, they did not do badly. 

Let us return to the people of Chalco ; as our 
Cortes saw how important it was for us- that this 
province and the road through it should be freed from 
Mexicans, (for it was the way we had to come and go 
to Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz and to Tlaxcala, and we 
had to supply our camp from that province, for it was 
a land that produced much Maize), he at once ordered 
Gonzalo de Sandoval to get ready to tart the next 
morning for Chalco, and he ordered him to take 
twenty horsemen and two hundred soldiers, twelve 
crossbowmen and ten musketeers and the Tlaxcalans 
who were in camp, who were very few, (for the greater 
number of them had gone to their homes laden with 
spoil) and Sandoval also took with him a company 
of Texcocans, and Captain Luis Marin who was his 
intimate friend. Cortes and Pedro de Alvarado and 
Crit6bal de Olid remained behind to guard the 
city and the launches. 


DURING the expeditions described in the four following Chapters,, 
the Spaniards passed out of the Valley of Mexico through the gap 
between the Serrania of Ajusco and me slopes of Popocatapetl, and 
descended into the plains of Morelos and Cuernavaca. The towns 
of Yecapixtla, Oaxtepec, Yautepec, and Cuernavaca all tand at 
somewhat the same altitude, about 5,000 ft. above the level of the 
sea and a little more than 2,000 ft. below the level of the Valley 
of Mexico. The Serrania of Ajusco, with its innumerable extinct 
craters and somewhat recent lava fields, and the mass of Popo- 
catapetl, form a lofty barrier to the north of these towns, which is 
edged near Tepoftlan and towards the EasT: by a fringe of broken 
and abrupt conglomerate rock, forming hills and cliffs, with spurs 

47 8 


running southward into the plains of Morelos and Cuernavaca. Jusl: 
to the south of this rampart, several isolated hills of a few hundred 
feet in height arise somewhat abruptly from the plain, and it was on 
one of these hills (probably Tlayacapan), which ties halfway between 
Yecapixtla and Tepoftlan, that the Indians took refuge. 

Neither Bernal Diaz nor Cortes appear to have visited Yecapiztla,. 
and their descriptions of its position are somewhat misleading. The 
town is not situated on a lofty eminence, but, like Cuernavaca, 
although on slightly rising ground, it hardly Elands out from the 
surrounding plain. These plains slope gradually to the south, and 
are deeply scored by the numerous small ftreams which, flowing 
from the mountains to the north, have cut their way deep down 
through soil and rock, forming ravines or barrancas, which, in chosen 
spots, render fortifications almost unnecessary. Both Yecapixtla 
and Cuernavaca are nearly surrounded by such ravines. 


AFTER hearing Mass, Sandoval set out on the I2th 
March in the year 1521, and slept at some farms 
belonging to Chalco, and on the next morning arrived 
at Tlamanalco where the Caciques and Captains gave 
him a good reception and provided food, and advised 
him to go at once in the direction of a great pueblo 
called Oaxtepec, for he would find the whole of the 
Mexican forces either assembled at Oaxtepec or on 
the road thither ; and they said that all the warriors 
from the province of Chalpo would accompany him. 
Sandoval set out at once, and went on to sleep at a 
pueblo subjeft to Chalco called Chimaluacan, for the 
spies, sent by the people of Chalco to watch the Culuas, 
came to report that the enemy's forces were lying 
in wait for them in some rocky defiles in the neighbour- 
hood of that town. As the enemy was polled in broken 
ground and it was not known if they had dug pits 
or raised barricades, Sandoval wished to keep his 
soldiers well in hand so as to avoid any disa^ler. 



As he continued his march he saw the Mexican 
squadrons approaching him in three divisions, shout- 
ing and whirling and sounding trumpets and drums, 
and they came on to the attack like fierce lions, 
Sandoval told the horsemen to charge them at once 
before they could reach our men. Cheering on his 
troops by shouting : " Santiago and at them ! " 
Sandoval led the charge himself, and by that move- 
ment, he routed some of the Mexican squadrons, but 
not all of them, so that they soon turned and showed 
a firm front, for they were helped by the bad track 
and broken ground, and the horsemen owing to the 
rough ground were not able to gallop and could not 
get in rear of them. To finish my glory, the Mexicans 
were forced into retreat but their flight was towards 
other bad passes. Sandoval and the horsemen went in 
pursuit, but overtook only three or four of the enemy. 
During that pursuit, owing to the badness of the road, 
the horse of a cavalryman, named Gonzalo Dominguez, 
fell with his rider beneath him, and the man died from 
his injuries within a few days. I call this to mind 
because Gonzalo Dominguez was one of the bet 
horsemen and one of the mot valiant men that Cortes 
had brought in his Company, and we held him in 
much esteem for his valour, so that we all felt the loss 

To go back to Sandoval and his army ; they followed 
the enemy to the neighbourhood of the pueblo of 
Oaxtepec, but before reaching the town, over fifteen 
thousand Mexicans emerged from it and began to 
surround our soldiers and wounded many of them and 
five horses, but as the ground was level in some places, 
our horsemen, making a united effort, broke up two 
of their squadrons, and the ret turned tail and fled 
towards the town in order to guard some barricades 
-which they had raised, but our soldiers and the allies 
followed so close that they had no time to defend 



them, and the horsemen kept up the pursuit in other 
directions until they had shut the enemy up in a part 
of the town where they could not be reached. Thinking 
that the enemy would not again renew the attack on that 
day, Sandoval ordered his men to reft and tend their 
wounds, and they began to take their food. While 
they were eating, two horsemen and two soldiers 
who had been told off as scouts before the men began 
to eat, ran in crying : " To arms, to arms ; the 
Mexicans are coming in great force/' As they were 
always accustomed to have their arms in readiness, 
the horsemen were soon mounted and they came out 
into a great plaza. At that moment the enemy were 
upon them, and there they fought another good battle. 
After the enemy had been for some time showing us 
a good front from some barricades and wounding 
some of our men, Sandoval fell on them so suddenly 
with his horsemen that with the help of the muskets 
and crossbows and the sword-play of the soldiers, he 
drove them from the town into some neighbouring 
barrancas, and they did not come back again that day. 

When Captain Sandoval found himself free from 
that Struggle, he gave thanks to God and went to re& 
and sleep in an orchard within the town, which was 
so beautiful and contained such fine buildings that 
it was the be worth beholding of anything we had 
seen in New Spain. There were so many things in 
it to look at that it was really wonderful and was 
certainly the orchard of a great prince, and they could 
not go all through it then, for it was more than a 
quarter of a league in length, 

Let us Stop talking about the orchard and say that 
I did not go myself on this expedition^ nor did I then 
walk about this orchard, but I went there about twenty 
days later when, in company with Cortes, we made 
the round of the great towns of the lakes, as I shall 
tell later on. The reason why I did not go this firft 

481 ii 


time was because I had been badly wounded by a 
spear-thrufb in the throat, and was in danger of dying 
from it, and I &ill bear the scar. The wound was 
given me during the Iztapalapa affair, when they tried 
to drown us. 

On the following day Gonzalo de Sandoval sent 
messengers to treat for peace, but the Caciques did 
not dare to come in for fear of the Mexicans. 


THE same day, Sandoval sent to another large pueblo 
called Yecapixtla, about two leagues distant from 
Oaxtepec, to tell the people to take warning from what 
had happened to the squadrons of Culuas Stationed 
in the pueblo of Oaxtepec, and to make peace and 
expel the Mexican garrisons who were guarding their 
country, and that if they did not do so he would come 
and make war on them and chastise them. The answer 
returned was that the Spaniards might come when 
they liked, for they were looking forward to feat on 
their flesh and provide sacrifices for theii Idols. 

When this reply was given, the Caciques from 
Chalco, who were with Sandoval, knew that there 
mut be a large force of Mexicans in garrison at 
Yecapixtla ready to make war on Chalco as soon as 
Sandoval should retire ; and for this reason they 
begged him to go to Yecapixtla and drive the Mexicans 
out of the place. However, Sandoval was not willing 
to go, one reason being that many of his soldiers and 
horses were wounded, and the other that he had 
already fought three battles and he did not wish to 
exceed the instructions that Cortes had given him. 
Moreover, some of the gentlemen whom he had brought 



in his company, men from the army of Narvaez, 
advised him to return to Texcoco and not go to 
Yecapixtla, which was Wrongly fortified, left some 
disaster should befall him. However, the Captain, 
Luis Marin, counselled him not to fail to go to that 
fortress and do what he could, for the Caciques from 
Chalco said that if he turned back without defeating 
the force which was assembled in that fortress, that 
as soon as they saw or heard that he had returned 
to Texcoco, the enemy would at once attack Chalco. 
Sandoval, therefore, decided to go to Yecapixtla. 

As soon as he came in sight of the town, a hoft of 
warriors came out and began to shoot darts and arrows 
and cat ftones from their slings, so that they fell like 
hail, and three horses and many soldiers were wounded 
without our men being able to do any harm to the 

As Sandoval observed that the Caciques from Chalco 
and their Captains and many of the Indian warriors 
were manoeuvring round about without daring to 
attack the enemy, on purpose to try them and to see 
what they would answer, Sandoval said to them, 
" What are you doing : why don't you begin to fight 
and get into the town and fortress, for we are here and 
will defend you." They replied that they did not dare 
to do it, that the enemy were in a ftronghold, and it 
was for this very purpose that Sandoval and his brother 
Teules had come with them and that the people of 
Chalco had come under his protection relying on his 
help to drive the enemy out. 

So Sandoval and all his soldiers began the attack, 
and many were wounded as they clambered up [the 
sides of the ravines] and Sandoval himself was again 
wounded in the head, and many of our allies were 
wounded, for they too entered the town and did much 
damage to it, and it was the Indians from Chalco 
and our allies from Tlaxcala who did mot damage 



to the enemy, for our soldiers after breaking up their 
ranks and putting them to flight, would not give a 
sword-thrust at the enemy, for it seemed to them mere 
cruelty, and they were chiefly occupied in looking 
out for pretty .Indian women or seeking for plunder, 
and they frequently quarrelled with our allies on 
account of their cruelty, and took the Indian men and 
women away from them to prevent their being killed. 

I mut go on to say that when this was over, San- 
doval and all his army returned to Texcoco with 
much spoil, especially of good-looking Indian women. 

When the lord of Mexico, who was called Guatemoc, 
heard of the defeat of his armies it is said that he 
showed much resentment at it, and Still more at the 
thought that the people of Chalco, who were his 
subjects and vassals, should dare to take up arms 
three times against his forces, 

He was so angry that he resolved that as soon as 
Sandoval should return to his camp at Texcoco he 
would send out a great force of warriors, which he 
at once assembled in the city of Mexico, and another 
force which was got together from the lake, equipped 
with every sort of arms, and would despatch this force, 
numbering over twenty thousand Mexicans, in two 
thousand large canoes to make a sudden descent on 
Chalco, to do all the damage that it was possible to do. 

This was all accomplished with such skill and 
rapidity that Sandoval had hardly arrived at Texcoco 
and spoken to Cortes, when again messengers came 
in canoes across the lake begging help from Cortes, 
telling him that more than two thousand canoes 
carrying over twenty thousand Mexicans had come to 
Chalco, and they begged him to come at once to their 

At the very moment that Cortes heard this news 
Sandoval came to speak to him and to give him an 
account of what he had done during the expedition 



from which he had jut then returned, but Cortes 
was so angry with him he would not listen to him, 
believing that it was through some fault or carelessness 
on his part that our friends at Chalco were experiencing 
this trouble, and without any delay, and without 
listening to him, Cortes ordered Sandoval to leave 
all his wounded men in camp and to go back again 
in all hafte with those who were sound. 

Sandoval was much distressed at the words Cortes 
used to him, and at his refusal to listen to him, but 
he set out at once for Chalco where his men arrived 
tired out with the weight of their arms and their long 
march. It appears that the people of Chalco, learning 
through their spies that the Mexicans were coming 
so suddenly upon them, and that Guatemoc had 
determined that they should be attacked, before any 
help could reach them from us, had sent to summon 
aid from the people of the province of Huexotzingo 
which was near by, and the men from Huexotzingo 
arrived that same night, all equipped with their arms, 
and joined with those from Chalco, so that in all there 
were more than twenty thousand of them. As they 
had already lo& their fear of the Mexicans they quietly 
awaited their arrival in camp and fought like brave 
men, and although the Mexicans killed many of them 
and took many prisoners, the people of Chalco killed 
many more of the Mexicans and took as prisoners 
fifteen captains and chieftains and many other warriors 
of lesser rank. The Mexicans looked upon this battle 
as a much greater disgrace, seeing that the people of 
Chalco had defeated them, than if they had been 
defeated by us. 

When Sandoval arrived at Chalco and found that 
there was nothing for him to do, and nothing more to 
be feared as the Mexicans would not return again to 
Chalco, he marched back again to Texcoco and took 
the Mexican prisoners with him. 



Whereat Cortes was delighted but Sandoval showed 
great resentment towards our captain for what had 
happened, and did not go to see or speak to him, 
until Cortes sent to tell him that he had misunderstood 
the affair, thinking that it was through some careless- 
ness on his part that things had gone wrong, and 
that although he had set out with a large force of 
soldiers and horsemen he had returned without 
defeating the Mexicans. 

I will cease speaking about this matter, for Cortes 
and Sandoval soon became fail friends again and there 
was nothing Cortes would not do to please SandovaL 

As Gonzalo de Sandoval had arrived in Texcoco 
with a great booty of slaves and there were many 
others which had been captured in the late expeditions, 
it was decided that they should at once be branded. 
When proclamation was made, mot of us soldiers 
took those slaves that we possessed to be marked with 
the brand of His Majesty, in the way that we had 
already arranged with Cortes. We thought that our 
slaves would be returned to us after the Royal fifth 
had been paid, and that a price would be put on the 
women slaves in accordance with the value of each one 
of them. However it was not so done, and if the 
affair was badly managed at Tepeaca, it was managed 
much worse here at Texcoco, From this time on many 
of us soldiers when we captured good-looking Indian 
women hid them away and did not take them to 
be branded, but gave out that they had escaped ; or 
if we were favourites of Cortes we took them secretly 
by night to be branded, and they were valued at their 
worth, the Royal fifth paid and they were marked 
with the iron. Many others remained in our lodgings 
and we said that they were free servants from the 
pueblos that had made peace, or from Tlaxcala. 

About this time a ship arrived from Spain in which 
came Julian de Alderete, as his Maje&y's Treasurer. 



A great hore of arms and powder was also brought 
in this ship, in faft as was to be expe&ed in a ship 
coming from Spain it came well laden, and we rejoiced 
at its arrival and at the news from Spain that it brought. 

Cortes now saw that the building of the launches 
was finished, and noted the eagerness of all of us 
soldiers to commence the siege of Mexico. 


As Cortes had told the people of Chalco that he was 
coming to help them so that the Mexicans should no 
longer come and attack them, (for we had been going 
there and back every week to assist them) he ordered 
a force of soldiers to be prepared, and they were 
three hundred soldiers, thirty horsemen, twenty 
crossbowmen and fifteen musketeers, and the Treasurer 
Julian Alderete, Pedro de Alvarado, Andr6s de 
Tapia, Criftobal de Olid, and the Friar Pedro Mel- 
gar ejo went also, and Cortes ordered me to go with 
him, and there were many Tlaxcalans and allies from 
Texcoco in his company. He left Gonzalo de Sandoval 
behind with a good company of soldiers and horse- 
men to guard Texcoco and the launches. 

On the morning of Friday the ^th April, 1521, after 
hearing Mass we set out for Tlamanalco, where we 
were well received, and we slept there. The next 
day we went to Chalco, for the one town is quite close 
to the other, and there Cortes ordered all the Caciques 
of the province to be called together, and he made 
them a speech, in which he gave them to understand 
that we were now going to try whether we could 
bring to peace some of the towns in the neighbour- 
hood of the lake, and also to view the land and position 
before blockading Mexico, and that we were going to 



place thirteen launches on the lake, and he begged 
them to be ready to accompany us on the next day 
with all their warriors. When they underwood this, 
all with one voice promised that they would willingly 
do what we asked. 

The next day we went to sleep at Chimaluacan, 
and there we met more than twenty thousand allies 
from Chalco, Texcoco, and Huexotzingo and from 
Tlaxcala and other towns, and in all the expeditions 
in which I have been engaged in New Spain, never 
have I known so many of our allied warriors to accom- 
pany us as joined us now. 

About this time we received news, that in a plain 
near by, there were many companies and squadrons of 
Mexicans and all their allies from the country round 
about waiting to attack us. So Cortes held us in readi- 
ness and after hearing Mass we set out early in the 
morning from the pueblo of Chimaluacan, and 
marched among some high rocks between two hills 
where there were fortifications and barricades, where 
many Indians both men and women were safely 
sheltered, and from these Strongholds they yelled and 
shouted at us, but we did not care to attack them, but 
kept quietly on our way, and arrived at a plain where 
there were some springs with very little water. On 
one side was a high rocky hill x with a fortress very 
difficult to subdue, as the attempt soon proved, and 
we saw that it was crowded with warriors, and from 
the summit they shouted at us and threw Clones 
and shot darts and arrows, and wounded three of our 
soldiers. Then Cortes ordered us to halt there, and 
said : "It seems that all these Mexicans who shut 
themselves up in fortresses make mock of us as long 
as we do not attack them ", and he ordered some horse- 
men and crossbowmen to go round to the other side 
of the hill and see if there was a more convenient 
1 Probably Tlajacapan; 


opening whence to attack them. They returned to 
say that the be& approach was where we then were, 
for there was no other place where it was possible to 
climb up, for it was all Steep rock. Then Cortes ordered 
us to make an attack. The Standard Bearer Cri&obal 
del Corral led the way with other ensigns and all of 
us followed him while Cortes and the horsemen kept 
guard on the plain, so that no other troops of Mexicans 
should fall on the baggage or on us during our attack 
on the Stronghold. As we began to climb up the hill, 
the Indians who were polled above rolled down so 
many huge Clones and rocks that it was terrifying to 
see ^them hurtling and bounding down, and it was 
a miracle that we were not all of us killed. One soldier 
named Martinez fell dead at my feet ; he had a 
helmet on his head but he gave no cry and never spoke 
another word. Still we kept on, but as the great Galgas^ 
as we call these big rocks in this country, came rolling 
and tearing and bounding down and breaking in 
pieces, they soon killed two more good soldiers, 
Caspar Sanchez, nephew of the Treasurer of Cuba, 
and a man named Bravo, but Still we kept on. Then 
another valiant soldier named Alonzo Rodriguez 
was killed, and two others were wounded in the head, 
and nearly all the reSt was wounded in the legs, and 
Still we persevered and pushed on ahead. 

As I was aftive in those days, I kept on following 
the Standard Bearer Corral, and we got beneath some 
hollows and cavities which there were in the hillside 
so as to avoid a chance rock hitting us and I clambered 
up from hollow to hollow to escape being killed. The 
Standard Bearer CriSt6bal del Corral sheltered himself 
behind some thick trees covered with thorns which 
grow in these hollows, his face was Streaming with 
blood and his banner was broken, and he called out : 
" Oh Sefior Bernal Dfaz del Castillo, it is impossible 
to go on any further, keep in the shelter of the hollow 



and take care that none of those galgas or boulders 
Strike you, for one can hardly hold on with one's hands 
and feet, much less climb any higher/' Jut then I 
saw that Pedro Barba, a captain of the crossbowmen, 
and two other soldiers were coming up in the same 
way that Corral and I had done, climbing from hollow 
to hollow. I called out from above : " Senor Capitan, 
don't come up any further, for you can't hold on with 
hands and feet, but will roll down again." When I 
said this to him he replied as though he were very 
valiant, or some great lord and could make no other 
reply : " Go ahead." I took that reply as a personal 
insult, and answered him : " Let us see you come 
to where I am", and I went up ftill higher. At that 
very moment such a lot of great Clones came rolling 
down on us from above where they had Stored them 
for the purpose, that Pedro Barba was wounded and 
one soldier killed, and they could not climb a single 
*tep higher. 

Then the Standard Bearer Corral cried out that 
they should pass the word to Cortes, from mouth to 
mouth, that we could not get any higher, and that 
to retreat was equally dangerous. 

When Cortes heard this he understood what was 
.happening, for there below where he hood on the 
level ground two or three soldiers had been killed and 
seven of them wounded by the great impetus of the 
toulders which were hurled down on them, and 
Cortes thought for certain that nearly all of us who had 
made the ascent mut have been killed or badly 
wounded, for from where he lood he could not see 
the folds in the hill. So by signs and shouts and by 
the shots that they fired, we up above knew that they 
were meant as signals for us to retreat, and in good order 
we descended from hollow to hollow, our bodies bruised 
and Streaming with blood, the banners rent, and 
men dead. When Cortes saw us he gave thanks 


to God and they related to him what had happened 
between Pedro Barba and me. Pedro Barba himself 
and the Standard Bearer Corral were telling him 
about the great ftrength of the hill and that it was a 
marvel that the boulders did not carry us away as they 
flew down, and the &ory was soon known throughout 
the camp. 

Let us leave these empty tales and say how there 
were many companies of Mexicans lying in wait in 
places where we could neither see nor observe them, 
Iioping to bring help and succour to those polled on 
the hill, for they well knew that we should not be 
able to force our way into the Stronghold, and they 
had arranged while we were fighting to attack us 
in the rear. When Cortes knew that they were approach- 
ing, he ordered the horsemen and all of us to go and 
attack them, and this we did, for the ground was level 
in places as there were fields lying between the small 
hills, and we pursued the enemy until they reached 
another very Strong hill. 

We killed very few Indians during the pursuit 
for they took refuge in places where we could not 
reach them. So we returned to the Stronghold which 
we had attempted to scale, and seeing that there was 
no water there, and that neither we nor the horses 
had had anything to drink that day, for the springs 
which I have spoken about as being there contained 
nothing but mud, because the many allies whom we 
had brought with us crowded into them and would 
not let them flow. For this reason orders were given 
to shift our camp, and we went down through some 
fields to another hill which was distant from the firSt 
about a league and a half, thinking that we should 
find water there, but we found very little of it. Near 
this hill were some native mulberry trees and there 
we camped, and there were some twelve or thirteen 
houses at the foot of the Stronghold. As soon as we 

49 i 


arrived the Indians began to shout and shoot darts 
and arrows and roll down boulders from above. 

There were many more people in this fortress 
than there were in the firft hill, and it was much ^bronger, 
as we afterwards found out. 

Our musketeers and crossbowmen fired up at 
them but they were so high up and protefted by so 
many barricades that we could not do them any 
harm, besides there was no possibility of climbing 
up and forcing our way in. Although we made two 
attempts, from the houses that tood there, over some 
Steps by which we could mount up for two Plages, 
beyond that it was worse than the firb hill, so that 
we did not increase our reputation at this Stronghold 
any more than at the firt, and the victory lay with the 
Mexicans and their allies. 


THAT night we slept in the mulberry grove and 
were half dead with thirft. It was arranged that on 
the next day all the musketeers and crossbowmen 
should go to another hill which was close by the large 
one, and should climb up it, for there was a way up 
although it was not an easy one, to see if from that 
hill their muskets and crossbows would carry as far 
as the Stronghold on the other, so that they could 
attack it. Cortes ordered Francisco Verdugo and the 
Treasurer Juan de Alderete, who boasted that they 
were good crossbowmen, and Pedro Barba who was 
a Captain, to go as leaders, and all the reft of the 
soldiers to attack from the teps and tracks above 
the houses which I have already spoken of, and to 
climb up as bet we could. So we began the ascent, 



but they hurled down so many Atones both great 
and small that many of the soldiers were wounded, and 
in addition to this it was quite useless to attempt the 
ascent, for even using both our hands and feet we 
could climb no further. While we were making 
these attempts the musketeers and crossbowmen 
from the other hill of which I have spoken, managed 
to reach the enemy with their muskets and crossbows 
but they could only jut do it, however they killed 
some and wounded others. In this way we went on 
attacking them for about half an hour when it pleased 
our Lord God that they agreed to make peace. The 
reason why they did so was that they had not got a 
drop of water, and there was a great number of 
people on the level ground on the hill top and the 
people from all the neighbourhood round had taken 
refuge there both men, women and children and 
slaves. So that we down below should understand 
that they wished for peace, the women on the hill 
waved their shawls and clapped the palms of their 
hands together as a sign that they would make bread 
or tortillas for us and the warriors ceased shooting 
arrows and darts and hurling down Stones. 

When Cortes observed this he ordered that no 
more harm should be done to them, and by signs 
he made them understand that five of their chiefs 
should come down to treat for peace. When they 
came down with much reverence they asked Cort6s 
to pardon them for having protefted and defended 
themselves by taking refuge in that Stronghold. 
Cortes replied somewhat angrily that they deserved 
death for having begun the war, but as they had come 
to make peace, they mul go at once to the other hill 
and summon the Caciques and chiefs who were 
Rationed there and bring in the dead bodies, and 
that if they came in peace he would pardon what had 
happened, if not, that we should attack them and 



besiege them until they died of thirst, for we knew well 
that there too they had no water, for there is very little 
in all that part of the country. So they went off at 
once to summon the Caciques as they were told to do. 

Cortes sent the Standard Bearer Corral, and two 
other captains namely Juan Jaramillo and Pedro de 
Ircio and me, who happened to be there with them,, 
to ascend the hill and see what the Stronghold was like,, 
whether there were many Indians wounded or killed 
by the arrows and muskets and how many people were 
gathered there. 

When he gave us these orders he said, " Look to it. 
Sirs, that you do not take from them a single grain of 
maize, and as I understood it he meant that we 
should help ourselves, and it was for that reason that 
he sent us and told me to go with the others. We 
ascended the hill by a track, and I mu& say that it 
was Stronger than the firSt hill for it was sheer rock, 
and when we reached the top the entrance into the 
Stronghold was no wider than the two mouths of a 
silo or an oven. At the very top it was level ground 
and there was a great breadth of meadow land all 
crowded with people, both warriors and many women 
and children, and we found twenty dead men and 
many wounded, and they had not a drop of water to 
drink. All their clothes and other property was done 
up in bundles and there were many bales of cloaks 
which were the tribute they paid to Guatemoc, and 
when I saw so many loads of cloths and knew that 
it was intended for tribute I began to load four 
Tlaxcalans, my free servants whom I had brought 
with me, and I also put four other bales on the backs 
of four other Indians who were guarding the tribute, 
one bale on each man's back. When Pedro de Ircio 
saw this he said that the bales should not be taken, 
and I contended that they should, but as he was 
Captain, I did^ as he ordered, for he threatened to 



tell Cortes about it. Pedro de Ircio said to me that 
I had heard what Cortes had said, that we should not 
take a single grain of maize, and I replied that was 
true, and that it was on account of those very words 
I wished to carry off these robes. However, he would 
not let me carry off anything at all, and we went down 
to tell Cortes what we had seen. Then Pedro de Ircio 
said to Cortes : "I took nothing from them although 
Bernal Diaz del Caftillo had already laden eight 
Indians with cloth and would have brought them away 
loaded had I not topped him/' Then Cortes replied, 
half angrily : " Why did he not bring them, you 
ought to have Stayed there with the cloth and the 
Indians," and he added : " See how they underhand 
me, I send them to help themselves, and from Bernal 
Diaz, who did understand me, they took away the spoil 
which he was taking from those dogs who will sit 
there laughing at us in the company of those whom, 
we have killed and wounded." 

When Pedro de Ircio heard this he wished to go* 
up to the Stronghold again, but he was told that- 
there was no reason for his going, and that on no 
account should he return there. 

Let us leave this talk and say that the people from 
the other hill came in, and, after much discussion 
about their being pardoned for their paft deeds, all 
gave their fealty to His Majefty. As there was no 
water in that place we went at once to a fine pueblo 
already mentioned by me in the la& chapter called 
Oaxtepec, where is the garden which I have said is 
the be that I have ever seen in all my life, and so 
said the Treasurer Alderete and the monk Fray Pedro 
Melgarejo and our Cortes. When they saw it and 
walked about in it they admired it greatly and said 
that they had never seen a better garden in Spain. 
I muft add that we all found quarters in the garden 
that night. The Caciques of the town came to speak . 



and offer their services to Cortes, for Gonzalo de 
Sandoval had already brought them to peace when he 
entered the town. That night we slept there and the 
next morning very early we left for Yautepec and we 
met some squadrons of Mexicans who had come out 
from that town and the horsemen pursued them more 
than a league and a half until they took refuge in 
another large pueblo called Tepotlan where the 
inhabitants were so completely off their guard that 
we fell upon them before their spies whom they had 
sent to watch us could reach them. 

Here we found some very good-looking Indian 
women and much spoil, but none of the Mexicans 
nor any of the inhabitants waited for us in the town, 
so Cortes sent three or four times to summon the 
Caciques to come and make peace, and said that 
if they did not come he would burn the town and go 
in search of them. They replied that they did not 
mean to come, therefore, so as to Strike fear into the 
other pueblos, Cortes ordered half the houses round 
about to be set on fire. At that very moment the 
Caciques from the pueblo that we had passed that 
day called Yautepec came and gave their fealty to 
His Majesty. The next day we took the road for a 
much better and larger town named Coadlabaca (at 
the present time we usually alter the spelling and call 
it Cuernavaca), and it was garrisoned by many warriors 
both Mexican and Native, and was very Strong on 
account of the Barrancas more than eight fathoms deep, 
with running water at the bottom, but the volume 
of water is small. However, they make the place into 
a ftronghold and there was no way of entering for 
horses except by two bridges which had already been 
broken down. This proteftion was sufficient to prevent 
our forcing an entrance so we fought with them from 
across the Stream and ravine, and they shot many 
arrows and lances at us and hurled Atones from their 



slings, so that they fell thicker than hail. While 
this was happening Cortes was informed that about 
half a league further on there was a place where horses 
could pass, and he at once set off with all the horse- 
men while all of us remained looking for some way 
to get across, and we saw that by means of some trees 
which bood near the edge one could get over to the 
other side of that deep ravine, and although three 
soldiers fell from the trees into the water below, and 
one of them broke his leg, nevertheless we did cross 
over although the danger was great. As for me I will 
say truly that when I was crossing and saw how bad 
and dangerous the passage was, I turned quite giddy, 
H11 I got across, I and others of our soldiers and 
many Tlaxcalans, and we fell on the rear of the Mexicans 
who were shooting Atones and darts and arrows at 
our people, and when they saw us they could not 
believe it and thought that we were more numerous 
than we were. At that moment Cri&obal de Olid 
and Andres de Tapia and other horsemen who at great 
risk had crossed by a broken bridge, arrived on the 
scene and we fell on the enemy so that they turned 
their backs and fled into the thickets about the deep 
ravine where we could not reach them. Soon after- 
wards Cortes himself arrived with the rel of the 

In this town we took great spoil both of large bales 
of cloth as well as good-looking women. Cortes ordered 
us to remain there that day and we all found quarters 
in the beautiful garden of the chief of the town. 

Although I feel bound to speak many times in the 
course of this &ory about the great precautions of 
sentinels, spies and scouts which were taken wherever 
we were, whether encamped or on the march, it would 
be tedious to repeat it too often, and for this reason 
I will go on and say that our scouts came to tell Cortes 
that twenty Indians were approaching, and that from 

497 *k 


their movements and appearance they seemed to be 
Caciques and chieftains who were bringing messages 
or coming to seek for peace. They proved to be the 
Caciques of the town, and when they arrived where 
Cort6s was Sanding they paid him great respeft 
and presented him with some gold jewels and asked 
him to pardon them for not meeting him peacefully, 
but they said the Lord of Mexico commanded them 
to tay in their Sronghold and thence to make war on 
us, and had sent a large force of Mexicans to aid them, 
but from what they had now seen, there was no place, 
however Strong it might be, that we would not attack 
and dominate, and they begged Cortes to have mercy 
and make peace with them. Cortds received them 
graciously, and they then gave their fealty to His 


THE next day we set out towards Xochimilco, 1 which 
is a great city where nearly all the houses are built in 
a fresh water lake, distant about two and a half leagues 
from Mexico. We marched with great circumspeftion 
and in close order and we passed through some pine 
forests, but there was no water whatever along the 
road. As we carried our arms on our backs and it 
was already late and the sun was very hot we suffered 
much from thirft, but we did not know if there was 
any water ahead of us, for we had marched two or three 
leagues, and we were Sill uncertain how far off was 
the pool which we had been told was on the road. 
When Cortes saw that the whole of the army was tired 
out and our allies the Tlaxcalans were dispirited, and 

1 The march from Cuernavaca to Xochimilco mu& have been very 
arduous, as it was necessary to cross the desolate Serrania de Aljvisco 
by a pass of not less than 10,000 feet in altitude. 

49 8 


one of them had died of thirst, and I believe one of 
our soldiers who was old and ailing also died of thirst, 
he ordered a halt to be made in the shade of some 
pine trees and sent six horsemen ahead on the road to 
Xochimilco to see how far off the nearest village, or 
farm, or pool of water might be, so that we might 
know if it were near and might go and sleep there. 

When the horsemen set out, I made up my mind to 
tep aside so that neither Cortes nor the horsemen 
should see me, and with my three Strong and aftive 
Tlaxcalan servants I followed behind the horsemen 
until they observed me coming behind them, and 
Stopped in order to turn me back for fear that there 
should be some unexpected attack by Mexican warriors 
from which I could not defend myself. Nevertheless 
I preferred to go on with them, and Cristobal de Olid, 
as he was a friend of mine, said that I might go but 
should keep my hands ready to fight and my feet ready 
to place myself in safety if there was any fear of warriors, 
however, my thir& was so great that I would have risked 
my life to satisfy it. About half a league ahead there 
were a number of farms and cottages on the hillsides 
belonging to the people of Xochimilco. The horse- 
men left me and went to search for pools of water and 
they found some and satisfied their thir&, and one of 
my Tlaxcalans brought out of a house a large pitcher 
of very cold water (for they have very large pitchers 
in that country) from which I quenched my thirft, 
and so did they. 

Then I determined to return to where Cortes was 
reding, for the dwellers in the farms were already 
giving the call to arms and shouting and whirling 
at us. With the help of the Tlaxcalans I carried along 
the pitcher full of water and I found Cortes who was 
beginning to march again with his army. I told him 
that there was water at the farms near by and that I 
had already had a drink and was bringing water in a 



pitcher which the Tlaxcalans were bringing very 
carefully hidden, so that it should not be taken from 
me, for thirft has no laws, and Cortes and some of the 
other gentlemen drank from it, and he was well 
satisfied and all were rejoiced and hastened on their 
march so that we arrived at the farms before the sun 
had set. 

Water was found in the houses, but not very much 
of it, and owing to the hunger and thirst that they 
suffered some of the soldiers ate some plants like 
thistles which hurt their tongues and mouths. 

Jub then the horsemen returned and reported that 
the pool of water was a long way off, and that all the 
country was being called to arms, and that it would 
be advisable to sleep where we were. So sentinels 
and watchmen and scouts were at once ported and 
I was one of the watchmen, and I remember that it 
rained a little that night and there was a very high 

The next day very early in the morning we began 
our march again and about eight o'clock we arrived at 
Xochimilco. I cannot estimate the great number of 
the warriors who were waiting for us, some on the 
land and others in a passage by a broken bridge, and 
the great number of breast works and barricades 
which had been thrown up, and the lances which they 
carried made from the swords captured from us during 
the great slaughter on the causeways at Mexico. 
I say that all the mainland was covered with warriors, 
and at the passage of that bridge we were fighting 
them for more than half an hour and could not get 
through, neither muskets nor crossbows nor the many 
great charges that we made were of any avail, and the 
wort of all was that many other squadrons of them 
were already coming to attack us on our flanks. When 
we saw that, we dashed through the water and bridge, 
some half swimming and others jumping, and here 



some of our soldiers, much against their will, had 
perforce to drink so much of the water beneath the 
bridge that their bellies were swollen up from it. 

To go back to the battle, at the passage of the 
bridge many of our soldiers were wounded, but we 
soon brought the enemy to the sword's point along 
some Streets where there was solid ground ahead of us. 
Cortes and the horsemen turned in another direftion 
on the mainland where they came on more than ten 
thousand Indians, all Mexicans, who had come as 
reinforcements to help the people in the city, and they 
fought in such a way with our troops that, with their 
lances in reft, they awaited the attack of the horsemen 
and wounded four of them. Cortes was in the middle 
of the press and the horse he was riding, which was a 
very good one, a dark chestnut called " el Rome " 
[the flat-nosed] either because he was too fat or was 
tired (for he was a pampered horse) broke down, and 
the Mexican warriors who were around in great 
numbers laid hold of Cortes and dragged him from 
the horse ; others say that by sheer Strength they 
threw the horse down. Whichever way it may have 
happened, Cortes and the horse fell to the ground, and 
at that very moment many more Mexican warriors 
pressed up to see if they could carry him off alive. 
When some Tlaxcalans and also a very valiant soldier 
named Cristobal de Olea saw what had happened, they 
at once came up and with good cuts and thrufts they 
cleared a space so that Cortes could mount again although 
he was badly wounded in the head. Olea was also very 
badly wounded with three sword cuts. By that time 
all of us soldiers who were anywhere near came to 
their help. At that time, as every treet in the. City 
was crowded with squadrons of warriors and as we 
were obliged to follow their banners, we were not able 
all to keep together, but some of us to attack in some 
places and some of us in others as Cortes commanded 



us. However we all knew from the shouts and cries, 
yells , and whittles that we heard, that where Cortes 
and the horsemen were engaged the fight was hottest, 
and, without further explanation, although there were 
swarms of warriors round us, we went at great risk 
to ourselves to join Cortes. Fifteen horsemen had 
already joined him and were fighting near some canals 
where the enemy had thrown up breastworks and 
barricades. When we came up we put the Mexicans 
to flight, but not all of them turned their backs on us, 
and because the soldier Olea who had helped our Cortes 
was very badly wounded with three sword cuts and 
was bleeding, and because the Streets of the city were 
crowded with warriors, we advised Cortes to turn back 
to some barricades, so that he and Olea and the horse 
might be attended to. 

So we turned back, but not without anxiety on 
account of the Clones, arrows and javelins which they 
fired at us from the barricades, for the Mexicans 
thought that we were turning to retreat and they 
followed us with great fury. At this moment Andres 
de Tapia and Cristobal de Olid came up, and all the 
ret of the horsemen who had gone off with them in 
other direftions. Blood was Streaming * down Olid's 
face, and from his horse and from all the ret of them, 
for everyone was wounded, and they said that they 
had been fighting against such a hot of Mexicans in 
the open fields that they could make no headway 
against them, for when we had passed the bridge which 
I have mentioned it seems that Cortes had divided 
the horsemen so that half went in one direction and 
half in the other, one half following one set of squadrons 
and the other half another set of squadrons. 

While we were treating the wounds by searing them 
with oil, there was a great noise of yells, trumpets, 
shells and drums from some of the Streets on the 
mainland, and along them came a hot of Mexicans 



into the court where we were tending the wounded, 
and they let fly such a number of javelins and Clones 
that they at once wounded many of our soldiers. 
However, the enemy did not come very well out of 
that incursion for we. charged on them and with good 
cuts and thrums we left mot of them Wretched out on 
the ground. 

The horsemen too were not slow in riding out to 
the attack and killed many of them, but two of the 
horses were wounded. We drove them out of that 
court, and when Cort6s saw that there were no more 
of the enemy we went to ret in another great court 
where lood the great oratories of the city. 

Many of our soldiers ascended the highest temple 
where the Idols were kept, and from thence looked 
over the Great City of Mexico and the lakes, for one 
had a commanding view of it all, and they could see 
approaching more than two thousand canoes full of 
warriors who were coming Straight towards us from 
Mexico. Later on we learnt that Guatemoc had sent 
them to attack us that night or next day, and at the 
same time he sent another ten thousand warriors by 
land so that by attacking us both on one side and the 
other, not one of us should go out of that city alive. 
He had also got ready another ten thousand men as 
a reinforcement when the attack was made. All this 
we found out on the following day from five Mexican 
captains who were captured during the battle. 

However, our Lord ordained that it should be other- 
wise, for when that great fleet of canoes was observed 
and it was known that they were coming to attack us, 
we agreed to keep a very good watch throughout 
the camp, especially at the landing places and canals 
where they had to disembark. The horsemen were 
waiting very much on the alert all night through, with 
the horses saddled and bridled on the causeway and 
on the mainland, and Cortes and all his captains were 



keeping watch and going the rounds all night long. 
I and two other soldiers were ported as sentinels on 
some masonry walls, and we had got together many 
Atones where we were polled, and the soldiers of our 
company were provided with crossbows and muskets 
and long lances, so that if the enemy should reach 
the landing place on the canals we could resist them 
and make them turn back. 

While my companions and I were watching we heard 
a sound of many canoes being paddled, although they 
approached with muffled paddles, to disembark at 
the landing place . where we were ported, and with 
a good shower of Phones and with the lances we opposed 
them so that they did not dare to disembark. We sent 
one of our companions to give warning to Cortes, and 
while this was happening there again approached 
many more canoes laden with warriors, and they began 
to shoot darts and Clones and arrows at us, and as we 
again opposed them, two of our soldiers were wounded 
in the head, but as it was night time and very dark 
the canoes went to join the captains of the whole fleet 
of canoes and they all went off together to disembark 
at another landing place where the canals were deeper. 
Then as they were not used to fighting during the night, 
they all went to join the squadrons that Guatemoc had 
sent by land which already numbered more than 
fifteen thousand Indians. 

I also wish to relate, but not for the purpose of 
boasting about it, that when our companions went to 
report to Cortes that many canoes full of warriors had 
reached the landing place where we were watching, 
Cortes himself accompanied by ten horsemen came 
at once to speak to us, and as he came close to us 
without speaking we cried out, I and Gonzalo Sanchez, 
a Portuguese from Algarve, and we shouted : " Who 
comes there, are not you able to speak, what do you 
want ? " and we threw three or four Clones at him. 



When Cortes recognized my voice and that of my 
companion he said to the Treasurer Julian de Alderete 
and to Fray Pedro Malgarejo and Cristobal de Olid, 
who were accompanying him on his rounds : " We 
need no further security here than the two men who 
are here Rationed as watchmen, they are men who 
have been with me from. the earliest times and we can 
fully trufc them to keep a good look out even in a case 
of till greater danger," and then they spoke to us 
and explained the danger that was threatening us. 

In the same way without saying more to us they 
went on to examine the other outposts and we heard 
how they flogged two soldiers who were lounging 
through their watch, these were some of Narvaez's 

There is another matter which I call to mind, 
which is that our musketeers had no more powder, 
and the crossbowmen no arrows, for on the day before 
they had fired so quickly that all had been used up. 
That same night Cortes ordered the crossbowmen to 
get ready all the arrows they possessed and to feather 
them and fix on the arrow heads, for on these expedi- 
tions we always carried many loads of materials for 
arrows and over five loads of arrow heads made of 
copper, so that we could always make arrows when 
they were needed. So all that night every crossbow- 
man was occupied feathering and putting heads on 
the arrows, and Pedro Barba, who was their Captain, 
never ceased from overseeing the work and from 
time to time Cortes assisted him. 


As soon as there was daylight we saw all the Mexican 
squadrons closing in on the court where we were 
encamped, and, as they never caught us napping, the 



horsemen in one dire&ion where there was firm 
ground, and we and our Tlaxcalan allies in another, 
charged through them and killed and wounded three 
of their captains who died the next day, and our allies 
made a good capture and took as prisoners five 
chieftains, from whom we learnt what orders had been 
given by Guatemoc. 

Many of our soldiers were wounded in that battle, 
but this encounter was not the end of the fighting, 
for our horsemen, following on the heels of the enemy, 
came on the ten thousand warriors whom Guatemoc 
had sent as reinforcements. The Mexican Captains 
who came with this force carried swords captured from 
us, and made many demonstrations of the valour with 
which they would use them saying that they would 
slay us with our own arms. When our horsemen who 
were few in number found themselves close to the 
enemy and saw the great number of squadrons, they 
feared to attack them, and they moved aside so as not 
to meet them until Cortes and all of us could come 
to their aid. When we heard of this, without a 
moment's delay, all the horsemen who were left 
mounted their horses although both men and horses 
were wounded, and all the soldiers and crossbowmen 
and our Tlaxcalan allies marched out and we charged 
in such a way that we broke the ranks of the enemy 
and got at them hand to hand and with good sword 
play made them abandon their unlucky enterprise 
and leave us the field of battle. 

We captured some other chieftains there and heard 
from them that Guatemoc had ordered another great 
flotilla of canoes to be despatched and was sending 
many more warriors by land, and had said to his 
warriors that when we were weary from our recent 
encounters and had many dead and wounded, we 
would become careless, thinking that no more 
squadrons would be sent against us, and that with the 



large force he was then sending they would be able 
to defeat us. When this was known, if we had been 
on the alert before we were much more so now, and 
it was agreed that the next day we should leave the 
city and not wait for more attacks. That day we spent 
in attending to the wounded, and in cleaning our arms 
and making arrows. 

It appears that in this city there were many rich 
men who had very large houses full of mantles and 
cloth and Indian cotton shirts, and they possessed 
gold and feather work and much other property. It 
so happened that while we were occupied as I have 
described, the Tlaxcalans and some of our soldiers 
chanced to find out in what part of the town these 
houses were situated, and some of the Xochimilco 
prisoners went with them to point them out. These 
houses tood in the fresh water lake and one could 
reach them by a causeway but there were two or three 
small bridges in the causeway where it crossed some 
deep canals, and as our soldiers went to the houses 
and found them full of cloth and no one was guarding 
them, they loaded themselves and many of the 
Tlaxcalans with the cloth and the gold ornaments 
and came with it to the camp. Some of the other 
soldiers when they saw this, also set out for the houses, 
but while they were inside taking the cloth out of 
some huge wooden boxes, at that very moment a great 
flotilla of canoes arrived full of Indians from Mexico 
who fell upon them and wounded many of the soldiers, 
and carried off four of them alive and took them to 
Mexico, but the ret escaped. 

When these four* soldiers were taken to Guatemoc 
he learnt how few of us we were who had come with 
Cortes and that many of us were wounded, and all 
that he wished to know about our journey. When 
he had thoroughly informed himself about all this, 
he ordered the arms, feet and heads of our unfortunate 



companions to be cut off and sent them to the towns 
of our allies, to those that had already made peace 
with us, and he sent to tell them that he did not think 
there would be one of us left alive to return to Texcoco., 
The hearts and blood were offered to the Idols. 

Let us leave this and say how he at once sent many 
fleets of canoes full of warriors, and other companies, 
by land, and told them to see to it that we did not 
leave Xochimilco alive. As I am tired of writing about 
the many battles and encounters which we fought 
against the Mexicans in those days, and yet cannot 
omit to mention them, I will say that as soon as dawn 
broke there came such a hot of Mexicans by the 
waterways and others by the causeways and by the 
mainland, that we could hardly break them up. So 
we then went out from the city to a great Plaza which 
Stood at a little distance from the town, where they 
were used to hold their markets, and halted there 
with all our baggage ready for the march. Cortes 
then began to make us a speech about the danger 
in which we were placed, for we knew for certain 
that in the bad passes on the roads, at the creeks and 
on the canals the whole power of Mexico and its 
allies would be lying in wait for us, and he told us 
that it would be a good thing, and it was his command, 
that we should march unencumbered and should 
leave the baggage and the cloths so that it should 
not impede us when it came to fighting. When we 
heard this with one voice we answered that, please 
God we were men enough to defend our property and 
persons and his also, and that it would show great 
cowardice to do such a thing. When Cortes knew ojir 
wishes and heard our reply he said that he prayed God 
to help us, and then, knowing the Strength and power 
of the enemy, we arranged the order of march, the 
baggage and the wounded in the middle, the horse- 
men divided so that half of them marched ahead and 



half as a rearguard. The crossbowmen and our native 
allies we also placed near the middle as a security, for 
the Mexicans were accustomed to attack the baggage. 
Of the musketeers we did not take much count for 
they had no powder left. 

In this order we began our march, and when the 
squadrons of Mexicans whom Guatemoc had sent 
out that day saw us retreating from Xochimilco they 
thought that it was from fear and that we did not dare 
to meet them, which was true, and so great a hoSt of 
them Parted off at once and came direftly against us 
that they wounded eight soldiers of whom two died 
within eight days, and they thought to defeat us and 
break into the baggage, but as we marched in the 
order I have described they were not able to do it. 
However, all along the road until we reached a large 
town called Coyoacan, about two leagues distant 
from Xochimilco, the warriors never ceased to make 
sudden attacks on us from positions where we could 
not well get at them, but whence they could assail 
us with javelins and Stones and arrows, and then take 
refuge in the neighbouring creeks and ditches. 

When we arrived at Coyoacan about ten o'clock 
in the morning we found it deserted. 

As this large town Stands on level ground, we 
determined to reSt there that day and the next so as to 
attend to the wounded and to make arrows, for we 
understood very well that we should have to fight 
more battles before returning to our camp at Texcoco. 

Next day but one early in the morning we began our 
march, following the road to Tacuba, which Elands 
about two leagues from our Parting place. At one 
place on the road many squadrons of warriors divided 
into three parties came out to attack us, but we resided 
.all three attacks, and the horsemen followed the enemy 
over the level ground until they took refuge in the 
creeks and canals. 



As we kept on our way Cortes left us with ten horse- 
men and four pages, intending to prepare an ambush 
for the Mexicans who came out from the creeks and 
made attacks on us. The Mexicans pretended that 
they were running away and Cortes with the horsemen 
and servants followed them. Then Cortes saw that 
there was a large force of the enemy placed in ambush 
who fell upon him and his horsemen and wounded 
some horses, and if they had not retreated at once 
they would all have been killed or taken prisoners. 
As it was, the Mexicans carried off two alive out of 
the four soldiers who were pages to Cortes, and 
they carried them to Guatemoc who had them 

We arrived at Tacuba with our banners flying and 
with all the army and the baggage. The reb of the 
horsemen had come in with Pedro de Alvarado and 
Cristobal de Olid, but Cortes and the ten horsemen 
who were with him did not appear, and we had an 
uncomfortable suspicion that some disaster might 
have overtaken him. Then Pedro de Alvarado and 
Cristobal de Olid and other horsemen went in search 
of him, in the direction of the creeks where we had 
seen him turn off. At that moment the other two pages 
who had gone with Cortes and who had escaped with 
their lives came into camp, and they told us all that I 
have already related, and said that they had escaped 
because they were fleet of foot, and that Cortes and 
the others were following slowly because their horses 
were wounded. While we were talking Cortes appeared, 
at which we all rejoiced, although he had arrived very 
sad and almost tearful. 

When we reached Tacuba it rained heavily and we 
took shelter for nearly two hours in some large courts, 
and Cort6s with some other captains and many of us 
soldiers ascended the lofty temple of that town whence 
one had a good view of the city of Mexico which is 



quite near, and of the lake and the other cities which 
are built in the water. 

We continued our march, and passed by Atzcapot- 
zalco, which we found to be deserted, and went on to 
Tenayuca. This town was also deserted. From thence 
we went to Guatitlan, and throughout the day it never 
ceased raining with heavy rainworms, and as we 
marched with our arms shouldered and never took off 
our harness by day or night, what with the weight and 
the soaking we got, we were quite broken down. 
We arrived at that large town when night was falling 
but it also was deserted. It never ceased raining all 
night long and the mud was very deep. The natives 
of the place and some squadrons of Mexicans yelled 
at us all night from the canals and other places where 
we could do them no harm. As it was raining and 
very dark no sentinels could be ported or rounds made,, 
and no order was kept, nor could we find those who 
were ported, and this I can myself assert for they 
Stationed me as a watchman for the firft watch, and 
neither officer nor patrol visited me, and so it was 
throughout the camp. 

Let us leave this carelessness and say that the next 
day we continued our march to another large pueblo x 
of which I do not remember the name ; the mud was 
very deep in it, and we found it deserted. The follow- 
ing day we passed by other deserted pueblos and the 
day after we reached a pueblo called Aculman, subjeft 
to Texcoco. When they knew in Texcoco that we 
were coming, they came out to receive Cortes, and 
there were many Spaniards who had lately come 
from Spain. Captain Gonzalo de Sandoval with many 
soldiers also came out to receive us and with him 
came the Lord of Texcoco. 

Cortes had a good reception both from our own 
people and from those recently come from Spain, and 
1 Citlaltepec. 


a Still more cordial reception from the natives of the 
neighbouring towns, who at once brought food. 

That night Sandoval returned to Texcoco with all 
.his soldiers to proteft his camp, and the next morning 
Cortes and all of us continued our march to Texcoco. 
So we marched on weary and wounded, and having 
left many of our soldier companions behind us dead, 
or in the power of the Mexicans to be sacrificed and 
instead of renting and curing our wounds we had to 
meet a conspiracy organized by certain persons of 
quality who were partisans of Narvaez for the purpose 
of killing Cortes and Gonzalo de Sandoval, Pedro de 
Alvarado and Andres de Tapia. 


As I have already said we returned broken up and 
wounded from the expedition that I have recorded. 
It appears that a great friend of the Governor of Cuba 
named Antonio de Villafana, a native of Zamora or 
Toro, planned with other soldiers of the party of 
Narvaez (I will not mention their names for their 
honour's sake), that when Cortes should thus return 
from that expedition they would kill him with dagger 
thrusts. As a Spanish ship had arrived at that time 
it was to happen in this way : when Cortes should fee 
seated at table dining with his Captains, one of the 
persons who had made the plot should bring him a 
letter firmly closed up and sealed as though it came 
from Ca&ile, and should say that it came from his 
father Martin Cortes, and while he was reading it 
they should tab him with daggers, both Cortes 
and all the Captains and soldiers who should happen to 
be near him and would defend him. 



When all that I have spoken about had already been 
talked over and prepared, it pleased Our Lord that 
those who had arranged it should give a share in the 
affair to two important persons (I wish also to avoid 
mentioning their names) who had gone on the expedi- 
tions with us, and in the plan that had been made they 
had named one of these persons to be captain general 
when they had killed Cortes, and other soldiers of the 
party of Narvaez they appointed chief alguazil and 
ensign, and alcaldes, magistrates, treasurer and 
inspector and other officers of that sort ; and they 
had even divided among themselves our property 
and horses, and this plot was kept secret until two 
days after our arrival at Texcoco. 

It pleased our Lord God that such a thing should 
not come to pass, for New Spain would have been lot 
and all of us, for parties and follies would have sprung 
up at once. 

It seems that a soldier divulged the plot to Cortes, 
who at once put a top to it before more fuel could 
be added to the fire, for that good soldier asserted that 
many persons of quality were concerned in it. When 
Cortes knew of it, after making great promises and 
gifts, which he gave to the man who disclosed it to 
him, he at once secretly informed all our Captains, 
namely, Pedro de Alvarado, Francisco de Lugo, 
Crit6bal de Olid, Andres de Tapia, Gonzalo de 
Sandoval and me, and the two alcaldes who were on 
duty that year, namely, Luis Marin and Pedro de 
Ircio and all of us who were adherents of Cortes. 

As soon as we knew about it we got ready, and 
without further delay went with Cort6s to the lodging 
of Antonio Villafana, and there were present with 
him many of those who were in the conspiracy, and 
with the aid of four alguaciles whom Cortes had 
brought with him we promptly laid hands on Villafana, 
and the Captains and soldiers who were with him at 


once began to flee and Cortes ordered them to be 
seized and detained. As soon as we held Villafana 
prisoner Cortes drew from his [Villafana's] breast the 
memorandum which he possessed with the signatures 
of all who were in the conspiracy, and after he had 
read it and had seen that there were many persons 
of quality in it, so as not to dishonour them, he spread 
the report that Villafana had swallowed the memor- 
andum and that he [Cortes] had neither seen nor 
read it, and he at once brought him to trial. When 
Villafana's Statement was taken he spoke the truth 
and with the many witnesses of good faith and 
credibility whose evidence they took on the case, the 
regular Alcaldes jointly with Cortes and the Quarter- 
matter Cristobal de Olid gave sentence, and after 
Villafana had confessed with the priest Juan Diaz, 
they hanged him from the window of a room where 
he had lodged. 

Cortes did not wish that anyone else should be dis- 
honoured in that affair, although at that time many 
were made prisoners in order to frighten them, and 
to make a show that he wished to punish others, but 
as the time was not suitable he overlooked it. 

Cortes at once agreed to have a guard for his 
person, and the Captain of it was a gentleman named 
Antonio de Quinones, a native of Zamora, with six 
soldiers, good and valiant men who guarded Cortes 
day and night. And he begged us, whom he knew 
belonged to his party, to look after his person. Although 
from that time forth he showed great kindness to 
those who were in the conspiracy, he ditruted them. 

Let us leave this subjeft and say that he at once 
ordered it to be proclaimed that, within two days, all 
the Indian men and women that we had captured on 
those expeditions should be brought to be branded, 
and a house was designated for the purpose. 

So as not to wate more words in this ftory about the 



way that they were sold at the auftion, (beyond what 
I have said at other times on the two other occasions 
when they were branded,) if it were done badly before, 
it was done much worse this time, for, after taking out 
the royal fifth, Cortes took his fifth and further thefts 
for Captains, and if those we sent to be branded were 
handsome and good Indian women they tole them by 
night from the crowd, so that they should not reappear 
from then till doomsday and on this account many 
women were left out, who we afterwards kept as free 




AFTER Antonio de Villafana had been punished, and 
those who had joined with him in the conspiracy 
had quieted down, Cortes examined the sloops which 
were already built and had their rigging, sails and 
oars in place, and spare oars for each sloop. Moreover 
the canal by which the sloops were to pass out to the 
lake was already broad and deep. So Cortes sent to 
advise all the friendly pueblos near Texcoco to make 
eight thousand arrow heads of copper in each pueblo, 
and he also ordered them to make and trim for him 
in each pueblo eight thousand arrows of a very good 
kind of wood, and for these they also carried away 
a sample, and messengers and letters were then sent 
to our friend Xicotenga the elder, and to his son 
Xicontenga the younger and to his brothers, and to 
Chichimecatecle, informing them that when the day 
of Corpus Chribi was passed, we were going to leave 
this city to proceed against Mexico and to invent it. 
He told them to send him twenty thousand warriors 
from their own people at Tlaxcala, and from those of 
Huexotzingo and Cholula, for all were now friends 
and brothers in arms, and they all knew the time of 
meeting and the plan, as he had informed them by 
their own Indians who were continually leaving our 
camp laden with the spoils from the expeditions we 
had made. 

He also gave warning to the people of Chalco and 
Tlamanalco and their vassals, to be prepared when we 
should send to summon them, and he gave them to 


understand that we were about to invent Mexico, 
and the time when we should set out, and he said the 
same to Don Fernando the Lord of Texcoco and to his 
chieftains and to all his vassals, and to all the other 
towns friendly to us. One and all replied that they 
would do exaftly what Cortes sent to order them, 
and that they would come. 

After the orders were given, Cortes decided with 
our Captains and soldiers that on the second day of 
the feaft of Espiritu Santo (this was the year one 
thousand five hundred and twenty-one) a review should 
be held. This review was held in the great Courts 
of Texcoco and there were present eighty-four horse- 
men, six-hundred-and-fifty soldiers with swords and 
shields and many with lances, and one-hundred-and- 
ninety-four crossbowmen and musketeers. From 
these there were chosen to man the thirteen launches 
those that I will now mention For each launch, 
twelve crossbowmen and musketeers ; in addition 
to them there were also set apart another twelve men, 
six on each side as rowers for each launch. And besides 
these there was a Captain for each launch and an 

Cortes also divided among them all the boat guns 
and falconets we possessed and the powder he thought 
they would need. When this was done, he ordered the 
following rules, which we all had to observe, to be 

First, no man should dare to blaspheme our Lord 
Jesus Chria, nor Our Lady, His Blessed Mother, 
nor the Sainted Apostles, nor any other saints under 
heavy penalty. 

Second, no soldier should illtreat our allies, since 
they went to help us, or should take anything away 
from them even if they should be spoils gained by 
war, whether Indian men or women or gold or silver 
or Chalchihuites. 


Another was, no soldier should dare to depart either 
by day or night from our camp to go to any pueblo of 
our allies, or anywhere else, either to fetch food or for 
any other matter, under heavy penalties. 

Another, all the soldiers should wear very good 
armour, well quilted, a neck guard, head piece, leggings 
and shield, for we knew about the great number of 
javelins and Clones and arrows and lances, and for all 
of them it was necessary to wear the armour which 
the proclamation mentioned. 

Another, no one should gamble for a horse or arms 
on any account, under heavy penalty. 

Another, no soldier, horseman, crossbowman, or 
musketeer should go to sleep unless he were fully 
armed and shod with his sandals, unless it were under 
the Stress of wounds or because he was suffering from 
illness, so that we might be fully prepared whatsoever 
time the Mexicans might come to attack us. 

In addition to these, the laws were proclaimed 
which were ordered to be observed in soldiering ; 
that is, that anyone who sleeps when on guard or 
leaves his pot should be punished with death, and 
it was proclaimed that no soldier should go from one 
camp to another without leave from his Captain under 
pain of death. 

Another, that any soldier deserting his Captain in 
war or battle, should suffer death. 

After the review had taken place, Cortes saw that 
not enough men who knew how to row could be found 
for the launches, although those who had been brought 
in the ships which we destroyed when we came 
with Cortes were thoroughly experienced and the 
sailors from the ships of Narvaez and those from 
Jamaica also knew how to row, and all of them were 
placed on the lift and had been warned. Yet counting 
all of them, there was not a full supply, as many of 
the men refused to row. So Cortes made enquiries to 


find out who were seamen, or had been seen to go 
out fishing, and if they came from Palos or Triana 
or from any other port or place where there were 
sailors, and he ordered them under pain of heavy 
penalties to go on board the launches. However 
high-born they might say they were, he made them 
go and row, and in this way he got together one 
hundred and fifty men as rowers, and they were 
much freer from hardships than we were who were 
Stationed on the causeways fighting, and they became 
rich from plunder as I will relate further on. 

After Cortes had decided who should go in the 
launches, he divided the crossbowmen and musketeers 
and the powder, cannon and arrows and everything 
else that was necessary among them and ordered them 
to place in each launch the royal banners and other 
banners with the name that was given to each launch, 
besides other things which were needed, and he named 
as Captains of the launches those whom I will now 
mention here : Garci Holguin, Pedro Barba, Juan 
de Linpias, Carvajal the deaf, Juan Jaramillo, Jeronimo 
Ruiz de la Mota, his companion Caravajal, and one 
Portillo who had juft come from Castile, a good soldier 
who had a handsome wife and a Zamora who was a 
ship's mate, a Colmenero , who was a seaman and a 
good soldier, a Lema, a Jines N6rtes, one Briones a 
native of Salamanca, another Captain whose name I do 
not remember, and Miguel Diaz de Auz. 

After he had named them, he gave in&ru&ions to 
each Captain what he was to do, and to what part of 
the causeways he was to go, and with which one of the 
Captains who were on land he was to co-operate. 

When he had finished arranging all that I have men- 
tioned, they came to tell Cort6s that the Captains 
from Tlaxcala with a great number of warriors were 
approaching, and that Xicotenga, the younger, was 
coming as their commander in chief, and that he was 


bringing in his company his two brothers, sons of 
the good old man Don Lorenzo de Vargas. Xicotenga 
was also bringing a great force of Tlaxcalans under 
the command of Chichimecatecle and men from 
Huexotzingo, and another regiment of Cholulans, 
although they were few in number, because, from what 
I always observed after we had punished the people 
of Cholula, they never afterwards sided with Mexicans 
nor yet with us, but were keeping on the look-out, 
[to see which side to take,] and even when we were 
expelled from Mexico they were not found in 
opposition to us. 

When Cortes knew that Xicotenga and his brothers 
and other Captains were approaching, (and they were 
coming one day before the time he had told them to 
come,) Cortes went out a quarter of a league from 
Texcoco to receive them with Pedro de Alvarado 
and others of our Captains, and as soon as he met 
Xicotenga and his brothers, Cortes paid them great 
respeft and embraced them and all the other Captains. 
They approached in fine order, all very brilliant with 
great devices, each regiment by itself with its banners 
unfurled, and the white bird, like an eagle with its 
wings outstretched, which is their badge. The ensigns 
waved their banners and Standards, and all carried 
bows and arrows, two handed swords, javelins and 
spear throwers ; some carried macanas and great 
lances and others small lances. Adorned with their 
feather head-dresses, and moving in good order and 
uttering shouts, cries, and whi&les, calling out : 
" Long live the Emperor our Mailer ", and " Caftile, 
CaStile, Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala", they took more than 
three hours entering Texcoco. 

Cortes ordered them to be lodged in good quarters, 
and to be supplied with everything we had in our camp. 
After many embraces and promises to enrich them, he 
took leave of them and told them that next day he would 



give them orders what they were to do, and that now 
they were tired and should 


CORTES appointed Pedro de Alvarado Captain of one 
hundred and fifty sword and shield soldiers (and many 
of them carried lances) and thirty horsemen and 
eighteen musketeers and crossbowmen, and he named 
his brother Jorge de Alvarado, and Gutierrez de 
Badajoz and Andres de Monjaraz to go together 
with him, and these he appointed to be Captains of 
fifty soldiers and to divide among the three of them 
the musketeers and crossbowmen, as many in one 
Company as in the other. Pedro de Alvarado was to 
be Captain of the horsemen and General of the three 
companies, and he gave him eight thousand Tlaxcalans 
and their Captains, and he selected me and ordered 
me to go with him, and told us to go and take up our 
position in the City of Tacuba. He ordered that the 
armour we took with us should be very good head- 
pieces, neck coverings, and leggings, for our defence 
was to go well armoured. 

Let us go on to the next division. He gave to 
Crit6bal de Olid, who was quartermaster, other thirty 
horsemen and one hundred and seventy-five soldiers 
and twenty musketeers and crossbowmen all provided 
with armour in the same way as the soldiers he gave 
to Pedro de Alvarado, and he appointed three other 
Captains who were Andres de Tapia, Francisco 
Verdugo, and Francisco de Lugo, and between all 
three Captains were divided all the soldiers and cross- 
bowmen and musketeers. Cril6bal de Olid was 
Captain General of the three Captains and of the- 
horsemen, and he gave him another eight thousand 
Tlaxcalans, and ordered him to go and establish his 



camp in the city of Coyoacan, which is two leagues 
from Tacuba. 

Cortes made Gonzalo de Sandoval, the chief Alguacil, 
Captain of the other division of soldiers, and gave him 
twenty-four horsemen, fourteen musketeers and cross- 
bowmen, one hundred and fifty sword, shield and lance 
soldiers, and more than eight thousand Indian warriors 
from the people of Chalco and Huexotzingo and of 
some other friendly pueblos through which Sandoval 
had to pass, and he gave him as companions and 
captains, Luis Marin and Pedro de Ircio who were 
Sandoval's friends, and ordered the soldiers, cross- 
bowmen and musketeers to be divided between the 
two captains, and that Sandoval should have the horse- 
men under his command and be the General, and that 
he should place his camp near to Iztapalapa, and attack 
it and do it all the damage he could, until Cortes 
should send him other orders. Sandoval did not 
leave Tezcoco until Cortes, who was Commander 
in chief of the regiments and of the launches, was 
quite ready to set out for the lake with the thirteen 

So as to avoid confusion on the road, we sent on 
ahead all the regiments of Tlaxcalans, until they 
should reach Mexican Territory. 

As the Tlaxcalans with their Captain, Chichime- 
catecle and other Captains with their men, marched 
carelessly, they did not notice whether Xicotenga, the 
younger, who was their Captain General, accompanied 
them and when Chichimecatecle asked and enquired 
what had become of him, and where he had Chopped, 
they found out that he had that night returned secretly 
to Tlaxcala, and was going to seize forcibly the cacique- 
ship and vassals and lands of Chichimecatecle himself. 
The Tlaxcalans said that the reasons for his so doing 
were that when Xicotenga, the younger, saw the 
Captains of Tlaxcala, especially Chichimecatecle, 



going to the war, [he knew that] there would be 
nobody to oppose him, for he did not fear his father 
Xicotenga, the blind, who, being his father would 
aid him, and our friend Mase Escasi was already dead, 
and the only man he feared was Chichimecatecle. They 
also said that they always knew that Xicotenga had 
no wish to go to the war against Mexico, for they heard 
him say many times that all of us and of them would 
be killed. As soon as the Cacique Chichimecatecle 
heard and understood this, he turned back from the 
march more than swiftly, and came to inform Cortes 
about it. 

Cortes at once ordered five Texcocan chieftains and 
two from Tlaxcala, friends of Xicotenga, to go and 
force him to return, and to tell him that Cortes begged 
him to come back at once and go against his enemies 
the Mexicans, and to refleft that if his father Don 
Lorenzo de Vargas were not so old and blind he would 
come again^l Mexico himself and as all Tlaxcalans 
were and are very loyal servants of His Majesty, 
that it did not become him to dishonour them as he was 
now doing. And he sent to make him many offers 
and promises that he would give him gold and cloths 
if he would return. The reply Xicotenga sent was 
that if the old man his father, and Mase Escasi would 
have believed him, that Cortes would not have so 
lorded it over them and made them do all that he 
wished, and not to waste more words, he said that 
he did not intend to return. When Cortes heard 
that answer he at once gave an order for an Alguacil 
and four horsemen and five Indian chieftains from 
Texcoco to go in all hate and wherever they should 
overtake him to hang him, and he said : " There is 
never any improvement in this Cacique, but he mut be 
traitor and ill-disposed towards us and of bad counsel ", 
and that there was no time to put up with him any 
longer, or to ignore what had passed. When Pedro 



de Alvarado knew of it he petitioned Strongly on 
Xicotenga's behalf, and Cortes gave him a favourable 
answer, but secretly he ordered the Alguacil and the 
horsemen not to leave Xicotenga alive. And so it was 
done and in a town subjeft to Texcoco they hanged 
him, and thus his treason was put an end to. There 
were some Tlaxcalans who said that Don Lorenzo de 
Vargas, the father of Xicotenga, sent to tell Cortes 
that this son of his was a bad man and he would not 
vouch for him, and that he begged Cortes to kill him. 

Let us leave this tory as it is, and say that for this 
reason we remained that day without setting out from 
Texcoco, and the next day we set out, both divisions, 
together, for Crit6bal de Olid and Pedro de Alvarado 
had both to take the same road. We went to sleep 
at a pueblo subject to Texcoco named Acolman, 
and it happened that Crit6bal de Olid sent on ahead 
to that pueblo to secure quarters, and had green 
branches placed above the roof of each house as a sign. 
When we arrived with Pedro de Alvarado we found 
no place where we could lodge, and over this [matter] 
the men of our Company had already put hands to 
their weapons against those of Cril6bal de Olid and 
even the Captains were defying one another, but there 
were not wanting on both sides gentlemen who got 
between us and somewhat appeased the clamour, yet 
not so much but that we till all remained dissatisfied, 
and from that place they sent to inform Cortes, and he 
at once despatched Fray Pedro de Melgarejo, and 
the Captain Luis Marin in all hate, and wrote to 
the Captains and all of us reproving us, and when they 
arrived we made friends, but from that time on, the 
Captains, Pedro de Alvarado and Crit6bal de Olid 
were not on good terms. 



THE next day [Thursday, 23rd May] the two Divisions 
continued their March together and we went to sleep 
at a large town [Zitlaltepec] which was deserted, 
for we were already in Mexican territory. The day 
following we ^ went to sleep at Cuautitlan, and it also 
was without inhabitants, and the next day we passed 
through Tenayuca and Atzcapotzalco, which were also 
deserted, and at the hour of vespers we arrived at 
Tacuba and at once took up our quarters in some large 
houses and rooms, for this town also was deserted, and 
there, too, all our friends the Tlaxcalans found quarters, 
and that very afternoon we went through the farms 
belonging to those towns and brought in food to eat 
We slept there that night after stationing good watch- 
men, sentinels and scouts, for as I have already said, 
Mexico was close by Tacuba, and when night fell we 
heard great shouts which the Mexicans raised at us 
from the lake, crying out much abuse, that we were 
not men enough to come out and fight them. They 
had many of their canoes full of warriors and the 
causeways also were crowded with fighting men, 
and these words were said with the idea of provoking 
us to come out that night and fight ; but as we had 
gained experience from the affair of the causeways 
and bridges we would not go out until the next day, 
which was Sunday [26th May]. 

After hearing Mass, which was said by Father Juan 
Diaz, and commending ourselves to God, we agreed 
that with the two Divisions together, we should go out 
and cut off the water of Chaptdtepec by which the city 
was supplied which was about half a league distant 
from Tacuba. 

As we were marching to break the pipes, we came on 



many warriors who were waiting for us on the road, 
for they fully understood that would be the firft thing 
by which we could do them damage, and so when they 
met us near some bad ground, they began to shoot 
arrows at us and hurl javelins and Atones from slings, 
and they wounded three of our soldiers, but we quickly 
made them turn their backs and our friends the 
Tlaxcalans followed them so that they killed twenty 
and we captured eighteen of them. 

As soon as these squadrons had been put to flight 
we broke the conduits through which the water flowed 
to the city, and from that time onwards it never flowed 
into Mexico so long as the war la&ed. When we 
had accomplished this, our Captains agreed that we 
should go at once to reconnoitre and advance along 
the causeway from Tacuba, and do what was possible 
towards gaining possession of a bridge. When we had 
reached the causeway, there were so many canoes on 
the lake full of warriors, and the causeways also were 
so crowded with them, that we were astounded at it ; 
and they shot so many arrows and javelins and Atones 
from slings that at the firft encounter they wounded 
over thirty soldiers. Still we went on marching along 
the causeway towards the bridge, and from what 
I underhand they gave way for us to reach it, so as to 
get us on the other side of the bridge. When they 
had got us there, I declare that such a hoft of warriors 
charged down on us, that we could not hold out 
against them ; for on the causeway, which was eight 
paces wide, what could we do against such a great force 
as was Stationed on one side and the other of the 
causeway, and ftruck at us as at a mark, for although 
our musketeers and crossbowmen never ceased loading 
and firing at the canoes, they did them but very 
little damage for they brought the canoes very well 
protected with bulwarks of wood. Then when we 
attacked the squadrons that fought on the causeway 



itself, they promptly threw themselves into the water, 
and there were so many of them that we could not 
prevail against them. Those on horseback did not make 
any progress whatever, for the Indians wounded their 
horses from one side and from the other, and as soon 
as they charged after the squadrons the Indians threw 
themselves in the water. The enemy had raised breat- 
works where other warriors were Stationed in waiting^ 
with long lances which they had made like scythes 
from the weapons which had been captured from us 
when they drove us fleeing out of Mexico. 

In this manner we tood fighting with them about an 
hour, and so many Clones were showered on us that we 
could not bear up against them, and we even saw that 
there was approaching us in another direction a great 
fleet of canoes to cut off our passage, so as to turn our 
flanks, and knowing this, and because we saw that our 
friends the Tlaxcalans whom we had brought with us 
were greatly obtruHng the causeway, and, if they 
went off of it, it was clear enough that they could not 
fight in the water, our Captains and all of us soldiers 
agreed to retreat in good order and not to go further 

When the Mexicans saw us retreating and the 
Tlaxcalans escaping beyond the causeway what shouts 
and howls and whittles they gave us, and how they 
came on to join us foot to foot. I declare that I do not 
know how to describe it, for all the causeway was 
heaped up with javelins, arrows, and Atones that had 
been hurled at us, and many more of them mut have 
fallen in the water. When we found ourselves on dry 
land we gave thanks to God for having freed us from 
that battle, for by that time eight of our soldiers had 
fallen dead, and more than fifty were wounded. 
Through all this, they yelled out at us and shouted 
abuse from the canoes, and our friends the Tlaxcalans 
told them to come on land and even if they were double 



the number they would fight them. These were the 
firft things that we did to cut off the water and recon- 
noitre the lake, although we gained no honour by 
them. That night we flayed in our camp while the 
wounded were attended to, and one horse died, and 
we ported a good force of sentinels and scouts. 

The next morning Captain Crit6bal de Olid said 
that he wished to go to his station at Coyoacan, a league 
and a half away, and notwithstanding that Pedro de 
Alvarado and other gentlemen begged him not to 
separate the two divisions, but to keep them together, 
he would not do so ; for as Crit6bal de Olid was 
very courageous, and in the reconnaissance which 
we made of the lake, the day before, we had not done 
well, he said that it was Pedro de Alvarado 's fault 
that we had advanced so rashly, so that he would not 
tay and went off to Coyoacan where Cortes had sent 
him. We remained in our camp, for it was not right 
to separate one division from the other at that time, 
and if the Mexicans had known how few soldiers we 
were duringthe four or five days that we were there apart 
before the launches could come, and had fallen on us 
and on the division of Crit6bal de Olid separately, 
we should have incurred great hardship and they 
would have done us great damage. So we Stayed in 
Tacuba and Crifc6bal de Olid in his camp, without 
daring to reconnoitre any further nor to advance 
along the causeways, and every day we had skirmishes 
with many squadrons of Mexicans who came on land 
to fight with us, and even challenged us so as to place 
us in situations where they could master us and we 
could do them no damage. 

I will leave them there and I will tell how Gonzalo 

de Sandoval set out from Texcoco four days after 

the feaft of Corpus Chrifbi x and came to Iztapalapa ; 

almost all the march was among friends, subjefts 

1 Fridaj, 3 ist May. 



of Texcoco, and when he reached the town of Izta- 
palapa he at once began to make war and to burn 
many of the houses that &ood on dry land, for all the 
re& of the houses tood in the lake. However, not 
many hours passed before great squadrons of Mexicans 
came promptly to the aid of that city and Sandoval 
had a good battle with them and great encounters 
when they fought on land ; and when they had taken 
refuge in their canoes they shot many javelins, arrows 
and Atones at him and wounded his soldiers. While 
they were thus fighting they saw that on a small 
hill 1 that was close to Iztapalapa on dry land, great 
smoke signals were being made, and they were 
answered by other smoke signals from other towns 
landing in the lake, and it was a sign to assemble 
all the canoes from Mexico and all the towns around 
the lake, for they saw that Cortes had already set out 
from Texcoco with the thirteen launches. \he 
following description of Cortes' s movements is taken 
from his third letter to the Emperor Charles VI\ 

^\st May : As soon as I had despatched Sandoval 
I embarked in the launches and set out using both sails 
and oars, and while Sandoval was fighting and setting 
fire to the city of Iztapalapa we came in sight of a lofty 
hill landing in the water, which was Strongly forti- 
fied 2 where many people had got together both 
from the neighbouring pueblos round the lake as 
well as from Tenochtitlan, for they knew I should 
make my fir& attack on Iztapalapa, and they were 
Rationed there in its defence as well as to attack us 
if they could do so. When they saw our fleet approach 
they began to cry out and make great smoke signals 
to warn the cities on the lake so that they might be 
on the alert. Although it was my intention to attack 
that part of the City of Iztapalapa which &ood in 
1 Cerro de la Eftrelk. 2 Tepepolco, the Penon del Marques. 

529 Mm 


the water I turned aside to that hill and landed on it 
with one hundred and fifty men, and although it 
was very steep and high with much difficulty we began 
the ascent and captured the barricades which they 
had raised on the summit for their defence, and fell 
on them in such a way that none but the women and 
children escaped. 

In this combat twenty-five Spaniards were wounded, 
but it was a very beautiful vi&ory. 

As the people of Iztapalapa had made smoke signals 
from some Idol towers on a high hill l near the city, 
the people of Tenochtitlan and of the other cities which 
tand in the water were aware that I had already 
entered the lake with the launches, and they at once 
got together a great fleet of canoes, and as far as we 
could judge there were about five hundred of them, 
to come and attack us and to find out what the launches 
were like. When I saw that they were coming 
Straight towards us, I and the men who had landed 
on that hill re-embarked in hate. 

I ordered the captains of the launches to make no 
movement whatever, so that those in the canoes, in 
the belief that we were afraid to move against them, 
might be led to attack us. Thus they began to drive 
their fleet against us headlong, but at the distance 
of two crossbow shots they Stopped short and remained 

As I was very anxious that our firt encounter should 
be a victorious one and should be made in such a way 
that they should be deeply impressed with fear of 
the launches, for the launches were the key of the whole 
war, and it was on the water that a decision would be 
come to, it pleased God that as we halted gazing at 
one another a favourable breeze should spring up 
from the land to enable us to join battle with them, 
and I promptly ordered the captains to fall upon the 
1 Cerro de k Eftrella. 


fleet of canoes and follow them until they were shut up 
in the city of Tenochtitlan. As the breeze was very 
ftrong, although they fled as faft as they were able 
we dashed into the mid& of them and broke up number- 
less canoes and killed and drowned many of our 
enemies. It was the mot wonderful sight in the world 
to behold ! We pursued them fully three leagues 
and shut them in among the houses of the city. There 
it pleased our Lord to grant us even a greater and 
better victory than we had hoped and prayed for. 

When the garrison at Coyoacan saw us pursuing 
the canoes mot of the horsemen and foot soldiers 
who were Stationed there set out on the march for 
Tenochtitlan and fought fiercely with the Indians 
on the causeway, and captured the barricades they 
had made ; and with the help of the launches which 
came close to the causeway they captured and passed 
across many of the places where the bridges had been 
removed, both the foot soldiers and the horsemen. 
Our friends the Indians from Tlaxcala as well as the 
Spaniards followed up the enemy and slew them and 
forced them into the water on the other side of the 
causeway where the launches could not go. They 
followed up their viftory for more than a league 
of the causeway until they reached the place where 
I had halted with the launches, as I will go on 
to tell. 

We chased the canoes with our launches for a good 
three leagues ; those that escaped us took refuge 
among the houses in the city, and as it was already 
pat Vespers I ordered the launches to be recalled 
and we approached the causeway with them, where 
I decided to land with thirty men to capture two small 
Idol towers which were surrounded by a low masonry 
wall (Acachinango). As we jumped ashore they 
fought fiercely to defend them from us, but we 
captured them with great effort* and risk to ourselves. 


and I promptly landed three large cannon I had 
brought with me. 

The distance along the causeway between this 
place and the city was about half a league, and it was 
crowded with the enemy and the water on either side 
of the causeway was covered with canoes full of 
warriors, so I had one of the cannon aimed and fired 
along the causeway, which did much damage to the 
enemy. Through the carelessness of the gunner, 
at the moment of firing he set fire to the gunpowder 
we had with us. However, it was only a small quantity. 
That same night I despatched a launch to Iztapalapa 
where Sandoval was Rationed, a distance of about two 
leagues, to bring back all the gunpowder he possessed. 

Although it was originally my intention when I 
set out with the launches to go to Coyoacan, yet when 
I landed on the causeway and captured those two towers 
I decided to make my headquarters (Acachinango) 
there and to keep the launches there near the 
towers, and that half the force from Coyoacan 
and fifty of Sandoval's men should join me there 
the following day. 

Having arranged for this, that night we kept on 
the alert, for we were in great danger, and at midnight 
a great hob of men came in canoes and along the 
causeway to attack our camp, and truly they caused 
us great surprise and alarm, because they came by 
night and up to that time they had never done such 
a thing, nor have they ever been known to fight by 
night unless sure of viftory. 

However, as we were keenly on the look-out we 
began to fight with them as did those on the launches, 
for each one carried a small field piece and they began 
to fire them, and the crossbowmen and musketeers 
did likewise. 

So the enemy did not dare to advance any further, 
nor did they approach close enough to do us any 



damage. So they left us for the re& of the night 
without troubling us any further. 

i st June : The next day at dawn fifteen crossbowmen 
and musketeers, and fifty men armed with swords 
and shields and seven or eight horsemen from the 
Coyoacan garrison arrived at my encampment on 
the causeway. When they reached us we were already 
being attacked by the enemy in such numbers that 
both on land and water we could see nothing but men 
and they raised such cries and yells that it seemed as 
though the world were sinking. 

We began to fight with them along the causeway 
and captured an opening where they had removed 
the bridge, and a barricade which had been raised 
at the approach to it. However with our cannon 
and horsemen we did them so great damage that we 
almost shut them in among the firft houses of the city. 

Because many canoes gathered on the other side 
of the causeway and did us great harm with darts 
and arrows which they shot at us on the causeway, 
and as our launches were not able to pass through I had 
a portion of the causeway broken through near our 
camp and sent four launches through to'the other side, 
and they drove all the canoes back among tlje houses 
of the city, and they followed in after them which up 
to that time they had not dared to do, for there were 
many shallows and Stakes to impede them. When 
they found canals where they could enter safely they 
fought with the canoes and captured some of them and 
set fire to many of the houses in the suburbs. Thus 
we passed all that day fighting. 

ind June : The next day Sandoval with the men he 
had with him in Iztapalapa, both Spaniards and Dallies, 
left for Coyoacan. From Iztapalapa to the mainland 
there is a causeway about a league and a half in length, 
and as Sandoval began his march of about a quarter 
of a league along it he reached a small city which also 



in the water, but through a good part of it 
one can ride on horseback, and the natives of ^ the 
town began to attack him. He defeated and killed 
many of them and destroyed and burnt the town. 
As I knew that the Indians had broken down many 
parts of the causeway and our men would not be able 
to pass along it I sent two launches to aid them in the 
passage and they used them as bridges and they went 
to lodge at Coyoacan. Sandoval himself with the 
horsemen took the road along the causeway on which 
we were camped, and when he reached us found us 
fighting, and he and those with him dismounted and 
began to fight with those on the causeway whom we 
were driving back. As Sandoval began to fight 
the enemy pierced his foot with a dart, and although 
they wounded him and others that day, what with the 
cannon, crossbows and muskets we did much execution 
that neither those in the canoes nor those on the cause- 
way dared to approach us and they showed more fear 
and less pride than was usual. 

During the following six days we went on fighting 
in this way and the launches went about burning all 
the houses they could in the neighbourhood of the 
city, andrfhey discovered a canal by which they could 
enter the suburbs and even reach the main part of the 
city, which was very fortunate as it put a Stop to the 
coming of the canoes so that not one of them dared 
to show themselves within a quarter of a league of 
our camp. 

One day Alvarado who was in command of the 
garrison at Tacuba sent to tell me that on the other 
side of the city the people of Mexico came and went 
as they pleased along a causeway which led to some 
towns on the mainland and by another small cause- 
way near to it, and in order that the city should be 
completely invented I sent Sandoval (though he was 
wounded) to fix his camp at a small pueblo [Tepeyac, 



now Guadelupe] at the end of the causeway, so he set 
out with twenty-three horsemen, one hundred and 
ten foot soldiers and eighteen crossbowmen and 
musketeers and set up his camp where I told him. As 
I had at my camp on the causeway two hundred 
Spanish foot soldiers including twenty-five crossbow- 
men and musketeers, and more than two hundred and 
fifty men in the launches and many friendly Indian 
warriors, I decided to push along the causeway into 
the city as far as I was able with the launches protecting 
our flanks, and I ordered some of the troops from 
Coyoacan to join me at my camp and ten horsemen 
to remain at the entrance of the causeway and the 
remainder of the garrison of Coyoacan and ten thousand 
Indian allies to protect our rear, for some of the 
pueblos in the lake were Still hostile. I also ordered 
Sandoval and Alvarado to attack in force on the same day. 
I set out from the camp along the causeway in 
the morning and soon came upon the enemy at one 
of the breaches they had made in the causeway, a lance 
in length and two lance lengths in depth, and a barricade 
they had raised to defend it. Both sides fought 
Stoutly but in the end we prevailed and followed 
along the causeway until we reached the entrance 
to the city where tood one of their Idol towers l and 
at the foot of it a great bridge 2 which spanned a broad 
canal. The bridge had been raised and the place 
defended by a very Strong barricade. They began 
to attack us as we approached, but with the launches 
on both sides of us we captured it without loss, 
which would have been impossible but for the help 
of the launches. As soon as they began to abandon 
the barricade the men from the launches jumped 
ashore and we crossed the canal with more than eight 
thousand of our allies from Tlaxcala, Huexotzingo, 
Chalco and Texcoco. 

1 Xoluco. 2 Puente de San Antonio Abad. 



While we filled in the place of the bridge with 
Clones and adobes the Spaniards captured another 
barricade in the Street which is the broadest and mot 
important Street in the city ; as there was no canal 
at this barricade it was easier to carry it. They 
pursued the enemy along the Street until they reached 
another canal 1 where the bridge had been removed 
excepting one broad beam across which the enemy 
passed in safety and then promptly removed it. On 
the other side of the canal they had raised a great 
barricade of earth and adobes. When we reached 
it we could not advance unless we threw ourselves 
in the water, and this would have been very dangerous 
as the enemy were fighting very valiantly and a count- 
less number of them were attacking us fiercely from 
the azoteas on either side of the Street. However, 
when the musketeers and crossbowmen came up and 
we fired with two cannon up the Street we did the 
enemy great damage, and observing this some of the 
Spaniards threw themselves in the water and got to 
the other side, but it took us more than two hours 
to overcome the defence. 

When the enemy saw us crossing over they abandoned 
the barricade and the azoteas and took to flight 
along the Street. Then all our men got across and I 
made them fill in the site of the bridge and destroy 
the barricade. Meanwhile the Spaniards and our 
Indian allies went ahead along the Street a distance 
of two crossbow shots to another bridge 2 which was 
close to the Plaza and principal buildings of the city. 
This bridge had not been removed nor had any 
barricade been raised, for they never thought that we 
should gain as much as we had done that day, nor 
did we think we should get half so far. 

At the entrance to the Plaza we placed a cannon 
and with it did great execution, for the enemy were 

1 Huitzlau (Hospital de Jesus Nazarino). 2 Puente de Palacio. 



so numerous that the Plaza would not hold them alL 
The Spaniards seeing that there was no water there 
(which was our greatest danger) determined to enter 
the Plaza, and when the enemy saw this carried into 
effeft and observed the multitude of our allies (although 
they had no fear of them unless they were in our 
company) they fled with our allies after them until 
they were shut up in the court of the Temple, which 
was enclosed with a masonry wall. 

This enclosure would be large enough to hold a 
town of four hundred houses. However, a breach 
was made and the Spaniards and allies captured it and 
remained there and on the Towers for a good while. 
When the people of the city saw that there were no 
horsemen with us they turned again on the Spaniards 
and drove them from the towers and courts, and as 
our men were in great danger, for it was worse than 
a retreat, they took refuge in the porticoes of the 
courts ; however, the enemy had chastened them so 
severely that they abandoned these and retreated to 
the Plaza whence they were driven out into the Street 
and were obliged to abandon the cannon which had 
been placed there. 

The Spaniards, unable to withstand the onset of the 
enemy, retreated in great danger and would have 
suffered great loss had it not pleased God that at that 
moment three horsemen should arrive who entered 
the Plaza, and when the enemy beheld them they 
thought that there were more of them and began to 
flee and the horsemen killed some of them and we 
regained the courts and enclosure. On the moft 
important and highest tower which has over a hundred 
leps to reach the summit, ten or twelve Indian 
chieftains had sheltered themselves, and four or five 
of the Spaniards clambered up, and, although the 
Indians fought bravely, they gained the summit 
and slew them all. 



Five or six more horsemen had now arrived, and they 
and the others arranged an ambuscade by which they 
killed over thirty of the enemy. 

As it was already late I got the men together 
and ordered a retreat, and as we retired such a hot 
of the enemy fell upon us that had it not been for the 
horsemen the Spaniards mut have suffered great loss. 
However, as I had had all the bad places in the Street 
and causeways thoroughly filled in and repaired 
by the time we retired, the horsemen were able to 
come and go over them, and as the enemy attacked 
our rearguard so the horsemen charged back on them 
and speared and killed many of them, and as the 
Street is a long one they did this four or five times. 

Although the enemy knew how much they were 
suffering they came like mad dogs, and nothing could 
check them or prevent them pursuing us. In this 
way we returned along the causeway to our camp 
without losing any Spaniards, although some were 
wounded. We set fire to mot of the houses bordering 
that Street, so that when we should return again they 
could do no harm from the azoteas. 

[At this time Cortes was joined by a great number 
of Indians from excoco and Xochimiko who threw in 
their lot with the Spaniards J] 

As the launches had burnt many of the houses in 
the suburbs of the city and no canoe dared to venture 
out, it seemed as though six launches would suffice 
for the protection of our camp, so I decided to send 
three launches each to the camps of Sandoval and 
Alvarado. This proved a mot successful plan, for 
they performed some wonderful exploits, capturing 
many of the enemys' men and canoes. 

When this was arranged and the reinforcements 
had arrived I gave out that in two days' time I was 
going to enter and attack the city. 

Sunday, i6th June : When the day came, after 



hearing Mass and giving in&rutions to my captains 
I left our camp with fifteen or twenty horsemen, three 
hundred Spaniards and a huge hoh of our allies, 
and soon came on a yelling crowd of our enemies. 
As we had not attacked them for three days they had 
removed all our fillings from the breaches in the 
causeway and made the openings much more dangerous 
and difficult for us to capture. As the launches on 
either side of the causeway could get close up to the 
enemy they did great execution with their cannon, 
muskets and crossbows. Moreover, the men leapt 
ashore and carried the barricade and breach and we 
all got across in pursuit of the enemy. Again and 
again the Indians made Elands behind breaches and 
barricades, but we carried them all and drove the enemy 
from the Street and from the Plaza where tand the 
principal houses of the city. I ordered the Spaniards 
to advance no further, as I was busy with the help of 
ten thousand allies in filling in the water openings 
and breaches in the Street and causeway. 

This occupied us until Vespers, meanwhile the 
Spaniards were skirmishing with the people of the 
city and killing many of them. I rode through the 
city for a short time with the horsemen, charging 
along the Streets which were free from water, and the 
enemy no longer dared approach us on dry land. 
All I had seen forced me to two conclusions, the one 
that we should regain little of the treasure the Mexicans 
had taken from us ; the other that they would force 
us to destroy and kill them all, and this la weighed 
on my soul. I began to wonder how I could terrify 
them and bring them to a sense of their error. It 
could only be done by burning and destroying their 
houses and the towers of the Idols, and so as to impress 
it on them this day I set fire to the great houses round 
the Plaza where before we were driven from the 
city the Spaniards and I had been lodged, and they 



were so extensive that a prince and six hundred of his 
household and followers might have been lodged in 

Near these there were others, which although smaller 
were newer and more elegant, and Montezuma kept 
all kinds of birds in them and although I suffered in 
doing it, in order that they should suffer more I 
decided to burn them, and this scared both them 
and their allies. 

As it was already late I ordered the troops to return 
to camp, and as we retired a numberless hot of the 
enemy fell on the rearguard, but as the Street was now 
in good condition for charging, the horsemen turned 
on them and speared many of them. 

i *]th June : The next day I returned to the city in 
the same way so that the enemy should not have time 
to open the breaches and raise barricades, but early 
as we set out, two of the canals which cross the Street 
had been opened jut as they were the day beforej 
and it was very difficult to pass them so that the 
fighting lasted until an hour after noon, and we had 
used up almost all our arrows and ammunition. It 
may seem that after being exposed to so great danger 
in crossing these canals and capturing the barricades 
that we were negligent in not holding them so as to 
avoid having to repeat the work every day, but it was 
not possible, for we should have had either to move the 
camp into the Plaza or to have left guards at the 
bridges. By placing our camp in the city we should 
have been exposed to attacks from all sides both by 
day and night, and as we were few in number and they 
were many the Strain would have been unbearable. 

As to guarding the bridges by night, the Spaniards 
were so exhausted by day that they could not have 
endured night guards in addition, so we were forced 
to do the work over again each time we entered the city. 

As it was late we did not do much more this day 



than capture and fill in the site of the two bridges 
and set fire to many fine houses on the main road 
which goes from the city to Tacuba. Although 
the enemy well knew the loss they suffered when follow- 
ing us as we retired, yet they never omitted to follow 
and attack us until they saw us clear of the city. 

The natives of Iztapalapa, Churubusco, Mexi- 
caltzingo, Culuacan, Mixquic and Cuitlahuic, all 
towns on the fresh water lake, seeing that we were 
viftorious over the people of Tenochtitlan and on 
account of the injury they were receiving from our 
allies, came to beg for peace and freedom from attack 
from our friends at Chalco. I received them favour- 
ably and told them that my only enmity was against 
the people Tenochtitlan and said that they could 
show the sincerity of their friendship by aiding me 
with their canoes, and as it was the rainy season and 
we were lodged in wretched huts, by building houses 
for us on the causeway. 

This they did so well that on either side of the 
two towers on the causeway they built so many that 
they extended for the distance of three or four cross- 
bow shots. The causeway was so wide here that there 
was space between the houses for a road where foot- 
soldiers and horsemen could freely pass. 

For several days in succession we entered the city 
and were always vi&orious over our enemies. I then 
arranged to enter the city in three or four divisions 
and summoned all the people from the towns on the 
lake to come in their canoes. 

zyd June : That morning there were more than 
a hundred thousand allies at our camp and I ordered 
four launches with half the canoes (which muft have 
numbered fifteen hundred) to go in one direction 
and the other three launches and half the canoes to 
go in another direftion and scour the city and burn 
and de^lroy all they could. 


I myself entered by the principal Street and found 
everything clear as far as the Plaza and none of the 
breaches re-opened. I went on to the Street which 
goes to Tacuba in which there were other six or seven 
bridges. There I arranged that one captain should 
advance along another Street with sixty or seventy 
Spaniards and six horsemen to guard the rear,, and 
with them went ten or twelve thousand of our allies, 
and I ordered another captain to do the same along 
another Street while I advanced along the Tacuba 
treet, where I captured three bridges and filled them 
in. The other three bridges we left for another day 
as it was already late. 

I was very anxious to clear that Street so as to 
communicate with the camp of Pedro de Alvarado 
and pass from one camp to the other. However, it was 
a day of great victory on land and water both for us 
and the companies under Sandoval and Alvarado. 

\We mutt now return to Bernal Diaz who was with 
Pedro de Alvarado at Tacuba^ and go lack to the 
May,, when Cortes fought his firl battle on the lake.'] 


I WILL now relate what we did in our camp at Tacuba, 
for, as we knew that Cortes was going about the lake,' 
we advanced along our causeway with great caution, 
and not like the firft time, and we reached the finft 
bridge, the crossbowmen and musketeers acting in 
concert some firing while others loaded. Pedro de 
Alvarado ordered the horsemen not to advance with 
us but to remain on dry land to guard our rear, 
fearing left the pueblos I have mentioned through 
which we had passed, should attack us on the cause- 
way. In this way we ftood sometimes attacking, at 



others on the defensive so as to prevent the Mexicans 
reaching land from the causeway, for every day we 
had encounters and in them they killed three soldiers, 
and we were also engaged in filling up the bad places. 

When we saw ourselves reinforced with the four 
launches sent by Cortes, Pedro de Alvarado ordered 
two of them to go on one side of the causeway and 
two on the other side, and we began to fight very 
successfully, for the launches vanquished the canoes 
which were wont to attack us from the water, and so we 
had an opportunity to capture several bridges and 
barricades, and while we were fighting, so numerous 
were the Atones from the slings and the javelins and 
arrows that they shot at us that although all the 
soldiers were well protected by armour they were 
injured and wounded, and not until night parted us 
did we cease contending and fighting. 

From time to time the Mexicans changed about 
and relieved their squadrons as we could tell by the 
devices and distinguishing marks on their armour. 
Whenever we left a bridge or barricade unguarded 
after having captured it with much labour, the enemy 
would retake and deepen it that same night, and 
conStruft Stronger defences and even make hidden 
pits in the waters, so that the next day when we were 
fighting, and it was time for us to retire, we should 
get entangled among the defences. To prevent the 
launches from coming to our assistance, they had 
fixed many Stakes hidden in the water so that theyshould 
get impaled on them. 

When we drew off in the night we treated our 
wounds by searing them with oil, and a soldier named 
Juan Catalan blessed them for us and made charms, 
and truly we found that our Lord Jesus Christ was 
pleased to give us Strength in addition to the many 
mercies he vouchsafed us every day, for the wounds 
healed rapidly. 



Wounded and tied up in rags as we were we had to 
iight from morning until night, for if the wounded 
had remained in camp without coming out to fight, 
there would not have been twenty men in each company 
well enough to go out. 

Then I wish to speak of our captains and ensign 
and our Standard bearers, who were covered with 
wounds and their banners ragged, and I declare that 
we had need of a fresh landard bearer every day 
for we all came out in such a condition that they were 
not able to advance fighting and carry the banners 
a second time. 

Then with all this did we perchance have enough to 
eat ? I do not speak of want of maize cakes, for we had 
enough of them, but of some refreshing food for the 
wounded. The cursed tuff that kept life in us was 
some herbs that the Indians eat, and the cherries of 
the country while they ladled, and afterwards tunas, 1 
which came into season at that time. 

Tlatelolco and the towns on the Lake had been 
warned by Guatemoc that on seeing a signal on the 
great Cue of Tlatelolco they should hasten to assist 
some in canoes and others by land ; and the Mexican 
captains had been fully prepared and advised how and 
when and to what points they were to bring assistance. 

When we saw that however many water openings 
-we captured by day the Mexicans returned and closed 
them up again, we agreed that we should all go and 
Station ourselves on the causeway 2 in a small plaza 
where there were some Idol towers which we had 
already taken, and where there was space to ereft our 

1 Fruit of the Nopal cafius, prickly pears. 

2 About Thursday, 2Oth June. Alvarado musl have turned off from 
.the Tacuba Causeway to the left on entering the outskirts of the city, 
and followed a causeway leading direct to Tlatelolco, making his camp 
about half-way between the Tacuba Causeway and the great Teocalli 
of Tlatelolco. 



" ranches ", although they were very poor ones and 
when it rained we all got wet, and they were fit for 
nothing but to cover us from the dew. 

We left the Indian women who made bread for us 
in Tacuba, and all the horsemen and our friends the 
Tlaxcalans were left to guard them, and to watch and 
guard the passes so that the enemy should not come 
from the neighbouring pueblos and attack our rear- 
guard on the causeway while we were fighting. ' 

So when once we had set up our ranchos where I 

have Elated, thenceforward we endeavoured quickly 

to destroy the houses and blocks of buildings and to 

fill up the water openings that we captured. We 

levelled the houses to the ground, for if we set fire 

to them they took too long to burn, and one house 

would not catch fire from another, for each house 

tood in the water, and one could not pass from one 

to the other without crossing bridges or going in 

canoes. If we wanted to cross the water by swimming 

they did us much damage from the azoteas, so that 

we were more secure when the houses were demolished. 

As soon as we had captured some barrier or bridge 

or bad pass where they offered much resistance, we 

endeavoured to guard it by day and by night. This 

was the way in which all our companies kept guard 

together during the night. The fir& company, 

which numbered more than forty soldiers, kept watch 

from nightfall until midnight, and from midnight 

until two hours before dawn another company, also 

of forty men, kept watch, and the firt company did not 

leave their pot but we slept there on the ground ; 

this second watch is called the modorra* and 

soon another forty soldiers came and kept the alba 

[dawn] watch, which is the two hours until daylight, 

but those who watched the modorra could not leave, 

but had to tay there, so that when dawn came there 

1 Modorra = the drowsy time, before dawn. 

545 *n 


were over one hundred and twenty soldiers all on watch 
together. Moreover on some nights, when we judged 
that there was special danger we kept watch together, 
from nightfall until dawn, awaiting a great sally of 
the Mexicans in fear left they should break through. 

On several nights great squadrons came to attack 
us and break through at midnight, and others during 
the modorra and others during the dawn watch, 
and they came sometimes without commotion and at 
others with loud yells and whittles, and when they 
arrived where we were keeping night watch, what 
javelins and Atones and arrows they let fly, and there 
were many others with lances, and although they 
wounded some of us, yet we resisted them, and sent 
back many of them wounded. Then, notwithstanding 
all the precautions we took, they would turn on us 
and open some bridge or causeway which we had cap- 
tured, and we could not defend it from them in the 
night so as to prevent them doing it, and the next 
day it was our turn again to capture it and top it up, 
and then they would come again to open it and 
strengthen it with walls, until the Mexicans changed 
their method of fighting which I will tell about in 
its proper time. 

The Mexicans lill brought in much food and 
water from the nine towns built on the lake, so to 
prevent these supplies being brought to them, it was 
arranged between all the three camps that two launches 
should cruise in the lake by night and should capture 
all the canoes they were able, and de&roy or bring 
them to our camps. But even with all this, many laden 
canoes did not fail to get in, and as the Mexicans 
went about in their canoes carrying supplies, yet there 
was never a day when the launches did not bring in 
a prize of canoes and many Indians hanging from the 

The Mexicans then armed thirty firaguas^ which 



are very large canoes, with specially good rowers and 
warriors, and by night they ported all thirty amongst 
some reed beds in a place where the launches could 
not see them ; then they sent out before nightfall, 
with good rowers, two or three canoes covered over 
with branches as though they were carrying provisions 
or bringing in water. In the track which, in the opinion 
of the Mexicans, the launches would follow them 
when they were fighting with them, they had driven 
numerous Strong timbers made pointed like Stakes 
so that they should get impaled on them. Then as 
the canoes were going over the lake showing signs 
of being afraid and drew near to the reed beds, two 
of our launches set out after them, and the two canoes 
made as though they were retreating to the land, 
to the place 'where the thirty piraguas were polled 
in ambush, and the launches followed them and as soon 
as they reached the ambush all the piraguas together 
sallied out and made for the launches and quickly 
wounded all the soldiers, rowers, and captains, and the 
launches could go neither in one direction or another on 
account of the flakes that had been fixed. In this way 
the Mexicans killed a captain named de Portilla, an 
excellent soldier who had been in Italy, and they 
wounded Pedro Barba who was another very good 
captain, and they captured his launch, and within 
three days he died of his wounds. These two launches 
belonged to the camp of Cortes, and he was greatly 
distressed about it. 

Let us leave this and say that when the Mexicans 
saw that we were levelling all the houses to the ground 
and were filling up the bridges and openings they 
decided on another way of fighting, and that was, to 
open a bridge and a very wide and deep channel 
which we had to pass wading through the water, 
and it was sometimes out of our depth, and they had 
dug many pits which we could not see under the 



water and had made walls and barricades both on 
the one side and the other of the opening, and had 
driven in many pointed Stakes of heavy timber in 
places where our launches would run on to them if they 
should come to our assistance when we were fighting 
to capture this fort, for they well knew that the firft 
thing we muSt do was to destroy the barricade and 
pass through that open space of water so as to reach 
the City. At the same time they had prepared in 
hidden places many canoes well manned with warriors 
and good rowers. One Sunday morning [2 3rd June] 
great squadrons of warriors began to approach from 
three directions and attacked us in such a way that 
it was all we could do to hold our own and prevent 
them from defeating us. 

At that time Pedro de Alvarado had ordered half 
the horsemen who used to Stay in Tacuba to sleep 
on the causeway, for there was not so much risk as at 
the beginning, as there were no longer any azoteas, 
for nearly all the houses had been demolished. To 
go back to my Story, three squadrons of the enemy 
came on very fearlessly, the one from the direftion of the 
great open space of water, the other by way of some 
houses that we had pulled down, and the other squadron 
had taken us in the rear from the direction of Tacuba, 
and we were surrounded. The horsemen with our 
Tlaxcalan friends broke through the squadron that 
had taken us in the rear and we all of us fought very 
valiantly with the other two squadrons until we forced 
them to retreat. However, that seeming flight that 
they made was a pretence, but we captured the firSt 
barricade where they made a Stand, and we, thinking 
th!at we were victorious, crossed that water at a run, 
for where we passed there were no pits and we followed 
up our advance among some great houses and temple 
towers. The enemy acted as though they were &ill 
retreating, but they did not cease to shoot javelins and 



Clones from slings and many arrows and when we 
were leaft expe&ing it a great multitude of warriors 
who were hidden in a place we were not able to see, 
and many others from the azoteas and houses joined 
the combat, and those who at firft afted as though 
they were retreating, turned round on us all at once 
and dealt us such treatment that we could not with- 
stand them. We then decided to retreat with great 
caution, but at the water opening which we had 
captured, that is to say at the place where we had crossed 
the firSt time, where there were no pits, they had 
Rationed such a fleet of canoes that we were not. able 
to cross at that ford, and they forced us to go across 
in another direction, where the water was very deep, 
and they had dug many pits. As such a multitude 
of warriors were coming against us, and we were in 
retreat, we crossed the water by swimming and wading, 
and nearly all the soldiers fell in the pits ; then the 
canoes came down upon us and there the Mexicans 
carried off five of our companions, and took them 
alive to Guatemoc, and they wounded nearly all of us. 
Moreover, the launches which were guarding us 
could not come to our assistance because they were 
impaled on the Stakes which had been fixed there, 
and from the canoes and azoteas the Mexicans 
attacked them so fiercely with javelins and arrows that 
they killed three soldiers and rowers and wounded 
many of us. To go back to the pits and the opening, 
I declare it was a wonder that we were not all killed 
in them. Concerning myself, I may say that many 
Indians had already laid hold of me, but I managed 
to get my arm free, and our Lord Jesus Christ gave 
me Strength so that by some good sword thrums 
that I gave them I saved myself, but I was badly 
wounded in one arm, and when I found myself 
out of that water in safety, I became insensible and 
without power to Stand on my feet and altogether 



breathless, and this was caused by the great Strain 
that I exerted in getting away from that rabble and 
from the quantity of blood I had lot. I declare that 
when they had me in their clutches, that in my 
thoughts I was commending myself to our Lord God 
and to our Lady His Blessed Mother and He gave 
me the Strength I have spoken of by which I saved 
myself ; thank God for the mercy that He vouch- 
safed me. 

There is another thing I wish to mention, that 
Pedro de Alvarado and the horsemen, when they had 
thoroughly routed the squadrons that came on our 
rear from Tacuba, did not any of them pass that 
water or the barricades, with the exception of one 
horseman who had come only a short time before 
from Spain, and there they killed him, both him and 
his horse. The horsemen were already advancing 
to our assistance when they saw us coming back in 
retreat, and if they had crossed there, and should have 
then had to retreat, there would not have been one 
of them, nor of the horses, nor of us left alive. Flushed 
with the viftory they had gained, the Mexicans 
continued during that whole day, which as I have said 
was a Sunday, to send so vaft a hot of warriors again^l 
our camp, that we could not prevail againft them, 
and they expefted for certain to rout us, but we held 
our own against them by the help of some bronze 
cannon and hard fighting, and by all the companies 
together keeping guard every night. 


LET us leave this and say when Cortes heard of it 
he was very angry. Then when we saw that it was our 
fault that great disaster had happened, we began then 



and there to fill in that opening, and although it 
meant great labour and many wounds which the 
enemy infli&ed while we were at work, and the death 
of six soldiers, in four days we had it filled in, 1 and 
at night we kept watch on the place itself, all three 
companies in the order I have already mentioned. 

Let me now say that the towns situated in the lake 
when they saw how day by day we were victorious 
both on water and on land, and that the people of 
Chalco, Tlaxcala, Texcoco and other pueblos had 
made friends with us, decided to sue Cortes for peace 
and with great humility they asked pardon if in any 
way they had offended us, and said that they had been 
under orders and could not do otherwise. 2 The towns 
that came in were Iztapalapa, Churubusco, Culuacan, 
and Mixquic and all those of the fresh water lake, and 
Cortes told them that we should not move the camp 
until the Mexicans sued for peace or he had destroyed 
them by war. He ordered them to aid us with all 
the canoes that they possessed to fight against Mexico, 
and to come and build ranchos for Cort6s and to bring 
him food, and they replied that they would do so, 
and they built the ranchos but brought very little 
food. However, our ranchos where we were Rationed 
were never rebuilt so we remained in the rain, for 
those who have been in this country know that through 
the months of June, July and August it rains every 
day in these parts. 

We made attacks on the Mexicans every day and 
succeeded in capturing many idol towers, houses, 
canals, and other openings and bridges which they 
had constructed from house to house, and we filled 
them all up with adobes and the timbers from the 
houses that we pulled down and destroyed and we 

1 By Friday, 28th June. 

2 From Cortes' account the submission of these towns appears to 
have taken place about 1 8th June. 



kept guard over them, but notwithstanding all this 
trouble that we took, the enemy came back and 
deepened them and widened the openings and erefted 
more barricades. And because our three companies 
considered it a dishonour that some should be fighting 
and facing the Mexican squadrons and others should 
be filling up passes and openings and bridges, Pedro 
de Alvarado, so as to avoid quarrels as to who should 
be fighting or filling up openings, ordered that one 
company should have charge of the filling in and look 
after that work one day, while the other two companies 
should fight and face the enemy, and that this should 
be done in rotation one day one company, and another 
day another company, until each company should 
have had its turn, and owing to this arrangement 
there was nothing captured that was not razed to 
the ground, and our friends the Tlaxcalans helped us. 
So we went on penetrating into the City, but at the 
hour for retiring all three companies had to fight in 
union, for that was the time when we ran the greatest 
risk. Firt of all we sent all the Tlaxcalans off the 
causeway, for it was clear that they were a considerable 
embarrassment when we were fighting. 

Guatemoc now ordered us to be attacked at all 
three camps at the same time by all his troops and 
with all the energy that was possible both on land and 
by water, and he ordered them to go by night during 
the modorra watch, so that the launches should not 
be able to assi& us on account of the flakes. They 
came on with so furious an impetus that had it not 
been for those who were on the watch, who were over 
one hundred and twenty soldiers well used to fighting, 
they would have penetrated into our camp, and we ran 
a great risk as it was, but by fighting in good order 
we withstood them ; however, they wounded fifteen 
of our men and two of them died of their wounds 
within eight days. 



Also in the camp of Cortes they placed our troops 
in the greatest Straits and difficulties and many were 
killed and wounded, and in the camp of Sandoval 
the same thing happened, and in this way they came 
on two successive nights and many Mexicans also 
were killed in these encounters and many more 
wounded. When Guatemoc and his captains and 
priests saw that the attack that they made on those 
two nights profited them nothing, they decided to 
come with all their combined forces at the dawn 
watch and attack our camp, and they came on so 
fearlessly that they surrounded us on two sides, and 
had even half defeated us and cut us off, when it pleased 
our Lord Jesus Christ to give us Strength to turn and 
close our ranks, and we sheltered ourselves to a certain 
degree with the launches, and with good cut and thruft, 
and advancing shoulder to shoulder, we drove them off. 
In that battle they killed eight and wounded many 
of our soldiers and they even injured Pedro de Alvarado* 
If the Tlaxcalans had slept on the causeway that night 
we should have run great risk from the embarrassment 
they would have caused us on account of their numbers, 
but the experience of what had happened before made 
us get them off the causeway promptly and send them 
to Tacuba, and we remained free from care. To go 
back to our battle, we killed many Mexicans and took 
prisoners four persons of importance. I well under- 
hand that interested readers will be surfeited with 
seeing so many fights every day but one cannot do 
less, for during the ninety and three days that we 
besieged this Strong and great City we had war 
and combats every day and every night as welL 
However, when it seemed to us that we were viftorious, 
great disasters were really coming upon us, and we were 
in the greatest danger of perishing in all three camps, 
as will be seen later on. 

[30 return to Cortes' account of Us doings^ 



June : When on my return to camp in the 
evening (of the 24th June) I heard about Pedro de 
Alvarado's reverse, I decided to go to his camp on 
the following morning and reprimand him for what 
had happened and to see how far he had advanced 
and where he had placed his camp. When I arrived 
there I was astonished to see how far he had penetrated 
into the city and the formidable passes and bridges 
which he had captured, and having seen them I 
could not impute much blame to him, and after talking 
over what was to be done I returned to my own camp. 

I made several advances into the city during the 
next few days and was everywhere victorious. How- 
ever, as we had now been continuously fighting for 
more than twenty days, and every attack exposed us 
to great risk for the enemy were united and powerful 
and ready to fight to the death. The Spaniards, 
irritated at the delay, importuned me to advance and 
capture the market place [of Tlatelolco] for having 
gained that the enemy would have little space in which 
to defend themselves, and if they would not give in, 
would die of hunger and thirft for they had nothing 
to drink but the salt water of the lake. 

When I demurred to this plan, your Majesty's 
Treasurer (Julian de Alderete) told me that the whole 
camp was set on it and I ought to do it, and in the 
end they pressed me so greatly that after consultation 
with others I gave way. The next day (29th June) 
I called together the moft important persons in the 
camp and we agreed to give notice to Sandoval and 
Pedro de Alvarado that on the following day we should 
advance into the city and endeavour to reach the 
market place of Tlatelolco and I also sent them 
written in&ruftions and asked them to send me 
seventy or eighty foot soldiers. 

The following day (3oth June) after hearing Mass 
there set out from our camp seven launches, more than 



three thousand canoes of our allies, and I followed 
with twenty-five horsemen and all my foot soldiers 
and those who had come from Tacuba, and when we 
reached the city I divided my force as follows : From 
the position we had already gained there are three 
Streets leading to the market place, or Tianginz as 
the Indians call it, of Tlatelolco. Along the principal 
Street I sent your Majesty's treasurer and accountant 
(Julian de Alderete) with seventy men and fifteen 
or twenty thousand of our allies and seven or eight 
horsemen as a rearguard, and as they carried the 
barricades they were to fill in the bridge openings, 
and for this purpose a dozen men carried mattocks, 
and our allies were very useful at this work. The 
other two Streets lead from the Tacuba Street to the 
market place, and they are narrower and there are 
causeways with bridges and canals. By the broadeSt 
of these two I ordered two captains to advance with 
eighty men and more than ten thousand Indian allies. 
At the entrance to the Tacuba Street I polled two large 
cannon with eight horsemen to guard them. I myself 
with eight horsemen and one hundred foot soldiers 
including twenty-five crossbowmen and musketeers 
and a great hoSt of our allies went on so as to advance 
along the narrowest Street as far as possible. 

At the entrance of the Street I halted the horsemen 
and ordered them to Stay there and not to follow 
me unless I sent for them. Then I dismounted and 
we reached a barricade at the end of a bridge and with 
the help of a small field piece and the musketeers 
and crossbowmen we carried it and went along the 
causeway, which had been broken down in two or 
three places. In addition to the three lines of attack 
which we were following, our allies were so numerous 
that they swarmed over the azoteas in all directions 
and it seemed as if nothing could harm us. As the 
Spaniards carried those bridges and barricades our 



allies followed us along the causeway without making 
good, and I halted with about twenty Spaniards 
where there was an island, for I saw that some of our 
allies were surrounded by the enemy who sometimes 
drove them back and thrust them into the water, 
but with our help they rallied. In addition to this 
we had to take care that the people of the city did not 
emerge from the cross Streets and attack in the rear 
the Spaniards who had advanced along the Street, and 
who at this time sent to tell me that they had made 
great gains and were not far from the market place, 
and that in any case they should press forward, for 
they already heard the noise of battle which Sandoval 
and Pedro de Alvarado were waging from their side. 
I sent to tell them on no account to go ahead without 
firb thoroughly filling in the bridge openings so that 
in case of retreat the water should not trouble or 
impede them, for they knew that there lay the greatest 
danger. They sent back to say that every place they 
had captured had been made good, and I could go there 
and verify it for myself. 

Having some misgiving left they might err and 
be wanting in caution about filling in the bridge 
openings I went there and found that they had advanced 
across one breach in the ftreet which was ten or twelve 
paces in width and the depth of the water that filled 
it was twice a man's height. In order to cross it they 
had thrown in timber and bundles of reeds and as 
they crossed with care, a few at a time, the timber 
and reeds had not given way with them, and they 
in the joy of vidory were so dull witted as to think 
that they had left it quite firm. 

At the moment that I reached that wretched 
bridge I saw that the Spaniards and many of our allies 
were retreating in full flight with the enemy setting 
on them, like dogs and, when I saw that great disaster 
I began to shout : " Hold on ! " and when I got to 



the water I found it full of Spaniards and Indians as 
though not a traw had been thrown into it, and the 
enemy in order to kill the Spaniards charged into 
the water after them, and canoes manned by the 
enemy came along the canals and carried off the 
Spaniards alive. The whole affair was so sudden that 
seeing how the people were being killed I determined 
to tay there and die fighting. 

All that I and those with me could do was to give 
a hand to some unfortunate Spaniards who were 
drowning and drag them out ; some got out wounded 
and others half drowned, and others without arms, 
and we sent them to the rear. Then such numbers 
of the enemy charged on me and the dozen or fifteen 
Spaniards in my company that they completely 
surrounded us. As I was busy helping those who 
were drowning I did not see or think of the danger 
we were in and some of the Indians seized me and 
would have carried me off but for a captain of fifty 
(Crit6bal de Olea) who always attended me, and a 
youth (named Serma) of his company, who, after 
God, saved my life. Like the valiant man he was, 
Olea in saving my life lol his own. 

Meanwhile the defeated Spaniards got along the 
causeway, and as it was small and narrow and on a 
level with the water, for the dogs had been careful to 
make it so, and many of our routed allies were pouring 
along it, it became so crowded that movement was 
slow and the enemy had time to reach it by water on 
either side and capture and kill at their will. A captain 
who was with me named Antonio Quinones said to 
me : " Let us get away from here and save yourself, 
for you know that without you none of us will escape," 
but he could not prevail on me to go, and seeing this 
he seized me by the arms to urge me to flight, and 
although I was better pleased with death than with 
life, at the urgency of that captain and other com- 



panions who were present we began to retreat fighting 
with our swords and shields against the enemy who 
came rushing against us. 

Then one of my servants arrived on horseback and 
cleared a small space, but at that moment from a roof 
he received a spear thrust in the throat which made 
him turn back, and while we were battling fiercely, 
waiting for the people to pass along that narrow 
causeway and gain safety and keeping back the enemy, 
another servant of mine brought a horse for me to 
mount, but such was the mud on the causeway from 
those who fell in and scrambled out of the water, 
that no one could keep his feet* all the more from the 
jostling of one against another in the efforts to save 

I mounted, but not with the intention of fighting 
on the causeway for that was impossible on horseback, 
and if it could have been done the eight horsemen 
whom I had left on the island at the entrance of the 
causeway would have done so, but they could do no 
more than retreat along it, and even this was dangerous 
enough and two mares ridden by two of my servants 
fell from the causeway into the water, one being killed 
by the Indians and the other rescued by some foot 
soldiers. Another of my servants named Crit6bal de 
Guzman mounted a horse on the island to bring it 
to me so that I could escape, but before reaching me 
the Indians killed both him and the horse. His death 
caused grief throughout the camp and grief is till 
intense among those who knew him. 

Notwithstanding all these dangers it pleased God 
that we who survived should reach the Calle de Tacuba 
which is very broad, and collel the troops while I 
and nine horsemen formed a rearguard. The enemy 
came on so greatly elated by viftory and pride it 
seemed as though no one would be left alive, and 
retiring as beft I could I sent to tell the treasurer 



and ^ accountant to retreat to the Plaza with great 
caution, and I sent to say the same to the other two 
captains who had advanced by the Street leading to 
the market place. Both one and the other had fought 
valiantly and captured many barricades and bridges 
which they had carefully filled in which was the reason 
of their suffering no loss in their retreat. 

Before the treasurer and accountant retired the 
people of the city threw from the barricade where 
they were fighting the heads of two or three Spaniards 
which they had cut off, and the Treasurer could not 
tell at the time if they came from our troops or from 
those of Pedro de Alvarado. 

We all got together in the Plaza when such hots 
of the enemy charged on us from all directions that 
it was all we could do to keep them off, and this in a 
place where before our defeat they did not dare to 
await the approach of three horsemen or ten foot 
soldiers. Then they promptly burned incense of 
perfumes and resins of the country on the summit 
of a lofty tower near the Plaza as an offering to their 
Idols and as a sign of viftory, and however much we 
might wish to prevent it, nothing could be done, for 
already our people were hastening towards our camp. 

In this defeat the enemy killed thirty-five or forty 
Spaniards, and more than a thousand of our Indian 
allies, and I was wounded in the leg, and we loft a 
small field piece, and many crossbows, muskets and 
other arms. 

\We muft now turn to Bernal Diaz's account of the 
happenings on the %oth June.] 


As Cortes saw that it was impossible to fill in all the 
openings, bridges, and canals of water that we captured 
day by day, which the Mexicans reopened during the 



night and made Stronger than they had been before 
with barricades, and that it was very hard work 
fighting and filling in bridges and keeping watch 
all of us together (all the more as we were mot of us 
wounded and twenty had died), he decided to consult 
his captains and soldiers who were in his camp, that 
is Crit6bal de Olid, Francisco Verdugo, Andres de 
Tapia, the ensign Corral and Francisco de Lugo, and 
he also wrote to us in the camp of Pedro de Alvarado 
and to the camp of Sandoval to take the opinion of all 
us captains and soldiers. The question he asked was, 
whether it seemed good to us to make an advance into 
the City with a rush, so as to reach Tlatelolco, which 
is the great market of Mexico, and is much broader 
and larger than that of Salamanca, and that if we 
could reach it, whether it would be well to Station 
all our three camps there, as from thence we should 
be able to fight through the Streets of Mexico without 
having such difficulty in retreating and should not 
have so much to fill in, or have to guard the bridges. 
As was likely to happen in such discussions and 
consultations, some of us said that it was not good 
advice or a good idea to intrude ourselves so entirely 
into the heart of the City, but that we should remain 
as we were, fighting and pulling down and levelling 
the houses. We who held the latter opinion gave as 
the mot obvious reason for it that if we Stationed 
ourselves in Tlatelolco and left the causeways and 
bridges unguarded and deserted, the Mexicans 
having so many warriors and canoes would reopen 
the bridges and causeways and we would no longer 
be masters of these. They would attack us with their 
powerful forces by night and day, and as they always 
had many impediments made with Stakes ready pre- 
pared, our launches would not be able to help us, thus 
by the plan that Cortes was proposing we would be 
the besieged and the enemy would have possession 



of the land, the country and the lake, and we wrote 
to him about his proposal so that " it should not happen 
to us as it had happened before " (as the saying of the 
Mazegatos runs), when we went fleeing out of 

After Cortes had heard our opinions and the good 
reasons we gave for them the only result of all the 
discussion was that on the following day we were to 
advance with all the energy we could from all three 
camps, horsemen as well as crossbowmen, musketeers 
and soldiers and to push forward until we reached 
the great market place at Tlatelolco. When all was 
ready in all the three camps and our friends the 
Tlaxcalans had been warned as well as the people of 
Texcoco and those from the towns of the lake who 
had again given their fealty to His Majesty, who were 
to come with their canoes to help the launches, one 
Sunday morning (3oth June) after having heard 
mass, we set out from our camp with Pedro de 
Alvarado, and Cortes set out for his camp, and San- 
doval with his companies, and in full force each com- 
pany advanced capturing bridges and barricades, 
and the enemy fought like brave warriors and Cortes 
on his side gained many victories, so too did Gonzalo 
de Sandoval on his side. Then we on our side had 
already captured another barricade and a bridge, 
which was done with much difficulty because Guatemoc 
had great forces guarding them, and we came out of 
the fight with many of our soldiers wounded, and one 
soon died of his wounds, and more than a thousand 
of our Tlaxcalan friends alone came out of it injured ; 
however, we &ill followed up our vidory very cheer- 

\Eernal Diaz here gives an account of the disafter 
which overtook the division under Cortes which has already 
been given in Cones' own words J] 

Let us cease speaking about Cortes and his defeat 

561 oo 


and return to our army, that of Pedro de Alvarado, 
and say how we advanced victoriously, and, when we 
leat expected it, we saw advancing against us with 
loud yells very many squadrons of Mexicans with 
very handsome ensigns and plumes, and they cat 
in front of us five heads ^breaming with blood which 
they had jut cut off the men whom they had captured 
from Cortes, and they cried : " Thus will we k