Skip to main content

Full text of "History of the conquest of Mexico"

See other formats



Please keep this card In 
book pocket 

o» 3 
«i 3 

' ■.••• 



u - 



[ ~ 

, •' 

[ '" 

i — 




1 h 




' 1 



[ "* 

1 J* 
[ ~ 

* [ 

1 '5 




'. i 

( 1 




II 41 42 43 


«9» K 
or. S 

«» S 

on K 









v. 3 

This book is due at the LOUIS R. WILSON LIBRARY on the 
last date stamped under "Date Due." If not on hold it may be 
renewed by bringing it to the library. 





- • v : ' M 


? 1 1 *Wl-. 



a . : 







Volume VI. 

ftow ipun&reti onb /tftij €op\cs f)rmte&. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

HISTORY f\7 : 



v - 3 



" Victrices aquilas alium laturus in orbem." 

Lucan, Pharsalia, lib. v., v. 23 




Copyright, 1843, 

Copyright, 1871, 

Copyright, 1873, 

Mexico— Vol. III. 

Lifipincot? s Press, Philadelphia. 





Arrangements at Tezcuco. — Sack of Iztapalapan.— 
Advantages of the Spaniards. — Wise Policy of 

Cortes. — Transportation of the Brigantines . 3 

Headquarters at Tezcuco 3 

Cortes distrusts the Natives 4 

Negotiates with the Aztecs 5 

City of Iztapalapan ......... 6 

Spaniards march upon it 7 

Sack the Town 8 

Natives break down the Dikes ...... 9 

Spaniards struggle in the Flood ...... 10 

Regain their Quarters in Tezcuco 10 

Indian Cities tender Allegiance 11 

Some ask for Protection ....... 11 

Cortes detaches Sandoval to their Aid 12 

Difficult Situation of Cortes 13 

His sagacious Policy . . . . . . . .15 

Makes Overtures to Guatemozin ...... 17 

Spirit of the Indian Emperor 17 

The Brigantines are completed 19 

Sandoval detached to transport them . . . . .19 

Signs of the Massacre at Zoltepec 20 

Reaches Tlascala . . . . . . . . .21 

Transportation of the Brigantines 22 

Joy at their Arrival 22 

Reflections 23 

A* v 




cortes reconnoitres the capital.— occupies tacuba. 
— Skirmishes with the Enemy. — Expedition of 

Sandoval. — Arrival of Reinforcements . . 25 

Cortes reconnoitres the Capital 25 

Action at Xaltocan 26 

Spaniards ford the Lake 27 

Towns deserted as they advance 28 

Beautiful Environs of Mexico 28 

Cortes occupies Tacuba ........ 29 

The Allies fire the Town 30 

Ambuscade of the Aztecs 31 

Parley with the Enemy 33 

Single Combats 34 

Position of the Parties 34 

Spaniards return to Tezcuco 35 

Embassy from Chalco 36 

Sandoval is detached to defend it 37 

Takes Huaxtepec 38 

Storms Jacapichtla ......... 39 

Puts the Garrison to the Sword 40 

Countermarch on Chalco ....... 41 

Cortes' Coolness with Sandoval 42 

His Reconciliation 42 

Arrival of Reinforcements 43 

The Dominican Friar 44 


Second reconnoitring Expedition. — Engagements on 
the Sierra. — Capture of Cuernavaca. — Battles 
at Xochimilco. — Narrow Escape of Cortes. — He 

enters Tacuba 45 

Second reconnoitring Expedition 45 

Preparations for the March . . . . . . .46 

Spaniards enter the Sierra 46 

Engagements in the Passes 47 


Rocks rolled down by the Aztecs 
Enemy routed ..... 
Spaniards bivouac in the Mulberry Grove 

Storm the Cliffs 

March through the Mountains 
Arrive at Cuernavaca . 
Scenery in its Environs . 
Bold Passage of the Ravine 
Capture of the City . 
Cortes recrosses the Sierra . 
Exquisite View of the Valley 
Marches against Xochimilco 
Narrow Escape of Cortes 
Chivalric Spirit of the Age . 
Cortes surveys the Country 
Vigilance in his Quarters 
Battles at Xochimilco 
Spaniards Masters of the Town 
Conflagration of Xochimilco 
Army arrives at Cojohuacan 
Ambuscade of the Indians 
Spaniards enter Tacuba 
View from its Teocalli 
Strong Emotion of Cortes . 
Return to Tezcuco . 










Conspiracy in the Army. — Brigantines launched. — 
Muster of Forces. — Execution of Xicotencatl. — 

March of the Army. — Beginning of the Siege 73 

Affairs in Spain ......... 73 

Conspiracy in the Camp 75 

Its Design 76 

Disclosed to Cortes yy 

The Ringleader executed 78 

Policy of Cortes ......... 79 

The General's Body-guard 80 

Brigantines launched ........ 81 



Impression on the Spectators 82 

Muster of Forces 83 

Instructions to the Allies 84 

Cortes distributes his Troops 85 

His Spirited Harangue 86 

Regulations read to the Army ...... 87 

Desertion of Xicotencatl 88 

His Execution 89 

His Character ......... 90 

March of the Army • . 91 

Quarrel of Olid and Alvarado 91 

Spaniards destroy the Aqueduct 92 

Commencement of the Siege ...... 94 


Indian Flotilla defeated. — Occupation of the Cause- 
ways. — Desperate Assaults. — Firing of the Pal- 
aces. — Spirit of the Besieged. — Barracks for the 

Troops 95 

Sandoval marches on Iztapalapan ...... 95 

Cortes takes Command of the Fleet ..... 95 

Indian Flotilla defeated ........ 97 

Cortes occupies Xoloc ....... 98 

Sandoval advances to Cojohuacan ...... 99 

Skirmishes on the Causeway ...... 100 

Blockade completed ........ 101 

Simultaneous Assaults on Mexico 101 

Kara parts raised by the Aztecs 102 

Brigantines enfilade the Causeway ..... 102 

Spaniards enter the City ........ 103 

Allies demolish the Buildings 104 

Fierce Battles in the City 105 

Spaniards reach the Square ...... 106 

Storm the Pyramid 107 

Hurl the Priests headlong 107 

The Aztecs rally . 108 

Spaniards give Way 108 

Cavalry to the Rescue 108 



Retreat to their Quarters log 

Ixtlilxochitl in the Camp in 

A second Assault in 

Spaniards penetrate the City 112 

Fire the Palace of Axayacatl 113 

Royal Aviary in Flames 114 

Rage of the Mexicans 114 

Their Desperation 115 

Sufferings of the Spaniards 117 

Operations of Guatemozin 118 

His Vigilance 119 

Ambuscade among the Reeds 120 

Resources of the Indian Emperor 121 

Accession of Allies to the Spaniards 122 

Barracks for the Troops 122 

Hard Fare of the Besiegers 1 . 123 

Spirit of the Aztecs 125 


General Assault on the City.— Defeat of the Span- 
iards. — Their disastrous Condition. — Sacrifice of 
the Captives. — Defection of the Allies. — Con- 
stancy of the Troops 126 

Views of the Spaniards 126 

Council of War 127 

General Assault on the City 128 

Cortes rebukes Alvarado 129 

The Enemy give Way 130 

Their cunning Stratagem 131 

Horn of Guatemozin sounds 132 

Aztecs turn upon their Foe 132 

Terrible Rout of the Spaniards 133 

Imminent Danger of Cortes 134 

Self-devotion of his Followers ..»,.. 135 

Sharp Struggle on the Causeway ...... 136 

His Division retreats 137 

Sandoval and Alvarado 137 

Their Troops driven from the City 138 




Sandoval visits the General ....... 139 

His Interview with him 141 

Great Drum beat in the Temple 142 

Sacrifice of the Captives 143 

Sensations of the Spaniards 144 

Rejoicings of the Aztecs 145 

Prophecy of the Priests 145 

Defection of the Allies 146 

Gloomy Condition of the Spaniards ..... 147 

Their Constancy 148 

Heroism of their Women 148 


Successes of the Spaniards. — Fruitless Offers to 
Guatemozin. — Buildings razed to the Ground. — 
Terrible Famine. — The Troops gain the Market- 
place. — Battering Engine 150 

Allies return to the Camp 150 

Accession of Confederates 152 

Plan of the Campaign 153 

The Breaches filled 155 

Famine in the City 156 

Fruitless Offers to Guatemozin 157 

Council of the Aztecs 157 

Result of their Deliberations 159 

Buildings razed to the Ground ...... 159 

Single Combats 161 

Guatemozin's Palace in Flames 161 

Sufferings of the Besieged 162 

Neglect of their Dead 163 

Their unconquerable Spirit 165 

Conflagration of the Teocalli 166 

Success of Alvarado ..... . 166 

Spaniards in the Market-place ... . 169 

Cortes surveys the City 170 

Its Desolation 170 

Battering Engine 172 

Its Failure 173 




Dreadful Sufferings of the Besieged.— Spirit of 
Guatemozin. — Murderous Assaults. — Capture of 
Guatemozin. — Evacuation of the City. — Termina- 
tion of the Siege. — Reflections . . . .174 

Dreadful Famine in the City 174 

Cannibalism 175 

The Corpses fill the Streets ...... 176 

Pestilence sweeps off Multitudes 176 

Alarming Prodigies 177 

Spirit of Guatemozin 178 

Cortes requests an Interview with him .... 179 

Guatemozin consents ........ 179 

He avoids a Parley 180 

Murderous Assault . 182 

Appalling Scene of Carnage 182 

Preparations for the final Attack 184 

Cortes urges an Interview ....... 185 

The Signal given 187 

Aztecs attempt to escape 187 

Capture of Guatemozin ........ 188 

Cessation of Hostilities 189 

Person of Guatemozin 191 

Brought before Cortes . . . . . . . 191 

His Wife, Montezuma's Daughter ...... 192 

Furious Thunder-storm ....... 194 

Mexicans abandon their City ....... 195 

Number of those who perished 196 

Amount of the Spoil . . . . . . . .197 

Cortes dismisses his Allies 198 

Rejoicings of the Spaniards 198 

Solemn Thanksgiving ........ 199 

Reflections .......... 200 

Aztec Institutions 201 

Their moral Influence 202 

Cruelty ascribed to the Spaniards 203 

The Conquest as a military Achievement , 206 



Notice of the Historian Solis 208 

His Life and Writings 209 

Sahagun's Twelfth Book , 214 




Torture of Guatemozin. — Submission of the Country. 
— Rebuilding of the Capital. — Mission to Castile. 
— Complaints against Cortes. — He is confirmed in 

his Authority 217 

Small Amount of Treasure 218 

Disappointment of the Soldiers 218 

Torture of Guatemozin 218 

His Fortitude unshaken 219 

Submission of the Country 220 

The Southern Ocean reached 221 

Rebuilding of the Capital ....... 223 

Aztec Prophecy accomplished 223 

Mission to Castile , . 224 

Envoys captured by the French ...... 226 

Charges against Cortes ....... 227 

Tapia sent to New Spain 228 

Insurrection of the Natives ....... 229 

Quelled by Sandoval ........ 229 

Fonseca's Hostility to Cortes 230 

His Cause referred to a select Tribunal 231 

Accusations against Cortes . .... 232 

Defence by his Friends 232 

Acts of Cortes ratified 234 

He is confirmed in the supreme Authority .... 234 



He triumphs over Fonseca 235 

Mortification of Velasquez 236 

His Death and Character 237 


Modern Mexico.— Settlement of the Country.— Con- 
dition of the Natives. — Christian Missionaries. — 
Cultivation of the Soil. — Voyages and Expedi- 
tions 239 

Mexico rebuilt 239 

Edifices in the City ......... 240 

Its Fortress . . . 241 

Its Population 242 

Settlement of the Country 243 

Encouragements to Marriage ....... 244 

The Wife of Cortes arrives in Mexico .... 245 

Her Death 247 

System of Repartimientos . 247 

Reward of the Tlascalans ....... 249 

Treatment of the Natives 250 

Franciscan Missionaries ........ 251 

Their Reception by Cortes 252 

Progress of Conversion ........ 254 

Settlements of the Conquerors ...... 255 

Cultivation of the Soil 256 

Fleet burnt at Zacatula 257 

Voyages to discover a Strait ....... 258 

Expedition of Alvarado ....... 260 

Result of the Enterprises of Cortes ..... 261 


Defection of Olid. — Dreadful March to Honduras. 
— Execution of Guatemozin. — Dona Marina. — Ar- 
rival at Honduras 263 

Defection of Olid 263 

Cortes prepares to visit Honduras ...... 264 

The General's Retinue 265 

Vol. III. b 



Obstacles on the March 267 

Passes near Palenque ..... 268 

Lost in the Mazes of the Forests ... .... 269 

Builds a stupendous Bridge ...... 270 

Horses sink in the Marshes . . . . . . 270 

Reports of a Conspiracy 271 

Guatemozin arrested 272 

His Execution ......... 273 

His Character 273 

Feelings of the Army 275 

Cause of the Execution 275 

Cortes' Remorse 276 

Prosecution of the March 277 

Lake of Peten ......... 277 

Doha Marina . . 278 

Her Meeting with her Mother 278 

She marries a Castilian Knight ...... 279 

Her Son Don Martin 280 

Missionaries in the Isles of Peten 280 

Passage of "the Mountain of Flints" 281 

Army arrives at Honduras 282 

Famine in the Colony 283 

Cortes reaches Truxillo ........ 284 

Prepares to reduce Nicaragua 284 

His romantic Daring . 284 

Tidings from Mexico ........ 285 


Disturbances in Mexico. — Return of Cortes. — Dis- 
trust of the Court. — Cortes returns to Spain. — 
Death of Sandoval. — Brilliant Reception of 
Cortes. — Honors conferred on him . . . 286 

Misrule in Mexico 286 

Cortes attempts to return 287 

Driven back by the Tempest . 287 

His Despondency 288 

Embarks once more for Mexico ...... 288 

Lands near San Juan de Ulua 288 



Progress to the Capital 289 

Cortes re-enters Mexico in State ..... 289 

Distrust of the Crown 291 

Ponce de Leon sent as Commissioner .... 292 

He dies on his Arrival ........ 292 

Appoints Estrada his Successor ...... 293 

Affronts to Cortes 295 

He leaves the City 296 

The Commission of the Royal Audience .... 296 

Cortes determines to return to Spain 297 

News of his Father's Death 299 

Preparations for Departure 299 

He lands at Palos 300 

His Meeting with Pizarro 300 

Death of Sandoval 301 

His Person and Character 302 

Brilliant Reception of Cortes ....... 303 

Sensation caused by his Presence 303 

Admitted to an Audience by the Emperor .... 305 

Charles V. visits him when ill . . . 305 

He is made Marquis of the Valley ..... 306 

Grants of Lands and Vassals 306 

Refused the Government of Mexico ..... 308 

Reinstated in his military Command 308 

Cortes' second Marriage 309 

Splendid Presents to his Bride 310 

His Residence at Court 311 



His Voyages of Discovery. — Final Return to Cas- 
tile. — Cold Reception. — Death of Cortes. — His 

Character 31a 

Cortes embarks for Mexico 312 

Stops at Hispaniola 312 

Proceedings of the Audience 313 

Cortes lands at Villa Rica 315 

Reception in Mexico ........ 316 



Retires to his Estates 317 

His Improvement of them 318 

His Voyages of Discovery 319 

He embarks for California 319 

Disastrous Expedition . 320 

Arrival of a Viceroy 321 

Policy of the Crown 321 

Maritime Enterprises of Cortes . . . . . 323 

His Disgust with Mendoza 324 

His final Return to Castile . 325 

He joins the Expedition to Algiers 325 

His cold Reception by Charles V. . . 327 

Cortes' last Letter to the Emperor 327 

Taken ill at Seville 329 

His Will 329 

Scruples of Conscience as to Slavery ..... 330 

Views entertained on this Topic . . . . . . 331 

He moves to Castilleja ........ 332 

Death of Cortes ......... 333 

His funeral Obsequies ........ 333 

Fate of his Remains ........ 334 

Posterity of Cortes ......... 336 

His Character ......... 338 

His Knight-errantry . 338 

His military Genius ........ 340 

Power over his Soldiers ........ 341 

Character as a Conqueror 343 

His enlightened Views 343 

His private Life 345 

His Bigotry 346 

His Manners and Habits ....... 348 





Preliminary Notice 353 

Speculations on the New World 355 

Manner of its Population 356 

Plato's Atlantis 356 

Modern Theory 358 

Communication with the Old World ..... 359 

Origin of American Civilization 361 

Plan of the Essay ......... 362 

Analogies suggested by the Mexicans to the Old World . . 362 

Their Traditions of the Deluge ...... 363 

Resemble the Hebrew Accounts ...... 364 

Temple of Cholula , 365 

Analogy to the Tower of Babel ..... 365 

The Mexican Eve ........ 366 

The God Quetzalcoatl 367 

Natural Errors of the Missionaries ..... 368 

The Cross in Anahuac ........ 368 

Eucharist and Baptism ....... 369 

Chroniclers strive for Coincidences ...... 372 

Argument drawn from these ...... 373 

Resemblance of social Usages . . * . . . . 375 

Analogies from Science ....... 376 

Chronological System ....... . 376 

Hieroglyphics and Symbols ..... . 376 

Adjustment of Time . 377 

Affinities of Language 378 

Difficulties of Comparison ....... 379 

Traditions of Migration ....... 381 

Tests of their Truth 383 

Physical Analogies . . . . . . . . 384 

Architectural Remains ........ 386 

Destructive Spirit of the Spaniards ..... 387 


xviii CONTENTS. 


Ruins in Chiapa and Yucatan 389 

Works of Art 389 

Tools for Building 390 

Little Resemblance to Egyptian Art 391 

Sculpture 392 

Hieroglyphics ......... 393 

Probable Age of these Monuments 394 

Their probable Architects 394 

Difficulties in forming a Conclusion 397 

Ignorance of Iron and of Milk 399 

Unsatisfactory Explanations 400 

General Conclusions 40a 



Aztec Mother's Advice to her Daughter . 
Translations of Nezahualcoyotl's Poem 
Palace of Tezcotzinco .... 
Punishment of the guilty Tezcucan Queen 
Velasquez's Instructions to Cortes . 
Extract from Las Casas' History 
Deposition of Puerto Carrero . 
Extract from the Letter of Vera Cruz . . . 
Extract from Camargo's Tlascala . 
Extract from Oviedo's History . 
Dialogue of Oviedo with Cano 
Privilege of Dona Isabel de Montezuma . 
Military Ordinances of Cortes 
Extracts from the Fifth Letter of Cortes 
Last Letter of Cortes .... 
Account of his funeral Obsequies 









I J « 

a 'tS ^ 

% \ (J 

§ I L. 



I ^ © -J 

1 1 ^ \i 
K J ■ ^ k 

^4 -J I 

^ 3 * * 



Vol. III.— a 







The city of Tezcuco was the best position, prob- 
ably, which Cortes could have chosen for the head- 
quarters of the army. It supplied all the accommoda- 
tions for lodging a numerous body of troops, and all 
the facilities for subsistence, incident to a large and 
populous town. 1 It furnished, moreover, a multitude 
of artisans and laborers for the uses of the army. Its 
territories, bordering on the Tlascalan, afforded a 
ready means of intercourse with the country of his 

1 " Asi mismo hizo juntar todos los bastimentos que fueron necesa- 
rios para sustentar el Exercito y Guarniciones de Gente que andaban 
en favor de Cortes, y asi hizo traer i. la Ciudad de Tezcuco el Maiz 
que habia en las Troxes y Graneros de las Provincias sugetas al Reyno 
de Tezcuco." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 91. 



allies ; while its vicinity to Mexico enabled the general, 
without much difficulty, to ascertain the movements 
in that capital. Its central situation, in short, opened 
facilities for communication with all parts of the Val- 
ley, and made it an excellent point d'' } appui for his 
future operations. 

The first care of Cortes was to strengthen himself in 
the palace assigned to him, and to place his quarters in 
a state of defence which might secure them against 
surprise not only from the Mexicans, but from the 
Tezcucans themselves. Since the election of their new 
ruler, a large part of the population had returned to 
their homes, assured of protection in person and prop- 
erty. But the Spanish general, notwithstanding their 
show of submission, very much distrusted its sincerity; 
for he knew that many of them were united too inti- 
mately with the Aztecs, by marriage and other social 
relations, not to have their sympathies engaged in their 
behalf. 2 The young monarch, however, seemed wholly 
in his interests ; and, to secure him more effectually, 
Cortes placed several Spaniards near his person, whose 
ostensible province it was to instruct him in their lan- 
guage and religion, but who were in reality to watch 
over his conduct and prevent his correspondence with 
those who might be unfriendly to the Spanish interests. 3 

Tezcuco stood about half a league from the lake. 
It would be necessary to open a communication with 

2 " No era de espantar quetuviese este recelo, porque sus Enemigos, 
y los de esta Ciudad eran todos Deudos y Parientes mas cercanos, 
mas despues el tiempo lo desengafio, y vido la gran lealtad de Ixtlil- 
xochitl, y de todos." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 92. 

3 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 137. 


it, so that the brigantines, when put together in the 
capital, might be launched upon its waters. It was 
proposed, therefore, to dig a canal, reaching from the 
gardens of Nezahualcoyotl, as they were called, from 
the old monarch who planned them, to the edge of the 
basin. A little stream, or rivulet, which flowed in that 
direction, Avas to be deepened sufficiently for the pur- 
pose ; and eight thousand Indian laborers were forth- 
with employed on this great work, under the direction 
of the young Ixtlilxochitl. 4 

Meanwhile, Cortes received messages from several 
places in the neighborhood, intimating their desire to 
become the vassals of his sovereign and to be taken 
under his protection. The Spanish commander re- 
quired, in return, that they should deliver up every 
Mexican who should set foot in their territories. Some 
noble Aztecs, who had been sent on a mission to these 
towns, were consequently delivered into his hands. 
He availed himself of it to employ them as bearers of 
a message to their master the emperor. In it he depre- 
cated the necessity of the present hostilities. Those 
who had most injured him, he said, were no longer 
among the living. He was willing to forget the past, 
and invited the Mexicans, by a timely submission, to 
save their capital from the horrors of a siege. 3 Cortes 
had no expectation of producing any immediate result 
by this appeal. But he thought it might lie in the 

4 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. 
Chich., MS., cap. 91. 

5 " Los principales, que habian sido en hacerme la Guerra pasada, 
eran ya muertos ; y que lo pasado fuesse pasado, y que no quisiessen 
dar causa A que destruyesse sus Tierras, y Ciudades, porque me pesaba 
mucho de ello." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 193. 



minds of the Mexicans, and that, if there was a party 
among them disposed to treat with him, it might afford 
them encouragement, as showing his own willingness 
to co-operate with their views. At this time, however, 
there was no division of opinion in the capital. The 
whole population seemed animated by a spirit of resist- 
ance, as one man. 

In a former page I have mentioned that it was the 
plan of Cortes, on entering the Valley, to commence 
operations by reducing the subordinate cities before 
striking at the capital itself, which, like some goodly tree 
whose roots had been severed one after another, would 
be thus left without support against the fury of the 
tempest. The first point of attack which he selected 
was the ancient city of Iztapalapan ; a place contain- 
ing fifty thousand inhabitants, according to his own 
account, and situated about six leagues distant, on the 
narrow tongue of land which divides the waters of the 
great salt lake from those of the fresh. It was the 
private domain of the last sovereign of Mexico ; where, 
as the reader may remember, he entertained the white 
men the night before their entrance into the capital, 
and astonished them by the display of his princely 
gardens. To this monarch they owed no good will, 
for he had conducted the operations on the noche triste. 
He was, indeed, no more ; but the people of his city 
entered heartily into his hatred of the strangers, and 
were now the most loyal vassals of the Mexican crown. 

In a week after his arrival at his new quarters, Cortes, 
leaving the command of the garrison to Sandoval, 
marched against this Indian city, at the head of two 
hundred Spanish foot, eighteen horse, and between 


three and four thousand Tlascalans. Their route lay 
along the eastern border of the lake, gemmed with 
many a bright town and hamlet, or, unlike its condi- 
tion at the present day, darkened with overhanging 
groves of cypress and cedar, and occasionally opening 
a broad expanse to their view, with the Queen of the 
Valley rising gloriously from the waters, as if proudly 
conscious of her supremacy over the fair cities around 
her. Farther on, the eye ranged along the dark line 
of causeway connecting Mexico with the main land, 
and suggesting many a bitter recollection to the 

They quickened their step, and had advanced within 
two leagues of their point of destination, when they 
were encountered by a strong Aztec force drawn up 
to dispute their progress. Cortes instantly gave them 
battle. The barbarians showed their usual courage, 
but, after some hard fighting, were compelled to give 
way before the steady valor of the Spanish infantry, 
backed by the desperate fury of the Tlascalans, whom 
the sight of an Aztec seemed to inflame almost to mad- 
ness. The enemy retreated in disorder, closely followed 
by the Spaniards. When they had arrived within half 
a league of Iztapalapan, they observed a number of 
canoes filled with Indians, who appeared to be labor- 
ing on the mole which hemmed in the waters of the 
salt lake. Swept along in the tide of pursuit, they 
gave little heed to it, but, following up the chase, 
entered pell-mell with the fugitives into the city. 

The houses stood some of them on dry ground, some 
on piles in the water. The former were deserted by 
the inhabitants, most of whom had escaped in canoes 


across the lake, leaving, in their haste, their effects be- 
hind them. The Tlascalans poured at once into the 
vacant dwellings and loaded themselves with booty; 
while the enemy, making the best of their way through 
this part of the town, sought shelter in the buildings 
erected over the water, or among the reeds which 
sprung from its shallow bottom. In the houses were 
many of the citizens also, who still lingered with their 
wives and children, unable to find the means of trans- 
porting themselves from the scene of danger. 

Cortes, supported by his own men, and by such of 
the allies as could be brought to obey his orders, 
attacked the enemy in this last place of their retreat. 
Both parties fought up to their girdles in the water. 
A desperate struggle ensued ; as the Aztec fought with 
the fury of a tiger driven to bay by the huntsmen. It 
was all in vain. The enemy was overpowered in every 
quarter. The citizen shared the fate of the soldier, 
and a pitiless massacre succeeded, without regard to 
sex or age. Cortes endeavored to stop it. But it would 
have been as easy to call away the starving wolf from 
the carcass he was devouring, as the Tlascalan who had 
once tasted the blood of an enemy. More than six 
thousand, including women and children, according to 
the Conqueror's own statement, perished in the con- 
flict. 6 

Darkness meanwhile had set in ; but it was dispelled 
in some measure by the light of the burning houses, 

6 " Murieron de ellos mas de seis mil Animas, entre Hombres, y 
Mugeres, y Nifios ; porque los Indios nuestros Amigos, vista la Vic- 
toria, que Dios nos daba, no entendian en otra cosa, sino en matar d. 
diestro y & siniestro." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 195. 


which the troops had set on fire in different parts of 
the town. Their insulated position, it is true, prevented 
the flames from spreading from one building to another, 
but the solitary masses threw a strong and lurid glare 
over their own neighborhood, which gave additional 
horror to the scene. As resistance was now at an end, 
the soldiers abandoned themselves to pillage, and soon 
stripped the dwellings of every portable article of any 

While engaged in this work of devastation, a mur- 
muring sound was heard as of the hoarse rippling of 
waters, and a cry soon arose among the Indians that 
the dikes were broken ! Cortes now comprehended 
the business of the men whom he had seen in the 
canoes at work on the mole which fenced in the great 
basin of Lake Tezcuco. 7 It had been pierced by the 
desperate Indians, who thus laid the country under an 
inundation, by suffering the waters of the salt lake to 
spread themselves over the lower level, through the 
opening. Greatly alarmed, the general called his men 
together, and made all haste to evacuate the city. 
Had they remained three hours longer, he says, not a 
soul could have escaped. 8 They came staggering under 
the weight of booty, wading with difficulty through 
the water, which was fast gaining upon them. For 

7 " Estandolas quemando, parecio que Nuestro Senor me inspire, y 
trujo & la memoria la Calzada, 6 Presa, que habia visto rota en el 
Camino, y representoseme el gran dafio, que era." Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, loc. cit. 

8 " Y certifico a. Vuestra Magestad, que si aquella noche no pasara- 
mos el Agua, 6 aguardaramos tres horas mas, que ninguno de nosotros 
escapara, porque quedabamos cercados de Agua, sin tener paso por 
parte ninguna." Ibid., ubi supra. 



some distance their path was illumined by the glare of 
the burning buildings. But, as the light faded away in 
the distance, they wandered with uncertain steps, some- 
times up to their knees, at others up to their waists, in 
the water, through which they floundered on with the 
greatest difficulty. As they reached the opening in the 
dike, the stream became deeper, and flowed out with 
such a current that the men were unable to maintain 
their footing. The Spaniards, breasting the flood, 
forced their way through ; but many of the Indians, 
unable to swim, were borne down by the waters. All 
the plunder was lost. The powder was spoiled ; the 
arms and clothes of the soldiers were saturated with the 
brine, and the cold night-wind, as it blew over them, 
benumbed their weary limbs till they could scarcely 
drag them along. At dawn they beheld the lake 
swarming with canoes, full of Indians, who had antici- 
pated their disaster, and who now saluted them with 
showers of stones, arrows, and other deadly missiles. 
Bodies of light troops, hovering in the distance, dis- 
quieted the flanks of the army in like manner. The 
Spaniards had no desire to close with the enemy. They 
only wished to regain their comfortable quarters in 
Tezcuco, where they arrived on the same day, more 
disconsolate and fatigued than after many a long march 
and hard-fought battle. 9 

The close of the expedition, so different from its 
brilliant commencement, greatly disappointed Cortes. 

9 The general's own Letter to the emperor is so full and precise that 
it is the very best authority for this event. The story is told also by 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 138, — Oviedo, Hist, de las 
Ind , MS., lib. 33, cap. 18, — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 92, 
— Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 2, et auct. aliis. 


His numerical loss had, indeed, not been great ; but 
this affair convinced him how much he had to appre- 
hend from the resolution of a people who, with a spirit 
worthy of the ancient Hollanders, were prepared to 
bury their country under water rather than to submit. 
Still, the enemy had little cause for congratulation ; 
since, independently of the number of slain, they 
had seen one of their most flourishing cities sacked, 
and in part, at least, laid in ruins, — one of those, too, 
which in its public works displayed the nearest approach 
to civilization. Such are the triumphs of war ! 

The expedition of Cortes, notwithstanding the dis- 
asters which checkered it, was favorable to the Spanish 
cause. The fate of Iztapalapan struck a terror through- 
out the Valley. The consequences were soon apparent 
in the deputations sent by the different places eager 
to offer their submission. Its influence was visible, 
indeed, beyond the mountains. Among others, the 
people of Otumba, the town near which the Spaniards 
had gained their famous victory, sent to tender their 
allegiance and to request the protection of the powerful 
strangers. They excused themselves, as usual, for the 
part they had taken in the late hostilities, by throwing 
the blame on the Aztecs. 

But the place of most importance which thus 
claimed their protection was Chalco, situated on the 
eastern extremity of the lake of that name. It was an 
ancient city, peopled by a kindred tribe of the Aztecs, 
and once their formidable rival. The Mexican em- 
peror, distrusting their loyalty, had placed a garrison 
within their walls to hold them in check. The rulers 
of the city now sent a message secretly to Cortes, pro- 


posing to put themselves under his protection, if he 
would enable them to expel the garrison. 

The Spanish commander did not hesitate, but in- 
stantly detached a considerable force under Sandoval 
for this object. On the march, his rear-guard, com- 
posed of Tlascalans, was roughly handled by some 
light troops of the Mexicans. But he took his revenge 
in a pitched battle which took place with the main 
body of the enemy at no great distance from Chalco. 
They were drawn up on a level ground, covered with 
green crops of maize and maguey. The field is trav- 
ersed by the road which at this day leads from the last- 
mentioned city to Tezcuco. 10 Sandoval, charging the 
enemy at the head of his cavalry, threw them into 
disorder. But they quickly rallied, formed again, and 
renewed the battle with greater spirit than ever. In a 
second attempt he was more fortunate ; and, breaking 
through their lines by a desperate onset, the brave 
cavalier succeeded, after a warm but ineffectual struggle 
on their part, in completely routing and driving them 
from the field. The conquering army continued its 
march to Chalco, which the Mexican garrison had 
already evacuated, and was received in triumph by the 
assembled citizens, who seemed eager to testify their 
gratitude for their deliverance from the Aztec yoke. 
After taking such measures as he could for the perma- 
nent security of the place, Sandoval returned to Tez- 
cuco, accompanied by the two young lords of the city, 
sons of the late cacique. 

They were courteously received by Cortes ; and they 
informed him that their father had died, full of years, 

10 Lorenzana, p. 199, nota. 


a short time before. With his last breath he had ex- 
pressed his regret that he should not have lived to see 
Malinche. He believed that the white men were the 
beings predicted by the oracles as one day to come 
from the East and take possession of the land ; " and 
he enjoined it on his children, should the strangers 
return to the Valley, to render them their homage and 
allegiance. The young caciques expressed their readi- 
ness to do so ; but, as this must bring on them the 
vengeance of the Aztecs, they implored the general to 
furnish a sufficient force for their protection." 

Cortes received a similar application from various 
other towns, which were disposed, could they do so 
with safety, to throw off the Mexican yoke. But he 
was in no situation to comply with their request. He 
now felt more sensibly than ever the incompetency 
of his means to his undertaking. " I assure your 
Majesty," he writes in his letter to the emperor, "the 
greatest uneasiness which I feel, after all my labors and 
fatigues, is from my inability to succor and support 
our Indian friends, your Majesty's loyal vassals." 13 
Far from having a force competent to this, he had 
scarcely enough for his own protection. His vigilant 

11 " Porque ciertamente sus antepassados les auian dicho, que auian 
de senorear aquellas tierras hombres que vernian con barbas de hazia 
donde sale el Sol, y que por las cosas que han visto, eramos nosotros." 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 139. 

12 Ibid., ubi supra. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 200.— 
Gomara, Cronica, cap. 122. — Venida de los Espanoles, p. 15. 

*3 " Y certifico & Vuestra Magestad, allende de nuestro trabajo y 
necesidad, la mayor fatiga, que tenia, era no poder ayudar, y socorrer 
6. los Indios nuestros Amigos, que por ser Vasallos de Vuestra Ma- 
gestad, eran molestados y trabajados de los de Culua." Rel. Tcrc, 
ap. Lorenzana, p. 204. 

Vol. III. 2 


enemy had an eye on all his movements, and, should 
he cripple his strength by sending away too many de- 
tachments or by employing them at too great a distance, 
would be prompt to take advantage of it. His only 
expeditions, hitherto, had been in the neighborhood, 
where the troops, after striking some sudden and de- 
cisive blow, might speedily regain their quarters. The 
utmost watchfulness was maintained there, and the 
Spaniards lived in as constant preparation for an assault 
as if their camp was pitched under the walls of Mexico. 

On two occasions the general had sallied forth and 
engaged the enemy in the environs of Tezcuco. At 
one time a thousand canoes, filled with Aztecs, crossed 
the lake to gather in a large crop of Indian corn, nearly 
ripe, on its borders. Cortes thought it important to 
secure this for himself. He accordingly marched out 
and gave battle to the enemy, drove them from the 
field, and swept away the rich harvest to the granaries 
of Tezcuco. Another time a strong body of Mexicans 
had established themselves in some neighboring towns 
friendly to their interests. Cortes, again sallying, dis- 
lodged them from their quarters, beat them in several 
skirmishes, and reduced the places to obedience. But 
these enterprises demanded all his resources, and left 
him nothing to spare for his allies. In this exigency, 
his fruitful genius suggested an expedient for supplying 
the deficiency of his means. 

Some of the friendly cities without the Valley, ob- 
serving the numerous beacon-fires on the mountains, 
inferred that the Mexicans were mustering in great 
strength, and that the Spaniards must be hard pressed 
in their new quarters. They sent messengers to Tez- 



cuco, expressing their apprehension, and offering re- 
inforcements, which the general, when he set out on 
his march, had declined. He returned many thanks 
for the proffered aid ; but, while he declined it for 
himself, as unnecessary, he indicated in what manner 
their services might be effectual for the defence of 
Chalco and the other places which had invoked his 
protection. But his Indian allies were in deadly feud 
with these places, whose inhabitants had too often 
fought under the Aztec banner not to have been en- 
gaged in repeated wars with the people beyond the 

Cortes set himself earnestly to reconcile these differ- 
ences. He told the hostile parties that they should be 
willing to forget their mutual wrongs, since they had 
entered into new relations. They were now vassals of 
the same sovereign, engaged in a common enterprise 
against the formidable foe who had so long trodden 
them in the dust. Singly they could do little, but 
united they might protect each other's weakness and 
hold their enemy at bay till the Spaniards could come 
to their assistance. These arguments finally prevailed ; 
and the politic general had the satisfaction to see the 
high-spirited and hostile tribes forego their long- 
cherished rivalry, and, resigning the pleasures of re- 
venge, so dear to the barbarian, embrace one another 
as friends and champions in a common cause. To this 
wise policy the Spanish commander owed quite as much 
of his subsequent successes as to his arms. 14 

Thus the foundations of the Mexican empire were 

*4 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 204, 205. — Oviedo, Hist, 
de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 19. 


hourly loosening, as the great vassals around the capi- 
tal, on whom it most relied, fell off one after another 
from their allegiance. The Aztecs, properly so called, 
formed but a small part of the population of the Valley. 
This was principally composed of cognate tribes, mem- 
bers of the same great family of the Nahuatlacs who 
had come upon the plateau at nearly the same time. 
They were mutual rivals, and were reduced one after 
another by the more warlike Mexican, who held them 
in subjection, often by open force, always by fear. 
Fear was the great principle of cohesion which bound 
together the discordant members of the monarchy ; and 
this was now fast dissolving before the influence of a 
power more mighty than that of the Aztec. This, it is 
true, was not the first time that the conquered races 
had attempted to recover their independence. But all 
such attempts had failed for want of concert. It was 
reserved for the commanding genius of Cortes to ex- 
tinguish their old hereditary feuds, and, combining 
their scattered energies, to animate them with a com- 
mon principle of action. 13 

*5 Oviedo, in his admiration of his hero, breaks out into the 
following panegyric on his policy, prudence, and military science, 
which, as he truly predicts, must make his name immortal. It is a 
fair specimen of the manner of the sagacious old chronicler. " Sin 
dubda alguna la habilidad y esfuerzo, e prudencia de Hernando 
Cortes mui dignas son que entre los cavalleros, e gente militar en 
nuestros tiempos se tengan en mucha estimacion, y en los venideros 
nunca se desacuerden. Por causa suya me acuerdo muchas veces de 
aquellas cosas que se escriven del capitan Viriato nuestro Espanol y 
Estremefio ; y por Hernando Cortes me ocurren al sentido las muchas 
fatigas de aquel espejo de caballeria Julio Cesar dictador, como parece 
por sus comentarios, e por Suetonio e Plutarco e otros autores que en 
conformidad escrivieron los grandes hechos suyos. Pero los de Her- 



Encouraged by this state of things, the Spanish 
general thought it a favorable moment to press his 
negotiations with the capital. He availed himself of 
the presence of some noble Mexicans, taken in the 
late action with Sandoval, to send another message to 
their master. It was in substance a repetition of the 
first, with a renewed assurance that, if the city would 
return to its allegiance to the Spanish crown, the 
authority of Guatemozin should be confirmed and the 
persons and property of his subjects be respected. To 
this communication no reply was made. The young 
Indian emperor had a spirit as dauntless as that of 
Cortes himself. On his head descended the full effects 
of that vicious system of government bequeathed to 
him by his ancestors. But, as he saw his empire 
crumbling beneath him, he sought to uphold it by his 
own energy and resources. He anticipated the defec- 
tion of some vassals by establishing garrisons within 
their walls. Others he conciliated by exempting them 
from tributes or greatly lightening their burdens, or by 
advancing them to posts of honor and authority in the 
state. He showed, at the same time, his implacable 
animosity towards the Christians by commanding that 
every one taken within his dominions should be straight- 
way sent to the capital, where he was sacrificed, with 

nando Cortes en un Mundo nuevo, e tan apartadas provincias de 
Europa, e con tantos trabajos e necesidades e pocas fuerzas, e con 
gente tan innumerable, e tan barbara e bellicosa, e apacentada en 
carne humana, e aun habida por excelente e sabroso manjar entre sus 
adversaries ; e faltdndole a el 6 &. sus milites el pan e vino e los otros 
mantenimientos todos de Espana, y en tan diferenciadas regiones 6 
aires e tan desviado e lejos de socorro e de su principe, cosas son de 
admiracion." Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 20. 


all the barbarous ceremonies prescribed by the Aztec 

While these occurrences were passing, Cortes re- 

16 Among other chiefs, to whom Guatemozin applied for assistance 
in the perilous state of his affairs, was Tangapan, lord of Michoacan, 
an independent and powerful state in the West, which had never been 
subdued by the Mexican army. The accounts which the Aztec em- 
peror gave him, through his ambassadors, of the white men, were so 
alarming, according to Ixtlilxochitl, who tells the story, that the king's 
sister voluntarily starved herself to death, from her apprehensions of 
the coming of the terrible strangers. Her body was deposited, as 
usual, in the vaults reserved for the royal household, until prepara- 
tions could be made for its being burnt. On the fourth day, the 
attendants who had charge of it were astounded by seeing the corpse 
exhibit signs of returning life. The restored princess, recovering her 
speech, requested her brother's presence. On his coming, she im- 
plored him not to think of hurting a hair of the heads of the myste- 
rious visitors. She had been permitted, she said, to see the fate of the 
departed in the next world. The souls of all her ancestors she had 
beheld tossing about in unquenchable fire ; while those who embraced 
the faith of the strangers were in glory. As a proof of the truth of her 
assertion, she added that her brother would see, on a great festival 
near at hand, a young warrior, armed with a torch brighter than the 
sun, in one hand, and a flaming sword, like that worn by the white 
men, in the other, passing from east to west over the city. Whether 
the monarch waited for the vision, or ever beheld it, is not told us by 
the historian. But, relying perhaps on the miracle of her resurrection 
as quite a sufficient voucher, he disbanded a very powerful force which 
he had assembled on the plains of Avalos for the support of his brother 
of Mexico. This narrative, with abundance of supernumerary incidents, 
not necessary to repeat, was commemorated in the Michoacan picture- 
records, and reported to the historian of Tezcuco himself by the 
grandson of Tangapan. (See Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 
91.) Whoever reported it to him, it is not difficult to trace the same 
pious fingers in it which made so many wholesome legends for the 
good of the Church on the Old Continent, and which now found, 
in the credulity of the New, a rich harvest for the same godly 


l 9 

ceived the welcome intelligence that the brigantines 
were completed and waiting to be transported to Tez- 
cuco. He detached a body for the service, consisting 
of two hundred Spanish foot and fifteen horse, which he 
placed under the command of Sandoval. This cavalier 
had been rising daily in the estimation both of the 
general and of the army. Though one of the youngest 
officers in the service, he possessed a cool head and a 
ripe judgment, which fitted him for the most delicate 
and difficult undertakings. There were others, indeed, 
as Alvarado and Olid, for example, whose intrepidity 
made them equally competent to achieve a brilliant 
coup-de-main. But the courage of Alvarado was too 
often carried to temerity or perverted by passion ; while 
Olid, dark and doubtful in his character, was not en- 
tirely to be trusted. Sandoval was a native of Medellin, 
the birthplace of Cortes himself. He was warmly 
attached to his commander, and had on all occasions 
proved himself worthy of his confidence. He was a 
man of few words, showing his worth rather by what 
he did than what he said. His honest, soldier-like 
deportment made him a favorite with the troops, and 
had its influence even on his enemies. He unfortu- 
nately died in the flower of his age. But he dis- 
covered talents and military skill which, had he lived 
to later life, would undoubtedly have placed his name 
on the roll with those of the greatest captains of his 

Sandoval's route was to lead him by Zoltepec, a 
small city where the massacre of the forty-five Span- 
iards, already noticed, had been perpetrated. The 
cavalier received orders to find out the guilty parties, 


if possible, and to punish them for their share in the 

When the Spaniards arrived at the spot, they found 
that the inhabitants, who had previous notice of their 
approach, had all fled. In the deserted temples they 
discovered abundant traces of the fate of their coun- 
trymen ; for, besides their arms and clothing, and the 
hides of their horses, the heads of several soldiers, 
prepared in such a way that they could be well pre- 
served, were found suspended as trophies of the vic- 
tory. In a neighboring building, traced with charcoal 
on the walls, they found the following inscription in 
Castilian : "In this place the unfortunate Juan Juste, 
with many others of his company, was imprisoned. ' ' 1? 
This hidalgo was one of the followers of Narvaez, and 
had come with him into the country in quest of gold, 
but had found, instead, an obscure and inglorious 
death. The eyes of the soldiers were suffused with 
tears as they gazed on the gloomy record, and their 
bosoms swelled with indignation as they thought of 
the horrible fate of the captives. Fortunately, the in- 
habitants were not then before them. Some few, who 
subsequently fell into their hands, were branded as 
slaves. But the greater part of the population, who 
threw themselves, in the most abject manner, on the 
mercy of the Conquerors, imputing the blame of the 
affair to the Aztecs, the Spanish commander spared, 
from pity, or contempt. 18 

J 7 " Aqui estuvo preso el sin ventura de Jua Iuste co otros muchos 
que traia en mi compania." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 

18 Ibid., ubi supra. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 
19. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 206 


He now resumed his march on Tlascala ; but scarcely 
had he crossed the borders of the republic, when he 
descried the flaunting banners of the convoy which 
transported the brigantines, as it was threading its way 
through the defiles of the mountains. Great was his 
satisfaction at the spectacle, for he had feared a deten- 
tion of some days at Tlascala before the preparations 
for the march could be completed. 

There were thirteen vessels in all, of different sizes. 
They had been constructed under the direction of the 
experienced ship-builder, Martin Lopez, aided by three 
or four Spanish carpenters and the friendly natives, 
some of whom showed no mean degree of imitative 
skill. The brigantines, when completed, had been 
fairly tried on the waters of the Zahuapan. They were 
then taken to pieces, and, as Lopez was impatient of 
delay, the several parts, the timbers, anchors, iron- 
work, sails, and cordage, were placed on the shoulders 
of the tamanes, and, under a numerous military escort, 
were thus far advanced on the way to Tezcuco. 19 
Sandoval dismissed a part of the Indian convoy, as 

Twenty thousand warriors he retained, dividing them 
into two equal bodies for the protection of the tamanes 
in the centre. 20 His own little body of Spaniards he 

»9 " Y despues de hechos por orden de Cortes, y probados en el rio 
que llaman de Tlaxcalla Zahuapan, que se atajo para probarlos los 
bergantines, y los torn&ron i. desbaratar por llevarlos & cuestas sobre 
hombros de los de Tlaxcalla a la ciudad de Tetzcuco, donde se echaron 
en la laguna, y se armaron de artilleria y municion." Camargo, Hist. 
de Tlascala, MS. 

20 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 207. — Bernal Diaz says 
sixteen thousand. (Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra.) Th^re is a won- 


distributed in like manner. The Tlascalans in the van 
marched under the command of a chief who gloried 
in the name of Chichemecatl. For some reason San- 
doval afterwards changed the order of march, and 
placed this division in the rear, — an arrangement which 
gave great umbrage to the doughty warrior that led it, 
who asserted his right to the front, the place which he 
and his ancestors had always occupied, as the post of 
danger. He was somewhat appeased by Sandoval's 
assurance that it was for that very reason he had been 
transferred to the rear, the quarter most likely to be 
assailed by the enemy. But even then he was greatly 
dissatisfied on finding that the Spanish commander was 
to march by his side, grudging, it would seem, that 
any other should share the laurel with himself. 

Slowly and painfully, encumbered with their heavy 
burden, the troops worked their way over steep emi- 
nences and rough mountain - passes, presenting, one 
might suppose, in their long line of march, many a 
vulnerable point to an enemy. But, although small 
parties of warriors were seen hovering at times on their 
flanks and rear, they kept at a respectful distance, not 
caring to encounter so formidable a foe. On the fourth 
day the warlike caravan arrived in safety before Tezcuco. 

Their approach was beheld with joy by Cortes and 
the soldiers, who hailed it as the signal of a speedy 
termination of the war. The general, attended by his 
officers, all dressed in their richest attire, came out to 
welcome the convoy. It extended over a space of two 
leagues ; and so slow was its progress that six hours 

derful agreement between the several Castilian writers as to the num- 
ber of forces, the order of march, and the events that occurred on it. 



elapsed before the closing files had entered the city. 21 
The Tlascalan chiefs displayed all their wonted bravery 
of apparel, and the whole array, composed of the 
flower of their warriors, made a brilliant appearance. 
They marched by the sound of atabal and cornet, and, 
as they traversed the streets of the capital amidst the 
acclamations of the soldiery, they made the city ring 
with the shouts of "Castile and Tlascala, long live 
our sovereign, the emperor !" " 

"It was a marvellous thing," exclaims the Con- 
queror, in his Letters, "that few have seen, or even 
heard of, — this transportation of thirteen vessels of 
war on the shoulders of men for nearly twenty leagues 
across the mountains!" 23 It was, indeed, a stupen- 
dous achievement, and not easily matched in ancient 
or modern story ; one which only a genius like that of 
Cortes could have devised, or a daring spirit like his 
have so successfully executed. Little did he foresee, 
when he ordered the destruction of the fleet which first 

21 " Estendiase tanto la Gente, que dende que los primeros comen- 
z&ron d entrar, hasta que los postreros hobieron acabado, se pasaron 
mas de seis horas; sin quebrar el hilo de la Gente." Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 208. 

22 " Dando vozes y silvos y diziendo : Viua, viua el Emperador, 
nuestro Senor, y Castilla, Castilla, y Tlascala, Tlascala." (Bernal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 140.) For the particulars of Sando- 
val's expedition, see, also, Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, 
cap. 19, — Gomara, Cronica, cap. 124, — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., 
lib. 4, cap. 84, — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 92, — Herrera, 
Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 2. 

*3 " Que era cosa maravillosa de ver, y assi me parece que es de 
oir, llevar trece Fustas diez y ocho leguas por Tierra." (Rel. Terc. 
de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 207.) " En rem Romano populo," ex- 
claims Martyr, " quando illustrius res illorum vigebant, non facilem t" 
De Orbe Novo, dec. 5, cap. 8. 


brought him to the country, and with his usual forecast 
commanded the preservation of the iron-work and 
rigging, — little did he foresee the important uses for 
which they were to be reserved ; so important, that on 
their preservation may be said to have depended the 
successful issue of his great enterprise. 24 

He greeted his Indian allies with the greatest cor- 
diality, testifying his sense of their services by those 
honors and attentions which he knew would be most 
grateful to their ambitious spirits. "We come," ex- 
claimed the hardy warriors, "to fight under your ban- 
ner ; to avenge our common quarrel, or to fall by your 
side;" and, with their usual impatience, they urged 
bim to lead them at once against the enemy. " Wait," 
replied the general, bluntly, " till you are rested, and 
you shall have your hands full." 23 

=4 Two memorable examples of a similar transportation of vessels 
across the land are recorded, the one in ancient, the other in modern 
history ; and both, singularly enough, at the same place, Tarentum. 
in Italy. The first occurred at the siege of that city by Hannibal 
(see Polybius, lib. 8) ; the latter some seventeen centuries later, by 
the Great Captain, Gonsalvo de Cordova. But the distance they were 
transported was inconsiderable. A more analogous example is that 
of Balboa, the bold discoverer of the Pacific. He made arrangements 
to have four brigantines transported a distance of twenty-two leagues 
across the Isthmus of Darien, a stupendous labor, and not entirely 
successful, as only two reached their point of destination. (See Her- 
rera, Hist, general, dec. 2, lib. 2, cap. II.) This took place in 1516, 
in the neighborhood, as it were, of Cortes, and may have suggested to 
his enterprising spirit the first idea of his own more successful, as well 
as more extensive, undertaking. 

2 S " Y ellos me dijeron, que trahian deseo de se ver con los de Culua, 
y que viesse lo que mandaba, que ellos, y aquella Gente venian con 
deseos, y voluntad de se vengar, 6 morir con nosotros ; y yo les di 
las gracias, y les dije, que reposassen, y que presto les daria las manos 
llenas." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 208. 






In the course of three or four days, the Spanish 
general furnished the Tlascalans with the opportunity 
so much coveted, and allowed their boiling spirits to 
effervesce in active operations. He had for some time 
meditated an expedition to reconnoitre the capital and 
its environs, and to chastise, on the way, certain places 
which had sent him insulting messages of defiance and 
which were particularly active in their hostilities. He 
disclosed his design to a few only of his principal 
officers, from his distrust of the Tezcucans, whom he 
suspected to be in correspondence with the enemy. 

Early in the spring, he left Tezcuco, at the head of 
three hundred and fifty Spaniards and the whole strength 
of his allies. He took with him Alvarado and Olid, 
and intrusted the charge of the garrison to Sandoval. 
Cortes had had practical acquaintance with the incom- 
petence of the first of these cavaliers for so delicate a 
post, during his short but disastrous rule in Mexico. 

But all his precautions had not availed to shroud his 
designs from the vigilant foe, whose eye was on all his 
movements ; who seemed even to divine his thoughts 
Vol. III.— b 3 ( 25 ) 


and to be prepared to thwart their execution. He had 
advanced but a few leagues, when he was met by a con- 
siderable body of Mexicans, drawn up to dispute his 
progress. A sharp skirmish took place, in which the 
enemy were driven from the ground, and the way was 
left open to the Christians. They held a circuitous 
route to the north, and their first point of attack was 
the insular town of Xaltocan, situated on the northern 
extremity of the lake of that name, now called San 
Christobal. The town was entirely surrounded by 
water, and communicated with the main land by means 
of causeways, in the same manner as the Mexican 
capital. Cortes, riding at the head of his cavalry, 
advanced along the dike till he was brought to a stand 
by finding a wide opening in it, through which the 
waters poured, so as to be altogether impracticable, not 
only for horse, but for infantry. The lake was covered 
with canoes filled with Aztec warriors, who, anticipating 
the movement of the Spaniards, had come to the aid 
of the city. They now began a furious discharge of 
stones and arrows on the assailants, while they were 
themselves tolerably well protected from the musketry 
of their enemy by the light bulwarks with which, for 
that purpose, they had fortified their canoes. 

The severe volleys of the Mexicans did some injury 
to the Spaniards and their allies, and began to throw 
them into disorder, crowded as they were on the nar- 
row causeway, without the means of advancing, when 
Cortes ordered a retreat. This was followed by re- 
newed tempests of missiles, accompanied by taunts and 
fierce yells of defiance. The battle-cry of the Aztec, 
like the war-whoop of the North American Indian, was 



an appalling note, according to the Conqueror's own 
acknowledgment, in the ears of the Spaniards. 1 At 
this juncture, the general fortunately obtained informa- 
tion from a deserter, one of the Mexican' allies, of a 
ford, by which the army might traverse the shallow 
lake and penetrate into the place. He instantly de- 
spatched the greater part of the infantry on the ser- 
vice, posting himself with the remainder and with the 
horse at the entrance of the passage, to cover the attack 
and prevent any interruption in the rear. 

The soldiers, under the direction of the Indian 
guide, forded the lake without much difficulty, though 
in some places the water came above their girdles. 
During the passage, they were annoyed by the enemy's 
missiles ; but when they had gained the dry level they 
took ample revenge, and speedily put all who resisted 
to the sword. The greater part, together with the 
townsmen, made their escape in the boats. The place 
was now abandoned to pillage. The troops found in 
it many women, who had been left to their fate ; and 
these, together with a considerable quantity of cotton 
stuffs, gold, and articles of food, fell into the hands 
of the victors, who, setting fire to the deserted city, 
returned in triumph to their comrades. 2 

Continuing his circuitous route, Cortes presented 
himself successively before three other places, each of 

1 " De lejos comenzaron i. gritar, como lo suelen hacer en la Guerra, 
que cierto es cosa espantosa oillos." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 

2 Ibid., loc. cit. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 141. — 
Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 20. — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida 
de los Espanoles, pp. 13, 14. — Idem, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 92. — 
Gomara, Cronica, cap. 125. 


which had been deserted by the inhabitants in antici- 
pation of his arrival. 3 The principal of these, Azca- 
pozalco, had once been the capital of an independent 
state. It was now the great slave-market of the Aztecs, 
where their unfortunate captives were brought and 
disposed of at public sale. It was also the quarter 
occupied by the jewellers, and the place whence the 
Spaniards obtained the goldsmiths who melted down 
the rich treasures received from Montezuma. But they 
found there only a small supply of the precious metals, 
or, indeed, of anything else of value, as the people had 
been careful to remove their effects. They spared the 
buildings, however, in consideration of their having 
met with no resistance. 

During the nights, the troops bivouacked in the open 
fields, maintaining the strictest watch, for the country 
was all in arms, and beacons were flaming on every 
hill-top, while dark masses of the enemy were occa- 
sionally descried in the distance. The Spaniards were 
now traversing the most opulent region of Anahuac. 
Cities and villages were scattered over hill and valley, 
with cultivated environs blooming around them, all 
giving token of a dense and industrious population. 
In the centre of this brilliant circumference stood the 

3 These towns rejoiced in the melodious names of Tenajocoan, 
Quauhtitlan, and Azcapozalco. I have constantly endeavored to 
spare the reader, in the text, any unnecessary accumulation of Mexi- 
can names, which, as he is aware by this time, have not even brevity 
to recommend them. [Alaman, with some justice, remarks that these 
names appear unmelodious to an English writer who does not know 
how to pronounce them, for the same reason as English names would 
appear unmelodious to a Mexican. Conquista de Mejico (trad, de 
Vega), torn. ii. p. 115.] 



Indian metropolis, with its gorgeous tiara of pyramids 
and temples, attracting the eye of the soldier from 
every other object, as he wound round the borders of 
the lake. Every inch of ground which the army trod 
was familiar to them, — familiar as the scenes of child- 
hood, though with very different associations, for it 
had been written on their memories in characters of 
blood. On the right rose the Hill of Montezuma, 4 
crowned by the teocalli under the roof of which the 
shattered relics of the army had been gathered on the 
day following the flight from the capital. In front lay 
the city of Tacuba, through whose inhospitable streets 
they had hurried in fear and consternation ; and away 
to the east of it stretched the melancholy causeway. 

It was the general's purpose to march at once on 
Tacuba and establish his quarters in that ancient capi- 
tal for the present. He found a strong force encamped 
under its walls, prepared to dispute his entrance. With- 
out waiting for their advance, he rode at full gallop 
against them with his little body of horse. The arque- 
buses and cross-bows opened a lively volley on their 
extended wings, and the infantry, armed with their 
swords and copper-headed lances and supported by 
the Indian battalions, followed up the attack of the 
horse with an alacrity which soon put the enemy to 
flight. The Spaniards usually opened the combat with 
a charge of cavalry. But, had the science of the 
Aztecs been equal to their courage, they might with 
their long spears have turned the scale of battle, some- 
times at least, in their own favor; for it was with the 

4 [The Hill of Los Remedios. Conquista de Mejico (trad, de Vega). 
torn. ii. p. 116.] 



same formidable weapon that the Swiss mountaineers, 
but a few years before this period of our history, broke 
and completely foiled the famous ordonnance of Charles 
the Bold, the best-appointed cavalry of their day. But 
the barbarians were ignorant of the value of this weapon 
when opposed to cavalry. And, indeed, the appalling 
apparition of the war-horse and his rider still held a 
mysterious power over their imaginations, which con- 
tributed, perhaps, quite as much as the effective force 
of the cavalry itself, to their discomfiture. Cortes led 
his troops without further opposition into the suburbs 
of Tacuba, the ancient Tlacopan, where he established 
himself for the night. 

On the following morning he found the indefatigable 
Aztecs again under arms, and, on the open ground 
before the city, prepared to give him battle. He 
marched out against them, and, after an action hotly 
contested, though of no long duration, again routed 
them. They fled towards the town, but were driven 
through the streets at the point of the lance, and were 
compelled, together with the inhabitants, to evacuate 
the place. The city was then delivered over to pil- 
lage ; and the Indian allies, not content with plunder- 
ing the houses of every thing portable within them, set 
them on fire, and in a short time a quarter of the town 
— the poorer dwellings, probably, built of light, com- 
bustible materials — was in flames. Cortes and his 
troops did all in their power to stop the conflagration, 
but the Tlascalans were a fierce race, not easily guided 
at any time, and when their passions were once kindled 
it was impossible even for the general himself to con- 
trol them. They were a terrible auxiliary, and, from 



their insubordination, as terrible sometimes to friend 
as to foe. s 

Cortes proposed to remain in his present quarters for 
some days, during which time he established his own 
residence in the ancient palace of the lords of Tlacopan. 
It was a long range of low buildings, like most of the 
royal residences in the country, and offered good ac- 
commodations for the Spanish forces. During his halt 
here, there was not a day on which the army was not 
engaged in one or more rencontres with the enemy. 
They terminated almost uniformly in favor of the 
Spaniards, though with more or less injury to them 
and to their allies. One encounter, indeed, had nearly 
been attended with more fatal consequences. 

The Spanish general, in the heat of pursuit, had 
allowed himself to be decoyed upon the great cause- 
way, — the same which had once been so fatal to his 
army. He followed the flying foe until he had gained 
the farther side of the nearest bridge, which had been 
repaired since the disastrous action of the fioche triste. 
When thus far advanced, the Aztecs, with the rapidity 
of lightning, turned on him, and he beheld a large 
reinforcement in their rear, all fresh on the field, pre- 
pared to support their countrymen. At the same time, 

5 They burned this place, according to Cortes, in retaliation of the 
injuries inflicted by the inhabitants on their countrymen in the retreat: 
"Yen amaneciendo los Indios nuestros Amigos comenzaron & saquear, 
y quemar toda la Ciudad, salvo el Aposento donde estabamos, y pusi- 
eron tanta diligencia, que aun de el se quemo un Quarto ; y esto se 
hizo, porque quando salimos la otra vez desbaratados de Temixtitan, 
pasando por esta Ciudad, los Naturales de ella juntamente con los de 
Temixtitan nos hicieron muy cruel Guerra, y nos mataron muchos 
Espanoles." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 210. 

3 2 


swarms of boats, unobserved in the eagerness of the 
chase, seemed to start up as if by magic, covering the 
waters around. The Spaniards were now exposed to a 
perfect hail-storm of missiles, both from the causeway 
and the lake ; but they stood unmoved amidst the 
tempest, when Cortes, too late perceiving his error, 
gave orders for the retreat. Slowly, and with admira- 
ble coolness, his men receded, step by step, offering a 
resolute front to the enemy. 6 The Mexicans came on 
with their usual vociferation, making the shores echo 
to their war-cries, and striking at the Spaniards with 
their long pikes, and with poles, to which the swords 
taken from the Christians had been fastened. A cava- 
lier, named Volante, bearing the standard of Cortes, 
was felled by one of their weapons, and, tumbling into 
the lake, was picked up by the Mexican boats. He 
was a man of a muscular frame, and, as the enemy were 
dragging him off, he succeeded in extricating himself 
from their grasp, and, clenching his colors in his hand, 
with a desperate effort sprang back upon the causeway. 
At length, after some hard fighting, in which many of 
the Spaniards were wounded and many of their allies 
slain, the troops regained the land, where Cortes, with 
a full heart, returned thanks to Heaven for what he 
might well regard as a providential deliverance. 7 It 
was a salutary lesson ; though he should scarcely have 

6 " Luego mando, que todos se retraxessen ; y con el mejor con- 
cierto que pudo, y no bueltas las espaldas, sino los rostros a los con- 
trarios, pie contra pie, como quien haze represas." Bernal Diaz, Hist, 
de la Conquista, cap. 141. 

7 " Desta manera se escapo Cortes aquella vez del poder de Mexico, 
y quando se vio en tierra firme, dio muchas gracias A Dios." Ibid., 
ubi supra. 



needed one, so soon after the affair of Iztapalapan, to 
warn him of the wily tactics of his enemy. 

It had been one of Cortes' principal objects in this 
expedition to obtain an interview, if possible, with the 
Aztec emperor, or with some of the great lords at his 
court, and to try if some means for an accommodation 
could not be found, by which he might avoid the ap- 
peal to arms. An occasion for such a parley presented 
itself when his forces were one day confronted with 
those of the enemy, with a broken bridge interposed 
between them. Cortes, riding in advance of his people, 
intimated by signs his peaceful intent, and that he 
wished to confer with the Aztecs. They respected the 
signal, and, with the aid of his interpreter, he requested 
that if there were any great chief among them he 
would come forward and hold a parley with him. The 
Mexicans replied, in derision, they were all chiefs, and 
bade him speak openly whatever he had to tell them. 
As the general returned no answer, they asked why he 
did not make another visit to the capital, and taunt- 
ingly added, " Perhaps Malinche does not expect to 
find there another Montezuma, as obedient to his com- 
mands as the former." 8 Some of them complimented 
the Tlascalans with the epithet of women, who, they 
said, would never have ventured so near the capital but 
for the protection of the white men. 

The animosity of the two nations was not confined 
to these harmless though bitter jests, but showed itself 
in regular cartels of defiance, which daily passed be- 
tween the principal chieftains. These were followed 

8 " Pensais, que hay agora otro Muteczuma, para que haga todo. lo 
que quisieredes ?" Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 211. 


by combats, in which one or more champions fought 
on a side, to vindicate the honor of their respective 
countries. A fair field of fight was given to the war- 
riors, who conducted these combats a Voutrance with 
the punctilio of a European tourney; displaying a 
valor worthy of the two boldest of the races of Ana- 
huac, and a skill in the management of their weapons, 
which drew forth the admiration of the Spaniards. 9 

Cortes had now been six days in Tacuba. There 
was nothing further to detain him, as he had accom- 
plished the chief objects of his expedition. He had 
humbled several of the places which had been most 
active in their hostility; and he had revived the credit 
of the Castilian arms, which had been much tarnished 
by their former reverses in this quarter of the Valley. 
He had also made himself acquainted with the condi- 
tion of the capital, which he found in a better posture 
of defence than he had imagined. All the ravages of 
the preceding year seemed to be repaired, and there 
was no evidence, even to his experienced eye, that 
the wasting hand of war had so lately swept over the 
land. The Aztec troops, which swarmed through the 
Valley, seemed to be well appointed, and showed an 
invincible spirit, as if prepared to resist to the last. It 
is true, they had been beaten in every encounter. In 
the open field they were no match for the Spaniards, 
whose cavalry they could never comprehend, and whose 
fire-arms easily penetrated the cotton mail which formed 
the stoutest defence of the Indian warrior. But, en- 
tangled in the long streets and narrow lanes of the 

9 " Y peleaban los unos conlosotrosmuyhermosamente." Rel.Terc. 
de Cortes, ubi supra. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 20. 



metropolis, where every house was a citadel, the Span- 
iards, as experience had shown, would lose much of 
their superiority. With the Mexican emperor, con- 
fident in the strength of his preparations, the general 
saw there was no probability of effecting an accommo- 
dation. He saw, too, the necessity of the most careful 
preparations on his own part — indeed, that he must 
strain his resources to the utmost — before he could 
safely venture to rouse the lion in his lair. 

The Spaniards returned by the same route by which 
they had come. Their retreat was interpreted into a 
flight by the natives, who hung on the rear of the army, 
uttering vainglorious vaunts, and saluting the troops 
with showers of arrows, which did some mischief. 
Cortes resorted to one of their own stratagems to rid 
himself of this annoyance. He divided his cavalry 
into two or three small parties, and concealed them 
among some thick shrubbery which fringed both sides 
of the road. The rest of the army continued its march. 
The Mexicans followed, unsuspicious of the ambuscade, 
when the horse, suddenly darting from their place of 
concealment, threw the enemy's flanks into confusion, 
and the retreating columns of infantry, facing about 
suddenly, commenced a brisk attack, which completed 
their consternation. It was a broad and level plain, 
over which the panic-struck Mexicans made the best 
of their way, without attempting resistance ; while the 
cavalry, riding them down and piercing the fugitives 
with their lances, followed up the chase for several 
miles, in what Cortes calls a truly beautiful style. 10 

io " y comenzamos £ lanzear en ellos, y duro el alcanze cerca de 
dos leguas todas lianas, como la palma, que fue muy hermosa cosa." 
Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 212. 



The army experienced no further annoyance from the 

On their arrival at Tezcuco they were greeted with 
joy by their comrades, who had received no tidings 
of them during the fortnight which had elapsed since 
their departure. The Tlascalans, immediately on their 
return, requested the general's permission to carry 
back to their own country the valuable booty which 
they had gathered in their foray, — a request which, 
however unpalatable, he could not refuse." 

The troops had not been in quarters more than two 
or three days, when an embassy arrived from Chalco, 
again soliciting the protection of the Spaniards against 
the Mexicans, who menaced them from several points 
in their neighborhood. But the soldiers were so much 
exhausted by unintermitted vigils, forced marches, 
battles, and wounds, that Cortes wished to give them 
a breathing-time to recruit, before engaging in a new 
expedition. He answered the application of the Chal- 
cans by sending his missives to the allied cities, calling 
on them to march to the assistance of their confederate. 
It is not to be supposed that they could comprehend 
the import of his despatches. But the paper, with its 
mysterious characters, served for a warrant to the 
officer who bore it, as the interpreter of the general's 

But, although these were implicitly obeyed, the 

11 For the particulars of this expedition of Cortes, see, besides his 
own Commentaries so often quoted, Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., 
lib. 33, cap. 20, — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 85, — 
Gomara, Cronica, cap. 125, — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espaiioles, 
pp. 13, 14, — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 141. 



Chalcans felt the danger so pressing that they soon 
repeated their petition for the Spaniards to come in 
person to their relief. Cortes no longer hesitated ; for 
he was well aware of the importance of Chalco, not 
merely on its own account, but from its position, which 
commanded one of the great avenues to Tlascala, and 
to Vera Cruz, the intercourse with which should run no 
risk of interruption. Without further loss of time, 
therefore, he detached a body of three hundred Spanish 
foot and twenty horse, under the command of Sando- 
val, for the protection of the city. 

That active officer soon presented himself before 
Chalco, and, strengthened by the reinforcement of its 
own troops and those of the confederate towns, directed 
his first operations against Huaxtepec, a place of some 
importance, lying five leagues or more to the south 
among the mountains. It was held by a strong Mexi- 
can force, watching their opportunity to make a descent 
upon Chalco. The Spaniards found the enemy drawn 
up at a distance from the town, prepared to receive 
them. The ground was broken and tangled with 
bushes, unfavorable to the cavalry, which, in con- 
sequence, soon fell into disorder ; and Sandoval, find- 
ing himself embarrassed by their movements, ordered 
them, after sustaining some loss, from the field. In 
their place he brought up his musketeers and crossbow- 
men, who poured a rapid fire into the thick columns 
of the Indians. The rest of the infantry, with sword 
and pike, charged the flanks of the enemy, who, be- 
wildered by the shock, after sustaining considerable 
slaughter, fell back in an irregular manner, leaving the 
field of battle to the Spaniards. 
Vol. III. 4 


The victors proposed to bivouac there for the night. 
But, while engaged in preparations for their evening 
meal, they were aroused by the cry of " To arms, to 
arms ! the enemy is upon us ! " In an instant the 
trooper was in his saddle, the soldier grasped his mus- 
ket or his good Toledo, and the action was renewed 
with greater fury than before. The Mexicans had 
received a reinforcement from the city. But their 
second attempt was not more fortunate than their first ; 
and the victorious Spaniards, driving their antagonists 
before them, entered and took possession of the town 
itself, which had already been evacuated by the in- 

Sandoval took up his quarters in the dwelling of the 
lord of the place, surrounded by gardens which rivalled 
those of Iztapalapan in magnificence and surpassed 
them in extent. They are said to have been two 
leagues in circumference, having pleasure-houses, and 
numerous tanks stocked with various kinds of fish ; and 
they were embellished with trees, shrubs, and plants, 
native and exotic, some selected for their beauty and 
fragrance, others for their medicinal properties. They 
were scientifically arranged ; and the whole establish- 
ment displayed a degree of horticultural taste and 
knowledge of which it would not have been easy to 
find a counterpart, at that day, in the more civilized 
communities of Europe. 13 Such is the testimony not 

12 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 214, 215. — Gomara, 
Cronica, cap. 146. — Beraal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 142. — 
Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 21. 

»3 " Which gardens," says Cortes, who afterwards passed a day 
there, " are the largest, freshest, and most beautiful that were ever 
seen. They have a circuit of two leagues, and through the middle 



only of the rude Conquerors, but of men of science, 
who visited these beautiful repositories in the day of 
their glory. 14 

After halting two days to refresh his forces in this 
agreeable spot, Sandoval marched on Jacapichtla, about 
twelve miles to the eastward. It was a town, or rather 
fortress, perched on a rocky eminence almost inaccessi- 
ble from its steepness. It was garrisoned by a Mexican 
force, who rolled down on the assailants, as they at- 
tempted to scale the heights, huge fragments of rock, 
which, thundering over the sides of the precipice, 
carried ruin and desolation in their path. The Indian 
confederates fell back in dismay from the attempt. 
But Sandoval, indignant that any achievement should 
be too difficult for a Spaniard, commanded his cava- 
liers to dismount, and, declaring that he "would carry 
the place or die in the attempt," led on his men 
with the cheering cfy of " St. Jago." IS With renewed 
courage, they now followed their gallant leader up the 

flows a very pleasant stream of water. At distances of two bow-shots 
are buildings surrounded by grounds planted with fruit-trees of various 
kinds, with many shrubs and odorous flowers. Truly the whole place 
is wonderful for its pleasantness and its extent." (Rel. Terc, ap. 
Lorenzana, pp. 221, 222.) Bernal Diaz is not less emphatic in his 
admiration. Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 142. 

*4 The distinguished naturalist Hernandez has frequent occasion to 
notice this garden, which furnished him with many specimens for his 
great work. It had the good fortune to be preserved after the Con- 
quest, when particular attention was given to its medicinal plants, for 
the use of a great hospital established in the neighborhood. See 
Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, torn. ii. p. 153. 

*5 " £ como esto vio el dicho Alguacil Mayor, y los Espanoles, 
determinaron de morir, 6 subilles por fuerza i. lo alto del Pueblo, y 
con el apellido de Senor Santiago, comenzaron i. subir." Rel. Terc, 
ap. Lorenzana, p. 214. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 21. 


ascent, under a storm of lighter missiles, mingled with 
huge masses of stone, which, breaking into splinters, 
overturned the assailants and made fearful havoc in 
their ranks. Sandoval, who had been wounded on the 
preceding day, received a severe contusion on the 
head, while more than one of his brave comrades were 
struck down by his side. Still they clambered up, 
sustaining themselves by the bushes or projecting pieces 
of rock, and seemed to force themselves onward as 
much by the energy of their wills as by the strength 
of their bodies. 

After incredible toil, they stood on the summit, face 
to face with the astonished garrison. For a moment 
they paused to recover breath, then sprang furiously 
on their foes. The struggle was short, but desperate. 
Most of the Aztecs were put to the sword. Some were 
thrown headlong over the battlements, and others, let- 
ting themselves down the precipice, were killed on the 
borders of a little stream that wound round its base, 
the waters of which were so polluted with blood that 
the victors were unable to slake their thirst with them 
for a full hour ! l6 

Sandoval, having now accomplished the object of his 
expedition, by reducing the strongholds which had so 
long held the Chalcans in awe, returned in triumph 
to Tezcuco. Meanwhile, the Aztec emperor, whose 
vigilant eye had been attentive to all that had passed, 
thought that the absence of so many of its warriors 

16 So says the Conquistador. (Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 215.) 
Diaz, who will allow no one to hyperbolize but himself, says, " For 
as long as one might take to say an Ave Maria !" (Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 142.) Neither was present. 



afforded a favorable opportunity for recovering Chalco. 
He sent a fleet of boats, for this purpose, across the 
lake, with a numerous force under the command of 
some of his most valiant chiefs. 17 Fortunately, the 
absent Chalcans reached their city before the arrival 
of the enemy ; but, though supported by their Indian 
allies, they were so much alarmed by the magnitude of 
the hostile array that they sent again to the Spaniards, 
invoking their aid. 

The messengers arrived at the same time with San- 
doval and his army. Cortes was much puzzled by the 
contradictory accounts. He suspected some negligence 
in his lieutenant, and, displeased with his precipitate 
return in this unsettled state of the affair, ordered him 
back at once, with such of his forces as were in fighting 
condition. Sandoval felt deeply injured by this pro- 
ceeding, but he made no attempt at exculpation, and, 
obeying his commander in silence, put himself at the 
head of his troops and made a rapid countermarch on 
the Indian city. 18 

Before he reached it, a battle had been fought be- 
tween the Mexicans and the confederates, in which the 
latter, who had acquired unwonted confidence from 
their recent successes, were victorious. A number of 
Aztec nobles fell into their hands in the engagement, 

r 7 The gallant Captain Diaz, who affects a sobriety in his own esti- 
mates, which often leads him to disparage those of the chaplain 
Gomara, says that the force consisted of 20,000 warriors in 2000 
canoes. Hist, de la Conquista, loc. cit. 

> 8 " El Cortes no le quiso escuchar i. Sandoual de enojo, creyendo 
que por su culpa, 6 descuido, recibia. mala obra nuestros amigos los 
de Chalco ; y luego sin mas dilacion, ni le oyr, le mando bolver." 
Ibid., ubi supra. 


whom they delivered to Sandoval to be carried off as 
prisoners to Tezcuco. On his arrival there, the cava- 
lier, wounded by the unworthy treatment he had re- 
ceived, retired to his own quarters without presenting 
himself before his chief. 

During his absence, the inquiries of Cortes had sat- 
isfied him of his own precipitate conduct, and of the 
great injustice he had done his lieutenant. There was 
no man in the army on whose services he set so high a 
value, as the responsible situations in which he had 
placed him plainly showed ; and there was none for 
whom he seems to have entertained a greater personal 
regard. On Sandoval's return, therefore, Cortes in- 
stantly sent to request his attendance ; when, with a 
soldier's frankness, he made such an explanation as 
soothed the irritated spirit of the cavalier, — a matter 
of no great difficulty, as the latter had too generous a 
nature, and too earnest a devotion to his commander 
and the cause in which they were embarked, to harbor 
a petty feeling of resentment in his bosom. 19 

During the occurrence of these events the work was 
going forward actively on the canal, and the brigan- 
tines were within a fortnight of their completion. The 
greatest vigilance was required, in the mean time, to 
prevent their destruction by the enemy, who had already 
made three ineffectual attempts to burn them on the 
stocks. The precautions which Cortes thought it 
necessary to take against the Tezcucans themselves 
added not a little to his embarrassment. 

*9 Besides the authorities already quoted for Sandoval's expedition, 
see Gomara, Cronica, cap. 126, — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 
92, — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 86. 



At this time he received embassies from different 
Indian states, some of them on the remote shores of 
the Mexican Gulf, tendering their allegiance and so- 
liciting his protection. For this he was partly indebted 
to the good offices of Ixtlilxochitl, who, in consequence 
of his brother's death, was now advanced to the sov- 
ereignty of Tezcuco. This important position greatly 
increased his consideration and authority through the 
country, of which he freely availed himself to bring 
the natives under the dominion of the Spaniards. 20 

The general received also at this time the welcome 
intelligence of the arrival of three vessels at Villa Rica, 
with two hundred men on board, well provided with 
arms and ammunition, and with seventy or eighty 
horses. It was a most seasonable reinforcement. 
From what quarter it came is uncertain ; most prob- 
ably from Hispaniola. Cortes, it may be remembered, 
had sent for supplies to that place ; and the authori- 
ties of the island, who had general jurisdiction over 
the affairs of the colonies, had shown themselves, on 
more than one occasion, well inclined towards him, 
probably considering him, under all circumstances, as 
better fitted than any other man to achieve the conquest 
of the country. 21 

20 " Ixtlilxochitl procuraba siempre traer a la devocion y amistad de 
los Cristianos no tan solamente & los de el Reyno de Tezcuco sino aun 
los de las Provincias remotas, rogdndoles que todos se procurasen dar 
de paz al Capitan Cortes, y que aunque de las guerras pasadas algunos 
tuviesen culpa, era tan afable y deseaba tanto la paz que luego al punto 
los reciviria en su amistad." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 92. 

al Cortes speaks of these vessels as coming at the same time, but 
does not intimate from what quarter. (Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 
216.) Bernal Diaz, who notices only one, says it came from Castile. 


The new recruits soon found their way to Tezcuco ; 
as the communications with the port were now open 
and unobstructed. Among them were several cavaliers 
of consideration, one of whom, Julian de Alderete, the 
royal treasurer, came over to superintend the interests 
of the crown. 

There was also in the number a Dominican friar, 
who brought a quantity of pontifical bulls, offering 
indulgences to those engaged in war against the infidel. 
The soldiers were not slow to fortify themselves with 
the good graces of the Church ; and the worthy father, 
after driving a prosperous traffic with his spiritual wares, 
had the satisfaction to return home, at the end of a few 
months, well freighted, in exchange, with the more 
substantial treasures of the Indies. 22 

(Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 143.) But the old soldier wrote long 
after the events he commemorates, and may have confused the true 
order of things. It seems hardly probable that so important a rein- 
forcement should have arrived from Castile, considering that Cortes 
had yet received none of the royal patronage, or even sanction, which 
would stimulate adventurers in the mother country to enlist under his 

22 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 143. — Oviedo, Hist, de 
las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 21. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, 
cap. 6. 





Notwithstanding the relief which had been af- 
forded to the people of Chalco, it was so ineffectual 
that envoys from that city again arrived at Tezcuco, 
bearing a hieroglyphical chart, on which were depicted 
several strong places in their neighborhood, garrisoned 
by the Aztecs, from which they expected annoyance. 
Cortes determined, this time, to take the affair into his 
own hands, and to scour the country so effectually as 
to place Chalco, if possible, in a state of security. He 
did not confine himself to this object, but proposed, 
before his return, to pass quite round the great lakes, 
and reconnoitre the country to the south of them, in 
the same manner as he had before done to the west. 
In the course of his march he would direct his arms 
against some of the strong places from which the Mex- 
icans might expect support in the siege. Two or three 
weeks must elapse before the completion of the brig- 
antines ; and, if no other good resulted from the expe- 
dition, it would give active occupation to his troops, 
whose turbulent spirits might fester into discontent in 
the monotonous existence of a camp. 



He selected for the expedition thirty horse and three 
hundred Spanish infantry, with a considerable body 
of Tlascalan and Tezcucan warriors. The remaining 
garrison he left in charge of the trusty Sandoval, who, 
with the friendly lord of the capital, would watch over 
the construction of the brigantines and protect them 
from the assaults of the Aztecs. 

On the fifth of April he began his march, and on the 
following day arrived at Chalco, where he was met by 
a number of the confederate chiefs. With the aid of 
his faithful interpreters, Dona Marina and Aguilar, he 
explained to them the objects of his present expedi- 
tion, stated his purpose soon to enforce the blockade 
of Mexico, and required their co-operation with the 
whole strength of their levies. To this they readily 
assented ; and he soon received a sufficient proof of 
their friendly disposition in the forces which joined 
him on the march, amounting, according to one of 
the army, to more than had ever before followed his 
banner. 1 

Taking a southerly direction, the troops, after leav- 
ing Chalco, struck into the recesses of the wild sierra, 
which, with its bristling peaks, serves as a formidable 
palisade to fence round the beautiful Valley; while 
within its rugged arms it shuts up many a green and 
fruitful pasture of its own. As the Spaniards passed 
through its deep gorges, they occasionally wound round 
the base of some huge cliff or rocky eminence, on 

1 " Vinieron tantos, que en todas las entradas que yo auia ido, des- 
pues que en la Nueua Espana entre, nunca vi tanta gente de guerra 
de nuestros amigos, como aora fueron en nuestra compania." Bernal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 144. 


which the inhabitants had built their towns, in the same 
manner as was done by the people of Europe in the 
feudal ages ; a position which, however favorable to 
the picturesque, intimates a sense of insecurity as the 
cause of it, which may reconcile us to the absence of 
this striking appendage of the landscape in our own 
more fortunate country. 

The occupants of these airy pinnacles took advantage 
of their situation to shower down stones and arrows 
on the troops as they denied through the narrow passes 
of the sierra. Though greatly annoyed by their inces- 
sant hostilities, Cortes held on his way, till, winding 
round the base of a castellated cliff occupied by a 
strong garrison of Indians, he was so severely pressed 
that he felt to pass on without chastising the aggressors 
would imply a want of strength which must disparage 
him in the eyes of his allies. Halting in the valley, 
therefore, he detached a small body of light troops to 
scale the heights, while he remained with the main 
body of the army below, to guard against surprise from 
the enemy. 

The lower region of the rocky eminence was so steep 
that the soldiers found it no easy matter to ascend, 
scrambling, as well as they could, with hand and knee. 
But, as they came into the more exposed view of the 
garrison, the latter rolled down huge masses of rock, 
which, bounding along the declivity and breaking into 
fragments, crushed the foremost assailants and mangled 
their limbs in a frightful manner. Still they strove to 
work their way upward, now taking advantage of some 
gulley worn by the winter torrent, now sheltering them- 
selves behind a projecting cliff, or some straggling tree 


anchored among the crevices of the mountain. It was 
all in vain. For no sooner did they emerge again 
into open view than the rocky avalanche thundered on 
their heads with a fury against which steel helm and 
cuirass were as little defence as gossamer. All the 
party were more or less wounded. Eight of the num- 
ber were killed on the spot, — a loss the little band 
could ill afford, — and the gallant ensign, Corral, who 
led the advance, saw the banner in his hand torn 
into shreds. 2 Cortes, at length, convinced of the im- 
practicability of the attempt, at least without a more 
severe loss than he was disposed to incur, commanded 
a retreat. It was high time ; for a large body of the 
enemy were on full march across the valley to attack 

He did not wait for their approach, but, gathering his 
broken files together, headed his cavalry and spurred 
boldly against them. On the level plain the Spaniards 
were on their own ground. The Indians, unable to 
sustain the furious onset, broke, and fell back before it. 
The flight soon became a rout, and the fiery cavaliers, 
dashing over them at full gallop, or running them 
through with their lances, took some revenge for their 
late discomfiture. The pursuit continued for some 
miles, till the nimble foe made their escape into the 
rugged fastnesses of the sierra, where the Spaniards did 
not care to follow. The weather was sultry, and, as 
the country was nearly destitute of water, the men and 
horses suffered extremely. Before evening they reached 
a spot overshadowed by a grove of wild mulberry-trees, 

B " Todos descalabrados, y corriendo sangre, y las vanderas rotas, 
y ocho muertos." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. 



in which some scanty springs afforded a miserable sup- 
ply to the army. 

Near the place rose another rocky summit of the 
sierra, garrisoned by a stronger force than the one 
which they had encountered in the former part of the 
day ; and at no great distance stood a second fortress 
at a still greater height, though considerably smaller 
than its neighbor. This was also tenanted by a body 
of warriors, who, as well as those of the adjoining cliff, 
soon made active demonstration of their hostility by 
pouring down missiles on the troops below. Cortes, 
anxious to retrieve the disgrace of the morning, ordered 
an assault on the larger and, as it seemed, more practi- 
cable eminence. But, though two attempts were made 
with great resolution, they were repulsed with loss to 
the assailants. The rocky sides of the hill had been 
artificially cut and smoothed, so as greatly to increase 
the natural difficulties of the ascent. The shades of 
evening now closed around ; and Cortes drew off his 
men to the mulberry-grove, where he took up his 
bivouac for the night, deeply chagrined at having been 
twice foiled by the enemy on the same day. 

During the night, the Indian force which occupied 
the adjoining height passed over to their brethren, to 
aid them in the encounter which they foresaw would 
be renewed on the following morning. No sooner did 
the Spanish general, at the break of day, become aware 
of this manoeuvre, than, with his usual quickness, 
he took advantage of it. He detached a body of 
musketeers and crossbowmen to occupy the deserted 
eminence, purposing, as soon as this was done, to lead 
the assault in person against the other. It was not 
Vol. III.— c 5 


long before the Castilian banner was seen streaming 
from the rocky pinnacle, when the general instantly 
led up his men to the attack. And, while the garrison 
were meeting them resolutely on that quarter, the 
detachment on the neighboring heights poured into 
the place a well-directed fire, which so much distressed 
the enemy that in a very short time they signified their 
willingness to capitulate. 3 

On entering the place, the Spaniards found that a 
plain of some extent ran along the crest of the sierra, 
and that it was tenanted not only by men, but by women 
and their families, with their effects. No violence was 
offered by the victors to the property or persons of the 
vanquished ; and the knowledge of this lenity induced 
the Indian garrison, who had made so stout a resistance 
on the morning of the preceding day, to tender their 
submission. 4 

After a halt of two days in this sequestered region, 
the army resumed its march in a southwesterly direction 
on Huaxtepec, the same city which had surrendered to 

3 For the assault on the rocks, — the topography of which it is im- 
possible to verify from the narratives of the Conquerors, — see Bernal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 144, — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. 
Lorenzana, pp. 218-221, — Gomara, Cronica, cap. 127, — Ixtlilxochitl, 
Venida de los Espanoles, pp. 16, 17, — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., 
lib. 33, cap. 21. 

4 Cortes, according to Bernal Diaz, ordered the troops who took 
possession of the second fortress "not to meddle with a grain of maize 
belonging to the besieged." Diaz, giving this a very liberal interpre- 
tation, proceeded forthwith to load his Indian tamanes with everything 
but maize, as fair booty. He was interrupted in his labors, however, 
by the captain of the detachment, who gave a more narrow construc- 
tion to his general's orders, much to the dissatisfaction of the latter, if 
we may trust the doughty chronicler. Ibid., ubi supra. 


Sandoval. Here they were kindly received by the 
cacique, and entertained in his magnificent gardens, 
which Cortes and his officers, who had not before seen 
them, compared with the best in Castile. 3 Still thread- 
ing the wild mountain mazes, the army passed through 
Jauhtepec and several other places, which were aban- 
doned at their approach. As the inhabitants, however, 
hung in armed bodies on their flanks and rear, doing 
them occasionally some mischief, the Spaniards took 
their revenge by burning the deserted towns. 

Thus holding on their fiery track, they descended 
the bold slope of the Cordilleras, which on the south 
are far more precipitous than on the Atlantic side. 
Indeed, a single day's journey is sufficient to place the 
traveller on a level several thousand feet lower than 
that occupied by him in the morning ; thus conveying 
him, in a few hours, through the climates of many 
degrees of latitude. The route of the army led them 
across many an acre covered with lava and blackened 
scoriae, attesting the volcanic character of the region ; 
though this was frequently relieved by patches of 
verdure, and even tracts of prodigal fertility, as if 
Nature were desirous to compensate by these extraor- 
dinary efforts for the curse of barrenness which else- 
where had fallen on the land. On the ninth day of 
their march the troops arrived before the strong city 
of Quauhnahuac, or Cuernavaca, as since called by the 

s " Adonde estaua la huerta que he dicho, que es la mejor que auia 
visto en toda mi vida, y ansi lo torno & dezir, que Cortes, y el Teso- 
rero Alderete, desque entonces la vieron, y passearon algo de ella, sc 
admiraron, y dixeron, que mejor cosa de huerta no auian visto en 
Castilla." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 144. 


Spaniards. 6 It was the ancient capital of the Tlahuicas, 
and the most considerable place for wealth and popu- 
lation in this part of the country. It was tributary to 
the Aztecs, and a garrison of this nation was quartered 
within its walls. The town was singularly situated, on 
a projecting piece of land, encompassed by barrancas, 
or formidable ravines, except on one side, which 
opened on a rich and well-cultivated country. For, 
though the place stood at an elevation of between five 
and six thousand feet above the level of the sea, it had 
a southern exposure so sheltered by the mountain 
barrier on the north that its climate was as soft and 
genial as that of a much lower region. 

The Spaniards, on arriving before this city, the 
limit of their southerly progress, found themselves 
separated from it by one of the vast barrancas before 
noticed, which resembled one of those frightful rents 
not unfrequent in the Mexican Andes, the result, no 
doubt, of some terrible convulsion in earlier ages. The 
rocky sides of the ravine sank perpendicularly down, 
so bare as scarcely to exhibit even a vestige of the 
cactus, or of the other hardy plants with which Nature 
in these fruitful regions so gracefully covers up her 
deformities. The bottom of the chasm, however, 
showed a striking contrast to this, being literally 
choked up with a rich and spontaneous vegetation; for 
the huge walls of rock which shut in these barrancas, 

6 This barbarous Indian name is tortured into all possible variations 
by the old chroniclers. The town soon received from the Spaniards 
the name which it now bears, of Cuernavaca, and by which it is in- 
dicated on modern maps. " Prevalse poi quello di Cuernabaca, col 
quale e presentemente conosciuta dagli Spagnuoli." Clavigero, Stor. 
del Messico, torn. iii. p. 185, nota. 



while they screen them from the cold winds of the 
Cordilleras, reflect the rays of a vertical sun, so as to 
produce an almost suffocating heat in the enclosure, 
stimulating the soil to the rank fertility of the tierra 
caliente. Under the action of this forcing apparatus, 
— so to speak, — the inhabitants of the towns on their 
margin above may with ease obtain the vegetable pro- 
ducts which are to be found on the sultry level of the 

At the bottom of the ravine was seen a little stream, 
which, oozing from the stony bowels of the sierra, 
tumbled along its narroAV channel and contributed by 
its perpetual moisture to the exuberant fertility of the 
valley. This rivulet, which at certain seasons of the 
year was swollen to a torrent, was traversed at some 
distance below the town, where the sloping sides of 
the barranca afforded a more practicable passage, by 
two rude bridges, both of which had been broken, in 
anticipation of the coming of the Spaniards. The 
latter had now arrived on the brink of the chasm which 
intervened between them and the city. It was, as has 
been remarked, of no great width, and the army drawn 
up on its borders was directly exposed to the archery 
of the garrison, on whom its own fire made little im- 
pression, protected as they were by their defences. 

The general, annoyed by his position, sent a detach- 
ment to seek a passage lower down, by which the troops 
might be landed on the other side. But, although the 
banks of the ravine became less formidable as they 

* [" The whole of this description," remarks Alaman, " agrees per- 
fectly with the present aspect of Cuernavaca and the barrancas sur- 
rounding it." — Ed.] 



descended, they found no means of crossing the river, till 
apath unexpectedly presented itself, on which, probably, 
no one before had ever been daring enough to venture. 
From the cliffs on the opposite sides of the barranca, 
two huge trees shot up to an enormous height, and, in- 
clining towards each other, interlaced their boughs so 
as to form a sort of natural bridge. Across this avenue, 
in mid-air, a Tlascalan conceived it would not be dif- 
ficult to pass to the opposite bank. The bold moun- 
taineer succeeded in the attempt, and was soon followed 
by several others of his countrymen, trained to feats 
of agility and strength among their native hills. The 
Spaniards imitated their example. It was a perilous 
effort for an armed man to make his way over this aerial 
causeway, swayed to and fro by the wind, where the 
brain might become giddy, and where a single false 
movement of hand or foot would plunge him in the 
abyss below. Three of the soldiers lost their hold and 
fell. The rest, consisting of some twenty or thirty 
Spaniards and a considerable number of Tlascalans, 
alighted in safety on the other bank. 7 There hastily 
forming, they marched with all speed on the city. 
The enemy, engaged in their contest with the Cas- 
tilians on the opposite brink of the ravine, were taken 
by surprise, — which, indeed, could scarcely have been 
exceeded if they had seen their foe drop from the 
clouds on the field of battle. 

7 The stout-hearted Diaz was one of those who performed this 
dangerous feat, though his head swam so, as he tells us, that he 
scarcely knew how he got on. " Porque de mi digo, que verdadera- 
mete quando passaua, q lo vi mui peligroso, e malo de passar, y se 
me desvanecia la cabeca, y todavia passe yo, y otros veinte, 6 treinta 
soldados, y muchos Tlascaltecas." Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. 



They made a brave resistance, however, when for- 
tunately the Spaniards succeeded in repairing one of 
the dilapidated bridges in such a manner as to enable 
both cavalry and foot to cross the river, though with 
much delay. The horse, under Olid and Andres de 
Tapia, instantly rode up to the succor of their coun- 
trymen. They were soon followed by Cortes at the 
head of the remaining battalions, and the enemy, 
driven from one point to another, were compelled to 
evacuate the city and to take refuge among the moun- 
tains. The buildings in one quarter of the town were 
speedily wrapt in flames. The place was abandoned 
to pillage, and, as it was one of the most opulent marts 
in the country, it amply compensated the victors for 
the toil and danger they had encountered. The trem- 
bling caciques, returning soon after to the city, ap- 
peared before Cortes, and^ deprecating his resentment 
by charging the blame, as usual, on the Mexicans, threw 
themselves on his mercy. Satisfied with their submis- 
sion, he allowed no further violence to the inhabitants. 8 

Having thus accomplished the great object of his ex- 
pedition across the mountains, the Spanish commandei 
turned his face northwards, to recross the formidable 
barrier which divided him from the Valley. The ascent, 
steep and laborious, was rendered still more difficult by 
fragments of rock and loose stones, which encumbered 
the passes. The mountain sides and summits were 

8 For the preceding account of the capture of Cuernavaca, see 
Bernal Diaz, ubi supra, — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 
21, — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 93, — Herrera, Hist, general, 
dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 8, — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 87, — 
Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 223, 224. 


shaggy with thick forests of pine and stunted oak, 
which threw a melancholy gloom over the region, still 
further heightened at the present day by its being a 
favorite haunt of banditti. 

The weather was sultry, and, as the stony soil was 
nearly destitute of water, the troops suffered severely 
from thirst. Several of them, indeed, fainted on the 
road, and a few of the Indian allies perished from 
exhaustion. 9 The line of march must have taken the 
army across the eastern shoulder of the mountain, called 
the Cruz del Marques, or Cross of the Marquess, from 
a huge stone cross erected there to indicate the bound- 
ary of the territories granted by the Crown to Cortes, 
as Marquis of the Valley. Much, indeed, of the 
route lately traversed by the troops lay across the 
princely domain subsequently assigned to the Con- 
queror. 10 

The Spaniards were greeted from these heights with 
a different view from any which they had before had of 
the Mexican Valley, made more attractive in their eyes, 
doubtless, by contrast with the savage scenery in which 
they had lately been involved. It was its most pleasant 
and populous quarter; for nowhere did its cities and 

9 " Una Tierra de Pinales, despoblada, y sin ninguna agua, la qual 
y un Puerto pasamos con grandissimo trabajo, y sin beber : tanto, 
que muchos de los Indios que iban con nosotros perecieron de sed." 
Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 224. 

10 The city of Cuernavaca was comprehended in the patrimony of 
the dukes of Monteleone, descendants and heirs of the Conqtiistador. 
— The Spaniards, in their line of march towards the north, did not 
deviate far, probably, from the great road which now leads from Mexico 
to Acapulco, still exhibiting in this upper portion of it the same char- 
acteristic features as at the period of the Conquest. 



villages cluster together in such numbers as round the 
lake of sweet water. From whatever quarter seen, 
however, the enchanting region presented the same 
aspect of natural beauty and cultivation, with its 
flourishing villas, and its fair lake in the centre, whose 
dark and polished surface glistened like a mirror, deep 
set in the huge frame-work of porphyry in which 
nature had enclosed it. 

The point of attack selected by the general was 
Xochimilco, or "the field of flowers," as its name im- 
plies, from the floating gardens which rode at anchor, 
as it were, on the neighboring waters." It was one of 
the most potent and wealthy cities in the Valley, and 
a stanch vassal of the Aztec crown. It stood, like the 
capital itself, partly in the water, and was approached 
in that quarter by causeways of no great length. The 
town was composed of houses like those of most other 
places of like magnitude in the country, mostly of 
cottages or huts made of clay and the light bamboo, 
mingled with aspiring teocallis, and edifices of stone, 
belonging to the more opulent classes. 

As the Spaniards advanced, they were met by skir- 
mishing parties of the enemy, who, after dismissing a 
light volley of arrows, rapidly retreated before them. 
As they took the direction of Xochimilco, Cortes 
inferred that they were prepared to resist him in 
considerable force. It exceeded his expectations. 

On traversing the principal causeway, he found it 
occupied at the farther extremity by a numerous body 
of warriors, who, stationed on the opposite side of a 
bridge, which had been broken, were prepared to dis- 

" Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, torn. iii. p. 187, nota. 


pute his passage They had constructed a temporary 
barrier of palisades, which screened them from the fire 
of the musketry. But the water in its neighborhood 
was very shallow, and the cavaliers and infantry, 
plunging into it, soon made their way, swimming or 
wading, as they could, in face of a storm of missiles, 
to the landing near the town. Here they closed with 
the enemy, and hand to hand, after a sharp struggle, 
drove them back on the city ; a few, however, taking 
the direction of the open country, were followed up 
by the cavalry. The great mass, hotly pursued by the 
infantry, were driven through street and lane, without 
much further resistance. Cortes, with a few followers, 
disengaging himself from the tumult, remained near 
the entrance of the city. He had not been there long 
when he was assailed by a fresh body of Indians, who 
suddenly poured into the place from a neighboring 
dike. The general, with his usual fearlessness, threw 
himself into the midst, in hopes to check their advance. 
But his own followers were too few to support him, and 
he was overwhelmed by the crowd of combatants. His 
horse lost his footing and fell ; and Cortes, who re- 
ceived a severe blow on the head before he could rise, 
was seized and dragged off in triumph by the Indians. 
At this critical moment, a Tlascalan, who perceived 
the general's extremity, sprang, like one of the wild 
ocelots of his own forests, into the midst of the assail- 
ants, and endeavored to tear him from their grasp. 
Two of the general's servants also speedily came to 
the rescue, and Cortes, with their aid and that of the 
brave Tlascalan, succeeded in regaining his feet and 
shaking off his enemies. To vault into the saddle and 



brandish his good lance was but the work of a moment. 
Others of his men quickly came up, and the clash of 
arms reaching the ears of the Spaniards, who had gone 
in pursuit, they returned, and, after a desperate con- 
flict, forced the enemy from the city. Their retreat, 
however, was intercepted by the cavalry, returning 
from the country, and, thus hemmed in between the 
opposite columns, they were cut to pieces, or saved 
themselves only by plunging into the lake." 

This was the greatest personal danger which Cortes 
had yet encountered. His life was in the power of the 
barbarians, and, had it not been for their eagerness to 
take him prisoner, he must undoubtedly have lost it. 
To the same cause may be frequently attributed the 
preservation of the Spaniards in these engagements. 
The next day he sought, it is said, for the Tlascalan 
who came so boldly to his rescue, and, as he could 
learn nothing of him, he gave the credit of his pres- 
ervation to his patron, St. Peter. 13 He may well be 
excused for presuming the interposition of his good 
Genius to shield him from the awful doom of the cap- 

12 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 226. — Herrera, Hist, 
general, dec. 3, lib. I, cap. 8. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, 
cap. 21. — This is the general's own account of the matter. Diaz, 
however, says that he was indebted for his rescue to a Castilian, named 
Olea, supported by some Tlascalans, and that his preserver received 
three severe wounds himself on the occasion. (Hist, de la Conquista, 
cap. 145.) This was an affair, however, in which Cortes ought to be 
better informed than any one else, and one, moreover, not likely to 
slip his memory. The old soldier has probably confounded it with 
another and similar adventure of his commander. 

»3 " Otro Dia busco Cortes al Indio, que le socorrio, i muerto, ni 
vivo no parecio ; i Cortes, por la devocion de San Pedro, juzgo que 
61 le avia aiudado." Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 8. 


tive, — a doom not likely to be mitigated in his case. 
That heart must have been a bold one, indeed, which, 
from any motive, could voluntarily encounter such a 
peril ! Yet his followers did as much, and that, too, 
for a much inferior reward. 

The period which we are reviewing was still the age 
of chivalry, — that stirring and adventurous age, of 
which we can form little conception in the present day 
of sober, practical reality. The Spaniard, with his 
nice point of honor, high romance, and proud, vain- 
glorious vaunt, was the true representative of that age. 
The Europeans generally had not yet learned to ac- 
commodate themselves to a life of literary toil, or to 
the drudgery of trade or the patient tillage of the soil. 
They left these to the hooded inmate of the cloister, 
the humble burgher, and the miserable serf. Arms 
was the only profession worthy of gentle blood, — the 
only career which the high-mettled cavalier could tread 
with honor. The New World, with its strange and 
mysterious perils, afforded a noble theatre for the exer- 
cise of his calling ; and the Spaniard entered on it 
with all the enthusiasm of a paladin of romance. 

Other nations entered on it also, but with different 
motives. The French sent forth their missionaries to 
take up their dwelling among the heathen, who, in the 
good work of winning souls to Paradise, were content 
to wear — nay, sometimes seemed to court — the crown 
of martyrdom. The Dutch, too, had their mission, 
but it was one of worldly lucre, and they found a rec- 
ompense for toil and suffering in their gainful traffic 
with the natives. While our own Puritan fathers, with 
the true Anglo-Saxon spirit, left their pleasant homes 


across the waters, and pitched their tents in the howl- 
ing wilderness, that they might enjoy the sweets of civil 
and religious freedom. But the Spaniard came over to 
the New World in the true spirit of a knight-errant, 
courting adventure however perilous, wooing danger, 
as it would seem, for its own sake. With sword and 
lance, he was ever ready to do battle for the Faith ; 
and, as he raised his old war-cry of "St. Jago," he 
fancied himself fighting under the banner of the mili- 
tary apostle, and felt his single arm a match for more 
than a hundred infidels ! It was the expiring age of 
chivalry; and Spain, romantic Spain, was the land 
where its light lingered longest above the horizon. 

It was not yet dusk when Cortes and his followers 
re-entered the city ; and the general's first act was to 
ascend a neighboring teocalli and reconnoitre the sur- 
rounding country. He there beheld a sight which 
might have troubled a bolder spirit than his. The 
surface of the salt lake was darkened with canoes, and 
the causeway, for many a mile, with Indian squadrons, 
apparently on their march towards the Christian camp. 
In fact, no sooner had Guatemozin been apprised of 
the arrival of the white men at Xochimilco than he 
mustered his levies in great force to relieve the city. 
They were now on their march, and, as the capital was 
but four leagues distant, would arrive soon after night- 
fall. 1 * 

Cortes made active preparations for the defence of 

14 " Por el Agua i. una muy grande flota de Canoas, que creo, que 
pasaban de dos mil; y en ellas venian mas de doce mil Hombres de 
Guerra; e por la Tierra llego tanta multitud de Gente, que todos los 
Campos cubrian.' Rel. Tare, de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 227. 
Vol. III. 6 


his quarters. He stationed a corps of pikemen along 
the landing where the Aztecs would be likely to dis- 
embark. He doubled the sentinels, and, with his prin- 
cipal officers, made the rounds repeatedly in the course 
of the night. In addition to other causes for watch • 
fulness, the bolts of the crossbowmen were nearly ex- 
hausted, and the archers were busily employed in 
preparing and adjusting shafts to the copper heads, 
of which great store had been provided for the army. 
There was little sleep in the camp that night. 13 

It passed away, however, without molestation from 
the enemy. Though not stormy, it was exceedingly 
dark. But, although the Spaniards on duty could see 
nothing, they distinctly heard the sound of many oars 
in the water, at no great distance from the shore. Yet 
those on board the canoes made no attempt to land, 
distrusting, or advised, it may be, of the preparations 
made for their reception. With early dawn they were 
under arms, and, without waiting for the movement of 
the Spaniards, poured into the city and attacked them 
in their own quarters. 

The Spaniards, who were gathered in the area round 
one of the teocallis, were taken at disadvantage in the 
town, where the narrow lanes and streets, many of them 
covered with a smooth and slippery cement, offered 
obvious impediments to the manoeuvres of cavalry. 
But Cortes hastily formed his musketeers and cross- 
's " Y acordose que huviesse mui buena vela en todo nuestro Real, 
repartida a los puertos, e azequias por donde auian de venir a desem- 
barcar, y los de acauallo mui a punto toda la noche ensillados y 
enfrenados, aguardando en la calcada, y tierra firme, y todos los 
Capitanes, y Cortes con ellos, haziendo vela y ronda toda la noche." 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 145. 


bowmen, and poured such a lively, well-directed fire 
into the enemy's ranks as threw him into disorder and 
compelled him to recoil. The infantry, with their 
long pikes, followed up the blow; and the horse, 
charging at full speed as the retreating Aztecs emerged 
from the city, drove them several miles along the main 

At some distance, however, they were met by a 
strong reinforcement of their countrymen, and, rally- 
ing, the tide of battle turned, and the cavaliers, swept 
along by it, gave the rein to their steeds and rode back 
at full gallop towards the town. They had not pro- 
ceeded very far, when they came upon the main body 
of the army, advancing rapidly to their support. Thus 
strengthened, they once more returned to the charge, 
and the rival hosts met together in full career, with the 
shock of an earthquake. For a time, victory seemed 
to hang in the balance, as the mighty press reeled to 
and fro under the opposite impulse, and a confused 
shout rose up towards heaven, in which the war-whoop 
of the savage was mingled with the battle-cry of the 
Christian, — a still stranger sound on these sequestered 
shores. But, in the end, Castilian valor, or rather 
Castilian arms and discipline, proved triumphant. The 
enemy faltered, gave way, and, recoiling step by step, 
the retreat soon terminated in a rout, and the Span- 
iards, following up the flying foe, drove them from the 
field with such dreadful slaughter that they made no 
further attempt to renew the battle. 

The victors were now undisputed masters of the city. 
It was a wealthy place, well stored with Indian fabrics, 
cotton, gold, feather-work, and other articles of luxury 


and use, affording a rich booty to the soldiers. While 
engaged in the work of plunder, a party of the enemy, 
landing from their canoes, fell on some of the strag- 
glers, laden with merchandise, and made four of them 
prisoners. It created a greater sensation among the 
troops than if ten times that number had fallen on 
the field. Indeed, it was rare that a Spaniard allowed 
himself to be taken alive. In the present instance the 
unfortunate men were taken by surprise. They were 
hurried to the capital, and soon after sacrificed ; when 
their arms and legs were cut off, by the command of 
the ferocious young chief of the Aztecs, and sent round 
to the different cities, with the assurance that this should 
be the fate of the enemies of Mexico ! l6 

From the prisoners taken in the late engagement, 
Cortes learned that the forces already sent by Guate- 
mozin formed but a small part of his levies ; that his 
policy was to send detachment after detachment, until 
the Spaniards, however victorious they might come 
off from the contest with each individually, would, in 
the end, succumb from mere exhaustion, and thus be 
vanquished, as it were, by their own victories. 

The soldiers having now sacked the city, Cortes did 

lS Diaz, who had an easy faith, states, as a fact, that the limbs of 
the unfortunate men were cut off before their sacrifice: " Manda 
cortar pies y bracos a los tristes nuestros companeros, y las embia por 
muchos pueblos nuestros amigos de los q nos auian venido de paz, y 
les embia a dezir, que antes que bolvamos a Tezcuco, piensa no que- 
dara ninguno de nosotros & vida, y con los coracones y sangre hizo 
sacrificio a sus idolos." (Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 145.) — This is 
not very probable. The Aztecs did not, like our North American In- 
dians, torture their enemies from mere cruelty, but in conformity to 
the prescribed regulations of their ritual. The captive was a religious 


not care to await further assaults from the enemy in his 
present quarters. On the fourth morning after his 
arrival, he mustered his forces on a neighboring plain. 
They came, many of them reeling under the weight 
of their plunder. The general saw this with uneasi- 
ness. They were to march, he said, through a popu- 
lous country, all in arms to dispute their passage. To 
secure their safety, they should move as light and un- 
encumbered as possible. The sight of so much spoil 
would sharpen the appetite of their enemies, and draw 
them on, like a flock of famished eagles after their prey. 
But his eloquence was lost on his men, who plainly 
told him they had a right to the fruit of their victories, 
and that what they had won with their swords they 
knew well enough how to defend with them. 

Seeing them thus bent on their purpose, the general 
did not care to balk their inclinations. He ordered 
the baggage to the centre, and placed a few of the 
cavalry over it ; dividing the remainder between the 
front and rear, in which latter post, as that most ex- 
posed to attack, he also stationed his arquebusiers and 
crossbowmen. Thus prepared, he resumed his march, 
but first set fire to the combustible buildings of Xochi- 
milco, in retaliation for the resistance he had met 
there.' 7 The light of the burning city streamed high 
into the air, sending its ominous glare far and wide 
across the waters, and telling the inhabitants on their 
margin that the fatal strangers so long predicted by 

«7 " Y al cabo dejandola toda quemada y asolada nos partimos ; y 
cierto era mucho para ver, porque tenia muchas Casas, y Torres de 
sus Idolos de cal y canto." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p 




their oracles had descended like a consuming flame 
upon their borders. 18 

Small bodies of the enemy were seen occasionally at 
a distance, but they did not venture to attack the army 
on its march, which, before noon, brought them to 
Cojohuacan, a large town about two leagues distant 
from Xochimilco. One could scarcely travel that dis- 
tance in this populous quarter of the Valley without 
meeting with a place of considerable size, oftentimes 
the capital of what had formerly been an independent 
state. The inhabitants, members of different tribes, 
and speaking dialects somewhat different, belonged to 
the same great family of nations, who had come from 
the real or imaginary region of Aztlan, in the far 
Northwest. Gathered round the shores of their Alpine 
sea, these petty communities continued, after their 
incorporation with the Aztec monarchy, to maintain 
a spirit of rivalry in their intercourse with one another, 
which — as with the cities on the Mediterranean in the 

«8 For other particulars of the actions at Xochimilco, see Oviedo, 
Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 23, cap. 21, — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, 
lib. 1, cap. 8, 11, — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, p. 18, — Tor- 
quemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 87, 88, — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 145. — The Conqueror's own account of these engage- 
ments has not his usual perspicuity, perhaps from its brevity. A more 
than ordinary confusion, indeed, prevails in the different reports of 
them, even those proceeding from contemporaries, making it extremely 
difficult to collect a probable narrative from authorities not only con- 
tradicting one another, but themselves. It is rare, at any time, that 
two accounts of a battle coincide in all respects ; the range of obser- 
vation for each individual is necessarily so limited and different, and 
it is so difficult to make a cool observation at all, in the hurry and heat 
of conflict. Any one who has conversed with the survivors will readily 
comprehend this, and be apt to conclude that, wherever he may look 
for truth, it will hardly be on the battle-ground. 



feudal ages — quickened their mental energies, and 
raised the Mexican Valley higher in the scale of civil- 
ization than most other quarters of Anahuac. 

The town at which the army had now arrived was 
deserted by its inhabitants; and Cortes halted two days 
there to restore his troops and give the needful atten- 
tion to the wounded. 19 He made use of the time to 
reconnoitre the neighboring ground, and, taking with 
him a strong detachment, descended on the causeway 
which led from Cojohuacan to the great avenue of 
Iztapalapan. 20 At the point of intersection, called 
Xoloc, he found a strong barrier, or fortification, be- 
hind which a Mexican force was intrenched. Their 
archery did some mischief to the Spaniards as they 

J 9 This place, recommended by the exceeding beauty of its situation, 
became, after the Conquest, a favorite residence of Cortes, who founded 
a nunnery in it, and commanded in his will that his bones should be 
removed thither from any part of the world in which he might die : 
" Que mis huesos — los lleven a la mi Villa de Coyoacan, y alii les den 
tierra en el Monesterio de Monjas, que mando hacer y edificar en la 
dicha mi Villa." Testamento de Hernan Cortes, MS. 

20 This, says Archbishop Lorenzana, was the modern calzada de la 
Piedad. (Rel. Terc. de Cortes, p. 229, nota.) But it is not easy to 
reconcile this with the elaborate chart which M. de Humboldt has 
given of the Valley. A short arm, which reached from this city in the 
days of the Aztecs, touched obliquely the great southern avenue by 
which the Spaniards first entered the capital. As the waters which 
once entirely surrounded Mexico have shrunk into their narrow basin, 
the face of the country has undergone a great change, and, though 
the foundations of the principal causeways are still maintained, it is 
not always easy to discern vestiges of the ancient avenues.* 

* [" La calzada de Iztapalapan," says Alaman, who has made a 
minute study of the topography, " es la de San Antonio Abad, que 
conduce & San Augustin de las Cuevas 6 Tlalpam." — Ed.] 


came within bowshot. But the latter, marching in- 
trepidly forward in face of the arrowy shower, stormed 
the works, and, after an obstinate struggle, drove the 
enemy from their position. 21 Cortes then advanced 
some way on the great causeway of Iztapalapan ; but 
he beheld the farther extremity darkened by a numerous 
array of warriors, and, as he did not care to engage in 
unnecessary hostilities, especially as his ammunition 
was nearly exhausted, he fell back and retreated to his 
own quarters. 

The following day, the army continued its march, 
taking the road to Tacuba, but a few miles distant. On 
the way it experienced much annoyance from straggling 
parties of the enemy, who, furious at the sight of the 
booty which the invaders were bearing away, made 
repeated attacks on their flanks and rear. Cortes 
retaliated, as on the former expedition, by one of their 
own stratagems, but with less success than before ; for, 
pursuing the retreating enemy too hotly, he fell with 
his cavalry into an ambuscade which they had prepared 
for him in their turn. He was not yet a match for 
their wily tactics. The Spanish cavaliers were en- 
veloped in a moment by their subtle foe, and separated 
from the rest of the army. But, spurring on their 
good steeds, and charging in a solid column together, 
they succeeded in breaking through the Indian array, 
and in making their escape, except two individuals, 

21 •• We came to a wall which they had built across the causeway 
and the foot-soldiers began to attack it ; and though it was very thick 
and stoutly defended, and ten Spaniards were wounded, at length they 
gained it, killing many of the enemy, although the musketeers were 
without powder and the bowmen without arrows." Rel. Terc, ubi 


who fell into the enemy's hands. They were the 
general's own servants, who had followed him faith- 
fully through the whole campaign, and he was deeply 
affected by their loss, — rendered the more distressing 
by the consideration of the dismal fate that awaited 
them. When the little band rejoined the army, which 
had halted, in some anxiety at their absence, under 
the walls of Tacuba, the soldiers were astonished at the 
dejected mien of their commander, which too visibly 
betrayed his emotion. 82 

The sun was still high in the heavens when they 
entered the ancient capital of the Tepanecs. The first 
care of Cortes was to ascend the principal tcocalli and 
survey the surrounding country. It was an admirable 
point of view, commanding the capital, which lay but 
little more than a league distant, and its immediate 
environs. Cortes was accompanied by Alderete, the 
treasurer, and some other cavaliers, who had lately 
joined his banner. The spectacle was still new to 
them ; and, as they gazed on the stately city, with its 
broad lake covered with boats and barges hurrying to 
and fro, some laden with merchandise, or fruits and 
vegetables, for the markets of Tenochtitlan, others 
crowded with warriors, they could not withhold their 
admiration at the life and activity of the scene, de- 
claring that nothing but the hand of Providence could 
have led their countrymen safe through the heart of 
this powerful empire. 23 

83 "Y estando en esto viene Cortes, con el qual nos alegr£mos>, 
puesto que el venia muy triste y como lloroso." Bernal Diaz, Hist, 
de la Conquista, cap. 145. 

23 " Pues quando vieron la gran ciudad de Mexico, y la laguna, y 
tanta multitud de canoas, que vnas ivan cargadas con bastimentos, y 


In the midst of the admiring circle, the brow of 
Cortes alone was observed to be overcast, and a sigh, 
which now and then stole audibly from his bosom, 
showed the gloomy working of his thoughts. 84 "Take 
comfort," said one of the cavaliers, approaching his 
commander, and wishing to console him, in his rough 
way, for his recent loss; "you must not lay these 
things so much to heart ; it is, after all, but the fortune 
of war." The general's answer showed the nature of 
his meditations. "You are my witness," said he, 
"how often I have endeavored to persuade yonder 
capital peacefully to submit. It fills me with grief when 
I think of the toil and the dangers my brave followers 
have yet to encounter before we can call it ours. But 
the time is come when we must put our hands to the 
work." 25 

There can be no doubt that Cortes, with every other 
man in his army, felt he was engaged on a holy crusade, 
and that, independently of personal considerations, he 
could not serve Heaven better than by planting the 
Cross on the blood-stained towers of the heathen 
metropolis. But it was natural that he should feel 

otras ivan a pescar, y otras valdias, mucho mas se espantaron, porque 
no las auian visto, hasta en aquella sacon : y dixeron, que nuestra 
venida en esta Nueua Espana, que no eran cosas de hombres huma- 
nos, sino que la gran misericordia de Dios era quie nos sostenia." 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 145. 

z 4 " En este instante suspiro Cortes co vna muy gra tristeza, mui 
mayor q la q de antes traia." Ibid., loc. cit. 

«S " Y Cortes le dixo, que ya veia quantas vezes auia embiado a 
Mexico a rogalles con la paz, y que la tristeza no la tenia por sola vna 
cosa, sino en pensar en los grandes trabajos en que nos auiamos de 
ver, hasta tornar a sefiorear ; y que con la ayuda de Dios presto lo 
porniamos por la obra." Ibid., ubi supra. 



some compunction as he gazed on the goodly scene, 
and thought of the coming tempest, and how soon the 
opening blossoms of civilization which there met his 
eye must wither under the rude breath of War. It was 
a striking spectacle, that of the great Conqueror thus 
brooding in silence over the desolation he was about 
to bring on the land ! It seems to have made a deep 
impression on his soldiers, little accustomed to such 
proofs of his sensibility ; and it forms the burden of 
some of those romances, or national ballads, with which 
the Castilian minstrel, in the olden time, delighted to 
commemorate the favorite heroes of his country, and 
which, coming mid-way between oral tradition and 
chronicle, have been found as imperishable a record as 
chronicle itself. 26 

Tacuba was the point which Cortes had reached on 
his former expedition round the northern side of the 
Valley. He had now, therefore, made the entire cir- 
cuit of the great lake ; had reconnoitred the several 
approaches to the capital, and inspected with his own 

26 Diaz gives the opening redondillas of the romance, which I have 
not been able to find in any of the printed collections : 
" En Tacuba esta Cortes, 
co su esquadron esforcado, 
triste estaua, y muy penoso, 
tnste, y con gran cuidado, 
la vna mano en la mexilla, 
y la otra en el costado," etc. 

It may be thus done into pretty literal doggerel : 

In Tacuba stood Cortes, 

With many a care opprest, 
Thoughts of the past came o'er him, 

And he bowed his haughty crest. 
One hand upon his cheek he laid, 

The other on his breast, 
While his valiant squadrons round him, etc. 



eyes the dispositions made on the opposite quarters for 
its defence. He had no occasion to prolong his stay 
in Tacuba, the vicinity of which to Mexico must soon 
bring on him its whole warlike population. 

Early on the following morning he resumed his 
march, taking the route pursued in the former expe- 
dition north of the small lakes. He met with less an- 
noyance from the enemy than on the preceding days ; 
a circumstance owing in some degree, perhaps, to the 
state of the weather, which was exceedingly tempest- 
uous. The soldiers, with their garments heavy with 
moisture, ploughed their way with difficulty through 
miry roads flooded by the torrents. On one occasion, 
as their military chronicler informs us, the officers 
neglected to go the rounds of the camp at night, and 
the sentinels to mount guard, trusting to the violence 
of the storm for their protection. Yet the fate of Nar- 
vaez might have taught them not to put their faith in 
the elements. 

At Acolman, in the Acolhuan territory, they were 
met by Sandoval, with the friendly cacique of Tezcuco, 
and several cavaliers, among whom were some recently 
arrived from the Islands. They cordially greeted their 
countrymen, and communicated the tidings that the 
canal was completed, and that the brigantines, rigged 
and equipped, were ready to be launched on the bosom 
of the lake. There seemed to be no reason, therefore, 
for longer postponing operations against Mexico. — 
With this welcome intelligence, Cortes and his vic- 
torious legions made their entry for the last time into 
the Acolhuan capital, having consumed just three weeks 
in completing the circuit of the Valley. 





At the very time when Cortes was occupied with 
reconnoitring the Valley, preparatory to his siege of 
the capital, a busy faction in Castile was laboring to 
subvert his authority and defeat his plans of conquest 
altogether. The fame of his brilliant exploits had 
spread not only through the Isles, but to Spain and 
many parts of Europe, where a general admiration was 
felt for the invincible energy of the man who with his 
single arm, as it were, could so long maintain a con- 
test with the powerful Indian empire. The absence 
of the Spanish monarch from his dominions, and the 
troubles of the country, can alone explain the supine 
indifference shown by the government to the prosecu- 
tion of this great enterprise. To the same causes it 
may be ascribed that no action was had in regard to 
the suits of Velasquez and Narvaez, backed as they 
were by so potent an advocate as Bishop Fonseca, 
president of the Council of the Indies. The reins of 
government had fallen into the hands of Adrian of 
Utrecht, Charles's preceptor, and afterwards Pope, — a 
man of learning, and not without sagacity, but slow 
and timid in his policy, and altogether incapable of 
Vol. III.-d 7 (73) 



that decisive action which suited the bold genius of his 
predecessor, Cardinal Ximenes. 

In the spring of 15 21, however, a number of ordi- 
nances passed the Council of the Indies, which threat- 
ened an important innovation in the affairs of New 
Spain. It was decreed that the Royal Audience of 
Hispaniola should abandon the proceedings already 
instituted against Narvaez for his treatment of the com- 
missioner Ayllon ; that that unfortunate commander 
should be released from his confinement at Vera Cruz ; 
and that an arbitrator should be sent to Mexico with 
authority to investigate the affairs and conduct of Cortes 
and to render ample justice to the governor of Cuba. 
There were not wanting persons at court who looked 
with dissatisfaction on these proceedings, as an un- 
worthy requital of the services of Cortes, and who 
thought the present moment, at any rate, not the most 
suitable for taking measures which might discourage 
the general and perhaps render him desperate. But 
the arrogant temper of the bishop of Burgos overruled 
all objections ; and the ordinances, having been ap- 
proved by the Regency, were signed by that body, 
April 11, 15 21. A person named Tapia, one of the 
functionaries of the Audience at St. Domingo, was 
selected as the new commissioner to be despatched to 
Vera Cruz. Fortunately, circumstances occurred which 
postponed the execution of the design for the present, 
and permitted Cortes to go forward unmolested in his 
career of conquest. 1 

But, while thus allowed to remain, for the present at 

' Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 15. — Relacion de Alonso 
de Verzara, Escrivano Publico de Vera Cruz, MS., dec. 21. 


least, in possession of authority, he was assailed by a 
danger nearer home, which menaced not only his 
authority, but his life. This was a conspiracy in the 
army, of a more dark and dangerous character than 
any hitherto formed there. It was set on foot by a 
common soldier, named Antonio Villafana, a native of 
Old Castile, of whom nothing is known but his share 
in this transaction. He was one of the troop of Nar- 
vaez, — that leaven of disaffection, which had remained 
with the army, swelling with discontent on every light 
occasion, and ready at all times to rise into mutiny. 
They had voluntarily continued in the service after 
the secession of their comrades at Tlascala ; but it was 
from the same mercenary hopes with which they had 
originally embarked in the expedition, — and in these 
they were destined still to be disappointed. They had 
little of the true spirit of adventure which distinguished 
the old companions of Cortes ; and they found the 
barren laurels of victory but a sorry recompense for all 
their toils and sufferings. 

With these men were joined others, who had causes 
of personal disgust with the general ; and others, again, 
who looked with distrust on the result of the war. The 
gloomy fate of their countrymen who had fallen into 
the enemy's hands filled them with dismay. They felt 
themselves the victims of a chimerical spirit in their 
leader, who, with such inadequate means, was urging 
to extremity so ferocious and formidable a foe ; and 
they shrank with something like apprehension from 
thus pursuing the enemy into his own haunts, where he 
would gather tenfold energy from despair. 

These men would have willingly abandoned the 


enterprise and returned to Cuba ; but how could they 
do it? Cortes had control over the whole route from 
the city to the sea-coast ; and not a vessel could leave 
its ports without his warrant. Even if he were put 
out of the way, there were others, his principal officers, 
ready to step into his place and avenge the death of 
their commander. It was necessary to embrace these, 
also, in the scheme of destruction ; and it was pro- 
posed, therefore, together with Cortes, to assassinate 
Sandoval, Olid, Alvarado, and two or three others 
most devoted to his interests. The conspirators would 
then raise the cry of liberty, and doubted not that they 
should be joined by the greater part of the army, or 
enough, at least, to enable them to work their own 
pleasure. They proposed to offer the command, on 
Cortes' death, to Francisco Verdugo, a brother-in-law 
of Velasquez. He was an honorable cavalier, and not 
privy to their design. But they had little doubt that 
he would acquiesce in the command thus in a manner 
forced upon him, and this would secure them the pro- 
tection of the governor of Cuba, who, indeed, from his 
own hatred of Cortes, would be disposed to look with 
a lenient eye on their proceedings. 

The conspirators even went so far as to appoint 
the subordinate officers, an alguacil mayor in place of 
Sandoval, a quartermaster-general to succeed Olid, and 
some others. 2 The time fixed for the execution of the 
plot was soon after the return of Cortes from his ex- 

a " Hazia Alguazil mayor 6 Alferez, y Alcaldes, y Regidores, y Con- 
tador, y Tesorero, y Ueedor, y otras cosas deste arte, y aun repartido 
entre ellos nuestros bienes, y cauallos." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 146. 



pedition. A parcel, pretended to have come by a fresh 
arrival from Castile, was to be presented to him while 
at table, and, when he was engaged in breaking open the 
letters, the conspirators were to fall on him and his 
officers and despatch them with their poniards. Such 
was the iniquitous scheme devised for the destruction 
of Cortes and the expedition. But a conspiracy, to 
be successful, especially when numbers are concerned, 
should allow but little time to elapse between its con- 
ception and its execution. 

On the day previous to that appointed for the per- 
petration of the deed, one of the party, feeling a natural 
compunction at the commission of the crime, went to 
the general's quarters and solicited a private interview 
with him. He threw himself at his commander's feet, 
and revealed all the particulars relating to the conspir- 
acy, adding that in Villafana's possession a paper would 
be found, containing the names of his accomplices. 
Cortes, thunderstruck at the disclosure, lost not a 
moment in profiting by it. He sent for Alvarado, 
Sandoval, and one or two other officers marked out by 
the conspirator, and, after communicating the affair to 
them, went at once with them to Villafana's quarters, 
attended by four alguacils. 

They found him in conference with three or four 
friends, who were instantly taken from the apartment 
and placed in custody. Villafana, confounded at this 
sudden apparition of his commander, had barely time 
to snatch a paper, containing the signatures of the con- 
federates, from his bosom, and attempt to swallow it. 
But Cortes arrested his arm, and seized the paper. As 
he glanced his eye rapidly over the fatal list, he was 


much moved at finding there the names of more than 
one who had some claim to consideration in the army. 
He tore the scroll in pieces, and ordered Villafana to 
be taken into custody. He was immediately tried by 
a military court hastily got together, at which the gen- 
eral himself presided. There seems to have been no 
doubt of the man's guilt. He was condemned to death, 
and, after allowing him time for confession and abso- 
lution, the sentence was executed by hanging him from 
the window of his own quarters. 3 

Those ignorant of the affair were astonished at the 
spectacle ; and the remaining conspirators were filled 
with consternation when they saw that their plot was 
detected, and anticipated a similar fate for themselves. 
But they were mistaken. Cortes pursued the matter 
no further. A little reflection convinced him that to 
do so would involve him in the most disagreeable, and 
even dangerous, perplexities. And, however much the 
parties implicated in so foul a deed might deserve 
death, he could ill afford the loss even of the guilty, 
with his present limited numbers. He resolved, there- 
fore, to content himself with the punishment of the 

He called his troops together, and briefly explained 
to them the nature of the crime for which Villafana 
had suffered. He had made no confession, he said, 
and the guilty secret had perished with him. He then 
expressed his sorrow that any should have been found 
in their ranks capable of so base an act, and stated 
his own unconsciousness of having wronged any indi- 

3 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 146. — Oviedo, Hist, de las 
Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 1, 



vidual among them ; but, if he had done so, he in • 
vited them frankly to declare it, as he was most anxious 
to afford them all the redress in his power. 4 But there 
was no one of his audience, whatever might be his 
grievances, who cared to enter his complaint at such 
a moment ; least of all were the conspirators willing 
to do so, for they were too happy at having, as they 
fancied, escaped detection, to stand forward now in 
the ranks of the malecontents. The affair passed off, 
therefore, without further consequences. 

The conduct of Cortes in this delicate conjuncture 
shows great coolness, and knowledge of human nature. 
Had he suffered his detection, or even his suspicion, 
of the guilty parties to take air, it would have placed 
him in hostile relations with them for the rest of his 
life. It was a disclosure of this kind, in the early part 
of Louis the Eleventh's reign, to which many of the 
troubles of his later years were attributed. 5 The mask 
once torn away, there is no longer occasion to consult 
even appearances. The door seems to be closed against 
reform. The alienation, which might have been changed 
by circumstances or conciliated by kindness, settles 
into a deep and deadly rancor. And Cortes would 
have been surrounded by enemies in his own camp 
more implacable than those in the camp of the Aztecs. 

As it was, the guilty soldiers had suffered too serious 

* Herrera, Hist, general, ubi supra. 

S So says M. de Barante in his picturesque rifacimento of the ancient 
chronicles: " Les proces du connetable et de monsieur de Nemours, 
bien d'autres revelations, avaient fait eclater leur mauvais vouloir, ou 
du moins leur peu de fidelite pour le roi ; ils ne pouvaient done douter 
qu'il desirat ou complotat leur ruine." Histoire des Dues de Bour- 
gogne (Paris, 1838), torn. xi. p. 169. 


apprehensions to place their lives hastily in a similar 
jeopardy. They strove, on the contrary, by demon- 
strations of loyalty, and the assiduous discharge of their 
duties, to turn away suspicion from themselves. Cortes, 
on his part, was careful to preserve his natural de- 
meanor, equally removed from distrust and — what was 
perhaps more difficult — that studied courtesy which in- 
timates, quite as plainly, suspicion of the party who is 
the object of it. To do this required no little address. 
Yet he did not forget the past. He had, it is true, 
destroyed the scroll containing the list of the conspir- 
ators. But the man that has once learned the names 
of those who have conspired against his life has no need 
of a written record to keep them fresh in his memory. 
Cortes kept his eye on all their movements, and took 
care to place them in no situation, afterwards, where 
they could do him injury. 6 

This attempt on the life of their commander excited 
a strong sensation in the army, with whom his many 
dazzling qualities and brilliant military talents had 
made him a general favorite. They were anxious to 
testify their reprobation of so foul a deed, coming from 
their own body, and they felt the necessity of taking 
some effectual measures for watching over the safety of 
one with whom their own destinies, as well as the fate 
of the enterprise, were so intimately connected. It 
was arranged, therefore, that he should be provided 
with a guard of soldiers, who were placed under the 
direction of a trusty cavalier named Antonio de Qui- 

6 " Y desde alii adelante, aunque mostraua gran voluntad & las per- 
sonas que eran en la cojuracio, sierripre se rezelaua dellos." Bernal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 146. 


nones. They constituted the general's body-guard 
during the rest of the campaign, watching over him 
day and night, and protecting him from domestic 
treason no less than from the sword of the enemy. 

As was stated at the close of the last chapter, the 
Spaniards, on their return to quarters, found the con- 
struction of the brigantines completed, and that they 
were fully rigged, equipped, and ready for service. 
The canal, also, after having occupied eight thousand 
men for nearly two months, was finished. 

It was a work of great labor ; for it extended half a 
league in length, was twelve feet wide, and as many 
deep. The sides were strengthened by palisades of 
wood, or solid masonry. At intervals, dams and locks 
were constructed, and part of the opening was through 
the hard rock. By this avenue the brigantines might 
now be safely introduced on the lake. 7 

Cortes was resolved that so auspicious an event should 
be celebrated with due solemnity. On the 28th of 
April, the troops were drawn up under arms, and the 
whole population of Tezcuco assembled to witness the 
ceremony. Mass was performed, and every man in 
the army, together with the general, confessed and 
received the sacrament. Prayers were offered up by 
Father Olmedo, and a benediction invoked on the little 
navy, the first — worthy of the name — ever launched on 

7 Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, p. 19. — Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 234. — " Obra grandissima," exclaims the 
Conqueror, " y mucho para ver." — " Fueron en guarde de estos ber- 
gantines," adds Camargo, " mas de diez mil hombres de guerra con 
los maestros dellas, hasta que los armaron y echaron en el agua y 
laguna de Mejico, que me obra de mucho efectopara tomarse Mejico." 
Hist, de Tlascala, MS. 


American waters. 8 The signal was given by the firing 
of a cannon, when the vessels, dropping down the 
canal, one after another, reached the lake in good 
order ; and, as they emerged on its ample bosom, with 
music sounding, and the royal ensign of Castile proudly 
floating from their masts, a shout of admiration arose 
from the countless multitudes of spectators, which 
mingled with the roar of artillery and musketry from 
the vessels and the shore ! 9 It was a novel spectacle 
to the simple natives ; and they gazed with wonder on 
the gallant ships, which, fluttering like sea-birds on 
their snowy pinions, bounded lightly over the waters, 
as if rejoicing in their element. It touched the stern 
hearts of the Conquerors with a glow of rapture, and, 
as they felt that Heaven had blessed their undertaking, 
they broke forth, by general accord, into the noble 
anthem of the Te Deum. But there was no one of 
that vast multitude for whom the sight had deeper in- 
terest than their commander. For he looked on it as 
the work, in a manner, of his own hands ; and his 
bosom swelled with exultation, as he felt he was now 
possessed of a power strong enough to command the 
lake, and to shake the haughty towers of Tenochtitlan. 10 

8 The brigantines were still to be seen, preserved, as precious 
memorials, long after the conquest, in the dock-yards of Mexico. 
Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., Parte i, cap. I. 

9 " Dada la serial, solto la Presa, fueron saliendo los Vergantmes, 
sin tocar vno a otro, i apartandose por la Laguna, desplegaron las 
Vanderas, toco la Miisica, dispararon su Artilleria, respondio la del 
Exercito, asi de Castellanos, como de Indios." Herrera, Hist, gene- 
ral, dec. 3, lib. i, cap. 6. 

10 Ibid., ubi supra. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 234.— 
Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, p. 19. — Oviedo, Hist, de las 
Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48. — The last-mentioned chronicler indulges 


The general's next step was to muster his forces 
in the great square of the capital. He found they 
amounted to eighty-seven horse, and eight hundred 
and eighteen foot, of which one hundred and eighteen 
were arquebusiers and crossbowmen. He had three large 
field-pieces of iron, and fifteen lighter guns or falconets 
of brass." The heavier cannon had been transported 
from Ver Cruz to Tezcuco, a little while before, by the 
faithful Tlascalans. He was well supplied with shot 
and balls, with about ten hundred-weight of powder, 
and fifty thousand copper-headed arrows, made after a 
pattern furnished by him to the natives. 12 The number 
and appointments of the army much exceeded what 
they had been at any time since the flight from Mexico, 
and showed the good effects of the late arrivals from 
the Islands. Indeed, taking the fleet into the account, 
Cortes had never before been in so good a condition 
for carrying on his operations. Three hundred of 
the men were sent to man the vessels, thirteen, or 
rather twelve, in number, one of the smallest having 
been found, on trial, too dull a sailer to be of service. 
Half of the crews were required to navigate the ships. 
There was some difficulty in finding hands for this, 

in no slight swell of exultation at this achievement of his hero, which 
in his opinion throws into shade the boasted exploits of the great Se- 
sostris. " Otras muchas e notables cosas, cuenta este actor que he 
dicho de aqueste Rey Sesori, en que no me quiero detener, ni las 
tengo en tanto como esta tranchea, 6 canja que es dicho, y los Ver- 
gantines de que tratamos, los quales dieron ocasion a que se oviesen 
mayores Thesoros e Provincias, e Reynos, que no tuvo Sesori, para la 
corona Real de Castilla por la industria de Hernando Cortes." Ibid., 
lib. 33, cap. 22. 

11 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 234. 

« Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 147. 


as the men were averse to the employment. Cortes 
selected those who came from Palos, Moguer, and other 
maritime towns, and, notwithstanding their frequent 
claims of exemption, as hidalgos, from this menial 
occupation, he pressed them into the service. 13 Each 
vessel mounted a piece of heavy ordnance, and was 
placed under an officer of respectability, to whom 
Cortes gave a general code of instructions for the 
government of the little navy, of which he proposed 
to take the command in person. 

He had already sent to his Indian confederates, 
announcing his purpose of immediately laying siege 
to Mexico, and called on them to furnish their prom- 
ised levies within the space of ten days at furthest. 
The Tlascalans he ordered to join him in Tezcuco ; the 
others were to assemble at Chalco, a more convenient 
place of rendezvous for the operations in the southern 
quarter of the Valley. The Tlascalans arrived within 
the time prescribed, led by the younger Xicotencatl, 
supported by Chichemecatl, the same doughty war- 
rior who had convoyed the brigantines to Tezcuco. 
They came fifty thousand strong, according to Cortes, 14 

*3 Bernal Diaz, Hist, dela Conquista, ubi supra. — Hidalguia, besides 
its legal privileges, brought with it some fanciful ones to its' possessor ; 
if, indeed, it be considered a privilege to have excluded him from 
many a humble, but honest, calling, by which the poor man might 
have gained his bread. (For an amusing account of these, see 
Doblado's Letters from Spain, let. 2.) In no country has the poor 
gentleman afforded so rich a theme for the satirist, as the writings of 
Le Sage, Cervantes, and Lope de Vega abundantly show. 

14 " Y los Capitanes de Tascaltecal con toda su gente, muy liicida, 
y bien armada, . . . y segun la cuenta, que los Capitanes nos dieron, 
pasaban de cinquenta mil Hombres de Guerra." (Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 236.) " I toda la Gente," adds Herrera, 



making a brilliant show with their military finery, and 
marching proudly forward under the great national 
banner, emblazoned with a spread eagle, the arms of 
the republic. 15 With as blithe and manly a step as 
if they were going to the battle-ground, they defiled 
through the gates of the capital, making its walls ring 
with the friendly shouts of " Castile and Tlascala." 

The observations which Cortes had made in his late 
tour of reconnoissance had determined him to begin 
the siege by distributing his forces into three separate 
camps, which he proposed to establish at the extrem- 
ities of the principal causeways. By this arrangement 
the troops would be enabled to move in concert on 
the capital, and be in the best position to intercept 
its supplies from the surrounding country. The first 
of these points was Tacuba, commanding the fatal 
causeway of the noche triste. This was assigned to 
Pedro de Alvarado, with a force consisting, according 
to Cortes' own statement, of thirty horse, one hundred 
and sixty-eight Spanish infantry, and five-and-twenty 
thousand Tlascalans. Cristoval de Olid had command 
of the second army, of much the same magnitude, 
which was to take up its position at Cojohuacan, the 
city, it will be remembered, overlooking the short 

" tardo tres Dias en entrar, segun en sus Memoriales dice Alonso de 
Ojeda, ni con ser Tezcuco tan gran Ciudad, cabian en ella." Hist. 
general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 13. 

is " Y sus vaderas tedidas, y el aue blaca q tienen por armas, q parece 
aguila, con sus alas tendidas." (Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, 
cap. 149.) A spread eagle of gold, Clavigero considers as the arms 
of the republic. (Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, torn. ii. p. 145.) But, as 
Bernal Diaz speaks of it as " white," it may have been the white heron, 
which belonged to the house of Xicotencatl. 
Vol. III. 8 


causeway connected with that of Iztapalapan. Gon- 
zalo de Sandoval had charge of the third division, of 
equal strength with each of the two preceding, but 
which was to draw its Indian levies from the forces 
assembled at Chalco. This officer was to march on 
Iztapalapan and complete the destruction of that city, 
begun by Cortes soon after his entrance into the Val- 
ley. It was too formidable a post to remain in the 
rear of the army. The general intended to support 
the attack with his brigantines, after which the sub- 
sequent movements of Sandoval would be determined 
by circumstances. 16 

Having announced his intended dispositions to his 
officers, the Spanish commander called his troops to- 
gether, and made one of those brief and stirring 
harangues with which he was wont on great occasions 
to kindle the hearts of his soldiery. "I have taken 
the last step," he said; "I have brought you to the 
goal for which you have so long panted. A few days 
will place you before the gates of Mexico, — the capital 
from which you were driven with so much ignominy. 
But we now go forward under the smiles of Providence. 
Does any one doubt it ? Let him but compare our 
present condition with that in which we found our- 
selves not twelve months since, when, broken and 
dispirited, we sought shelter within the walls of Tlas- 
cala; nay, with that in which we were but a few months 

x6 The precise amount of each division, as given by Cortes, was, — 
in that of Alvarado, 30 horse, 168 Castilian infantry, and 25,000 Tlas- 
calans ; in that of Olid, 33 horse, 178 infantry, 20,000 Tlascalans ; and 
in Sandoval's, 24 horse, 167 infantry, 30,000 Indians. (Rel. Terc, ap. 
Lorenzana, p. 236.) Diaz reduces the number of native troops to 
one-third. Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 150. 


since, when we took up our quarters in Tezcuco. 17 
Since that time our strength has been nearly doubled. 
We are fighting the battles of the Faith, fighting for 
our honor, for riches, for revenge. I have brought 
you face to face with your foe. It is for you to do 
the rest." 18 

The address of the bold chief was answered by the 
thundering acclamations of his followers, who declared 
that every man would do his duty under such a leader ; 
and they only asked to be led against the enemy. 19 
Cortes then caused the regulations for the army, pub- 
lished at Tlascala, to be read again to the troops, with 
the assurance that they should be enforced to the letter. 

It was arranged that the Indian forces should pre- 
cede the Spanish by a day's march, and should halt 
for their confederates on the borders of the Tezcucan 
territory. A circumstance occurred soon after their 
departure which gave bad augury for the future. A 

J 7 " Que se alegrassen, y esforzassen mucho, pues que veian, que 
nuestro Sefior nos encaminaba para haber victoria de nuestros Ene- 
migos : porque bien sabian, que quando habiamos entrado en Tesaico, 
no habiamos trahido mas de quarenta de Caballo, y que Dios nos 
habia socorrido mejor, que lo habiamos pensado." Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 235. 

18 Oviedo expands what he nevertheless calls the " brebe e sub- 
stancial oracion" of Cortes into treble the length of it as found in 
the general's own pages ; in which he is imitated by most of the other 
chroniclers. Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 22. 

J 9 " Y con estas ultimas palabras ceso ; y todos respondieron sin 
discrepancia, e i. una voce dicentes ; Sirvanse Dios y el Emperador 
nuestro Sefior de tan buen capitan, y de nosotros, que asi lo haremos 
todos como quien somos, y como se debe esperar de buenos Espanoles, 
y con tanta voluntad, y deseo, dicho que parecia que cada hora les 
era perder vn ano de tiempo por estar ya & las manos con los Enemi- 
gos." Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., ubi supra. 


quarrel had arisen in the camp at Tezcuco between a 
Spanish soldier and a Tlascalan chief, in which the 
latter was badly hurt. He was sent back to Tlascala, 
and the matter was hushed up, that it might not reach 
the ears of the general, who, it was known, would not 
pass it over lightly. Xicotencatl was a near relative 
of the injured party, and on the first day's halt he took 
the opportunity to leave the army, with a number of 
his followers, and set off for Tlascala. Other causes 
are assigned for his desertion. 20 It is certain that from 
the first he had looked on the expedition with an evil 
eye, and had predicted that no good would come of it. 
He came into it with reluctance, as, indeed, he detested 
the Spaniards in his heart. 

His partner in the command instantly sent informa- 
tion of the affair to the Spanish general, still encamped 
at Tezcuco. Cortes, who saw at once the mischievous 
consequences of this defection at such a time, detached 
a party of Tlascalan and Tezcucan Indians after the 
fugitive, with instructions to prevail on him, if possi- 
ble, to return to his duty. They overtook him on the 
road, and remonstrated with him on his conduct, con- 
trasting it with that of his countrymen generally, and 
of his own father in particular, the steady friend of the 
white men. " So much the worse," replied the chief- 
tain : "if they had taken my counsel, they would never 
have become the dupes of the perfidious strangers." " 

20 According to Diaz, the desire to possess himself of the lands of 
his comrade Chichemecatl, who remained with the army (Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 150) ; according to Herrera, it was an amour that 
carried him home. (Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 17.) Both and 
all agree on the chief's aversion to the Spaniards and to the war. 

21 " Y la respuesta que le embio a dezir fue, que si el viejo de su 


Finding their remonstrances received only with anger 
or contemptuous taunts, the emissaries returned without 
accomplishing their object. 

Cortes did not hesitate on the course he was to pur- 
sue. " Xicotencatl," he said, "had always been the 
enemy of the Spaniards, first in the field, and since in 
the council-chamber; openly, or in secret, still the 
same, — their implacable enemy. There was no use in 
parleying with the false-hearted Indian." He instantly 
despatched a small body of horse with an alguacil to 
arrest the chief wherever he might be found, even 
though it were in the streets of Tlascala, and to bring 
him back to Tezcuco. At the same time, he sent in- 
formation of Xicotencatl' s proceedings to the Tlascalan 
senate, adding that desertion among the Spaniards was 
punished with death. 

The emissaries of Cortes punctually fulfilled his 
orders. They arrested the fugitive chief, — whether in 
Tlascala or in its neighborhood is uncertain, — and 
brought him a prisoner to Tezcuco, where a high gal- 
lows, erected in the great square, was prepared for his 
reception. He was instantly led to the place of exe- 
cution ; his sentence and the cause for which he suf- 
fered were publicly proclaimed, and the unfortunate 
cacique expiated his offence by the vile death of a male- 
factor. His ample property, consisting of lands, slaves, 
and some gold, was all confiscated to the Castilian 
crown. 22 

padre, y Masse Escaci le huvieran creido, que no se huvieran seiiore- 
ado tanto dellos, que les haze hazer todo lo que quiere : y por no gastar 
mas palabras, dixo, que no queria venir." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 150. 

38 So says Herrera, who had in his possession the memorial of 



Thus perished Xicotencatl, in the flower of his age, 
— as dauntless a warrior as ever led an Indian army to 
battle. He was the first chief who successfully re- 
sisted the arms of the invaders ; and, had the natives 
of Anahuac, generally, been animated with a spirit like 
his, Cortes would probably never have set foot in the 
capital of Montezuma. He was gifted with a clearer 
insight into the future than his countrymen \ for he 
saw that the European was an enemy far more to be 
dreaded than the Aztec. Yet, when he consented to 
fight under the banner of the white men, he had no 
right to desert it, and he incurred the penalty pre- 
scribed by the code of savage as well as of civilized 
nations. It is said, indeed, that the Tlascalan senate 
aided in apprehending him, having previously an- 
swered Cortes that his crime was punishable with death 
by their own laws. 23 It was a bold act, however, thus 
to execute him in the midst of his people. For he 

Ojeda, one of the Spaniards employed to apprehend the chieftain. 
(Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 17, and Torquemada, Monarch. 
Ind., lib. 4, cap. 90.) Bernal Diaz, on the other hand, says that the 
Tlascalan chief was taken and executed on the road. (Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 150.) But the latter chronicler was probably absent 
at the time with Alvarado's division, in which he served. Solis, how- 
ever, prefers his testimony, on the ground that Cortes would not have 
hazarded the execution of Xicotencatl before the eyes of his own 
troops. (Conquista, lib. 5, cap. 19.) But the Tlascalans were already 
well on their way towards Tacuba. A very few only could have re- 
mained in Tezcuco, which was occupied by the citizens and the Cas- 
tilian army, — neither of them very likely to interfere in the prisoner's 
behalf. His execution there would be an easier matter than in the 
territory of Tlascala, which he had probably reached before his 

*3 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 17. — Torquemada, 
Monarch. Ind., lib, 4, cap. 90. 



was a powerful chief, heir to one of the four seigniories 
of the republic. His chivalrous qualities made him 
popular, especially with the younger part of his coun- 
trymen ; and his garments were torn into shreds at his 
death and distributed as sacred relics among them. 
Still, no resistance was offered to the execution of the 
sentence, and no commotion followed it. He was the 
only Tlascalan who ever swerved from his loyalty to 
the Spaniards. 

According to the plan of operations settled by Cortes, 
Sandoval, with his division, was to take a southern 
direction, while Alvarado and Olid would make the 
northern circuit of the lakes. These two cavaliers, 
after getting possession of Tacuba, were to advance to 
Chapoltepec and demolish the great aqueduct there, 
which supplied Mexico with water. On the tenth of 
May they commenced their march ; but at Acolman, 
where they halted for the night, a dispute arose be- 
tween the soldiers of the two divisions, respecting their 
quarters. From words they came to blows, and a 
defiance was even exchanged between the leaders, who 
entered into the angry feelings of their followers. 24 In- 
telligence of this was soon communicated to Cortes, 
who sent at once to the fiery chiefs, imploring them, 
by their regard for him and the common cause, to lay 
aside their differences, which must end in their own 
ruin and that of the expedition. His remonstrance 
prevailed, at least, so far as to establish a show of 
reconciliation between the parties. But Olid was not 

34 " Y sobre ello ya auiamos echado mano a las armas los de nues- 
tra Capitania contra los de Christoual de Oli, y aun los Capitanea 
desafiados." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 150. 



a man to forget, or easily to forgive ; and Alvarado, 
though frank and liberal, had an impatient temper 
much more easily excited than appeased. They were 
never afterwards friends. 15 

The Spaniards met with no opposition on their 
march. The principal towns were all abandoned by 
the inhabitants, who had gone to strengthen the gar- 
rison of Mexico, or taken refuge with their families 
among the mountains. Tacuba was in like manner 
deserted, and the troops once more established them- 
selves in their old quarters in the lordly city of the 
Tepanecs. 26 

Their first undertaking was to cut off the pipes that 
conducted the water from the royal streams of Chapol- 
tepec to feed the numerous tanks and fountains which 
sparkled in the court-yards of the capital. The aque- 
duct, partly constructed of brick-work and partly of 
stone and mortar, was raised on a strong though narrow 
dike, which transported it across an arm of the lake ; 
and the whole work was one of the most pleasing 
monuments of Mexican civilization. The Indians, 

=5 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 150. — Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 237. — Gomara, Cronica, cap. 130. — Oviedo, 
Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 22. 

36 The Tepanec capital, shorn of its ancient splendors, is now only 
interesting from its historic associations. " These plains of Tacuba," 
says the spirited author of " Life in Mexico," "once the theatre of 
fierce and bloody conflicts, and where, during the siege of Mexico, 
Alvarado ' of the leap' fixed his camp, now present a very tranquil 
scene. Tacuba itself is now a small village of mud huts, with some 
fine old trees, a few very old ruined houses, a ruined church, and 

some traces of a building, which assured us had been the 

palace of their last monarch ; whilst others declare it to have been the 
site of the Spanish encampment." Vol. i. let. 13. 



well aware of its importance, had stationed a large 
body of troops for its protection. A battle followed, 
in which both sides suffered considerably, but the 
Spaniards were victorious. A part of the aqueduct 
was demolished, and during the siege no water found 
its way again to the capital through this channel. 

On the following day the combined forces descended 
on the fatal causeway, to make themselves masters, if 
possible, of the nearest bridge. They found the dike 
covered with a swarm of warriors, as numerous as on 
the night of their disaster, while the surface of the lake 
was dark with the multitude of canoes. The intrepid 
Christians strove to advance under a perfect hurricane 
of missiles from the water and the land, but they made 
slow progress. Barricades thrown across the causeway 
embarrassed the cavalry and rendered it nearly useless. 
The sides of the Indian boats were fortified with bul- 
warks, which shielded the crews from the arquebuses 
and cross-bows ; and, when the warriors on the dike 
were hard pushed by the pikemen, they threw them- 
selves fearlessly into the water, as if it were their native 
element, and, reappearing along the sides of the dike, 
shot off their arrows and javelins with fatal execution. 
After a long and obstinate struggle, the Christians were 
compelled to fall back on their own quarters with dis- 
grace, and — including the allies — with nearly as much 
damage as they had inflicted on the enemy. Olid, dis- 
gusted with the result of the engagement, inveighed 
against his companion as having involved them in it 
by his wanton temerity, and drew off his forces the 
next morning to his own station at Cojohuacan. 

The camps, separated by only two leagues, main- 



tained an easy communication with each other. They 
found abundant employment in foraging the neighbor- 
ing country for provisions, and in repelling the active 
sallies of the enemy \ on whom they took their revenge 
by cutting off his supplies. But their own position 
was precarious, and they looked with impatience for 
the arrival of the brigantines under Cortes. It was in 
the latter part of May that Olid took up his quarters at 
Cojohuacan ; and from that time may be dated the 
commencement of the siege of Mexico. 27 

*7 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 237-239. — Ixtlilxochitl, 
Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 94. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 
22. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 50. — Gomara, Cronica, 
cap. 130. — Clavigero settles this date at the day of Corpus Christi, 
May 30th. (Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, torn. iii. p. 196.) But the 
Spaniards left Tezcuco May 10th, according to Cortes ; and three 
weeks could not have intervened between their departure and their 
occupation of Cojohuacan. Clavigero disposes of this difficulty, it is 
true, by dating the beginning of their march on the 20th instead of 
the 10th of May ; following the chronology of Herrera, instead of that 
of Cortes. Surely the general is the better authority of the two. 






No sooner had Cortes received intelligence that his 
two officers had established themselves in their re- 
spective posts, than he ordered Sandoval to march on 
Iztapalapan. The cavalier's route led him through a 
country for the most part friendly ; and at Chalco his 
little body of Spaniards was swelled by the formidable 
muster of Indian levies who awaited there his approach. 
After this junction, he continued his march without 
opposition till he arrived before the hostile city, under 
whose walls he found a large force drawn up to re- 
ceive him. A battle followed, and the natives, after 
maintaining their ground sturdily for some time, were 
compelled to give way, and to seek refuge either on 
the water, or in that part of the town which hung 
over it. The remainder was speedily occupied by the 

Meanwhile, Cortes had set sail with his flotilla, 
intending to support his lieutenant's attack by water. 
On drawing near the southern shore of the lake, he 
passed under the shadow of an insulated peak, since 
named from him the "Rock of the Marquis." It 



was held by a body of Indians, who saluted the fleet, as 
it passed, with showers of stones and arrows. Cortes, 
resolving to punish their audacity, and to clear the 
lake of his troublesome enemy, instantly landed with 
a hundred and fifty of his followers. He placed him- 
self at their head, scaled the steep ascent, in the face 
of a driving storm of missiles, and, reaching the sum- 
mit, put the garrison to the sword. There was a num- 
ber of women and children, also, gathered in the place, 
whom he spared.* 

On the top of the eminence was a blazing beacon, 
serving to notify to the inhabitants of the capital when 
the Spanish fleet weighed anchor. Before Cortes had 
regained his brigantine, the canoes and piraguas of the 
enemy had left the harbors of Mexico, and were seen 
darkening the lake for many a rood. There were sev- 
eral hundred of them, all crowded with warriors, and 
advancing rapidly by means of their oars over the calm 
bosom of the waters. 2 

Cortes, who regarded his fleet, to use his own lan- 
guage, as "the key of the war," felt the importance 
of striking a decisive blow in the first encounter with 
the enemy. 3 It was with chagrin, therefore, that he 

1 " It was a beautiful victory," exclaims the Conqueror. " E en- 
tramoslos de tal manera, que ninguno de ellos se escapo, excepto las 
Mugeres, y Ninos ; y en este combate me hirieron veinte y cinco Es- 
panoles, pero fue muy hermosa Victoria." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, 
p. 241. 

2 About five hundred boats, according to the general's own estimate 
(Ibid., loc. cit.) ; but more than four thousand, according to Bernal 
Diaz (Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 150) ; who, however, was not 

3 " Y como yo deseaba mucho, que el primer reencuentro, que con 



found his sails rendered useless by the want of wind. 
He calmly awaited the approach of the Indian squadron, 
which, however, lay on their oars at something more 
than musket-shot distance, as if hesitating to encounter 
these leviathans of their waters. At this moment, a 
light air from land rippled the surface of the lake ; it 
gradually freshened into a breeze, and Cortes, taking 
advantage of the friendly succor, which he may be 
excused, under all the circumstances, for regarding as 
especially sent him by Heaven, extended his line of 
battle, and bore down, under full press of canvas, on 
the enemy. 4 

The latter no sooner encountered the bows of their 
formidable opponents than they were overturned and 
sent to the bottom by the shock, or so much damaged 
that they speedily filled and sank. The water was 
covered with the wreck of broken canoes, and with 
the bodies of men struggling for life in the waves and 
vainly imploring their companions to take them on 
board their over-crowded vessels. The Spanish fleet, 
as it dashed through the mob of boats, sent off its 
volleys to the right and left with a terrible effect, 
completing the discomfiture of the Aztecs. The latter 
made no attempt at resistance, scarcely venturing a 
single flight of arrows, but strove with all their strength 
to regain the port from which they had so lately issued. 

ellos obiessemos, fuesse de mucha victoria; y se hiciesse de manera, 
que ellos cobrassen mucho temor de los bergantines, porque la Have 
de toda la Guerra estaba en ellos." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 
241, 242. 

4 " Plugo a nuestro Senor, que estandonos mirando los unos 6. los 
otros, vino un viento de la Tierra muy favorable para embestir con 
ellos." Ibid., p. 242. 

Vol. III. — e 9 


They were no match in the chase, any more than in the 
fight, for their terrible antagonist, who, borne on the 
wings of the wind, careered to and fro at his pleasure, 
dealing death widely around him, and making the 
shores ring with the thunders of his ordnance. A few 
only of the Indian flotilla succeeded in recovering the 
port, and, gliding up the canals, found a shelter in the 
bosom of the city, where the heavier burden of the 
brigantines made it impossible for them to follow. 
This victory, more complete than even the sanguine 
temper of Cortes had prognosticated, proved the supe- 
riority of the Spaniards, and left them, henceforth, 
undisputed masters of the Aztec sea. s 

It was nearly dusk when the squadron, coasting 
along the great southern causeway, anchored off the 
point of junction, called Xoloc, where the branch from 
Cojohuacan meets the principal dike. The avenue 
widened at this point, so as to afford room for two 
towers, or turreted temples, built of stone, and sur- 
rounded by walls of the same material, which presented 
altogether a position of some strength, and, at the 

S Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, loc. cit. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., 
lib. 33, cap. 48. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 
32. — I may be excused for again quoting a few verses from a beautiful 
description in " Madoc," and one as pertinent as it is beautiful: 

" Their thousand boats, and the ten thousand oars, 
From whose broad bowls the waters fall and flash, 
And twice ten thousand feathered helms, and shields, 
Glittering with gold and scarlet plumery. 
Onward they come with song and swelling horn ; 

On the other side 

Advance the British barks ; the freshening breeze 
Fills the broad sail ; around the rushing keel 
The waters sing, while proudly they sail on, 
Lords of the water." 

Madoc, Part 2, canto 25. 


present moment, was garrisoned by a body of Aztecs. 
They were not numerous, and Cortes, landing with his 
soldiers, succeeded without -much difficulty in dis- 
lodging the enemy and in getting possession of the 

It seems to have been originally the general's design 
to take up his own quarters with Olid at Cojohuacan. 
But, if so, he now changed his purpose, and wisely 
fixed on this spot as the best position for his encamp- 
ment. It was but half a league distant from the capi- 
tal, and, while it commanded its great southern avenue, 
had a direct communication with the garrison at Cojo- 
huacan, through which he might receive supplies from 
the surrounding country. Here, then, he determined 
to establish his headquarters. He at once caused his 
heavy iron cannon to be transferred from the brigan- 
tines to the causeway, and sent orders to Olid to join 
him with half his force, while Sandoval was instructed 
to abandon his present quarters and advance to Cojo- 
huacan, whence he was to detach fifty picked men of 
his infantry to the camp of Cortes. Having made 
these arrangements, the general busily occupied him- 
self with strengthening the works at Xoloc and putting 
them in the best posture of defence. 

During the first five or six days after their encamp- 
ment the Spaniards experienced much annoyance from 
the enemy, who too late endeavored to prevent their 
taking up a position so near the capital, and which, 
had they known much of the science of war, they would 
have taken better care themselves to secure. Contrary 
to their usual practice, the Indians made their attacks 
by night as well as by day. The water swarmed with 


canoes, which hovered at a distance in terror of the 
brigantines, but still approached near enough, especially 
under cover of the darkness, to send showers of arrows 
into the Christian camp, that fell so thick as to hide 
the surface of the ground and impede the movements 
of the soldiers. Others ran along the western side 
of the causeway, unprotected as it was by the Spanish 
fleet, and plied their archery with such galling effect 
that the Spaniards were forced to make a temporary 
breach in the dike, wide enough to admit two of their 
own smaller vessels, which, passing through, soon 
obtained as entire command of the interior basin as 
they before had of the outer. Still, the bold bar- 
barians, advancing along the causeway, marched up 
within bow-shot of the Christian ramparts, sending 
forth such yells and discordant battle-cries that it 
seemed, in the words of Cortes, "as if heaven and 
earth were coming together." But they were severely 
punished for their temerity, as the batteries, which 
commanded the approaches to the camp, opened a 
desolating fire, that scattered the assailants and drove 
them back in confusion to their own quarters. 6 

The two principal avenues to Mexico, those on the 
south and the west, were now occupied by the Chris- 
tians. There still remained a third, the great dike of 
Tepejacac, on the north, which, indeed, taking up the 
principal street, that passed in a direct line through the 

6 " Y era tanta la multitud," says Cortes, " que por el Agua, y por 
la Tierra no viamos sino Gente, y daban tantas gritas, y alaridos, que 
parecia que se hundia elMundo." Rel. Terc, p. 245. — Oviedo, Hist, 
de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 23. — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS. 
cap. 95. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espafla, MS., lib. 12, cap. 32. 


heart of the city, might be regarded as a continuation 
of the dike of Iztapalapan. By this northern route a 
means of escape was still left open to the besieged, and 
they availed themselves of it, at present, to maintain 
their communications with the country and to supply 
themselves with provisions. Alvarado, who observed 
this from his station at Tacuba, advised his commander 
of it, and the latter instructed Sandoval to take up his 
position on the causeway. That officer, though suffer- 
ing at the time from a severe wound received from a 
lance in one of the late skirmishes, hastened to obey, 
and thus, by shutting up its only communication with 
the surrounding country, completed the blockade of the 
capital. 7 

But Cortes was not content to wait patiently the 
effects of a dilatory blockade, which might exhaust the 
patience of his allies and his own resources. He de- 
termined to support it by such active assaults on the 
city as should still further distress the besieged and 
hasten the hour of surrender. For this purpose he 
ordered a simultaneous attack, by the two commanders 
at the other stations, on the quarters nearest their 

On the day appointed, his forces were under arms 
with the dawn. Mass, as usual, was performed ; and 
the Indian confederates, as they listened with grave 
attention to the stately and imposing service, regarded 
with undisguised admiration the devotional reverence 
shown by the Christians, whom, in their simplicity, 

7 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 246, 247. — Bernal Diaz. 
Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 150. — Herrera, Hist, de las Ind., dec. 3. 
lib. 1, cap. 17. — Defensa, MS., cap. 28. 


they looked upon as little less than divinities them- 
selves. 8 The Spanish infantry marched in the van, led 
on by Cortes, attended by a number of cavaliers, dis- 
mounted like himself. They had not moved far upon 
the causeway, when they were brought to a stand by 
one of the open breaches, that had formerly been trav- 
ersed by a bridge. On the farther side a solid rampart 
of stone and lime had been erected, and behind this 
a strong body of Aztecs were posted, who discharged 
on the Spaniards, as they advanced, a thick volley of 
arrows. The latter vainly endeavored to dislodge them 
with their fire-arms and cross-bows ; they were too well 
secured behind their defences. 

Cortes then ordered two of the brigantines, which 
had kept along, one on each side of the causeway, in 
order to co-operate with the army, to station them- 
selves so as to enfilade the position occupied by the 
enemy. Thus placed between two well-directed fires, 
the Indians were compelled to recede. The soldiers 
on board the vessels, springing to land, bounded like 
deer up the sides of the dike. They were soon fol- 
lowed by their countrymen under Cortes, who, throw- 
ing themselves into the water, swam the undefended 
chasm and joined in pursuit of the enemy. The Mex- 
icans fell back, however, in something like order, till 
they reached another opening in the dike, like the 
former, dismantled of its bridge, and fortified in the 

8 " Asi como fue de dia se dixo vna misa de Espiritu Santo, que 
todos los Christianos oyeron con mucha devocion ; e aun los Indios, 
como simples, e no entendientes de tan alto misterio, con admiracion 
estaban atentos notando el silencio de los catholicos y el acatamiento 
que al altar, y al sacerdote los Christianos tovieron hasta recevir la 
benedicion." Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 24. 


1 03 

same manner by a bulwark of stone, behind which the 
retreating Aztecs, swimming across the chasm, and 
reinforced by fresh bodies of their countrymen, again 
took shelter. 

They made good their post, till, again assailed by 
the cannonade from the brigantines, they were com- 
pelled to give way. In this manner breach after breach 
was carried ; and at every fresh instance of success a 
shout went up from the crews of the vessels, which, 
answered by the long files of the Spaniards and their 
confederates on the causeway, made the Valley echo to 
its borders. 

Cortes had now reached the end of the great avenue, 
where it entered the suburbs. There he halted to give 
time for the rear-guard to come up with him. It was 
detained by the labor of filling up the breaches in 
such a manner as to make a practicable passage for the 
artillery and horse and to secure one for the rest of 
the army on its retreat. This important duty was in- 
trusted to the allies, who executed it by tearing down 
the ramparts on the margins and throwing them into 
the chasms, and, when this was not sufficient, — for the 
water was deep around the southern causeway, — by 
dislodging the great stones and rubbish from the dike 
itself, which was broad enough to admit of it, and 
adding them to the pile, until it was raised above the 
level of the water. 

The street on which the Spaniards now entered was 

the great avenue that intersected the town from north 

to south, and the same by which they had first visited 

the capital. 9 It was broad and perfectly straight, and, 

9 [This street, which is now called the Calle del Rastro, and traverses 


in the distance, dark masses of warriors might be seen 
gathering to the support of their countrymen, who 
were prepared to dispute the further progress of the 
Spaniards. The sides were lined with buildings, the 
terraced roofs of which were also crowded with com- 
batants, who, as the army advanced, poured down a 
pitiless storm of missiles on their heads, which glanced 
harmless, indeed, from the coat of mail, but too often 
found their way through the more common escaupil of 
the soldier, already gaping with many a ghastly rent. 
Cortes, to rid himself of this annoyance for the future, 
ordered his Indian pioneers to level the principal build- 
ings as they advanced ; in which work of demolition, 
no less than in the repair of the breaches, they proved 
of inestimable service. 10 

The Spaniards, meanwhile, were steadily, but slowly, 
advancing, as the enemy recoiled before the rolling 
fire of musketry, though turning, at intervals, to dis- 
charge their javelins and arrows against their pursuers. 
In this way they kept along the great street until their 
course was interrupted by a wide ditch or canal, once 
traversed by a bridge, of which only a few planks now 
remained. These were broken by the Indians the 

the whole city from north to south, leading from the Calle del Relox 
to the causeway of Guadalupe or Tepeyacac, was known at the period 
immediately following the Conquest as the Calle de Iztapalapa, which 
name was given to it through its whole extent. In the time of the 
ancient Mexicans its course was intercepted by the great temple, the 
principal door of which fronted upon it. After this edifice had been 
demolished, the street was opened from one end to the other. Con- 
quista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 157.] 

10 Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espaiia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 32. — Ixtlil- 
xochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 95. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., 
lib. 33, cap. 23. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 247, 248. 



moment they had crossed, and a formidable array of 
spears was instantly seen bristling over the summit of a 
solid rampart of stone, which protected the opposite 
side of the canal. Cortes was no longer supported by 
his brigan tines, which the shallowness of the canals 
prevented from penetrating into the suburbs. He 
brought forward his arquebusiers, who, protected by 
the targets of their comrades, opened a fire on the 
enemy. But the balls fell harmless from the bulwarks 
of stone ; while the assailants presented but too easy a 
mark to their opponents. 

The general then caused the heavy guns to be brought 
up, and opened a lively cannonade, which soon cleared 
a breach in the works, through which the musketeers 
and crossbowmen poured in their volleys thick as hail. 
The Indians now gave way in disorder, after having 
held their antagonists at bay for two hours." The 
latter, jumping into the shallow water, scaled the oppo- 

11 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ubi supra. — Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., 
cap. 95. — Here terminates the work last cited of the Tezcucan chroni- 
cler ; who has accompanied us from the earliest period of our narrative 
down to this point in the final siege of the capital. Whether the con- 
cluding pages of the manuscript have been lost, or whether he was 
interrupted by death, it is impossible to say. But the deficiency is sup- 
plied by a brief sketch of the principal events of the siege, which he has 
left in another of his writings. He had, undoubtedly, uncommon 
sources of information in his knowledge of the Indian languages and 
picture-writing, and in the oral testimony which he was at pains to col- 
lect from the actors in the scenes he describes. All these advantages 
are too often counterbalanced by a singular incapacity for discriminating 
— I will not say, between historic truth and falsehood (for what is 
truth?) — but between the probable, or rather the possible, and the 
impossible. One of the generation of primitive converts to the 
Romish faith, he lived in a state of twilight civilization, when, if mira« 
cles were not easily wrought, it was at least easy to believe them. 


site bank without further resistance, and drove the 
enemy along the street towards the square, where the 
sacred pyramid reared its colossal bulk high over the 
other edifices of the city. 

It was a spot too familiar to the Spaniards. On one 
side stood the palace of Axayacatl, their old quarters, 
the scene to many of them of so much suffering." 
Opposite was the pile of low, irregular buildings once 
the residence of the unfortunate Montezuma ; I3 while 
a third side of the square was flanked by the Coate- 
pantli, or Wall of Serpents, which encompassed the 
great teocalli with its little city of holy edifices. 14 The 
Spaniards halted at the entrance of the square, as if 
oppressed, and for the moment overpowered, by the 
bitter recollections that crowded on their minds. But 
their intrepid leader, impatient at their hesitation, 
loudly called on them to advance before the Aztecs 
had time to rally; and, grasping his target in one 
hand, and waving his sword high above his head with 
the other, he cried his war-cry of "St. Jago," and 
led them at once against the enemy. 13 

12 [In the street of Santa Teresa. Conquista de Mejico (trad, de 
Vega), torn. ii. p. 158.] 

J 3 [Which forms now what is called " El Empedradillo." Ibid.] 

»4 [This wall, adorned with serpents, and crowned with the heads, 
strung together on stakes, of the human victims sacrificed in the temple, 
formed the front of the Plaza on the south side, extending from the 
corner of the Calle de Plateros east, towards the chains that enclose 
the cemetery of the cathedral. Ibid.] 

*S " I con todo eso no se determinaban los Christianos de entrar en 
la Placa ; por lo qual diciendo Hernando Cortes, que no era tiempo 
de mostrar cansancio, ni cobardia, con vna Rodela en la mano, apelli- 
dando Santiago, arremetio el primero." Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 
3, lib. 1, cap. 18. 


The Mexicans, intimidated by the presence of their 
detested foe, who, in spite of all their efforts, had 
again forced his way into the heart of their city, made 
no further resistance, but retreated, or rather fled, for 
refuge into the sacred enclosure of the teocalli, where 
the numerous buildings scattered over its ample area 
afforded many good points of defence. A few priests, 
clad in their usual wild and blood-stained vestments, 
were to be seen lingering on the terraces which wound 
round the stately sides of the pyramid, chanting hymns 
in honor of their god, and encouraging the warriors 
below to battle bravely for his altars. 16 

The Spaniards poured through the open gates into 
the area, and a small party rushed up the winding cor- 
ridors to its summit. No vestige now remained there 
of the Cross, or of any other symbol of the pure faith 
to which it had been dedicated. A new effigy of the 
Aztec war-god had taken the place of the one demol- 
ished by the Christians, and raised its fantastic and 
hideous form in the same niche which had been occu- 
pied by its predecessor. The Spaniards soon tore away 
its golden mask and the rich jewels with which it was 
bedizened, and, hurling the struggling priests down 
the sides of the pyramid, made the best of their way 
to their comrades in the area. It was full time. 17 

16 Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 32. 

»7 Ixtlilxochitl, in his Thirteenth Relacion, embracing among other 
things a brief notice of the capture of Mexico, of which an edition 
has been given to the world by the industrious Bustamante, bestows 
the credit of this exploit on Cortes himself. " En la capilla mayor 
donde estaba Huitzilopoxctli, que llegaron Cortes e Ixtlilxuchitl a un 
tiempo, y ambos embistieron con el idolo. Cortes cogib la mascara de 
oro que tenia puesta este idolo con ciertas piedras preciosas que estaban 
engastadas en ella." Venida de los Espanoles, p. 29. 


The Aztecs, indignant at the sacrilegious outrage 
perpetrated before their eyes, and gathering courage 
from the inspiration of the place, under the very pres- 
ence of their deities, raised a yell of horror and vin- 
dictive fury, as, throwing themselves into something 
like order, they sprang, by a common impulse, on the 
Spaniards. The latter, who had halted near the en- 
trance, though taken by surprise, made an effort to 
maintain their position at the gateway. But in vain ; 
for the headlong rush of the assailants drove them at 
once into the square, where they were attacked by 
other bodies of Indians, pouring in from the neigh- 
boring streets. Broken, and losing their presence of 
mind, the troops made no attempt to rally, but, cross- 
ing the square, and abandoning the cannon, planted 
there, to the enemy, they hurried down the great 
street of Iztapalapan. Here they were soon mingled 
with the allies, who choked up the way, and who, 
catching the panic of the Spaniards, increased the 
confusion, while the eyes of the fugitives, blinded by 
the missiles that rained on them from the azoteas, were 
scarcely capable of .distinguishing friend from foe. In 
vain Cortes endeavored to stay the torrent, and to 
restore order. His voice was drowned in the wild up- 
roar, as he was swept away, like drift-wood, by the 
fury of the current. 

All seemed to be lost ; — when suddenly sounds were 
heard in an adjoining street, like the distant tramp of 
horses galloping rapidly over the pavement. They 
drew nearer and nearer, and a body of cavalry soon 
emerged on the great square. Though but a handful 
in number, they plunged boldly into the thick of the 



enemy. We have often had occasion to notice the 
superstitious dread entertained by the Indians of the 
horse and his rider. And, although the long residence 
of the cavalry in the capital had familiarized the na- 
tives in some measure with their presence, so long a 
time had now elapsed since they had beheld them 
that all their former mysterious terrors revived in full 
force ; and, when thus suddenly assailed in flank by 
the formidable apparition, they were seized with a 
panic and fell into confusion. It soon spread to the 
leading files, and Cortes, perceiving his advantage, 
turned with the rapidity of lightning, and, at this 
time supported by his followers, succeeded in driving 
the enemy with some loss back into the enclosure. 

It was now the hour of vespers, and, as night must 
soon overtake them, he made no further attempt to 
pursue his advantage. Ordering the trumpets, there- 
fore, to sound a retreat, he drew off his forces in good 
order, taking with him the artillery which had been 
abandoned in the square. The allies first went off the 
ground, followed by the Spanish infantry, while the 
rear was protected by the horse, thus reversing the 
order of march on their entrance. The Aztecs hung 
on the closing files, and, though driven back by fre- 
quent charges of the cavalry, still followed in the dis- 
tance, shooting off their ineffectual missiles, and filling 
the air with wild cries and howlings, like a herd of 
ravenous wolves disappointed of their prey. It was 
late before the army reached its quarters at Xoloc. 18 

« 8 " Los de Caballo revolvian sobre ellos, que siempre alanceaban, 
6 mataban algunos ; e como la Calle era muy larga, hubo lugar de 
hacerse esto quatro, 6 cinco veces. E aunque los Enemigos vian 
Vol. III. 10 


Coitds had been well supported by Alvarado and 
Sandoval in this assault on the city ; though neither 
of these commanders had penetrated the suburbs, 
deterred, perhaps, by the difficulties of the passage, 
which in Alvarado' s case were greater than those pre- 
sented to Cortes, from the greater number of breaches 
with which the dike in his quarter was intersected. 
Something was owing, too, to the want of brigantines, 
until Cortes supplied the deficiency by detaching half 
of his little navy to the support of his officers. With- 
out their co-operation, however, the general himself 
could not have advanced so far, nor, perhaps, have 
succeeded at all in setting foot within the city. The 
success of this assault spread consternation not only 
among the Mexicans, but their vassals, as they saw that 
the formidable preparations for defence were to avail 
little against the white man, who had so soon, in spite 
of them, forced his way into the very heart of the 
capital. Several of the neighboring places, in conse- 
quence, now showed a willingness to shake off their 
allegiance, and claimed the protection of the Span- 
iards. Among these were the territory of Xochimilco, 
so roughly treated by the invaders, and some tribes of 
Otomies, a rude but valiant people, who dwelt on the 
western confines of the Valley. 19 Their support was 

que recibian dano, venian los Perros tan rabiosos, que en nlnguna 
manera los podiamos detener, ni que nos dejassen de seguir." Rel. 
Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 250. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 
3, lib. 1, cap. 18. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espafia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 
32. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 23. 

*9 The great mass of the Otomies were an untamed race, who roamed 
over the broad tracks of the plateau, far away to the north. But 
many of them, who found their way into the Valley, became blended 


valuable, not so much from the additional reinforce- 
ments which it brought, as from the greater security 
it gave to the army, whose outposts were perpetually 
menaced by these warlike barbarians. 30 

The most important aid which the Spaniards received 
at this time was from Tezcuco, whose prince, Ixtlilxo- 
chitl, gathered the whole strength of his levies, to the 
number of fifty thousand, if we are to credit Cortes, 
and led them in person to the Christian camp. By the 
general's orders, they were distributed among the three 
divisions of the besiegers. 21 

Thus strengthened, Cortes prepared to make another 
attack upon the capital, and that before it should have 
time to recover from the former. Orders were given 
to his lieutenants on the other causeways to march at 
the same time, and co-operate with him, as before, in 
the assault. It was conducted in precisely the same 

with the Tezcucan, and even with the Tlascalan nation, making some 
of the best soldiers in their armies. 

20 [The Otomies inhabited all the country of Tula on the west, 
where their language is well preserved. Conquista de Mejico (trad, 
de Vega), torn. ii. p. 161.] 

21 " Istrisuchil [Ixtlilxochitl], que es de edad de veinte y tres, 6 
veinte y quatro afios, muy esforzado, amado, y temido de todos." 
(Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 251.) The greatest obscurity 
prevails among historians in respect to this prince, whom they seem 
to have confounded very often with his brother and predecessor on 
the throne of Tezcuco. It is rare that either of them is mentioned 
by any other than his baptismal name of Hernando ; and, if Herrera, 
is correct in the assertion that this name was assumed by both, it may 
explain in some degree the confusion. (Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. i, 
cap. 18.) I have conformed in the main to the old Tezcucan chroni- 
cler, who gathered his account of his kinsman, as he tells us, from the 
records of his nation, and from the oral testimony of the contempo- 
raries of the prince himself. Venida de los Espaiioles, pp. 30, 31. 


manner as on the previous entry, the infantry taking 
the van, and the allies and cavalry following. But, to 
the great dismay of the Spaniards, they found two- 
thirds of the breaches restored to their former state, 
and the stones and other materials, with which they 
had been stopped, removed by the indefatigable enemy. 
They were again obliged to bring up the cannon, the 
brigantines ran alongside, and the enemy was dis- 
lodged, and driven from post to post, in the same man- 
ner as on the preceding attack. In short, the whole 
work was to be done over again. It was not till an 
hour after noon, that the army had won a footing in 
the suburbs. 

Here their progress was not so difficult as before ; 
for the buildings, from the terraces of which they had 
experienced the most annoyance, had been swept away. 
Still, it was only step by step that they forced a passage 
in face of the Mexican militia, who disputed their 
advance with the same spirit as before. Cortes, who 
would willingly have spared the inhabitants, if he 
could have brought them to terms, saw them with 
regret, as he says, thus desperately bent on a war of 
extermination. He conceived that there would be no 
way more likely to affect their minds than by destroy- 
ing at once some of the principal edifices, which they 
were accustomed to venerate as the pride and ornament 
of the city. 22 

22 " Daban ocasion, y nos forzaban i. que totalmente les destruy- 
essemos. 6 de esta postrera tenia mas sentimiento, y me pesaba en 
el alma, y pensaba que forma ternia para los atemorizar, de manera, 
que viniessen en conocimiento de su yerro, y de el dano, que podian 
recibir de nosotros, y no hacia sino quemalles, y derrocalles las Torres 
de sus Idolos, y sus Casas." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 25,4. 



Marching into the great square, he selected, as the 
first to be destroyed, the old palace of Axayacatl, his 
former barracks. The ample range of low buildings 
was, it is true, constructed of stone ; but the interior, 
as well as the outworks, the turrets, and roofs, was 
of wood. The Spaniards, whose associations with the 
pile were of so gloomy a character, sprang to the work 
of destruction with a satisfaction like that which the 
French mob may have felt in the demolition of the 
Bastile. Torches and firebrands were thrown about in 
all directions ; the lower parts of the building were 
speedily on fire, which, running along the inflammable 
hangings and wood-work of the interior, rapidly spread 
to the second floor. There the element took freer 
range, and, before it was visible from without, sent up 
from every aperture and crevice a dense column of 
vapor, that hung like a funereal pall over the city. This 
was dissipated by a bright sheet of flame, which envel- 
oped all the upper regions of the vast pile, till, the 
supporters giving way, the wide range of turreted 
chambers fell, amidst clouds of dust and ashes, with an 
appalling crash, that for a moment stayed the Spaniards 
in the work of devastation. 23 

It was but for a moment. On the other side of the 
square, adjoining Montezuma's residence, were several 
buildings, as the reader is aware, appropriated to ani- 
mals. One of these was now marked for destruction, 

*3 [The ruins of this building were brought to light in the process 
of laying the foundations of the houses recently constructed on the 
southern side of the street of Santa Teresa, adjoining the convent of 
the Conception. Conquista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 



• — the House of Birds, filled with specimens of all the 
painted varieties which swarmed over the wide forests 
of Mexico. It was an airy and elegant building, after 
the Indian fashion, and, viewed in connection with its 
object, was undoubtedly a remarkable proof of refine- 
ment and intellectual taste in a barbarous monarch. 
Its light, combustible materials, of wood and bamboo, 
formed a striking contrast to the heavy stone edifices 
around it, and made it obviously convenient for the 
present purpose of the invaders. The torches were 
applied, and the fanciful structure was soon wrapped 
in flames, that sent their baleful splendors far and wide 
over city and lake. Its feathered inhabitants either 
perished in the fire, or those of stronger wing, bursting 
the burning lattice-work of the aviary, soared high into 
the air, and, fluttering for a while over the devoted 
city, fled with loud screams to their native forests be- 
yond the mountains. 

The Aztecs gazed with inexpressible horror on this 
destruction of the venerable abode of their monarchs 
and of the monuments of their luxury and splendor. 
Their rage was exasperated almost to madness as they 
beheld their hated foes the Tlascalans busy in the work 
of desolation, and aided by the Tezcucans, their own 
allies, and not unfrequently their kinsmen. They 
vented their fury in bitter execrations, especially on 
the young prince Ixtlilxochitl, who, marching side by 
side with Cortes, took his full share in the dangers of 
the day. The warriors from the house-tops poured the 
most opprobrious epithets on him as he passed, de- 
nouncing him as a false-hearted traitor; false to his 
country and his blood, — reproaches not altogether 



unmerited, as his kinsman, who chronicles the circum- 
stance, candidly confesses. 24 He gave little heed to 
their taunts, however, holding on his way with the 
dogged resolution of one true to the cause in which he 
was embarked ; and, when he entered the great square, 
he grappled with the leader of the Aztec forces, 
wrenched a lance from his grasp, won by the latter 
from the Christians, and dealt him a blow with his 
mace, or maquahuitl, which brought him lifeless to the 
ground. 25 

The Spanish commander, having accomplished the 
work of destruction, sounded a retreat, sending on the 
Indian allies, who blocked up the way before him. The 
Mexicans, maddened by their losses, in wild transports 
of fury hung close on his rear, and, though driven back 
by the cavalry, still returned, throwing themselves des- 
perately under the horses, striving to tear the riders 
from their saddles, and content to throw away their 
own lives for one blow at their enemy. Fortunately, 
the greater part of their militia was engaged with the 
assailants on the opposite quarters of the city, but, thus 
crippled, they pushed the Spaniards under Cortes so 
vigorously that few reached the camp that night with- 
out bearing on their bodies some token of the desperate 
conflict. 26 

=4 " Y desde las azoteas deshonrarle llamandole de traidor contra su 
patria y deudos, y otras razones pesadas, que a la verdad a ellos les 
sobraba la razon ; mas Ixtlilxuchitl callaba y peleaba, que mas esti- 
maba la amistad y salud de los Cristianos que todo esto." Venida de 
los Espanoles, p. 32. 

=s Ibid., p. 29. 

36 For the preceding pages relating to this second assault, see Rel. 
Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 254-256, — Sahagun, Hist, de 


On the following day, and, indeed, on several days 
following, the general repeated his assaults with as 
little care for repose as if he and his men had been 
made of iron. On one occasion he advanced some 
way down the street of Tacuba, in which he carried 
three of the bridges, desirous, if possible, to open a 
communication with Alvarado, posted on the contigu- 
ous causeway. But the Spaniards in that quarter had 
not penetrated beyond the suburbs, still impeded by 
the severe character of the ground, and wanting, it 
may be, somewhat of that fiery impetuosity which the 
soldier feels who fights under the eye of his chief. 

In each of these assaults the breaches were found 
more or less restored to their original state by the per- 
tinacious Mexicans, and the materials, which had been 
deposited in them with so much labor, again removed. 
It may seem strange that Cortes did not take measures 
to guard against the repetition of an act which caused 
so much delay and embarrassment to his operations. 
He notices this in his Letter to the Emperor, in which 
he says that to do so would have required either that 
he should have established his quarters in the city 
itself, which would have surrounded him with enemies 
and cut off his communications with the country, or 
that he should have posted a sufficient guard of Span- 
iards — for the natives were out of the question — to 
protect the breaches by night, a duty altogether beyond 
the strength of men engaged in so arduous service 
through the day. 27 

Nueva-Espaiia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 33, — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., 
lib. 33, cap. 24, — Defensa, MS., cap. 28. 
"7 Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 259. 



Yet this was the course adopted by Alvarado ; who 
stationed at night a guard of forty soldiers for the 
defence of the opening nearest to the enemy. This 
was relieved by a similar detachment, in a few hours, 
and this again by a third, the two former still lying on 
their post ; so that on an alarm a body of one hundred 
and twenty soldiers was ready on the spot to repel an 
attack. Sometimes, indeed, the whole division took 
up their bivouac in the neighborhood of the breach, 
resting on their arms, and ready for instant action. 28 

But a life of such incessant toil and vigilance was 
almost too severe even for the stubborn constitutions 
of the Spaniards. "Through the long night," exclaims 
Diaz, who served in Alvarado's division, "we kept 
our dreary watch ; neither wind, nor wet, nor cold 
availing anything. There we stood, smarting as we 
were from the wounds we had received in the fight of 
the preceding day." ** It was the rainy season, which 
continues in that country from July to September; 30 
and the surface of the causeways, flooded by the storms, 

28 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 151. — According to 
Herrera, Alvarado and Sandoval did not conceal their disapprobation 
of the course pursued by their commander in respect to the breaches : 
" I Alvarado, i Sandoval, por su parte, tambien lo hicieron mui bien, 
culpando i. Hernando Cortes por estas retiradas, queriendo muchos 
que se quedara en lo ganado, por no bolver tantas veces & ello." Hist, 
general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 19. 

*9 " Porque como era de noche, no aguardauan mucho, y desta 
manera que he dicho velauamos, que ni porque llouiesse, ni vientos, 
ni frios, y aunque estauamos metidos en medio de grandes lodos, y 
heridos, alii auiamos de estar." Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 151. 

3° [That is to say, the more violent part of the rainy season, which 
lasts, in fact, from May or June to October. Conquista de Mejico 
(trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 165.] 


and broken up by the constant movement of such large 
bodies of men, was converted into a marsh, or rather 
quagmire, which added inconceivably to the distresses 
of the army. 

The troops under Cortes were scarcely in a better 
situation. But few of them could find shelter in the 
rude towers that garnished the works of Xoloc. The 
greater part were compelled to bivouac in the open air, 
exposed to all the inclemency of the weather. Every 
man, unless his wounds prevented it, was required by 
the camp regulations to sleep on his arms ; and they 
were often roused from their hasty slumbers by the 
midnight call to battle. For Guatemozin, contrary 
to the usual practice of his countrymen, frequently 
selected the hours of darkness to aim a blow at the 
enemy. "In short," exclaims the veteran soldier 
above quoted, " so unintermitting were our engage- 
ments, by day and by night, during the three months 
in which we lay before the capital, that to recount 
them all would but exhaust the reader's patience, and 
make him fancy he was perusing the incredible feats 
of a knight-errant of romance. ' ' 3I 

The Aztec emperor conducted his operations on a 
systematic plan, which showed some approach to mili- 
tary science. He not unfrequently made simultaneous 
attacks on the three several divisions of the Spaniards 
established on the causeways, and on the garrisons at 

3* " Porque nouenta y tres dias estuuimos sobre esta tan fuerte ciu- 
dad, cada dia e de noche teniamos guerras, y combates ; enolo pongo 
aqui por capitulos lo que cada dia haziamos, porque me parece que 
seria gran proligidad, e seria cosa para nunca acabar, y pareceria a 
los libros de Amadis, e de otros corros de caualleros." Hist, de la 
Conquista, ubi supra. 



their extremities. To accomplish this, he enforced 
the service not merely of his own militia of the capi- 
tal, but of the great towns in the neighborhood, who 
all moved in concert, at the well-known signal of the 
beacon-fire, or of the huge drum struck by the priests 
on the summit of the temple. One of these general 
attacks, it was observed, whether from accident or de- 
sign, took place on the eve of St. John the Baptist, 
the anniversary of the day on which the Spaniards 
made their second entry into the Mexican capital. 32 

Notwithstanding the severe drain on his forces by 
this incessant warfare, the young monarch contrived 
to relieve them in some degree by different detach- 
ments, which took the place of one another. This was 
apparent from the different uniforms and military 
badges of the Indian battalions that successively came 
and disappeared from the. field. At night a strict 
guard was maintained in the Aztec quarters, a thing 
not common with the nations of the plateau. The 
outposts of the hostile armies were stationed within 
sight of each other. That of the Mexicans was usually 
placed in the neighborhood of some wide breach, and 
its position was marked by a large fire in front. The 
hours for relieving guard were intimated by the shrill 
Aztec whistle, while bodies of men might be seen 
moving behind the flame, which threw a still ruddier 
glow over the cinnamon-colored skins of the war- 

While thus active on land, Guatemozin was not idle 
on the water. He was too wise, indeed, to cope with 

3* Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. — Sahagun, Hist, de 
Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 33. 


the Spanish navy again in open battle; but he resorted 
to stratagem, so much more congenial to Indian war- 
fare. He placed a large number of canoes in ambus- 
cade among the tall reeds which fringed the southern 
shores of the lake, and caused piles, at the same time, 
to be driven into the neighboring shallows. Several 
piraguas, or boats of a larger size, then issued forth, 
and rowed near the spot where the Spanish brigantines 
were moored. Two of the smallest vessels, supposing 
the Indian barks were conveying provisions to the 
besieged, instantly stood after them, as had been fore- 
seen. The Aztec boats fled for shelter to the reedy 
thicket where their companions lay in ambush. The 
Spaniards, following, were soon entangled among the 
palisades under the water. They were instantly sur- 
rounded by the whole swarm of Indian canoes, most 
of the men were wounded, several, including the two 
commanders, slain, and one of the brigantines fell — a 
useless prize — into the hands of the victors. Among 
the slain was Pedro Barba, captain of the crossbow- 
men, a gallant officer, who had highly distinguished 
himself in the Conquest. This disaster occasioned 
much mortification to Cortes. It was a salutary lesson, 
that stood him in good stead during the remainder of 
the war. 33 

Thus the contest was waged by land and by water, — 
on the causeway, the city, and the lake. Whatever 
else might fail, the capital of the Aztec empire was 
true to itself, and, mindful of its ancient renown, op- 
posed a bold front to its enemies in every direction. 

33 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 151. — Sahagun, Hist de 
Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 34. 


As in a body whose extremities have been struck with 
death, life still rallied in the heart, and seemed to beat 
there, for the time, with even a more vigorous pulsa- 
tion than ever. 

It may appear extraordinary that Guatemozin should 
have been able to provide for the maintenance of the 
crowded population now gathered in the metropolis, 
especially as the avenues were all in the possession of 
the besieging army. 34 But, independently of the pre- 
parations made with this view before the siege, and of 
the loathsome sustenance daily furnished by the victims 
for sacrifice, supplies were constantly obtained from 
the surrounding country across the lake. This was so 
conducted, for a time, as in a great measure to escape 
observation ; and even when the brigantines were com- 
manded to cruise day and night, and sweep the waters 
of the boats employed in this service, many still con- 
trived, under cover of the darkness, to elude the vigi- 
lance of the cruisers, and brought their cargoes into 
port. It was not till the great towns in the neighbor- 
hood cast off their allegiance that the supply began to 
fail, from the failure of its sources. This defection 
was more frequent, as the inhabitants became con- 
vinced that the government, incompetent to its own 
defence, must be still more so to theirs ; and the Aztec 
metropolis saw its great vassals fall off one after an- 
other, as the tree over which decay is stealing parts 
with its leaves at the first blast of the tempest. 35 

34 I recollect meeting with no estimate of their numbers ; nor, in the 
loose arithmetic of the Conquerors, would it be worth much. They 
must, however, have been very great, to enable them to meet the as- 
sailants so promptly and efficiently on every point. 

35 Defensa, MS., cap. 28. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., 
Vol. III.— f 11 


The cities which now claimed the Spanish general's 
protection supplied the camp with an incredible num- 
ber of warriors ; a number which, if we admit Cor- 
tes' own estimate, one hundred and fifty thousand, 36 
could have only served to embarrass his operations 
on the long extended causeways. Yet it is true that 
the Valley, teeming with towns and villages, swarmed 
with a population — and one, too, in which every 
man was a warrior — greatly exceeding that of the 
present day. These levies were distributed among the 
three garrisons at the terminations of the causeways ; 
and many found active employment in foraging the 
country for provisions, and yet more in carrying 
on hostilities against the places still unfriendly to the 

Cortes found further occupation for them in the con- 
struction of barracks for his troops, who suffered greatly 
from exposure to the incessant rains of the season, 
which were observed to fall more heavily by night than 
by day. Quantities of stone and timber were obtained 
from the buildings that had been demolished in the 
city. They were transported in the brigantines to the 
causeway, and from these materials a row of huts or 
barracks was constructed, extending on either side of 
the works of Xoloc. It may give some idea of the 
great breadth of the causeway at this place, one of the 
deepest parts of the lake, to add that, although the 
barracks were erected in parallel lines on the opposite 

lib. 12, cap. 34. — The principal cities were Mexicaltzinco, Cuitlahuac, 
Iztapalapan, Mizquiz, Huitzilopochco, Colhuacan. 

36 " Y como aquel dia llevabamos mas de ciento y cincuenta mil 
Hombres de Guerra." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 280. 



sides of it, there still remained space enough for the 
army to defile between. 37 

By this arrangement, ample accommodations were 
furnished for the Spanish troops and their Indian at- 
tendants, amounting in all to about two thousand. The 
great body of the allies, with a small detachment of 
horse and infantry, were quartered at the neighboring 
post of Cojohuacan, which served to protect the rear 
of the encampment and to maintain its communications 
with the country. A similar disposition of forces took 
place in the other divisions of the army, under Alva- 
rado and Sandoval, though the accommodations pro- 
vided for the shelter of the troops on their causeways 
were not so substantial as those for the division of 

The Spanish camp was supplied with provisions from 
the friendly towns in the neighborhood, and especially 
from Tezcuco. 38 They consisted of fish, the fruits 
of the country, particularly a sort of fig borne by the 
tuna {cactus qpuntia), and a species of cherry, or some- 
thing much resembling it, which grew abundantly at this 

37 "Y vea Vuestra Magestad," says Cortes to the emperor, "que 
tan ancha puede ser la Calzada, que va por lo mas hondo de la La- 
guna, que de la una parte, y de la otra iban estas Casas, y quedaba en 
medio hecha Calle, que muy i placer a pie, y d caballo ibamos, y 
veniamos por ella." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 260. 

3 8 The greatest difficulty under which the troops labored, according 
to Diaz, was that of obtaining the requisite medicaments for their 
wounds. But this was in a great degree obviated by a Catalan soldier, 
who by virtue of his prayers and incantations wrought wonderful cures 
both on the Spaniards and their allies. The latter, as the more igno- 
rant, flocked in crowds to the tent of this military ^Esculapius, whose 
success was doubtless in a direct ratio to the faith of his patients. Hist, 
de la Conquista, ubi supra. 


season. But their principal food was the tortillas, cakes 
of Indian meal, still common in Mexico, for which 
bake-houses were established, under the care of the 
natives, in the garrison towns commanding the cause- 
ways. 39 The allies, as appears too probable, reinforced 
their frugal fare with an occasional banquet on human 
flesh, for which the battle-field unhappily afforded them 
too much facility, and which, however shocking to the 
feelings of Cortes, he did not consider himself in a 
situation, at that moment, to prevent. 40 

Thus the tempest, which had been so long mustering, 

39 Diaz mourns over this unsavory diet. (Hist, de la Conquista, loc. 
cit.) Yet the Indian fig is an agreeable, nutritious fruit ; and the tor- 
tilla, made of maize flour, with a slight infusion of lime, though not 
precisely a morceau friand, might pass for very tolerable camp fare. 
According to the lively Author of " Life in Mexico," it is made now 
precisely as it was in the days of the Aztecs. If so, a cooking receipt 
is almost the only thing that has not changed in this country of 

4° "Quo strages," says Martyr, "erat crudelior, eo magis copiose ac 
opipare ccenabant Guazuzingui & Tascaltecani, cseterique prouinciales 
auxiliarii, qui soliti sunt hostes in proelio cadentes intra suos ventres 
sepelire; nee vetare ausus fuisset Cortesius." (De Orbe Novo, dec. 
5, cap. 8.) " Y los otros les mostraban los de su Ciudad hechos 
pedazos, diciendoles, que los habian de cenar aquella noche, y almor- 
zar otro dia, como de hecho lo hacian." (Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. 
Lorenzana, p. 256.) Yet one may well be startled by the assertion of 
Oviedo, that the carnivorous monsters fished up the bloated bodies of 
those drowned in the lake to swell their repast ! " Ni podian ver los 
ojos de los Christianos, e Catholicos, mas espantable e aborrecida 
cosa, que ver en el Real de los Amigos confederados el continuo exer- 
cicio de comer carne asada, 6 cocida de los Indios enemigos, e aun 
de los que mataban en las canoas, 6 se ahogaban, e despues el agua 
los echaba en la superficie de la laguna, 6 en la costa, no los dexaban 
de pescar, e aposentar en sus vientres." Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 
33, cap. 24. 



broke at length, in all its fury, on the Aztec capital. 
Its unhappy inmates beheld the hostile regions en- 
compassing them about, with their glittering files 
stretching as far as the eye could reach. They saw 
themselves deserted by their allies and vassals in their 
utmost need ; the fierce stranger penetrating into their 
secret places, violating their temples, plundering their 
palaces, wasting the fair city by day, firing its suburbs by 
night, and intrenching himself in solid edifices under 
their walls, as if determined never to withdraw his foot 
while one stone remained upon another. All this they 
saw ; yet their spirits were unbroken ; and, though famine 
and pestilence were beginning to creep over them, they 
still showed the same determined front to their enemies. 
Cortes, who would gladly have spared the town and 
its inhabitants, beheld this resolution with astonish- 
ment. He intimated more than once, by means of the 
prisoners whom he released, his willingness to grant 
them fair terms of capitulation. Day after day he 
fully expected his proffers would be accepted. But 
day after day he was disappointed. 41 He had yet to 
learn how tenacious was the memory of the Aztecs, 
and that, whatever might be the horrors of their present 
situation, and their fears for the future, they were all 
forgotten in their hatred of the white man. 

* l " I confidently expected both on that and the preceding day that 
they would come with proposals of peace, as I had myself, whether 
victorious or otherwise, constantly made overtures to that end. But 
on their part we never perceived a sign of such intention." Rel. Terc. 
de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 261. 







Famine was now gradually working its way into the 
heart of the beleaguered city. It seemed certain that, 
with this strict blockade, the crowded population must 
in the end be driven to capitulate, though no arm 
should be raised against them. But it required time ; 
and the Spaniards, though constant and enduring by 
nature, began to be impatient of hardships scarcely 
inferior to those experienced by the besieged. In some 
respects their condition was even worse, exposed as 
they were to the cold, drenching rains, which fell with 
little intermission, rendering their situation dreary and 
disastrous in the extreme. 

In this state of things, there were many who would 
willingly have shortened their sufferings and taken the 
chance of carrying the place by a coup de main. Others 
thought it would be best to get possession of the great 
market of Tlatelolco, which, from its situation in the 
northwestern part of the city, might afford the means 
of communication with the camps of both Alvarado 
and Sandoval. This place, encompassed by spacious 
porticoes, would furnish accommodations for a numer- 



ous host ; and, once established in the capital, the 
Spaniards would be in a position to follow up the blow 
with far more effect than at a distance. 

These arguments were pressed by several of the 
officers, particularly by Alderete, the royal treasurer, a 
person of much consideration, not only from his rank, 
but from the capacity and zeal he had shown in the 
service. In deference to their wishes, Cortes sum- 
moned a council of war, and laid the matter before it. 
The treasurer's views were espoused by most of the 
high-mettled cavaliers, who looked with eagerness to 
any change of their present forlorn and wearisome 
life ; and Cortes, thinking it, probably, more prudent to 
adopt the less expedient course than to enforce a cold 
and reluctant obedience to his own opinion, suffered 
himself to be overruled. 1 

A day was fixed for the assault, which was to be made 
simultaneously by the two divisions under Alvarado 
and the commander-in-chief. Sandoval was instructed 
to draw off the greater part of his forces from the 
northern causeway and to unite himself with Alvarado, 
while seventy picked soldiers were to be detached to 
the support of Cortes. 

On the appointed morning, the two armies, after 
the usual celebration of mass, advanced along their 
respective causeways against the city. 2 They were sup- 

1 Such is the account explicitly given by Cortes to the emperor. 
(Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 264.) Bernal Diaz, on the contrary, 
speaks of the assault as first conceived by the general himself. (Hist, de 
la Conquista, cap. 151.) Yet Diaz had not the best means of knowing ; 
and Cortes would hardly have sent home a palpable misstatement that 
could have been so easily exposed. 

2 This punctual performance of mass by the army, in storm and in 


ported, in addition to the brigantines, by a numerous 
fleet of Indian boats, which were to force a passage up 
the canals, and by a countless multitude of allies, 
whose very numbers served in the end to embarrass 
their operations. After clearing the suburbs, three 
avenues presented themselves, which all terminated in 
the square of Tlatelolco. The principal one, being 
of much greater width than the other two, might rather 
be called a causeway than a street, since it was flanked 
by deep canals on either side. Cortes divided his force 
into three bodies. One of them he placed under Al- 
derete, with orders to occupy the principal street. A 
second he gave in charge to Andres de Tapia and 
Jorge de Alvarado ; the former a cavalier of courage 
and capacity, the latter a younger brother of Don 
Pedro, and possessed of the intrepid spirit which be- 
longed to that chivalrous family. These were to pene- 
trate by one of the parallel streets, while the general 
himself, at the head of the third division, was to oc- 
cupy the other. A small body of cavalry, with two 
or three field-pieces, was stationed as a reserve in front 
of the great street of Tacuba, which was designated as 
the rallying-point for the different divisions. 3 

sunshine, by day and by night, among friends and enemies, draws 
forth a warm eulogium from the archiepiscopal editor of Cortes : " En 
el Campo, en una Calzada, entre Enemigos, trabajando dia, y noche, 
nunca se omitia la Missa, paraque toda la obra se atribuyesse d Dios, 
y mas en unos Meses, en que incomodan las Aguas de el Cielo; y 
encima del Agua las Habitaciones, 6 malas Tiendas." Lorenzana, p. 
266, nota. 

3 In the treasurer's division, according to the general's Letter, there 
were 70 Spanish foot, 7 or 8 horse, and 15,000 or 20,000 Indians; in 
Tapia's, 80 foot, and 10,000 allies ; and in his own, 8 horse, 100 in- 
fantry, and " an infinite number of allies." (Ibid., ubi supra.) The 



Cortes gave the most positive instructions to his 
captains not to advance a step without securing the 
means of retreat by carefully filling up the ditches and 
the openings in the causeway. The neglect of this 
precaution by Alvarado, in an assault which he had 
made on the city but a few days before, had been at- 
tended with such serious consequences to his army that 
Cortes rode over, himself, to his officer's quarters, for 
the purpose of publicly reprimanding him for his dis- 
obedience of orders. On his arrival at the camp, how- 
ever, he found that his offending captain had conducted 
the affair with so much gallantry, that the intended 
reprimand — though well deserved — subsided into a 
mild rebuke. 4 

The arrangements being completed, the three di- 
visions marched at once up the several streets. Cortes, 
dismounting, took the van of his own squadron, at the 
head of his infantry. The Mexicans fell back as he 
advanced, making less resistance than usual. The 
Spaniards pushed on, carrying one barricade after 
another, and carefully filling up the gaps with rubbish, 
so as to secure themselves a footing. The canoes 
supported the attack, by moving along the canals and 
grappling with those of the enemy; while numbers of 
the nimble-footed Tlascalans, scaling the terraces, 
passed on from one house to another, where they were 
connected, hurling the defenders into the streets below. 

looseness of the language shows that a few thousands more or less 
were of no great moment in the estimate of the Indian forces. 

•* " Otro dia de mafiana acorde de ir a su Real para le reprehender 
lo pasado. . . . Y visto, no les impute tanta culpa, como antes parecia 
tener, y platicado cerca de lo que habia de hacer, yo me bolvi a nuestro 
Real aquel dia." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 263, 264, 


The enemy, taken apparently by surprise, seemed in- 
capable of withstanding for a moment the fury of the 
assault ; and the victorious Christians, cheered on by 
the shouts of triumph which arose from their com- 
panions in the adjoining streets, were only the more 
eager to be first at the destined goal. 

Indeed, the facility of his success led the general to 
suspect that he might be advancing too fast ; that it 
might be a device of the enemy to draw them into the 
heart of the city and then surround or attack them in 
the rear. He had some misgivings, moreover, lest his 
too ardent officers, in the heat of the chase, should, 
notwithstanding his commands, have overlooked the 
necessary precaution of filling up the breaches. He 
accordingly brought his squadron to a halt, prepared 
to baffle any insidious movement of his adversary. 
Meanwhile he received more than one message from 
Alderete, informing him that he had nearly gained 
the market. This only increased the general's appre- 
hension that, in the rapidity of his advance, he might 
have neglected to secure the ground. He determined 
to trust no eyes but his own, and, taking a small body 
of troops, proceeded at once to reconnoitre the route 
followed by the treasurer. 

He had not proceeded far along the great street, or 
causeway, when his progress was arrested by an open- 
ing ten or twelve paces wide, and filled with water, at 
least two fathoms deep, by which a communication 
was formed between the canals on the opposite sides. 
A feeble attempt had been made to stop the gap with 
the rubbish of the causeway, but in too careless a man- 
ner to be of the least service ; and a few straggling 



stones and pieces of timber only showed that the work 
had been abandoned almost as soon as begun. 3 To 
add to his consternation, the general observed that the 
sides of the causeway in this neighborhood had been 
pared off, and, as was evident, very recently. He saw 
in all this the artifice of the cunning enemy, and had 
little doubt that his hot-headed officer had rushed into 
a snare deliberately laid for him. Deeply alarmed, he 
set about repairing the mischief as fast as possible, by 
ordering his men to fill up the yawning chasm. 

But they had scarcely begun their labors, when the 
hoarse echoes of conflict in the distance were succeeded 
by a hideous sound of mingled yells and war-whoops, 
that seemed to rend the very heavens. This was fol- 
lowed by a rushing noise, as of the tread of thronging 
multitudes, showing that the tide of battle was turned 
back from its former course, and was rolling on to- 
wards the spot where Cortes and his little band of 
cavaliers were planted. 

His conjecture proved too true. Alderete had fol- 
loAved the retreating Aztecs with an eagerness which 
increased with every step of his advance. He had 
carried the barricades which had defended the breach, 
without much difficulty, and, as he swept on, gave 
orders that the opening should be stopped. But the 
blood of the high-spirited cavaliers was warmed by the 

5 " Y halle, que habian pasado una quebrada de la Calle, que era 
de diez, 6 doce pasos de ancho ; y el Agua, que por ella pasaba, era 
de hondura de mas de dos estados, y al tiempo que la pasaron habian 
echado en ella madera, y canas de carrizo, y como pasaban pocos &. 
pocos, y con tiento, no se habia hundido la madera y canas." Rel. 
Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 268. — See also Oviedo, Hist, de las 
Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48. 


chase, and no one cared to be detained by the ignoble 
occupation of rilling up the ditches, while he could 
gather laurels so easily in the fight ; and they all pressed 
on, exhorting and cheering one another with the assur- 
ance of being the first to reach the square of Tlate- 
lolco. In this way they suffered themselves to be 
decoyed into the heart of the city ; when suddenly the 
horn of Guatemozin — the sacred symbol, heard only in 
seasons of extraordinary peril — sent forth a long and 
piercing note from the summit of a neighboring teocalli. 
In an instant, the flying Aztecs, as if maddened by 
the blast, wheeled about, and turned on their pursuers. 
At the same time, countless swarms of warriors from 
the adjoining streets and lanes poured in upon the 
flanks of the assailants, filling the air with the fierce, 
unearthly cries which had reached the ears of Cortes, 
and drowning, for a moment, the wild dissonance which 
reigned in the other quarters of the capital. 6 

The army, taken by surprise, and shaken by the 
fury of the assault, was thrown into the utmost dis- 
order. Friends and foes, white men and Indians, were 
mingled together in one promiscuous mass. Spears, 
swords, and war-clubs were brandished together in the 
air. Blows fell at random. In their eagerness to 

6 Gomara, Cronica, cap. 138. — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, 
p. 37. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 26. — Guatemozin's 
horn rang in the ears of Bernal Diaz for many a day after the battle. 
" Guatemuz, y manda tocar su corneta, q era vna serial q quando 
aquella se tocasse, era q auian de pelear sus Capitanes de manera, q 
hiziessen presa, 6 morir sobre ello ; y retumbaua el sonido, q se metia 
en los oidos, y de q lo oyero aquellos sus esquadrones, y Capitanes : 
saber yo aqui dezir aora, con q rabia, y esfuerco se metian entre 
nosotros a nos echar mano, es cosa de espanto." Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 152. 


1 33 

escape, they trod down one another. Blinded by the 
missiles which now rained on them from the azoteas, 
they staggered on, scarcely knowing in what direction, 
or fell, struck down by hands which they could not 
see. On they came, like a rushing torrent sweeping 
along some steep declivity, and rolling in one confused 
tide towards the open breach, on the farther side of 
which stood Cortes and his companions, horror-struck 
at the sight of the approaching ruin. The foremost 
files soon plunged into the gulf, treading one another 
under the flood, some striving ineffectually to swim, 
others, with more success, to clamber over the heaps 
of their suffocated comrades. Many, as they attempted 
to scale the opposite sides of the slippery dike, fell 
into the water, or were hurried off by the warriors in 
the canoes, who added to the horrors of the rout by 
the fresh storm of darts and javelins which they poured 
on the fugitives. 

Cortes, meanwhile, with his brave followers, kept 
his station undaunted on the other side of the breach. 
" I had made up my mind," he says, "to die, rather 
than desert my poor followers in their extremity!" 7 
With outstretched hands he endeavored to rescue as 
many as he could from the watery grave, and from the 
more appalling fate of captivity. He as vainly tried 
to restore something like presence of mind and order 
among the distracted fugitives. His person was too 
well known to the Aztecs, and his position now made 
him a conspicuous mark for their weapons. Darts, 

7 " 6 como el negocio fue tan de supito, y vi que mataban la Gente, 
determine de me quedar alii, y morir peleando." Rel. Terc, ap. 
Lorenzana, p. 268. 

Vol. III. 12 



stones, and arrows fell around him thick as hail, but 
glanced harmless from his steel helmet and armor of 
proof. At length a cry of " Malinche," " Malinche," 
arose among the enemy ; and six of their number, 
strong and athletic warriors, rushing on him at once, 
made a violent effort to drag him on board their boat. 
In the struggle he received a severe wound in the leg, 
which, for the time, disabled it. There seemed to be 
no hope for him ; when a faithful follower, Cristoval 
de Olea, perceiving his general's extremity, threw him- 
self on the Aztecs, and with a blow cut off the arm of 
one savage, and then plunged his sword in the body 
of another. He was quickly supported by a comrade 
named Lerma, and by a Tlascalan chief, who, fighting 
over the prostrate body of Cortes, despatched three 
more of the assailants; though the heroic Olea paid 
dearly for his self-devotion, as he fell mortally wounded 
by the side of his general. 8 

8 Ixtlilxochitl, who would fain make his royal kinsman a sort of 
residuary legatee for all unappropriated, or even doubtful, acts of 
heroism, puts in a sturdy claim for him on this occasion. A painting, 
he says, on one of the gates of a monastery of Tlatelolco, long re- 
corded the fact that it was the Tezcucan chief who saved the life of 
Cortes. (Venida de los Espafioles, p. 38.) But Camargo gives the 
full credit of it to Olea, on the testimony of " a famous Tlascalan 
warrior," present in the action, who reported it to him. (Hist, de 
Tlascala, MS.) The same is stoutly maintained by Bernal Diaz, the 
townsman of Olea, to whose memory he pays a hearty tribute, as one 
of the best men and bravest soldiers in the army. (Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 152, 204.) Saavedra, the poetic chronicler, — something 
more of chronicler than poet, — who came on the stage before all that 
had borne arms in the Conquest had left it, gives the laurel also to 
Olea, whose fate he commemorates in verses that at least aspire to 

historic fidelity: 

" Tuvole con las manos abragado, 
Y Francisco de Olea el valeroso, 



The report soon spread among the soldiers that their 
commander was taken ; and Quinones, the captain of 
his guard, with several others, pouring in to the rescue, 
succeeded in disentangling Cortes from the grasp of 
his enemies, who were struggling with him in the 
water, and, raising him in their arms, placed him again 
on the causeway. One of his pages, meanwhile, had 
advanced some way through the press, leading a horse 
for his master to mount. But the youth received a 
wound in the throat from a javelin, which prevented 
him from effecting his object. Another of his attend- 
ants was more successful. It was Guzman, his cham- 
berlain ; but, as he held the bridle while Cortes was 
assisted into the saddle, he was snatched away by the 
Aztecs, and, with the swiftness of thought, hurried off 
by their canoes. The general still lingered, unwilling 
to leave the spot while his presence could be of the 
least service. But the faithful Quinones, taking his 
horse by the bridle, turned his head from the breach, 
exclaiming, at the same time, that "his master's life was 
too important to the army to be thrown away there." 3 

Vn valiente Espanol, y su criado, 
Le tiro vn tajo brauo y riguroso : 
Las dos manos a cercen le ha cortado, 

Y el le libro del trance trabajoso. 
Huuo muy gran rumor, porque dezian, 
Que ya en prision amarga le tenian. 

" Llegaron otros Indios arriscados, 

Y a Olea mataron en vn punto, 
Cercaron a Cortes por todos lados, 

Y al miserable cuerpo ya difunto : 

Y viendo sus sentidos recobrados, 
Puso mano a la espada y daga junto. 
Antonio de Quinones lleg6 luego, 
Capitan de la guarda ardiendo en fuego." 

El Peregrino Indiano, Canto 23. 
i " £ aquel Capitan que estaba con el General, que se decia Antonio 


Yet it was no easy matter to force a passage through 
the press. The surface of the causeway, cut up by the 
feet of men and horses, was knee-deep in mud, and in 
some parts was so much broken that the water from the 
canals flowed over it. The crowded mass, in their 
efforts to extricate themselves from their perilous posi- 
tion, staggered to and fro like a drunken man. Those 
on the flanks were often forced by the lateral pressure 
of their comrades down the slippery sides of the dike, 
where they were picked up by the canoes of the enemy, 
whose shouts of triumph proclaimed the savage joy with 
which they gathered in every new victim for the sacri- 
fice. Two cavaliers, riding by the general's side, lost 
their footing, and rolled down the declivity into the 
water. One was taken and his horse killed. The 
other was happy enough to escape. The valiant en- 
sign, Corral, had a similar piece of good fortune. He 
slipped into the canal, and the enemy felt sure of their 
prize, when he again succeeded in recovering the cause- 
way, with the tattered banner of Castile still flying 
above his head. The barbarians set up a cry of dis- 
appointed rage as they lost possession of a trophy to 
which the people of Anahuac attached, as we have 
seen, the highest importance, hardly inferior in their 
eyes to the capture of the commander-in-chief him- 
self. 10 

Cortes at length succeeded in regaining the firm 

de Quifiones, dixole : Vamos, Sefior, de aqui, y salvemos vuestra Per- 
sona, pues que ya esto esti. de manera, que es morir desesperado aten- 
der ; e sin vos, ninguno de nosotros puede escapar, que no es esfuerzo, 
sino poquedad, porfiar aqui otra cosa." Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., 
MS., lib. 33, cap. 26. 
10 It may have been the same banner which is noticed by Mr. 



ground, and reaching the open place before the great 
street of Tacuba. Here, under a sharp fire of the 
artillery, he rallied his broken squadrons, and, charging 
at the head of the little body of horse, which, not 
having been brought into action, were still fresh, he 
beat off the enemy. He then commanded the retreat 
of the two other divisions. The scattered forces again 
united ; and the general, sending forward his Indian 
confederates, took the rear with a chosen body of cav- 
alry to cover the retreat of the army, which was effected 
with but little additional loss." 

Andres de Tapia was despatched to the western 
causeway to acquaint Alvarado and Sandoval with the 
failure of the enterprise. Meanwhile the two captains 
had penetrated far into the city. Cheered by the 
triumphant shouts of their countrymen in the adjacent 
streets, they had pushed on with extraordinary vigor, 
that they might not be outstripped in the race of glory. 
They had almost reached the market-place, which lay 
nearer to their quarters than to the general's, when 
they heard the blast from the dread horn of Guate- 
mozin, 12 followed by the overpowering yell of the bar- 

Bullock as treasured up in the Hospital of Jesus, "where," says he, 
"we beheld the identical embroidered standard under which the great 
captain wrested this immense empire from the unfortunate Monte- 
zuma." Six Months in Mexico, vol. i. chap. 10. 

" For this disastrous affair, besides the Letter of Cortes, and the 
Chronicle of Diaz, so often quoted, see Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva- 
Espafia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 33, — Camargo, Hist, de Tlascala, MS., — 
Gomara, Cronica, cap. 138, — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 
94, — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 26, 48. 

13 " El resonido de la corneta de Guatemuz." — Astolfo's magic horn 
was not more terrible : 



barians, which had so startled the ears of Cortes ; till 
at length the sounds of the receding conflict died away 
in the distance. The two captains now understood 
that the day must have gone hard with their country- 
men. They soon had further proof of it, when the 
victorious Aztecs, returning from the pursuit of Cortes, 
joined their forces to those engaged with Sandoval and 
Alvarado, and fell on them with redoubled fury. At 
the same time they rolled on the ground two or three 
of the bloody heads of the Spaniards, shouting the 
name of "Malinche." The captains, struck with 
horror at the spectacle, — though they gave little credit 
to the words of the enemy, — instantly ordered a re- 
treat. Indeed, it was not in their power to maintain 
their ground against the furious assaults of the besieged, 
who poured on them, swarm after swarm, with a des- 
peration of which, says one who was there, "although 
it seems as if it were now present to my eyes, I can 
give but a faint idea to the reader. God alone could 
have brought us off safe from the perils of that day. ' ' ,3 
The fierce barbarians followed up the Spaniards to 
their very intrenchments. But here they were met, 

" Dico che '1 corno e di si orribil suono, 
Ch' ovunque s' oda, fa fuggir la gente. 
Non pu6 trovarsi al mondo un cor si buono, 
Che possa non fuggir come lo sente. 
Rumor di vento e di tremuoto, e '1 tuono, 
A par del suon di questo, era niente." 

Orlando Furioso, Canto 15, st. 15. 

*3 " Por q yo no lo se aqui escriuir q aora q me pongo i. pensar en 
ello, es como si visiblemente lo viesse, mas bueluo d dezir, y ansi es 
verdad, q si Dios no nos diera esfuergo, segun estauamos todos beri- 
dos : el nos saluo, q de otra manera no nos podiamos llegar i. nuestros 
ranchos." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 152. 



first by the cross-fire of the brigantines, which, dashing 
through the palisades planted to obstruct their move- 
ments, completely enfiladed the causeway, and next by 
that of the small battery erected in front of the camp, 
which, under the management of a skilful engineer, 
named Medrano, swept the whole length of the defile. 
Thus galled in front and on flank, the shattered columns 
of the Aztecs were compelled to give way and take 
shelter under the defences of the city. 

The greatest anxiety now prevailed in the camp re- 
garding the fate of Cortes; for Tapia had been detained 
on the road by scattered parties of the enemy, whom 
Guatemozin had stationed there to interrupt the com- 
munication between the camps. He arrived at length, 
however, though bleeding from several wounds. His 
intelligence, while it reassured the Spaniards as to the 
general's personal safety, was not calculated to allay 
their uneasiness in other respects. 

Sandoval, in particular, was desirous to acquaint 
himself with the actual state of things and the further 
intentions of Cortes. Suffering as he was from three 
wounds, which he had received in that day's fight, he 
resolved to visit in person the quarters of the com- 
mander-in-chief. It was mid-day — for the busy scenes 
of the morning had occupied but a few hours — when 
Sandoval remounted the good steed on whose strength 
and speed he knew he could rely. It was a noble ani- 
mal, well known throughout the army, and worthy of 
its gallant rider, whom it had carried safe through all 
the long marches and bloody battles of the Conquest. 14 

M This renowned steed, who might rival the Babieca of the Cid, was 
named Motilla, and, when one would pass unqualified praise on a 


On the way he fell in with Guatemozin's scouts, who 
gave him chase, and showered around him volleys of 
missiles, which, fortunately, found no vulnerable point 
in his own harness or that of his well-barbed charger. 

On arriving at the camp, he found the troops there 
much worn and dispirited by the disaster of the morn- 
ing. They had good reason to be so. Besides the 
killed, and along file of wounded, sixty-two Spaniards, 
with a multitude of allies, had fallen alive into the 
hands of the enemy, — an enemy who was never known 
to spare a captive. The loss of two field-pieces and 
seven horses crowned their own disgrace and the tri- 
umph of the Aztecs. This loss, so insignificant in 
European warfare, was a great one here, where both 
horses and artillery, the most powerful arms of war 
against the barbarians, were not to be procured without 
the greatest cost and difficulty. 13 

Cortes, it was observed, had borne himself through- 
out this trying day with his usual intrepidity and cool- 
ness. The only time he was seen to falter was when 
the Mexicans threw down before him the heads of sev- 
eral Spaniards, shouting, at the same time, "Sando- 

horse, he would say, " He is as good as Motilla." So says that prince 
of chroniclers, Diaz, who takes care that neither beast nor man shall 
be defrauded of his fair guerdon in these campaigns against the infidel. 
He was of a chestnut color, it seems, with a star in his forehead, and, 
luckily for his credit, with only one foot white. See Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 152, 205. 

J 5 The cavaliers might be excused for not wantonly venturing their 
horses, if, as Diaz asserts, they could only be replaced at an expense 
of eight hundred or a thousand dollars apiece : " Porque costaua en 
aquella sazon vn cauallo ochocientos pesos, y aun algunos costauan a 
mas de mil." Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 151. See, also, antt, Book 
II. chap. 3, note 14. 



val," "Tonatiuh," the well-known epithet of Alva- 
rado. At the sight of the gory trophies he grew 
deadly pale ; but, in a moment recovering his usual 
confidence, he endeavored to cheer up the drooping 
spirits of his followers. It was with a cheerful coun- 
tenance that he now received his lieutenant ; but a 
shade of sadness was visible through this outward com- 
posure, showing how the catastrophe of the puente cui- 
dada, " the sorrowful bridge," as he mournfully called 
it, lay heavy at his heart. 

To the cavalier's anxious inquiries as to the cause of 
the disaster, he replied, "It is for my sins that it has 
befallen me, son Sandoval;" for such was the affec- 
tionate epithet with which Cortes often addressed his 
best-beloved and trusty officer. He then explained to 
him the immediate cause, in the negligence of the 
treasurer. Further conversation followed, in which 
the general declared his purpose to forego active hos- 
tilities for a few days. "You must take my place," 
he continued, "for I am too much crippled at present 
to discharge my duties. You must watch over the 
safety of the camps. Give especial heed to Alvarado's. 
He is a gallant soldier, I know it well ; but I doubt 
the Mexican hounds may, some hour, take him at dis- 
advantage." l6 These few words showed the general's 
own estimation of his two lieutenants ; both equally 
brave and chivalrous, but the one uniting with these 

16 " Mira pues veis que yo no puedo ir &. todas partes, A vos os en- 
comiendo estos trabajos, pues veis q estoy herido y coxo ; ruego os 
pongais cobro en estos tres reales ; bien se q Pedro de Alvarado, y 
sus Capitanes, y soldados aurdn batallado, y hecho como caualleros, 
mas temo el gian poder destos perros no les ayan desbaratado." Bemal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 152. 


qualities the circumspection so essential to success in 
perilous enterprises, in which the other was signally 
deficient. The future conqueror of Guatemala had to 
gather wisdom, as usual, from the bitter fruits of his 
own errors. It was under the training of Cortes that 
he learned to be a soldier. The general, having con- 
cluded his instructions, affectionately embraced his 
lieutenant, and dismissed him to his quarters. 

It was late in the afternoon when he reached them ; 
but the sun was still lingering above the western hills, 
and poured his beams wide over the Valley, lighting 
up the old towers and temples of Tenochtitlan with a 
mellow radiance, that little harmonized with the dark 
scenes of strife in which the city had so lately been 
involved. The tranquillity of the hour, however, was 
on a sudden broken by the strange sounds of the great 
drum in the temple of the war-god, — sounds which 
recalled the noche triste, with all its terrible images, to 
the minds of the Spaniards, for that was the only 
occasion on which they had ever heard them. 17 They 
intimated some solemn act of religion within the un- 
hallowed precincts of the teocalli ; and the soldiers, 
startled by the mournful vibrations, which might be 
heard for leagues across the Valley, turned their eyes 
to the quarter whence they proceeded. They there 
beheld a long procession winding up the huge sides of 
the pyramid ; for the camp of Alvarado was pitched 
scarcely a mile from the city, and objects are distinctly 
visible at a great distance in the transparent atmosphere 
of the table-land. 

*7 " Vn atambor de muy triste sonido, enfin como instrumento de 
demonios, y retumbaua tanto, que se oia dos, 6 tres leguas." Bernal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, loc. cit. 


J 43 

As the long file of priests and warriors reached the 
flat summit of the teocalli, the Spaniards saw the figures 
of several men stripped to their waists, some of whom, 
by the whiteness of their skins, they recognized as 
their own countrymen. They were the victims for 
sacrifice. Their heads were gaudily decorated with 
coronals of plumes, and they carried fans in their 
hands. They were urged along by blows, and com- 
pelled to take part in the dances in honor of the Aztec 
war-god. The unfortunate captives, then stripped of 
their sad finery, were stretched, one after another, on 
the great stone of sacrifice. On its convex surface 
their breasts were heaved up conveniently for the dia- 
bolical purpose of the priestly executioner, who cut 
asunder the ribs by a strong blow with his sharp razor 
of itztli, and, thrusting his hand into the wound, tore 
away the heart, which, hot and reeking, was deposited 
on the golden censer before the idol. The body of 
the slaughtered victim was then hurled down the steep 
stairs of the pyramid, which, it may be remembered, 
were placed at the same angle of the pile, one flight 
below another ; and the mutilated remains were gath- 
ered up by the savages beneath, who soon prepared 
with them the cannibal repast which completed the 
work of abomination ! l8 

18 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra.— Oviedo, Hist, de 
las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48. — " Sacdndoles los corazones, sobre una 
piedra que era como un pilar cortado, tan graeso como un hombre y 
algo mas, y tan alto como medio estadio ; alii A cada uno echado de 
espaldas sobre aquella piedra, que se llama Techcatl, uno le tirabapor 
un brazo, y otro por el otro, y tambien por las piernas otros dos, y 
venia uno de aquellos S&trapas, con un pedernal, como un hierro de 
lanza enhastado, en un palo de dos palmos de largo, le daba un golpe 


We may imagine with what sensations the stupefied 
Spaniards must have gazed on this horrid spectacle, so 
near that they could almost recognize the persons of 
their unfortunate friends, see the struggles and writh- 
ing of their bodies, hear — or fancy that they heard — 
their screams of agony ! yet so far removed that they 
could render them no assistance. Their limbs trembled 
beneath them, as they thought what might one day be 
their own fate ; and the bravest among them, who had 
hitherto gone to battle as careless and light-hearted as 
to the banquet or the ball-room, were unable, from 
this time forward, to encounter their ferocious enemy 
without a sickening feeling, much akin to fear, coming 
over them. 19 

Such was not the effect produced by this spectacle 

con ambas manos en el pecho ; y sacando aquel pedernal, por la misma 
llaga metia la mano, y arrancdbale el corazon, y luego fregaba con el 
la boca del f dolo ; y echaba a rodar el cuerpo por las gradas abajo, 
que serian como cinquenta 6 sesenta gradas, por alii abajo iba que- 
brando las piernas y los brazos, y dando cabezasos con la cabeza, 
hasta que llegaba abajo aun vivo." Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, 
MS., lib. 12, cap. 35. 

x 9 At least, such is the honest confession of Captain Diaz, as stout- 
hearted a soldier as any in the army. He consoles himself, however, 
with the reflection that the tremor of his limbs intimated rather an 
excess of courage than a want of it, since it arose from a lively sense 
of the great dangers into which his daring spirit was about to hurry 
him ! The passage in the original affords a good specimen of the in- 
imitable naivete of the old chronicler : " Digan agora todos aquellos 
caualleros, que desto del militar entienden, y se han hallado en trances 
peligrosos de muerte, a que fin echardn mi temor, si es d mucha fla- 
queza de animo, 6 a mucho esfuerco, porque como he dicho, sentia 
yo en mi pensamiento, que auia de poner por mi persona, batallando 
en parte que por fuerca auia de temer la muerte mas que otras vezes, 
v por esto me temblaua el coracon, y temia la muerte." Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 156. 



on the Mexican forces, gathered at the end of the 
causeway. Like vultures maddened by the smell of 
distant carrion, they set up a piercing cry, and, as 
they shouted that "such should be the fate of all their 
enemies," swept along in one fierce torrent over the 
dike. But the Spaniards were not to be taken by 
surprise ; and, before the barbarian horde had come 
within their lines, they opened such a deadly fire from 
their battery of heavy guns, supported by the musketry 
and cross-bows, that the assailants were compelled to 
fall back slowly, but fearfully mangled, to their former 

The five following days passed away in a state of in- 
action, except, indeed, so far as was necessary to repel 
the sorties made from time to time by the militia of 
the capital. The Mexicans, elated with their success, 
meanwhile, abandoned themselves to jubilee ; singing, 
dancing, and feasting on the mangled relics of their 
wretched victims. Guatemozin sent several heads of 
the Spaniards, as well as of the horses, round the 
country, calling on his old vassals to forsake the ban- 
ners of the white men, unless they would share the 
doom of the enemies of Mexico. The priests now 
cheered the young monarch and the people with the 
declaration that the dread Huitzilopochtli, their of- 
fended deity, appeased by the sacrifices offered up on 
his altars, would again take the Aztecs under his pro- 
tection, and deliver their enemies, before the expira- 
tion of eight days, into their hands. 80 

20 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 2, cap. 20. — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida 
de los Espafioles, pp. 41, 42. — " Y nos dezian, que de ai a ocho dias 
no auia de quedar ninguno de nosotros a vida, porque assi se lo auian 
Vol. III. — g 13 


This comfortable prediction, confidently believed 
by the Mexicans, was thundered in the ears of the 
besieging army in tones of exultation and defiance. 
However it may have been contemned by the Span- 
iards, it had a very different effect on their allies. 
The latter had begun to be disgusted with a service so 
full of peril and suffering and already protracted far 
beyond the usual term of Indian hostilities. They 
had less confidence than before in the Spaniards. Ex- 
perience had shown that they were neither invincible 
nor immortal, and their recent reverses made them 
even distrust the ability of the Christians to reduce the 
Aztec metropolis. They recalled to mind the ominous 
words of Xicotencatl, that "so sacrilegious a war could 
come to no good for the people of Anahuac." They 
felt that their arm was raised against the gods of their 
country. The prediction of the oracle fell heavy on 
their hearts. They had little doubt of its fulfilment, 
and were only eager to turn away the bolt from their 
own heads by a timely secession from the cause. 

They took advantage, therefore, of the friendly cover 
of night to steal away from their quarters. Company 
after company deserted in this manner, taking the 
direction of their respective homes. Those belonging 
to the great towns of the Valley, whose allegiance was 
the most recent, were the first to cast it off. Their 
example was followed by the older confederates, the 
militia of Cholula, Tepeaca, Tezcuco, and even the 
faithful Tlascala. There were, it is true, some excep- 
tions to these, and among them Ixtlilxochitl, the young 

prometido la noche antes sus Dioses." Eternal Diaz, Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 153. 



lord of Tezcuco, and Chichemecatl, the valiant Tlas- 
calan chieftain, who, with a few of their immediate 
followers, still remained true to the banner under which 
they had enlisted. But their number was insignificant. 
The Spaniards beheld with dismay the mighty array, 
on which they relied for support, thus silently melting 
away before the breath of superstition. Cortes alone 
maintained a cheerful countenance. He treated the 
prediction with contempt, as an invention of the 
priests, and sent his messengers after the retreating 
squadrons, beseeching them to postpone their depart- 
ure, or at least to halt on the road, till the time, which 
would soon elapse, should show the falsehood of the 

The affairs of the Spaniards at this crisis must be 
confessed to have worn a gloomy aspect. Deserted by 
their allies, with their ammunition nearly exhausted, 
cut off from the customary supplies from the neighbor- 
hood, harassed by unintermitting vigils and fatigues, 
smarting under wounds, of which every man in the 
army had his share, with an unfriendly country in their 
rear and a mortal foe in front, they might well be 
excused for faltering in their enterprise. They found 
abundant occupation by day in foraging the country, 
and in maintaining their position on the causeways 
against the enemy, now made doubly daring by suc- 
cess and by the promises of their priests ; while at 
night their slumbers were disturbed by the beat of the 
melancholy drum, the sounds of which, booming far 
over the waters, tolled the knell of their murdered com- 
rades. Night after night fresh victims were led up to 
the great altar of sacrifice ; and, while the city blazed 


with the illumination of a thousand bonfires on the 
terraced roofs of the dwellings and in the areas of the 
temples, the dismal pageant, showing through the fiery 
glare like the work of the ministers of hell, was dis- 
tinctly visible from the camp below. One of the last 
of the sufferers was Guzman, the unfortunate cham- 
berlain of Cortes, who lingered in captivity eighteen 
days before he met his doom. 21 

Yet in this hour of trial the Spaniards did not falter. 
Had they faltered, they might have learned a lesson of 
fortitude from some of their own wives, who continued 
with them in the camp, and who displayed a heroism, 
on this occasion, of which history has preserved several 
examples. One of these, protected by her husband's 
armor, would frequently mount guard in his place when 
he was wearied. Another, hastily putting on a sol- 
dier's escaupilzxA seizing a sword and lance, was seen, 
on one occasion, to rally their retreating countrymen 
and lead them back against the enemy. Cortes would 
have persuaded these Amazonian dames to remain at 

21 Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 36. — Ixtlil- 
xochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, pp. 41, 42. — The Castilian scholar 
will see that I have not drawn on my imagination for the picture of 
these horrors: " Digamos aora lo que los Mexicanos hazian de noche 
en sus grandes, y altos Cues ; y es, q tanian su maldito atambor, que 
dixe otra vez que era el de mas maldito sonido, y mas triste q se podia 
inuetar, y sonaua muy lexos ; y tanian otros peores instrumentos. En 
fin, cosas diabolicas, y tenia grandes lumbres, y daua gradissimos 
gritos, y siluos, y en aquel instate estauan sacrificando de nuestros 
copaneros, de los q tomaro a Cortes, que supimos q sacrificaron diez 
dias arreo, hasta que los acab&ron, y el postrero dexaro a Christoual 
de Guzman, q viuo lo tuuieron diez y ocho dias, segun dixero tres 
Capitanes Mexicanos q predimos." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 153. 



Tlascala; but they proudly replied, " It was the duty 
of Castilian wives not to abandon their husbands in 
danger, but to share it with them, — and die with them, 
if necessary." And well did they do their duty." 

Amidst all the distresses and multiplied embarrass- 
ments of their situation, the Spaniards still remained 
true to their purpose. They relaxed in no degree the 
severity of the blockade. Their camps still occupied 
the only avenues to the city; and their batteries, 
sweeping the long defiles at every fresh assault of the 
Aztecs, mowed down hundreds of the assailants. Their 
brigantines still rode on the waters, cutting off the 
communication with the shore. It is true, indeed, the 
loss of the auxiliary canoes left a passage open for the 
occasional introduction of supplies to the capital. 23 
But the whole amount of these supplies was small ; and 
its crowded population, while exulting in their tempo- 
rary advantage and the delusive assurances of their 
priests, were beginning to sink under the withering 
grasp of an enemy within, more terrible than the one 
which lay before their gates. 

■» " Que no era bien, que Mugeres Castellanas dexasen a sus Man- 
dos, iendo a la Guerra, i que adonde ellos muriesen, moririan ellas." 
(Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. i, cap. 22.) The historian has 
embalmed the names of several of these heroines in his pages, who 
are, doubtless, well entitled to share the honors of the Conquest : 
Beatriz de Palacios, Maria de Estrada, Juana Martin, Isabel Rodri- 
guez, and Beatriz Bermudez. 

*J Ibid., ubi supra. 






Thus passed away the eight days prescribed by the 
oracle ; and the sun which rose upon the ninth beheld 
the fair city still beset on every side by the inexora- 
ble foe. It was a great mistake of the Aztec priests 
— one not uncommon with false prophets, anxious to 
produce a startling impression on their followers — to 
assign so short a term for the fulfilment of their pre- 
diction. 1 

The Tezcucan and Tlascalan chiefs now sent to 
acquaint their troops with the failure of the prophecy, 
and to recall them to the Christian camp. The Tlas- 
calans, who had halted on the way, returned, ashamed 
of their credulity, and with ancient feelings of ani- 
mosity heightened by the artifice of which they had 
been the dupes. Their example was followed by many 
of the other confederates, with the levity natural to a 
people whose convictions are the result not of reason, 

1 And yet the priests were not so much to blame, if, as Soils assures 
us, " the Devil went about very industriously in those days, insinuating 
into the ears of his flock what he could not into their hearts." Con- 
quista, lib. 5, cap 22. 



but of superstition. In a short time the Spanish gen- 
eral found himself at the head of an auxiliary force 
which, if not so numerous as before, was more than 
adequate to all his purposes. He received them with 
politic benignity ; and, while he reminded them that 
they had been guilty of a great crime in thus abandon- 
ing their commander, he was willing to overlook it 
in consideration of their past services. They must be 
aware that these services were not necessary to the 
Spaniards, who had carried on the siege with the same 
vigor during their absence as when they were present. 
But he was unwilling that those who had shared the 
dangers of the war with him should not also par- 
take its triumphs, and be present at the fall of their 
enemy, which he promised, with a confidence better 
founded than that of the priests in their prediction, 
should not be long delayed. 

Yet the menaces and machinations of Guatemozin 
were still not without effect in the distant provinces. 
Before the full return of the confederates, Cortes re- 
ceived an embassy from Cuernavaca, ten or twelve 
leagues distant, and another from some friendly towns 
of the Otomies, still farther off, imploring his protection 
against their formidable neighbors, who menaced them 
with hostilities as allies of the Spaniards. As the latter 
were then situated, they were in a condition to receive 
succor much more than to give it. 2 Most of the offi- 
cers were, accordingly, opposed to granting a request 
compliance with which must still further impair their 
diminished strength. But Cortes knew the impor- 

2 " Y teniamos necesidad antes de ser socorridos, que de dar so- 
corro." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 272. 



tance, above all, of not betraying his own inability to 
grant it. "The greater our weakness," he said, "the 
greater need have we to cover it under a show of 
strength. ' ' 3 

He immediately detached Tapia with a body of 
about a hundred men in one direction, and Sandoval 
with a somewhat larger force in the other, with orders 
that their absence should not in any event be prolonged 
beyond ten days. 4 The two captains executed their 
commissions promptly and effectually. They each met 
and defeated his adversary in a pitched battle, laid 
waste the hostile territories, and returned within the 
time prescribed. They were soon followed by am- 
bassadors from the conquered places, soliciting the 
alliance of the Spaniards ; and the affair terminated by 
an accession of new confederates, and, what was more 
important, a conviction in the old that the Spaniards 
were both willing and competent to protect them. 

Fortune, who seldom dispenses her frowns or her 
favors single-handed, further showed her good will to 
the Spaniards, at this time, by sending a vessel into 
Vera Cruz laden with ammunition and military stores. 
It was part of the fleet destined for the Florida coast 
by the romantic old knight, Ponce de Leon. The 
cargo was immediately taken by the authorities of the 

3 " God knows," says the general, " the peril in which we all stood ; 
pero como nos convenia mostrar mas esfuerzo y animo, que nunca, y 
morir peleando, disimulabamos nuestro flaqueza assi con los Amigos 
como con los Enemigos." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, 
P- 275- 

4 Tapia's force consisted of io horse and 8o foot ; the chief alguacil, 
as Sandoval was styled, had 18 horse and ioo infantry. Ibid., loc. cit. 
— Also Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 26. 


J 53 

port, and forwarded, without delay, to the camp, 
where it arrived most seasonably, as the want of 
powder, in particular, had begun to be seriously felt. 5 
With strength thus renovated, Cortes determined to 
resume active operations, but on a plan widely differ- 
ing from that pursued before. 

In the former deliberations on the subject, two 
courses, as we have seen, presented themselves to the 
general. One was to intrench himself in the heart of 
the capital and from this point carry on hostilities ; the 
other was the mode of proceeding hitherto followed. 
Both were open to serious objections, which he hoped 
would be obviated by the one now adopted. This was 
to advance no step without securing the entire safety 
of the army, not only on its immediate retreat, but in 
its future inroads. Every breach in the causeway, 
every canal in the streets, was to be filled up in so 
solid a manner that the work should not be again dis- 
turbed. The materials for this were to be furnished 
by the buildings, every one of which, as the army ad- 
vanced, whether public or private, hut, temple, or 
palace, was to be demolished ! Not a building in their 
path was to be spared. They were all indiscriminately 
to be levelled, until, in the Conqueror's own language, 
" the water should be converted into dry land," and a 

5 " Polvora y Ballestas, de que teniamos muy estrema necesidad." 
(Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 278.) It was probably the 
expedition in which Ponce de Leon lost his life ; an expedition to 
the very land which the chivalrous cavalier had himself first visited 
in quest of the Fountain of Health. The story is pleasantly told 
by Irving, as the reader may remember, in his " Companions of 


smooth and open ground be afforded for the man- 
oeuvres of the cavalry and artillery ! 6 

Cortes came to this terrible determination with great 
difficulty. He sincerely desired to spare the city, "the 
most beautiful thing in the world," 7 as he enthusias- 
tically styles it, and which would have formed the most 
glorious trophy of his conquest. But in a place where 
every house was a fortress and every street was cut up 
by canals so embarrassing to his movements, experi- 
ence proved it was vain to think of doing so and be- 
coming master of it. There was as little hope of a 
peaceful accommodation with the Aztecs, who, so far 
from being broken by all they had hitherto endured, 
and the long perspective of future woes, showed a 
spirit as haughty and implacable as ever. 8 

The general's intentions were learned by the Indian 
allies with unbounded satisfaction ; and they answered 
his call for aid by thousands of pioneers, armed with 
their coas, or hoes of the country, all testifying the 
greatest alacrity in helping on the work of destruction. 9 

6 The calm and simple manner in which the Conquistador, as usual, 
states this in his Commentaries, has something appalling in it from its 
very simplicity : " Acorde de tomar un medio para nuestra seguridad, 
y para poder mas estrechar a los Enemigos ; y fue, que como fues- 
semos ganando por las Calles de la Ciudad, que fuessen derrocando 
todas las Casas de ellas, del un lado, y del otro ; por manera, que no 
fuessemos un paso adelante, sin lo dejar todo asolado, y lo que era 
Agua, hacerlo Tierra-firme, aunque hobiesse toda la dilacion, que se 
pudiesse seguir." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 279. 

7 " Porque era la mas hermosa cosa del Mundo." Ibid., p. 278. 

8 " Mas antes en el pelear, y en todos sus ardides, los hallabamos 
con mas animo, que nunca." Ibid., p. 279. 

9 Yet we shall hardly credit the Tezcucan historian's assertion that 
a hundred thousand Indians flocked to the camp for this purpose ! 



In a short time the breaches in the great causeways 
were filled up so effectually that they were never again 
molested. Cortes himself set the example by carrying 
stones and timber with his own hands. 10 The build- 
ings in the suburbs were then thoroughly levelled, the 
canals were filled up with the rubbish, and a wide space 
around the city was thrown open to the manoeuvres 
of the cavalry, who swept over it free and unresisted. 
The Mexicans did not look with indifference on these 
preparations to lay waste their town and leave them 
bare and unprotected against the enemy. They made 
incessant efforts to impede the labors of the besiegers ; 
but the latter, under cover of their guns, which kept 
up an unintermitting fire, still advanced in the work of 

The gleam of fortune which had so lately broken 
out on the Mexicans again disappeared ; and the dark 
mist, after having been raised for a moment, settled on 
the doomed capital more heavily than before. Famine, 

" Viniesen todos los labradores con sus coas para este efecto con toda 
brevedad:. . . llegaron mas de cienmildeellos." Ixtlilxochitl, Venida 
de los Espaiioles, p. 42. 

10 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 153. 

11 Sahagun, who gathered the story from the actors, and from the 
aspect of the scene before the devastation had been wholly repaired, 
writes with the animation of an eye-witness : " La guerra por agua 
y por tierra fue tan porfiada y tan sangrienta, que era espanto de 
verla, y no hay posibilidad, para decir las particularidades que pasa- 
ban ; eran tan espesas las saetas, y dardos, y piedras, y palos, que se 
arrojavan los unos d los otros, que quitavan la claridad del sol ; era 
tan grande la voceria, y grita, de hombres y mugeres, y nifios que 
voceaban y lloraban, que era cosa de grima; era tan grande la polva- 
reda, y ruido, en derrocar y quemar casas, y robar lo que en ellas 
habia, y cautivar nifios y mugeres, qne parecia un juicio." Hist, de 
Nueva-Espafia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 38. 


with all her hideous train of woes, was making rapid 
strides among its accumulated population. The stores 
provided for the siege were exhausted. The casual 
supply of human victims, or that obtained by some 
straggling pirogue from the neighboring shores, was 
too inconsiderable to be widely felt." Some forced a 
scanty sustenance from a mucilaginous substance gath- 
ered in small quantities on the surface of the lake and 
canals. 13 Others appeased the cravings of appetite by 
devouring rats, lizards, and the like loathsome reptiles, 
which had not yet deserted the starving city. Its days 
seemed to be already numbered. But the page of his- 
tory has many an example to show that there are no 
limits to the endurance of which humanity is capable, 
when animated by hatred and despair. 

With the sword thus suspended over it, the Spanish 
commander, desirous to make one more effort to save 
the capital, persuaded three Aztec nobles, taken in one 
of the late actions, to bear a message from him to 
Guatemozin ; though they undertook it with reluc- 
tance, for fear of the consequences to themselves. 
Cortes told the emperor that all had now been done 
that brave men could do in defence of their country. 

12 The flesh of the Christians failed to afford them even the cus- 
tomary nourishment, since the Mexicans said it was intolerably bitter ; 
a miracle considered by Captain Diaz as expressly wrought for this 
occasion. Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 153. 

*3 Ibid., ubi supra. — When dried in the sun, this slimy deposit had 
a flavor not unlike that of cheese, and formed part of the food of the 
poorer classes at all times, according to Clavigero. Stor. del Messico, 
torn. ii. p. 222.* 

* [This was the ahuahutle before described. See ante, vol. ii. p. 109 ; 
note. — Ed.] 



There remained no hope, no chance of escape, for the 
Mexicans. Their provisions were exhausted ; their 
communications were cut off; their vassals had de- 
serted them ; even their gods had betrayed them. 
They stood alone, with the nations of Anahuac banded 
against them. There was no hope but in immediate 
surrender. He besought the young monarch to take 
compassion on his brave subjects, who were daily per- 
ishing before his eyes ; and on the fair city, whose 
stately buildings were fast crumbling into ruins. " Re- 
turn to the allegiance," he concludes, "which you 
once proffered to the sovereign of Castile. The past 
shall be forgotten. The persons and property, in 
short, all the rights, of the Aztecs shall be respected. 
You shall be confirmed in your authority, and Spain 
will once more take your city under her protection." M 
The eye of the young monarch kindled, and his dark 
cheek flushed with sudden anger, as he listened to pro- 
posals so humiliating. But, though his bosom glowed 
with the fiery temper of the Indian, he had the quali- 
ties of a "gentle cavalier," says one of his enemies, 
who knew him well. 15 He did no harm to the envoys ; 
but, after the heat of the moment had passed off, he 
gave the matter a calm consideration, and called a 
council of his wise men and warriors to deliberate upon 
it. Some were for accepting the proposals, as offering 
the only chance of preservation. But the priests took 
a different view of the matter. They knew that the 
ruin of their own order must follow the triumph of 

u Bemal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 154. 
*5 " Mas como el Guatemuz era mancebo, j muy gentil-hombre y de 
buena disposition." Ibid., ubi supra. 
Vol. III. 14 


Christianity. "Peace was good," they said, "but 
not with the white men." They reminded Guate- 
mozin of the fate of his uncle Montezuma, and the 
requital he had met with for all his hospitality ; of the 
seizure and imprisonment of Cacama, the cacique of 
Tezcuco ; of the massacre of the nobles by Alvarado ; 
of the insatiable avarice of the invaders, which had 
stripped the country of its treasures ; of their profana- 
tion of the temples ; of the injuries and insults which 
they had heaped without measure on the people and 
their religion. "Better," they said, "to trust in the 
promises of their own gods, who had so long watched 
over the nation. Better, if need be, give up our lives 
at once for our country, than drag them out in slavery 
and suffering among the false strangers. ' ' l6 

The eloquence of the priests, artfully touching the 
various wrongs of his people, roused the hot blood 
of Guatemozin. "Since it is so," he abruptly ex- 
claimed, "let us think only of supplying the wants of 
the people. Let no man, henceforth, who values 
his life, talk of surrender. We can at least die like 
warriors. ' ' I? 

The Spaniards waited two days for the answer to 

16 •« Mira primero lo que nuestros Dioses te han prometido, toma 
buen consejo sobre ello y no te fies de Malinche, ni de sus palabras, 
que mas vale que todos muramos en esta ciudad peleando, que no 
vernos en poder de quie nos haran esclauos, y nos atormentaran." 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 154. 

*7 " Y entonces el Guatemuz medio enojado les dixo: Pues assi 
quereis que sea, guardad mucho el maiz, y bastimentos que tenemos, 
y muramos todos peleando : y desde aqui adelante ninguno sea osado 
a me demandar pazes, si no yo le matare : y alii todos prometieron de 
pelear noches, y dias, y morir en la defensa de su ciudad." Ibid., 
ubi supra. 



their embassy. At length it came, in a general sortie 
of the Mexicans, who, pouring through every gate 
of the capital, like a river that has burst its banks, 
swept on, wave upon wave, to the very intrenchments 
of the besiegers, threatening to overwhelm them by 
their numbers. Fortunately, the position of the latter 
on the dikes secured their flanks, and the narrowness 
of the defile gave their small battery of guns all the 
advantages of a larger one. The fire of artillery and 
musketry blazed without intermission along the several 
causeways, belching forth volumes of sulphurous smoke, 
that, rolling heavily over the waters, settled dark 
around the Indian city and hid it from the surround- 
ing country. The brigantines thundered, at the same 
time, on the flanks of the columns, which, after some 
ineffectual efforts to maintain themselves, rolled back 
in wild confusion, till their impotent fury died away in 
sullen murmurs within the capital. 

Cortes now steadily pursued the plan he had laid 
down for the devastation of the city. Day after day 
the several armies entered by their respective quarters, 
Sandoval probably directing his operations against the 
northeastern district. The buildings, made of the 
porous tetzontli, though generally low, were so massy 
and extensive, and the canals were so numerous, that 
their progress was necessarily slow. They, however, 
gathered fresh accessions of strength every day from 
the numbers who flocked to the camp from the sur- 
rounding country, and who joined in the work of de- 
struction with a hearty good will which showed their 
eagerness to break the detested yoke of the Aztecs. 
The latter raged with impotent anger as they beheld 


their lordly edifices, their temples, all they had been 
accustomed to venerate, thus ruthlessly swept away; 
their canals, constructed with so much labor and what 
to them seemed science, filled up with rubbish ; their 
flourishing city, in short, turned into a desert, over 
which the insulting foe now rode triumphant. They 
heaped many a taunt on the Indian allies. " Go on," 
they said, bitterly: "the more you destroy, the more 
you will have to build up again hereafter. If we con- 
quer, you shall build for us ; and if your white friends 
conquer, they will make you do as much for them." 18 
The event justified the prediction. 

In their rage they rushed blindly on the corps which 
covered the Indian pioneers. But they were as often 
driven back by the impetuous charge of the cavalry, or 
received on the long pikes of Chinantla, which did 
good service to the besiegers in their operations. At 
the close of day, however, when the Spaniards drew 
off their forces, taking care to send the multitudinous 
host of confederates first from the ground, the Mexi- 
cans usually rallied for a more formidable attack. Then 
they poured out from every lane and by-way, like so 
many mountain streams, sweeping over the broad level 
cleared by the enemy, and falling impetuously on their 
flanks and rear. At such times they inflicted consider- 
able loss in their turn, till an ambush, which Cortes 
laid for them among the buildings adjoining the great 

18 " Los de la Ciudad como veian tanto estrago, por esforzarse, 
decian a nuestros Amigos, que no ficiessen sino quemar, y destruir, que 
ellos se las harian tornar a hacer de nuevo, porque si ellos eran ven- 
cedores, ya ellos sabian, que habia de ser assi, y si no que las habian 
de hacer para nosotros." Rel. Terc. de Cortes ap. Lorenzana, p. 286. 


temple, did them so much mischief that they were 
compelled to act with more reserve. 

At times the war displayed something of a chivalrous 
character, in the personal rencontres of the combat- 
ants. Challenges passed between them, and especially 
between the native warriors. These combats were 
usually conducted on the azoteas, whose broad and 
level surface afforded a good field of fight. On one 
occasion, a Mexican of powerful frame, brandishing a 
sword and buckler which he had won from the Chris- 
tians, defied his enemies to meet him in single fight. 
A young page of Cortes', named Nunez, obtained his 
master's permission to accept the vaunting challenge 
of the Aztec, and, springing on the azotea, succeeded, 
after a hard struggle, in discomfiting his antagonist, 
who fought at a disadvantage with weapons in which 
he was unpractised, and, running him through the 
body, brought off his spoils in triumph and laid them 
at the general's feet. 19 

The division of Cortes had now worked its way as 
far north as the great street of Tacuba, which opened a 
communication with Alvarado's camp, and near which 
stood the palace of Guatemozin. It was a spacious 
stone pile, that might well be called a fortress. Though 
deserted by its royal master, it was held by a strong 
body of Aztecs, who made a temporary defence, but 
of little avail against the battering enginery of the 
besiegers. It was soon set on fire, and its crumbling 

*9 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 282-284. — Hen-era, 
Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 22, lib. 2, cap. 2. — Gomara, Cronica, 
cap. 140. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 28. — Ixtlilxo- 
chitl, Venida de los Espanoles, p. 43. 



walls were levelled in the dust, like those other stately 
edifices of the capital, the boast and admiration of the 
Aztecs, and some of the fairest fruits of their civili- 
zation. " It was a sad thing to witness their destruc- 
tion," exclaims Cortes ; " but it was part of our plan 
of operations, and we had no alternative." 20 

These operations had consumed several weeks, so 
that it was now drawing towards the latter part of July. 
During this time the blockade had been maintained 
with the utmost rigor, and the wretched inhabitants 
were suffering all the extremities of famine. Some 
few stragglers were taken, from time to time, in the 
neighborhood of the Christian camp, whither they had 
wandered in search of food. They were kindly treated, 
by command of Cortes, who was in hopes to induce 
others to follow their example, and thus to afford a 
means of conciliating the inhabitants, which might 
open the way to their submission. But few were found 
willing to leave the shelter of the capital, and they pre- 
ferred to take their chance with their suffering country- 
men rather than trust themselves to the mercies of the 

From these few stragglers, however, the Spaniards 
heard a dismal tale of woe respecting the crowded popu- 
lation in the interior of the city. All the ordinary 
means of sustenance had long .since failed, and they 
now supported life as they could, by means of such 
roots as they could dig from the earth, by gnawing the 
bark of trees, by feeding on the grass, — on anything, 

80 " No se entendio sino en quemar, y hallanar Casas, que era las- 
tima cierto de lo ver ; pero como no nos convenia hacer otra cosa, 
eramos forzado seguir aquella orden." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, p. 286. 


in short, however loathsome, that could allay the 
craving of appetite. Their only drink was the brackish 
water of the soil saturated with the salt lake." Under 
this unwholesome diet, and the diseases engendered by 
it, the population was gradually wasting away. Men 
sickened and died every day, in all the excruciating 
torments produced by hunger, and the wan and ema- 
ciated survivors seemed only to be waiting for their 

The Spaniards had visible confirmation of all this as 
they penetrated deeper into the city and approached 
the district of Tlatelolco, now occupied by the be- 
sieged. They found the ground turned up in quest of 
roots and weeds, the trees stripped of their green stems, 
their foliage, and their bark. Troops of famished In- 
dians flitted in the distance, gliding like ghosts among 
the scenes of their former residence. Dead bodies lay 
unburied in the streets and court -yards, or filled up the 
canals. It was a sure sign of the extremity of the Aztecs ; 
for they held the burial of the dead as a solemn and im- 
perative duty. In the early part of the siege they had 
religiously attended to it. In its later stages they were 
still careful to withdraw the dead from the public eye, 
by bringing their remains within the houses. But the 
number of these, and their own sufferings, had now so 
fearfully increased that they had grown indifferent to 
this, and they suffered their friends and their kinsmen 

« " No tenian agua dulce para beber, ni para de ninguna manera 
de comer; bebian del agua salada y hedionda, comian ratones y lagar- 
tijas, y cortezas de drboles, y otras cosas no comestibles ; y de esta 
causa enfermaron muchos, y murieron muchos." Sahagun, Hist, de 
Nueva-Espafia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 39. — Also Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. 
Lorenzana, p. 289. 


to lie and moulder on the spot where they drew their 
last breath ! aa 

As the invaders entered the dwellings, a more appall- 
ing spectacle presented itself; — the floors covered with 
the prostrate forms of the miserable inmates, some in 
the agonies of death, others festering in their corrup- 
tion ; men, women, and children inhaling the poison- 
ous atmosphere, and mingled promiscuously together ; 
mothers with their infants in their arms perishing of 
hunger before their eyes, while they were unable to 
afford them the nourishment of nature ; men crippled 
by their wounds, with their bodies frightfully mangled, 
vainly attempting to crawl away, as the enemy entered. 
Yet even in this state they scorned to ask for mercy, 
and glared on the invaders with the sullen ferocity of 
the wounded tiger that the huntsmen have tracked to 
his forest cave. The Spanish commander issued strict 
orders that mercy should be shown to these poor and 
disabled victims. But the Indian allies made no dis- 
tinction. An Aztec, under whatever circumstances, 
was an enemy ; and, with hideous shouts of triumph, 
they pulled down the burning buildings on their heads, 

" " Y es verdad y juro amen, que toda la laguna, y casas, y bar- 
bacoas estauan llenas de ouerpos, y cabecas de hombres muertos, que 
yo no se de que manera lo escriua." (Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 156.) Clavigero considers that it was a scheme of the 
Mexicans to leave the dead unburied, in order that the stench might 
annoy and drive off the Spaniards. (Stor. del Messico, torn. iii. p. 
231, nota.) But this policy would have operated much more to the 
detriment of the besieged than of the besiegers, whose presence in the 
capital was but transitory. It is much more natural to refer it to the 
same cause which has led to a similar conduct under similar circum- 
stances elsewhere, whether occasioned by pestilence or famine. 


consuming the living and the dead in one common 
funeral pile ! 

Yet the sufferings of the Aztecs, terrible as they were, 
did not incline them to submission. There were many, 
indeed, who, from greater strength of constitution, or 
from the more favorable circumstances in which they 
were placed, still showed all their wonted energy of 
body and mind, and maintained the same undaunted 
and resolute demeanor as before. They fiercely rejected 
all the overtures of Cortes, declaring they would rather 
die than surrender, and adding, with a bitter tone of 
exultation, that the invaders would be at least dis- 
appointed in their expectations of treasure, for it was 
buried where they could never find it ! 23 

The women, it is said, shared in this desperate — it 
should rather be called heroic — spirit. They were 
indefatigable in nursing the sick and dressing their 
wounds; they aided the warriors in battle, by sup- 
plying them with the Indian ammunition of stones 
and arrows, prepared their slings, strung their bows, 
and displayed, in short, all the constancy and courage 
shown by the noble maidens of Saragossa in our day, 
and by those of Carthage in the days of antiquity. 24 

*3 Gonzalo de las Casas, Defensa, MS., cap. 28. — Martyr, De Orbe 
Novo, dec. 5, cap. 8. — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, p. 45. — 
Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 289. — Oviedo, Hist, de las 
Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 29. 

24 " Muchas cosas acaecieron en este cerco, que entre otras genera- 
ciones estobieran discantadas e tenidas en mucho, en especial de las 
Mugeres de Temixtitan, de quien ninguna mencion se ha fecho. Y 
soy certificado, que fue cosa maravillosa y para espantar, ver la pron- 
titud y constancia que tobieron en servir d sus maridos, y en curar 
los heridos, e en el labrar de las piedras para los que tiraban con 


Cortes had now entered one of the great avenues 
leading to the market-place of Tlatelolco, the quarter 
towards which the movements of Alvarado were also 
directed. A single canal only lay in his way; but this 
was of great width and stoutly defended by the Mex- 
ican archery. At this crisis, the army one evening, 
while in their intrenchments on the causeway, were 
surprised by an uncommon light that arose from the 
huge teocalli in that part of the city which, being at 
the north, was the most distant from their own position. 
This temple, dedicated to the dread war-god, was in- 
ferior only to the pyramid in the great square ; and on 
it the Spaniards had more than once seen their un- 
happy countrymen led to slaughter. They now supposed 
that the enemy were employed in some of their dia- 
bolical ceremonies, — when the flame, mounting higher 
and higher, showed that the sanctuaries themselves 
were on fire. A shout of exultation at the sight broke 
forth from the assembled soldiers, as they assured one 
another that their countrymen under Alvarado had got 
possession of the building. 

It was indeed true. That gallant officer, whose 
position on the western causeway placed him near the 
district of Tlatelolco, had obeyed his commander's 
instructions to the letter, razing every building to the 
ground in his progress, and filling up the ditches with 
their ruins. He at length found himself before the 
great teocalli in the neighborhood of the market. He 
ordered a company, under a cavalier named Gutierre 
de Badajoz, to storm the place, which was defended by 

hondas, e en otros oficios para mas que mugeres." Oviedo, Hist, de 
las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48. 


a body of warriors, mingled with priests, still more 
wild and ferocious than the soldiery. The garrison, 
rushing down the winding terraces, fell on, the assail- 
ants with such fury as compelled them to retreat in con- 
fusion and with some loss. Alvarado ordered another 
detachment to their support. This last was engaged, 
at the moment, with a body of Aztecs, who hung on 
its rear as it wound up the galleries of the teocalli. 
Thus hemmed in between two enemies, above and 
below, the position of the Spaniards was critical. With 
sword and buckler, they plunged desperately on the 
ascending Mexicans, and drove them into the court- 
yard below, where Alvarado plied them with such 
lively volleys of musketry as soon threw them into 
disorder and compelled them to abandon the ground. 
Being thus rid of annoyance in the rear, the Spaniards 
returned to the charge. They drove the enemy up 
the heights of the pyramid, and, reaching the broad 
summit, a fierce encounter followed in mid-air, — such 
an encounter as takes place where death is the certain 
consequence of defeat. It ended, as usual, in the dis- 
comfiture of the Aztecs, who were either slaughtered 
on the spot still wet with the blood of their own 
victims, or pitched headlong down the sides of the 

The area was covered with the various symbols of 
the barbarous worship of the country, and with two 
lofty sanctuaries, before whose grinning idols were dis- 
played the heads of several Christian captives who had 
been immolated on their altars. Although overgrown 
by their long, matted hair and bushy beards, the Span- 
iards could recognize, in the livid countenances, their 


comrades who had fallen into the hands of the enemy. 
Tears fell from their eyes as they gazed on the mel- 
ancholy spectacle and thought of the hideous death 
which their countrymen had suffered. They removed 
the sad relics with decent care, and after the Conquest 
deposited them in consecrated ground, on a spot since 
covered by the Church of the Martyrs. 25 

They completed their work by firing the sanctuaries, 
that the place might be no more polluted by these 
abominable rites. The flame crept slowly up the lofty 
pinnacles, in which stone was mingled with wood, till 
at length, bursting into one bright blaze, it shot up its 
spiral volume to such a height that it was seen from the 
most distant quarters of the Valley. It was this which 
had been hailed by the soldiery of Cortes, and it served 
as the beacon-light to both friend and foe, intimating 
the progress of the Christian arms. 

The commander-in-chief and his division, animated 
by the spectacle, made, in their entrance on the fol- 
lowing day, more determined efforts to place themselves 
alongside of their companions under Alvarado. The 
broad canal, above noticed as the only impediment 
now lying in his way, was to be traversed ; and on the 
farther side the emaciated figures of the Aztec warriors 
were gathered in numbers to dispute the passage, like 
the gloomy shades that wander — as ancient poets tell 
us — on the banks of the infernal river. They poured 
down, however, a storm of missiles, which were no 
shades, on the heads of the Indian laborers while 

s 5 Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 29. — Bernal Diaz, 
Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 155. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Loren- 
zana, pp. 287-289. 


occupied with filling up the wide gap with the ruins 
of the surrounding buildings. Still they toiled on in 
defiance of the arrowy shower, fresh numbers taking 
the place of those who fell. And when at length 
the work was completed, the cavalry rode over the 
rough plain at full charge against the enemy, followed 
by the deep array of spearmen, who bore down all 
opposition with their invincible phalanx. 

The Spaniards now found themselves on the same 
ground with Alvarado's division. Soon afterwards, 
that chief, attended by several of his staff, rode into 
their lines, and cordially embraced his countrymen 
and companions in arms, for the first time since the 
beginning of the siege. They were now in the neigh- 
borhood of the market. Cortes, taking with him a 
few of his cavaliers, galloped into it. It was a vast 
enclosure, as the reader has already seen, covering 
many an acre. 26 Its dimensions were suited to the 
immense multitudes who gathered there from all parts 
of the Valley in the flourishing days of the Aztec mon- 
archy. It was surrounded by porticoes and pavilions 
for the accommodation of the artisans and traders who 

26 Ante, vol. ii. p. 130. — The tianguez still continued of great dimen- 
sions, though with faded magnificence, after the Conquest, when it is 
thus noticed by Father Sahagun : " Entraron en la plaza 6 Tianguez 
de esta Tlaltilulco (lugar muy espacioso mucho mas de lo que ahora 
es), el cual se podia llamar emporio de toda esta nueva Espana: 
al cual venian i. tratar gentes de toda esta nueva Espana, y aun de 
los Reinos &. ella contiguos, y donde se vendian y compraban todas 
cuantas cosas hay en toda esta tierra, y en los Reinos de Quahtimalla 
y Xalisco (cosa cierto mucho de ver), yo lo vi por muchos afios mo- 
rando en esta Casa del Sefior Santiago aunque ya no era tanto como 
antes de la Conquista." Hist, de Nueva-Espaha, MS., lib. 12, cap. 


Vol. III.— h 15 



there displayed their various fabrics and articles of 
merchandise. The flat roofs of the piazzas were now 
covered with crowds of men and women, who gazed 
in silent dismay on the steel-clad horsemen, that pro- 
faned these precincts with their presence for the first 
time since their expulsion from the capital. The mul- 
titude, composed for the most part, probably, of un-* 
armed citizens, seemed taken by surprise ; at least, 
they made no show of resistance ; and the general, 
after leisurely viewing the ground, was permitted to 
ride back unmolested to the army. 

On arriving there, he ascended the teocalli, from 
which the standard of Castile, supplanting the memo- 
rials of Aztec superstition, was now triumphantly float- 
ing. The Conqueror, as he strode among the smoking 
embers on the summit, calmly surveyed the scene of 
desolation below. The palaces, the temples, the busy 
marts of industry and trade, the glittering canals, 
covered with their rich freights from the surrounding 
country, the royal pomp of groves and gardens, all the 
splendors of the imperial city, the capital of the West- 
ern World, forever gone, — and in their place a barren 
wilderness ! How different the spectacle which the 
year before had met his eye, as it wandered over the 
same scenes from the heights of the neighboring teo- 
calli, with Montezuma at his side ! Seven-eighths of 
the city were laid in ruins, with the occasional excep- 
tion, perhaps, of some colossal temple which it would 
have required too much time to demolish. 27 The 

"7 " E yo mire dende aquella Torre, lo que teniamos ganado de la 
Ciudad, que sin duda de ocho partes teniamos ganado las siete." ReL 
Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 289. 



remaining eighth, comprehending the district of Tlate- 
lolco, was all that now remained to the Aztecs, whose 
population — still large after all its losses — was crowded 
into a compass that would hardly have afforded accom- 
modations for a third of their numbers. It was the 
quarter lying between the great northern and western 
causeways, and is recognized in the modern capital as 
the Barrio de San Jago and its vicinity. It was the 
favorite residence of the Indians after the Conquest, 28 
though at the present day thinly covered with humble 
dwellings, forming the straggling suburbs, as it were, 
of the metropolis. Yet it still affords some faint ves- 
tiges of what it was in its prouder days ; and the 
curious antiquary, and occasionally the laborer, as he 
turns up the soil, encounters a glittering fragment of 
obsidian, or the mouldering head of a lance or arrow, 
or some other warlike relic, attesting that on this spot 
the retreating Aztecs made their last stand for the 
independence of their country. 29 

On the day following, Cortes, at the head of his 
battalions, made a second entry into the great tianguez. 
But this time the Mexicans were better prepared for 
his coming. They were assembled in considerable 

28 Toribio, Hist, de los Ind., MS., Parte 3, cap. 7. — The remains 
of the ancient foundations may still be discerned in this quarter, while 
in every other etiam periere ruince / 

"9 Bustamante, the Mexican editor of Sahagun, mentions that he 
has now in his possession several of these military spoils. " Toda la 
llanura del Santuario de nuestra Sefiora de los Angeles y de Santiago 
Tlaltilolco se ve sembrada de fragmentos de lanzas cortantes, de ma- 
canas, y flechas de piedra obsidiana, de que usaban los Mexicanos 6 
sea Chinapos, y yo he recogido no pocos que conservo en mi poder." 
Hist, de Nueva-Espafia, lib. 12, nota 21. 


force in the spacious square. A sharp encounter fol- 
lowed ; but it was short. Their strength was not equal 
to their spirit, and they melted away before the rolling 
fire of musketry, and left the Spaniards masters of the 

The first act was to set fire to some temples, of no 
great size, within the market-place, or more probably 
on its borders. As the flames ascended, the Aztecs, 
horror-struck, broke forth into piteous lamentations at 
the destruction of the deities on whom they relied for 
protection. 30 

The general's next step was at the suggestion of a 
soldier named Sotelo, a man who had served under the 
Great Captain in the Italian wars, where he professed 
to have gathered knowledge of the science of engineer- 
ing, as it was then practised. He offered his services 
to construct a sort of catapult, a machine for dis- 
charging stones of great size, which might take the 
place of the regular battering-train in demolishing 
the buildings. As the ammunition, notwithstanding 
the liberal supplies which from time to time had found 
their way into the camp, now began to fail, Cortes 
eagerly acceded to a proposal so well suited to his exi- 
gences. Timber and stone were furnished, and a num- 
ber of hands were employed, under the direction of 
the self-styled engineer, in constructing the ponderous 

30 << y como comenzo a arder, levantose una llama tan alta que 
parecia llegar al cielo, al espectaculo de esta quema, todos los hom- 
bres y mugeres que se habian acogido £ las tiendas que cercaban todo 
el Tianguez comenzaron & llorar A voz en grito, que fue cosa de es- 
panto oirlos ; porque quemado aquel delubro satanico luego enten- 
dieron que habian de ser del todo destruidos y robados." Sahagun, 
Hist, de Nueva-Espafia, MS., lib. 12, cap. 37. 



apparatus, which was erected on a solid platform of ma- 
sonry, thirty paces square and seven or eight feet high, 
that covered the centre of the market-place. This was a 
work of the Aztec princes, and was used as a scaffolding 
on which mountebanks and jugglers might exhibit their 
marvelous feats for the amusement of the populace, who 
took great delight in these performances. 31 

The erection of the machine consumed several days, 
during which hostilities were suspended, while the 
artisans were protected from interruption by a strong 
corps of infantry. At length the work was completed ; 
and the besieged, who with silent awe had beheld from 
the neighboring azoteas the progress of the mysterious 
engine which was to lay the remainder of their capital 
in ruins, now looked with terror for its operation. A 
stone of huge size was deposited on the timber. The 
machinery was set in motion ; and the rocky fragment 
was discharged with a tremendous force from the cata- 
pult. But, instead of taking the direction of the Aztec 
buildings, it rose high and perpendicularly into the 
air, and, descending whence it sprung, broke the ill- 
omened machine into splinters ! It was a total failure. 
The Aztecs were released from their apprehensions, 
and the soldiery made many a merry jest on the catas- 
trophe, somewhat at the expense of their commander, 
who testified no little vexation at the disappointment, 
and still more at his own credulity. 3 * 

3 1 Vestiges of the work are still visible, according to M. de Hum- 
boldt, within the limits of the porch of the chapel of St. Jago. Essai 
politique, torn. ii. p. 44. 

3 s Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 155. — Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 290. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-EspaBa, 
MS., lib. 12, cap. 37. . 






There was no occasion to resort to artificial means 
to precipitate the ruin of the Aztecs. It was accelerated 
every hour by causes more potent than those arising 
from mere human agency. There they were, — pent 
up in their close and suffocating quarters, nobles, com- 
moners, and slaves, men, women, and children, some 
in houses, more frequently in hovels, — for this part of 
the city was not the best, — others in the open air in 
canoes, or in the streets, shivering in the cold rains of 
night, and scorched by the burning heat of day. 1 An 
old chronicler mentions the fact of two women of rank 
remaining three days and nights up to their necks in 
the water among the reeds, with only a handful of 
maize for their support. 2 The ordinary means of sus- 

1 " Estaban los tristes Mejicanos, hombres y mugeres, niiios y ninas, 
viejos y viejas, heridos y enfermos, en un lugar bien estrecho, y bien 
apretados los unos con los otros, y con grandisima falta de basti- 
mentos, y al calor del Sol, y al frio de la noche, y cada hora esperando 
Ja muerte." Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 39. 

a Torquemada had the anecdote from a nephew of one of the In- 
dian matrons, then a very old man himself. Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, 
cap. 102. 

( 174) 



taining life were long since gone. They wandered 
about in search of anything, however unwholesome or 
revolting, that might mitigate the fierce gnawings of 
hunger. Some hunted for insects and worms on the 
borders of the lake, or gathered the salt weeds and 
moss from its bottom, while at times they might be 
seen casting a wistful look at the green hills beyond, 
which many of them had left to share the fate of their 
brethren in the capital. 

To their credit, it is said by the Spanish writers that 
they were not driven, in their extremity, to violate the 
laws of nature by feeding on one another. 3 But, un- 
happily, this is contradicted by the Indian authorities, 
who state that many a mother, in her agony, devoured 
the offspring which she had no longer the means of 
supporting. This is recorded of more than one siege 
in history; and it is the more probable here, where the 
sensibilities must have been blunted by familiarity with 
the brutal practices of the national superstition. 4 

But all was not sufficient, and hundreds of famished 
wretches died every day from extremity of suffering. 

3 Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., ubi supra. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, dela 
Conquista, cap. 156. 

4 " De los nifios, no quedo nadie, que las mismas madres y padres 
los comian (que era gran lastima de ver, y mayormente de sufrir)." 
(Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 39.) The his- 
torian derived his accounts from the Mexicans themselves, soon after 
the event. — One is reminded of the terrible denunciations of Moses: 
" The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not ad- 
venture to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness 
and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward . . . her children which 
she shall bear; for she shall eat them, for want of all things, secretly, 
in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee 
in thy gates." Deuteronomy, chap. 28, vs. 56, 57. 


Some dragged themselves into the houses, and drew 
their last breath alone and in silence. Others sank 
down in the public streets. Wherever they died, there 
they were left. There was no one to bury or to re- 
move them. Familiarity with the spectacle made men 
indifferent to it. They looked on in dumb despair, 
waiting for their own turn. There was no complaint, 
no lamentation, but deep, unutterable woe. 

If in other quarters of the town the corpses might 
be seen scattered over the streets, here they were 
gathered in heaps. "They lay so thick," says Bernal 
Diaz, "that one could not tread except among the 
bodies." 5 "A man could not set his foot down," 
says Cortes, yet more strongly, "unless on the corpse 
of an Indian." 6 They were piled one upon another, 
the living mingled with the dead. They stretched 
themselves on the bodies of their friends, and lay down 
to sleep there. Death was everywhere. The city was 
a vast charnel-house, in which all was hastening to de- 
cay and decomposition. A poisonous steam arose from 
the mass of putrefaction, under the action of alternate 
rain and heat, which so tainted the whole atmosphere 
that the Spaniards, including the general himself, in 
their brief visits to the quarter, were made ill by it, 
and it bred a pestilence that swept off even greater 
numbers than the famine. 7 

5 " No podiamos andar sino entre cuerpos, y cabe9as de Indios 
muertos." Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 156. 

6 " No tenian donde estar sino sobre los cuerpos muertos de los 
suyos." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 291. 

7 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. — Herrera, Hist, 
general, dec. 3, lib. 2, cap. 8. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., 
lib. 12, cap. 41. — Gonzalo de las Casas, Defensa, MS., cap. 28. 



Men's minds were unsettled by these strange and 
accumulated horrors. They resorted to all the super- 
stitious rites prescribed by their religion, to stay the 
pestilence. They called on their priests to invoke the 
gods in their behalf. But the oracles were dumb, or 
gave only gloomy responses. Their deities had de- 
serted them, and in their place they saw signs of 
celestial wrath, telling of still greater woes in reserve. 
Many, after the siege, declared that, among other 
prodigies, they beheld a stream of light, of a blood- 
red color, coming from the north in the direction of 
Tepejacac, with a rushing noise like that of a whirl- 
wind, which swept round the district of Tlatelolco, 
darting out sparkles and flakes of fire, till it shot far 
into the centre of the lake ! 8 In the disordered state 
of their nerves, a mysterious fear took possession of 
their senses. Prodigies were of familiar occurrence, 
and the most familiar phenomena of nature were con- 
verted into prodigies. 9 Stunned by their calamities, 
reason was bewildered, and they became the sport of 
the wildest and most superstitious fancies. 

In the midst of these awful scenes, the young em- 
peror of the Aztecs remained, according to all ac- 

8 " Un torbellino de fuego como sangre embuelto en brasas y en 
centellas, que partia de hacia Tepeacac (que es donde esta ahora 
Santa Maria de Guadalupe) y fue haciendo gran ruido, hacia donde 
estaban acorralados los Mejicanos y Tlaltilulcanos ; y dio una vuelta 
para enrededor de ellos, y no dicen si los impecio algo, sino que 
habiendo dado aquella vuelta, se entro por la laguna adelante ; y alii 
desaparecio." Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 

9 " Inclinatis ad credendum animis," says the philosophic Roman 
historian, " loco ominum etiam fortuita." Tacitus, Hist., lib. 2, sec. I. 



counts, calm and courageous. With his fair capital 
laid in ruins before his eyes, his nobles and faithful 
subjects dying around him, his territory rent away, foot 
by foot, till scarce enough remained for him to stand 
on, he rejected every invitation to capitulate, and 
showed the same indomitable spirit as at the com- 
mencement of the siege. When Cortes, in the hope 
that the extremities of the besieged would incline 
them to listen to an accommodation, persuaded a 
noble prisoner to bear to Guatemozin his proposals to 
that effect, the fierce young monarch, according to 
the general, ordered him at once to be sacrificed. 10 It 
is a Spaniard, we must remember, who tells the story. 

Cortes, who had suspended hostilities for several 
days, in the vain hope that the distresses of the Mexi- 
cans would bend them to submission, now determined 
to drive them to it by a general assault. Cooped up 
as they were within a narrow quarter of the city, their 
position favored such an attempt. He commanded 
Alvarado to hold himself in readiness, and directed 
Sandoval — who, besides the causeway, had charge of 
the fleet, which lay off the Tlatelolcan district — to sup- 
port the attack by a cannonade on the houses near 
the water. He then led his forces into the city, or 
rather across the horrid waste that now encircled it. 

On entering the Indian precincts, he was met by 
several of the chiefs, who, stretching forth their ema- 
ciated arms, exclaimed, "You are the children of the 
Sun. But the Sun is swift in his course. Why are 

io ■« y corao lo llevaron delante de Guatimucin su Seiior, y & le 
comenzo a hablar sobre la Paz, dizque luego lo mando matar y sacri- 
ficar." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 293. 



you, then, so tardy ? Why do you delay so long to 
put an end to our miseries ? Rather kill us at once, 
that we may go to our god Huitzilopochtli, who waits 
for us in heaven to give us rest from our sufferings !" TI 

Cortes was moved by their piteous appeal, and an- 
swered that he desired not their death, but their sub- 
mission. " Why does your master refuse to treat with 
me," he said, "when a single hour will suffice for me 
to crush him and all his people ?" He then urged them 
to request Guatemozin to confer with him, with the 
assurance that he might do it in safety, as his person 
should not be molested. 

The nobles, after some persuasion, undertook the 
mission ; and it was received by the young monarch 
in a manner which showed — if the anecdote before 
related of him be true — that misfortune had at length 
asserted some power over his haughty spirit. He 
consented to the interview, though not to have it take 
place on that day, but the following, in the great 
square of Tlatelolco. Cortes, well satisfied, immedi- 
ately withdrew from the city and resumed his position 
on the causeway. 

The next morning he presented himself at the place 
appointed, having previously stationed Alvarado there 
with a strong corps of infantry, to guard against 
treachery. The stone platform in the centre of the 
square was covered with mats and carpets, and a 

" " Que pues ellos me tenian por Hijo del Sol, y el Sol en tanta 
brevedad como era en un dia y una noche daba vuelta a todo el 
Mundo, que porque yo assi brevemente no los acababa de matar, y 
los quitaba de penar tanto, porque ya ellos tenian deseos de morir, y 
irse al Cielo para su Ochilobus [Huitzilopochtli], que los estaba espe- 
rando para descansar." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 292. 


banquet was prepared to refresh the famished monarch 
and his nobles. Having made these arrangements, he 
awaited the hour of the interview. 

But Guatemozin, instead of appearing himself, sent 
his nobles, the same who had brought to him the 
general's invitation, and who now excused their mas- 
ter's absence on the plea of illness. Cortes, though 
disappointed, gave a courteous reception to the envoys, 
considering that it might still afford the means of 
opening a communication with the emperor. He per- 
suaded them, without much entreaty, to partake of the 
good cheer spread before them, which they did with 
a voracity that told how severe had been their absti- 
nence. He then dismissed them with a seasonable 
supply of provisions for their master, pressing him to 
consent to an interview, without which it was impos- 
sible their differences could be adjusted. 

The Indian envoys returned in a short time, bearing 
with them a present of fine cotton fabrics, of no great 
value, from Guatemozin, who still declined to meet 
the Spanish general. Cortes, though deeply chagrined, 
was unwilling to give up the point. " He will surely 
come," he said to the envoys, "when he sees that I 
suffer you to go and come unharmed, you who have been 
my steady enemies, no less than himself, throughout 
the war. He has nothing to fear from me. ' ' " He 

12 " Y yo les torne a repetir, que no sabia la causa, porque el se re- 
celaba venir ante mi, pues veia que a ellos, que yo sabia q habian sido 
los causadores principales de la Guerra, y que la habian sustentado, 
les hacia buen tratamiento, que los dejaba ir, y venir seguramente, sin 
recibir enojo alguno ; que les rogaba, que le tornassen & hablar, y 
mirassen mucho en esto de su venida, pues a el le convenia, y yo lo 
hacia por su provecho." Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 294, 295. 


again parted with them, promising to receive their 
answer the following day. 

On the next morning the Aztec chiefs, entering the 
Christian quarters, announced to Cortes that Guate- 
mozin would confer with him at noon in the market- 
place. The general was punctual at the hour ; but 
without success. Neither monarch nor ministers ap- 
peared there. It was plain that the Indian prince did 
not care to trust the promises of his enemy. A thought 
of Montezuma may have passed across his mind. After 
he had waited three hours, the general's patience was 
exhausted, and, as he learned that the Mexicans were 
busy in preparations for defence, he made immediate 
dispositions for the assault. 13 

The confederates had been left without the walls ; 
for he did not care to bring them within sight of the 
quarry before he was ready to slip the leash. He now 
ordered them to join him, and, supported by Alvarado's 
division, marched at once into the enemy's quarters. 
He found them prepared to receive him. Their most 
able-bodied warriors were thrown into the van, cover- 
ing their feeble and crippled comrades. Women were 
seen occasionally mingling in the ranks, and, as well 
as children, thronged the azoteas, where, with famine- 
stricken visages and haggard eyes, they scowled defi- 
ance and hatred on their invaders. 

As the Spaniards advanced, the Mexicans set up a 

»3 The testimony is most emphatic and unequivocal to these repeated 
efforts on the part of Cortes to bring the Aztecs peaceably to terms. 
Besides his own Letter to the emperor, see Bernal Diaz, cap. 155, — 
Herrera, Hist, general, lib. 2, cap. 6, 7, — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., 
lib. 4, cap. 100, — Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, pp. 44-48, — 
Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 29, 30. 
Vol. III. 16 


fierce war-cry, and sent off clouds of arrows with their 
accustomed spirit, while the women and boys rained 
down darts and stones from their elevated position on 
the terraces. But the missiles were sent by hands too 
feeble to do much damage ; and, when the squadrons 
closed, the loss of strength became still more sensible 
in the Aztecs. Their blows fell feebly and with doubt- 
ful aim, though some, it is true, of stronger constitu- 
tion, or gathering strength from despair, maintained 
to the last a desperate fight. 

The arquebusiers now poured in a deadly fire. The 
brigantines replied by successive volleys, in the oppo- 
site quarter. The besieged, hemmed in, like deer 
surrounded by the huntsmen, were brought down on 
every side. The carnage was horrible. The ground 
was heaped up with slain, until the maddened combat- 
ants were obliged to climb over the human mounds to 
get at one another. The miry soil was saturated with 
blood, which ran off like water and dyed the canals 
themselves with crimson.' 4 All was uproar and terrible 
confusion. The hideous yells of the barbarians, the 
oaths and execrations of the Spaniards, the cries of 
the wounded, the shrieks of women and children, the 
heavy blows of the Conquerors, the death-struggle of 
their victims, the rapid, reverberating echoes of mus- 
ketry, the hissing of innumerable missiles, the crash 
and crackling of blazing buildings, crushing hundreds 
in their ruins, the blinding volumes of dust and sul- 
phurous smoke shrouding all in their gloomy canopy, 

z * " Corrian Arroios de Sangre por las Calles, como pueden correr 
de Agua, quando llueve, y con impetu, y fuerca." Torquemada, 
Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 103. 



made a scene appalling even to the soldiers of Cortes, 
steeled as they were by many a rough passage of war, 
and by long familiarity with blood and violence. "The 
piteous cries of the women and children, in partic- 
ular," says the general, "were enough to break one's 
heart." IS He commanded that they should be spared, 
and that all who asked it should receive quarter. He 
particularly urged this on the confederates, and placed 
Spaniards among them to restrain their violence. 16 But 
he had set an engine in motion too terrible to be con- 
trolled. It were as easy to curb the hurricane in its 
fury, as the passions of an infuriated horde of savages. 
"Never did I see so pitiless a race," he exclaims, "or 
anything wearing the form of man so destitute of hu- 
manity." 17 They made no distinction of sex or age, 
and in this hour of vengeance seemed to be requiting 
the hoarded wrongs of a century. At length, sated 
with slaughter, the Spanish commander sounded a 
retreat. It was full time, if, according to his own 
statement, — we may hope it is an exaggeration, — forty 

*5 " Era tanta la grita, y lloro de los Ninos, y Mugeres, que no habia 
Persona, a quien no quebrantasse el corazon." (Rel. Terc, ap. Lo- 
renzana, p. 296.) They were a rash and stiff-necked race, exclaims 
his reverend editor, the archbishop, with a charitable commentary 1 
" Gens dura: cervicis gens absque consilio." Nota. 

16 " Como la gente de la Cibdad se salia d los nuestros, habia el 
general proveido, que por todas las calles estubiesen Espanoles para 
estorvar a los amigos, que no matasen aquellos tristes, que eran sin 
numero. E tambien dixo &. todos los amigos capitanes, que no con- 
sintiesen d su gente que matasen i. ninguno de los que salian." 
Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 30. 

»7 " La qual crueldad nunca en Generacion tan recia se vio, ni tan 
fuera de toda orden de naturaleza, como en los Naturales de estas 
partes." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 296. 


thousand souls had perished ! l8 Yet their fate was to be 
envied, in comparison with that of those who survived. 

Through the long night which followed, no move- 
ment was perceptible in the Aztec quarter. No light 
was seen there, no sound was heard, save the low moan- 
ing of some wounded or dying wretch, writhing in his 
agony. All was dark and silent, — the darkness of the 
grave. The last blow seemed to have completely 
stunned them. They had parted with hope, and sat in 
sullen despair, like men waiting in silence the stroke 
of the executioner. Yet, for all this, they showed no 
disposition to submit. Every new injury had sunk 
deeper into their souls, and filled them with a deeper 
hatred of their enemy. Fortune, friends, kindred, 
home, — all were gone. They were content to throw 
away life itself, now that they had nothing more to 
live for. 

Far different was the scene in the Christian camp, 
where, elated with their recent successes, all was alive 
with bustle and preparation for the morrow. Bonfires 
were seen blazing along the causeways, lights gleamed 
from tents and barracks, and the sounds of music and 
merriment, borne over the waters, proclaimed the joy 
of the soldiers at the prospect of so soon terminating 
their wearisome campaign. 

On the following morning the Spanish commander 
again mustered his forces, having decided to follow up 
the blow of the preceding day before the enemy should 
have time to rally, and at once to put an end to the 

,8 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, ubi supra. — Ixtlilxochitl 
says, 50,000 were slain and taken in this dreadful onslaught. Venida 
de los Espafioles, p. 48. 


war. He had arranged with Alvarado, on the evening 
previous, to occupy the market-place of Tlatelolco ; 
and the discharge of an arquebuse was to be the signal 
for a simultaneous assault. Sandoval was to hold the 
northern causeway, and, with the fleet, to watch the 
movements of the Indian emperor, and to intercept the 
flight to the main land, which Cortes knew he medi- 
tated. To allow him to effect this would be to leave a 
formidable enemy in his own neighborhood, who might 
at any time kindle the flame of insurrection throughout 
the country. He ordered Sandoval, however, to do 
no harm to the royal person, and not to fire on the 
enemy at all, except in self-defence. 19 

It was the memorable thirteenth of August, 15 21, the 
day of St. Hippolytus, — from this circumstance selected 
as the patron saint of modern Mexico, — that Cortes led 
his warlike array for the last time across the black and 
blasted environs which lay around the Indian capital. 
On entering the Aztec precincts, he paused, willing to 
afford its wretched inmates one more chance of escape 
before striking the fatal blow. He obtained an inter- 
view with some of the principal chiefs, and expostu- 
lated with them on the conduct of their prince. " He 
surely will not," said the general, "see you all perish, 
when he can so easily save you. ' ' He then urged them 
to prevail on Guatemozin to hold a conference with 
him, repeating the assurances of his personal safety. 

»9 " Adonde estauan retraidos el Guatemuz con toda la flor de sus 
Capitanes, y personas mas nobles que en Mexico auia, y le mando 
que no matasse ni hiriesse A ningunos Indios, saluo si no le diessen 
guerra, e que aunque se la diessen, que solamente se defendiesse." 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 156. 


The messengers went on their mission, and soon 
returned with the cihuacoatl zX their head, a magistrate 
of high authority among the Mexicans. He said, with 
a melancholy air, in which his own disappointment 
was visible, that " Guatemozin was ready to die where 
he was, but would hold no interview with the Spanish 
commander;" adding, in a tone of resignation, "it is 
for you to work your pleasure." " Go, then," replied 
the stern Conqueror, "and prepare your countrymen 
for death. Their hour is come." 20 

He still postponed the assault for several hours. But 
the impatience of his troops at this delay was heightened 
by the rumor that Guatemozin and his nobles were pre- 
paring to escape with their effects in the piraguas and 
canoes which were moored on the margin of the lake. 
Convinced of the fruitlessness and impolicy of further 
procrastination, Cortes made his final dispositions for 
the attack, and took his own station on an azotea which 
commanded the theatre of operations. 

When the assailants came into the presence of the 
enemy, they found them huddled together in the utmost 
confusion, all ages and sexes, in masses so dense that they 
nearly forced one another over the brink of the cause- 
ways into the water below. Some had climbed on the 
terraces, others feebly supported themselves against the 
walls of the buildings. Their squalid and tattered 
garments gave a wildness to their appearance which 

=° " Y al fin me dijo, que en ninguna manera el Senor vernia ante 
mi ; y antes queria por alia morir, y que a el pesaba mucho de esto, 
que hiciesse yo lo que quisiesse ; y como vi en esto su determinacion, 
yo le dije ; que se bolviesse £ los suyos, y que el, y ellos se apare- 
jassen, porque los queria combatir, y acabar de matar, y assi se fue." 
Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 298. 


still further heightened the ferocity of their expression, 
as they glared on their enemy with eyes in which hate 
was mingled with despair. When the Spaniards had 
approached within bowshot, the Aztecs let off a flight 
of impotent missiles, showing to the last the resolute 
spirit, though they had lost the strength, of their better 
days. The fatal signal was then given by the discharge 
of an arquebuse, — speedily followed by peals of heavy 
ordnance, the rattle of fire-arms, and the hellish shouts 
of the confederates as they sprang upon their victims. 
It is unnecessary to stain the page with a repetition 
of the horrors of the preceding day. Some of the 
wretched Aztecs threw themselves into the water and 
were picked up by the canoes. Others sank and were 
suffocated in the canals. The number of these became 
so great that a bridge was made of their dead bodies, 
over which the assailants could climb to the opposite 
banks. Others again, especially the women, begged 
for mercy, which, as the chroniclers assure us, was 
everywhere granted by the Spaniards, and, contrary to 
the instructions and entreaties of Cortes, everywhere 
refused by the confederates. 21 

While this work of butchery was going on, numbers 
were observed pushing off in the barks that lined the 
shore, and making the best of their way across the 
lake. They were constantly intercepted by the brigan- 
tines, which broke through the flimsy array of boats, 
sending off their volleys to the right and left, as the 
crews of the latter hotly assailed them. The battle 

31 Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 30. — Ixtlilxochitl, 
Venida de los Espafioles, p. 48. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 
2, cap. 7. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 297, 298. — Go- 
mara, Cronica, cap. 142. 


raged as fiercely on the lake as on the land. Many 
of the Indian vessels were shattered and overturned. 
Some few, however, under cover of the smoke, which 
rolled darkly over the waters, succeeded in clearing 
themselves of the turmoil, and were fast nearing the 
opposite shore. 

Sandoval had particularly charged his captains to 
keep an eye on the movements of any vessel in which 
it was at all probable that Guatemozin might be con 
cealed. At this crisis, three or four of the largest 
piraguas were seen skimming over the water and 
making their way rapidly across the lake. A captain, 
named Garci Holguin, who had command of one of 
the best sailers in the fleet, instantly gave them chase. 
The wind was favorable, and every moment he gained 
on the fugitives, who pulled their oars with a vigor 
that despair alone could have given. But it was in 
vain ; and, after a short race, Holguin, coming along- 
side of one of the piraguas, which, whether from its 
appearance or from information he had received, he 
conjectured might bear the Indian emperor, ordered 
his men to level their cross-bows at the boat. But, 
before they could discharge them, a cry arose from 
those in it that their lord was on board. At the same 
moment a young warrior, armed with buckler and 
maquahuitl, rose up, as if to beat off the assailants. 
But, as the Spanish captain ordered his men not to 
shoot, he dropped his weapons, and exclaimed, " I am 
Guatemozin. Lead me to Malinche ; I am his prisoner ; 
but let no harm come to my wife and my followers." " 

22 Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espanoles, p. 49. — " No me tiren, que 
yo soy el Rey de Mexico, y desta tierra, y lo que te ruego es, que no 


Holguin assured him that his wishes should be re- 
spected, and assisted him to get on board the brigan- 
tine, followed by his wife and attendants. These were 
twenty in number, consisting of Coanaco, the deposed 
lord of Tezcuco, the lord of Tlacopan, and several 
other caciques and dignitaries, whose rank, probably, 
had secured them some exemption from the general 
calamities of the siege. When the captives were seated 
on the deck of his vessel, Holguin requested the Aztec 
prince to put an end to the combat by commanding 
his people in the other canoes to surrender. But, with 
a dejected air, he replied, "It is not necessary. They 
will fight no longer, when they see that their prince is 
taken." He spoke truth. The news of Guatemozin's 
capture spread rapidly through the fleet, and on shore, 
where the Mexicans were still engaged in conflict with 
their enemies. It ceased, however, at once. They 
made no further resistance ; and those on the water 
quickly followed the brigantines, which conveyed their 
captive monarch to land. It seemed as if the fight 
had been maintained thus long the better to divert the 
enemy's attention and cover their master's retreat. 23 

me llegues a mi muger, ni a mis hijos ; ni a ninguna muger, ni a nin- 
guna cosa de lo que aqui traygo, sino que me tomes a mi, y me lleues 
& Malinche." (Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 156.) M. 
de Humboldt has taken much pains to identify the place of Guatemo- 
zin's capture, — now become dry land, — which he considers to have been 
somewhere between the Garita de Peralvillo, the square of Santiago, 
Tlaltelolco, and the bridge of Amaxac. Essai politique, torn. ii. p. 76.* 
2 3 For the preceding account of the capture of Guatemozin, told 

* [According to an old tradition, it was on the Puente del Cabildo, 
which is within the limits designated by Humboldt. Alaman, Con- 
quista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 209, note. — Ed.] 



Meanwhile, Sandoval, on receiving tidings of the cap- 
ture, brought his own brigantine alongside of Holguin's 
and demanded the royal prisoner to be surrendered to 
him. But the captain claimed him as his prize. A 
dispute arose between the parties, each anxious to have 
the glory of the deed, and perhaps the privilege of 
commemorating it on his escutcheon. The contro- 
versy continued so long that it reached the ears of 
Cortes, who, in his station on the azotea, had learned 
with no little satisfaction the capture of his enemy. 
He instantly sent orders to his wrangling officers to 
bring Guatemozin before him, that he might adjust the 
difference between them. 24 He charged them, at the 
same time, to treat their prisoner with respect. He 
then made preparations for the interview, caused the 
terrace to be carpeted with crimson cloth and matting, 
and a table to be spread with provisions, of which the 

with little discrepancy, though with more or less minuteness, by the 
different writers, see Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra, — 
Rel. Terc. de Cortes, p. 299, — Gonzalo de las Casas, Defensa, MS., — 
Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 30, — Torquemada, Monarch. 
Ind., lib. 4, cap. 101. 

24 The general, according to Diaz, rebuked his officers for their 
ill-timed contention, reminding them of the direful effects of a similar 
quarrel between Marius and Sylla respecting Jugurtha. (Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 156.) This piece of pedantry savors much more of 
the old chronicler than his commander. The result of the whole — 
not an uncommon one in such cases — was that the emperor granted 
to neither of the parties, but to Cortes, the exclusive right of com- 
memorating the capture of Guatemozin on his escutcheon. He was 
permitted to bear three crowns of gold on a sable field, one above the 
other two, in token of his victory over the three lords of Mexico, 
Montezuma, his brother Cuitlahua, and Guatemozin. A copy of the 
instrument containing the grant of the arms of Cortes may be found 
in the " Disertaciones historicas" of Alaman, torn. ii. apend. 2. 



unhappy Aztecs stood so much in need. 25 His lovely 
Indian mistress, Dona Marina, was present to act as 
interpreter. She had stood by his side through all the 
troubled scenes of the Conquest, and she was there now 
to witness its triumphant termination. 

Guatemozin, on landing, was escorted by a company 
of infantry to the presence of the Spanish commander. 
He mounted the azotea with a calm and steady step, 
and was easily to be distinguished from his attendant 
nobles, though his full, dark eye was no longer lighted 
up with its accustomed fire, and his features wore an 
expression of passive resignation, that told little of the 
fierce and fiery spirit that burned within. His head 
was large, his limbs well proportioned, his complexion 
fairer than that of his bronze-colored nation, and his 
whole deportment singularly mild and engaging. 26 

Cortes came forward with a dignified and studied 
courtesy to receive him. The Aztec monarch probably 
knew the person of his conqueror,* for he first broke 
silence by saying, "I have done all that I could to 
defend myself and my people. I am now reduced to 
this state. You will deal with me, Malinche, as you 

2 5 Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, lib. 12, cap. 40, MS. 

26 For the portrait of Guatemozin I again borrow the faithful pencil 
of Diaz, who knew him — at least his person — well : " Guatemuz era de 
muy gentil disposicion, assi de cuerpo, como de fayciones, y la cata 
algo larga, y alegre, y los ojos mas parecian que quando miraua, que 
eran con grauedad, y halagiienos, y no auia falta en ellos, y era de 
edad de veinte y tres-, 6 veinte y quatro afios, y el color tiraua mas i. 
bianco, que al color, y matiz de essotros Indios morenos." Hist, de 
la Conquista, cap. 156. 

[* It was unnecessary to qualify the statement, as they had often 
seen each other at the court of Montezuma. Alaman, Conquista de 
Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 211, note. — Ed.] 



list." Then, laying his hand on the hilt of a poniard 
stuck in the general's belt, he added, with vehemence, 
" Better despatch me with this, and rid me of life at 
once." 27 Cortes was filled with admiration at the 
proud bearing of the young barbarian, showing in his 
reverses a spirit worthy of an ancient Roman. " Fear 
not," he replied: "you shall be treated with all honor. 
You have defended your capital like a brave warrior. 
A Spaniard knows how to respect valor even in an 
enemy." 28 He then inquired of him where he had 
left the princess his wife; and, being informed that 
she still remained under protection of a Spanish guard 
on board the brigantine, the general sent to have her 
escorted to his presence. 

She was the youngest daughter of Montezuma, and 
was hardly yet on the verge of womanhood. On the 
accession of her cousin Guatemozin to the throne, she 
had been wedded to him as his lawful wife. 29 She is 

=7 " Llegose a mi, y dijome en su lengua : que ya el habia hecho 
todo, lo que de su parte era obligado para defenderse & si, y a los 
suyos, hasta venir en aquel estado ; que ahora ficiesse de el lo que yo 
quisiesse ; y puso la mano en un puiial, que yo tenia, diciendome, que 
le diesse de pufialadas, y le matasse." (Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lo- 
renzana, p. 300.) This remarkable account by the Conqueror himself 
is confirmed by Diaz, who does not appear to have seen this letter of 
his commander. Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 156. 

28 Ibid., cap. 156. — Also Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 
48, — and Martyr (De Orbe Novo, dec. 5, cap. 8), who, by the epithet 
of magna?iimo regi, testifies the admiration which Guatemozin's lofty 
spirit excited in the court of Castile. 

*9 The ceremony of marriage, which distinguished the "lawful wife" 
from the concubine, is described by Don Thoan Cano, in his con- 
versation with Oviedo. According to this, it appears that the only 
legitimate offspring which Montezuma left at his death was a son and 
a daughter, this same princess. — See Appendix, Part 2, No. 11. 



celebrated by her contemporaries for her personal 
charms \ and the beautiful princess Tecuichpo is still 
commemorated by the Spaniards, since from her by a 
subsequent marriage are descended some of the illus- 
trious families of their own nation. 30 She was kindly 
received by Cortes, who showed her the respectful 
attentions suited to her rank. Her birth, no doubt, 
gave her an additional interest in his eyes, and he may 
have felt some touch of compunction as he gazed on 
the daughter of the unfortunate Montezuma. He in- 
vited his royal captives to partake of the refreshments 
which their exhausted condition rendered so necessary. 
Meanwhile the Spanish commander made his disposi- 
tions for the night, ordering Sandoval to escort the 
prisoners to Cojohuacan, whither he proposed himself 
immediately to follow. The other captains, Olid and 
Alvarado, were to draw off their forces to their respective 
quarters. It was impossible for them to continue in the 
capital, where the poisonous effluvia from the unburied 
carcasses loaded the air with infection. A small guard 
only was stationed to keep order in the wasted suburbs. It 
was the hour of vespers when Guatemozin surrendered, 3 ' 

30 For a further account of Montezuma's daughter, see Book VII., 
chapter iii. of this History. 

31 The event is annually commemorated — or rather was, under the 
colonial government — by a solemn procession round the walls of the 
city. It took place on the 13th of August, the anniversary of the sur- 
render, and consisted of the principal cavaliers and citizens on horse- 
back, headed by the viceroy, and displaying the venerable standard 
of the Conqueror.* 

[* It was the royal standard, not that of Cortes, which was carried 
on this occasion. The celebration was suppressed by a decree of the 
cdrtes of Cadiz in 1812. Alaman, Conquista de Mejico, trad, de Vega, 
torn. ii. p. 212, note. — Ed.] 

Vol. III.— 1 17 



and the siege might be considered as then concluded. 
The evening set in dark, and the rain began to fall 
before the several parties had evacuated the city. 3 * 

During the night, a tremendous tempest, such as the 
Spaniards had rarely witnessed, and such as is known 
only within the tropics, burst over the Mexican Valley. 
The thunder, reverberating from the rocky amphi- 
theatre of hills., bellowed over the waste of waters, and 
shook the teocallis and crazy tenements of Tenochtitlan 
— the few that yet survived — to their foundations. The 
lightning seemed to cleave asunder the vault of heaven, 
as its vivid flashes wrapped the whole scene in a ghastly 
glare, for a moment, to be again swallowed up in dark- 
ness. The war of elements was in unison with the 
fortunes of the ruined city. It seemed as if the deities 
of Anahuac, scared from their ancient abodes, were 

3 s Toribio, Hist, de los Ind., MS., Parte 3, cap. 7. — Sahagun, Hist, 
de Nueva-Espana, MS., lib. 12, cap. 42. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 156. — " The lord of Mexico having surrendered," 
says Cortes, in his letter to the emperor, " the war, by the blessing of 
Heaven, was brought to an end, on Wednesday, the 13th day of 
August, 1521. So that from the day when we first sat down before 
the city, which was the 30th of May, until its final occupation, seventy- 
five days elapsed." (Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 300.) It is not 
easy to tell what event occurred on May 30th to designate the be- 
ginning of the siege. Clavigero considers it the occupation of Cojo- 
huacan by Olid. (Stor. del Messico, torn. Hi. p. 196.) But I know 
not on what authority. Neither Bernal Diaz, nor Herrera, nor Cortes, 
so fixes the date. Indeed, Clavigero says that Alvarado and Olid 
left Tezcuco May 20th, while Cortes says May 10th. Perhaps Cortes 
dates from the time when Sandoval established himself on the northern 
causeway, and when the complete investment of the capital began. 
Bernal Diaz, more than once, speaks of the siege as lasting three 
months, computing, probably, from the time when his own division, 
under Alvarado, took up its position at Tacuba. 


J 95 

borne along shrieking and howling in the blast, as they 
abandoned the fallen capital to its fate ! 33 

On the day following the surrender, Guatemozin 
requested the Spanish commander to allow the Mexi- 
cans to leave the city and to pass unmolested into the 
open country. To this Cortes readily assented, as, in- 
deed, without it he could take no steps for purifying 
the capital. He gave his orders, accordingly, for the 
evacuation of the place, commanding that no one, 
Spaniard or confederate, should offer violence to the 
Aztecs or in any way obstruct their departure. The 
whole number of these is variously estimated at from 
thirty to seventy thousand, besides women and chil- 
dren, who had survived the sword, pestilence, and 
famine. 34 It is certain they were three days in defiling 
along the several causeways, — a mournful train ; 35 hus- 
bands and wives, parents and children, the sick and 
the wounded, leaning on one another for support, as 

33 It did not, apparently, disturb the slumbers of the troops, who 
had been so much deafened by the incessant noises of the siege that, 
now these had ceased, " we felt," says Diaz, in his homely way, " like 
men suddenly escaped from a belfry, where we had been shut up for 
months with a chime of bells ringing in our ears I'' Hist, de la Con- 
quista, ubi supra. 

34 Herrera (Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 2, cap. 7) and Torquemada 
(Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 101) estimate them at 30,000. Ixtlilxo- 
chitl says that 60,000 fighting-men laid down their arms (Venida de 
los Espanoles, p. 49) ; and Oviedo swells the amount still higher, to 
70,000. (Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48.) — After the losses of 
the siege, these numbers are startling. 

35 " Digo que en tres dias con sus noches iban todas tres calcadas 
Uenas de Indios, e Indias, y muchachos, llenas de bote en bote, que 
nunca dexauan de salir, y tan fiacos, y suzios, e amarillos, e hedion- 
dos, que era lastima de los ver." Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, 
cap. 156. 


they feebly tottered along, squalid, and but half cov- 
ered with rags, that disclosed at every step hideous 
gashes, some recently received, others festering from 
long neglect, and carrying with them an atmosphere 
of contagion. Their wasted forms and famine-stricken 
faces told the whole history of the siege ; and, as the 
straggling files gained the opposite shore, they were 
observed to pause from time to time, as if to take one 
more look at the spot so lately crowned by the im- 
perial city, once their pleasant home, and endeared to 
them by many a glorious recollection. 

On the departure of the inhabitants, measures were 
immediately taken to purify the place, by means of 
numerous fires kept burning day and night, especially 
in the infected quarter of Tlatelolco, and by collect- 
ing the heaps of dead, which lay mouldering in the 
streets, and consigning them to the earth. Of the 
whole number who perished in the course of the siege 
it is impossible to form any probable computation. 
The accounts range widely, from one hundred and 
twenty thousand, the lowest estimate, to two hundred 
and forty thousand. 36 The number of the Spaniards 

3 6 Cortes estimates the losses of the enemy in the three several 
assaults at 67,000, which with 50,000 whom he reckons to have per- 
ished from famine and disease would give 117,000. (Rel. Terc, ap. 
Lorenzana, p. 298, et alibi.) But this is exclusive of those who fell 
previously to the commencement of the vigorous plan of operations 
for demolishing the city. Ixtlilxochitl, who seldom allows any one to 
beat him in figures, puts the dead, in round numbers, at 240,000, com- 
prehending the flower of the Aztec nobility. (Venida de los Espafioles, 
p. 51.) Bernal Diaz observes, more generally, " I have read the story 
of the destruction of Jerusalem, but I doubt if there was as great 
mortality there as in this siege ; for there was assembled in the city an 
immense number of Indian warriors from all the provinces and towns 


who fell was comparatively small, but that of the allies 
must have been large, if the historian of Tezcuco is 
correct in asserting that thirty thousand perished of 
his own countrymen alone. 37 That the number of 
those destroyed within the city was immense cannot 
be doubted, when we consider that, besides its own 
redundant population, it was thronged with that of 
the neighboring towns, who, distrusting their strength 
to resist the enemy, sought protection within its walls. 
The booty found there — that is, the treasures of gold 
and jewels, the only booty of much value in the eyes 
of the Spaniards — fell far below their expectations. It 
did not exceed, according to the general's statement, 
a hundred and thirty thousand castellanos of gold, in- 
cluding the sovereign's share, which, indeed, taking 
into account many articles of curious and costly work- 
manship, voluntarily relinquished by the army, greatly 
exceeded his legitimate fifth. 38 Yet the Aztecs must 
have been in possession of a much larger treasure, if it 

subject to Mexico, the most of whom perished." (Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 156.) "I have conversed," says Oviedo, "with many 
hidalgos and other persons, and have heard them say that the number 
of the dead was incalculable, — greater than that at Jerusalem, as 
described by Josephus." (Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 30, cap. 30.) 
As the estimate of the Jewish historian amounts to 1,100,000 (Anti- 
quities of the Jews, Eng. trans., book vii. chap, xvii.), the comparison 
may stagger the most accommodating faith. It will be safer to dis- 
pense with arithmetic where the data are too loose and slippery to 
afford a foothold for getting at truth. 

37 Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espafioles, p. 51. 

3 8 Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, p. 301. — Oviedo goes into some fur- 
ther particulars respecting the amount of the treasure, and especially 
of the imperial fifth, to which I shall have occasion to advert hereafter. 
Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 31. 



were only the wreck of that recovered from the Span- 
iards on the night of the memorable flight from 
Mexico. Some of the spoil may have been sent away 
from the capital, some spent in preparations for de- 
fence, and more of it buried in the earth, or sunk in 
the water of the lake. Their menaces were not with- 
out a meaning. They had, at least, the satisfaction of 
disappointing the avarice of their enemies. 

Cortes had no further occasion for the presence 
of his Indian allies. He assembled the chiefs of the 
different squadrons, thanked them for their services, 
noticed their valor in flattering terms, and, after dis- 
tributing presents among them, with the assurance that 
his master the emperor would recompense their fidelity 
yet more largely, dismissed them to their own homes. 
They carried off a liberal share of the spoils of which 
they had plundered the dwellings, — not of a kind to 
excite the cupidity of the Spaniards, — and returned in 
triumph, short-sighted triumph ! at the success of their 
expedition and the downfall of the Aztec dynasty. 

Great, also, was the satisfaction of the Spaniards at 
this brilliant termination of their long and laborious 
campaign. They were, indeed, disappointed at the 
small amount of treasure found in the conquered city. 
But the soldier is usually too much absorbed in the 
present to give much heed to the future ; and, though 
their discontent showed itself afterwards in a more 
clamorous form, they now thought only of their tri- 
umph, and abandoned themselves to jubilee. Cortes 
celebrated the event by a banquet, as sumptuous as 
circumstances would permit, to which all the cavaliers 
and officers were invited. Loud and long was their 



revelry, which was carried to such an excess as pro- 
voked the animadversion of Father Olmedo, who inti- 
mated that this was not the fitting way to testify their 
sense of the favors shown them by the Almighty. Cor- 
tes admitted the justice of the rebuke, but craved some 
indulgence for a soldier's license in the hour of victory. 
The following day was appointed for the commemora- 
tion of their successes in a more suitable manner. 

A procession of the whole army was then formed, 
with Father Olmedo at its head. The soiled and 
tattered banners of Castile, which had waved over 
many a field of battle, now threw their shadows on the 
peaceful array of the soldiery, as they slowly moved 
along, rehearsing the litany, and displaying the image 
of the Virgin and the blessed symbol of man's re- 
demption. The reverend father pronounced a dis- 
course, in which he briefly reminded the troops of their 
great cause for thankfulness to Providence for conduct- 
ing them safe through their long and perilous pilgrim- 
age ; and, dwelling on the responsibility incurred by 
their present position, he besought them not to abuse 
the rights of conquest, but to treat the unfortunate 
Indians with humanity. The sacrament was then ad- 
ministered to the commander-in-chief and the principal 
cavaliers, and the services concluded with a solemn 
thanksgiving to the God of battles, who had enabled 
them to carry the banner of the Cross triumphant over 
this barbaric empire. 39 

39 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 2, cap. 8. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, 
de la Conquista, cap. 156. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, MS., 
lib. 12, cap. 42. — Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 30.— 
Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Espafioles, pp. 51, 52. 


Thus, after a siege of nearly three months' duration, 
unmatched in history for the constancy and courage 
of the besieged, seldom surpassed for the severity of 
its sufferings, fell the renowned capital of the Aztecs. 
Unmatched, it may be truly said, for constancy and 
courage, when we recollect that the door of capitula- 
tion on the most honorable terms was left open to them 
throughout the whole blockade, and that, sternly re- 
jecting every proposal of their enemy, they, to a man, 
preferred to die rather than surrender. More than 
three centuries had elapsed since the Aztecs, a poor 
and wandering tribe from the far Northwest, had come 
on the plateau. There they built their miserable col- 
lection of huts on the spot — as tradition tells us — 
prescribed by the oracle. Their conquests, at first 
confined to their immediate neighborhood, gradually 
covered the Valley, then, crossing the mountains, 
swept over the broad extent of the table-land, de- 
scended its precipitous sides, and rolled onwards to 
the Mexican Gulf and the distant confines of Central 
America. Their wretched capital, meanwhile, keeping 
pace with the enlargement of territory, had grown into 
a flourishing city, filled with buildings, monuments of 
art, and a numerous population, that gave it the first 
rank among the capitals of the Western World. At 
this crisis came over another race from the remote 
East, strangers like themselves, whose coming had also 
been predicted by the oracle, and, appearing on the 
plateau, assailed them in the very zenith of their pros- 
perity, and blotted them out from the map of nations 
forever ! The whole story has the air of fable rather than 
of history ! a legend of romance, — a tale of the genii ! 


Yet we cannot regret the fall of an empire which 
did so little to promote the happiness of its subjects or 
the real interests of humanity. Notwithstanding the 
lustre thrown over its latter days by the glorious de- 
fence of its capital, by the mild munificence of Mon 
tezuma, by the dauntless heroism of Guatemozin, the 
Aztecs were emphatically a fierce and brutal race, little 
calculated, in their best aspects, to excite our sympathy 
and regard. Their civilization, such as it was, was not 
their own, but reflected, perhaps imperfectly, from a 
race whom they had succeeded in the land. It was, in 
respect to the Aztecs, a generous graft on a vicious 
stock, and could have brought no fruit to perfection. 
They ruled over their wide domains with a sword, in- 
stead of a sceptre. They did nothing to ameliorate 
the condition or in any way promote the progress of 
their vassals. Their vassals were serfs, used only to 
minister to their pleasure, held in awe by armed gar- 
risons, ground to the dust by imposts in peace, by 
military conscriptions in war. They did not, like the 
Romans, whom they resembled in the nature of their 
conquests, extend the rights of citizenship to the con- 
quered. They did not amalgamate them into one 
great nation, with common rights and interests. They 
held them as aliens, — even those who in the Valley 
were gathered round the very walls of the capital. The 
Aztec metropolis, the heart of the monarchy, had not 
a sympathy, not a pulsation, in common with the rest 
of the body politic. It was a stranger in its own land. 

The Aztecs not only did not advance the condition 
of their vassals, but, morally speaking, they did much 
to degrade it. How can a nation where human sacri- 


fices prevail, and especially when combined with can- 
nibalism, further the march of civilization? How 
can the interests of humanity be consulted, where man 
is levelled to the rank of the brutes that perish ? The 
influence of the Aztecs introduced their gloomy super- 
stition into lands before unacquainted with it, or 
where, at least, it was not established in any great 
strength. The example of the capital was contagious. 
As the latter increased in opulence, the religious cele- 
brations were conducted with still more terrible mag- 
nificence ; in the same manner as the gladiatorial 
shows of the Romans increased in pomp with the in- 
creasing splendor of the capital. Men became familiar 
with scenes of horror and the most loathsome abomi- 
nations. Women and children — the whole nation — 
became familiar with and assisted at them. The heart 
was hardened, the manners were made ferocious, the 
feeble light of civilization, transmitted from a milder 
race, was growing fainter and fainter, as thousands 
and thousands of miserable victims, throughout the 
empire, were yearly fattened in its cages, sacrificed on 
its altars, dressed and served at its banquets ! The 
whole land was converted into vast human shambles ! 
The empire of the Aztecs did not fall before its time. 

Whether these unparalleled outrages furnish a suffi- 
cient plea to the Spaniards for their invasion, whether, 
with the Protestant, we are content to find a warrant 
for it in the natural rights and demands of civilization, 
or, with the Roman Catholic, in the good pleasure of 
the Pope, — on the one or other of which grounds the 
conquests by most Christian nations in the East and 
the West have been defended, — it is unnecessary to 



discuss, as it has already been considered in a former 
chapter. It is more material to inquire whether, as- 
suming the right, the conquest of Mexico was con- 
ducted with a proper regard to the claims of humanity. 
And here we must admit that, with all allowance for 
the ferocity of the age and the laxity of its principles, 
there are passages which every Spaniard who cherishes 
the fame of his countrymen would be glad to see ex- 
punged from their history; passages not to be vin- 
dicated on the score of self-defence, or of necessity 
of any kind, and which must forever leave a dark spot 
on the annals of the Conquest. And yet, taken as a 
whole, the invasion, up to the capture of the capital, 
was conducted on principles less revolting to humanity 
than most, perhaps than any, of the other conquests 
of the Castilian crown in the New World. 

It may seem slight praise to say that the followers 
of Cortes used no blood-hounds to hunt down their 
wretched victims, as in some other parts of the Con- 
tinent, nor exterminated a peaceful and submissive 
population in mere wantonness of cruelty, as in the 
Islands. Yet it is something that they were not so far 
infected by the spirit of the age, and that their swords 
were rarely stained with blood unless it was indispen- 
sable to the success of their enterprise. Even in the 
last siege of the capital, the sufferings of the Aztecs, 
terrible as they were, do not imply any unusual cruelty 
in the victors ; they were not greater than those in- 
flicted on their own countrymen at home, in many a 
memorable instance, by the most polished nations, not 
merely of ancient times, but of our own. They were 
the inevitable consequences which follow from war 


when, instead of being confined to its legitimate field, 
it is brought home to the hearthstone, to the peaceful 
community of the city, — its burghers untrained to 
arms, its women and children yet more defenceless. 
In the present instance, indeed, the sufferings of the 
besieged were in a great degree to be charged on 
themselves, — on their patriotic but desperate self-devo- 
tion. It was not the desire, as certainly it was not the 
interest, of the Spaniards to destroy the capital or its 
inhabitants. When any of these fell into their hands, 
they were kindly entertained, their wants supplied, and 
every means taken to infuse into them a spirit of con- 
ciliation ; and this, too, it should be remembered, in 
despite of the dreadful doom to which they consigned 
their Christian captives. The gates of a fair capitulation 
were kept open, though unavailingly, to the last hour. 
The right of conquest necessarily implies that of 
using whatever force may be necessary for overcoming 
resistance to the assertion of that right. For the 
Spaniards to have done otherwise than they did would 
have been to abandon the siege, and, with it, the con- 
quest of the country. To have suffered the inhabitants, 
with their high-spirited monarch, to escape, would but 
have prolonged the miseries of war by transferring it 
to another and more inaccessible quarter. They liter- 
ally, so far as the success of the expedition was con- 
cerned, had no choice. If our imagination is struck 
with the amount of suffering in this and in similar 
scenes of the Conquest, it should be borne in mind 
that it was a natural result of the great masses of men 
engaged in the conflict. The amount of suffering does 
not of itself show the amount of cruelty which caused 



it ; and it is but justice to the Conquerors of Mexico 
to say that the very brilliancy and importance of their 
exploits have given a melancholy celebrity to their 
misdeeds, and thrown them into somewhat bolder re- 
lief than strictly belongs to them. It is proper that 
thus much should be stated, not to excuse their ex- 
cesses, but that we may be enabled to make a more 
impartial estimate of their conduct as compared with 
that of other nations under similar circumstances, and 
that we may not visit them with peculiar obloquy for 
evils which necessarily flow from the condition of 
war. 40 I have not drawn a veil over these evils ; for 
the historian should not shrink from depicting in their 
true colors the atrocities of a condition over which 
success is apt to throw a false halo of glory, but which, 
bursting asunder the strong bonds of human fellowship, 
purchases its triumphs by arming the hand of man 
against his brother, makes a savage of the civilized, 
and kindles the fires of hell in the bosom of the savage 

4° By none has this obloquy been poured with such unsparing hana 
on the heads of the old Conquerors as by their own descendants, the 
modern Mexicans. Ixtlilxochitl's editor, Bustamante, concludes an 
animated invective against the invaders with recommending that a 
monument should be raised on the spot — now dry land — where Guate- 
mozin was taken, which, as the proposed inscription itself intimates, 
should " devote to eternal execration the detested memory of these 
banditti !" (Venida de los Espafioles, p. 52, nota.) One would sup- 
pose that the pure Aztec blood, uncontaminated by a drop of Cas- 
tilian, flowed in the veins of the indignant editor and his compatriots, 
or at least that their sympathies for the conquered race would make 
them anxious to reinstate them in their ancient rights. Notwith- 
standing these bursts of generous indignation, however, which plenti- 
fully season the writings of the Mexicans of our day, we do not find 
that the Revolution, or any of its numerous brood of prormnciamientos, 
has resulted in restoring to them an acre of their ancient territory. 
Vol. III. 18 


Whatever may be thought of the Conquest in a moral 
view, regarded as a military achievement it must fill us 
with astonishment. That a handful of adventurers, in- 
differently armed and equipped, should have landed on 
the shores of a powerful empire inhabited by a fierce 
and warlike race, and, in defiance of the reiterated 
prohibitions of its sovereign, have forced their way 
into the interior; — that they should have done this 
without knowledge of the language or of the land, 
without chart or compass to guide them, without any 
idea of the difficulties they were to encounter, totally 
uncertain whether the next step might bring them on a 
hostile nation or on a desert, feeling their way along 
in the dark, as it were ; — that, though nearly over- 
whelmed in their first encounter with the inhabitants, 
they should have still pressed on to the capital of the 
empire, and, having reached it, thrown themselves un- 
hesitatingly into the midst of their enemies ; — that, so 
far from being daunted by the extraordinary spectacle 
there exhibited of power and civilization, they should 
have been but the more confirmed in their original 
design ; — that they should have seized the monarch, 
have executed his ministers before the eyes of his sub- 
jects, and, when driven forth with ruin from the gates, 
have gathered their scattered wreck together, and, after 
a system of operations pursued with consummate policy 
and daring, have succeeded in overturning the capital 
and establishing their sway over the country ; — that all 
this should have been so effected by a mere handful of 
indigent adventurers, is a fact little short of the miracu- 
lous, — too startling for the probabilities demanded by 
fiction, and without a parallel in the pages of history. 



Yet this must not be understood too literally ; for it 
would be unjust to the Aztecs themselves, at least to 
their military prowess, to regard the Conquest as directly 
achieved by the Spaniards alone. This would indeed 
be to arm the latter with the charmed shield of Rug- 
giero, and the magic lance of Astolfo, overturning its 
hundreds at a touch. The Indian empire was in a 
manner conquered by Indians. The first terrible 
encounter of the Spaniards with the Tlascalans, which 
had nearly proved their ruin, did in fact insure their 
success. It secured to them a strong native support on 
which to retreat in the hour of trouble, and round 
which they could rally the kindred races of the land 
for one great and overwhelming assault. The Aztec 
monarchy fell by the hands of its own subjects, under 
the direction of European sagacity and science. Had 
it been united, it might have bidden defiance to the 
invaders. As it was, the capital was dissevered from 
the rest of the country, and the bolt, which might 
have passed off comparatively harmless had the empire 
been cemented by a common principle of loyalty and 
patriotism, now found its way into every crack and 
crevice of the ill-compacted fabric and buried it in its 
own ruins. Its fate may serve as a striking proof that 
a government which does not rest on the sympathies 
of its subjects cannot long abide ; that human institu- 
tions, when not connected with human prosperity and 
progress, must fall, — if not before the increasing light 
of civilization, by the hand of violence ; by violence 
from within, if not from without. And who shall 
lament their fall? 

2o8 SO LIS. 

With the events of this Book terminates the history, by Solis, of 
the Conquista de Mejico ; a history, in many points of view, the most 
remarkable in the Castilian language. Don Antonio de Solis was 
born of a respectable family, in October, 1610, at Alcala de Henares, 
the nursery of science, and the name of which is associated in Spain 
with the brightest ornaments of both church and state. Solis, while 
very young, exhibited the sparks of future genius, especially in the 
vivacity of his imagination and a sensibility to the beautiful. He 
showed a decided turn for dramatic composition, and produced a 
comedy , at the age of seventeen, which would have reflected credit on 
a riper age. He afterwards devoted himself with assiduity to the 
study of ethics, the fruits of which are visible in the moral reflections 
which give a didactic character to the lightest of his compositions. 

At the usual age he entered the University of Salamanca, and went 
through the regular course of the canon and civil law. But the 
imaginative spirit of Solis took much more delight in the soft revels 
of the Muses than in the severe discipline of the schools; and he pro- 
duced a number of pieces for the theatre, much esteemed for the rich- 
ness of the diction and for the ingenious and delicate texture of the 
intrigue. His taste for dramatic composition was, no doubt, nourished 
by his intimacy with the great Calderon, for whose dramas he pre- 
pared several loas, or prologues. The amiable manners and brilliant 
acquisitions of Solis recommended him to the favor of the Conde de 
Oropesa, Viceroy of Navarre, who made him his secretary. The letters 
written by him while in the service of this nobleman, and afterwards, 
have some of them been given to the public, and are much com- 
mended for the suavity and elegance of expression characteristic of 
all the writings of their author. 

The increasing reputation of Solis attracted the notice of the Court, 
and in 1661 he was made secretary of the queen dowager, — an office 
which he had declined under Philip the Fourth, — and he was also 
preferred to the still more important post of Historiographer of the 
Indies, an appointment which stimulated his ambition to a bold 
career, different from anything he had yet attempted. Five years 
after this event, at the age of fifty-six, he made a most important 
change in his way of life, by embracing the religious profession, and 
was admitted to priest's orders in 1666. From this time he discon- 
tinued his addresses to the comic Muse, and, if we may credit his 
biographers, even refused, from conscientious scruples, to engage in 
the composition of the religious dramas, styled autos sacr amenta les, 



although the field was now opened to him by the death of the poet 
Calderon. But such tenderness of conscience it seems difficult to 
reconcile with the publication of his various comedies, which took 
place in 1681. It is certain, however, that he devoted himself zealously 
to his new profession, and to the historical studies in which his office 
of chronicler had engaged him. At length the fruits of these studies 
were given to the world in his Conquista de Mejico, which appeared at 
Madrid in 1684. He designed, it is said, to continue the work to the 
times after the Conquest. But, if so, he was unfortunately prevented 
by his death, which occurred about two years after the publication of 
his history, on the 13th of April, 1686. He died at the age of seventy- 
six, much regarded for his virtues and admired for his genius, but in 
that poverty with which genius and virtue are too often requited. 

The miscellaneous poems of Solis were collected and published a 
few years after his death, in one volume quarto ; which has since been 
reprinted. But his great work, that on which his fame is permanently 
to rest, is his Conquista de Mejico. Notwithstanding the field of his- 
tory had been occupied by so many eminent Spanish scholars, there 
was still a new career open to Solis. His predecessors, with all their 
merits, had shown a strange ignorance of the principles of art. They 
had regarded historical writing not as a work of art, but as a science. 
They had approached it on that side only, and thus divorced it from 
its legitimate connection with belles-lettres. They had thought only of 
the useful, and nothing of the beautiful ; had addressed themselves to 
the business of instruction, not to that of giving pleasure ; to the man 
of letters, studious to hive up knowledge, not to the man of leisure, 
who turns to books as a solace or a recreation. Such writers are 
never in the hands of the many, — not even of the cultivated many. 
They are condemned to the closet of the student, painfully toiling 
after truth, and little mindful of the coarse covering under which she 
may be wrapped. Some of the most distinguished of the national 
historiographers, as, for example, Herrera and Zurita, two of the 
greatest names in Castile and Aragon, fall under this censure. They 
display acuteness, strength of argument, judicious criticism, wonderful 
patience and industry in accumulating details for their varied and volu- 
minous compilations ; but in all the graces of composition — in elegance 
of style, skilful arrangement of the story, and selection of incidents — 
they are lamentably deficient. With all their high merits, intellectu- 
ally considered, they are so defective on the score of art that they can 
neither be popular, nor reverenced as the great classic? of the nation. 

210 SO LIS. 

Soils saw that the field was unappropriated by his predecessors, 
and had the address to avail himself of it. Instead of spreading him- 
self over a vast range, where he must expend his efforts on cold and 
barren generalities, he fixed his attention on one great theme, — one 
that, by its picturesque accompaniments, the romantic incidents of the 
story, the adventurous character of the actors and their exploits, was 
associated with many a proud and patriotic feeling in the bosom of the 
Spaniard, — one, in fine, that, by the brilliant contrast it afforded of 
European civilization to the barbaric splendors of an Indian dynasty, 
was remarkably suited to the kindling imagination of the poet. It 
was accordingly under its poetic aspect that the eye of Solis surveyed 
it. He distributed the whole subject with admirable skill, keeping 
down the subordinate parts, bringing the most important into high 
relief, and by a careful study of its proportions giving an admirable 
symmetry to the whole. Instead of bewildering the attention by a 
variety of objects, he presented to it one great and predominant idea, 
which shed its light, if I may so say, over his whole work. Instead 
of the numerous episodes, leading, like so many blind galleries, to 
nothing, he took the student along a great road, conducting straight 
towards the mark. At every step which we take in the narrative, we 
feel ourselves on the advance. The story never falters or stands still. 
That admirable liaison of the parts is maintained, by which one part 
is held to another, and each preceding event prepares the way for 
that which is to follow. Even those occasional interruptions, the 
great stumbling-block of the historian, which cannot be avoided, in 
consequence of the important bearing which the events that cause 
them have on the story, are managed with such address that, if the inter- 
est is suspended, it is never snapped. Such halting-places, indeed, 
are so contrived as to afford a repose not unwelcome after the stirring 
scenes in which the reader has been long involved ; as the traveller, 
exhausted by the fatigues of his journey, finds refreshment at places 
which in their own character have little to recommend them. 

The work, thus conducted, affords the interest of a grand spectacle, 
— of some well-ordered drama, in which scene succeeds to scene, act 
to act, each unfolding and preparing the mind for the one that is to 
follow, until the whole is consummated by the grand and decisive de- 
nouement. With this denouement, the fall of Mexico, Solis has closed 
his history, preferring to leave the full impression unbroken on the 
reader's mind rather than to weaken it by prolonging the narrative 
to the Conqueror's death. In this he certainly consulted effect, 

SO LIS. 211 

Solfs used the same care in regard to style that he showed in the 
arrangement of his story. It is elaborated with the nicest art, and 
displays that varied beauty and brilliancy which remind us of those 
finely variegated woods which, under a high polish, display all the 
rich tints that lie beneath the surface. Yet this style finds little favor 
with foreign critics, who are apt to condemn it as tumid, artificial, 
and verbose. But let the foreign critic beware how he meddles with 
style, that impalpable essence which surrounds thought as with an 
atmosphere, giving to it its life and peculiar tone of color, differing 
in different nations, like the atmospheres which envelop the different 
planets of our system, and which require to be comprehended that 
we may interpret the character of the objects seen through their me- 
dium. None but a native can pronounce with any confidence upon 
style, affected as it is by so many casual and local associations that 
determine its propriety and its elegance. In the judgment of eminent 
Spanish critics, the style of Solis claims the merits of perspicuity, 
copiousness, and classic elegance. Even the foreigner will not be in- 
sensible to its power of conveying a living picture to the eye. Words 
are the colors of the writer, and Solis uses them with the skill of a 
consummate artist ; now displaying the dark tumult of battle, and 
now refreshing the mind by scenes of quiet magnificence or of soft 
luxury and repose. 

Solis formed himself to some extent on the historical models of an- 
tiquity. He introduced set speeches into the mouths of his person- 
ages, speeches of his own composing. The practice may claim high 
authority among moderns as well as ancients, especially among the 
great Italian historians. It has its advantages, in enabling the writer 
to convey in a dramatic form the sentiments of the actors, and thus 
to maintain the charm of historic illusion by never introducing the 
person of the historian. It has also another advantage, that of exhib- 
iting the author's own sentiments under cover of his hero's, — a more 
effective mode than if they were introduced as his own. But to one 
trained in the school of the great English historians the practice has 
something in it unsatisfactory and displeasing. There is something 
like deception in it. The reader is unable to determine what are the 
sentiments of the characters and what those of the author. History as- 
sumes the air of romance, and the bewildered student wanders about 
in an uncertain light, doubtful whetherhe is treading on factor fiction. 

It is open to another objection, when, as it frequently does, it vio- 
lates the propriety of costume. Nothing is more difficult than to 

212 SOLIS. 

preserve the keeping of the piece when the new is thus laid on the 
old, — the imitation of the antique on the antique itself. The decla- 
mations of Solis are much prized as specimens of eloquence. But 
they are too often misplaced ; and the rude characters in whose 
mouths they are inserted are as little in keeping with them as were 
the Roman heroes with the fashionable wig and sword with which 
they strutted on the French stage in Louis the Fourteenth's time. 

As to the value of the researches made by Solis in the compilation 
of his work it is not easy to speak, for the page is supported by none 
of the notes and references which enable us to track the modern 
author to the quarry whence he has drawn his materials. It was not 
the usage of the age. The people of that day, and, indeed, of pre- 
ceding times, were content to take the author's word for his facts. 
They did not require to know why he affirmed this thing or doubted 
that ; whether he built his story on the authority of a friend or of a 
foe, of a writer of good report or of evil report. In short, they did 
not demand a reason for their faith. They were content to take it on 
trust. This was very comfortable to the historian. It saved him a 
world of trouble in the process, and it prevented the detection of 
error, or, at least, of negligence. It prevented it with all who did 
not carefully go over the same ground with himself. They who have 
occasion to do this with Solis will probably rise from the examina- 
tion with no very favorable idea of the extent of his researches : they 
will find that, though his situation gave him access to the most valu- 
able repositories in the kingdom, he rarely ascends to original docu- 
ments, but contents himself with the most obvious and accessible ; 
that he rarely discriminates between the contemporary testimony and 
that of later date ; in a word, that in all that constitutes the scientific 
value of history he falls far below his learned predecessor Herrera, — 
rapid as was the composition of this last. 

Another objection that may be made to Solis is his bigotry, or 
rather his fanaticism. This defect, so repugnant to the philosophic 
spirit which should preside over the labors of the historian, he pos- 
sessed, it is true, in common with many of his countrymen. But in 
him it was carried to an uncommon height ; and it was peculiarly un- 
fortunate, since his subject, being the contest between the Christian 
and the Infidel, naturally drew forth the full display of this tailing. 
Instead of regarding the benighted heathen with the usual measure 
of aversion in which they were held in the Peninsula after the subju- 
gation of Granada, he considered them as part of the grand confed- 



eracy of Satan, not merely breathing the spirit and acting under the 
invisible influence of the Prince of Darkness, but holding personal 
communication with him. He seems to have regarded them, in short, 
as his regular and organized militia. In this view, every act of the 
unfortunate enemy was a crime. Even good acts were misrepresented, 
or referred to evil motives ; for how could goodness originate with 
the Spirit of Evil ? No better evidence of the results of this way of 
thinking need be given than that afforded by the ill-favored and un- 
authorized portrait which the historian has left us of Montezuma, — 
even in his dying hours. The war of the Conquest was, in short, in 
the historian's eye, a conflict between light and darkness, between 
the good principle and the evil principle, between the soldiers of 
Satan and the chivalry of the Cross. It was a Holy War, in which 
the sanctity of the cause covered up the sins of the Conquerors, 
and every one — the meanest soldier who fell in it — might aspire to the 
crown of martyrdom. With sympathies thus preoccupied, what room 
was there for that impartial criticism which is the life of history ? 

The historian's overweening partiality to the Conquerors is still 
further heightened by those feelings of patriotism — a bastard patriot- 
ism — which, identifying the writer's own glory with that of his coun- 
trymen, makes him blind to their errors. This partiality is especially 
shown in regard to Cortes, the hero of the piece. The lights and 
shadows of the picture are all disposed with reference to this principal 
character. The good is ostentatiously paraded before us, and the bad 
is winked out of sight. Solis does not stop here, but, by the artful 
gloss which makes the worse appear the better cause, he calls on us 
to admire his hero sometimes for his very transgressions. No one, 
not even Gomara himself, is such a wholesale encomiast of the great 
Conqueror ; and, when his views are contradicted by the statements 
of honest Diaz, Solis is sure to find a motive for the discrepancy in 
some sinister purpose of the veteran. He knows more of Cortes, of 
his actions and his motives, than his companion in arms or his ad- 
miring chaplain. 

In this way Solis has presented a beautiful image of his hero, — but 
it is a hero of romance ; a character without a blemish. An eminent 
Castilian critic has commended him for " having conducted his history 
with so much art that it has become a panegyric." This may be true ; 
but, if history be panegyric, panegyric is not history. 

Yet, with all these defects, — the existence of which no candid critic 
will be disposed to deny, — the History of Solis has found such favor 


with his own countrymen that it has been printed and reprinted, with 
all the refinements of editorial luxury. It has been translated into the 
principal languages of Europe ; and such is the charm of its composi- 
tion, and its exquisite finish as a work of art, that it will doubtless be 
as imperishable as the language in which it is written, or the memory 
of the events which it records. 

At this place also we are to take leave of Father Sahagun, who has 
accompanied us through our narrative. As his information was col- 
lected from the traditions of the natives, the contemporaries of the 
Conquest, it has been of considerable importance in corroborating or 
contradicting the statements of the Conquerors. Yet its value in this 
respect is much impaired by the wild and random character of many 
of the Aztec traditions, — so absurd, indeed, as to carry their own 
refutation with them. Where the passions are enlisted, what Is too 
absurd to find credit? 

The Twelfth Book — as it would appear from his Preface, the Ninth 
Book originally — of his Historia de la Nueva- Espana is devoted to 
the account of the Conquest. In 1585, thirty years' after the first 
draft, he re-wrote this part of his great work, moved to it, as he tells 
us, " by the desire to correct the defects of the first account, in which 
some things had found their way that had better been omitted, and 
other things omitted which were well deserving of record."* It 
might be supposed that the obloquy which the missionary had brought 
on his head by his honest recital of the Aztec traditions would have 
made him more circumspect in this rifacimento of his former narrative. 
But I have not found it so, or that there has been any effort to miti- 
gate the statements that bore hardest on his countrymen. As this 
manuscript copy must have been that which the author himself deemed 
the most correct, since it is his last revision, and as it is more copious 
than the printed narrative, I have been usually guided by it. 

Senor Bustamante is mistaken in supposing that the edition of 
this Twelfth Book which he published in Mexico in 1829 is from the 
reformed copy of Sahagun. The manuscript cited in these pages is 
undoubtedly a transcript of that copy. For in the Preface to it, as we 
have seen, the author himself declares it. In the intrinsic value of 
the two drafts there is, after all, but little difference. 

* " En el libro nono, donde se trata esta Conquista, se hicieron ciertos defec- 
tos ; y fue, que algunas cosas se pusieron en la narracion de este Conquista que 
fueron mal puestas; y otras se callaron, que fueron mal calladas. Por esta 
causa, este ano de mil quinientos ochenta y cinco, enmende este Libro." MS. 













The history of the Conquest of Mexico terminates 
with the surrender of the capital. But the history of 
the Conquest is so intimately blended with that of the 
extraordinary man who achieved it, that there would 
seem to be an incompleteness in the narrative if it were 
not continued to the close of his personal career. This 
part of the subject has been very imperfectly treated by 
preceding writers. I shall therefore avail myself of the 
authentic materials in my possession to give a brief 
sketch of the brilliant but checkered fortunes which 
marked the subsequent career of Cortes. 

The first ebullition of triumph was succeeded in the 
army by very different feelings, as they beheld the 
Vol. III. — k 19 ( 2I 7) 


scanty spoil gleaned from the conquered city, and as 
they brooded over the inadequate compensation they 
were to receive for all their toils and sufferings. Some 
of the soldiers of Narvaez, with feelings of bitter dis- 
appointment, absolutely declined to accept their shares. 
Some murmured audibly against the general, and others 
against Guatemozin, who, they said, could reveal, if 
he chose, the place where the treasures were secreted. 
The white walls of the barracks were covered with 
epigrams and pasquinades levelled at Cortes, whom 
they accused of taking " one fifth of the booty as com- 
mander-in-chief, and another fifth as king." As Guate- 
mozin refused to make any revelation in respect to the 
treasure, or rather declared there was none to make, 
the soldiers loudly insisted on his being put to the 
torture. But for this act of violence, so contrary to 
the promise of protection recently made to the Indian 
prince, Cortes was not prepared ; and he resisted the 
demand, until the men, instigated, it is said, by the 
royal treasurer, Alderete, accused the general of a 
secret understanding with Guatemozin, and of a design 
to defraud the Spanish sovereigns and themselves. 
These unmerited taunts stung Cortes to the quick, 
and in an evil hour he delivered the Aztec prince into 
the hands of his enemies, to work their pleasure on 

But the hero who had braved death in its most awful 
forms was not to be intimidated by bodily suffering. 
When his companion, the cacique of Tacuba, who was 
put to the torture with him, testified his anguish by his 
groans, Guatemozin coldly rebuked him by exclaiming, 
" And do you think I, then, am taking my pleasure in 



my bath?" 1 At length Cortes, ashamed of the base 
part he was led to play, rescued the Aztec prince from 
his tormentors before it was too late, — not, however, 
before it was too late for his own honor, which has 
suffered an indelible stain from this treatment of his 
royal prisoner. 

All that could be wrung from Guatemozin by the 
extremity of his sufferings was the confession that much 
gold had been thrown into the water. But, although 
the best divers were employed, under the eye of Cortes 
himself, to search the oozy bed of the lake, only a few 
articles of inconsiderable value were drawn from it. 
They had better fortune in searching a pond in Guate- 
mozin's gardens, where a sun, as it is called, probably 
one of the Aztec calendar wheels, made of pure gold, 
of great size and thickness, was discovered. The ca- 
cique of Tacubahad confessed that a quantity of treasure 
was buried in the ground at one of his own villas. But 
when the Spaniards carried him to the spot he alleged 
that " his only motive for saying so was the hope of 
dying on the road!" The soldiers, disappointed in 
their expectations, now, with the usual caprice of an 
unlicensed mob, changed their tone, and openly ac- 
cused their commander of cruelty to his captive. The 
charge was well deserved, — but not from them. 3 

1 " 1 Estoi yo en algun deleite, 6 bano?" (Gomara, Cronica, cap. 
145.) The literal version is not so poetical as " the bed of flowers," 
into which this exclamation of Guatemozin is usually rendered. 

3 The most particular account of this disgraceful transaction is given 
by Bernal Diaz, one of those selected to accompany the lord of Ta- 
cuba to his villa. (Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 157.) He notices the 
affair with becoming indignation, but excuses Cortes from a voluntary 
part in it. 


The tidings of the fall of Mexico were borne on the 
wings of the wind over the plateau, and down the 
broad sides of the Cordilleras. Many envoys made 
their appearance from the remote Indian tribes, anxious 
to learn the truth of the astounding intelligence and 
to gaze with their own eyes on the ruins of the detested 
city. Among these were ambassadors from the king- 
dom of Michoacan, a powerful and independent state, 
inhabited by one of the kindred Nahuatlac races, and 
lying between the Mexican Valley and the Pacific. 
The embassy was soon followed by the king of the 
country in person, who came in great state to the 
Castilian quarters. Cortes received him with equal 
parade, astonished him by the brilliant evolutions of 
his cavalry and by the thunders of his ordnance, and 
escorted him in one of the brigantines round the fallen 
city, whose pile of smouldering palaces and temples 
was all that now remained of the once dread capital 
of Anahuac. The Indian monarch gazed with silent 
awe on the scene of desolation, and eagerly craved the 
protection of the invincible beings who had caused it. 3 
His example was followed by ambassadors from the 
remote regions which had never yet had intercourse 

3 Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 308. — The simple state- 
ment of the Conqueror contrasts strongly with the pompous narrative of 
Herrera (Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 3, cap. 3), and with that of Father 
Cavo, who may have drawn a little on his own imagination. " Cortes 
en una canoa ricamente entapizada, llevo a el Rey Vehichilze, y a 
los nobles de Michoacan a Mexico. Este es uno de los palacios de 
Moctheuzoma (les decia) ; alii esta el gran templo de Huitzilopuctli ; 
estas ruinas son del grande edificio de Quauhtemoc, aquellos de la 
gran plaza del mercado. Conmovido Vehichilze de este espectaculo 
se le saltaron las lagrimas." Los tres Siglos de Mexico (Mexico, 
1836), torn. i. p. 13. 


with the Spaniards. Cortes, who saw the boundaries 
of his empire thus rapidly enlarging, availed himself of 
the favorable dispositions of the natives to ascertain 
the products and resources of their several countries. 

Two small detachments were sent into the friendly 
state of Michoacan, through which country they pene- 
trated to the borders of the great Southern ocean. No 
European had as yet descended on its shores so far 
north of the equator. The Spaniards eagerly advanced 
into its waters, erected a cross on the sandy margin, 
and took possession of it, with all the usual formali- 
ties, in the name of their Catholic Majesties. On 
their return, they visited some of the rich districts 
towards the north, since celebrated for their mineral 
treasures, and brought back samples of gold and Cali- 
fornian pearls, with an account of their discovery of 
the ocean. The imagination of Cortes was kindled, 
and his soul swelled with exultation, at the splendid 
prospects which their discoveries unfolded. "Most 
of all," he writes to the emperor, " do I exult in the 
tidings brought me of the Great Ocean. For in it, as 
cosmographers, and those learned men who know most 
about the Indies, inform us, are scattered the rich isles 
teeming with gold and spices and precious stones." 4 
He at once sought a favorable spot for a colony on the 
shores of the Pacific, and made arrangements for the 
construction of four vessels to explore the mysteries 

4 " Que todos los que tienen alguna ciencia, y experiencia en al 
Navegacion de las Indias, ban tenido por muy cierto, que descubri- 
endo por estas Partes !a Mar del Sur, se habian de hallar muchas 
Islas ricas de Oro, y Perlas, y Piedras preciosas, y Especeria, y se 
habian de descubrir y hallar otros muchos secretos y cosas admira- 
bles." Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 302, 303. 


of these unknown seas. This was the beginning of his 
noble enterprises for discovery in the Gulf of California. 

Although the greater part of Anahuac, overawed by 
the successes of the Spaniards, had tendered their alle- 
giance, there were some, especially on the southern 
slopes of the Cordilleras, who showed a less submissive 
disposition. Cortes instantly sent out strong detach- 
ments under Sandoval and Alvarado to reduce the 
enemy and establish colonies in the conquered prov- 
inces. The highly colored reports which Alvarado, 
who had a quick scent for gold, gave of the mineral 
wealth of Oaxaca, no doubt operated with Cortes in 
determining him to select this region for his own par- 
ticular domain. 

The commander-in-chief, with his little band of 
Spaniards, now daily recruited by reinforcements from 
the Islands, still occupied the quarters of Cojohuacan, 
which they had taken up at the termination of the siege. 
Cortes did not immediately decide in what quarter of 
the Valley to establish the new capital which was to 
take the place of the ancient Tenochtitlan. The situ- 
ation of the latter, surrounded by water and exposed 
to occasional inundations, had some obvious disad- 
vantages. But there was no doubt that in some part 
of the elevated and central plateau of the Valley the 
new metropolis should be built, to which both Euro- 
pean and Indian might look up as to the head of the 
colonial empire of Spain. At length he decided on 
retaining the site of the ancient city, moved to it, as 
he says, "by its past renown, and the memory" — not 
an enviable one, surely — "in which it was held among 
the nations ; ' ' and he made preparations for the recon- 


struction of the capital on a scale of magnificence 
which should, in his own language, "raise her to the 
rank of Queen of the surrounding provinces, in the 
same manner as she had been of yore." 5 

The labor was to be performed by the Indian popu- 
lation, drawn from all quarters of the Valley, and in- 
cluding the Mexicans themselves, great numbers of 
whom still lingered in the neighborhood of their an- 
cient residence. At first they showed reluctance, and 
even symptoms of hostility, when called to this work 
of humiliation by their conquerors. But Cortes had 
the address to secure some of the principal chiefs in 
his interests, and under their authority and direction 
the labor of their countrymen was conducted. The 
deep groves of the Valley and the forests of the neigh- 
boring hills supplied cedar, cypress, and other durable 
woods for the interior of the buildings, and the quar- 
ries of tetzontli and the ruins of the ancient edifices 
furnished abundance of stone. As there were no beasts 
of draught employed by the Aztecs, an immense num- 
ber of hands was necessarily required for the work. 
All within the immediate control of Cortes were 
pressed into the service. The spot so recently deserted 
now swarmed with multitudes of Indians of various 
tribes, and with Europeans, the latter directing, while 
the others labored. The prophecy of the Aztecs was 
accomplished. 6 And the work of reconstruction went 

5 " Y crea Vuestra Magestad, que cada dia se iri ennobleciendo en 
tal manera, que como antes fue Principal, y Senora de todas estas 
Provincias, que lo sera tambien de aaui adelante." Rel. Terc. de 
Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 307. 

6 Ante, p. 160. 


forward with a rapidity like that shown by an Asiatic 
despot, who concentrates the population of an empire 
on the erection of a favorite capital. 7 

Yet the condition of Cortes, notwithstanding the 
success of his arms, suggested many causes for anxiety. 
He had not received a word of encouragement from 
home, — not a word, indeed, of encouragement or cen- 
sure. In what light his irregular course was regarded 
by the government or the nation was still matter of 
painful uncertainty. He now prepared another Letter 
to the emperor, the Third in the published series, writ- 
ten in the same simple and energetic style which has 
entitled his Commentaries, as they may be called, to 
a comparison with those of Caesar. It was dated at 
Cojohuacan, May 15th, 1522, and in it he recapitu- 
lated the events of the final siege of the capital, and 
his subsequent operations, accompanied by many saga- 
cious reflections, as usual, on the character and re- 
sources of the country. With this letter he purposed 
to send the royal fifth of the spoils of Mexico, and a 
rich collection of fabrics, especially of gold and jewelry 
wrought into many rare and fanciful forms. One of 
the jewels was an emerald, cut in a pyramidal shape, 

7 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 4, cap. 8. — Oviedo, Hist, de las 
Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 32. — Camargo, Hist, de Tlascala, MS. — 
Gomara, Cronica, cap. 162. — " En la cual (la edificacion de la ciudad) 
los primeros aiios andaba mas gente que en la edificacion del templo 
de Jerusalem, porque era tanta la gente que andaba en las obras, que 
apenas podia hombre romper por algunas calles y calzadas, aunque 
son muy anchas." (Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., Parte 1, cap. 1.) 
Ixtlilxochitl supplies any blank which the imagination might leave, by 
filling it up with 400,000, as the number of natives employed in this 
work by Cortes 1 Venida de los Espanoles, p. 60. 



of so extraordinary a size that the base was as broad as 
the palm of the hand ! 8 The collection was still fur- 
ther augmented by specimens of many of the natural 
products, as well as of animals peculiar to the country. 9 

8 " Sirvieron al Emperador con muchas piedras, i entre ellas con 
una esmeralda fina, como la palma, pero quadrada, i que se remataba 
en punta como piramide." (Gomara, Cronica, cap. 146.) Martyr 
confirms the account of this wonderful emerald, which, he says, " was 
reported to the king and council to be nearly as broad as the palm of 
the hand, and which those who had seen it thought could not be pro- 
cured for any sum." De Orbe Novo, dec. 8, cap. 4.* 

9 [Cortes availed himself of the same opportunity by which the 
royal fifth was despatched, to send costly or curious presents to 
numerous individuals and churches in Spain. For this fact I am in- 
debted to the kindness of Mr. George Sumner, who, when in Spain, 
made a visit to the Archives of Simancas, from which he has furnished 
me with some interesting particulars for the period on which I am 

* [Alaman, however, denies that this stone was an emerald, or that 
any true emeralds were found by the Conquerors in Mexico, notwith- 
standing the frequent mention of them in contemporary relations. 
" There are no emeralds," he says, " in our republic ; and the stones 
mistaken for them at the time of the Conquest were jade or serpen- 
tine." As an evidence of the ignorance on this subject common in 
Europe at a former period, he cites the famous instance of the Sacro 
Catino at Genoa, regarded for ages as an emerald of priceless value, 
but now proved to be an imitation. (Disertaciones historical, torn. i. 
p. 161.) It is certain that no emeralds are now found in any part of 
North America. Yet the Conquerors would seem to have been more 
discriminating than Senor Alaman represents them. They distin 
guished the chalchivitl, supposed to have been jade, from the emerald, 
and rejected as valueless other green stones prized by the natives. The 
case of the Sacro Catino does not apply, since it is not pretended that 
the Mexicans possessed the art of imitating precious stones by means 
of paste. The fact, therefore, that the emeralds sent and taken to 
Europe by Cortes were there recognized as genuine affords a pre- 
sumptive proof in their favor, which has been generally accepted as 
sufficient by modern writers on the subject. — Ed.] 


The army wrote a letter to accompany that of Cortes, 
in which they expatiated on his manifold services and 
besought the emperor to ratify his proceedings and 
confirm him in his present authority. The important 
mission was intrusted to two of the general's confiden- 
tial officers, Quinones and Avila. It proved to be un- 
fortunate. The agents touched at the Azores, where 
Quinones lost his life in a brawl. Avila, resuming his 
voyage, was captured by a French privateer, and the 
rich spoils of the Aztecs went into the treasury of his 
Most Christian Majesty. Francis the First gazed with 
pardonable envy on the treasures which his Imperial 
rival drew from his colonial domains; and he intimated 
his discontent by peevishly expressing a desire "to see 
the clause in Adam's testament which entitled his 
brothers of Castile and Portugal to divide the New 
World between them. ' ' Avila found means, through a 
private hand, of transmitting his letters, the most un- 

engaged. In a file endorsed Papeles de Cortes he met with a list, 
without date, but evidently belonging to the year 1522, of the gold, 
plumage, and ornaments sent by Cortes to the different persons and 
institutions in Spain. " The policy of Cortes and his clear-sighted- 
ness," Mr. Sumner justly remarks, " are well shown by this. Not a 
church, not a shrine of any fame, throughout Spain, has been for- 
gotten. To Santa Maria del Antigua in Sevilla, a rich offering of gold 
and of plumage ; to Santa Maria del Pilar in Zaragoza, the same ; 
another again to San Jago de Compostella ; and one to the Cartuja 
of Seville, in which the bones of Columbus were then lying. There 
are plumages and gold for every place of importance. Then the 
bishops and men of power are not forgotten ; for to them also are 
rich presents sent. In a time when there were no gazettes to 
trumpet one's fame, what surer way to notoriety than this? What 
surer way, in Spain, for gaining that security which Cortes so much 
needed ?"] 



portant part of his charge, to Spain, where they reached 
the court in safety. 10 

While these events were passing, affairs in Spain 
had been taking an unfavorable turn for Cortes. It 
may seem strange that the brilliant exploits of the 
Conqueror of Mexico should have attracted so little 
notice from the government at home. But the country 
was at that time distracted by the dismal feuds of the 
comunidades. The sovereign was in Germany, too 
much engrossed by the cares of the empire to allow 
leisure for those of his own kingdom. The reins of 
government were in the hands of Adrian, Charles's 
preceptor ; a man whose ascetic and studious habits 
better qualified him to preside over a college of monks 
than to fill, as he successively did, the most impor- 
tant posts in Christendom, — first as Regent of Castile, 
afterwards as Head of the Church. Yet the slow and 
hesitating Adrian could not have so long passed over 
in silence the important services of Cortes, but for 
the hostile interference of Velasquez, the governor 
of Cuba, sustained by Fonseca, bishop of Burgos, the 
chief person in the Spanish colonial department. 
This prelate, from his elevated station, possessed para- 
mount authority in all matters relating to the Indies, 
and he had exerted it from the first, as we have already 
seen, in a manner most prejudicial to the interests of 
Cortes. He had now the address to obtain a warrant 
from the regent, which was designed to ruin the Con- 
queror at the very moment when his great enterprise 
had been crowned with success. The instrument, after 

10 Peter Martyr, De Orbe Novo, dec 8, cap. 4. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de 
la Conquista, cap. 169. 


recapitulating the offences of Cortds in regard to Ve- 
lasquez, appoints a commissioner with full power to 
visit the country, to institute an inquiry into the gen- 
eral's conduct, to suspend him from his functions, and 
even to seize his person and sequestrate his property, 
until the pleasure of the Castilian court could be 
known. The warrant was signed by Adrian, at Bur- 
gos, on the nth of April, 15 21, and countersigned by 

The individual selected for the delicate task of ap- 
prehending Cortes and bringing him to trial on the 
theatre of his own discoveries and in the heart of his 
own camp was named Cristoval de Tapia, veedor, or 
inspector, of the gold founderies in St. Domingo. He 
was a feeble, vacillating man, as little competent to 
cope with Cortes in civil matters as Narvaez had shown 
himself to be in military. 

The commissioner, clothed in his brief authority, 
landed, in December, at Villa Rica. But he was 
coldly received by the magistrates of the city. His 
credentials were disputed, on the ground of some tech- 
nical informality. It was objected, moreover, that his 
commission was founded on obvious misrepresentations 
to the government ; and, notwithstanding a most 
courteous and complimentary epistle which he received 
from Cortes, congratulating him, as an old friend, on 

11 The instrument also conferred similar powers in respect to an in- 
quiry into Narvaez's treatment of the licentiate Ayllon. The whole 
document is cited in a deposition drawn up by the notary, Alonso de 
Vergara, setting forth the proceedings of Tapia and the municipality 
of Villa Rica, dated at Cempoalla, December 24, 1521. The MS. 
forms part of the collection of Don Vargas Pon9e, in the archives of 
the Academy of History at Madrid. 



his arrival, the veedor soon found that he was neither 
to be permitted to penetrate far into the country nor 
to exercise any control there. He loved money; and, 
as Cortes knew the weak side of his "old friend," he 
proposed to purchase his horses, slaves, and equipage, 
at a tempting price. The dreams of disappointed am- 
bition were gradually succeeded by those of avarice ; 
and the discomfited commissioner consented to re- 
embark for Cuba, well freighted with gold, if not with 
glory, and provided with fresh matter of accusation 
against the high-handed measures of Cortes. 12 

Thus left in undisputed possession of authority, the 
Spanish commander went forward with vigor in his 
plans for the settlement of his conquests. The Panu- 
chese, a fierce people on the borders of the Panuco, on 
the Atlantic coast, had taken up arms against the Span- 
iards. Cortes marched at the head of a considerable 
force into their country, defeated them in two pitched 
battles, and, after a severe campaign, reduced the war- 
like tribe to subjection. 

A subsequent insurrection was punished with greater 
severity. They rose on the Spaniards, massacred five 
hundred of their oppressors, and menaced with destruc- 
tion the neighboring settlement of San Estevan. Cortes 
ordered Sandoval to chastise the insurgents ; and that 
officer, after a campaign of incredible hardship, com- 

12 Relacion de Vergara, MS. — Rel. Terc. de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, 
pp. 309-314. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 158. — The 
regidores of Mexico and other places remonstrated against CorteV 
leaving the Valley to meet Tapia, on the ground that his presence was 
necessary to overawe the natives. (MS., Coyoacan, Dec. 12, 1521.) 
The general acquiesced in the force of a remonstrance which it is not 
improbable was made at his own suggestion. 
Vol. III. 20 


pletely routed the barbarians, captured four hundred 
of their chiefs, and, after the affected formalities of a 
trial, sentenced every man of them to the stake or the 
gibbet. "By which means," says Cortes, "God be 
praised ! the safety of the Spaniards was secured, and 
the province once more restored to tranquillity and 
peace." 13 He had omitted to mention in his letter 
his ungenerous treatment of Guatemozin. But the 
undisguised and ?iaive manner, so to speak, in which 
he details these circumstances to the emperor, shows 
that he attached no discredit to the deed. It was the 
just recompense of rebellion; a word that has been 
made the apology for more atrocities than any other 
word, — save religion. 

During this interval the great question in respect to 
Cortes and the colony had been brought to a decisive 
issue. The general must have succumbed under the 
insidious and implacable attacks of his enemies, but 
for the sturdy opposition of a few powerful friends 
zealously devoted to his interests. Among them may 
be mentioned his own father, Don Martin Cortes, a 
discreet and efficient person, 14 and the duke de Bejar, 
a powerful nobleman, who from an early period had 
warmly espoused the cause of Cortes. By their repre- 
sentations the timid regent was at length convinced 
that the measures of Fonseca were prejudicial to the 
interests of the crown, and an order was issued inter- 
's " Como ya (loado nuestro Senor) estaba toda la Provincia muy 
pacifica, y segura." Rel. Quarta de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 367. 

M The Mufioz collection of MSS. contains a power of attorney 
given by Cortes to his father, authorizing him to manage all negotia- 
tions with the emperor and with private persons, to conduct all law- 
suits on his behalf, to pay over and receive money, etc. 


dieting him from further interference in any matters in 
which Cortes was concerned. 

While the exasperated prelate was chafing under this 
affront, both the commissioners Tapia and Narvaez 
arrived in Castile. The latter had been ordered to Co- 
johuacan after the surrender of the capital, where his 
cringing demeanor formed a striking contrast to the 
swaggering port which he had assumed on first enter- 
ing the country. When brought into the presence of 
Cortes, he knelt down, and would have kissed his 
hand, but the latter raised him from the ground, and, 
during his residence in his quarters, treated him with 
every mark of respect. The general soon afterwards 
permitted his unfortunate rival to return to Spain, 
where he proved, as might have been anticipated, a 
most bitter and implacable enemy. ,s 

These two personages, reinforced by the discontented 
prelate, brought forward their several charges against 
Cortes with all the acrimony which mortified vanity 
and the thirst of vengeance could inspire. Adrian was 
no longer in Spain, having been called to the chair of 
St. Peter; but Charles the Fifth, after his long absence, 
had returned to his dominions, in July, 1522. The 
royal ear was instantly assailed with accusations of 
Cortes on the one hand and his vindication on the 
other, till the young monarch, perplexed, and unable 
to decide on the merits of the question, referred the 
whole subject to the decision of a board selected for 
the purpose. It was drawn partly from the members 
of his privy council, and partly from the Indian depart- 

*5 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 158. 


ment, with the Grand Chancellor of Naples as its 
president, and constituted altogether a tribunal of the 
highest respectability for integrity and wisdom. 16 

By this learned body a patient and temperate hear- 
ing was given to the parties. The enemies of Cortes 
accused him of having seized and finally destroyed the 
fleet intrusted to him by Velasquez and fitted out at 
the governor's expense ; of having afterwards usurped 
powers in contempt of the royal prerogative ; of the 
unjustifiable treatment of Narvaez and Tapia, when 
they had been lawfully commissioned to supersede him; 
of cruelty to the natives, and especially to Guatemozin ; 
of embezzling the royal treasures, and remitting but a 
small part of its dues to the crown ; of squandering the 
revenues of the conquered countries in useless and 
wasteful schemes, and particularly in rebuilding the 
capital on a plan of unprecedented extravagance ; of 
pursuing, in short, a system of violence and extortion, 
without respect to the public interest or any other end 
than his own selfish aggrandizement. 

In answer to these grave charges, the friends of 
Cortes adduced evidence to show that he had defrayed 
with his own funds two-thirds of the cost of the ex- 
pedition. The powers of Velasquez extended only to 
traffic, not to establish a colony. Yet the interest of 
the crown required the latter. The army had there- 
fore necessarily assumed this power to themselves ; but, 
having done so, they had sent intelligence of their pro- 

16 Sayas, Annales de Aragon (Zaragoza, 1666), cap. 63, 78. — It is a 
sufficient voucher for the respectability of this court that we find in it 
the name of Dr. Galindez de Carbajal, an eminent Castilian jurist, 
grown gray in the service of Ferdinand and Isabella, whose confidence 
he enjoyed to the highest degree. 


2 3: 

ceedings to the emperor and solicited his confirmation 
of them. The rupture with Narvaez was that com- 
mander's own fault; since Cortes would have met him 
amicably, had not the violent measures of his rival, 
threatening the ruin of the expedition, compelled him 
to an opposite course. The treatment of Tapia was 
vindicated on the grounds alleged to that officer by the 
municipality at Cempoalla. The violence to Guate- 
mozin was laid at the door of Alderete, the royal 
treasurer, who had instigated the soldiers to demand it. 
The remittances to the crown, it was clearly proved, 
so far from falling short of the legitimate fifth, had 
considerably exceeded it. If the general had expended 
the revenues of the country on costly enterprises and 
public works, it was for the interest of the country that 
he did so, and he had incurred a heavy debt by strain- 
ing his own credit to the utmost for the same great 
objects. Neither did they deny that, in the same 
spirit, he was now rebuilding Mexico on a scale suited 
to the metropolis of a vast and opulent empire. 

They enlarged on the opposition he had experienced 
throughout his whole career from the governor of Cuba, 
and still more from the bishop of Burgos, which latter 
functionary, instead of affording him the aid to have 
been expected, had discouraged recruits, stopped his 
supplies, sequestered such property as from time to 
time he had sent to Spain, and falsely represented his 
remittances to the crown as coming from the governor 
of Cuba. In short, such and so numerous were the 
obstacles thrown in his path that Cortes had been 
heard to say "he had found it more difficult to con- 
tend against his own countrymen than against the 


Aztecs." They concluded with expatiating on the bril- 
liant results of his expedition, and asked if the council 
were prepared to dishonor the man who, in the face of 
such obstacles and with scarcely other resources than 
what he found in himself, had won an empire for Cas- 
tile such as was possessed by no European potentate ! I? 
This last appeal was irresistible. However irregular 
had been the manner of proceeding, no one could deny 
the grandeur of the results. There was not a Spaniard 
that could be insensible to such services, or that would 
not have cried out "Shame!" at an ungenerous re- 
quital of them. There were three Flemings in the 
council ; but there seems to have been no difference 
of opinion in the body. It was decided that neither 
Velasquez nor Fonseca should interfere further in the 
concerns of New Spain. The difficulties of the former 
with Cortes were regarded in the nature of a private 
suit ; and, as such, redress must be sought by the reg- 
ular course of law. The acts of Cortes were confirmed 
in their full extent. He was constituted Governor, 
Captain-General, and Chief Justice of New Spain, with 
power to appoint to all offices, civil and military, and 
to order any person to leave the country whose resi- 
dence there he might deem prejudicial to the interests 
of the crown. This judgment of the council was 
ratified by Charles the Fifth, and the commission in- 
vesting Cortes with these ample powers was signed by 
the emperor at Valladolid, October 15th, 1522. A 
liberal salary was provided, to enable the governor of 

*1 Sayas, Annales de Aragon, cap. 78. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 
3, lib. 4, cap. 3. — Probanza en la Villa Segura, MS. — Declaraciones 
de Puertocarrero y de Montejo, MS. 



New Spain to maintain his office with suitable dignity. 
The favor of his sovereign was rendered still more 
welcome by a letter of the same date, written by him 
to the general, in which, after expatiating on the ser- 
vices of Cortes, he declares it to be his intention to 
make him such a requital as they well deserve. 18 The 
principal officers were recompensed with honors and 
substantial emoluments ; and the troops, together with 
some privileges grateful to the vanity of the soldier, 
received the promise of liberal grants of land. The 
emperor still further complimented them by a letter 
written to the army with his own hand, in which he 
acknowledged its services in the fullest manner. 19 

From this hour the influence of Fonseca in the In- 
dian department was at an end. He did not long sur- 
vive his chagrin, as he died in the following year. No 
man was in a situation to do more for the prosperity of 
his country than the bishop of Burgos. For more than 
thirty years, ever since the first dawn of discovery under 
Columbus, he had held supreme control over colonial 
affairs ; and it lay with him, therefore, in an especial 
degree, to give ardor to enterprise, and to foster the 
youthful fortunes of the colonies. But he lay like a 

18 [" E porque soy certificado de lo mucho que vos en ese descu- 
brimiento e conquista y en tornar A ganar la dicha ciudad e provincias 
habeis fecho e trabajado, de que me he tenido e tengo por muy ser- 
vido, e tengo la voluntad que es razon para vos favorecer y hacer la 
merced que vuestros servicios y trabajos merecen." — The whole letter 
is inserted by Alaman in his Disertaciones historicas, torn. i. apend. 
2, p. 144, et seq.] 

*9 Nombramiento de Governador y Capitan General y Justicia 
Mayor de Nueva-Espana, MS. — Also Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Con- 
quista, cap. 168. 


blight upon them. He looked with an evil eye on the 
most illustrious of the Spanish discoverers, and sought 
only to throw impediments in their career. Such had 
been his conduct towards Columbus, and such to Cortes. 
By a wise and generous policy, he might have placed 
his name among the great lights of his age. As it was, 
he only served to bring these into greater lustre by con- 
trast with his own dark and malignant nature. His 
career shows the overweening ascendency which the 
ecclesiastical profession possessed in Castile in the six- 
teenth century ; when it could raise a man to so im- 
portant a station, for which he was totally unfit, and 
keep him there after he had proved himself to be so. 20 
The messengers who bore the commission of Cortes 
to Mexico touched on their way at Cuba, where the 
tidings were proclaimed by sound of trumpet. It was 
a death-blow to the hopes of Velasquez. Exasperated 
by the failure of his schemes, impoverished by the 
expense of expeditions of which others had reaped the 
fruits, he had still looked forward to eventual redress, 
and cherished the sweet hope of vengeance, — long 
delayed. That hope was now gone. There was slight 
chance of redress, he well knew, in the tedious and 
thorny litigation of the Castilian courts. Ruined in 
fortune, dishonored before the nation, the haughty 
spirit of the governor was humbled in the dust. He 

80 The character of Fonseca has been traced by the same hand which 
has traced that of Columbus. (Irving's Life and Voyages of Colum- 
bus, Appendix, No. 32.) Side by side they will go down to posterity 
in the beautiful page of the historian, though the characters of the 
two individuals have been inscribed with pens as different from each 
other as the golden and iron pen which Paolo Giovio tells us he em- 
ployed in his compositions. 



would take no comfort, but fell into a sullen melan- 
choly, and in a few months died — if report be true — 
of a broken heart. 21 

The portrait usually given of Velasquez is not favor- 
able. Yet Las Casas speaks kindly of him, and, when 
his prejudices are not involved, there can be no better 
authority. But Las Casas knew him when, in his earlier 
days, the missionary first landed in Cuba. The gov- 
ernor treated him with courtesy, and even confidence ; 
and it was natural that the condescension of a man 
of high family and station should have made its im- 
pression on the feelings of the poor ecclesiastic. In 
most accounts he is depicted as a haughty, irascible 
person, jealous of authority and covetous of wealth. 
He quarrelled with Grijalva, Cortes' predecessor, ap- 
parently without cause. With as little reason, he 
broke with Cortes before he left the port. He proposed 
objects to himself in their nature incompatible. He 
proposed that others should fight his battles, and that 
he should win the laurels ; that others should make 
discoveries, and that he should reap the fruits of them. 
None but a weak mind would have conformed to his 
conditions, and a weak mind could not have effected 
his objects. His appointment of Cortes put him in a 
false position for the rest of his life. His efforts to 
retrieve his position only made things worse. The 
appointment of Cortes to the command was scarcely 
a greater error than the subsequent appointment of 
Narvaez and of Tapia. The life of Velasquez was a 
series of errors. 

Narvaez had no better fate than his friend the gov 

21 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 158. 


ernor of Cuba. In the hope of retrieving his fortunes, 
he continued to pursue his adventurous career, and em- 
barked in an expedition to Honduras. It was his last ; 
and Las Casas, who had little love for the Conquerors, 
and who had watched the acts of cruelty perpetrated 
by Narvaez, concludes the notice of his death with the 
assurance that the "devil took possession of his soul." 
The announcement of the emperor's commission 
confirming Cortes in the supreme authority of New 
Spain was received there with general acclamation. 
The army rejoiced in having at last secured not merely 
an amnesty for their irregular proceedings, but a dis- 
tinct acknowledgment of their services. The nomina- 
tion of Cortes to the supreme command put his mind 
at ease as to the past, and opened to him a noble thea- 
tre for future enterprise. The soldiers congratulated 
themselves on the broad powers conferred on their 
commander, and, as they reckoned up their scars and 
their services, indulged in golden dreams and the most 
vague and visionary expectations. It is not strange 
that their expectations should have been disappointed. 




In less than four years from the destruction of Mex- 
ico, a new city had risen on its ruins, which, if inferior 
to the ancient capital in extent, surpassed it in mag- 
nificence and strength. It occupied so exactly the 
same site as its predecessor, that the plaza mayor, or 
great square, was the same spot which had been covered 
by the huge teocalli and the palace of Montezuma; 
while the principal streets took their departure as 
before from this central point, and, passing through 
the whole length of the city, terminated at the prin- 
cipal causeways. Great alterations, however, took 
place in the fashion of the architecture. The streets 
were widened, many of the canals were filled up, and 
the edifices were constructed on a plan better accom- 
modated to European taste and the wants of a Euro- 
pean population. 

On the site of the temple of the Aztec war-god rose 
the stately cathedral dedicated to St. Francis;* and, as 

* [According to Sefior Alaman, the cathedral, instead of being dedi- 
cated to Saint Francis, was consecrated to the Assumption of the 
Virgin. Conquista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), tom. ii. p. 254.] 

( 2 39) 


if to complete the triumphs of the Cross, the founda- 
tions were laid with the broken images of the Aztec 
gods." In a corner of the square, on the ground once 
covered by the House of Birds, *>tood a Franciscan 
convent, a magnificent pile, erected a few years after 
the Conquest by a lay brother, Pedro de Gante, a 
natural son, it is said, of Charles the Fifth. 3 In an 
opposite quarter of the same square Cortes caused his 
own palace to be constructed. It was built of hewn 
stone, and seven thousand cedar beams are said to have 
been used for the interior.* The government after- 
wards appropriated it to the residence of the viceroys ; 
and the Conqueror's descendants, the dukes of Monte- 
leone, were allowed to erect a new mansion in another 
part of the plaza, on the spot which, by an ominous coin- 
cidence, had been covered by the palace of Montezuma. 5 
The houses occupied by the Spaniards were of stone, 
combining with elegance a solid strength which made 
them capable of defence like so many fortresses. 6 The 
Indian buildings were for the most part of an inferior 
quality. They were scattered over the ancient district 
of Tlatelolco, where the nation had made its last stand 
for freedom. This quarter was also provided with a 
spacious cathedral ; 7 and thirty inferior churches at- 
tested the care of the Spaniards for the spiritual welfare 

a Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 4, cap. 8. 

3 Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, torn. i. p. 271. — Humboldt, Essai 
politique, torn. ii. p. 58. 

4 Herrera, Hist, general, ubi supra. 

5 Humboldt, Essai politique, torn. ii. p. 72. 

6 Rel. d'un gentil' huomo, ap. Ramusio, torn. iii. fol. 309. 

1 [Alaman asserts that there was no cathedral in Tlatelolco, but a 
Franciscan convent, dedicated to St. James, which still exists. Con- 
quista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 255.] 



of the natives. 8 It was in watching over his Indian 
flock, and in the care of the hospitals with which the 
new capital was speedily endowed, that the good Father 
Olmedo, when oppressed by growing infirmities, spent 
the evening of his days. 9 

To give greater security to the Spaniards, Cortes 
caused a strong fortress to be erected in a place since 
known as the Matadero.™ It was provided with a 
dock-yard, and the brigantines which had served in 
the siege of Mexico were long preserved there as me- 
morials of the Conquest. When the fortress was com- 
pleted, the general, owing to the evil offices of Fonseca, 
found himself in want of artillery and ammunition for 
its defence. He supplied the former deficiency by 
causing cannon to be cast in his own founderies, made 
of the copper which was common in the country, and 
tin which he obtained with more difficulty from the 
mines of Tasco. By this means, and a contribution 
which he received from the shipping, he contrived to 
mount his walls with seventy pieces of ordnance. Stone 
balls, much used in that age, could easily be made ; 
but for the manufacture of his powder, although there 
was nitre in abundance, he was obliged to seek the 
sulphur by a perilous expedition into the bowels of the 
great volcan. 11 Such were the resources displayed by 
Cortes, enabling him to supply every deficiency, and 
to triumph over every obstacle which the malice of his 
enemies had thrown in his path. 

8 Rel. d'un gentil' huomo, ap. Ramusio, ubi supra. 

9 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 177. 

10 Rel. Quarta de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 376, nota. 

11 For an account of this singular enterprise, see ante, vol. ii. p. 46. 
Vol. III.— l 21 


The general's next care was to provide a population 
for the capital. He invited the Spaniards thither by 
grants of lands and houses, while the Indians, with 
politic liberality, were permitted to live under their 
own chiefs as before, and to enjoy various immunities. 
With this encouragement, the Spanish quarter of the 
city in the neighborhood of the great square could 
boast in a' few years two thousand families ; while the 
Indian district of Tlatelolco included no less than 
thirty thousand. 12 The various trades and occupations 
were resumed ; the canals were again covered with 
barges; two vast markets in the respective quarters 
of the capital displayed all the different products and 
manufactures of the surrounding country \ and the city 
swarmed with a busy, industrious population, in which 
the white man and the Indian, the conqueror and the 
conquered, mingled together promiscuously in peace- 
ful and picturesque confusion. Not twenty years had 
elapsed smce the Conquest, when a missionary who 
visited it had the confidence, or the credulity, to assert 
that " Europe could not boast a single city so fair and 
opulent as Mexico." 13 

The metropolis of our day would seem to stand in a 
different situation from that reared by the Conquerors ; 

12 Cortes, reckoning only the Indian population, says treinta mil 
vecinos. (Rel. Quarta, ap. Lorenzana, p. 375.) Gomara, speaking 
of Mexico some years later, estimates the number of Spanish house- 
holders as in the text. Cronica, cap. 162. 

'3 Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., Parte 3, cap. 7. — Yet this is 
scarcely stronger language than that of the Anonymous Conqueror : 
" Cosi ben ordinato et di si belle piazze et strade, quanto d' altre citth 
che siano al mondo." Rel. d'un gentil' huomo, ap. Ramusio, torn. iii. 
fol. 309. 



for the waters no longer flow through its streets, nor 
wash the ample circumference of its walls. These 
waters have retreated within the diminished basin of 
Tezcuco ; and the causeways, which anciently traversed 
the depths of the lake, are not now to be distinguished 
from the other avenues to the capital. But the city, 
embellished, it is true, by the labors of successive vice- 
roys, is substantially the same as in the days of the 
Conquerors ; and the massive grandeur of the few 
buildings that remain of the primitive period, and the 
general magnificence and symmetry of its plan, attest 
the far-sighted policy of its founder, which looked 
beyond the present to the wants of coming genera- 

The attention of Cortes was not confined to the 
capital. He was careful to establish settlements in 
every part of the country which afforded a favorable 
position for them. He founded Zacatula on the 
shores of the miscalled Pacific, Coliman in the terri- 
tory of Michoacan, San Estevan on the Atlantic coast, 
probably not far from the site of Tampico, Medellin 
(so called after his own birthplace) in the neighbor- 
hood of the modern Vera Cruz, and a port near the 
river Antigua, from which it derived its name. It was 
designed to take the place of Villa Rica, which, as ex- 
perience had shown, from its exposed situation, afforded 
no protection to shipping against the winds that sweep 
over the Mexican Gulf. Antigua, sheltered within the 
recesses of a bay, presented a more advantageous posi- 
tion. Cortes established there a board of trade, con- 
nected the settlement by a highway with the capital, 
and fondly predicted that his new city would become 


the great emporium of the country. 14 But in this he 
was mistaken. From some cause, not very obvious, 
the port of entry was removed, at the close of the 
sixteenth century, to the modern Vera Cruz, which, 
without any superiority, probably, of topographical 
position, or even of salubrity of climate, has remained 
ever since the great commercial capital of New Spain. 
Cortes stimulated the settlement of his several colo- 
nies by liberal grants of land and municipal privileges. 
The great difficulty was to induce women to reside in 
the country ; and without them he felt that the colo- 
nies, like a tree without roots, must soon perish. By 
a singular provision, he required every settler, if a 
married man, to bring over his wife within eighteen 
months, on pain of forfeiting his estate. If he were 
too poor to do this himself, the government would 
assist him. Another law imposed the same penalty 
on all bachelors who did not provide themselves with 
wives within the same period. The general seems to 
have considered celibacy as too great a luxury for a 
young country. 15 

«4 " Y tengo por cierto, que aquel Pueblo ha de ser, despues de esta 
Ciudad, el mejor que obiere en esta Nueva Espana." (Rel. Quarta, 
ap. Lorenzana, p. 382.) The archbishop confounds this town with 
the modern Vera Cruz. But the general's description of the port 
refutes this supposition, and confirms our confidence in Clavigero's 
statement that the present city was founded by the Conde de Monte- 
rey, at the time mentioned in the text. See ante, vol. i. p. 345, note. 

J S Ordenanzas municipales, Tenochtitlan, Marzo, 1524, MS.* — The 

* [The exact date is given at the close of the document — " fecha en 
esta dicha ciudad [de Temixtitan] a veinte dias del mes de marzo de 
mil y quinientos e veinte y cuatro afios." Sir Arthur Helps says a 



His own wife, Dona Catalina Xuarez, was among 
those who came over from the Islands to New Spain. 

Ordinances made by Cortes for the government of the country during 
his viceroyalty are still preserved in Mexico ; and the copy in my 
possession was transmitted to me from that capital. They give 
ample evidence of the wise and penetrating spirit which embraced 
every object worthy of the attention of an enlightened ruler; and I 
will quote, in the original, the singular provisions mentioned in the 

" Item. Por que mas se manifieste la voluntad que los pobladores 
de estas partes tienen de residir y permanecer en ellas, mando que 
todas las personas que tuvieren Indios, que fueren casados en Castilla 
6 en otras partes, que traigan sus mugeres dentro de un ano y medio 
primero siguientes de como estas ordenanzas fueren pregonadas, so 
pena de perder los Indios, y todo lo con ellos adquirido e grangeado ; 
y por que muchas personas podrian poner por achaque aunque tuvi- 
esen aparejo de decir que no tienen dineros para enviar por ellas, por 
hende las tales personas que tuvieran esta necesidad parescan ante el 
Ro. Pe. Fray Juan de Tecto y ante Alonso de Estrada, tesorero de su 
Magestad, & les informar de su necesidad, para que ellos la comuni- 
quen & mi, y su necesidad se remedie ; y si algunas personas hay que 
casados y no tienen sus mugeres en esta tierra, y quisieran traerlas, 
sepan que trayendolas seran ayudadas asi mismo para las traer, dando 

" Item. Por quanto en esta tierra hay muchas personas que tienen 
Indios de encomienda y no son casados, por hende por que conviene 
asi para la salud de sus conciencias de los tales por estar en buen es- 
tado, como por la poblacion e noblecimiento de sus tierras, mando 
que las tales personas se casen, traigan y tengan sus mugeres en esta 
tierra dentro de un ano y medio, despues que fueren pregonadas estas 
dichas Ordenanzas, e que no haciendo lo por el mismo caso sean pri- 
vados y pierdan los tales Indios que asi tienen." 

copy sent by Cortes to the emperor in October of the same year " has 
been lost, but the orders manifestly related to this subject of encomi- 
endas." The original seems also to have disappeared. But an ancient 
copy of these, as well as of subsequent ordinances and instructions 
of a similar nature, is preserved in the archives of the duke of Terra- 


According to Bernal Diaz, her coming gave him no 
particular satisfaction. 16 It is possible ; since his mar- 
riage with her seems to have been entered into with 
reluctance, and her lowly condition and connections 
stood somewhat in the way of his future advancement. 
Yet they lived happily together for several years, ac- 
cording to the testimony of Las Casas ; I? and, what- 
ever he may have felt, he had the generosity, or the 
prudence, not to betray his feelings to the world. On 
landing, Dona Catalina was escorted by Sandoval to 

16 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 160. 
T 7 Ante, vol. i. p. 242. 

nova y Monteleone in the Hospital of Jesus at Mexico, and the whole 
series was published, so far back as 1844, by Sefior Alaman, in his 
Disertaciones historicas, torn. i. pp. 105-143. The contents, therefore, 
are not a matter of inference. They do not relate chiefly or directly 
to the encomiendas, that system having been already established and 
become, in the language of Alaman, " the basis of the whole organi- 
zation of the country." The " Ordenanzas," while they incidentally 
modify the system, consist for the most part of regulations suggested 
by the general condition and circumstances of a new colony. They 
make provision for the military equipment and inspection of the 
settlers, with a view to their readiness for service ; for their permanent 
residence in the country, which is made a condition of their holding 
repartimientos ; for the conversion of the natives, their protection 
against robbery and oppression, and the education of the children of 
their chiefs ; for the cultivation of imported plants and grain, and the 
raising of cattle, sheep, and swine ; for facilitating traffic by the estab- 
lishment of markets, adjustment of prices, etc. ; and for the organiza- 
tion of the municipalities, prescribing their powers and forms of admin- 
istration. Some of these provisions are still in force, while others, 
though obsolete, indicate the origin of certain existing customs. Taken 
together, they contain, in the opinion of Alaman, the foundation of 
all the later institutions of the country, — " el fundamento de todas 
nuestras instituciones." — ED.] 



the capital, where she was kindly received by her hus- 
band, and all the respect paid to her to which she was 
entitled by her elevated rank. But the climate of the 
table-land was not suited to her constitution, and she 
died in three months after her arrival. 18 An event so 
auspicious to his worldly prospects did not fail, as we 
shall see hereafter, to provoke the tongue of scandal to 
the most malicious, but, it is scarcely necessary to say, 
unfounded, inferences. 

In the distribution of the soil among the Conquerors, 
Cortes adopted the vicious system of repartimientos, 
universally practised among his countrymen. In a let- 
ter to the emperor, he states that the superior capacity 
of the Indians in New Spain had made him regard it 
as a grievous thing to condemn them to servitude, as 
had been done in the Islands. But, on further trial, 
he had found the Spaniards so much harassed and im- 
poverished that they could not hope to maintain them- 
selves in the land without enforcing the services of the 
natives, and for this reason he had at length waived 
his own scruples in compliance with their repeated re- 
monstrances. 19 This was the wretched pretext used on 
the like occasions by his countrymen to cover up this 
flagrant act of injustice. The crown, however, in its 
instructions to the general, disavowed the act and an- 
nulled the repartimientos. , ao It was all in vain. The 
necessities, or rather the cupidity, of the colonists, 

,8 Of asthma, according to Bernal Diaz (Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 
160) ; but her death seems to have been too sudden to be attributed 
to that disease. I shall return to the subject hereafter. 

*9 Rel. Terc, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 319, 320. 

20 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 5, cap. 1. 


easily evaded the royal ordinances.* The colonial 
legislation of Spain shows, in the repetition of enact- 

* [This remark would imply that the instructions were published 
and some attempts at least made to enforce them. That such was not 
the case we learn from a remarkable private letter of Cortes to the 
emperor, sent with the " Relacion Quarta," and bearing the same 
date, — October 15, 1524. Referring first to an order that the Spanish 
settlers should be allowed to have free intercourse with the Indian 
population as a means of promoting conversion, he declines to comply 
with it, on the ground that the effects would be most pernicious. The 
natives, he says, would be subjected to violence, robbery, and vexa- 
tions of all kinds. Even with the present rigorous rule forbidding 
any Spaniard to leave his settlement and go among the Indians with- 
out a special license, the evils resulting from this intercourse were so 
great that if he and his officers should attend solely to their suppression 
they would be unable to effect it, the territory being so vast. If all 
the Spaniards now in the country or on their way to it were friars en- 
gaged in the work of conversion, entire freedom of intercourse would 
no doubt be profitable. But, the reverse being the case, such also 
would be the effect. Most of the Spaniards who came were men of 
base condition and manners, addicted to every sort of vice and sin ; 
and if free intercourse were allowed, the natives would be converted 
to evil rather than to good, and, seeing the difference between what 
was preached and what was practised, would make a jest of what was 
taught them by the priests, thinking it was meant merely to bring them 
into servitude. The injuries done them would lead to rebellion ; they 
would profit by their acquired knowledge to arm themselves better, 
and being so many and the Spaniards so few, the latter would be cut 
off singly, as had already happened in many cases, and the greatest 
work of conversion since the time of the apostles would come to a 

Turning then to the emperor's prohibition of the repartimientos, 
as a thing which his conscience would not suffer, the theologians hav- 
ing declared that since God had made the Indians free their liberty 
ought not to be taken away, Cortes states that he has not only not 
complied with this order, but he has kept it secret except from the 
officials, whom he has forbidden to make it public. His reasons for 
thus acting are as follows: 1st. The Spaniards are unable to live 



ments against slavery, the perpetual struggle that sub- 
sisted between the crown and the colonists, and the 
impotence of the former to enforce measures repug- 
nant to the interests, at all events to the avarice, of 
the latter. New Spain furnishes no exception to the 
general fact. 

The Tlascalans, in gratitude for their signal services, 
were exempted, at the recommendation of Cortes, from 
the doom of slavery. It should be added that the 

except by the labor of the Indians, and if deprived of this they would 
be obliged to leave the country. 2d. His system of repartimientos is 
such that by it the Indians are in fact taken out of captivity, their con- 
dition under their former masters having been one of intolerable ser- 
vitude, in which they were not only deprived of all but the barest means 
of subsistence, but they and their children were sacrificed to the idols 
in numbers horrible to hear of, it being a certified fact that in the 
great temple of Mexico alone, at a single festival, one of many that 
were held annually, eight thousand persons had been sacrificed ; all 
this, with innumerable other wrongs, had now ceased ; and the surest 
punishment which could be inflicted on the Indians was the threat to 
send them back to their former masters. 3d. Enumerating the various 
provisions he has made for obviating the evils of the system as prac- 
tised in the Islands, where, during a residence of twenty years, he had 
ample knowledge of its workings, he asserts that, in the mode in 
which it has been established and regulated by him, it will lead not to 
the diminution but to the preservation and increase of the natives, 
besides securing a provision for the settlers and large revenues to the 
crown, and he contends that the repartimientos, instead of being 
abrogated, should be made hereditary, so that the possessors might 
have a stronger interest in the proper cultivation of the soil, in- 
stead of seeking to extract from it the most that was possible in a 
given time. 

The letter, which concludes by noticing and rejecting some minor 
points in the emperor's instructions, has been recently discovered, and 
is perhaps the ablest document that has come down to us with the 
signature of Cortes. It has been published by Senor Icazbalceta, in 
his Col. de Doc. para la Hist, de Mexico, torn. i. — Ed.] 


general, in granting the repartimientos, made many- 
humane regulations for limiting the power of the 
master, and for securing as many privileges to the 
natives as were compatible with any degree of com- 
pulsory service. 21 These limitations, it is true, were 
too often disregarded ; and in the mining districts, in 
particular, the situation of the poor Indian was often 
deplorable. Yet the Indian population, clustering to- 
gether in their own villages and living under their own 
magistrates, have continued to prove by their numbers, 
fallen as these have below their primitive amount, how 
far superior was their condition to that in most other 
parts of the vast colonial empire of Spain. 22 This con- 
dition has been gradually ameliorated, under the in- 
fluence of higher moral views and larger ideas of gov- 
ernment, until the servile descendants of the ancient 
lords of the soil have been permitted, in republican 
Mexico, to rise — nominally, at least — to a level with 
the children of their conquerors. 

Whatever disregard he may have shown to the polit- 
ical rights of the natives, Cortes manifested a commend- 
able solicitude for their spiritual welfare. He requested 
the emperor to send out holy men to the country; not 

21 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 4, lib. 6, cap. 5. — Ordenanzas, MS. 
— The ordinances prescribe the service of the Indians, the hours they 
may be employed, their food, compensation, and the like. They re- 
quire the encomendero to provide them with suitable means of religious 
instruction and places of worship. But what avail good laws, which 
in their very nature imply the toleration of a great abuse ? 

22 The whole population of New Spain in 1810 is estimated by Don 
Fernando Navarro y Noriega at about 6,000,000; of whom more than 
half were pure Indians. The author had the best means for arriving 
at a correct result. See Humboldt, Essai politique, torn. i. pp. 318, 
319, note. 


bishops and pampered prelates-, Avho too often squan- 
dered the substance of the Church in riotous living, 
but godly persons, members of religious fraternities, 
whose lives might be a fitting commentary on their 
teaching. Thus only, he adds, — and the remark is 
worthy of note, — can they exercise any influence over 
the natives, who have been accustomed to see the least 
departure from morals in their own priesthood punished 
with the utmost rigor of the law. 23 In obedience to 
these suggestions, twelve Franciscan friars embarked 
for New Spain, which they reached early in 1524. 
They were men of unblemished purity of life, nour- 
ished with the learning of the cloister, and, like many 
others whom the Romish Church has sent forth on 
such apostolic missions, counted all personal sacrifices 
as little in the sacred cause to which they were de- 
voted. 24 

23 Rel. Quarta, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 391-394. — The petition of the Con- 
querors was acceded to by the government, which further prohibited 
" attorneys and men learned in the law from setting foot in the coun- 
try, on the ground that experience had shown they would be sure by 
their evil practices to disturb the peace of the community." (Herrera, 
Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 5, cap. 2.) These enactments are but an in- 
different tribute to the character of the two professions in Castile. 

2 4 Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., Parte 1, cap. 1. — Camargo, 
Hist, de Tlascala, MS. [My views of the character of the Spanish 
missionaries find favor with Sefior Alaman, who warmly eulogizes the 
spirit of self-sacrifice and the untiring zeal which they showed in pro- 
pagating the gospel among the natives : "El Sr. Prescott hace de los 
misioneros el justo aprecio que sus virtudes merecieron, y sus elogios 
son tanto mas recomendables, cuanto que sus opiniones religiosas 
parece deberian hacerle contrario A ellos. En efecto, solo la iglesia 
catolica ha producido misioneros inflamados de un verdadero celo 
religioso, que los ha hecho sacrificar su vida por la propagacion de 
la religion y en beneficio de la humanidad." Conquista de Mejico 


The presence of the reverend fathers in the country 
was greeted with general rejoicing. The inhabitants 
of the towns through which they passed came out in a 
body to welcome them ; processions were formed of 
the natives bearing wax tapers in their hands, and the 
bells of the churches rang out a joyous peal in honor 
of their arrival. Houses of refreshment were provided 
for them along their route to the capital ; and when 
they entered it they were met by a brilliant cavalcade 
of the principal cavaliers and citizens, with Cortes at 
their head. The general, dismounting, and bending 
one knee to the ground, kissed the robes of Father 
Martin of Valencia, the principal of the fraternity. 
The natives, filled with amazement at the viceroy's 
humiliation before men whose naked feet and tattered 
garments gave them the aspect of mendicants, hence- 
forth regarded them as beings of a superior nature. 
The Indian chronicler of Tlascala does not conceal his 
admiration of this edifying condescension of Cortes, 
which he pronounces "one of the most heroical acts 
of his life!" 2S 

(trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 255. Mr. Gallatin, also, in his " Notes on 
the Semi-civilized Nations of America," pays a hearty tribute to the 
labors of the Roman Catholic missionaries in the New World: "The 
Dominican monks, though inquisitors and relentless persecutors in 
Spain, became in America the protectors of the Indians. . . . The 
praise must be extended to all the Catholic priests, whether Francis- 
cans or Jesuits, monks or curates. All, from the beginning, were, 
have ever been, and continue to be, the protectors and the friends of 
the Indian race." Transactions of the American Ethnological So- 
ciety, i. 213.] 

2 5 " Cuyo hecho del rotisimo y humilde recebimiento fue uno de los 
heroicos hechos que este Capitan hizo, porque fue' documento para 
que con mayor fervor los naturales desta tierra viniesen i. la conver- 



The missionaries lost no time in the good work of 
conversion. They began their preaching through in- 
terpreters, until they had acquired a competent knowl- 
edge of the language themselves. They opened schools 
and founded colleges, in which the native youth were 
instructed in profane as well as Christian learning.* 

sion de nuestra fee." (Camargo, Hist, de Tlascala, MS. — See also 
Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 171.) Archbishop Lorenzana 
falls nothing short of the Tlascalan historian in his admiration of the 
religious zeal of the great Conquistador, which, he assures us, " en- 
tirely overwhelms him, as savoring so much more of the apostolic 
missionary than of the soldier 1" Lorenzana, p. 393, nota. 

* [A singular tribute to the thoroughness of the instruction thus 
given, and the facility with which it was imbibed, is rendered in a long 
complaint on the subject addressed to the emperor by Geronimo Lo- 
pez, under date of October 20, 1541. The writer, a person evidently 
commissioned to send home reports on the condition of the country, 
denounces the system of education instituted by the Franciscan monks 
as diabolically pernicious, — " muy dafioso como el diablo." He con- 
siders that the Indians should at the most be taught to repeat the 
Pater Noster and Ave Maria, the Creed and the Commandments, with- 
out any expositions, or any distinction of the persons of the Trinity 
and their attributes, above all without learning to read and write. 
Instead of this, they are taught not only these pernicious branches 
of knowledge, but punctuation, music, — nay, even grammar ! Their 
natural ability is so great, and the devil is so largely interested in the 
matter, that they have acquired a skill in forming different kinds of 
letters which is marvellous, and a great number of them are thus en- 
abled to carry on a correspondence and learn what is going on in the 
country from one sea to the other. There are boys among them who 
speak as elegant Latin as Tullius. They have translated and read the 
whole of the Scriptures, — the same thing that has ruined so many in 
Spain and given birth to a thousand heresies. A secular ecclesiastic 
told him that, having visited one of the colleges, he found there two 
hundred students, who stunned him with questions about religion, till 
the place seemed to him hell, and its inmates disciples of Satan. — 
Icazbalceta, Col. de Doc. para la Hist, de Mexico, torn. ii. — Ed.] 
Vol. III. . 22 


The ardor of the Indian neophyte emulated that of his 
teacher. In a few years every vestige of the primitive 
teocallis was effaced from the land. The uncouth idols 
of the country, and, unhappily, the hieroglyphical man- 
uscripts, shared the same fate. Yet the missionary and 
the convert did much to repair these losses by their 
copious accounts of the Aztec institutions, collected 
from the most authentic sources. 26 

The business of conversion went on prosperously 
among the several tribes of the great Nahuatlac family. 
In about twenty years from the first advent of the mis- 
sionaries, one of their body could make the pious 
vaunt that nine millions of converts — a number prob- 
ably exceeding the population of the country — had 
been admitted within the Christian fold ! 27 The Aztec 
worship was remarkable for its burdensome ceremonial, 
and prepared its votaries for the pomp and splendors 
of the Romish ritual. It was not difficult to pass from 

86 Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., Parte 3, cap. 1. — Father Saha- 
gun, who has done better service in this way than any other of his 
order, describes with simple brevity the rapid process of demolition. 
" We took the children of the caciques," he says, " into our schools, 
where we taught them to read and write, and to chant. The children 
of the poorer natives were brought together in the court-yard, and 
instructed there in the Christian faith. After our teaching, one or two 
brethren took the pupils to some neighboring teocalli, and, by work- 
ing at it for a few days, they levelled it to the ground. In this way 
they demolished, in a short time, all the Aztec temples, great and 
small, so that not a vestige of them remained." (Hist, de Nueva- 
Espafia, torn. iii. p. 77.) This passage helps to explain why so few 
architectural relics of the Indian era still survive in Mexico. 

2 7 " De manera que a mi juicio y verdaderamente seran bautizados 
en este tiempo que digo, que seran quince anos, mas de nueve millo- 
nes de animas de Indios." Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., Parte 2, 
cap. 3. 



the fasts and festivals of the one religion to the fasts 
and festivals of the other \ to transfer their homage 
from the fantastic idols of their own creation to the 
beautiful forms in sculpture and in painting which 
decorated the Christian cathedral. It is true, they 
could have comprehended little of the dogmas of their 
new faith, and little, it may be, of its vital spirit. 
But, if the philosopher may smile at the reflection that 
conversion, under these circumstances, was one of 
form rather than of substance, the philanthropist will 
console himself by considering how much the cause of 
humanity and good morals must have gained by the 
substitution of these unsullied rites for the brutal 
abominations of the Aztecs. 

The Conquerors settled in such parts of the country 
as best suited their inclinations. Many occupied the 
southeastern slopes of the Cordilleras towards the rich 
valley of Oaxaca. Many more spread themselves over 
the broad surface of the table-land, which, from its 
elevated position, reminded them of the plateau of 
their own Castiles. Here, too, they were in the range 
of those inexhaustible mines which have since poured 
their silver deluge over Europe. The mineral re 
sources of the land were not, indeed, fully explored 
or comprehended till at a much later period ; but 
some few, as the mines of Zacatecas, Guanaxuato, and 
Tasco, — the last of which was also known in Mon- 
tezuma's time, — had begun to be wrought within a 
generation after the Conquest. 28 

s8 Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, torn. i. p. 43. — Humboldt, Essai 
politique, torn. iii. pp. 115, 145. — Esposicion de Don Lucas Alaman 
(Mexico, 1828), p. 59. 


But the best wealth of the first settlers was in the 
vegetable products of the soil, whether indigenous, or 
introduced from abroad by the wise economy of Cortes. 
He had earnestly recommended the crown to require 
all vessels coming to the country to bring over a cer- 
tain quantity of seeds and plants. 29 He made it a 
condition of the grants of land on the plateau, that 
the proprietor of every estate should plant a specified 
number of vines in it. 30 He further stipulated that no 
one should get a clear title to his estate until he had 
occupied it eight years. 31 He knew that permanent 
residence could alone create that interest in the soil 
which would lead to its efficient culture, and that the 
opposite system had caused the impoverishment of the 
best plantations in the Islands. His various regu- 
lations, some of them not a little distasteful to the 
colonists, augmented the agricultural resources of the 
country by the addition of the most important Euro- 
pean grains and other vegetables, for which the diver- 
sified climate of New Spain was admirably adapted. 
The sugar-cane was transplanted from the neighboring 
islands to the lower level of the country, and, together 
with indigo, cotton, and cochineal, formed a more de- 
sirable staple for the colony than its precious metals. 

*9 " Paraque cada Navio traiga cierta cantidad de Plantas, y que no 
pueda salir sin ellas, porque serd mucha causa para la Poblacion, y 
perpetuacion de ella." Rel. Quarta de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 397. 

3° " Item, que cualquier vecino que tubiere Indios de repartimiento 
sea obligado & poner en ellos en cada un ano con cada cien Indios de 
los que tuvieren de repartimiento mil sarmientos aunque sean de la 
planta de su tierra, escogiendo la mejor que pudiesse hallar." Orde- 
nanzas municipales, ano de 1524, MS. 

3 1 Ordenanzas municipales, afio de 1524, MS. 



Under the sun of the tropics, the peach, the almond, 
the orange, the vine, and the olive, before unknown 
there, flourished in the gardens of the table-land, at an 
elevation twice as great as that at which the clouds are 
suspended in summer above our heads. The importa- 
tion of a European fruit or vegetable was hailed by the 
simple colonists with delight. The first produce of 
the exotic was celebrated by a festival, and the guests 
greeted each other, as on the appearance of an old 
familiar friend, who called up the remembrance of the 
past and the tender associations of their native land. 32 
While thus occupied with the internal economy of 
the country, Cortes was still bent on his great schemes 
of discovery and conquest. In the preceding chapter 
we have seen him fitting out a little fleet at Zacatula 
to explore the shores of the Pacific. It was burnt in 
the dock-yard when nearly completed. This was a 
serious calamity, as most of the materials were to be 
transported across the country from Villa Rica. Cor- 
tes, however, with his usual promptness, took measures 
to repair the loss. He writes to the emperor that 
another squadron will soon be got ready at the same 
port, and, "he doubts not, will put his Majesty in pos- 
session of more lands and kingdoms than the nation 
has ever heard of"! 33 This magnificent vaunt shows 

3 2 [" No general interest would attach to the private undertakings 
of Cortes, if the sole object of them had been the aggrandizement of 
his own fortune. But they were in fact the germs of what are now 
the most important branches of the national wealth ; and they prove 
the grandeur of those views which in the times of the Conquest gave 
an impulse to whatever promised to contribute to the prosperity of the 
country." Alaman, Disertaciones historicas, torn. ii. p. 63.] 

33 " Tengo de ser causa, que Vuestra Cesarea Magestad sea en estas 



the common sentiment of the Spaniards at that time, 
who looked on the Pacific as the famed Indian Ocean, 
studded with golden islands and teeming with the rich 
treasures of the East. 

A principal object of this squadron was the discovery 
of a strait which should connect the Atlantic with the 
Pacific. Another squadron, consisting of five vessels, 
was fitted out in the Gulf of Mexico, to take the direc- 
tion of Florida, with the same view of detecting a 
strait. For Cortes trusted — we at this day may smile at 
the illusion — that one might be found in that direction 
which should conduct the navigator to those waters 
which had been traversed by the keels of Magellan ! 34 

The discovery of a strait was the great object to 
which nautical enterprise in that day was directed, as 
it had been ever since the time of Columbus. It was 
in the sixteenth century what the discovery of the 
Northwest passage has been in our own age, — the ignis 
fatuus of navigators. The vast extent of the Ameri- 
can continent had been ascertained by the voyages of 
Cabot in the North, and of Magellan very recently in 
the South. The proximity, in certain quarters, of the 
two great oceans that washed its eastern and western 
shores had been settled by the discoveries both of 
Balboa and of Cortes. European scholars could not 

partes Sefior de mas Reynos, y Senorios que los que hasta hoy en 
nuestra Nacion se tiene noticia." Rel. Quarta de Cortes, ap. Loren- 
zana, p. 374. 

34 " Much as I esteem Hernando Cortes," exclaims Oviedo, " for 
the greatest captain and most practised in military matters of any we 
have known, I think such an opinion shows he was no great cos- 
mographer." (Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 41.) Oviedo had 
lived to see its fallacy. 



believe that Nature had worked on a plan so repug- 
nant, apparently, to the interests of humanity, as to 
interpose, through the whole length of the great con- 
tinent, such a barrier to communication between the 
adjacent waters. The correspondence of men of 
science, 3S the instructions of the Court, the letters of 
Cortes, like those of Columbus, touch frequently on 
this favorite topic. "Your Majesty may be assured," 
he writes, "that, as I know how much you have at 
heart the discovery of this great secret of a strait, I 
shall postpone all interests and projects of my own, 
some of them of the highest moment, for the fulfilment 
of this great object." 36 

It was partly with the same view that the general 
caused a considerable armament to be equipped and 
placed under the command of Cristoval de Olid, the 
brave officer who, as the reader will remember, had 
charge of one of the great divisions of the besieging 
army. He was to steer for Honduras and plant a 
colony on its northern coast. A detachment of Olid's 
squadron was afterwards to cruise along its southern 
shore towards Darien in search of the mysterious strait. 
The country was reported to be full of gold ; so full 
that "the fishermen used gold weights for their nets." 
The life of the Spanish discoverers was one long day- 
dream. Illusion after illusion chased one another like 
the bubbles which the child throws off from his pipe, 
as bright, as beautiful, and as empty. They lived in a 
world of enchantment. 37 

35 Martyr, Opus Epist., ep. 811. 

36 Rel. Quarta, ap. Lorenzana, p. 385. 

37 The illusion at home was kept up, in some measure, by the daz- 


Together with these maritime expeditions, Cortds 
fitted out a powerful expedition by land. It was in- 
trusted to Alvarado, who, with a large force of Span- 
iards and Indians, was to descend the southern slant 
of the Cordilleras and penetrate into the countries that 
lay beyond the rich valley of Oaxaca. The cam- 
paigns of this bold and rapacious chief terminated in 
the important conquest of Guatemala. The general 
required his captains to send him minute accounts of 
the countries which they visited, the productions of 
the soil, and their general resources. The result was 
several valuable and interesting communications. 38 In 
his instructions for the conduct of these expeditions, 
he enjoined a considerate treatment of the natives, 
and inculcated a policy which may be called humane, 
as far as humanity is compatible with a system of sub- 
jugation. 39 Unfortunately, the character of his officers 
too often rendered these instructions unavailing. 

In the prosecution of his great enterprises, Cortes, 
within three short years after the Conquest, had re- 

zling display of gold and jewels remitted from time to time, wrought 
into fanciful and often fantastic forms. One of the articles sent home 
by Cortes was a piece of ordnance, made of gold and silver, of very 
fine workmanship, the metal of which alone cost 25,000 pesos de oro. 
Oviedo, who saw it in the palace, speaks with admiracion of this 
magnificent toy. Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 41. 

38 Among these may be particularly mentioned the Letters of Alva- 
rado and Diego de Godoy, transcribed by Oviedo in his Hist, de las 
Ind., MS. (lib. 33, cap. 42-44), and translated by Ramusio for his 
rich collection, Viaggi, torn. iii. 

39 See, among others, his orders to his kinsman, Francisco Cortes, — 
" Instruccion civil y militar por la Expedicion de la Costa de Colima.' 
The paper is dated in 1524, and forms part of the Munoz collection 
of MSS. 


duced under the dominion of Castile an extent of 
country more than four hundred leagues in length, as 
he affirms, on the Atlantic coast, and more than five 
hundred on the Pacific, and, with the exception of a 
few interior provinces of no great importance, had 
brought them to a condition of entire tranquillity. 40 
In accomplishing this, he had freely expended the 
revenues of the crown, drawn from tributes similar to 
those which had been anciently paid by the natives 
to their own sovereigns; and he had, moreover, in- 
curred a large debt on his own account, for which he 
demanded remuneration from the government. The 
celebrity of his name, and the dazzling reports of the 
conquered countries, drew crowds of adventurers to 
New Spain, who furnished the general with recruits for 
his various enterprises. 

Whoever would form a just estimate of this remark- 
able man must not confine himself to the history of the 
Conquest. His military career, indeed, places him on 
a level with the greatest captains of his age. But the 
period subsequent to the Conquest affords different, 
and in some respects nobler, points of view for the 
study of his character. For we then see him devising 
a system of government for the motley and antagonist 
races, so to speak, now first brought under a common 
dominion ; repairing the mischiefs of war ; and em- 
ploying his efforts to detect the latent resources of the 

4° Rel. Quarta, ap. Lorenzana, p. 371. — " Well may we wonder," 
exclaims his archiepiscopal editor, " that Cortes and his soldiers could 
have overrun and subdued, in so short a time, countries, many of 
them so rough and difficult of access that even at the present day we 
can hardly penetrate them !" Ibid., nota. 


country and to stimulate it to its highest power of 
production. The narrative may seem tame, after the 
recital of exploits as bold and adventurous as those of 
a paladin of romance. But it is only by the perusal 
of this narrative that we can form an adequate concep- 
tion of the acute and comprehensive genius of Cortes. 






In the last chapter we have seen that Cristoval de 
Olid was sent by Cortes to plant a colony in Honduras. 
The expedition was attended with consequences which 
had not been foreseen. Made giddy by the possession 
of power, Olid, when he had reached his place of des- 
tination, determined to assert an independent juris- 
diction for himself. His distance from Mexico, he 
nattered himself, might enable him to do so with im- 
punity. He misunderstood the character of Cortes, 
when he supposed that any distance would be great 
enough to shield a rebel from his vengeance. 

It was long before the general received tidings of 
Olid's defection. But no sooner was he satisfied of this 
than he despatched to Honduras a trusty captain and 
kinsman, Francisco de las Casas, with directions to 
arrest his disobedient officer. Las Casas was wrecked 
on the coast, and fell into Olid's hands, but eventually 
succeeded in raising an insurrection in the settlement, 
seized the person of Olid, and beheaded that unhappy 
delinquent in the market-place of Naco. 1 

1 Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 


Of these proceedings, Cortes learned only what re- 
lated to the shipwreck of his lieutenant. He saw all 
the mischievous consequences that must arise from 
Olid's example, especially if his defection were to go 
unpunished. He determined to take the affair into 
his own hands, and to lead an expedition in person to 
Honduras. He would thus, moreover, be enabled to 
ascertain from personal inspection the resources of the 
country, which were reputed great on the score of 
mineral wealth, and would perhaps detect the point 
of communication between the great oceans, which had 
so long eluded the efforts of the Spanish discoverers. 
He was still further urged to this step by the uncom- 
fortable position in which he had found himself of late 
in the capital. Several functionaries had recently been 
sent from the mother country for the ostensible pur- 
pose of administering the colonial revenues. But they 
served as spies on the general's conduct, caused him 
many petty annoyances, and sent back to court the 
most malicious reports of his purposes and proceedings. 
Cortes, in short, now that he was made Governor- 
General of the country, had less real power than when 
he held no legal commission at all. 

The Spanish force which he took with him did not 
probably exceed a hundred horse and forty or perhaps 
fifty foot ; to which were added about three thousand 
Indian auxiliaries. 2 Among them were Guatemozin 
and the cacique of Tacuba, with a few others of highest 

a Carta de Albornos, MS., Mexico, Dec. 15, 1525. — Carta Quinta 
de Cortes, MS. — The authorities do not precisely agree as to the 
numbers, which were changing, probably, with every step of their 
march across the table-land. 



rank, whose consideration with their countrymen would 
make them an obvious nucleus round which disaffection 
might gather. The general's personal retinue consisted 
of several pages, young men of good family, and among 
them Montejo, the future conqueror of Yucatan ; a 
butler and steward ; several musicians, dancers, jug- 
glers, and buffoons, showing, it might seem, more of 
the effeminacy of an Oriental satrap than the hardy 
valor of a Spanish cavalier. 3 Yet the imputation of 
effeminacy is sufficiently disproved by the terrible 
march which he accomplished. 

Towards the end of October, 1524, Cortes began his 
march. As he descended the sides of the Cordilleras, 
he was met by many of his old companions in arms, 
who greeted their commander with a hearty welcome, 
and some of them left their estates to join the expe- 
dition. 4 He halted in the province of Coatzacualco 
(Huazacualco) until he could receive intelligence re- 
specting his route from the natives of Tabasco. They 
furnished him with a map, exhibiting the principal 
places whither the Indian traders who wandered over 
these wild regions were in the habit of resorting. 
With the aid of this map, a compass, and such guides as 
from time to time he could pick up on his journey, he 
proposed to traverse that broad and level tract which 
forms the base of Yucatan and spreads from the Coat- 
zacualco River to the head of the Gulf of Honduras. 

3 Bemal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 175. 

4 Among these was Captain Diaz, who, however, left the pleasant 
farm, which he occupied in the province of Coatzacualco, with a very 
ill grace, to accompany the expedition. " But Cortes commanded it, 
and we dared not say no," says the veteran. Ibid., cap. 174. 

Vol. III. — m 23 


"I shall give your Majesty," he begins his celebrated 
Letter to the emperor, describing this expedition, "an 
account, as usual, of the most remarkable events of my 
journey, every one of which might form the subject of 
a separate narration." Cortes did not exaggerate. 5 

The beginning of the march lay across a low and 
marshy level, intersected by numerous little streams, 

s This celebrated Letter, which has never been published, is usually- 
designated as the Carta Quinta, or " Fifth Letter," of Cortes. It is 
nearly as long as the longest of the printed letters of the Conqueror, is 
written in the same clear, simple, business-like manner, and is as full 
of interest as any of the preceding. It gives a minute account of the 
expedition to Honduras, together with events that occurred in the 
year following. It bears no date, but was probably written in that 
year from Mexico. The original manuscript is in the Imperial Library 
at Vienna, which, as the German sceptre was swayed at that time by 
the same hand which held the Castilian, contains many documents of 
value for the illustration of Spanish history.* 

* [It is scarcely credible that a long and important document in an 
official form should have borne no date, and we may therefore suspect 
that the manuscript at Vienna, if unmutilated, is not the original. A 
copy in the Royal Library at Madrid, purporting to have been made 
"from the original " by Alonso Diaz, terminates as follows: " De la 
cibdad de Temixtitan, desta Nueva Espana a tres del mes de setiem- 
bre del nascimiento de nuestro Senor e Salvador yesu-Cristo de 1526." 
This date is confirmed by a passage in a letter which will be found 
cited in the notes to the next chapter with the date of Sept. 11, but 
of which there are in fact two originals, the duplicate being dated 
Sept. 3. It gives a summary, for the emperor's own perusal, of the 
matters narrated at length in the Carta Quinta, which it thus describes : 
"Asi mesmo envio agora a V. M. con lo presente una relacion bien 
larga y particular de todo lo que me subcedio en el camino que hice A 
las Hibueras, y al cabo della hago saber & V. M. muy por extenso lo 
que ha pasado y se ha hecho en esta Nueva Espana despues que yo 
parte de la isla de Cuba para ella." See Col. de Doc. ined. para la 
Historia de Espana, torn. i. — Ed.] 


which form the head-waters of the Rio de Tabasco, and 
of the other rivers that discharge themselves, to the 
north, into the Mexican Gulf. The smaller streams 
they forded, or passed in canoes, suffering their horses 
to swim across as they held them by the bridle. Rivers 
of more formidable size they crossed on floating bridges. 
It gives one some idea of the difficulties they had to 
encounter in this way, when it is stated that the Span- 
iards were obliged to construct no less than fifty of 
these bridges in a distance of less than a hundred 
miles ! 6 One of them was more than nine hundred 
paces in length. Their troubles were much augmented 
by the difficulty of obtaining subsistence, as the natives 
frequently set fire to the villages on their approach, 
leaving to the way-worn adventurers only a pile of 
smoking ruins. 

It would be useless to encumber the page with the 
names of Indian towns which lay in the route of the 
army, but which may be now obsolete, and, at all events, 
have never found their way into a map of the country. 7 

6 " Es tierra mui baja y de muchas sienegas, tanto que en tiempo 
de invierno no se puede andar, ni se sirve sino en canoas, y con 
pasarla yo en tiempo de seca, desde la entrada hasta la salida de ella, 
que puede aver veinti leguas, se hizieron mas de cinquenta puentes, 
que sin se hazer, fuera imposible pasar." Carta Quinta de Cortes, 

7 I have examined some of the most ancient maps of the country, 
by Spanish, French, and Dutch cosmographers, in order to determine 
the route of Cortes. An inestimable collection of these maps, made 
by the learned German Ebeling, is to be found in the library of Har- 
vard University. I can detect on them only four or five of the places 
indicated by the general. They are the places mentioned in the text, 
and, though few, may serve to show the general direction of the march 
of the army. 


The first considerable place which they reached was 
Iztapan, pleasantly situated in the midst of a fruitful 
region, on the banks of one of the tributaries of the 
Rio de Tabasco. Such was the extremity to which the 
Spaniards had already, in the course of a few weeks, 
been reduced by hunger and fatigue, that the sight of 
a village in these dreary solitudes was welcomed by his 
followers, says Cortes, "with a shout of joy that was 
echoed back from all the surrounding woods. ' ' The 
army was now at no great distance from the ancient 
city of Palenque, the subject of so much speculation 
in our time. The village of Las Tres Cruzes, indeed, 
situated between twenty and thirty miles from Palen- 
que, is said still to commemorate the passage of the 
Conquerors by the existence of three crosses which 
they left there. Yet no allusion is made to the ancient 
capital. Was it then the abode of a populous and 
flourishing community, such as once occupied it, to 
judge from the extent and magnificence of its remains? 
Or was it, even then, a heap of mouldering ruins, 
buried in a wilderness of vegetation, and thus hidden 
from the knowledge of the surrounding country? If 
the former, the silence of Cortes is not easy to be 

On quitting Iztapan, the Spaniards struck across a 
country having the same character of a low and marshy 
soil, checkered by occasional patches of cultivation, 
and covered with forests of cedar and Brazil wood, 
which seemed absolutely interminable. The overhang- 
ing foliage threw so deep a shade that, as Cortes says, 
the soldiers could not see where to set their feet. 8 To 

8 " Donde se ponian los pies en el suelo a$ia arriba la claridad del 


add to their perplexity, their guides deserted them; 
and, when they climbed to the summits of the tallest 
trees, they could see only the same cheerless, inter- 
minable line of waving woods. The compass and the 
map furnished the only clue to extricate them from this 
gloomy labyrinth ; and Cortes and his officers, among 
whom was the constant Sandoval, spreading out their 
chart on the ground, anxiously studied the probable 
direction of their route. Their scanty supplies mean- 
while had entirely failed them, and they appeased the 
cravings of appetite by such roots as they dug out of 
the earth, or by the nuts and berries that grew wild in 
the woods. Numbers fell sick, and many of the Indians 
sank by the way, and died of absolute starvation. 

When at length the troops emerged from these dismal 
forests, their path was crossed by a river of great depth, 
and far wider than any which they had hitherto trav- 
ersed. The soldiers, disheartened, broke out into 
murmurs against their leader, who was plunging them 
deeper and deeper in a boundless wilderness, where 
they must lay their bones. It was in vain that Cortes 
encouraged them to construct a floating bridge, which 
might take them to the opposite bank of the river. It 
seemed a work of appalling magnitude, to which their 
wasted strength was unequal. He was more successful 
in his appeal to the Indian auxiliaries, till his own men, 
put to shame by the ready obedience of the latter, 
engaged in the work with a hearty good will, which 
enabled them, although ready to drop from fatigue, to 

cielo no se veia, tanta era la espesura y alteza de los arboles, que aun- 
que se subian en algunos, no podian descubrir un tiro de piedra." 
Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 

23 T 


accomplish it at the end of four days. It was, indeed, 
the only expedient by which they could hope to extri- 
cate themselves from their perilous situation. The 
bridge consisted of one thousand pieces of timber, 
each of the thickness of a man's body and full sixty 
feet long. 9 When we consider that the timber was all 
standing in the forest at the commencement of the 
labor, it must be admitted to have been an achieve- 
ment worthy of the Spaniards. The well-compacted 
beams presented a solid structure which nothing, says 
Cortes, but fire could destroy. It excited the admira- 
tion of the natives, who came from a great distance to 
see it ; and " the bridge of Cortes " remained for many 
a year the enduring monument of that commander's 
energy and perseverance. 

The arrival of the army on the opposite bank of the 
river involved them in new difficulties. The ground 
was so soft and saturated with water that the horses 
floundered up to their girths, and, sometimes plunging 
into quagmires, were nearly buried in the mud. It 
was with the greatest difficulty that they could be extri- 
cated by covering the wet soil with the foliage and the 
boughs of trees, when a stream of water, which forced 
its way through the heart of the morass, furnished the 
jaded animals with the means of effecting their escape 
by swimming. 10 As the Spaniards emerged from these 

9 " Porque lleva mas que mil bigas, que la menor es casi tan gorda 
como un cuerpo de un hombre, y de nueve y diez brazas en largo." 
Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 

10 " Pasada toda la gente y cavallos de la otra parte del alcon dimos 
luego en una gran ipienega, que durava bien tres tiros de ballesta, la 
cosa mas espantosa que jamas las gentes vieron, donde todos los 
cavallos desencillados se sumieron hasta las orejas sin parecerse otra 



slimy depths, they came on a broad and rising ground, 
which, by its cultivated fields teeming with maize, agi, 
or pepper of the country, and the yuca plant, intimated 
their approach to the capital of the fruitful province 
of Aculan. It was in the beginning of Lent, 1525, a 
period memorable for an event of which I shall give 
the particulars from the narrative of Cortes. 

The general at this place was informed, by one of 
the Indian converts in his train, that a conspiracy had 
been set on foot by Guatemozin, with the cacique of 
Tacuba, and some other of the principal Indian nobles, 
to massacre the Spaniards. They would seize the 
moment when the army should be entangled in the 
passage of some defile, or some frightful morass like 
that from which it had just escaped, where, taken at 
disadvantage, it could be easily overpowered by the 
superior number of the Mexicans. After the slaughter 
of the troops, the Indians would continue their march 
to Honduras and cut off the Spanish settlements there. 
Their success would lead to a rising in the capital, 
and, indeed, throughout the land, until every Spaniard 
should be exterminated, and the vessels in the ports be 
seized, and secured from carrying the tidings across the 

cosa, y querer forceiar a salir, sumianse mas, de manera que alii per- 
dimos toda la esperanza de poder escapar cavallos ningunos, pero 
todavia comenz&mos & trabajar y componerles ha9es de yerba y ramas 
grandes de bajo, sobre que se sostuviesen y no se sumiesen, remedia- 
vanse algo, y andando trabajando y yendo y viniendo de la una parte 
& la otra, abriose por medio de un calejon de agua y cieno, que los 
cavallos comenz&ron algo 1 nadar, y con esto plugo a nuestro Senor 
que salieron todos sin peligro ninguno." Carta Quinta de Cortes 


No sooner had Cortes learned the particulars of this 
formidable plot than he arrested Guatemozin and the 
principal Aztec lords in his train. The latter admitted 
the fact of the conspiracy, but alleged that it had been 
planned by Guatemozin and that they had refused to 
come into it. Guatemozin and the chief of Tacuba 
neither admitted nor denied the truth of the accusa- 
tion, but maintained a dogged silence. Such is the 
statement of Cortes." Bernal Diaz, however, who was 
present in the expedition, assures us that both Guate- 
mozin and the cacique of Tacuba declared their inno- 
cence. They had indeed, they said, talked more than 
once together of the sufferings they were then endur- 
ing, and had said that death was preferable to seeing 
so many of their poor followers dying daily around 
them. They admitted, also, that a project for rising 
on the Spaniards had been discussed by some of the 
Aztecs ; but Guatemozin had discouraged it from the 
first, and no scheme of the kind could have been put 
into execution without his knowledge and consent." 
These protestations did not avail the unfortunate 
princes ; and Cortes, having satisfied, or affected to 
satisfy, himself of their guilt, ordered them to imme- 
diate execution. 

When brought to the fatal tree, Guatemozin dis- 
played the intrepid spirit worthy of his better days. "I 
knew what it was," said he, "to trust to your false 
promises, Malinche; I knew that you had destined me 
to this fate, since I did not fall by my own hand when 
you entered my city of Tenochtitlan. Why do you 

" Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 
12 Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 177. 



slay me so unjustly? God will demand it of you !" 13 
The cacique of Tacuba, protesting his innocence, de- 
clared that he desired no better lot than to die by the 
side of his lord. The unfortunate princes, with one 
or more inferior nobles (for the number is uncer- 
tain), were then executed by being hung from the 
huge branches of a ceiba-txtQ which overshadowed 
the road. 14 

Such was the sad end of Guatemozin, the last em- 
peror of the Aztecs, if we might not rather call him 
"the last of the Aztecs ;" since from this time, broken 
in spirit and without a head, the remnant of the nation 
resigned itself, almost without a struggle, to the stern 
yoke of its oppressors. Among all the names of bar- 
barian princes, there are few entitled to a higher place 
on the roll of fame than that of Guatemozin. He was 
young, and his public career was not long ; but it was 
glorious. He was called to the throne in the convulsed 
and expiring hours of the monarchy, when the banded 
nations of Anahuac and the fierce European were 
thundering at the gates of the capital. It was a post 
of tremendous responsibility ; but Guatemozin's con- 
duct fully justified the choice of him to fill it. No 
one can refuse his admiration to the intrepid spirit 

*3 Bemal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. 

J 4 According to Diaz, both Guatemozin and the prince of Tacuba 
had embraced the religion of their conquerors, and were confessed by 
a Franciscan friar before their execution. We are further assured by 
the same authority that " they were, for Indians, very good Christians, 
and believed well and truly." (Ibid., loc. cit.) One is reminded of 
the last hours of Caupolican, converted to Christianity by the same 
men who tied him to the stake. See the scene, painted in the frightful 
coloring of a master-hand, in the Araucana, Canto 34. 




which could prolong a defence of his city while one 
stone was left upon another ; and our sympathies, for 
the time, are inevitably thrown more into the scale 
of the rude chieftain, thus battling for his country's 
freedom, than into that of his civilized and successful 
antagonist. 15 

In reviewing the circumstances of Guatemozin's 
death, one cannot attach much weight to the charge 
of conspiracy brought against him. That the Indians, 
brooding over their wrongs and present sufferings, 
should have sometimes talked of revenge, would not 
be surprising. But that any chimerical scheme of an 
insurrection, like that above mentioned, should have 
been set on foot, or even sanctioned, by Guatemozin, 
is altogether improbable. That prince's explanation 
of the affair, as given by Diaz, is, to say the least, 
quite as deserving of credit as the accusation of the 
Indian informer. 16 The defect of testimony and the 

»S Guatemozin's beautiful wife, the princess Tecuichpo, the daughter 
of Montezuma, lived long enough after his death to give her hand to 
four Castilians, all of noble descent. (See ante, vol. ii. p. 339, note 
36.) She is described as having been as well instructed in the Catholic 
faith as any woman in Castile, as most gracious and winning in her 
deportment, and as having contributed greatly, by her example, and 
the deference with which she inspired the Aztecs, to the tranquillity of 
the conquered country. This pleasing portrait, it may be well enough 
to mention, is by the hand of her husband, Don Thoan Cano. See 
Appendix, Part 2, No. 11. 

16 The Indian chroniclers regard the pretended conspiracy of Gua- 
temozin as an invention of Cortes. The informer himself, when after- 
wards put to the torture by the cacique of Tezcuco, declared that he 
had made no revelation of this nature to the Spanish commander. 
IxtMxochitl vouches for the truth of this story. (Venida de los Es- 
pafioles, pp. 83-93.) But who will vouch for Ixtlilxochitl ? 


distance of time make it difficult for us, at the present 
day, to decide the question. We have a surer criterion 
of the truth in the opinion of those who were eye- 
witnesses of the transaction. It is given in the words 
of the old chronicler so often quoted. "The execu- 
tion of Guatemozin," says Diaz, "was most unjust, 
and was thought wrong by all of us. ' ' I7 

The most probable explanation of the affair seems to 
be that Guatemozin was a troublesome and, indeed, 
formidable captive. Thus much is intimated by Cortes 
himself, in his Letter to the emperor.' 8 The fallen 
sovereign of Mexico, by the ascendency of his char- 
acter, as well as by his previous station, maintained 
an influence over his countrymen which would have 
enabled him with a breath, as it were, to rouse their 
smothered, not extinguished, animosity into rebel- 
lion. The Spaniards, during the first years after the 
Conquest, lived in constant apprehension of a rising 
of the Aztecs. This is evident from numerous pas- 
sages in the writings of the time. It was under the 
same apprehension that Cortes consented to embarrass 
himself with his royal captive on this dreary expedi- 
tion. And in such distrust did he hold him that, 
even while in Mexico, he neither rode abroad, nor 
walked to any great distance, according to Gomara, 
without being attended by Guatemozin. 19 

J 7 " Y fue esta muerte que les dieron muy injustamente dada, y 
parecio mal a todos los que ibamos aquella Jornada." Hist, de la 
Conquista, cap. 177. 

18 " Guatemozin, Senor que fue de esta Ciudad de Temixtitan, a 
quien yo despues que la gane he tenido siempre preso, teniendole por 
hombre bullicioso, y le lleve conmigo." Carta Quinta, MS. 

19 " Y le hacian aquella mesma reverencia, i ceremonias, que i. 


Parties standing in such relations to each other could 
have been the objects only of mutual distrust and aver- 
sion. The forlorn condition of the Spaniards on the 
present march, which exposed them in a peculiar 
degree to any sudden assault from their wily Indian 
vassals, increased the suspicions of Cortes. Thus pre- 
disposed to think ill of Guatemozin, the general lent a 
ready ear to the first accusation against him. Charges 
were converted into proofs, and condemnation followed 
close upon the charges. By a single blow he proposed 
to rid himself and the state forever of a dangerous 
enemy, — the more dangerous, that he was an enemy in 
disguise. Had he but consulted his own honor and his 
good name, Guatemozin's head was the last on which 
he should have suffered an injury to fall. "He should 
have cherished him," to borrow the homely simile of 
his encomiast, Gomara, "like gold in a napkin, as the 
best trophy of his victories." 2 ° 

Whatever may have been the real motives of his 
conduct in this affair, it seems to have left the mind 
of Cortes but ill at ease. For a long time he was 
moody and irritable, and found it difficult to sleep 
at night. On one occasion, as he was pacing an upper 
chamber of a teocalli in which he was quartered, he 
missed his footing in the dark, and was precipitated 
from a height of some twelve feet to the ground, which 
occasioned him a severe contusion on the head, — a 

Mote9uma, i creo que por eso le llevaba siempre consigo por la 
Ciudad i. Caballo si cavalgaba, i sino d pie como el iba." Cronica, 
cap. 170. 

20 " I Cortes debiera guardarlo vivo, como Oro en pano, que era el 
triumpho, i gloria de sus Victorias." OSnica, cap. 170. 



thing too palpable to be concealed, though he endeav- 
ored, says the gossiping Diaz, to hide the knowledge 
of it, as well as he could, from the soldiers. 21 

It was not long after the sad scene of Guatemozin's 
execution that the wearied troops entered the head 
town of the great province of Aculan ; a thriving com- 
munity of traders, who carried on a profitable traffic 
with the farthest quarters of Central America. Cortes 
notices in general terms the excellence and beauty of 
the buildings, and the hospitable reception which he 
experienced from the inhabitants. 

After renewing their strength in these comfortable 
quarters, the Spaniards left the capital of Aculan, the 
name of which is to be found on no map, and held on 
their toilsome way in the direction of what is now 
called the Lake of Peten. It was then the property 
of an emigrant tribe of the hardy Maya family, and 
their capital stood on an island in the lake, "with its 
houses and lofty teocallis glistening in the sun," says 
Bernal Diaz, "so that it might be seen for the distance 
of two leagues." 22 These edifices, built by one of the 
races of Yucatan, displayed, doubtless, the same pecu- 
liarities of construction as the remains still to be seen 
in that remarkable peninsula. But, whatever may have 
been their architectural merits, they are disposed of in 
a brief sentence by the Conquerors. 

The inhabitants of the island showed a friendly 
spirit, and a docility unlike the warlike temper of their 
countrymen of Yucatan. They willingly listened to 
the Spanish missionaries who accompanied the expedi- 

21 Hist, de la Conquista, ubi supra. 

22 Ibid., cap. 178. 
Vol. III. 24 


tion, as they expounded the Christian doctrines through 
the intervention of Marina. The Indian interpreter 
was present throughout this long march, the last in 
which she remained at the side of Cortes. As this, too, 
is the last occasion on which she will appear in these 
pages, I will mention, before parting with her, an in- 
teresting circumstance that occurred when the army 
was traversing the province of Coatzacualco. This, it 
may be remembered, was the native country of Marina, 
where her infamous mother sold her, when a child, to 
some foreign traders, in order to secure her inheritance 
to a younger brother. Cortes halted for some days at 
this place, to hold a conference with the surrounding ca- 
ciques on matters of government and religion. Among 
those summoned to this meeting was Marina's mother, 
who came, attended by her son. No sooner did they 
make their appearance than all were struck with the 
great resemblance of the cacique to her daughter. The 
two parties recognized each other, though they had not 
met since their separation. The mother, greatly terri- 
fied, fancied that she had been decoyed into a snare 
in order to punish her inhuman conduct. But Marina 
instantly ran up to her, and endeavored to allay her 
fears, assuring her that she should receive no harm, 
and, addressing the by-standers, said "that she was 
sure her mother knew not what she did when she sold 
her to the traders, and that she forgave her." Then, 
tenderly embracing her unnatural parent, she gave her 
such jewels and other little ornaments as she wore 
about her own person, to win back, as it would 
seem, her lost affection. Marina added that "she felt 
much happier than before, now that she had been in- 



structed in the Christian faith and given up the bloody 
worship of the Aztecs." 23 

In the course of the expedition to Honduras, Cortes 
gave Marina away to a Castilian knight, Don Juan 
Xaramillo, 24 to whom she was wedded as his lawful 
wife. She had estates assigned to her in her native 
province, where she probably passed the remainder of 
her days. 23 From this time the name of Marina dis- 
appears from the page of history. But it has been 
always held in grateful remembrance by the Spaniards, 
for the important aid which she gave them in effecting 
the Conquest, and by the natives, for the kindness and 
sympathy which she showed them in their misfortunes. 
Many an Indian ballad commemorates the gentle vir- 
tues of Malinche, — her Aztec epithet. Even now her 
spirit, if report be true, watches over the capital which 

*3 Diaz, who was present, attests the truth of this account by the 
most solemn adjuration : " Y todo esto que digo, se lo oi muy certifi- 
cadamente y se lo juro, amen." Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 37. 

2 4 [Alaman, from an examination of the municipal archives of Mex- 
ico, finds that Juan de Jaramillo was commander of one of the brig- 
antines in the siege of Mexico. He subsequently filled the office of 
royal standard-bearer of the city, and was several times chosen to 
represent it in the assemblies of the cities of New Spain. Conquista 
de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 269.] 

2 5 [The Spanish government showed its sense of the services of 
Marina by the grant of several estates both in the town and country. 
The house in which she usually resided in Mexico was in the street of 
Medinas, as it is now called, which then bore the name of her husband, 
Jaramillo. She had a pleasure-house at Chapultepec, and in Cuyoa- 
can a garden that had belonged to Montezuma. She lived in the 
enjoyment of wealth and much consideration from her countrymen ; 
and, as we see mention made of her grandchild during her lifetime, we 
may presume she reached a good old age. Conquista de Mejico (trad, 
de Vega), torn. ii. p. 269. — Alaman, Disertaciones histoncas, torn. ii. 
P- 293-] 


she helped to win ; and the peasant is occasionally 
startled by the apparition of an Indian princess, dimly 
seen through the evening shadows, as it flits among 
the groves and grottos of the royal Hill of Chapol- 
tepec. 26 

By the Conqueror, Marina left one son, Don Martin 
Cortes. He rose to high consideration, and was made 
a comendador of the order of St. Jago. He was sub- 
sequently suspected of treasonable designs against the 
government ; and neither his parents' extraordinary 
services, nor his own deserts, could protect him from 
a cruel persecution ; and in 1568 the son of Hernando 
Cortes was shamefully subjected to the torture in the 
very capital which his father had acquired for the 
Castilian crown ! 

The inhabitants of the isles of Peten — to return from 
our digression — listened attentively to the preaching 
of the Franciscan friars, and consented to the instant 
demolition of their idols, and the erection of the 
Cross upon their ruins.* 7 A singular circumstance 
showed the value of these hurried conversions. Cortes, 
on his departure, left among this friendly people one 
of his horses, which had been disabled by an injury in 
the foot. The Indians felt a reverence for the animal, 
as in some way connected with the mysterious power of 

86 Life in Mexico, let. 8. — The fair author does not pretend to have 
been favored with a sight of the apparition. 

2 7 Villagutierre says that the Iztacs, by which name the inhabitants 
of these islands were called, did not destroy their idols while the 
Spaniards remained there. (Historia de la Conquista de la Provincia 
de el Itza (Madrid, 1701), pp. 49, 50.) The historian is wrong, since 
Cortes expressly asserts that the images were broken and burnt in his 
presence. Carta Quinta, MS. 


the white men. When their visitors had gone, they 
offered flowers to the horse, and, as it is said, prepared 
for him many savory messes of poultry, such as they 
would have administered to their own sick. Under 
this extraordinary diet the poor animal pined away and 
died. The affrighted Indians raised his effigy in stone, 
and, placing it in one of their teocallis, did homage to 
it, as to a deity. In 1618, when two Franciscan friars 
came to preach the gospel in these regions, then scarcely 
better known to the Spaniards than before the time of 
Cortes, one of the most remarkable objects which they 
found was this statue of a horse, receiving the homage 
of the Indian worshippers, as the god of thunder and 
lightning ! 28 

It would be wearisome to recount all the perils and 
hardships endured by the Spaniards in the remainder 
of their journey. It would be repeating only the inci- 
dents of the preceding narrative, the same obstacles in 
their path, the same extremities of famine and fatigue, 
— hardships more wearing on the spirits than encoun- 
ters with an enemy, which, if more hazardous, are also 
more exciting. It is easier to contend with man than 
with Nature. Yet I must not omit to mention the 
passage of the Sierra de los Pedernales, " the Mountain 
of Flints," which, though only twenty-four miles in 
extent, consumed no less than twelve days in crossing 
it ! The sharp stones cut the horses' feet to pieces, 
while many were lost down the precipices and ravines ; 
so that when they had reached the opposite side sixty- 
eight of these valuable animals had perished, and the 

28 The fact is recorded by Villagutierre, Conquista de el Itza, pp. 
100-102, and Cojullado, Hist, de Yucathan, lib i, cap. 16. 


remainder were, for the most part, in an unserviceable 
condition ! ■» 

The rainy season had now set in, and torrents of 
water, falling day and night, drenched the adventurers 
to the skin, and added greatly to their distresses. The 
rivers, swollen beyond their usual volume, poured along 
with a terrible impetuosity that defied the construction 
of bridges ; and it was with the greatest difficulty that, 
by laying trunks of trees from one huge rock to an- 
other, with which these streams were studded, they 
effected a perilous passage to the opposite banks. 3 " 

At length the shattered train drew near the Golfo 
Dolce, at the head of the Bay of Honduras. Their 
route could not have been far from the site of Copan, 
the celebrated city whose architectural ruins have fur- 
nished such noble illustrations for the pencil of Cather- 
wood. But the Spaniards passed on in silence. Nor, 
indeed, can we wonder that at this stage of the enter- 
prise they should have passed on without heeding the 
vicinity of a city in the wilderness, though it were as 
glorious as the capital of Zenobia ; for they were ar- 
rived almost within view of the Spanish settlements, 
the object of their long and wearisome pilgrimage. 

29 " Y querer dezir la aspereza y fragosidad de este Puerto y sierras, 
ni quien lo dixese lo sabria significar, ni quien lo oyese podria enten- 
der, sino que sepa V. M. que en ocho leguas que duro hasta este 
puerto estuvimos en las andar doze dias, digo los postreros en llegar 
al cabo de el, en que murieron sesenta y ocho cavallos despefiados y 
desxaretados, y todos los demas vinieron heridos y tan lastimados que 
no pensamos aprovecharnos de ninguno." Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 

30 " If any unhappy wretch had become giddy in this transit," says 
Cortes, " he must inevitably have been precipitated into the gulf and 
perished. There were upwards of twenty of these frightful passes." 
Carta Quinta, MS. 


The place which they were now approaching was 
Naco, or San Gil de Buena Vista, a Spanish settlement 
on the Golfo Dolce. Cortes advanced cautiously, pre- 
pared to fall on the town by surprise. He had held 
on his way with the undeviating step of the North 
American Indian, who, traversing morass and moun- 
tain and the most intricate forests, guided by the 
instinct of revenge, presses straight towards the mark, 
and, when he has reached it, springs at once on his 
unsuspecting victim. Before Cortes made his assault, 
his scouts fortunately fell in with some of the inhabit- 
ants of the place, from whom they received tidings of 
the death of Olid, and of the re-establishment of his 
own authority. Cortes, therefore, entered the place 
like a friend, and was cordially welcomed by his coun- 
trymen, greatly astonished, says Diaz, "by the presence 
among them of the general so renowned throughout 
these countries." 31 

The colony was at this time sorely suffering from 
famine ; and to such extremity was it soon reduced 
that the troops would probably have found a grave in 
the very spot to which they had looked forward as the 
goal of their labors, but for the seasonable arrival of a 
vessel with supplies from Cuba. With a perseverance 
which nothing could daunt, Cortes made an examina- 
tion of the surrounding country, and occupied a month 
more in exploring dismal swamps, steaming with un- 
wholesome exhalations, and infected with bilious fevers 
and with swarms of venomous insects which left peace 

3« " Espant&ronse en gran manera, y como supieron que era Cortes 
q tan nombrado era en todas estas partes de las Indias, y en Cas- 
tilla, no sabia que se hazer de placer." Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 179. 


neither by day nor night. At length he embarked 
with a part of his forces on board of two brigantines, 
and, after touching at one or two ports in the bay, 
anchored off Truxillo, the principal Spanish settlement 
on that coast. The surf was too high for him easily to 
effect a landing ; but the inhabitants, overjoyed at his 
arrival, rushed into the shallow water and eagerly bore 
back the general in their arms to the shore. 32 

After he had restored the strength and spirits of his 
men, the indefatigable commander prepared for a new 
expedition, the object of which was to explore and to 
reduce the extensive province of Nicaragua. One may 
well feel astonished at the adventurous spirit of the 
man who, unsubdued by the terrible sufferings of his 
recent march, should so soon be prepared for another 
enterprise equally appalling. It is difficult, in this age 
of sober sense, to conceive the character of a Castilian 
cavalier of the sixteenth century, a true counterpart of 
which it would not have been easy to find in any other 
nation, even at that time, — or anywhere, indeed, save 
in those tales of chivalry, which, however wild and 
extravagant they may seem, were much more true to 
character than to situation. The mere excitement of 
exploring the strange and the unknown was a sufficient 
compensation to the Spanish adventurer for all his toils 
and trials. It seems to have been ordered by Provi- 
dence that such a race of men should exist contempo- 
raneously with the discovery of the New World, that 
those regions should be brought to light which were 
beset with dangers and difficulties so appalling as might 

3« Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 179, et seq. — Herrera. 
Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 8, cap. 3, 4. — Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 



have tended to overawe and to discourage the ordi- 
nary spirit of adventure. Yet Cortes, though filled with 
this spirit, proposed nobler ends to himself than those 
of the mere vulgar adventurer. In the expedition to 
Nicaragua he designed, as he had done in that to 
Honduras, to ascertain the resources of the country in 
general, and, above all, the existence of any means of 
communication between the great oceans on its borders. 
If none such existed, it would at least establish this fact, 
the knowledge of which, to borrow his own language, 
was scarcely less important. 

The general proposed to himself the further object 
of enlarging the colonial empire of Castile. The con- 
quest of Mexico was but the commencement of a series 
of conquests. To the warrior who had achieved this, 
nothing seemed impracticable ; and scarcely would any 
thing have been so, had he been properly sustained. It 
is no great stretch of imagination to see the Conqueror 
of Mexico advancing along the provinces of the vast 
Isthmus, — Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Darien, — until he 
had planted his victorious banner on the shores of the 
Gulf of Panama; and, while it was there fanned by the 
breezes from the golden South, the land of the Incas, 
to see him gathering such intelligence of this land as 
would stimulate him to carry his arms still farther, 
and to anticipate, it might be, the splendid career of 
Pizarro ! 

But from these dreams of ambition Cortes was 
suddenly aroused by such tidings as convinced him 
that his absence from Mexico was already too far 
prolonged, and that he must return without delay, 
if he would save the capital or the country. 






The intelligence alluded to in the preceding chapter 
was conveyed in a letter to Cortes from the licentiate 
Zuazo, one of the functionaries to whom the general 
had committed the administration of the country 
during his absence. It contained full particulars of 
the tumultuous proceedings in the capital. No sooner 
had Cortes quitted it, than dissensions broke out 
among the different members of the provisional gov- 
ernment. The misrule increased as his absence was 
prolonged. At length tidings were received that Cort6s 
with his whole army had perished in the morasses 
of Chiapa. The members of the government showed 
no reluctance to credit this story. They now openly 
paraded their own authority ; proclaimed the general's 
death ; caused funeral ceremonies to be performed in 
his honor; took possession of his property wherever 
they could meet with it, piously devoting a small part 
of the proceeds to purchasing masses for his soul, while 
the remainder was appropriated to pay off what was 
called his debt to the state. They seized, in like 


manner, the property of other individuals engaged in 
the expedition. From these outrages they proceeded 
to others against the Spanish residents in the city, until 
the Franciscan missionaries left the capital in disgust, 
while the Indian population were so sorely oppressed 
that great apprehensions were entertained of a general 
rising. Zuazo, who communicated these tidings, im- 
plored Cortes to quicken his return. He was a tem- 
perate man, and the opposition which he had made 
to the tyrannical measures of his comrades had been 
rewarded with exile. 1 

The general, greatly alarmed by this account, saw 
that no alternative was left but to abandon all further 
schemes of conquest, and to return at once, if he 
would secure the preservation of the empire which he 
had won. He accordingly made the necessary arrange- 
ments for settling the administration of the colonies 
at Honduras, and embarked with a small number of 
followers for Mexico. 

He had not been long at sea when he encountered 
such a terrible tempest as seriously damaged his vessel 
and compelled him to return to port and refit. A 
second attempt proved equally unsuccessful ; and 
Cortes, feeling that his good star had deserted him, 
saw in this repeated disaster an intimation from 
Heaven that he was not to return. 2 He contented 
himself, therefore, with sending a trusty messenger to 
advise his friends of his personal safety in Honduras. 
He then instituted processions and public prayers to 

• Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, 
cap. 185. — Relacion del Tesorero Strada, MS., Mexico, 1526. 
3 Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 


ascertain the will of Heaven and to deprecate its anger. 
His health now showed the effects of his recent suffer- 
ings, and declined under a wasting fever. His spirits 
sank with it, and he fell into a state of gloomy de- 
spondency. Bernal Diaz, speaking of him at this time, 
says that nothing could be more wan and emaciated 
than his person, and that so strongly was he possessed 
with the idea of his approaching end that he procured 
a Franciscan habit, — for it was common to be laid out 
in the habit of some one or other of the monastic 
orders, — in which to be carried to the grave. 3 

From this deplorable apathy Cortes was roused by 
fresh advices urging his presence in Mexico, and by 
the judicious efforts of his good friend Sandoval, who 
had lately returned, himself, from an excursion into 
the interior. By his persuasion, the general again 
consented to try his fortunes on the seas. He em- 
barked on board of a brigantine, with a few followers, 
and bade adieu to the disastrous shores of Honduras, 
April 25, 1526. He had nearly made the coast of New 
Spain, when a heavy gale threw him off his course and 
drove him to the island of Cuba. After staying there 
some time to recruit his exhausted strength, he again 
put to sea, on the 1 6th of May, and in eight days landed 
near San Juan de Ulua, whence he proceeded about 
five leagues on foot to Medellin. 

Cortes was so much changed by disease that his person 
was not easily recognized. But no sooner was it known 
that the general had returned than crowds of people, 
white men and natives, thronged from all the neigh- 

3 Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 184. et seq. — Carta Quinta de Cortes, 



boring country to welcome him. The tidings spread 
far and wide on the wings of the wind, and his progress 
to the capital was a triumphal procession. The inhab- 
itants came from the distance of eighty leagues to have 
a sight of him ; and they congratulated one another 
on the presence of the only man who could rescue the 
country from its state of anarchy. It was a resurrec- 
tion of the dead, — so industriously had the reports of 
his death been circulated, and so generally believed. 4 

At all the great towns where he halted he was sump- 
tuously entertained. Triumphal arches were thrown 
across the road, and the streets were strewed with 
flowers as he passed. After a night's repose at Tez- 
cuco, he made his entrance in great state into the 
capital. The municipality came out to welcome him, 
and a brilliant cavalcade of armed citizens formed his 
escort ; while the lake was covered with barges of the 
Indians, all fancifully decorated with their gala dresses, 
as on the day of his first arrival among them. The 
streets echoed to music, and dancing, and sounds of 
jubilee, as the procession held on its way to the great 
convent of St. Francis, where thanksgivings were 
offered up for the safe return of the general, who then 
proceeded to take up his quarters once more in his 
own princely residence. 3 It was in June, 1526, when 
Cortes re-entered Mexico ; nearly two years had elapsed 
since he had left it, on his difficult march to Honduras, 
— a march which led to no important results, but which 

4 Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, 
cap. 189, 190. — Carta de Cortes al Emperador, MS., Mexico, Sept. 
11, 1526. 

5 Carta de Ocana, MS., Agosto 31, 1526. — Carta Quinta de Cortes, 

Vol. III.— n 25 


consumed nearly as much time, and was attended with 
sufferings quite as severe, as the Conquest of Mexico 
itself. 6 

Cortes did not abuse his present advantage. He, 
indeed, instituted proceedings against his enemies ; but 
he followed them up so languidly as to incur the impu- 
tation of weakness. It is the only instance in which 
he has been accused of weakness; and, since it was 
shown in redressing his own injuries, it may be thought 
to reflect no discredit on his character. 7 

He was not permitted long to enjoy the sweets of 
triumph. In the month of July he received advices 
of the arrival of a juez de residencia on the coast, sent 
by the court of Madrid to supersede him temporarily 
in the government. The crown of Castile, as its colo- 
nial empire extended, became less and less capable 
of watching over its administration. It was therefore 

6 " What Cortes suffered," says Dr. Robertson, " on this march, — a 
distance, according to Gomara, of 3000 miles" (the distance must 
be greatly exaggerated), — " from famine, from the hostility of the 
natives, from the climate, and from hardships of every species, has 
nothing in history parallel to it, but what occurs in the adventures of 
the other discoverers and conquerors of the New World. Cortes 
was employed in this dreadful service above two years ; and, though 
it was not distinguished by any splendid event, he exhibited, during 
the course of it, greater personal courage, more fortitude of mind, 
more perseverance and patience, than in any other period or scene in 
his life." (Hist, of America, note 96.) The historian's remarks are 
just ; as the passages which I have borrowed from the extraordinary 
record of the Conqueror may show. Those who are desirous of see- 
ing something of the narrative told in his own way will find a few 
pages of it translated in the Appendix, Part 2, No. 14. 

7 " Y esto yo lo oi dezir & los del Real Consejo de Indias, estando 
presente el sefior Obispo Fray Bartolome de las Casas, que se des- 
cuido mucho Cortes en ello, y se lo tuvieron a floxedad." Bernal 
Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 190. 



obliged to place vast powers in the hands of its vice- 
roys; and, as suspicion naturally accompanies weak- 
ness, it was ever prompt to listen to accusations against 
these powerful vassals. In such cases the government 
adopted the expedient of sending out a commissioner, 
or juez de residencia, with authority to investigate the 
conduct of the accused, to suspend him in the mean 
while from his office, and, after a judicial examination, 
to reinstate him in it or to remove him altogether, 
according to the issue of the trial. The enemies of 
Cortes had been for a long time busy in undermining 
his influence at court, and in infusing suspicions of 
his loyalty in the bosom of the emperor. Since his 
elevation to the government of the country they had 
redoubled their mischievous activity, and they assailed 
his character with the foulest imputations. They 
charged him with appropriating to his own use the 
gold which belonged to the crown, and especially with 
secreting the treasures of Montezuma. He was said to 
have made false reports of the provinces he had con- 
quered, that he might defraud the exchequer of its 
lawful revenues. He had distributed the principal 
offices among his own creatures, and had acquired an 
unbounded influence, not only over the Spaniards, but 
the natives, who were all ready to do his bidding. He 
had expended large sums in fortifying both the capital 
and his own palace; and it was evident, from the mag- 
nitude of his schemes and his preparations, that he 
designed to shake off his allegiance and to establish an 
independent sovereignty in New Spain. 8 

8 Memorial de Luis Cardenas, MS. — Carta de Diego de Ocafia, 
MS. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 8, cap. 14, 15. 


The government, greatly alarmed by these formida- 
ble charges, the probability of which they could not 
estimate, appointed a commissioner with full powers to 
investigate the matter. The person selected for this 
delicate office was Luis Ponce de Leon, a man of high 
family, young for such a post, but of a mature judg- 
ment and distinguished for his moderation and equity. 
The nomination of such a minister gave assurance that 
the crown meant to do justly by Cortes. 

The emperor wrote at the same time with his own 
hand to the general, advising him of this step, and 
assuring him that it was taken, not from distrust of his 
integrity, but to afford him the opportunity of placing 
that integrity in a clear light before the world. 9 

Ponce de Leon reached Mexico in July, 1526. He 
was received with all respect by Cortes and the mu- 
nicipality of the capital; and the two parties inter- 
changed those courtesies with each other which gave 
augury that the future proceedings would be conducted 
in a spirit of harmony. Unfortunately, this fair begin- 
ning was blasted by the death of the commissioner in 
a few weeks after his arrival, a circumstance which did 
not fail to afford another item in the loathsome mass 
of accusation heaped upon Cortes. The commissioner 
fell the victim of a malignant fever, which carried off 
a number of those who had come over in the vessel 
with him. 10 

On his death-bed, Ponce de Leon delegated his 
authority to an infirm old man, who survived but a few 

9 Carta del Emperador, MS., Toledo, Nov. 4, 1525. 
t0 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 192. — Carta de Cortes al 
Emperador, MS., Mexico, Set. 11, 1526. 


2 93 

months,* and transmitted the reins of government to a 
person named Estrada, or Strada, the royal treasurer, 

* [This person, the licentiate Marcos de Aguilar, showed, during 
his short tenure of office, much greater zeal and activity than would 
be inferred from the slight mention of him by historians. Prescott has 
omitted to state that a principal point in the instructions given to 
Ponce de Leon related to the question of the repartimientos and other 
methods of treating the Indians, in regard to which he was to obtain 
the opinions of the authorities and other principal persons and of the 
Dominican and Franciscan friars. Sir Arthur Helps, who notices this 
fact, adds that it " led to no result," the instructions on this subject to 
Ponce de Leon being on his death " forgotten or laid aside." But a 
series of documents published by Sefior Icazbalceta (Col. de Doc. 
para la Hist, de Mexico, torn, ii.) shows, on the contrary, that they 
were promptly and fully carried out by Aguilar, who considered this 
to be the principal business of the commission, and one, as he wrote 
to the emperor, requiring despatch, since the very existence of the 
native population depended on immediate action. He accordingly 
consulted all the officials, Cortes himself included, the other chief 
residents of the city, such as Alvarado and Sandoval, and the members 
of the two religious orders, obtaining written opinions, individual as 
well as collective, which he transmitted with his own report to the 
emperor. The great majority of the persons consulted, including all 
the monks, while differing on some matters of detail, concurred in 
urging the necessity of the repartimientos and in recommending that 
they should be made hereditary. 

The same result followed an inquiry instituted in 1532 and the fol- 
lowing years. Among the opinions delivered on that occasion is one 
deserving of particular notice, both for the manner in which it is en- 
forced and the character of the writer, — Fray Domingo de Batanzos, 
whose career has been agreeably sketched, though his views on the 
present matter have been misapprehended, by Sir Arthur Helps. The 
three objects to be kept in view, he begins by remarking, are the 
good treatment and preservation of the natives, the establishment and 
security of the Spanish settlers, and the augmentation of the royal 
revenues. The proper means to be adopted are also threefold : the 
repartimientos extended and perpetuated, the abandonment of the 
idea of reserving certain pueblos to be held by the crown and managed 
by its officers, and the appointment of good governors, since the best 


one of the officers sent from Spain to take charge of 
the finances, and who was personally hostile to Cortes. 

measures are of no avail if not ably administered. The objections to 
the crown's reserving way pueblos for itself are, that the officers will be 
employed solely in collecting the tribute, the Indians will receive no 
protection or religious instruction, and the cultivation of the soil will 
be always degenerating, since no one will have an interest in main- 
taining or improving its condition. The repartimientos, on the con- 
traiy, by giving the holders a direct interest in the better cultivation of 
the soil and the increase of the people, will insure both these results; 
and though under this system the royal revenues may be diminished 
for a time, they will in the end be greatly augmented through the 
general improvement of the country. The great misfortune has been 
that the authorities at home pursue a policy which directly contravenes 
their own intentions : wishing to benefit, they destroy ; wishing to en- 
rich, they impoverish ; wishing to save the Indians, they exterminate 
them. There is needed a man with the mind and resolution of 
Charlemagne or Caesar, to adopt a plan and carry it out. Instead of 
this, the course pursued is that of endless changes and experiments, 
like a perpetual litigation. It is a sure sign that God intends destruc- 
tion when men are unable to find a remedy. In the present case, 
well-meaning and holy men have sought one in vain. In his opinion, 
which he knows will be unheeded, the system which has in it the 
least evil and the most good is that of hereditary repartii?iientos, 
which should be established once for all. In a later letter he says, 
" The person least deceived about the affairs of this country is I, who 
know its fate as if I saw it with my eyes and touched it with my 
hands." He predicts the extermination of the Indians within fifty 
years. He has always believed and asserted that they would perish, 
and the laws and measures founded on any other supposition have all 
been bad. The wonderful thing is, he remarks, with an apparent 
allusion to Las Casas, that the men of greatest sanctity and zeal for 
good are those who have done the most harm. (Icazbalceta, Col. de 
Doc. para la Hist, de Mexico, torn, ii.) That the prediction of Batan- 
zos has been falsified by the event may be attributed to a variety of 
causes : the vastness of the country and the comparative density of 
the native population ; the social and industrial habits of the latter, so 
different from those of more northern tribes ; the decline of the Span- 
ish power and of that spirit of conquest which, by keeping up a con- 



The Spanish residents would have persuaded Cortes 
to assert for himself at least an equal share of the 
authority, to which they considered Estrada as having 
no sufficient title. But the general, with singular 
moderation, declined a competition in this matter, 
and determined to abide a more decided expression of 
his sovereign's will. To his mortification, the nomi- 
nation of Estrada was confirmed ; and this dignitary 
soon contrived to inflict on his rival all those annoy- 
ances by which a little mind in possession of unex- 
pected power endeavors to assert superiority over a 
great one. The recommendations of Cortes were 
disregarded, his friends mortified and insulted, his 
attendants outraged by injuries. One of the domes- 
tics of his friend Sandoval, for some slight offence, 
was sentenced to lose his hand ; and when the general 
remonstrated against these acts of violence he was 
peremptorily commanded to leave the city ! The 
Spaniards, indignant at this outrage, would have taken 
up arms in his defence ; but Cortes would allow no 

stant stream of emigration and ardor of enterprise, might have led to 
a conflict of races ; and the sedulous protection afforded to the In- 
dians' by the government and the church. Their welfare was the ob- 
ject of constant investigation and a long series of enactments. Slavery 
was in their case entirely abolished. The repartimientos were made 
hereditary, but the rights and power of the encomenderos were care- 
fully restricted, and the personal services at first exacted were ulti- 
mately commuted for a fixed tribute. Living together in communities 
which resembled so many small republics, governed by their own laws 
and chiefs, guided and protected by the priests, exempt from military 
service and all the burdens imposed by the state on the rest of the 
population, the Indians constituted, down to the period of Independ- 
ence, a separate and privileged class, despised, it is true, but not op- 
pressed, by the superior race. — Ed.] 


resistance, and, simply remarking "that it was well that 
those who at the price of their blood had won the 
capital should not be allowed a footing in it," with- 
drew to his favorite villa of Cojohuacan, a few miles 
distant, to await there the result of these strange pro- 

The suspicions of the court of Madrid, meanwhile, 
fanned by the breath of calumny, had reached the most 
preposterous height. One might have supposed that it 
fancied the general was organizing a revolt throughout 
the colonies and meditated nothing less than an in- 
vasion of the mother country. Intelligence having 
been received that a vessel might speedily be expected 
from New Spain, orders were sent to the different 
ports of the kingdom, and even to Portugal, to seques- 
trate the cargo, under the expectation that it contained 
remittances to the general's family which belonged to 
the crown ; while his letters, affording the most lumi- 
nous account of all his proceedings and discoveries, were 
forbidden to be printed. Fortunately, however, three 
letters, constituting the most important part of the 
Conqueror's correspondence, had been given to the 
public, some years previous, by the indefatigable press 
of Seville. 

The court, moreover, made aware of the incompe- 
tency of the treasurer, Estrada, to the present delicate 
conjuncture, now intrusted the whole affair of the in- 
quiry to a commission dignified with the title of the 
Royal Audience of New Spain. This body was clothed 
with full powers to examine into the charges against 

11 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 194. — Carta de Cortes 
al Emperador, MS., Set. II, 1526. 



Cortes, with instructions to send him back, as a pre- 
liminary measure, to Castile, — peacefully if they could, 
but forcibly if necessary. Still afraid that its belliger- 
ent vassal might defy the authority of this tribunal, 
the government resorted to artifice to effect his return. 
The president of the Indian Council was commanded 
to write to him, urging his presence in Spain to vin- 
dicate himself from the charges of his enemies, and 
offering his personal co-operation in his defence. The 
emperor further wrote a letter to the Audience, con- 
taining his commands for Cortes to return, as the gov- 
ernment wished to consult him on matters relating to 
the Indies, and to bestow on him a recompense suited 
to his high deserts. This letter was intended to be 
shown to Cortes. 12 

But it was superfluous to put in motion all this com- 
plicated machinery to effect a measure on which Cortes 
was himself resolved. Proudly conscious of his own 
unswerving loyalty, and of the benefits he had ren- 
dered to his country, he was deeply sensible to this 
unworthy requital of them, especially on the very 
theatre of his achievements. He determined to abide 
no longer where he was exposed to such indignities, 
but to proceed at once to Spain, present himself before 
his sovereign, boldly assert his innocence, and claim 
redress for his wrongs and a just reward for his services. 
In the close of his letter to the emperor, detailing 
the painful expedition to Honduras, after enlarging on 
the magnificent schemes he had entertained of discov- 
ery in the South Sea, and vindicating himself from the 

13 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 4, lib. 2, cap. 1 ; and lib. 3, cap. 8. 


charge of a too lavish expenditure, he concludes with 
the lofty yet touching declaration "that he trusts his 
Majesty will in time acknowledge his deserts ; but, if 
that unhappily shall not be, the world at least will be 
assured of his loyalty, and he himself shall have the 
conviction of having done his duty; and no better 
inheritance than this shall he ask for his children." ,3 

No sooner was the intention of Cortes made known, 
than it excited a general sensation through the country. 
Even Estrada relented ; he felt that he had gone too 
far, and that it was not his policy to drive his noble 
enemy to take refuge in his own land. Negotiations 
were opened, and an attempt at a reconciliation, was 
made, through the bishop of Tlascala. Cortes received 
these overtures in a courteous spirit, but his resolution 
was unshaken. Having made the necessary arrange- 
ments, therefore, in Mexico, he left the Valley, and 
proceeded at once to the coast. Had he entertained 
the criminal ambition imputed to him by his enemies, 
he might have been sorely tempted by the repeated 
offers of support which were made to him, whether in 
good or in bad faith, on the journey, if he would but 
reassume the government and assert his independence 
of Castile. But these disloyal advances he rejected 
with the scorn they merited. 14 

13 " Todas estas entradas estan ahora para partir casi i. una, plega 
a Dios de los guiar como el se sirva, que yo aunque V. M. mas me 
mande desfavorecer no tengo de dejar de servir, que no es posible que 
por tiempo V. M. no conosca mis servicios, y ya que esto no sea, yo 
me satisfago con hazer lo que debo, y con saber que & todo el mundo 
tengo satisfecho, y les son notorios mis servicios y lealdad, con que 
los hago, y no quiero otro mayorazgo sino este." Carta Quinta, MS. 

*4 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 194. — Carta de Oca&a, 
MS., Agosto 31, 1526. 



On his arrival at Villa Rica he received the painful 
tidings of the death of his father, Don Martin Cortes, 
whom he had hoped so soon to embrace after his long 
and eventful absence. Having celebrated his obsequies 
with every mark of filial respect, he made preparations 
for his speedy departure. Two of the best vessels in 
the port were got ready and provided with everything 
requisite for a long voyage. He was attended by his 
friend the faithful Sandoval, by Tapia, and some other 
cavaliers most attached to his person. He also took 
with him several Aztec and Tlascalan chiefs, and 
among them a son of Montezuma, and another of 
Maxixca, the friendly old Tlascalan lord, both of whom 
were desirous to accompany the general to Castile. 
He carried home a large collection of plants and min- 
erals, as specimens of the natural resources of the 
country ; several wild animals, and birds of gaudy 
plumage ; various fabrics of delicate workmanship, 
especially the gorgeous feather- work ; and a number 
of jugglers, dancers, and buffoons, who greatly aston- 
ished the Europeans by the marvellous facility of their 
performances, and were thought a suitable present for 
his Holiness the Pope. 15 Lastly, Cortes displayed his 
magnificence in a rich treasure of jewels, among which 
were emeralds of extraordinary size and lustre, gold 

•5 The Pope, who was of the joyous Medici family, Clement VII., 
and the cardinals, were greatly delighted with the feats of the Indian 
jugglers, according to Diaz ; and his Holiness, who, it may be added, 
received at the same time from Cortes a substantial donative of gold 
and jewels, publicly testified, by prayers and solemn processions, his 
great sense of the services rendered to Christianity by the Conquerors 
of Mexico, and generously requited them by bulls granting plenary 
absolution from their sins. Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 195. 


to the amount of two hundred thousand pesos de oro, 
and fifteen hundred marks of silver. "In fine," says 
Herrera, " he came in all the state of a great lord." lS 
After a brief and prosperous voyage, Cortes came in 
sight once more of his native shores, and, crossing the 
bar of Saltes, entered the little port of Palos in May, 
1528, — the same spot where Columbus had landed five- 
and-thirty years before, on his return from the dis- 
covery of the Western World. Cortes was not greeted 
with the enthusiasm and public rejoicings which wel- 
comed the great navigator ; and, indeed, the inhabit- 
ants were not prepared for his arrival. From Palos he 
soon proceeded to the convent of La Rabida, the same 
place, also, within the hospitable walls of which Co- 
lumbus had found a shelter. An interesting circum- 
stance is mentioned by historians, connected with his 
short stay at Palos. Francisco Pizarro, the Conqueror 
of Peru, had arrived there, having come to Spain to 
solicit aid for his great enterprise. 17 He was then in 
the commencement of his brilliant career, as Cortes 
might be said to be at the close of his. He was an 
old acquaintance, and a kinsman, as is affirmed, of the 
general, whose mother was a Pizarro. 18 The meeting 
of these two extraordinary men, the Conquerors of the 
North and of the South in the New World, as they set 
foot, after their eventful absence, on the shores of then 
native land, and that, too, on the spot consecrated by 

16 " Y en fin venia como gran Sefior." Hist, gen., dec. 4, lib. 3, 
cap. 8. 

■7 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 4, lib. 4, cap. 1. — Cavo, Los tres 
Siglos de Mexico, torn. i. p. 78. 

18 Pizarro y Orellana, Varones ilustres, p. 121. 



the presence of Columbus, has something in it striking 
to the imagination. It has accordingly attracted the 
attention of one of the most illustrious of living poets, 
who, in a brief but beautiful sketch, has depicted the 
scene in the genuine coloring of the age. 19 

While reposing from the fatigues of his voyage, at 
La Rabida, an event occurred which afflicted Cortes 
deeply and which threw a dark cloud over his return. 
This was the death of Gonzalo de Sandoval, his trusty 
friend, and so long the companion of his fortunes. 
He was taken ill in a wretched inn at Palos, soon after 
landing; and his malady gained ground so rapidly 
that it was evident his constitution, impaired, probably, 
by the extraordinary fatigues he had of late years un- 
dergone, would be unable to resist it. Cortes was 
instantly sent for, and arrived in time to administer 
the last consolations of friendship to the dying cavalier. 
Sandoval met his approaching end with composure, 
and, having given the attention which the short inter- 
val allowed to the settlement of both his temporal and 
spiritual concerns, he breathed his last in the arms of 
his commander. 

Sandoval died at the premature age of thirty-one. 20 
He was in many respects the most eminent of the great 
captains formed under the eye of Cortes. He was of 
good family, and a native of Medellin, also the birth- 
place of the general, for whom he had the warmest 
personal regard. Cortes soon discerned his uncommon 
qualities, and proved it by uniformly selecting the 

10 See the conclusion of Rogers's Voyage of Columbus. 
30 Bernal Diaz says that Sandoval was twenty-two years old when 
he first came to New Spain, in 1519. — Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 205, 
Vol. III. 26 


young officer for the most difficult commissions. His 
conduct on these occasions fully justified the prefer- 
ence. He was a decided favorite with the soldiers ; 
for, though strict in enforcing discipline, he was care- 
ful of their comforts and little mindful of his own. 
He had nothing of the avarice so common in the Cas- 
tilian cavalier, and seemed to have no other ambition 
than that of faithfully discharging the duties of his 
profession. He was a plain man, affecting neither the 
showy manners nor the bravery in costume which dis- 
tinguished Alvarado, the Aztec To?iatiuh. The expres- 
sion of his countenance was open and manly; his 
chestnut hair curled close to his head ; his frame 
was strong and sinewy. He had a lisp in his utter- 
ance, which made his voice somewhat indistinct. In- 
deed, he was no speaker; but, if slow of speech, he 
was prompt and energetic in action. He had precisely 
the qualities which fitted him for the perilous enter- 
prise in which he had embarked. He had accom- 
plished his task ; and, after having escaped death, 
which lay waiting for him in every step of his path, 
had come home, as it would seem, to his native land, 
only to meet it there. 

His obsequies were performed with all solemnity by 
the Franciscan friars of La Rabida, and his remains 
were followed to their final resting-place by the com- 
rades who had so often stood by his side in battle. 
They were laid in the cemetery of the convent, which, 
shrouded in its forest of pines, stood, and may yet 
stand, on the bold eminence that overlooks the waste of 
waters so lately traversed by the adventurous soldier." 

21 Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 195. 


It was not long after this melancholy event that 
Cortes and his suite began their journey into the in- 
terior. The general stayed a few days at the castle 
of the duke of Medina Sidonia, the most powerful of 
the Andalusian lords, who hospitably entertained him, 
and, at his departure, presented him with several noble 
Arabian horses. Cortes first directed his steps towards 
Guadalupe, where he passed nine days, offering up 
prayers and causing masses to be performed at Our 
Lady's shrine for the soul of his departed friend. 

Before his departure from La Rabida, he had written 
to the court, informing it of his arrival in the country. 
Great was the sensation caused there by the intelli- 
gence ; the greater, that the late reports of his treason- 
able practices had made it wholly unexpected. His 
arrival produced an immediate change of feeling. All 
cause of jealousy was now removed ; and, as the clouds 
which had so long settled over the royal mind were 
dispelled, the emperor seemed only anxious to show 
his sense of the distinguished services of his so dreaded 
vassal. Orders were sent to different places on the 
route to provide him with suitable accommodations, 
and preparations were made to give him a brilliant 
reception in the capital. 

Meanwhile, Cortes had formed the acquaintance 
at Guadalupe of several persons of distinction, and 
among them of the family of the comendador of Leon, 
a nobleman of the highest consideration at court. The 
general's conversation, enriched with the stores of a 
life of adventure, and his manners, in which the 
authority of habitual command was tempered by the 
frank and careless freedom of the soldier, made a most 


favorable impression on his new friends ; and their 
letters to the court, where he was yet unknown, height- 
ened the interest already felt in this remarkable man. 
The tidings of his arrival had by this time spread far 
and wide throughout the country; and, as he resumed 
his journey, the roads presented a spectacle such as 
had not been seen since the return of Columbus. 
Cortes did not usually affect an ostentation of dress, 
though he loved to display the pomp of a great lord 
in the number and magnificence of his retainers. His 
train was now swelled by the Indian chieftains, who 
by the splendors of their barbaric finery gave addi- 
tional brilliancy, as well as novelty, to the pageant. 
But his own person was the object of general curiosity. 
The houses and the streets of the great towns and vil- 
lages were thronged with spectators, eager to look on 
the hero who with his single arm, as it were, had won 
an empire for Castile, and who, to borrow the lan- 
guage of an old historian, "came in the pomp and 
glory, not so much of a great vassal, as of an inde- 
pendent monarch." 22 

As he approached Toledo, then the rival of Madrid, 
the press of the multitude increased, till he was met by 
the duke de Bejar, the count de Aguilar, and others of 
his steady friends, who, at the head of a large body of 
the principal nobility and cavaliers of the city, came 
out to receive him, and attended him to the quarters 

22 " Vino de las Indias despues de la conquista de Mexico, con tanto 
acompanamiento y magestad, que mas parecia de Principe, 6 senor 
poderosissimo, que de Capitan y vasallo de algun Rey 6 Emperador." 
Lanuza, Historias ecclesidsticas y seculares de Aragon (Zaragoza, 
1622), lib. 3, cap. 14. 


prepared for his residence. It was a proud moment 
for Cortes ; and distrusting, as he well might, his re- 
ception by his countrymen, it afforded him a greater 
satisfaction than the brilliant entrance which, a few 
years previous, he had made into the capital of 

The following day he was admitted to an audience 
by the emperor, and Cortes, gracefully kneeling to kiss 
the hand of his sovereign, presented to him a memo- 
rial which succinctly recounted his services and the 
requital he had received for them. The emperor gra- 
ciously raised him, and put many questions to him 
respecting the countries he had conquered. Charles 
was pleased with the general's answers, and his intel- 
ligent mind took great satisfaction in inspecting the 
curious specimens of Indian ingenuity which his vassal 
had brought with him from New Spain. In subsequent 
conversations the emperor repeatedly consulted Cortes 
on the best mode of administering the government of 
the colonies, and by his advice introduced some im- 
portant regulations, especially for ameliorating the 
condition of the natives and for encouraging domestic 

The monarch took frequent opportunity to show the 
confidence which he now reposed in Cortes. On all 
public occasions he appeared with him by his side ; 
and once, when the general lay ill of a fever, Charles 
paid him a visit in person, and remained some time in 
the apartment of the invalid. This was an extraor- 
dinary mark of condescension in the haughty court of 
Castile ; and it is dwelt upon with becoming emphasis 
by the historians of the time, who seem to regard it 


as an ample compensation for all the sufferings and 
services of Cortes. 23 

The latter had now fairly triumphed over opposition. 
The courtiers, with that ready instinct which belongs 
to the tribe, imitated the example of their master ; and 
even envy was silent, amidst the general homage that 
was paid to the man who had so lately been a mark for 
the most envenomed calumny. Cortes, without a title, 
without a name but what he had created for himself, 
was at once, as it were, raised to a level with the 
proudest nobles in the land. 

He was so still more effectually by the substantial 
honors which were accorded to him by his sovereign 
in the course of the following year. By an instrument 
dated July 6th, 1529, the emperor raised him to the 
dignity of the Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca; 24 
and the title of "marquis," when used without the 
name of the individual, has been always appropriated 
in the colonies, in an especial manner, to Cortes, as 
the title of "admiral" was to Columbus. 23 

Two other instruments, dated in the same month of 
July, assigned to Cortes a vast tract of land in the rich 
province of Oaxaca, together with large estates in the 

*3 Gomara, Cronica, cap. 183. — Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 4, lib. 
4, cap. 1. — Bernal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 195. 

»4 Titulo de Marques, MS., Barcelona, 6 de Julio, 1529. 

*S Humboldt, Essai politique, torn. ii. p. 30, note. — According to 
Lanuza, he was offered by the emperor the Order of St. Jago, but 
declined it, because no encomienda. was attached to it. (Hist, de Ara- 
gon, torn. i. lib. 3, cap. 14.) But Caro de Torres, in his History of 
the Military Orders of Castile, enumerates Cortes among the mem- 
bers of the Compostellan fraternity. Hist, de las Ordenes militares 
(Madrid, 1629), fol. 103, et seq. 



city of Mexico, and other places in the Valley. 26 The 
princely domain thus granted comprehended more than 
twenty large towns and villages, and twenty-three thou- 
sand vassals. The language in which the gift was 
made greatly enhanced its value. The preamble of the 
instrument, after enlarging on the " good services 
rendered by Cortes in the Conquest, and the great 
benefits resulting therefrom, both in respect to the 
increase of the Castilian empire and the advancement 
of the Holy Catholic Faith," acknowledges "the suf- 
ferings he had undergone in accomplishing this glorious 
work, and the fidelity and obedience with which, as a 
good and trusty vassal, he had ever served the crown. ' ' ^ 
It declares, in conclusion, that it grants this recom- 
pense of his deserts because it is "the duty of princes 
to honor and reward those who serve them well and 
loyally, in order that the memory of their great deeds 
should be perpetuated, and others be incited by their 
example to the performance of the like illustrious ex- 
ploits." The unequivocal testimony thus borne by his 
sovereign to his unwavering loyalty was most gratifying 
to Cortes, — how gratifying, every generous soul who has 

36 Merced de Tierras inniediatas i. Mexico, MS., Barcelona, 23 de 
Julio, 1529. — Merced de los Vasallos, MS., Barcelona, 6 de Julio, 


=7 " fi nos habemos recibido y tenemos de vos por bien servido en 
ello, y acatando los grandes provechos que de vuestros servicios han 
redundado, ansi para el servicio de Nuestro Senor y aumento de su 
santa {6 catolica, y en las dichas tierras que estaban sin conocimiento 
ni fe se han plantado, como el acrecentamiento que dello ha redun- 
dado a nuestra corona real destos reynos, y los trabajos que en ello 
habeis pasado, y la fidelidad y obediencia con que siempre nos habeis 
servido como bueno e fiel servidor y vasallo nuestro, de que somos 
ciertos y confiados." Merced de los Vasallos, MS. 


been the subject of suspicion undeserved will readily 
estimate. The language of the general in after-time 
shows how deeply he was touched by it. 28 

Yet there was one degree in the scale, above which 
the royal gratitude would not rise. Neither the so- 
licitations of Cortes, nor those of the duke de Bejar 
and his other powerful friends, could prevail oil the 
emperor to reinstate him in the government of Mexico. 
The country, reduced to tranquillity, had no longer 
need of his commanding genius to control it ; and 
Charles did not care to place again his formidable vassal 
in a situation which might revive the dormant spark of 
jealousy and distrust. It was the policy of the crown 
to employ one class of its subjects to effect its con- 
quests, and another class to rule over them. For the 
latter it selected men in whom the fire of ambition was 
tempered by a cooler judgment naturally, or by the 
sober influence of age. Even Columbus, notwith- 
standing the terms of his original " capitulation " with 
the crown, had not been permitted to preside over the 
colonies ; and still less likely would it be to concede 
this power to one possessed of the aspiring temper of 

But, although the emperor refused to commit the 
civil government of the colony into his hands, he rein- 
stated him in his military command. By a royal ordi- 

88 " The benignant reception which I experienced, on my return, 
from your Majesty," says Cortes, "your kind expressions and gener- 
ous treatment, make me not only forget all my toils and sufferings, 
but even cause me regret that I have not been called to endure more 
in your service." (Carta de Cortes al Lie. Nunez, MS., 1535.) This 
memorial, addressed to his agent in Castile, was designed for the 



nance, dated also in July, 1529, the marquis of the 
Valley was named Captain-General of New Spain and 
of the coasts of the South Sea. He was empowered 
to make discoveries in the Southern Ocean, with the 
right to rule over such lands as he should colonize, 29 
and by a subsequent grant he was to become proprietor 
of one-twelfth of all his discoveries. 30 The govern- 
ment had no design to relinquish the services of so able 
a commander. But it warily endeavored to withdraw 
him from the scene of his former triumphs, and to 
throw open a new career of ambition, that might stim- 
ulate him still further to enlarge the dominions of the 

Thus gilded by the sunshine of royal favor, " rival- 
ling," to borrow the homely comparison of an old 
chronicler, "Alexander in the fame of his exploits, and 
Crassus in that of his riches," 31 with brilliant manners, 
and a person which, although it showed the effects of 
hard service, had not yet lost all the attractions of 
youth, Cortes might now be regarded as offering an 
enviable alliance for the best houses in Castile. It was 
not long before he paid his addresses, which were 
favorably received, to a member of that noble house 

29 Titulo de Capitan General de la Nueva-Espafla y Costa del Sur, 
MS., Barcelona, 6 de Julio, 1529. 

3° Asiento y Capitulacion que hizo con el Emperador Don H. Cortes, 
MS., Madrid, 27 de Oct., 1529. 

31 ,: Que, segun se dezia, excedia en las hazanas &. Alexandro Mag- 
no, y en las riquezas & Crasso." (Lanuza, Hist, de Aragon, lib. 3, 
cap. 14.) The rents of the marquis of the Valley, according to L. 
Marineo Siculo, who lived at the court at this time, were about 60,000 
ducats a year. Cosas memorables de Espafia (Alcala de Henares, 
1539). f°l. 2 4- 


which had so steadily supported him in the dark hour 
of his fortunes. The lady's name was Dona Juana de 
Zuiliga, daughter of the second count de Aguilar, and 
niece of the duke de Bejar. 32 She was much younger 
than himself, beautiful, and, as events showed, not 
without spirit. One of his presents to his youthful 
bride excited the admiration and envy of the fairer 
part of the court. This was five emeralds, of won- 
derful size and brilliancy. These jewels had been cut 
by the Aztecs into the shapes of flowers, fishes, and 
into other fanciful forms, with an exquisite style of 
workmanship which enhanced their original value. 33 
They were, not improbably, part of the treasure of the 
unfortunate Montezuma, and, being easily portable, 
may have escaped the general wreck of the noche triste. 
The queen of Charles the Fifth, it is said, — it may be 
the idle gossip of a court, — had intimated a willing- 
ness to become proprietor of some of these magnificent 

3 2 Dona Juana was of the house of Arellano, and of the royal 
lineage of Navarre. Her father was not a very wealthy noble. L. 
Marineo Siculo, Cosas memorables, fol. 24, 25. 

33 One of these precious stones was as valuable as Shylock's tur- 
quoise. Some Genoese merchants in Seville offered Cortes, accord- 
ing to Gomara, 40,000 ducats for it. The same author gives a more 
particular account of the jewels, which may interest some readers. It 
shows the ingenuity of the artist, who, without steel, could so nicely 
cut so hard a material. One emerald was in the form of a rose ; the 
second, in that of a horn ; a third, like a fish, with eyes of gold ; the 
fourth was like a little bell, with a fine pearl for the tongue, and on 
the rim was this inscription, in Spanish : Blessed is he who created thee. 
The fifth, which was the most valuable, was a small cup with a foot 
of gold, and with four little chains, of the same metal, attached to a 
large pearl as a button. The edge of the cup was of gold, on which 
was engraven this Latin sentence : Inter natos mulierum non sttrrexit 
major, Gomara, Cronica, cap. 184. 


3 1 * 

baubles ; and the preference which Cortes gave to his 
fair bride caused some feelings of estrangement in the 
royal bosom, which had an unfavorable influence on 
the future fortunes of the Marquis. 

Late in the summer of 1529, Charles the Fifth left 
his Spanish dominions for Italy. Cortes accompanied 
him on his way, probably to the place of embarkation; 
and in the capital of Aragon we find him, according to 
the national historian, exciting the same general in- 
terest and admiration among the people as he had done 
in Castile. On his return, there seemed no occasion 
for him to protract his stay longer in the country. He 
was weary of the life of idle luxury which he had been 
leading for the last year, and which was so foreign to 
his active habits and the stirring scenes to which he 
had been accustomed. He determined, therefore, to 
return to Mexico, where his extensive property required 
his presence, and where a new field was now opened to 
him for honorable enterprise. 






Early in the spring of 1530, Cortes embarked for 
New Spain. He was accompanied by the marchioness, 
his wife, together with his aged mother, who had the 
good fortune to live to see her son's elevation, and by 
a magnificent retinue of pages and attendants, such as 
belonged to the household of a powerful noble. How 
different from the forlorn condition in which, twenty- 
six years before, he had been cast loose, as a wild ad- 
venturer, to seek his bread upon the waters ! 

The first point of his destination was Hispaniola, 
where he was to remain until he received tidings of 
the organization of the new government that was to 
take charge of Mexico. 1 In the preceding chapter it 
was stated that the administration of the country had 
been intrusted to a body called the Royal Audience ; 
one of whose first duties it was to investigate the 
charges brought against Cortes. Nunez de Guzman, 
his avowed enemy, was placed at the head of this 
board ; and the investigation was conducted with all 

1 Carta de Cortes al Emperador, MS., Tezcuco, 10 de Oct., 1530. 
(3I 2 ) 



the rancor of personal hostility. A remarkable document 
still exists, called the Pesquisa Sea-eta, or " Secret In- 
quiry," which contains a record of the proceedings 
against Cortes. It was prepared by the secretary of 
the Audience, and signed by the several members. 
The document is very long, embracing nearly a hun- 
dred folio pages. The name and the testimony of 
every witness are given, and the whole forms a mass 
of loathsome details, such as might better suit a prose- 
cution in a petty municipal court than that of a great 
officer of the crown. 

The charges are eight in number; involving, among 
other crimes, that of a deliberate design to cast off his 
allegiance to the crown ; that of the murder of two 
of the commissioners who had been sent out to super- 
sede him ; of the murder of his own wife, Catalina 
Xuarez ; 2 of extortion, and of licentious practices, — 

2 Dona Catalina's death happened so opportunely for the rising 
fortunes of Cortes, that this charge of murder by her husband has 
found more credit with the vulgar than the other accusations brought 
against him. Cortes, from whatever reason, perhaps from the con- 
viction that the charge was too monstrous to obtain credit, never con- 
descended to vindicate his innocence. But, in addition to the argu- 
ments mentioned in the text for discrediting the accusation generally, 
we should consider that this particular charge attracted so little atten- 
tion in Castile, where he had abundance of enemies, that he found no 
difficulty, on his return there, seven years afterwards, in forming an 
alliance with one of the noblest houses in the kingdom ; that no 
writer of that day (except Bernal Diaz, who treats it as a base 
calumny), not even Las Casas, the stern accuser of the Conquerors, 
intimates a suspicion of his guilt ; and that, lastly, no allusion what- 
ever is made to it in the suit instituted, some years after her death, by 
the relatives of Dona Catalina, for the recovery of property from 
Cortes, pretended to have been derived through her marriage with 
him, — a suit conducted with acrimony and protracted for several years. 
Vol. III. — o 27 


of offences, in short, which, from their private nature, 
would seem to have little to do with his conduct as a 
public man. The testimony is vague and often con- 
tradictory ; the witnesses are for the most part obscure 
individuals, and the few persons of consideration 
among them appear to have been taken from the ranks 
of his decided enemies. When it is considered that 
the inquiry was conducted in the absence of Cortes, 
before a court the members of which were personally 
unfriendly to him, and that he was furnished with no 
specification of the charges, and had no opportunity, 
consequently, of disproving them, it is impossible, at 
this distance of time, to attach any importance to this 
paper as a legal document. When it is added that no 
action was taken on it by the government to whom it 
was sent, we may be disposed to regard it simply as a 
monument of the malice of his enemies. It has been 
drawn by the curious antiquary from the obscurity to 
which it had been so long consigned in the Indian 
archives at Seville ; but it can be of no further use to 
the historian than to show that a great name in the 
sixteenth century exposed its possessor to calumnies as 
malignant as it has at any time since. 3 

I have not seen the documents connected with this suit, which are still 
preserved in the archives of the house of Cortes, but the fact has been 
communicated to me by a distinguished Mexican who has carefully 
examined them, and I cannot but regard it as of itself conclusive that 
the family at least of Dona Catalina did not attach credit to the accu- 
sation. Yet so much credit has been given to this in Mexico, where 
the memory of the old Spaniards is not held in especial favor at the 
present day, that it has formed the subject of an elaborate discussion 
in the public periodicals of that city. 

3 This remarkable paper, forming part of the valuable collection 
of Don Vargas Ponce, is without date. It was doubtless prepared in 


3 r 5 

The high-handed measures of the Audience, and the 
oppressive conduct of Guzman, especially towards the 
Indians, excited general indignation in the colony and 
led to serious apprehensions of an insurrection. It 
became necessary to supersede an administration so 
reckless and unprincipled. But Cortes was detained 
two months at the island, by the slow movements of 
the Castilian court, before tidings reached him of the 
appointment of a new Audience for the government 
of the 'country. The person selected to preside over it 
was the bishop of St. Domingo, a prelate whose ac- 
knowledged wisdom and virtue gave favorable augury 
for the conduct of his administration. After this, Cortes 
resumed his voyage, and landed at Villa Rica on the 
15th of July, 1530. 

After remaining for a time in the neighborhood, 
where he received some petty annoyances from the 
Audience, he proceeded to Tlascala, and publicly pro- 
claimed his powers as Captain-General of New Spain 
and the South Sea. An edict issued by the empress 

1529, during the visit of Cortes to Castile. The following Title is 
prefixed to it : 

" Pesquisa secreta. 
" Relacion de los cargos que resultan de la pesquisa secreta contra 
Don Hernando Cortes, de los quales no se le dio copia ni traslado i. 
la parte del dicho Don Hernando, asi por ser los dichos cargos de la 
calidad que son, como por estar la persona del dicho Don Hernando 
ausente como esta. Los quales yo Gregorio de Saldafia, escribano de 
S. M. y escribano de la dicha Residencia, saque de la dicha pesquisa 
secreta por mandado de los Sefiores, Presidente y Oidores de la Au- 
diencia y Chancilleria Real que por mandado de S. M. en esta Nueva 
Espafia reside. Los quales dichos Sefiores, Presidente y Oidores, 
envian a S. M. para que los mande ver, y vistos mande proveer lo que 
& su servicio convenga." MS. 


during her husband's absence had interdicted Cortes 
from approaching within ten leagues of the Mexican 
capital while the present authorities were there. 4 The 
empress was afraid of a collision between the parties. 
Cortes, however, took up his residence on the opposite 
side of the lake, at Tezcuco. 

No sooner was his arrival there known in the metrop- 
olis than multitudes, both of Spaniards and natives, 
crossed the lake to pay their respects to their old com- 
mander, to offer him their services, and to complain of 
their manifold grievances. It seemed as if the whole 
population of the capital was pouring into the neigh- 
boring city, where the Marquis maintained the state 
of an independent potentate. The members of the 
Audience, indignant at the mortifying contrast which 
their own diminished court presented, imposed heavy 
penalties on such of the natives as should be found 
in Tezcuco, and, affecting to consider themselves in 
danger, made preparations for the defence of the city. 
But these belligerent movements were terminated by 
the arrival of the new Audience ; though Guzman had 
the address to maintain his hold on a northern prov- 
ince, where he earned a reputation for cruelty and 
extortion unrivalled even in the annals of the New 

Everything seemed now to assure a tranquil resi- 
dence to Cortes. The new magistrates treated him 
with marked respect, and took his advice on the most 
important measures of government. Unhappily, this 
state of things did not long continue ; and a misunder- 
standing arose between the parties, in respect to the 

4 MS., Tordelaguna, 22 de Marzo, 1530. 



enumeration of the vassals assigned by the crown to 
Cortes, which the marquis thought was made on prin- 
ciples prejudicial to his interests and repugnant to the 
intentions of the grant. 5 He was still further dis- 
pleased by finding that the Audience were intrusted, 
by their commission, with a concurrent jurisdiction 
with himself in military affairs. 6 This led occasionally 
to an interference, which the proud spirit of Cortes, so 
long accustomed to independent rule, could ill brook. 
After submitting to it for a time, he left the capital in 
disgust, no more to return there, and took up his resi- 
dence in his city of Cuernavaca. 

It was the place won by his own sword from the 
Aztecs previous to the siege of Mexico. It stood on 
the southern slope of the Cordilleras, and overlooked a 
wide expanse of country, the fairest and most flourish- 
ing portion of his own domain. 7 He had erected a 
stately palace on the spot, and henceforth made this 
city his favorite residence. 8 It was well situated for 

5 The principal grievance alleged was that slaves, many of them 
held temporarily by their masters, according to the old Aztec usage, 
were comprehended in the census. The complaint forms part of a 
catalogue of grievances embodied by Cortes in a memorial to the 
emperor. It is a clear and business-like paper. Carta de Cortes i. 
Nunez, MS. 

6 Ibid., MS. 

7 [" Dominando una vista muy extensa sobre el valle hdcia el Sur, lo 
que al Norte y Oriente se termina con la magestuosa cordillera que 
separa el valle de Cuernavaca del de Mejico." Alaman, Disertaciones 
historicas, torn. ii. p. 35.] 

8 The palace has crumbled into ruins, and the spot is now only re- 
markable for its natural beauty and its historic associations. " It was 
the capital," says Madame de Calderon, "of the Tlahuica nation, 
and, after the Conquest, Cortes built here a splendid palace, a church, 
and a convent for Franciscans, believing that he had laid the foun- 



superintending his vast estates, and he now devoted 
himself to bringing them into proper cultivation. He 
introduced the sugar-cane from Cuba, and it grew luxu- 
riantly in the rich soil of the neighboring lowlands. 
He imported large numbers of merino sheep and other 
cattle, which found abundant pastures in the country 
around Tehuantepec. His lands were thickly sprinkled 
with groves of mulberry-trees, which furnished nourish- 
ment for the silk-worm. He encouraged the culti- 
vation of hemp and flax, and, by his judicious and 
enterprising husbandry, showed the capacity of the soil 
for the culture of valuable products before unknown in 
the land ; and he turned these products to the best 
account, by the erection of sugar-mills, and other 
works for the manufacture of the raw material. He 
thus laid the foundation of an opulence for his family, 
as substantial, if not as speedy, as that derived from 
the mines. Yet this latter source of wealth was not 
neglected by him, and he drew gold from the region 
of Tehuantepec, and silver from that of Zacatecas. The 
amount derived from these mines was not so abundant 
as at a later day. But the expense of working them, 
on the other hand, was much less in the earlier stages 

dation of a great city. . . . It is, however, a place of little importance, 
though so favored by nature ; and the Conqueror's palace is a half- 
ruined barrack, though a most picturesque object, standing on a hill, 
behind which starts up the great white volcano." Life in Mexico, 
vol. ii. let. 31. [The beautiful church of San Francisco, now the 
parish church, was constructed by Cortes, and enriched with jewels 
and sacred vessels by his wife, manifesting, says Alaman, the good taste 
and the piety of the marquis and the marchioness, — as, in consequence 
of their being the first and at that time the only persons who bore the 
title in Mexico, they were styled and always subscribed themselves. 
Disertaciones historicas, torn. ii. p. 35.] 



of the operation, when the metal lay so much nearer 
the surface. 9 

But this tranquil way of life did not long content 
his restless and adventurous spirit ; and it sought a 
vent by availing itself of his new charter of discovery 
to explore the mysteries of the great Southern Oceaa. 
In 1527, two years before his return to Spain, he had 
sent a little squadron to the Moluccas. The expedi- 
tion was attended with some important consequences ; 
but, as they do not relate to Cortes, an account of it 
will find a more suitable place in the maritime annals 
of Spain, where it has been given by the able hand 
which has done so much for the country in this 
department. 10 

Cortes was preparing to send another squadron of 
four vessels in the same direction, when his plans were 
interrupted by his visit to Spain ; and his unfinished 
little navy, owing to the malice of the Royal Audience, 
who drew off the hands employed in building it, went 
to pieces on the stocks. Two other squadrons were 
now fitted out by Cortes, in the years 1532 and 1533, 
and sent on a voyage of discovery to the Northwest." 
They were unfortunate, though in the latter expedition 
the California!! peninsula was reached, and a landing 

9 These particulars respecting the agricultural economy of Cortes I 
have derived in part from a very able argument, prepared, in January, 
1828, for the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, by Don Lucas Alaman, 
in defence of the territorial rights possessed at this day by the Con- 
queror's descendant, the duke of Monteleone. 

'° Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos (Madrid, 
1837), torn, v., Viages al Maluco. 

" Instruccion que dio el Marques del Valle i. Juan de Avellaneda, 
etc., MS. 


effected on its southern extremity at Santa Cruz, prob- 
ably the modern port of La Paz. One of the vessels, 
thrown on the coast of New Galicia, was seized by 
Guzman, the old enemy of Cortes, who ruled over 
that territory, the crew were plundered, and the ship 
was detained as a lawful prize. Cortes, indignant at 
the outrage, demanded justice from the Royal Audi- 
ence ; and, as that body was too feeble to enforce its 
own decrees in his favor, he took redress into his own 
hands. 12 

He made a rapid but difficult march on Chiametla, 
the scene of Guzman's spoliation ; and, as the latter 
did not care to face his incensed antagonist, Cortes 
recovered his vessel, though not the cargo. He was 
then joined by the little squadron which he had fitted 
out from his own port of Tehuantepec, — a port which 
in the sixteenth century promised to hold the place 
since occupied by that of Acapulco. 13 The vessels 
were provided with everything requisite for planting a 
colony in the newly-discovered region, and transported 
four hundred Spaniards and three hund?-ed negro slaves, 
which Cortes had assembled for that purpose. With 
this intention he crossed the Gulf, the Adriatic — to 
which an old writer compares it — of the Western 

Our limits will not allow us to go into the details of 
this disastrous expedition, which was attended with no 

12 Provision sobre los Descubrimientos del Sur, MS., Setiembre, 


*3 The river Huasacualco furnished great facilities for transporting 
across the isthmus, from Vera Cruz, materials to build vessels on the 
Pacific. Humboldt, Essai politique, torn. iv. p. 50. 


important results either to its projector or to science. 
It may suffice to say that, in the prosecution of it, 
Cortes and his followers were driven to the last ex- 
tremity by famine ; that he again crossed the Gulf, 
was tossed about by terrible tempests, without a pilot 
to guide him, was thrown upon the rocks, where his 
shattered vessel nearly went to pieces, and, after a suc- 
cession of dangers and disasters as formidable as any 
which he had ever encountered on land, succeeded, by 
means of his indomitable energy, in bringing his crazy 
bark safe into the same port of Santa Cruz from which 
he had started. 

While these occurrences were passing, the new Royal 
Audience, after a faithful discharge of its commission, 
had been superseded by the arrival of a viceroy, the 
first ever sent to New Spain. Cortes, though invested 
with similar powers, had the title only of Governor. 
This was the commencement of the system, afterwards 
pursued by the crown, of intrusting the colonial ad- 
ministration to some individual whose high rank and 
personal consideration might make him the fitting rep- 
resentative of majesty. The jealousy of the court did 
not allow the subject clothed with such ample authority 
to remain long enough in the same station to form 
dangerous schemes of ambition, but at the expiration 
of a few years he was usually recalled, or transferred to 
some other province of the vast colonial empire. The 
person now sent to Mexico was Don Antonio de Men- 
doza, a man of moderation and practical good sense, 
and one of that illustrious family who in the preceding 
reign furnished so many distinguished ornaments to 
the Church, to the camp, and to letters. 


The long absence of Cortes had caused the deepest 
anxiety in the mind of his wife, the marchioness of the 
Valley. She wrote to the viceroy immediately on his 
arrival, beseeching him to ascertain, if possible, the fate 
of her husband, and, if he could be found, to urge his 
return. The viceroy, in consequence, despatched cwo 
ships in search of Cortes, but whether they reached him 
before his departure from Santa Cruz is doubtful. It 
is certain that he returned safe, after his long absence, 
to Acapulco, and was soon followed by the survivors 
of his wretched colony. 

Undismayed by these repeated reverses, Cortes, still 
bent on some discovery worthy of his reputation, fitted 
out three more vessels, and placed them under the 
command of an officer named Ulloa. This expedition, 
which took its departure in July, 1539, was attended 
with more important results. Ulloa penetrated to the 
head of the Gulf, then, returning and winding round 
the coast of the peninsula, doubled its southern point, 
and ascended as high as the twenty-eighth or twenty- 
ninth degree of north latitude on its western borders. 
After this, sending home one of the squadron, the bold 
navigator held on his course to the north, but was never 
more heard of. 14 

»4 Instruccion del Marques del Valle, MS. — The most particular 
and authentic account of Ulloa's cruise will be found in Ramusio. 
(Tom. iii. pp. 340-354.) It is by one of the officers of the squadron. 
My limits will not allow me to give the details of the voyages made by 
Cortes, which, although not without interest, were attended with no 
permanent consequences.* A good summary of his expeditions in 

* [The restless and determined spirit with which Cortes pursued 
his mainly ineffectual projects of discovery is exemplified by a letter 


3 2 3 

Thus ended the maritime enterprises of Cortes, suffi- 
ciently disastrous in a pecuniary view, since they cost 
him three hundred thousand castellanos of gold, with- 
out the return of a ducat. IS He was even obliged to 
borrow money, and to pawn his wife's jewels, to pro- 
cure funds for the last enterprise ; l6 thus incurring a 
debt which, increased by the great charges of his 
princely establishment, hung about him during the 
remainder of his life. But, though disastrous in an 
economical view, his generous efforts added important 
contributions to science. In the course of these ex- 
peditions, and those undertaken by Cortes previous to 
his visit to Spain, the Pacific had been coasted from 
the Bay of Panama to the Rio Colorado. The great 
peninsula of California had been circumnavigated as 
far as to the isle of Cedros, or Cerros, into which the 
name has since been corrupted. This vast tract, which 

the Gulf has been given by Navarrete in the Introduction to his Rela- 
tion del Viage hecho por las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana (Madrid, 
1802), pp. vi.-xxvi. ; and the English reader will find a brief account 
of them in Greenhow's valuable Memoir on the Northwest Coast of 
North America (Washington, 1840), pp. 22-27. 

'3 Memorial al Rey del Marques del Valle, MS., 25 de Junio, 1540. 

16 Provision sobre los Descubrimientos del Sur, MS. 

to the Council of the Indies, September 20, 1538, begging that body 
to assist his agents in procuring pilots for him. He has at present, he 
says, nine vessels, very good and well equipped, and is only waiting 
for pilots, having tried in vain to obtain some from Panama and Leon. 
Though he has not yet secured the fruits he had expected from his 
expeditions, he trusts in God that they will be henceforth attended 
with better fortune. Col. de Doc. ined. relativos al Descubrimiento, 
Conquista y Colonizacion de las Posesiones espanolas en America y 
Oceania, torn. iii. — Ed.] 


had been supposed to be an archipelago of islands, was 
now discovered to be a part of the continent ; and its 
general outline, as appears from the maps of the time, 
was nearly as well understood as at the present day. 17 
Lastly, the navigator had explored the recesses of the 
Californian Gulf, or Sea of Cortes, as, in honor of the 
great discoverer, it is with more propriety named by 
the Spaniards ; and he had ascertained that, instead of 
the outlet before supposed to exist towards the north, 
this unknown ocean was locked up within the arms of 
the mighty continent. These were results that might 
have made the glory and satisfied the ambition of a 
common man ; but they are lost in the brilliant renown 
of the former achievements of Cortes. 

Notwithstanding the embarrassments of the marquis 
of the Valley, he still made new efforts to enlarge the 
limits of discovery, and prepared to fit out another 
squadron of five vessels, which he proposed to place 
under the command of a natural son, Don Luis. But 
the viceroy Mendoza, whose imagination had been 
inflamed by the reports of an itinerant monk respect- 
ing an El Dorado in the north, claimed the right of 
discovery in that direction. Cortes protested against 
this, as an unwarrantable interference with his own 
powers. Other subjects of collision arose between 
them; till the marquis, disgusted with this perpetual 
check on his authority and his enterprises, applied for 
redress to Castile. 18 He finally determined to go there 

*7 See the map prepared by the pilot Domingo del Castillo, in 1541, 
ap. Lorenzana, p. 328. 

,8 In the collection of Vargas Ponce is a petition of Cortes, setting 
forth his grievances, and demanding an investigation of the viceroy's 


to support his claims in person , and to obtain, if 
possible, remuneration for the heavy charges he had 
incurred by his maritime expeditions, as well as for 
the spoliation of his property by the Royal Audience 
during his absence from the country ; and, lastly, to 
procure an assignment of his vassals on principles more 
conformable to the original intentions of the grant. 
With these objects in view, he bade adieu to his family, 
and, taking with him his eldest son and heir, Don 
Martin, then only eight years of age, he embarked at 
Mexico in 1540, and, after a favorable voyage, again 
set foot on the shores of his native land. 

The emperor was absent from the country. But 
Cortes was honorably received in the capital, where 
ample accommodations were provided for him and his 
retinue. When he attended the Royal Council of the 
Indies to urge his suit, he was distinguished by uncom- 
mon marks of respect. The president went to the 
door of the hall to receive him, and a seat was provided 
for him among the members of the Council. 19 But all 
evaporated in this barren show of courtesy. Justice, 
proverbially slow in Spain, did not mend her gait for 
Cortes ; and at the expiration of a year he found him- 
self no nearer the attainment of his object than on the 
first week after his arrival in the capital. 

In the following year, 1541, we find the marquis of 
the Valley embarked as a volunteer in the memorable 
expedition against Algiers. Charles the Fifth, on his 
return to his dominions, laid siege to that stronghold 

conduct. It is without date. Peticion contra Den Antonio de Men- 
doza Virrey, pediendo residencia contra el, MS. 
«9 Bemal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 200. 
Vol. III. 28 


of the Mediterranean corsairs. Cortes accompanied 
the forces destined to meet the emperor, and embarked 
on board the vessel of the Admiral of Castile. But a 
furious tempest scattered the navy, and the admiral's 
ship was driven a wreck upon the coast. Cortes and 
his son escaped by swimming, but the former, in the 
confusion of the scene, lost the inestimable set of jewels 
noticed in the preceding chapter; "a loss," says an 
old writer, " that made the expedition fall more heavily 
on the marquis of the Valley than on any other man 
in the kingdom, except the emperor." 30 

It is not necessary to recount the particulars of this 
disastrous siege, in which Moslem valor, aided by the 
elements, set at defiance the combined forces of the 
Christians. A council of war was called, and it was 
decided to abandon the enterprise and return to Cas- 
tile. This determination was indignantly received by 
Cortes, who offered, with the support of the army, to 
reduce the place himself; and he only expressed the 
regret that he had not a handful of those gallant vet- 
erans by his side who had served him in the Conquest 
of Mexico. But his offers were derided, as those of 
a romantic enthusiast. He had not been invited to 
take part in the discussions of the council of war. It 
was a marked indignity ; but the courtiers, weary of 
the service, were too much bent on an immediate re- 
turn to Spain, to hazard the opposition of a man who, 
when he had once planted his foot, was never known 
to raise it again till he had accomplished his object. ai 

20 Gomara, Cronica, cap. 237. 

21 Sandoval, Hist, de Carlos V., lib. 12, cap. 25. — Ferreras (trad. 
d'Hermilly), Hist d'Espagne, torn. ix. p. 231. 


3 2 7 

On arriving in Castile, Cortes lost no time in laying 
his suit before the emperor. His applications were 
received by the monarch with civility, — a cold civility, 
which carried no conviction of its sincerity. His po- 
sition was materially changed since his former visit to 
the country. More than ten years had elapsed, and 
he was now too well advanced in years to give promise 
of serviceable enterprise in future. Indeed, his under- 
takings of late had been singularly unfortunate. Even 
his former successes suffered the disparagement natural 
to a man of declining fortunes. They were already 
eclipsed by the magnificent achievements in Peru, 
which had poured a golden tide into the country, that 
formed a striking contrast to the streams of wealth that 
as yet had flowed in but scantily from the silver-mines 
of Mexico. Cortes had to learn that the gratitude of 
a court has reference to the future much more than to 
the past. He stood in the position of an importunate 
suitor whose claims, however just, are too large to be 
readily allowed. He found, like Columbus, that it 
was possible to deserve too greatly. 22 

In the month of February, 1544, he addressed a 
letter to the emperor, — it was the last he ever wrote 
him, — soliciting his attention to his suit. He begins 
by proudly alluding to his past services to the crown. 

22 Voltaire tells us that, one day, Cortes, unable to obtain an audi- 
ence of the emperor, pushed through the press surrounding the royal 
carriage, and mounted the steps ; and, when Charles inquired " who 
that man was," he replied, " One who has given you more kingdoms 
than you had towns before." (Essai sur les Mceurs, chap. 147.) For 
this most improbable anecdote I have found no authority whatever. 
It served, however, very well to point a moral, — the main thing with 
the philosopher of Ferney. 


" He had hoped that the toils of youth would have 
secured him repose in his old age. For forty years he 
had passed his life with little sleep, bad food, and with 
his arms constantly by his side. He had freely ex- 
posed his person to peril, and spent his substance in 
exploring distant and unknown regions, that he might 
spread abroad the name of his sovereign and bring 
under his sceptre many great and powerful nations. All 
this he had done, not only without assistance from 
home, but in the face of obstacles thrown in his way 
by rivals and by enemies who thirsted like leeches for 
his blood. He was now old, infirm, and embarrassed 
with debt. Better had it been for him not to have 
known the liberal intentions of the emperor, as inti- 
mated by his grants ; since he should then have devoted 
himself to the care of his estates, and not have been 
compelled, as he now was, to contend with the officers 
of the crown, against whom it was more difficult to 
defend himself than to win the land from the enemy." 
He concludes with beseeching his sovereign to " order 
the Council of the Indies, with the other tribunals 
which had cognizance of his suits, to come to a de- 
cision; since he was too old to wander about like a 
vagrant, but ought rather, during the brief remainder 
of his life, to stay at home and settle his account with 
Heaven, occupied with the concerns of his soul, rather 
than with his substance. ' ' * 

This appeal to his sovereign, which has something in 
it touching from a man of the haughty spirit of CortSs, 
had not the effect to quicken the determination of his 

=3 The Letter, dated February 3, 1544, Valladolid, may be found 
entire, in the original, in Appendix, Part 2, No. 15. 



suit. He still lingered at the court from week to 
week, and from month to month, beguiled by the de- 
ceitful hopes of the litigant, tasting all that bitterness 
of the soul which arises from hope deferred. After 
three years more, passed in this unprofitable and 
humiliating occupation, he resolved to leave his un- 
grateful country and return to Mexico. 

He had proceeded as far as Seville, accompanied by 
his son, when he fell ill of an indigestion, caused, 
probably, by irritation and trouble of mind. This 
terminated in dysentery, and his strength sank so rap- 
idly under the disease that it was apparent his mortal 
career was drawing towards its close. He prepared 
for it by making the necessary arrangements for the 
settlement of his affairs. He had made his will some 
time before; and he now executed it. It is a very long 
document, and in some respects a remarkable one. 

The bulk of his property was entailed to his son, 
Don Martin, then fifteen years of age. In the testa- 
ment he fixes his majority at twenty-five ; but at twenty 
his guardians were to allow him his full income, to 
maintain the state becoming his rank. In a paper ac- 
companying the will, Cortes specified the names of the 
agents to whom he had committed the management of 
his vast estates scattered over many different provinces; 
and he requests his executors to confirm the nomina- 
tion, as these agents have been selected by him from a 
knowledge of their peculiar qualifications. Nothing 
can better show the thorough supervision which, in the 
midst of pressing public concerns, he had given to the 
details of his widely-extended property. 

He makes a liberal provision for his other children, 


and a generous allowance to several old domestics and 
retainers in his household. By another clause he gives 
away considerable sums in charity, and he applies the 
revenues of his estates in the city of Mexico to establish 
and permanently endow three public institutions, — a 
hospital in the capital, which was to be dedicated to 
Our Lady of the Conception, a college in Cojohuacan 
for the education of missionaries to preach the gospel 
among the natives, and a convent, in the same place, 
for nuns. To the chapel of this convent, situated in 
his favorite town, he orders that his own body shall be 
transported for burial, in whatever quarter of the world 
he may happen to die. 

After declaring that he has taken all possible care to 
ascertain the amount of the tributes formerly paid by 
his Indian vassals to their native sovereigns, he enjoins 
on his heir that, in case those which they have hitherto 
paid shall be found to exceed the right valuation, he 
shall restore them a full equivalent. In another clause 
he expresses a doubt whether it is right to exact per- 
sonal service from the natives, and commands that a 
strict inquiry shall be made into the nature and value 
of such services as he had received, and that in all cases 
a fair compensation shall be allowed for them. Lastly, 
he makes this remarkable declaration: "It has long 
been a question whether one can conscientiously hold 
property in Indian slaves. Since this point has not yet 
been determined, I enjoin it on my son Martin and his 
heirs that they spare no pains to come to an exact knowl- 
edge of the truth ; as a matter which deeply concerns 
the conscience of each of them, no less than mine." 24 

24 " Item. Porque acerca de los esclavos naturales de la dicha 


Z2> 1 

Such scruples of conscience, not to have been ex- 
pected in Cortes, were still less likely to be met with 
in the Spaniards of a later generation. The state of 
opinion in respect to the great question of slavery, in 
the sixteenth century, at the commencement of the 
system, bears some resemblance to that which exists in 
our time, when we may hope it is approaching its con- 
clusion. Las Casas and the Dominicans of the former 
age, the abolitionists of their day, thundered out their 
uncompromising invectives against the system on the 
broad ground of natural equity and the rights of man. 
The great mass of proprietors troubled their heads 
little about the question of right, but were satisfied 
with the expediency of the institution. Others, more 
considerate and conscientious, while they admitted the 
evil, found an argument for its toleration in the plea 
of necessity, regarding the constitution of the white 
man as unequal, in a sultry climate, to the labor of 
cultivating the soil. 23 In one important respect the 
condition of slavery in the sixteenth century differed 
materially from its condition in the nineteenth. In 

Nueva Espafia, asi de guerra como de rescate, ha habido y hay muchas 
dudas y opiniones sobre si se han podido tener con buena conciencia 
6 no, y hasta ahora no estd determinado : Mando que todo aquello 
que generalmente se averiguare, que en este caso se debe hacer para 
descargo de las conciencias en lo que toca a estos esclavos de la dicha 
Nueva Espana, que se haya y cumpla en todos los que yo tengo, e 
encargo y mando a D. Martin mi hijo subcesor, y a los que despues 
del subcedieren en mi Estado, que para averiguar esto hagan todas las 
diligencias que comb&ngan al descargo de mi conciencia y suyas." 
Testamento de Heman Cortes, MS. 

a S This is the argument controverted by Las Casas in his elaborate 
Memorial addressed to the government, in 1542, on the best method 
of arresting the destruction of the aborigines. 


the former, the seeds of the evil, but lately sown, might 
have been, with comparatively little difficulty, eradi- 
cated. But in our time they have struck their roots 
deep into the social system, and cannot be rudely 
handled without shaking the very foundations of the 
political fabric. It is easy to conceive that a man who 
admits all the wretchedness of the institution and its 
wrong to humanity may nevertheless hesitate to adopt 
a remedy until he is satisfied that the remedy itself is 
not worse than the disease. That such a remedy will 
come with time, who can doubt, that has confidence 
in the ultimate prevalence of the right and the pro- 
gressive civilization of his species ? 

Cortes names as his executors, and as guardians of 
his children, the duke of Medina Sidonia, the mar- 
quis of Astorga, and the count of Aguilar. For his 
executors in Mexico, he appoints his wife, the mar- 
chioness, the archbishop of Toledo, and two other 
prelates. The will was executed at Seville, October 
nth, 1547. 26 

Finding himself much incommoded, as he grew 
weaker, by the presence of visitors, to which he was 
necessarily exposed at Seville, he withdrew to the 
neighboring village of Castilleja de la Cuesta, attended 
by his son, who watched over his dying parent with 
filial solicitude. 27 Cortes seems to have contemplated 

86 This interesting document is in the Royal Archives of Seville ; 
and a copy of it forms part of the valuable collection of Don Vargas 

=7 [My friend Mr. Picard has furnished me with the copy of an in- 
scription which may be seen, or could a few years since, on the house 
in which Cortes expired. " Here died, on the second of September, 
1544, victim of sorrow and misfortune, the renowned Hernan Cortes, 



his approaching end with a composure not always to 
be found in those who have faced death with indiffer- 
ence on the field of battle. At length, having de- 
voutly confessed his sins and received the sacrament, 
he expired on the 2d of December, 1547, in the sixty- 
third year of his age. a8 

The inhabitants of the neighboring country were 
desirous to show every mark of respect to the memory 
of Cortes. His funeral obsequies were celebrated with 
due solemnity by a long train of Andalusian nobles 
and of the citizens of Seville, and his body was trans- 
ported to the chapel of the monastery of San Isidro, 
in that city, where it was laid in the family vault of the 
duke of Medina Sidonia. 29 In the year 1562 it was 
removed, by order of his son, Don Martin, to New 
Spain, not, as directed by his will, to Cojohuacan,* 
but to the monastery of St. Francis, in Tezcuco, where 
it was laid by the side of a daughter, and of his 

the glory of our country and the conqueror of the Mexican empire." 
It is strange that the author of the inscription should have made a 
blunder of more than three years in the date of the hero's death.] 

a8 Zuniga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 504. — Gomara, Cronica, cap. 237. 
— In his last letter to the emperor, dated in February, 1544, he speaks 
of himself as being " sixty years of age." But he probably did not 
mean to be exact to a year. Gomara's statement, that he was born 
in the year 1485 (Cronica, cap. 1), is confirmed by Diaz, who tells us 
that Cortes used to say that when he first came over to Mexico, in 
1519, he was thirty-four years old. (Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 205.) 
This would coincide with the age mentioned in the text. 

29 Noticia del Archivero de la Santa Eclesia de Sevilla, MS. 

* [This may be accounted for by the fact that his intention to found 
a convent at Cuyoacan, as the place is now called, had, according to 
Alaman, never been carried out. — Ed.] 


mother, Dona Catalina Pizarro. In 1629 the remains 
of Cortes were again removed ; and on the death of 
Don Pedro, fourth marquis of the Valley, it was de- 
cided by the authorities of Mexico to transfer them to 
the church of St. Francis, in that capital. The cere- 
monial was conducted with the pomp suited to the oc- 
casion. A military and religious procession was formed, 
with the archbishop of Mexico at its head. He was 
accompanied by the great dignitaries of church and 
state, the various associations with their respective 
banners, the several religious fraternities, and the 
members of the Audience. The coffin, containing the 
relics of Cortes, was covered with black velvet, and 
supported by the judges of the royal tribunals. On 
either side of it was a man in complete armor, bearing, 
on the right, a standard of pure white, with the arms 
of Castile embroidered in gold, and, on the left, a 
banner of black velvet, emblazoned in like manner 
with the armorial ensigns of the house of Cortes. Be- 
hind the corpse came the viceroy and a numerous es- 
cort of Spanish cavaliers, and the rear was closed by a 
battalion of infantry, armed with pikes and arquebuses, 
and with their banners trailing on the ground. With 
this funeral pomp, by the sound of mournful music, 
and the slow beat of the muffled drum, the procession 
moved forward, with measured pace, till it reached the 
capital, when the gates were thrown open to receive 
the mortal remains of the hero who, a century before, 
had performed there such prodigies of valor. 

Yet his bones were not permitted to rest here undis- 
turbed ; and in 1794 they were removed to the Hos- 
pital of Jesus of Nazareth. It was a more fitting place, 


since it was the same institution which, under the name 
of " Our Lady of the Conception," had been founded 
and endowed by Cortes, and which, with a fate not 
too frequent in similar charities, has been administered 
to this day on the noble principles of its foundation. 
The mouldering relics of the warrior, now deposited in 
a crystal coffin secured by bars and plates of silver, 
were laid in the chapel, and over them was raised a 
simple monument, displaying the arms of the family, 
and surmounted by a bust of the Conqueror, executed 
in bronze by Tolsa, a sculptor worthy of the best period 
of the arts. 30 

Unfortunately for Mexico, the tale does not stop 
here. In 1823, the patriot mob of the capital, in their 
zeal to commemorate the era of the national independ- 
ence, and their detestation of the "old Spaniards," 
prepared to break open the tomb which held the ashes 
of Cortes, and to scatter them to the winds ! The 
authorities declined to interfere on the occasion ; but 
the friends of the family, as is commonly reported, 
entered the vault by night, and, secretly removing the 
relics, prevented the commission of a sacrilege which 
must have left a stain, not easy to be effaced, on the 
scutcheon of the fair city of Mexico. 31 Humboldt, 

3° The full particulars of the ceremony described in the text may be 
found in Appendix, Part 2, No. 16, translated into English from a 
copy of the original document, existing in the Archives of the Hos- 
pital of Jesus, in Mexico. 

3' [The bust of Cortes and the arms of gilt bronze were secretly 
removed from his monument, and sent to his descendant, the duke of 
Monteleone, at Palermo. The remains of the Conqueror were soon 
after sent in the same direction, according to Doctor Mora, cited by 
Alaman, who does not contradict it : " Aun se habrian profanado las 


forty years ago, remarked that "we may traverse Span- 
ish America from Buenos Ayres to Monterey, and in 
no quarter shall we meet with a national monument 
which the public gratitude has raised to Christopher 
Columbus or Hernando Cortes." 32 It was reserved 
for our own age to conceive the design of violating 
the repose of the dead and insulting their remains ! 
Yet the men who meditated this outrage were not the 
descendants of Montezuma, avenging the Avrongs of 
their fathers and vindicating their own rightful in- 
heritance. They were the descendants of the old 
Conquerors, and their countrymen, depending on 
the right of conquest for their ultimate title to the 
soil. 33 

Cortes had no children by his first marriage. By his 
second he left four ; a son, Don Martin, — the heir of 
his honors, and of persecutions even more severe than 
those of his father, 34 — and three daughters, who formed 

cenizas del heroe, sin la precaucion de personas despreocupadas, que 
deseando evitar el deshonor de su patria por tan reprensible e irre- 
flexivo procedimiento, lograron ocultarlas de pronto y despues las re- 
mitieron & Italia a su familia." Disertaciones historicas, torn. ii. p. 

32 Essai politique, torn. ii. p. 60. 

33 [They entertained, says Alaman, the rather extravagant idea that, 
as descendants of the conquering nation, they were the heirs of the 
rights of the conquered, and bound to avenge their wrongs. Con- 
quista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 309.] 

34 Don Martin Cortes, second marquis of the Valley, was accused, 
like his father, of an attempt to establish an independent sovereignty 
in New Spain. His natural brothers, Don Martin and Don Luis, 
were involved in the same accusation with himself, and the former — 
as I have elsewhere remarked — was in consequence subjected to the 
torture. Several others of his friends, on charge of abetting his treason- 
able designs, suffered death. The marquis was obliged to remove 



splendid alliances. He left, also, five natural children, 
whom he particularly mentions in his testament and 
honorably provides for. Two of these, Don Martin, 
the son of Marina, and Don Luis Cortes, attained con- 
siderable distinction, and were created comendadores of 
the Order of St. Jago. 35 

The male line of the marquises of the Valley be- 
came extinct in the third generation. The title and 
estates descended to a female, and by her marriage 
were united with those of the house of Terranova, 
descendants of the "Great Captain," Gonsalvo de 
Cordova. 36 By a subsequent marriage they were car- 
ried into the family of the duke of Monteleone, a 
Neapolitan noble. The present proprietor of these 
princely honors and of vast domains, both in the Old 
and the New World, dwells in Sicily, and boasts 
a descent — such as few princes can boast — from two 

with his family to Spain, where the investigation was conducted ; and 
his large estates in Mexico were sequestered until the termination of 
the process, a period of seven years, from 1567 to 1574, when he was 
declared innocent. But his property suffered irreparable injury, under 
the wretched administration of the royal officers, during the term of 

35 [The illegitimate children were Don Martin Cortes, Don Luis 
Cortes, Dona Catalina Pizarro (daughter of Dona Leonor Pizarro), 
also two other daughters, Leonor and Maria, born of two Indian 
women of noble birth. Alaman, Disertaciones historicas, torn. ii. p. 

3 s [Sefior Alaman, in reference to this passage, says, " It is a mistake 
to suppose that the heirs of Cortes and Gonsalvo de Cordova were 
ever united by marriage. The fact appears to be that the title of 
duke of Terranova was held by the descendants of both ; but the 
Terranova assigned to the Great Captain was in Calabria, while the 
place from which the descendants of Cortes took the title was in 
Sicily. Conquista de Mejico (trad, de Vega), torn. ii. p. 308.] 
Vol. III. — p 29 


of the most illustrious commanders of the sixteenth 
century, the "Great Captain," and the Conqueror of 

The personal history of Cortes has been so minutely 
detailed in the preceding narrative that it will be only 
necessary to touch on the more prominent features of 
his character. Indeed, the history of the Conquest, 
as I have already had occasion to remark, is necessarily 
that of Cortds, who is, if I may so say, not merely the 
soul, but the body, of the enterprise, present every- 
where in person, in the thick of the fight or in the 
building of the works, with his sword or with his 
musket, sometimes leading his soldiers, and sometimes 
directing his little navy. The negotiations, intrigues, 
correspondence, are all conducted by him ; and, like 
Caesar, he wrote his own Commentaries in the heat of 
the stirring scenes which form the subject of them. 
His character is marked with the most opposite traits, 
embracing qualities apparently the most incompatible. 
He was avaricious, yet liberal ; bold to desperation, 
yet cautious and calculating in his plans ; magnani- 
mous, yet very cunning ; courteous and affable in his 
deportment, yet inexorably stern ; lax in his notions 
of morality, yet (not uncommon) a sad bigot. The 
great feature in his character was constancy of purpose ; 
a constancy not to be daunted by danger, nor baffled 
by disappointment, nor wearied out by impediments 
and delays. 

He was a knight-errant, in the literal sense of the 
word. Of all the band of adventurous cavaliers whom 
Spain, in the sixteenth century, sent forth on the 



career of discovery and conquest, there was none more 
deeply filled with the spirit of romantic enterprise than 
Hernando Cortes. Dangers and difficulties, instead 
of deterring, seemed to have a charm in his eyes. 
They were necessary to rouse him to a full conscious- 
ness of his powers. He grappled with them at the 
outset, and, if I may so express myself, seemed to pre- 
fer to take his enterprises by the most difficult side. 
He conceived, at the first moment of his landing in 
Mexico, the design of its conquest. When he saw the 
strength of its civilization, he was not turned from his 
purpose. When he was assailed by the superior force 
of Narvaez, he still persisted in it ; and when he was 
driven in ruin from the capital, he still cherished his 
original idea. How successfully he carried it into ex- 
ecution, we have seen. After the few years of repose 
which succeeded the Conquest, his adventurous spirit 
impelled him to that dreary march across the marshes 
of Chiapa, and, after another interval, to seek his 
fortunes on the stormy Californian Gulf. When he 
found that no other continent remained for him to 
conquer, he made serious proposals to the emperor to 
equip a fleet at his own expense, with which he would 
sail to the Moluccas and subdue the Spice Islands for 
the crown of Castile ! 37 

37 " Yo me ofresca i. descubrir por aqui toda la espegeria, y otras 
Islas si huviere cerca de Moluco, 6 Melaca, y la China, y aun de dar 
tal orden que V. M. no aiga la espegeria por via de rescate, como la 
ha el Rey de Portugal, sino que la tenga por cosa propria, y los natu- 
rales de aquellas Islas le reconoscan y sirvan como i. su Rey y senor 
natural, porque yo me ofresco con el dicho additamento de embiar a 
ellas tal armada, 6 ir yo con mi persona por manera que la sojusge y 
pueble." Carta Quinta de Cortes, MS. 


This spirit of knight-errantry might lead us to under- 
value his talents as a general and to regard him merely 
in the light of a lucky adventurer. But this would be 
doing him injustice ; for Cortes was certainly a great 
general, if that man be one who performs great achieve- 
ments with the resources which his own genius has 
created. There is probably no instance in history 
where so vast an enterprise has been achieved by 
means apparently so inadequate. He may be truly 
said to have effected the Conquest by his own re- 
sources. If he was indebted for his success to the co- 
operation of the Indian tribes, it was the force of his 
genius that obtained command of such materials. He 
arrested the arm that was lifted to smite him, and made 
it do battle in his behalf. He beat the Tlascalans, and 
made them his stanch allies. He beat the soldiers of 
Narvaez, and doubled his effective force by it. When 
his own men deserted him, he did not desert himself. 
He drew them back by degrees, and compelled them 
to act by his will, till they were all as one man. He 
brought together the most miscellaneous collection of 
mercenaries who ever fought under one standard : ad- 
venturers from Cuba and the Isles, craving for gold ; 
hidalgos, who came from the old country to win 
laurels ; broken-down cavaliers, who hoped to mend 
their fortunes in the New World ; vagabonds flying 
from justice ; the grasping followers of Narvaez, and 
his own reckless veterans, — men with hardly a common 
tie, and burning with the spirit of jealousy and faction ; 
wild tribes of the natives from all parts of the country, 
who had been sworn enemies from their cradles, and 
who had met only to cut one another's throats and to 


procure victims for sacrifice ; men, in short, differing 
in race, in language, and in interests with scarcely 
anything in common among them. Yet this motley 
congregation was assembled in one camp, compelled to 
bend to the will of one man, to consort together in 
harmony, to breathe, as it were, one spirit, and to 
move on a common principle of action ! It is in this 
wonderful power over the discordant masses thus 
gathered under his banner that we recognize the genius 
of the great commander, no less than in the skill of his 
military operations. 

His power over the minds of his soldiers was a 
natural result of their confidence in his abilities. But 
it is also to be attributed to his popular manners, — 
that happy union of authority and companionship 
which fitted him for the command of a band of roving 
adventurers. It would not have done for him to 
fence himself round with the stately reserve of a com- 
mander of regular forces. He was embarked with his 
men in a common adventure, and nearly on terms of 
equality, since he held his commission by no legal 
warrant. But, while he indulged this freedom and 
familiarity with his soldiers, he never allowed it to in 
terfere with their strict obedience nor to impair the 
severity of discipline. When he had risen to higher 
consideration, although he affected more state, he still 
admitted his veterans to the same intimacy. "He 
preferred," says Diaz, "to be called 'Cortes' by us, 
to being called by any title; and with good reason," 
continues the enthusiastic old cavalier, " for the name 
of Cortes is as famous in our day as was that of Caesar 
among the Romans, or of Hannibal among the Cartha- 


ginians." 38 He showed the same kind regard towards 
his ancient comrades in the very last act of his life. 
For he appropriated a sum by his will for the cele- 
bration of two thousand masses for the souls of 
those who had fought with him in the campaigns of 
Mexico. 39 

His character has been unconsciously traced by the 
hand of a master : 

" And oft the chieftain deigned to aid 
And mingle in the mirth they made ; 
For, though with men of high degree 
The proudest of the proud was he, 
Yet, trained in camps, he knew the art 
To win the soldiers' hardy heart. 
They love a captain to obey, 
Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May: 
With open hand, and brow as free, 
Lover of wine and minstrelsy ; 

3 s The comparison to Hannibal is better founded than the old 
soldier probably imagined. Livy's description of the Carthaginian 
warrior has a marvellous application to Cortes, — better, perhaps, than 
that of the imaginary personage quoted a few lines below in the text. 
" Plurimum audacias ad pericula capessenda, plurimum consilii inter 
ipsa pericula erat : nullo labore aut corpus fatigari, aut animus vinci 
poterat. Caloris ac frigoris patientia par : cibi potionisque desiderio 
naturali, non voluptate, modus finitus : vigiliarum somnique nee die, 
nee nocte discriminata tempora. Id, quod gerendis rebus superesset, 
quieti datum ; ea neque molli strato, neque silentio arcessita. Multi 
saepe militari sagulo opertum, humi jacentem, inter custodias statio- 
nesque militum, conspexerunt. Vestitus nihil inter aequales excellens ; 
arma atque equi conspiciebantur. Equitum peditumque idem longe 
primus erat ; princeps in prcelium ibat ; ultimus conserto prcelio ex- 
cedebat." (Hist., lib. xxi. sec. 5.) The reader who reflects on the 
fate of Guatemozin may possibly think that the extract should have 
embraced the " perfidia plus qu&m Punica," in the succeeding sentence. 

39 Testamento de Hernan Cortes, MS. 


Ever the first to scale a tower, 
As venturous in a lady's bower ; — 
Such buxom chief shall lead his host 
From India's fires to Zembla's frost." 

Cortes, without much violence, might have sat for this 
portrait of Marmion. 

Cortes was not a vulgar conqueror. He did not 
conquer from the mere ambition of conquest. If he 
destroyed the ancient capital of the Aztecs, it was to 
build up a more magnificent capital on its ruins. If 
he desolated the land and broke up its existing institu- 
tions, he employed the short period of his administra- 
tion in digesting schemes for introducing there a more 
improved culture and a higher civilization. In all his 
expeditions he was careful to study the resources of 
the country, its social organization, and its physical 
capacities. He enjoined it on his captains to attend 
particularly to these objects. If he was greedy of gold, 
like most of the Spanish cavaliers in the New World, 
it was not to hoard it, nor merely to lavish it in the 
support of a princely establishment, but to secure funds 
for prosecuting his glorious discoveries. Witness his 
costly expeditions to the Gulf of California. His en- 
terprises were not undertaken solely for mercenary ob- 
jects; as is shown by the various expeditions he set on 
foot for the discovery of a communication between the 
Atlantic and the Pacific. In his schemes of ambition 
he showed a respect for the interests of science, to be 
referred partly to the natural superiority of his mind, 
but partly, no doubt, to the influence of early edu- 
cation. It is, indeed, hardly possible that a person 
of his wayward and mercurial temper should have 


improved his advantages at the University ; but he 
brought away from it a tincture of scholarship seldom 
found among the cavaliers of the period, and which 
had its influence in enlarging his own conceptions. 
His celebrated Letters are written with a simple ele- 
gance that, as I have already had occasion to remark, 
have caused them to be compared to the military nar- 
rative of Caesar. It will not be easy to find in the 
chronicles of the period a more concise yet compre- 
hensive statement, not only of the events of his cam- 
paigns, but of the circumstances most worthy of notice 
in the character of the conquered countries. 

Cortes was not cruel ; at least, not cruel as compared 
with most of those who followed his iron trade. The 
path of the conqueror is necessarily marked with blood. 
He was not too scrupulous, indeed, in the execution 
of his plans. He swept away the obstacles which lay 
in his track; and his fame is darkened by the commis- 
sion of more than one act which his boldest apologists 
will find it hard to vindicate. But he was not wan- 
tonly cruel. He allowed no outrage on his unresisting 
foes. This may seem small praise ; but it is an excep- 
tion to the usual conduct of his countrymen in their 
conquests, and it is something to be in advance of 
one's time. He was severe, it may be added, in en- 
forcing obedience to his orders for protecting their 
persons and their property. With his licentious crew, 
it was, sometimes, not without a hazard that he was 
so. After the Conquest, he sanctioned the system of 
repartimientos ; but so did Columbus. He endeavored 
to regulate it by the most humane laws, and continued 
to suggest many important changes for ameliorating 



the condition of the natives. The best commentary 
on his conduct in this respect is the deference that was 
shown him by the Indians, and the confidence with 
which they appealed to him for protection in all their 
subsequent distresses. 

In private life he seems to have had the power of 
attaching to himself warmly those who were near his 
person. The influence of this attachment is shown in 
every page of Bernal Diaz, though his work was writ- 
ten to vindicate the claims of the soldiers in opposition 
to those of the general. He seems to have led a happy 
life with his first wife, in their humble retirement in 
Cuba, and regarded the second, to judge from the ex- 
pressions in his testament, with confidence and love. 
Yet he cannot be acquitted from the charge of those 
licentious gallantries which entered too generally into 
the character of the military adventurer of that day. 
He would seem also, by the frequent suits in which he 
was involved, to have been of an irritable and conten- 
tious spirit. But much allowance must be made for 
the irritability of a man who had been too long accus- 
tomed to independent sway, patiently to endure the 
checks and control of the petty spirits who were in- 
capable of comprehending the noble character of his 
enterprises. "He thought," says an eminent writer, 
" to silence his enemies by the brilliancy of the new 
career on which he had entered. He did not reflect 
that these enemies had been raised by the very grand- 
eur and rapidity of his success." 40 He was rewarded 
for his efforts by the misinterpretation of his motives; 
by the calumnious charges of squandering the public 

*° Humboldt, Essai politique, torn. ii. p. 267. 


revenues and of aspiring to independent sovereignty. 
But, although we may admit the foundation of many 
of the grievances alleged by Cortes, yet, when we con- 
sider the querulous tone of his correspondence and the 
frequency of his litigation, we may feel a natural sus- 
picion that his proud spirit was too sensitive to petty 
slights and too jealous of imaginary wrongs. 

One trait more remains to be noticed in the char- 
acter of this remarkable man ; that is, his bigotry, the 
failing of the age, — for surely it should be termed only 
a failing. 41 When we see the hand, red with the blood 
of the wretched native, raised to invoke the blessing 
of Heaven on the cause which it maintains, we expe- 
rience something like a sensation of disgust at the act, 
and a doubt of its sincerity. But this is unjust. We 
should throw ourselves back (it cannot be too often 
repeated) into the age, — the age of the Crusades. For 
every Spanish cavalier, however sordid and selfish 
might be his private motives, felt himself to be the 
soldier of the Cross. Many of them would have died 
in defence of it. Whoever has read the correspond- 
ence of Cortes, or, still more, has attended to the cir- 
cumstances of his career, will hardly doubt that he would 
have been among the first to lay down his life for the 

4* An extraordinary anecdote is related by Cavo of this bigotry 
(shall we call it policy ?) of Cortes. " In Mexico," says the historian, 
"it is commonly reported that after the Conquest he commanded that 
on Sundays and holidays all should attend, under pain of a certain 
number of stripes, to the expounding of the Scriptures. The general 
was himself guilty of an omission on one occasion, and, after having 
listened to the admonition of the priest, submitted, with edifying 
humility, to be chastised by him, to the unspeakable amazement of 
the Indians." Hist, de los tres Siglos, torn. i. p. 151. 



Faith. He more than once perilled life, and fortune, 
and the success of his whole enterprise, by the prema- 
ture and most impolitic manner in which he would 
have forced conversion on the natives. 42 To the more 
rational spirit of the present day, enlightened by a 
purer Christianity, it may seem difficult to reconcile 
gross deviations from morals with such devotion to the 
cause of religion. But the religion taught in that day 
was one of form and elaborate ceremony. In the 
punctilious attention to discipline, the spirit of Chris- 
tianity was permitted to evaporate. The mind, occu- 
pied with forms, thinks little of substance. In a worship 
that is addressed too exclusively to the senses, it is often 
the case that morality becomes divorced from religion, 
and the measure of righteousness is determined by the 
creed rather than by the conduct. 

In the earlier part of the History I have given a 
description of the person of Cortes. 43 It may be well 
to close this review of his character by the account 
of his manners and personal habits left us by Bernal 
Diaz, the old chronicler, who has accompanied us 
through the whole course of our narrative, and who 
may now fitly furnish the conclusion of it. No man 
knew his commander better ; and, if the avowed object 
of his work might naturally lead to a disparagement of 
Cortes, this is more than counterbalanced by the warmth 
of his personal attachment, and by that esprit de corps 

42 " Al Rey infinitas tierras, 

Yd Dios infinitas almas" 

says Lope de Vega, commemorating in this couplet the double glory 
of Cortes. It is the light in which the Conquest was viewed by every 
devout Spaniard of the sixteenth century. 
43 Ante, vol. i. p. 257. 


which leads him to take a pride in the renown of his 

" In his whole appearance and presence," says Diaz, 
"in his discourse, his table, his dress, in everything, 
in short, he had the air of a great lord. His clothes 
were in the fashion of the time ; he set little value on 
silk, damask, or velvet, but dressed plainly and exceed- 
ingly neat ; 44 nor did he wear massy chains of gold, 
but simply a fine one, of exquisite workmanship, from 
which was suspended a jewel having the figure of our 
Lady the Virgin and her precious Son, with a Latin 
motto cut upon it. On his finger he wore a splendid 
diamond ring ; and from his cap, which, according to 
the fashion of that day, was of velvet, hung a medal, 
the device of which I do not remember. He was 
magnificently attended, as became a man of his rank, 
with chamberlains and major-domos and many pages ; 
and the service of his table was splendid, with a quan- 
tity of both gold and silver plate. At noon he dined 
heartily, drinking about a pint of wine mixed with 
water. He supped well, though he was not dainty in 
regard to his food, caring little for the delicacies of 
the table, unless, indeed, on such occasions as made 
attention to these matters of some consequence. 45 

"He was acquainted with Latin, and, as I have 
understood, was made Bachelor of Laws ; and when 
he conversed with learned men who addressed him in 
Latin, he answered them in the same language. He 

44 So Gomara : " He dressed neatly rather than richly, and was 
always scrupulously clean." Cronica, cap. 238. 

45 " Fue mui gran comedor, i templado en el beber, teniendo abun- 
dancia. Sufria mucho la hambre con necesidad." Ibid., ubi supra. 



was also something of a poet ; his conversation was 
agreeable, and he had a pleasant elocution. In his 
attendance on the services of the Church he was most 
punctual, devout in his manner, and charitable to the 
poor. 46 

" When he swore, he used to say, ' On my con- 
science ;' and when he was vexed with any one, ' Evil 
betide you.' With his men he was very patient ; and 
they were sometimes impertinent and even insolent. 
When very angry, the veins in his throat and forehead 
would swell, but he uttered no reproaches against either 
officer or soldier. 

" He was fond of cards and dice, and, when he 
played, was always in good humor, indulging freely in 
jests and repartees. He was affable with his followers, 
especially with those who came over with him from 
Cuba. In his campaigns he paid strict attention to 
discipline, frequently going the rounds himself during 
the night, and seeing that the sentinels did their duty. 
He entered the quarters of his soldiers without cere- 
mony, and chided those whom he found without their 
arms and accoutrements, saying, ' It was a bad sheep 
that could not carry its own wool.' On the expedition 
to Honduras he acquired the habit of sleeping after his 
meals, feeling unwell if he omitted it ; and, however 
sultry or stormy the weather, he caused a carpet or his 
cloak to be thrown under a tree, and slept soundly for 
some time. He was frank and exceedingly liberal in 
his disposition, until the last few years of his life, when 

4 s He dispensed a thousand ducats every year in his ordinary chari- 
ties, according to Gomara. " Grandisimo limosnero; daba cada un 
ano mil ducados de limosna ordinaria." Cronica, cap. 238. 

Vol. III. 30 


he was accused of parsimony. But we should consider 
that his funds were employed on great and costly 
enterprises, and that none of these, after the Conquest, 
neither his expedition to Honduras nor his voyages to 
California, were crowned with success. It was per- 
haps intended that he should receive his recompense 
in a better world ; and I fully believe it ; for he was a 
good cavalier, most true in his devotions to the Virgin, 
to the Apostle St. Peter, and to all the other Saints." 47 
Such is the portrait, which has been left to us by the 
faithful hand most competent to trace it, of Hernando 
Cortes, the Conqueror of Mexico. 

47 Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 203. 





The following Essay was originally designed to 
close the Introductory Book, to which it properly be- 
longs. It was written three years since, at the same 
time with that part of the work. I know of no work 
of importance, having reference to the general subject 
of discussion, which has appeared since that period, 
except Mr. Bradford's valuable treatise on Atnerican 
Antiquities. But in respect to that part of the discus- 
sion which treats of American Architecture a most im- 
portant contribution has been made by Mr. Stephens's 
two works, containing the account of his visits to 
Central America and Yucatan, and especially by the 
last of these publications. Indeed, the ground, before 
so imperfectly known, has now been so diligently ex- 
plored that we have all the light, which we can reason- 
ably expect, to aid us in making up our opinion in 
regard to the mysterious monuments of Yucatan. It 
only remains that the exquisite illustrations of Mr. 
Catherwood should be published on a larger scale, like 
the great works on the subject in France and England, 
in order to exhibit to the eye a more adequate repre- 
sentation of these magnificent ruins than can be given 
in the limited compass of an octavo page. 

3°* (353) 


But, notwithstanding the importance of Mr. Ste- 
phens's researches, I have not availed myself of them 
to make any additions to the original draft of this 
Essay, nor have I rested my conclusions in any in- 
stance on his authority. These conclusions had been 
formed from a careful study of the narratives of Dupaix 
and Waldeck, together with that of their splendid 
illustrations of the remains of Palenque and Uxmal, 
two of the principal places explored by Mr. Stephens ; 
and the additional facts collected by him from the 
vast field which he has surveyed, so far from shaking 
my previous deductions, have only served to confirm 
them. The only object of my own speculations on 
these remains was to ascertain their probable origin, or 
rather to see what light, if any, they could throw on 
the origin of Aztec Civilization. The reader, on com- 
paring my reflections with those of Mr. Stephens in 
the closing chapters of his two works, will see that I 
have arrived at inferences, as to the origin and probable 
antiquity of these structures, precisely the same as his. 
Conclusions formed under such different circumstances 
serve to corroborate each other ; and, although the 
reader will find here some things which would have 
been different had I been guided by the light now 
thrown on the path, yet I prefer not to disturb the 
foundations on which the argument stands, nor to 
impair its value — if it has any — as a distinct and in- 
dependent testimony. 



When the Europeans first touched the shores of 
America, it was as if they had alighted on another 
planet, — every thing there was so different from what 
they had before seen. They were introduced to new 
varieties of plants, and to unknown races of animals ; 
while man, the lord of all, was equally strange, in 
complexion, language, and institutions. 1 It was what 
they emphatically styled it, — a New World. Taught 
by their faith to derive all created beings from one 
source, they felt a natural perplexity as to the manner 
in which these distant and insulated regions could 
have obtained their inhabitants. The same curiosity 
was felt by their countrymen at home, and the Euro- 
pean scholars bewildered their brains with speculations 
on the best way of solving this interesting problem. 

1 The names of many animals in the New World, indeed, have 
been frequently borrowed from the Old ; but the species are very dif- 
ferent. " When the Spaniards landed in America," says an eminent 
naturalist, " they did not find a single animal they were acquainted 
with ; not one of the quadrupeds of Europe, Asia, or Africa." Law- 
rence, Lectures on Physiology, Zoology, and the Natural History of 
Man (London, 1819), p. 250. 



In accounting for the presence of animals there, 
some imagined that the two hemispheres might once 
have been joined in the extreme north, so as to have 
afforded an easy communication. 8 Others, embarrassed 
by the difficulty of transporting inhabitants of the 
tropics across the Arctic regions, revived the old story 
of Plato's Atlantis, that huge island, now submerged, 
which might have stretched from the shores of Africa 
to the eastern borders of the new continent ;* while 

2 Acosta, lib. i, cap. 16. 

* [The existence at some former period of such an island, or rather 
continent, seems to be regarded by geologists as a well-attested fact. 
But few would admit that its subsidence can have taken place through 
any sudden convulsion or within the period of human existence. 
Such, however, is the theory maintained by M. Brasseur de Bour- 
bourg, who dates the event " six or seven thousand years ago," and 
believes that the traditions of it have been faithfully preserved. This 
is the great cataclysm with which all mythology begins. It may be 
traced through the myths of Greece, Egypt, India, and America, all 
being identical and having a common origin. It is the subject of 
the Teo-Amoxtli, of which several of the Mexican manuscripts, the 
Borgian and Dresden Codices in particular, are the hieroglyphical 
transcriptions, and of which " the actual letter," " in the Nahuatlac 
language," is found in a manuscript in Boturini's Collection. This 
manuscript is "in appearance" a history of the Toltecs and of the 
kings of Colhuacan and Mexico ; but " under the ciphers of a fastid- 
ious chronology, under the recital more or less animated of the Toltec 
history, are concealed the profoundest mysteries concerning the geo- 
logical origin of the world in its existing form and the cradle of the 
religions of antiquity." The Toltecs are " telluric powers, agents of 
the subterranean fire;" they are identical with the Cabiri, who re- 
appear as the Cyclops, having "hollowed an eye in their forehead; 
that is to say, raised themselves with masses of earth above the sur- 
face and filled the craters of the volcanoes with fire." " The Chichi 
mecs and the Aztecs are also symbolical names, borrowed from the 
forces of nature." Tollan, " the marshy or reedy place," was " the 



they saw vestiges of a similar convulsion of nature in 
the green islands sprinkled over the Pacific, once the 
mountain summits of a vast continent, now buried be- 
neath the waters. 3 Some, distrusting the existence 
of revolutions of which no record was preserved, sup- 
posed that animals might have found their way across 
the ocean by various means ; the birds of stronger 
wing by flight over the narrowest spaces ; while the 
tamer kinds of quadrupeds might easily have been 
transported by men in boats, and even the more fero- 
cious, as tigers, bears, and the like, have been brought 
over, in the same manner, when young, " for amuse- 
ment and the pleasure of the chase" ! 4 Others, again, 
maintained the equally probable opinion that angels, 
who had, doubtless, taken charge of them in the ark, 

3 Count Carli shows much ingenuity and learning in support of the 
famous Egyptian tradition, recorded by Plato in his " Timaeus," — 
of the good faith of which the Italian philosopher nothing doubts. 
Lettres Americ, torn. ii. let. 36-39. 

4 Garcia, Origen de los Indios de el nuevo Mundo (Madrid, 1729), 
cap. 4. 

low fertile region" now covered by the Gulf of Mexico. Quetzalcoatl 
is " merely the personification of the land swallowed up by the ocean." 
Tlapallan, Aztlan, and other names are similarly explained. Osiris, 
Pan, Hercules, and Bacchus have their respective parts assigned to 
them ; for " not only all the sources of ancient mythology, but even 
the most mysterious details, even the obscurest enigmas, with which that 
mythology is enveloped, are to be sought in the two mediterraneans 
hollowed out by the cataclysm, and in the islands, great and small, 
which separate them from the ocean.'' (Quatre Lettres sur le Mexique.) 
There can be no refutation of such a theory, or of the assumptions on 
which it rests ; but it may be proper to remark that its author has not 
succeeded in deciphering a single hieroglyphical character, and has 
published no translation of the real or supposed Teo-Amoxtll, — a point 
on which some misapprehension seems to exist. — Ed.] 


had also superintended their distribution afterwards 
over the different parts of the globe. 5 Such were the 
extremities to which even thinking minds were re- 
duced, in their eagerness to reconcile the literal inter- 
pretation of Scripture with the phenomena of nature ! 
The philosophy of a later day conceives that it is no 
departure from this sacred authority to follow the sug- 
gestions of science, by referring the new tribes of ani- 
mals to a creation, since the deluge, in those places 
for which they were clearly intended by constitution 
and habits. 6 

Man would not seem to present the same embarrass- 
ments, in the discussion, as the inferior orders. He is 
fitted by nature for every climate, the burning sun of 
the tropics and the icy atmosphere of the North. He 
wanders indifferently over the sands of the desert, the 
waste of polar snows, and the pathless ocean. Neither 
mountains nor seas intimidate him, and, by the aid 
of mechanical contrivances, he accomplishes journeys 
which birds of boldest wing would perish in attempt- 
ing. Without ascending to the high northern lati- 
tudes, where the continents of Asia and America 
approach within fifty miles of each other, it would be 
easy for the inhabitant of Eastern Tartary or Japan to 

s Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. i, cap. 8. 

6 Prichard, Researches into the Physical History of Mankind (Lon- 
don, 1826), vol. i. p. 81, et seq. — He may find an orthodox authority 
of respectable antiquity, for a similar hypothesis, in St. Augustine, who 
plainly intimates his belief that, " as by God's command, at the time 
of the creation, the earth brought forth the living creature after his 
kind, so a similar process must have taken place after the deluge, in 
islands too remote to be reached by animals from the continent." De 
Civitate Dei, ap. Opera (Parisiis, 1636), torn. v. p. 987. 



steer his canoe from islet to islet, quite across to the 
American shore, without ever being on the ocean more 
than two days at a time. 7 The communication is some- 
what more difficult on the Atlantic side. But even 
there, Iceland was occupied by colonies of Europeans 
many hundred years before the discovery by Columbus; 
and the transit from Iceland to America is compara- 
tively easy. 8 Independently of these channels, others 
were opened in the Southern hemisphere, by means of 
the numerous islands in the Pacific. The population 
of America is not nearly so difficult a problem as that 
of these little spots. But experience shows how prac- 
ticable the communication may have been, even with 
such sequestered places. 9 The savage has been picked 
up in his canoe, after drifting hundreds of leagues on 
the open ocean, and sustaining life, for months, by the 
rain from heaven, and such fish as he could catch. 10 

7 Beechey, Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait (London, 
1831), Part 2, Appendix. — Humboldt, Examen critique de l'Histoire 
de la Geographie du Nouveau-Continent (Paris, 1837), torn. ii. p. 58. 

8 Whatever skepticism may have been entertained as to the visit of 
the Northmen, in the eleventh century, to the coasts of the great con- 
tinent, it is probably set at rest in the minds of most scholars since 
the publication of the original documents by the Royal Society at 
Copenhagen. (See, in particular, Antiquitates Americanas (Hafniae, 
1837), pp. 79-200.) How far south they penetrated is not so easily 

9 The most remarkable example, probably, of a direct intercourse 
between remote points is furnished us by Captain Cook, who found 
the inhabitants of New Zealand not only with the same religion, but 
speaking the same language, as the people of Otaheite, distant more 
than 2000 miles. The comparison of the two vocabularies establishes 
the fact. Cook's Voyages (Dublin, 1784), vol. i. book 1, chap. 8. 

10 The eloquent Lyell closes an enumeration of some extraordinary 
and well-attested instances of this kind with remarking, " Were the 


The instances are not very rare ; and it would be 
strange if these wandering barks should not sometimes 
have been intercepted by the great continent which 
stretches across the globe, in unbroken continuity, 
almost from pole to pole. No doubt, history could reveal 
to us more than one example of men who, thus driven 
upon the American shores, have mingled their blood 
with that of the primitive races who occupied them. 

The real difficulty is not, as with the animals, to 
explain how man could have reached America, but 
from what quarter he actually has reached it. In sur- 
veying the whole extent of the New World, it was 
found to contain two great families, one in the lowest 
stage of civilization, composed of hunters, and another 
nearly as far advanced in refinement as the semi-civil- 
ized empires of Asia. The more polished races were 
probably unacquainted with the existence of each other 
on the different continents of America, and had as little 
intercourse with the barbarian tribes by whom they 
were surrounded. Yet they had some things in com- 
mon both with these last and with one another, which 
remarkably distinguished them from the inhabitants 
of the Old World. They had a common complexion 
and physical organization, — at least, bearing a more 

whole of mankind now cut off, with the exception of one family, inhab- 
iting the old or new continent, or Australia, or even some coral islet 
of the Pacific, we should expect their descendants, though they should 
never become more enlightened than the South Sea Islanders or the 
Esquimaux, to spread, in the course of ages, over the whole earth, 
diffused partly by the tendency of population to increase beyond the 
means of subsistence in a limited district, and partly by the accidental 
drifting of canoes by tides and currents to distant shores." Princi- 
ples of Geology (London, 1832), vol. ii. p. 121. 



uniform character than is found among the nations of 
any other quarter of the globe. They had some usages 
and institutions in common, and spoke languages of 
similar construction, curiously distinguished from those 
in the Eastern hemisphere. 

Whence did the refinement of these more polished 
races come? Was it only a higher development of 
the same Indian character which we see, in the more 
northern latitudes, defying every attempt at permanent 
civilization ? Was it engrafted on a race of higher 
order in the scale originally, but self-instructed, work- 
ing its way upward by its own powers ? Was it, in 
short, an indigenous civilization ? or was it borrowed 
in some degree from the nations in the Eastern 
World ? If indigenous, how are we to explain the 
singular coincidence with the East in institutions and 
opinions ? If Oriental, how shall we account for the 
great dissimilarity in language, and for the ignorance 
of some of the most simple and useful arts, which, 
once known, it would seem scarcely possible should 
have been forgotten ? This is the riddle of the Sphinx, 
which no CEdipus has yet had the ingenuity to solve. 
It is, however, a question of deep interest to every 
curious and intelligent observer of his species. And 
it has accordingly occupied the thoughts of men, from 
the first discovery of the country to the present time ; 
when the extraordinary monuments brought to light in 
Central America have given a new impulse to inquiry, 
by suggesting the probability — the possibility, rather — 
that surer evidences than any hitherto known might be 
afforded for establishing the fact of a positive com- 
munication with the other hemisphere. 
Vol. III. — q 31 


It is not my intention to add many pages to the 
volumes already written on this inexhaustible topic. 
The subject — as remarked by a writer of a philosoph- 
ical mind himself, and who has done more than any 
other for the solution of the mystery — is of too specu- 
lative a nature for history, almost for philosophy." 
But this work would be incomplete without affording 
the reader the means of judging for himself as to the 
true sources of the peculiar civilization already de- 
scribed, by exhibiting to him the alleged points of 
resemblance with the ancient continent. In doing 
this, I shall confine myself to my proper subject, the 
Mexicans, or to what, in some way or other, may have 
a bearing on this subject ; proposing to state only real 
points of resemblance, as they are supported by evi- 
dence, and stripped, as far as possible, of the illusions 
with which they have been invested by the pious cre- 
dulity of one party, and the visionary system-building 
of another. 

An obvious analogy is found in cosmogonal traditions 
and religious usages. The reader has already been 
made acquainted with the Aztec system of four great 
cycles, at the end of each of which the world was 
destroyed, to be again regenerated. 12 The belief in 
these periodical convulsions of nature, through the 
agency of some one or other of the elements, was 
familiar to many countries in the Eastern hemisphere ; 

" "La question generate de la premiere origine des habitans d'un 
continent est au-dela des limites prescrites a l'histoire ; peut-etre rnSme 
n'est-elle pas une question philosophique." Humboldt, Essai politique, 
torn. i. p. 349. 

M Ante, vol. i. p. 64. 


and, though varying in detail, the general resemblance 
of outline furnishes an argument in favor of a common 
origin. 13 

No tradition has been more widely spread among 
nations than that of a Deluge. Independently of tra- 
dition, indeed, it would seem to be naturally suggested 
by the interior structure of the earth, and by the ele- 
vated places on which marine substances are found to 
be deposited. It was the received notion, under some 
form or other, of the most civilized people in the Old 
World, and of the barbarians of the New. 14 The 
Aztecs combined with this some particular circum- 
stances of a more arbitrary character, resembling the 
accounts of the East. They believed that two persons 
survived the Deluge, — a man, named Coxcox, and his 
wife. Their heads are represented in ancient paintings, 

»3 The fanciful division of time into four or five cyles or ages was 
found among the Hindoos (Asiatic Researches, vol. ii. mem. 7), the 
Thibetians (Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres, p. 210), the Persians 
(Bailly, Traite de l'Astronomie (Paris, 1787), torn. i. discours prelimi- 
naire), the Greeks (Hesiod, "Epya «al 'H/ie'pai, v. 108, et seq.), and 
other people, doubtless. The five ages in the Grecian cosmogony 
had reference to moral rather than physical phenomena, — a proof 
of higher civilization. 

J 4 The Chaldean and Hebrew accounts of the Deluge are nearly 
the same. The parallel is pursued in Palfrey's ingenious Lectuies on 
the Jewish Scriptures and Antiquities (Boston, 1840), vol. ii. lect. at, 
22. Among the pagan writers, none approach so near to the Scrip- 
ture narrative as Lucian, who, in his account of the Greek traditions, 
speaks of the ark, and the pairs of different kinds of animals. (De 
Dei Syria., sec. 12.) The same thing is found in the Bhagawatn 
Purana, a Hindoo poem of great antiquity. (Asiatic Researches. 
vol. ii. mem. 7.) The simple tradition of a universal inundation was 
preserved among most of the aborigines, probably, of the Western 
World. See McCulloh, Researches, p. 147. 


together with a boat floating on the waters, at the foot 
of a mountain. A dove is also depicted, with the 
hieroglyphical emblem of languages in his mouth, 
which he is distributing to the children of Coxcox, 
who were born dumb. IS The neighboring people of 
Michoacan, inhabiting the same high plains of the 
Andes, had a still further tradition, that the boat in which 
Tezpi, their Noah, escaped, was filled with various 
kinds of animals and birds. After some time, a vul- 
ture was sent out from it, but remained feeding on the 
dead bodies of the giants, which had been left on the 
earth, as the waters subsided. The little humming- 
bird, hnitzitzilin, was then sent forth, and returned with 
a twig in its mouth. The coincidence of both these 
accounts with the Hebrew and Chaldean narratives is 
obvious. It were to be wished that the authority for 
the Michoacan version were more satisfactory. 16 

»5 This tradition of the Aztecs is recorded in an ancient hieroglyph- 
ical map, first published in Gemelli Carreri's Giro del Mondo. (See 
torn. vi. p. 38, ed. Napoli, 1700.) Its authenticity, as well as the in- 
tegrity of Carreri himself, on which some suspicions have been thrown 
(see Robertson's America (London, 1796), vol. iii. note 26), has been 
successfully vindicated by Boturini, Clavigero, and Humboldt, all of 
whom trod in the steps of the Italian traveller. (Boturini, Idea, p. 54. 
— Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres, pp. 223, 224. — Clavigero, Stor. 
del Messico, torn. i. p. 24.) The map is a copy from one in the curious 
collection of Siguenza. It has all the character of a genuine Aztec 
picture, with the appearance of being retouched, especially in the 
costumes, by some later artist. The painting of the four ages, in the 
Vatican Codex, No. 3730, represents, also, the two figures in the boat, 
escaping the great cataclysm. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. i. PI. 7. 

16 I have met with no other voucher for this remarkable tradition 
than Clavigero (Stor. del Messico, dissert. 1), a good, though cer- 
tainly not the best, authority, when he gives us no reason for our 
faith. Humboldt, however, does not distrust the tradition. (See Vues 


On the way between Vera Cruz and the capital, not 
far from the modern city of Puebla, stands the ven- 
erable relic — with which the reader has become familiar 
in the course of the narrative — called the temple of 
Cholula. It is, as he will remember, a pyramidal 
mound, built, or rather cased, with unburnt brick, 
rising to the height of nearly one hundred and eighty 
feet. The popular tradition of the natives is that it 
was erected by a family of giants, who had escaped 
the great inundation and designed to raise the building 
to the clouds ; but the gods, offended with their pre- 
sumption, sent fires from heaven on the pyramid, and 
compelled them to abandon the attempt. 17 The partial 
coincidence of this legend with the Hebrew account 
of the tower of Babel, received also by other nations 
of the East, cannot be denied.' 8 But one who has not 

des Cordilleres, p. 226.) He is not so skeptical as Vater ; who, in 
allusion to the stories of the Flood, remarks, " I have purposely omit- 
ted noticing the resemblance of religious notions, for I do not see how 
it is possible to separate from such views every influence of Christian 
ideas, if it be only from an imperceptible confusion in the mind of the 
narrator." Mithridates, oderallgemeineSprachenkunde( Berlin, 18 12), 
Theil iii. Abtheil. 3, p. 82, note. 

J 7 This story, so irreconcilable with the vulgar Aztec tradition, which 
admits only two survivors of the Deluge, was still lingering among 
the natives of the place on M. de Humboldt's visit there. (Vues 
des Cordilleres, pp. 31, 32.) It agrees with that given by the inter- 
preter of the Vatican Codex (Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi. p. 192, et seq.) ; 
a writer — probably a monk of the sixteenth century — in whom igno- 
rance and dogmatism contend for master)'. See a precious specimen 
of both, in his account of the Aztec chronology, in the very pages 
above referred to. 

18 A tradition, very similar to the Hebrew one, existed among the 
Chaldeans and the Hindoos. (Asiatic Researches, vol. iii. mem. 16.) 
The natives of Chiapa, also, according to the bishop Nunez de la 



examined the subject will scarcely credit what bold 
hypotheses have been reared on this slender basis. 

Another point of coincidence is found in the god- 
dess Cioacoatl, "our lady and mother;" "the first 
goddess who brought forth;" "who bequeathed the 
sufferings of childbirth to women, as the tribute of 
death;" " by whom sin came into the world." Such 
was the remarkable language applied by the Aztecs 
to this venerated deity. She was usually represented 
with a serpent near her ; and her name signified the 
" serpent- woman." In all this we see much to remind 
us of the mother of the human family, the Eve of the 
Hebrew and Syrian nations. 19 

Vega, had a story, cited as genuine by Humboldt (Vues des Cor- 
dilleres, p. 148), which not only agrees with the Scripture account of 
the manner in which Babel was built, but with that of the subsequent 
dispersion and the confusion of tongues. A very marvellous coinci- 
dence! But who shall vouch for the authenticity of the tradition? The 
bishop flourished towards the close of the seventeenth century. He drew 
his information from hieroglyphical maps, and an Indian MS., which 
Boturini in vain endeavored to recover. In exploring these, he bor- 
rowed the aid of the natives, who, as Boturini informs us, frequently 
led the good man into errors and absurdities ; of which he gives sev- 
eral specimens. (Idea, p. 116, et seq.) — Boturini himself has fallen 
into an error equally great, in regard to a map of this same Cholulan 
pyramid, which Clavigero shows, far from being a genuine antique, 
was the forgery of a later day. (Stor. del Messico, torn. i. p. 130, 
nota.) It is impossible to get a firm footing in the quicksands of tra- 
dition. The further we are removed from the Conquest, the more 
difficult it becomes to decide what belongs to the primitive Aztec and 
what to the Christian convert. 

'9 Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, lib. i, cap. 6 ; lib. 6, cap. 28, 33. 
— Torquemada, not content with the honest record of his predecessor, 
whose MS. lay before him, tells us that the Mexican Eve had two sons, 
Cain and Abel. (Monarch. Ind., lib. 6, cap. 31.) The ancient inter- 
preters of the Vatican and Tellerian Codices add the further tradition 


But none of the deities of the country suggested 
such astonishing analogies with Scripture as Quetzal- 
coatl, with whom the reader has already been made 
acquainted. 20 He was the white man, wearing a long 
beard, who came from the East, and who, after pre- 
siding over the golden age of Anahuac, disappeared as 
mysteriously as he had come, on the great Atlantic 
Ocean. As he promised to return at some future day, 
his reappearance was looked for with confidence by 
each succeeding generation. There is little in these 
circumstances to remind one of Christianity. But the 
curious antiquaries of Mexico found out that to this 
god were to be referred the institution of ecclesiastical 
communities, reminding one of the monastic societies 
of the Old World ; that of the rites of confession and 
penance ; and the knowledge even of the great doc- 
trines of the Trinity and the Incarnation ! 2I One party, 
with pious industry, accumulated proofs to establish 
his identity with the Apostle St. Thomas ; 22 while 

of her bringing sin and sorrow into the world by plucking the forbid- 
den rose (Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi., explan. of PI. 7, 20) ; and Veytia 
remembers to have seen a Toltec or Aztec map representing a garden 
with a single tree in it, round which was coiled the serpent with a 
human face ! (Hist, antig., lib. i, cap. 1.) After this we may be 
prepared for Lord Kingsborough's deliberate conviction that the 
" Aztecs had a clear knowledge of the Old Testament, and, most 
probably, of the New, though somewhat corrupted by time and hiero- 
glyphics" ! Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi. p. 409. 

20 Ante, vol. i. pp. 60, 61. 

21 Veytia, Hist, antig., lib. I, cap. 15. 

22 Ibid., lib. 1, cap. 19. — A sorry argument, even for a casuist. See, 
also, the elaborate dissertation of Dr. Mier (apud Sahagun, lib. 3, 
Suplem.), which settles the question entirely to the satisfaction of his 
reporter, Bustamante. 

3 68 


another, with less scrupulous faith, saw, in his antici- 
pated advent to regenerate the nation, the type, dimly 
veiled, of the Messiah ! 23 

Yet we should have charity for the missionaries who 
first landed in this world of wonders, where, while 
man and nature wore so strange an aspect, they were 
astonished by occasional glimpses of rites and ceremo- 
nies which reminded them of a purer faith. In their 
amazement, they did not reflect whether these things 
were not the natural expression of the religious feeling 
common to all nations who have reached even a mod- 
erate civilization. They did not inquire whether the 
same things were not practised by other idolatrous 
people. They could not suppress their wonder, as they 
beheld the Cross, the sacred emblem of their own faith, 
raised as an object of worship in the temples of Anahuac. 
They met with it in various places ; and the image of 
a cross may be seen at this day, sculptured in bas- 
relief, on the walls of one of the buildings of Palenque, 
while a figure bearing some resemblance to that of a 
child is held up to it, as if in adoration. 24 

*i See, among others, Lord Kingsborough's reading of the Borgian 
Codex, and the interpreters of the Vatican (Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi., 
explan. of PI. 3, 10, 41), equally well skilled with his lordship — and 
Sir Hudibras — in unravelling mysteries 

" Whose primitive tradition reaches 
As far as Adam's first green breeches." 

2 4 Antiquites Mexicaines, exped. 3, PI. 36. — The figures are sur- 
rounded by hieroglyphics of most arbitrary character, perhaps pho- 
netic. (See, also, Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 2, lib. 3, cap. 1. — 
Gomara, Cronica de la Nueva-Espana, cap. 15, ap. Barcia, torn, ii.) 
Mr. Stephens considers that the celebrated " Cozumel Cross," pre- 
served at Merida, which claims the credit of being the same originally 


Their surprise was heightened when they witnessed 
a religious rite which reminded them of the Christian 
communion. On these occasions an image of the tute- 
lary deity of the Aztecs was made of the flour of 
maize, mixed with blood, and, after consecration by 
the priests, was distributed among the people, who, as 
they ate it, "showed signs of humiliation and sorrow, 
declaring it was the flesh of the deity ! " 2S How could 
the Roman Catholic fail to recognize the awful cere- 
mony of the Eucharist ? 

With the same feelings they witnessed another cere- 
mony, that of the Aztec baptism; in which, after a 
solemn invocation, the head and lips of the infant were 
touched with water, and a name was given to it ; while 
the goddess Cioacoatl, who presided over childbirth, 
was implored " that the sin which was given to us be- 

worshipped by the natives of Cozumel, is, after all, nothing but a 
cross that was erected by the Spaniards in one of their own temples 
in that island after the Conquest. This fact he regards as " completely 
invalidating the strongest proof offered at this day that the Cross was 
recognized by the Indians as a symbol of worship." (Travels in Yu- 
catan, vol. ii. chap. 20.) But, admitting the truth of this statement, 
that the Cozumel Cross is only a Christian relic, which the ingenious 
traveller has made extremely probable, his inference is by no means 
admissible. Nothing could be more natural than that the friars in 
Merida should endeavor to give celebrity to their convent by making 
it the possessor of so remarkable a monument as the very relic which 
proved, in their eyes, that Christianity had been preached at some 
earlier date among the natives. But the real proof of the existence 
of the Cross, as an object of worship, in the New World, does not 
rest on such spurious monuments as these, but on the unequivocal 
testimony of the Spanish discoverers themselves. 

2 S " Lo recibian con gran reverencia, humiliacion, y lagrimas, dici- 
endo que comian la carne de su Dios." Veytia, Hist, antig., lib. 1, 
cap. 18. — Also, Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 24. 




fore the beginning of the world might not visit the 
child, but that, cleansed by these waters, it might live 
and be born anew !" z6 

It is true, these several rites were attended with 

s6 Ante, vol. i. p. 67. — Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espana, lib. 6, cap. 
37. — That the reader may see for himself how like, yet how unlike, 
the Aztec rite was to the Christian, I give the translation of Sahagun's 
account, at length : " When everything necessary for the baptism had 
been made ready, all the relations of the child were assembled, and 
the midwife, who was the person that performed the rite of baptism, 
was summoned. At early dawn, they met together in the court-yard 
of the house. When the sun had risen, the midwife, taking the child 
in her arms, called for a little earthen vessel of water, while those 
about her placed the ornaments which had been prepared for the bap- 
tism in the midst of the court. To perform the rite of baptism, she 
placed herself with her face towards the west, and immediately began 
to go through certain ceremonies. . . . After this she sprinkled water 
on the head of the infant, saying, ' O my child ! take and receive the 
water of the Lord of the world, which is our life, and is given for the 
increasing and renewing of our body. It is to wash and to purify. 
I pray that these heavenly drops may enter into your body, and dwell 
there ; that they may destroy and remove from you all the evil and 
sin which was given to you before the beginning of the world ; since 
all of us are under its power, being all the children of Chalchivitlycue ' 
[the goddess of water]. She then washed the body of the child with 
water, and spoke in this manner : ' Whencesoever thou comest, thou 
that art hurtful to this child, leave him and depart from him, for he now 
liveth anew, and is born anew ; now is he purified and cleansed afresh, 
and our mother Chalchivitlycue again bringeth him into the world.' 
Having thus prayed, the midwife took the child in both hands, and, 
lifting him towards heaven, said, ' O Lord, thou seest here thy creature, 
whom thou hast sent into this world, this place of sorrow, suffering, 
and penitence. Grant him, O Lord, thy gifts, and thine inspiration, 
for thou art the great God, and with thee is the great goddess.' 
Torches of pine were kept burning during the performance of these 
ceremonies. When these things were ended, they gave the child the 
name of some one of his ancestors, in the hope that he might shed a 
new lustre over it. The name was given by the same midwife, or 
priestess, who baptized him." 



many peculiarities, very unlike those in any Christian 
church. But the fathers fastened their eyes exclu- 
sively on the points of resemblance. They were not 
aware that the Cross was a symbol of worship, of the 
highest antiquity, in Egypt and Syria, *> and that rites 
resembling those of communion 28 and baptism were 
practised by pagan nations on whom the light of 
Christianity had never shone. 29 In their amazement, 
they not only magnified what they saw, but were per- 
petually cheated by the illusions of their own heated 
imaginations. In this they were admirably assisted by 
their Mexican converts, proud to establish — and half 

=7 Among Egyptian symbols we meet with several specimens of the 
Cross. One, according to Justus Lipsius, signified " life to come." 
(See his treatise, De Cruce (Lutetias Parisiorum, 1598), lib. 3, cap. 
8.) We find another in Champollion's catalogue, which he interprets 
"support or saviour." (Precis, torn, ii., Tableau gen., Nos. 277, 34S.) 
Some curious examples of the reverence paid to this sign by the 
ancients have been collected by McCulloh (Researches, p. 330, et 
seq.), and by Humboldt, in his late work, Geographie du Nouveau- 
Continent, torn. ii. p. 354, et seq. 

z8 " Ante, Deos homini quod conciliare valeret 
Far erat," 

says Ovid. (Fastorum, lib. I, v. 337.) Count Carli has pointed out 
a similar use of consecrated bread, and wine or water, in the Greek 
and Egyptian mysteries. (Lettres Americ, torn. i. let. 27.) See, also, 
McCulloh, Researches, p. 240, et seq. 

=9 Water for purification and other religious rites is frequently noticed 
by the classical writers. Thus Euripides : 

" 'Ayvolc; Kadap/iolg npura viv viipai deku. 
Qu.7i.aaaa kXv&i navra Tavdpunuv naica." 

Iphig. inTaur., vv. 1192, 1194. 
The notes on this place, in the admirable Variorum edition of Glas- 
gow, 1821, contain references to several passages of similar import in 
different authors. 



believing it themselves — a correspondence between 
their own faith and that of their conquerors. 30 

The ingenuity of the chronicler was taxed to find 
out analogies between the Aztec and Scripture histories, 
both old and new. The migration from Aztlan to 
Anahuac was typical of the Jewish exodus. 31 The 
places where the Mexicans halted on the march were 
identified with those in the journey of the Israelites ; 3S 
and the name of Mexico itself was found to be nearly 
identical with the Hebrew name for the Messiah. 33 
The Mexican hieroglyphics afforded a boundless field 
for the display of this critical acuteness. The most 
remarkable passages in the Old and New Testaments 
were read in their mysterious characters ; and the eye 
of faith could trace there the whole story of the Pas- 

3° The difficulty of obtaining anything like a faithful report from 
the natives is the subject of complaint from more than one writer, and 
explains the great care taken by Sahagun to compare their narratives 
with each other. See Hist, de Nueva-Espafia, Prologo, — Ixtlilxo- 
chitl, Hist. Chich., MS., Prol., — Boturini, Idea, p. 116. 

3* The parallel was so closely pressed by Torquemada that he was 
compelled to suppress the chapter containing it, on the publication of 
his book. See the Proemio to the edition of 1723, sec. 2. 

3= " The devil," says Herrera, " chose to imitate, in everything, the 
departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and their subsequent wander- 
ings." (Hist, general, dec. 3, lib. 3, cap. 10.) But all that has been 
done by monkish annalist and missionary to establish the parallel with 
the children of Israel falls far short of Lord Kingsborough's learned 
labors, spread over nearly two hundred folio pages. (See Antiq. of 
Mexico, torn. vi. pp. 282-410.) Quantum, inane I 

33 The word rviPD, from which is derived Christ, "the anointed," 
is still more nearly — not " precisely," as Lord Kingsborough states 
(Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi. p. 186) — identical with that of Mexi, or 
Mesi, the chief who was said to have led the Aztecs on the plains of 



sion, the Saviour suspended from the cross, and the 
Virgin Mary with her attendant angels ! 34 

The Jewish and Christian schemes were strangely 
mingled together, and the brains of the good fathers 
were still further bewildered by the mixture of heathen- 
ish abominations which were so closely intertwined 
with the most orthodox observances. In their per- 
plexity, they looked on the whole as the delusion of 
the devil, who counterfeited the rites of Christianity 
and the traditions of the chosen people, that he might 
allure his wretched victims to their own destruction. 35 

But, although it is not necessary to resort to this 
startling supposition, nor even to call up an apostle 
from the dead, or any later missionary, to explain the 
coincidences with Christianity, yet these coincidences 
must be allowed to furnish an argument in favor of 
some primitive communication with that great brother- 
hood of nations on the old continent, among whom 
similar ideas have been so widely diffused. The 
probability of such a communication, especially 
with Eastern Asia, is much strengthened by the re- 
semblance of sacerdotal institutions, and of some re- 
ligious rites, as those of marriage, 36 and the burial of 

34 Interp. of Cod. Tel. -Rem. et Vat., Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi. — 
Sahagun, Hist, de Nueva-Espaiia, lib. 3, Suplem. — Veytia, Hist, 
antig., lib. 1, cap. 16. 

35 This opinion finds favor with the best Spanish and Mexican 
writers, from the Conquest downwards. Solis sees nothing improba- 
ble in the fact that " the malignant influence, so frequently noticed in 
sacred history, should be found equally in profane." Hist, de la 
Conquista, lib. 2, cap. 4. 

36 The bridal ceremony of the Hindoos, in particular, contains 
curious points of analogy with the Mexican (See Asiatic Researches 

Vol. III. 32 



the dead ; * by the practice of human sacrifices, and 
even of cannibalism, traces of which are discernible in 
the Mongol races; 38 and, lastly, by a conformity of 
social usages and manners, so striking that the descrip- 
tion of Montezuma's court may well pass for that of the 
Grand Khan's, as depicted by Maundeville and Marco 
Polo. 39 It would occupy too much room to go into 
details in this matter, without which, however, the 
strength of the argument cannot be felt, nor fully estab- 
lished. It has been done by others ; and an occasional 
coincidence has been adverted to in the preceding 

It is true, we should be very slow to infer identity, 
or even correspondence, between nations, from a par- 
tial resemblance of habits and institutions. Where 

vol. vii. mem. 9.) The institution of a numerous priesthood, with the 
practices of confession and penance, was familiar to the Tartar people. 
(Maundeville, Voiage, chap. 23.) And monastic establishments were 
found in Thibet and Japan from the earliest ages. Humboldt, Vues 
des Cordilleres, p. 179. 

37 " Doubtless," says the ingenious Carli, " the fashion of burning 
the corpse, collecting the ashes in a vase, burying them under pyram- 
idal mounds, with the immolation of wives and servants at the funeral, 
all remind one of the customs of Egypt and Hindostan." Lettres 
Americ, torn. ii. let. 10. 

3 8 Marco Polo notices a civilized people in Southeastern China, and 
another in Japan, who drank the blood and ate the flesh of their cap- 
tives, esteeming it the most savory food in the world, — " lapiu saporita 
et migliore, che si possa truovar al mondo." (Viaggi, lib. 2, cap. 75 ; lib. 
3, 13, 14.) The Mongols, according to Sir John Maundeville, regarded 
the ears " sowced in vynegre" as a particular dainty. Voiage, chap. 23. 

39 Marco Polo, Viaggi, lib. 2, cap. 10. — Maundeville, Voiage, cap. 
20, et alibi. — See, also, a striking parallel between the Eastern Asiatics 
and Americans, in the Supplement to Ranking's " Historical Re- 
searches;" a work embodying many curious details of Oriental 
history and manners in support of a whimsical theory. 



this relates to manners, and is founded on caprice, it 
is not more conclusive than when it flows from the 
spontaneous suggestions of nature, common to all. 
The resemblance, in the one case, may be referred to 
accident ; in the other, to the constitution of man. 
But there are certain arbitrary peculiarities, which, 
when found in different nations, reasonably suggest 
the idea of some previous communication between 
them. Who can doubt the existence of an affinity, or, 
at least, intercourse, between tribes who had the same 
strange habit of burying the dead in a sitting posture, as 
was practised to some extent by most, if not all, of the 
aborigines, from Canada to Patagonia?* The habit 
of burning the dead, familiar to both Mongols and 
Aztecs, is in itself but slender proof of a common ori- 
gin. The body must be disposed of in some way; and 
this, perhaps, is as natural as any other. But when to 
this is added the circumstance of collecting the ashes 
in a vase and depositing the single article of a precious 
stone along with them, the coincidence is remarkable. 41 

40 Morton, Crania Americana (Philadelphia, 1839), pp. 224-246. — 
The industrious author establishes this singular fact by examples 
drawn from a great number of nations in North and South America. 

4 1 Gomara, Cronica de la Nueva-Espana, cap. 202, ap. Barcia, tom. 
ii. — Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. i. pp. 94, 95. — McCulloh (Re- 
searches, p. 198), who cites the Asiatic Researches. — Dr. McCulloh, 
in his single volume, has probably brought together a larger mass of 
materials for the illustration of the aboriginal history of the continent 
than any other writer in the language. In the selection of his facts 
he has shown much sagacity, as well as industry ; and, if the formal 
and somewhat repulsive character of the style has been unfavorable to 
a popular interest, the work must always have an interest for those 
who are engaged in the study of the Indian antiquities. His fanciful 
speculations on the subject of Mexican mythology may amuse those 
whom they fail to convince. 


Such minute coincidences are not unfrequent ; while 
the accumulation of those of a more general character, 
though individually of little account, greatly strength- 
ens the probability of a communication with the East. 

A proof of a higher kind is found in the analogies of 
science. We have seen the peculiar chronological sys- 
tem of the Aztecs; their method of distributing the 
years into cycles, and of reckoning by means of peri- 
odical series, instead of numbers. A similar process 
was used by the various Asiatic nations of the Mongol 
family, from India to Japan. Their cycles, indeed, 
consisted of sixty, instead of fifty-two, years ; and for 
the terms of their periodical series they employed the 
names of the elements and the signs of the zodiac, of 
which latter the Mexicans, probably, had no knowl- 
edge. But the principle was precisely the same. 42 

A correspondence quite as extraordinary is found 
between the hieroglyphics used by the Aztecs for the 
signs of the days, and those zodiacal signs which the 
Eastern Asiatics employed as one of the terms of their 
series. The symbols in the Mongolian calendar are 
borrowed from animals. Four of the twelve are the 
same as the Aztec. Three others are as nearly the same 
as the different species of animals in the two hemispheres 
would allow. The remaining five refer to no creature 
then found in Anahuac. 43 The resemblance went as 

42 Ante, vol. i. p. 114, et seq. 

43 This will be better shown by enumerating the zodiacal signs, used 
as the names of the years by the Eastern Asiatics. Among the Mon- 
gols, these were — 1, mouse ; 2, ox; 3, leopard; 4, hare; 5, crocodile; 
6, serpent; 7, horse; 8, sheep; 9, monkey; 10, hen; 11, dog; 12, 
hog. The Mantchou Tartars, Japanese, and Thibetians have nearly 
the same terms, substituting, however, for No. 3, tiger; 5, dragon; 



far as it could. 44 The similarity of these conventional 
symbols among the several nations of the East can 
hardly fail to carry conviction of a common origin for 
the system, as regards them. Why should not a similar 
conclusion be applied to the Aztec calendar, which, 
although relating to days instead of years, was, like 
the Asiatic, equally appropriated to chronological uses 
and to those of divination ? 4S 

I shall pass over the further resemblance to the Per- 

8, goat. In the Mexican signs for the names of the days we also meet 
with hare, serpent, monkey, dog. Instead of the " leopard," " croco- 
dile," and "hen," — neither of which animals was known in Mexico 
at the time of the Conquest, — we find the ocelotl, the lizard, and the 
eagle. — The lunar calendar of the Hindoos exhibits a correspondence 
equally extraordinary. Seven of the terms agree with those of the 
Aztecs, namely, serpent, cane, razor, path of the sun, dog's tail, house. 
(Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres, p. 152.) These terms, it will be 
observed, are still more arbitrarily selected, not being confined to 
animals; as, indeed, the hieroglyphics of the Aztec calendar were 
derived indifferently from them, and other objects, like the signs of 
our zodiac. These scientific analogies are set in the strongest light by 
M. de Humboldt, and occupy a large and, to the philosophical in- 
quirer, the most interesting portion of his great work. (Vues des 
Cordilleres, pp. 125-194.) He has not embraced in his tables, how- 
ever, the Mongol calendar, which affords even a closer approximation 
to the Mexican than that of the other Tartar races. Comp. Ranking, 
Researches, pp. 370, 371, note. 

44 There is some inaccuracy in Humboldt's definition of the ocelotl 
as " the tiger," " the jaguar." (Ibid., p. 159.) It is smaller than the 
jaguar, though quite as ferocious, and is as graceful and beautiful as 
the leopard, which it more nearly resembles. It is a native of New 
Spain, where the tiger is not known. (See Buffon, Histoire naturelle 
(Paris, An VIII), torn, ii., vox Ocelotl.) The adoption of this latter 
name, therefore, in the Aztec calendar, leads to an inference somewhat 

45 Both the Tartars and the Aztecs indicated the year by its sign ; 
as the " year of the hare" or " rabbit," etc. The Asiatic signs, like- 



sians, shown in the adjustment of time by a similar 
system of intercalation ; 46 and to the Egyptians, in the 
celebration of the remarkable festival of the winter 
solstice; 47 since, although sufficiently curious, the co- 
incidences might be accidental, and add little to the 
weight of evidence offered by an agreement in com- 
binations of so complex and artificial a character as 
those before stated. 

Amid these intellectual analogies, one would expect 
to meet with that of language, the vehicle of intellect- 
ual communication, which usually exhibits traces of its 
origin even when the science and literature that are 
embodied in it have widely diverged. No inquiry, 
however, has led to less satisfactory results. The lan- 
guages spread over the Western continent far exceed 
in number those found in any equal population in the 
Eastern. 48 They exhibit the remarkable anomaly of 

wise, far from being limited to the years and months, presided also 
over days, and even hours. (Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres, p. 
165.) The Mexicans had also astrological symbols appropriated to 
the hours. Gama, Descripcion, Parte 2, p. 117. 

4 6 Ante, vol. i. p. 115, note. 

47 Achilles Tatius notices a custom of the Egyptians, — who, as the 
sun descended towards Capricorn, put on mourning, but, as the days 
lengthened, their fears subsided, they robed themselves in white, and, 
crowned with flowers, gave themselves up to jubilee, like the Aztecs. 
This account, transcribed by Carli's French translator, and by M. 
de Humboldt, is more fully criticised by M. Jomard in the Vues des 
Cordilleres, p. 309, et seq. 

4 8 Jefferson (Notes on Virginia (London, 1787), p. 164), confirmed 
by Humboldt (Essai politique, torn. i. p. 353). Mr. Gallatin comes 
to a different conclusion. (Transactions of American Antiquarian 
Society (Cambridge, 1836), vol. ii. p. 161.) The great number of 
American dialects and languages is well explained by the unsocial 
nature of a hunter's life, requiring the country to be parcelled out 
into small and separate territories for the means of subsistence. 



differing as widely in etymology as they agree in or- 
ganization ; and, on the other hand, while they bear 
some slight affinity to the languages of the Old World 
in the former particular, they have no resemblance to 
them whatever in the latter. 49 The Mexican was 
spoken for an extent of three hundred leagues. But 
within the boundaries of New Spain more than twenty 
languages were found ; not simply dialects, but, in 
many instances, radically different. 50 All these idioms, 
however, with one exception, conformed to that pe- 
culiar synthetic structure by which every Indian dia- 
lect appears to have been fashioned, from the land of 
the Esquimaux to Terra del Fuego ; 5I a system which, 
bringing the greatest number of ideas within the 
smallest possible compass, condenses whole sentences 
into a single word, 52 displaying a curious mechanism, 

49 Philologists have, indeed, detected two curious exceptions, in the 
Congo and primitive Basque; from which, however, the Indian lan- 
guages differ in many essential points. See Du Ponceau's Report, 
ap. Transactions of the Lit. and Hist. Committee of the Am. Phil. 
Society, vol. i. 

S° Vater (Mithridates, Theil iii. Abtheil. 3, p. 70), who fixes on the 
Rio Gila and the Isthmus of Darien as the boundaries within which 
traces of the Mexican language were to be discerned. Clavigero 
estimates the number of dialects at thirty-five. I have used the more 
guarded statement of M. de Humboldt, who adds that fourteen of 
these languages have been digested into dictionaries and grammars. 
Essai politique, torn. i. p. 352. 

5« No one has done so much towards establishing this important 
fact as that estimable scholar, Mr. Du Ponceau. And the frankness 
with which he has admitted the exception that disturbed his favorite 
hypothesis shows that he is far more wedded to science than to system. 
See an interesting account of it, in his prize essay before the Institute, 
Memoire sur le Systeme grammaticale des Langues de quelques 
Nations Indiennes de l'Amerique. (Paris, 1838.) 

5 2 The Mexican language, in particular, is most flexible ; admitting 


in which some discern the hand of the philosopher, 
and others only the spontaneous efforts of the savage. 53 
The etymological affinities detected with the ancient 
continent are not very numerous, and they are drawn 
indiscriminately from all the tribes scattered over 
America. On the whole, more analogies have been 
found with the idioms of Asia than of any other quar- 
ter. But their amount is too inconsiderable to balance 
the opposite conclusion inferred by a total dissimilarity 
of structure. 54 A remarkable exception is found in 
the Othomi or Otomi language, which covers a wider 
territory than any other but the Mexican in New 
Spain, 53 and which, both in its monosyllabic composi- 
tion, so different from those around it, and in its vo- 

of combinations so easily that the most simple ideas are often buried 
under a load of accessories. The forms of expression, though pic- 
turesque, were thus made exceedingly cumbrous. A " priest," for 
example, was called nollazomahuizteopixcatatzin, meaning " venerable 
minister of God, that I love as my father." A still more comprehen- 
sive word is amatlacuilolitquitcatlaxtlahuitli, signifying " the reward 
given to a messenger who bears a hieroglyphical map conveying 

53 See, in particular, for the latter view of the subject, the arguments 
of Mr. Gallatin, in his acute and masterly disquisition on the Indian 
tribes ; a disquisition that throws more light on the intricate topics of 
which it treats than whole volumes that have preceded it. Transac- 
tions of the American Antiquarian Society, vol. ii., Introd., sec. 6. 

54 This comparative anatomy of the languages of the two hemi- 
spheres, begun by Barton (Origin of the Tribes and Nations of Amer- 
ica (Philadelphia, 1797) ), has been extended by Vater (Mithridates, 
Theil iii. Abtheil. 1, p. 348, et seq.). A selection of the most striking 
analogies may be found, also, in Malte Brun, book 75, table. 

55 Othomi, from otho, " stationary," and mi, " nothing." (Najera. 
Dissert., i/t infra.) The etymology intimates the condition of this 
rude nation of warriors, who, imperfectly reduced by the Aztec arms, 
roamed over the high lands north of the Valley of Mexico. 


cabulary, shows a very singular affinity to the Chinese. s<s 
The existence of this insulated idiom in the heart of 
this vast continent offers a curious theme for specula- 
tion, entirely beyond the province of history. 

The American languages, so numerous and widely 
diversified, present an immense field of inquiry, which, 
notwithstanding the labors of several distinguished 
philologists, remains yet to be explored. It is only 
after a wide comparison of examples that conclusions 
founded on analogy can be trusted. The difficulty of 
making such comparisons increases with time, from 
the facility which the peculiar structure of the Indian 
languages affords for new combinations ; while the 
insensible influence of contact with civilized man, in 
producing these, must lead to a still further distrust of 
our conclusions. 

The theory of an Asiatic origin for Aztec civiliza- 
tion derives stronger confirmation from the light of 
tradition, which, shining steadily from the far North- 
west, pierces through the dark shadows that history 
and mythology have alike thrown around the tradi- 
tions of the country. Traditions of a Western or 
Northwestern origin were found among the more bar- 
barous tribes, 57 and by the Mexicans were preserved 

5* See Najera's Dissertatio De Lingua Othomitoram, ap. Transac- 
tions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. v. New Series. — 
The author, a learned Mexican, has given a most satisfactory analysis 
of this remarkable language, which stands alone among the idioms of 
the New World, as the Basque — the solitary wreck, perhaps, of a 
primitive age — exists among those of the Old. 

57 Barton, p. 92. — Heckewelder, chap. 1, ap. Transactions of the 
Hist, and Lit. Committee of the Am. Phil. Soc, vol. i. — The various 
traditions have been assembled by M. Warden, in the Antiquites 
Mexicaines, part 2, p. 185, et seq. 


both orally and in their hieroglyphical maps, where 
the different stages of their migration are carefully 
noted. But who, at this day, shall read them? 38 
They are admitted to agree, however, in representing 
the populous North as the prolific hive of the Ameri- 
can races. 59 In this quarter were placed their Aztlan 
and their Huehuetlapallan, — the bright abodes of their 
ancestors, whose warlike exploits rivalled those which 
the Teutonic nations have recorded of Odin and the 
mythic heroes of Scandinavia. From this quarter the 

s 8 The recent work of Mr. Delafield (Inquiry into the Origin of the 
Antiquities of America (Cincinnati, 1839) ) has an engraving of one 
of these maps, said to have been obtained by Mr. Bullock from Botu- 
rini's collection. Two such are specified on page 10 of that antiquary's 
Catalogue. This map has all the appearance of a genuine Aztec 
painting, of the rudest character. We may recognize, indeed, the 
symbols of some dates and places, with others denoting the aspect of 
the country, whether fertile or barren, a state of war or peace, etc. But 
it is altogether too vague, and we know too little of the allusions, to 
gather any knowledge from it of the course of the Aztec migration. — 
Gemelli Carreri's celebrated chart contains the names of many places 
on the route, interpreted, perhaps, by Siguenza himself, to whom it 
belonged (Giro del Mondo, torn. vi. p. 56) ; and Clavigero has en- 
deavored to ascertain the various localities with some precision. (Stor. 
del Messico, torn. i. p. 160, et seq.) But, as they are all within the 
boundaries of New Spain, and, indeed, south of the Rio Gila, they 
throw little light, of course, on the vexed question of the primitive 
abodes of the Aztecs. 

59 This may be fairly gathered from the agreement of the tradi- 
tionary interpretations of the maps of the various people of Anahuac, 
according to Veytia ; who, however, admits that it is " next to impossi- 
ble," with the lights of the present day, to determine the precise route 
taken by the Mexicans. (Hist, antig., torn. i. cap. 2.) Lorenzana is 
not so modest. " Los Mexicanos por tradicion vinieron por el norte," 
says he, " y se saben ciertamente sus mansiones." (Hist, de Nueva- 
Espana, p. 81 , nota.) There are some antiquaries who see best in the 


Toltecs, the Chichimecs, and the kindred races of the 
Nahuatlacs came successively up the great plateau of 
the Andes, spreading over its hills and valleys, down 
to the Gulf of Mexico. 60 

Antiquaries have industriously sought to detect some 
still surviving traces of these migrations. In the north- 
western districts of New Spain, at the distance of a 
thousand miles from the capital, dialects have been 
discovered showing intimate affinity with the Mexican. 61 
Along the Rio Gila, remains of populous towns are to 
be seen, quite worthy of the Aztecs in their style of 
architecture. 62 The country north of the great Rio 
Colorado has been imperfectly explored ; but in the 

60 Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 2, et seq. — Idem, Relaciones, 
MS. — Veytia, Hist, antig., ubi supra. — Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., 
torn. i. lib. 1. 

61 In the province of Sonora, especially along the Californian Gulf. 
The Cora language, above all, of which a regular grammar has been 
published, and which is spoken in New Biscay, about 30 north, so 
much resembles the Mexican that Vater refers them both to a common 
Stock. Mithridates, Theil iii. Abtheil. 3, p. 143. 

62 On the southern bank of this river are ruins of large dimensions, 
described by the missionary Pedro Font on his visit there in 1775. 
(Antiq. of Mexico, vol. vi. p. 538.) — At a place of the same name, 
Casas Grandes, about 33 north, and, like the former, a supposed 
station of the Aztecs, still more extensive remains are to be found ; 
large enough, indeed, according to a late traveller, Lieut. Hardy, 
for a population of 20,000 or 30,000 souls. The country for 
leagues is covered with these remains, as well as with utensils of 
earthen-ware, obsidian, and other relics. A drawing which the author 
has given of a painted jar or vase may remind one of the Etruscan. 
" There were, also, good specimens of earthen images in the Egyp- 
tian style," he observes, " which are, to me at least, so perfectly unin- 
teresting that I was at no pains to procure any of them." (Travels 
in the Interior of Mexico (London, 1829), pp. 464-466.) The lieu- 
tenant was neither a Boturini nor a Belzoni. 


higher latitudes, in the neighborhood of Nootka, tribes 
still exist whose dialects, both in the termination and 
general sound of the words, bear considerable resem- 
blance to the Mexican. 63 Such are the vestiges, few, 
indeed, and feeble, that still exist to attest the truth of 
traditions which themselves have remained steady and 
consistent through the lapse of centuries and the mi- 
grations of successive races. 

The conclusions suggested by the intellectual and 
moral analogies with Eastern Asia derive considerable 
support from those of a physical nature. The aborigi- 
nes of the Western World were distinguished by certain 
peculiarities of organization, which have led physiolo- 
gists to regard them as a separate race. These pecu- 
liarities are shown in their reddish complexion, ap- 
proaching a cinnamon color ; their straight, black, and 
exceedingly glossy hair ; their beard thin, and usually 
eradicated ; 64 their high cheek-bones, eyes obliquely 
directed towards the temples, prominent noses, and 
narrow foreheads falling backwards with a greater 
inclination than those of any other race except the 
African. 63 From this general standard, however, there 

6 3 Vater has examined the languages of three of these nations, 
between 50° and 6o° north, and collated their vocabularies with the 
Mexican, showing the probability of a common origin of many of the 
words in each. Mithridates, Theil iii. Abtheil. 3, p. 212. 

6 4 The Mexicans are noticed by M. de Humboldt as distinguished 
from the other aborigines whom he had seen, by the quantity both 
of beard and moustaches. (Essai politique, torn. i. p. 361.) The 
modern Mexican, however, broken in spirit and fortunes, bears as 
little resemblance, probably, in physical as in moral characteristics to 
his ancestors, the fierce and independent Aztecs. 

6 5 Prichard, Physical History, vol. i. pp. 167-169, 182, et seq.— 


are deviations, in the same manner, if not to the same 
extent, as in other quarters of the globe, though these 
deviations do not seem to be influenced by the same 
laws of local position. 66 Anatomists, also, have dis- 
cerned in crania disinterred from the mounds, and in 
those of the inhabitants of the high plains of the Cor- 
dilleras, an obvious difference from those of the more 
barbarous tribes. This is seen especially in the ampler 
forehead, intimating a decided intellectual superiority. 67 
These characteristics are found to bear a close resem- 
blance to those of the Mongolian family, and especially 
to the people of Eastern Tartary; 68 so that, notwith- 
standing certain differences recognized by physiolo- 
gists, the skulls of the two races could not be readily 

— Morton, Crania Americana, p. 66. — McCulloh, Researches, p. 18. 
— Lawrence, Lectures, pp. 317, 565. 

66 Thus we find, amidst the generally prevalent copper or cinna- 
mon tint, nearly all gradations of color, from the European white, to 
a black, almost African ; while the complexion capriciously varies 
among different tribes in the neighborhood of each other. See exam- 
ples in Humboldt (Essai politique, torn. i. pp. 358, 359), also Prichard 
(Physical History, vol. ii. pp. 452, 522, et alibi), a writer whose various 
research and dispassionate judgment have made his work a text-book 
in this department of science. 

*7 Such is the conclusion of Dr. Warren, whose excellent collec- 
tion has afforded him ample means for study and comparison. (See 
his Remarks before the British Association for the Advancement of 
Science, ap. London Athenaeum, Oct. 1837.) In the specimens col- 
lected by Dr. Morton, however, the barbarous tribes would seem to 
have a somewhat larger facial angle, and a greater quantity of brain, 
than the semi-civilized. Crania Americana, p. 259. 

68 " On ne peut se refuser d'admettre que l'espece humaine n'offre 
pas de races plus voisines que le sont celles des Americains, des Mon- 
gols, des Mantchoux, et des Malais." Humboldt, Essai politique, 
torn. i. p. 367. — Also, Prichard, Physical History, vol. i. pp. 184-186 
vol. ii. pp. 365-367. — Lawrence, Lectures, p. 365. 
Vol. III.— r m 


distinguished from one another by a common observer. 
No inference can be surely drawn, however, without a 
wide range of comparison. That hitherto made has 
been chiefly founded on specimens from the barbarous 
tribes. 69 Perhaps a closer comparison with the more 
civilized may supply still stronger evidence of affinity. 70 
In seeking for analogies with the Old World, we 
should not pass by in silence the architectural remains 
of the country, which, indeed, from their resemblance 

*9 Dr. Morton's splendid work on American crania has gone far 
to supply the requisite information. Out of about one hundred and 
fifty specimens of skulls, of which he has ascertained the dimensions 
with admirable precision, one-third belong to the semi-civilized races; 
and of them thirteen are Mexican. The number of these last is too 
small to found any general conclusions upon, considering the great 
diversity found in individuals of the same nation, not to say kindred. — 
Blumenbach's observations on American skulls were chiefly made, 
according to Prichard (Physical History, vol. i. pp. 183, 184), from 
specimens of the Carib tribes, as unfavorable, perhaps, as any on the 

70 Yet these specimens are not so easy to be obtained. With un- 
common advantages for procuring these myself in Mexico, I have 
not succeeded in obtaining any specimens of the genuine Aztec skull. 
The difficulty of this may be readily comprehended by any one who 
considers the length of time that has elapsed since the Conquest, and 
that the burial-places of the ancient Mexicans have continued to be 
used by their descendants. Dr. Morton more than once refers to his 
specimens as those of the "genuine Toltec skull, from cemeteries 
in Mexico, older than the Conquest." (Crania Americana, pp. 152, 
155, 231, et alibi.) But how does he know that the heads are Toltec? 
That nation is reported to have left the country about the middle of 
the eleventh century, nearly eight hundred years ago, — according to 
Ixtlilxochitl, indeed, a century earlier; and it seems much more 
probable that the specimens now found in these burial-places should 
belong to some of the races who have since occupied the country, 
than to one so far removed. The presumption is manifestly too feeble 
to authorize any positive inference. 


to the pyramidal structures of the East, have suggested 
to more than one antiquary the idea of a common ori- 
gin. 71 The Spanish invaders, it is true, assailed the 
Indian buildings, especially those of a religious char- 
acter, with all the fury of fanaticism. The same spirit 
survived in the generations which succeeded. The 
war has never ceased against the monuments of the 
country ; and the few that fanaticism has spared have 
been nearly all demolished to serve the purposes of 
utility. Of all the stately edifices, so much extolled 
by the Spaniards who first visited the country, there 
are scarcely more vestiges at the present day than are 
to be found in some of those regions of Europe and 
Asia which once swarmed with populous cities, the 
great marts of luxury and commerce. 72 Yet some of 
these remains, like the temple of Xochicalco, 73 the 

7» The tower of Belus, with its retreating stories, described by 
Herodotus (Clio, sec. 181), has been selected as the model of the 
teocalli; which leads Vater somewhat shrewdly to remark that it is 
strange no evidence of this should appear in the erection of similar 
structures by the Aztecs in the whole course of their journey to Ana- 
huac. (Mithridates, Theil iii. Abtheil. 3, pp. 74, 75.) The learned 
Niebuhr finds the elements of the Mexican temple in the mythic tomb 
of Porsenna. (Roman History, Eng. trans. (London, 1827), vol. i. 
p. 88.) The resemblance to the accumulated pyramids composing 
this monument is not very obvious. Comp. Pliny (Hist. Nat., lib. 36, 
sec. 19). Indeed, the antiquarian maybe thought to encroach on the 
poet's province when he finds in Etruscan fable — " cum omnia excedat 
fabulositas," as Pliny characterizes this — the origin of Aztec science. 

7 2 See the powerful description of Lucan, Pharsalia, lib. 9, v. 966. 
— The Latin bard has been surpassed by the Italian, in the beautiful 
stanza beginning Giace i alta Cartago (Gierusalemme Liberata, c. 
15, s. 20), which may be said to have been expanded by Lord Byron 
into a canto, — the fourth of Childe Harold. 

73 The most remarkable remains on the proper Mexican soil are the 


palaces of Tezcotzinco, 74 the colossal calendar-stone in 
the capital, are of sufficient magnitude, and wrought 
with sufficient skill, to attest mechanical powers in the 
Aztecs not unworthy to be compared with those of the 
ancient Egyptians. 

But, if the remains on the Mexican soil are so 
scanty, they multiply as we descend the southeastern 

temple or fortress of Xochicalco, not many miles from the capital. It 
stands on a rocky eminence, nearly a league in circumference, cut into 
terraces faced with stone. The building on the summit is seventy-five 
feet long and sixty-six broad. It is of hewn granite, put together 
without cement, but with great exactness. It was constructed in the 
usual pyramidal, terraced form, rising by a succession of stories, each 
smaller than that below it. The number of these is now uncertain ; 
the lower one alone remaining entire. This is sufficient, however, to 
show the nice style of execution, from the sharp, salient cornices, and 
the hieroglyphical emblems with which it is covered, all cut in the hard 
stone. As the detached blocks found among the ruins are sculptured 
with bas-reliefs in like manner, it is probable that the whole building 
was covered with them. It seems probable, also, as the same pattern 
extends over different stones, that the work was executed after the 
walls were raised. — In the hill beneath, subterraneous galleries, six 
feet wide and high, have been cut to the length of one hundred and 
eighty feet, where they terminate in two halls, the vaulted ceilings of 
which connect by a sort of tunnel with the buildings above. These 
subterraneous works are also lined with hewn stone. The size of the 
blocks, and the hard quality of the granite of which they consist, have 
made the buildings of Xochicalco a choice quarry for the proprietors 
of a neighboring sugar-refinery, who have appropriated the upper 
stories of the temple to this ignoble purpose ! The Barberini at least 
built palaces, beautiful themselves, as works of art, with the plunder 
of the Coliseum. See the full description of this remarkable build- 
ing, both by Dupaix and Alzate. (Antiquites Mexicaines, torn. i. Exp. 
i, pp. 15-20 ; torn. iii. Exp. 1, PI. 33.) A recent investigation has 
been made by order of the Mexican government, the report of which 
differs, in some of its details, from the preceding. Revista Mexicana, 
torn. i. mem. 5. 
74 Ante, vol. i. pp. 183-185. 



slope of the Cordilleras, traverse the rich Valley of 
Oaxaca, and penetrate the forests of Chiapa and Yuca- 
tan. In the midst of these lonely regions we meet 
with the ruins, recently discovered, of several ancient 
cities, Mitla, Palenque, and Itzalana or Uxmal, 75 which 
argue a higher civilization than anything yet found on 
the American continent ; and, although it was not the 
Mexicans who built these cities, yet, as they are prob- 
ably the work of cognate races, the present inquiry 
would be incomplete without some attempt to ascer 
tain what light they can throw on the origin of the 
Indian, and consequently of the Aztec, civilization. 76 
Few works of art have been found in the neighbor- 
hood of any of the ruins. Some of them, consisting 
of earthen or marble vases, fragments of statues, and 
the like, are fantastic, and even hideous ; others show 
much grace and beauty of design, and are apparently 

75 It is impossible to look at Waldeck's finished drawings of 
buildings, where Time seems scarcely to have set his mark on 
the nicely chiselled stone, and the clear tints are hardly defaced by 
a weather-stain, without regarding the artist's work as a restoration ; 
a picture true, it may be, of those buildings in the day of their 
glory, but not of their decay. — Cogolludo, who saw them in the 
middle of the seventeenth century, speaks of them with admira- 
tion, as works of " accomplished architects," of whom history has 
preserved no tradition. Historia de Yucatan (Madrid, 1688), lib. 
4, cap. 2. 

7 6 In the original text is a description of some of these ruins, espe- 
cially of those of Mitla and Palenque. It would have had novelty 
at the time in which it was written, since the only accounts of these 
buildings were in the colossal publications of Lord Kingsborough, 
and in the Antiquites Mexicaines, not very accessible to most readers. 
But it is unnecessary to repeat descriptions now familiar to every one, 
and so much better executed than they can be by me, in the spirited 
pages of Stephens. 




well executed. 77 It may seem extraordinary that no 
iron in the buildings themselves, nor iron tools, should 
have been discovered, considering that the materials 
used are chiefly granite, very hard, and carefully hewn 
and polished. Red copper chisels and axes have been 
picked up in the midst of large blocks of granite im- 
perfectly cut, with fragments of pillars and architraves, 
in the quarries near Mitla. 78 Tools of a similar kind 
have been discovered, also, in the quarries near Thebes; 
and the difficulty, nay, impossibility, of cutting such 
masses from the living rock with any tools which we 
possess, except iron, has confirmed an ingenious writer 
in the supposition that this metal must have been em- 
ployed by the Egyptians, but that its tendency to de- 
composition, especially in a nitrous soil, has prevented 
any specimens of it from being preserved. 79 Yet iron 
has been found, after the lapse of some thousands of 
years, in the remains of antiquity; and it is certain 
that the Mexicans, down to the time of the Conquest, 
used only copper instruments, with an alloy of tin, 
and a silicious powder, to cut the hardest stones, 
some of them of enormous dimensions. 80 This fact, 
with the additional circumstance that only similar 

77 See, in particular, two terra-cotta busts with helmets, found in 
Oaxaca, which might well pass for Greek, both in the style of the 
heads and the casques that cover them. Antiquites Mexicaines, torn, 
iii. Exp. 2, PI. 36. 

7 8 Dupaix speaks of these tools as made of pure copper. But doubt- 
less there was some alloy mixed with it, as was practised by the Aztecs 
and Egyptians ; otherwise their edges must have been easily turned 
by the hard substances on which they were employed. 

79 Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii. pp. 246-254. 

80 Ante, vol. i. p. 142. 


39 1 

tools have been found in Central America, strengthens 
the conclusion that iron was neither known there nor 
in ancient Egypt. 

But what are the nations of the Old Continent 
whose style of architecture bears most resemblance to 
that of the remarkable monuments of Chiapa and 
Yucatan ? The points of resemblance will probably 
be found neither numerous nor decisive. There is, 
indeed, some analogy both to the Egyptian and Asiatic 
style of architecture in the pyramidal, terrace-formed 
bases on which the buildings repose, resembling also 
the Toltec and Mexican teocalli. A similar care, also, 
is observed in the people of both hemispheres to adjust 
the position of their buildings by the cardinal points. 
The walls in both are covered with figures and hiero- 
glyphics, which, on the American as on the Egyptian, 
may be designed, perhaps, to record the laws and his- 
torical annals of the nation. These figures, as well 
as the buildings themselves, are found to have been 
stained with various dyes, principally vermilion ; 8l a 
favorite color with the Egyptians also, who painted 
their colossal statues and temples of granite. 82 Not- 
withstanding these points of similarity, the Palenque 
architecture has little to remind us of the Egyptian or 
of the Oriental. It is, indeed, more conformable, in 

8 « Waldeck, Atlas pittoresque, p. 73. — The fortress of Xochicalco was 
also colored with a red paint (Antiquites Mexicaines, torn. i. p. 20); 
and a cement of the same color covered the Toltec pyramid at Teoti- 
huacan, according to Mr. Bullock, Six Months in Mexico, vol. ii. p. 143. 

8a Description de l'£gypte, Antiq., torn. ii. cap. 9, sec. 4. — The huge 
image of the Sphinx was originally colored red. (Clarke's Travels, 
vol. v. p. 202.) Indeed, many of the edifices, as well as statues, of 
ancient Greece, also, still exhibit traces of having been painted. 



the perpendicular elevation of the walls, the moderate 
size of the stones, and the general arrangement of the 
parts, to the European. It must be admitted, how- 
ever, to have a character of originality peculiar to itself. 
More positive proofs of communication with the 
East might be looked for in their sculpture and in the 
conventional forms of their hieroglyphics. But the 
sculptures on the Palenque buildings are in relief, un- 
like the Egyptian, which are usually in intaglio. The 
Egyptians were not very successful in their representa- 
tions of the human figure, which are on the same 
invariable model, always in profile, from the greater 
facility of execution this presents over the front view ; 
the full eye is placed on the side of the head, while 
the countenance is similar in all, and perfectly desti- 
tute of expression. 83 The Palenque artists were equally 
awkward in representing the various attitudes of the 
body, which they delineated also in profile. But the 
parts are executed with much correctness, and some- 
times gracefully ; the costume is rich and various ; and 
the ornamented head-dress, typical, perhaps, like the 
Aztec, of the name and condition of the person repre- 
sented, conforms in its magnificence to the Oriental 
taste. The countenance is various, and often expressive. 
The contour of the head is, indeed, most extraordinary, 
describing almost a semicircle from the forehead to 
the tip of the nose, and contracted towards the crown, 

8 3 The various causes of the stationary condition of art in Egypt, 
for so many ages, are clearly exposed by the duke di Serradifalco, in 
his Antichita della Sicilia (Palermo, 1834, torn. ii. pp. 33, 34) ; a work 
in which the author, while illustrating the antiquities of a little island, 
has thrown a flood of light on the arts and literary culture of ancient 



whether from the artificial pressure practised by many 
of the aborigines, or from some preposterous notion 
of ideal beauty. 84 But, while superior in the execu- 
tion of the details, the Palenque artist was far inferior 
to the Egyptian in the number and variety of the 
objects displayed by him, which on the Theban tem- 
ples comprehend animals as well as men, and almost 
every conceivable object of use or elegant art. 

The hieroglyphics are too few on the American 
buildings to authorize any decisive inference. On 
comparing them, however, with those of the Dresden 
Codex, probably from this same quarter of the coun- 
try, 83 with those on the monument of Xochicalco, and 
with the ruder picture-writing of the Aztecs, it is not 
easy to discern any thing which indicates a common 
system. Still less obvious is the resemblance to the 
Egyptian characters, whose refined and delicate abbre- 
viations approach almost to the simplicity of an alpha- 
bet. Yet the Palenque writing shows an advanced 

84 "The ideal is not always the beautiful," as Winckelmann truly 
says, referring to the Egyptian figures. (Histoire de l'Art chez les 
Anciens, liv. 4, chap. 2, trad. Fr.) It is not impossible, however, that 
the portraits mentioned in the text may be copies from life. Some of 
the rude tribes of America distorted their infants' heads into forms 
quite as fantastic ; and Garcilaso de la Vega speaks of a nation dis- 
covered by the Spaniards in Florida, with a formation apparently not 
unlike the Palenque: "Tienen cabezas increiblemente largas , y ahu- 
sadas para arriba, que las ponen asi con artificio, atandoselas desde e) 
punto, que nascen las criaturas, hasta que son de nueve 6 diez anas." 
La Florida (Madrid, 1723), p. 190. 

8 5 For a notice of this remarkable codex, see ante, vol. i. p. 107. 
There is, indeed, a resemblance, in the use of straight lines and dots, 
between the Palenque writing and the Dresden MS. Possibly these 
dots denoted years, like the rounds in the Mexican system. 




stage of the art, and, though somewhat clumsy, in- 
timates, by the conventional and arbitrary forms of 
the hieroglyphics, that it was symbolical, and perhaps 
phonetic, in its character. 86 That its mysterious im- 
port will ever be deciphered is scarcely to be expected. 
The language of the race who employed it, the race 
itself, is unknown. And it is not likely that another 
Rosetta stone will be found, with its trilingual inscrip- 
tion, to supply the means of comparison, and to guide 
the American Champollion in the path of discovery. 

It is impossible to contemplate these mysterious 
monuments of a lost civilization without a strong 
feeling of curiosity as to who were their architects and 
what is their probable age. The data on which to rest 
our conjectures of their age are not very substantial ; 
although some find in them a warrant for an antiquity 
of thousands of years, coeval with the architecture of 
Egypt and Hindostan. 87 But the interpretation of 

86 The hieroglyphics are arranged in perpendicular lines. The heads 
are uniformly turned towards the right, as in the Dresden MS. 

8 7 " Les mines, " says the enthusiastic chevalier Le Noir, "sans 
nom, a qui Ton a donne celui de Palenque, peuvent remonter comme 
les plus anciennes ruines du monde a trois mille ans. Ceci n'est point 
mon opinion seule ; c'est celle de tous les voyageurs qui ont vu les 
ruines dont il s'agit, de tous les archeologues qui en ont examine les 
dessins ou lu les descriptions, enfin des historiens qui ont fait des 
recherches, et qui n'ont rien trouve dans les annales du monde qui 
fasse soupconner l'epoque de la fondation de tels monuments, dont 
l'origine se perd dans la nuit des temps." (Antiquites Mexicaines, 
torn, ii., Examen, p. 73.) Colonel Galindo, fired with the contempla- 
tion of the American ruins, pronounces this country the true cradle 
of civilization, whence it passed over to China, and latterly to Europe, 
which, whatever " its foolish vanity" may pretend, has but just started 
in the march of improvement 1 See his Letter on Copan, ap. Trans, 
of Am. Ant. Soc, vol. ii. 



hieroglyphics, and the apparent duration of trees, are 
vague and unsatisfactory. 88 And how far can we derive 
an argument from the discoloration and dilapidated 
condition of the ruins, when we find so many struc- 
tures of the Middle Ages dark and mouldering with 
decay, while the marbles of the Acropolis and the 
gray stone of Paestum still shine in their primitive 
splendor ? 

There are, however, undoubted proofs of consider- 
able age to be found there. Trees have shot up in the 
midst of the buildings, which measure, it is said, more 
than nine feet in diameter. 89 A still more striking 
fact is the accumulation of vegetable mould in one of 
the courts, to the depth of nine feet above the pave- 
ment. 90 This in our latitude would be decisive of a 
very great antiquity. But in the rich soil of Yucatan, 
and under the ardent sun of the tropics, vegetation 
bursts forth with irrepressible exuberance, and genera- 
tions of plants succeed each other without intermis- 
sion, leaving an accumulation of deposits that would 
have perished under a northern winter. Another evi- 

88 From these sources of information, and especially from the num- 
ber of the concentric rings in some old trees, and the incrustation of 
stalactites found on the ruins of Palenque, M. Waldeck computes 
their age at between two and three thousand years. (Voyage en 
Yucatan, p. 78.) The criterion, as far as the trees are concerned, can- 
not be relied on in an advanced stage of their growth ; and as to the 
stalactite formations, they are obviously affected by too many casual 
circumstances, to afford the basis of an accurate calculation. 

89 Waldeck, Voyage en Yucatan, ubi supra. 

9« Antiquites Mexicaines, Examen, p. 76. — Hardly deep enough, 
however, to justify Captain Dupaix's surmise of the antediluvian 
existence of these buildings ; especially considering that the accumu- 
lation was in the sheltered position of an interior court. 


dence of their age is afforded by the circumstance that 
in one of the courts of Uxmal the granite pavement, 
on which the figures of tortoises were raised in relief, 
is worn nearly smooth by the feet of the crowds who 
have passed over it ; 9I a curious fact, suggesting infer- 
ences both in regard to the age and population of the 
place. Lastly, we have authority for carrying back 
the date of many of these ruins to a certain period, 
since they were found in a deserted, and probably di- 
lapidated, state by the first Spaniards who entered the 
country. Their notices, indeed, are brief and casual, 
for the old Conquerors had little respect for works of 
art ; 92 and it is fortunate for these structures that they 

9 1 Waldeck, Voyage en Yucatan, p. 97. 

9 2 The chaplain of Grijalva speaks with admiration of the " lofty 
towers of stone and lime, some of them very ancient," found in Yu- 
catan. (Itinerario, MS. (1518).) Bernal Diaz, with similar expres- 
sions of wonder, refers the curious antique relics found there to the 
Jews. (Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 2, 6.) Alvarado, in a letter to 
Cortes, expatiates on the " maravillosos et grandes edificios" to be 
seen in Guatemala. (Oviedo, Hist, de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 42.) 
According to Cogolludo, the Spaniards, who could get no tradition 
of their origin, referred them to the Phoenicians or Carthaginians. 
(Hist, de Yucatan, lib. 4, cap. 2.) He cites the following emphatic 
notice of these remains from Las Casas: " Ciertamente la tierra de 
Yucathan da &. entender cosas mui especiales, y de mayor antiguedad, 
por las grandes, admirables, y excessivas maneras de edificios, y letre- 
ros de ciertos caracteres, que en otra ninguna parte se hallan." (Loc. 
cit.) Even the inquisitive Martyr has collected no particulars respect- 
ing them, merely noticing the buildings of this region with general 
expressions of admiration. (De Insulis nuper Inventis, pp. 334-340.) 
What is quite as surpiising is the silence of Cortes, who traversed the 
country forming the base of Yucatan, in his famous expedition to 
Honduras, of which he has given many details we would gladly have 
exchanged for a word respecting these interesting memorials. Carta 
Quinta de Cortes, MS. — I must add that some remarks in the above 



had ceased to be the living temples of the gods, since 
no merit of architecture, probably, would have availed 
to save them from the general doom of the monuments 
of Mexico. 

If we find it so difficult to settle the age of these 
buildings, what can we hope to know of their archi- 
tects? Little can be gleaned from the rude people by 
whom they are surrounded. The old Tezcucan chron- 
icler so often quoted by me, the best authority for the 
traditions of his country, reports that the Toltecs, on 
the breaking up of their empire, — which he places, 
earlier than most authorities, in the middle of the 
tenth century, — migrating from Anahuac, spread them- 
selves over Guatemala, Tehuan tepee, Campeachy, and 
the coasts and neighboring isles on both sides of the 
Isthmus. 93 This assertion, important, considering its 
source, is confirmed by the fact that several of the 
nations in that quarter adopted systems of astronomy 
and chronology, as well as sacerdotal institutions, very 
similar to the Aztec, 94 which, as we have seen, were 

paragraph in the text would have been omitted, had I enjoyed the 
benefit of Mr. Stephens's researches when it was originally written. 
This is especially the case with the reflections on the probable condi- 
tion of these structures at the time of the Conquest ; when some of 
them would appear to have been still used for their original purposes. 

93 " Asimismo los Tultecas que escaparon se fueron por las costas 
del Mar del Sur y Norte, como son Huatimala, Tecuantepec, Cuauh- 
zacualco, Campechy, Tecolotlan, y los de las Islas y Costas de una 
mar y otra, que despues se vinieron i. multiplicar." Ixtlilxochitl. 
Relaciones, MS., No. 5. 

94 Herrera, Hist, general, dec. 4, lib. 10, cap. 1-4. — Cogolludo, Hist, 
de Yucatan, lib. 4, cap. 5. — Pet. Martyr, De Insulis, ubi supra. — M. 
Waldeck comes to just the opposite inference, namely, that the in- 
habitants of Yucatan were the true sources of the Toltec and Aztec 

Vol. III.— 34 


also probably derived from the Toltecs, their more 
polished predecessors in the land. 

If so recent a date for the construction of the Ameri- 
can buildings be thought incompatible with this ob- 
livion of their origin, it should be remembered how 
treacherous a thing is tradition, and how easily the 
links of the chain are severed. The builders of the 
pyramids had been forgotten before the time of the 
earliest Greek historians. 95 The antiquary still dis- 
putes whether the frightful inclination of that archi- 
tectural miracle, the tower of Pisa, standing as it does 
in the heart of a populous city, was the work of ac- 
cident or design. And we have seen how soon the 
Tezcucans, dwelling amidst the ruins of their royal 
palaces, built just before the Conquest, had forgotten 
their history, while the more inquisitive traveller refers 
their construction to some remote period before the 
Aztecs. 96 

The reader has now seen the principal points of 
coincidence insisted on between the civilization of 
ancient Mexico and the Eastern hemisphere. In pre- 
senting them to him, I have endeavored to confine 
myself to such as rest on sure historic grounds, and 
not so much to offer my own opinion as to enable him 
to form one for himself. There are some material em- 
barrassments in the way to this, however, which must 

civilization. (Voyage en Yucatan, p. 72.) " Doubt must be our lot 
in everything," exclaims the honest Captain Dupaix, — " the true faith 
always excepted." Antiquites Mexicaines, torn. i. p. 21. 

95 " Inter omnes eos non constat a quibus factae sint, justissimo 
casu, obliteratis tantae vanitatis auctoribus." Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. 
36, cap. 17. 

96 Ante, vol. i. p. 186. 



not be passed over in silence. These consist, not in 
explaining the fact that, while the mythic system and 
the science of the Aztecs afford some striking points 
of analogy with the Asiatic, they should differ in so 
many more ; for the same phenomenon is found among 
the nations of the Old World, who seem to have bor- 
rowed from one another those ideas, only, best suited 
to their peculiar genius and institutions. Nor does the 
difficulty lie in accounting for the great dissimilarity 
of the American languages to those in the other hemi- 
sphere; for the difference with these is not greater than 
what exists among themselves; and no one will contend 
for a separate origin for each of the aboriginal tribes. 97 
But it is scarcely possible to reconcile the knowledge 
of Oriental science with the total ignorance of some 
of the most serviceable and familiar arts, as the use of 
milk and iron, for example ; arts so simple, yet so im- 
portant to domestic comfort, that when once acquired 
they could hardly be lost. 

The Aztecs had no useful domesticated animals. 
And we have seen that they employed bronze, as a 
substitute for iron, for all mechanical purposes. The 
bison, or wild cow of America, however, which ranges 
in countless herds over the magnificent prairies of the 
west, yields milk like the tame animal of the same 
species in Asia and Europe; 98 and iron was scattered 

97 At least, this is true of the etymology of these languages, and, 
as such, was adduced by Mr. Edward Everett, in his Lectures on the 
Aboriginal Civilization of America, forming part of a course delivered 
some years since by that acute and highly accomplished scholar. 

9 s The mixed breed, from the buffalo and the European stock, was 
known formerly in the northwestern counties of Virginia, says Mr. 
Gallatin (Synopsis, sec. 5); who is, however, mistaken in asserting 



in large masses over the surface of the table-land. Yet 
there have been people considerably civilized in East- 
ern Asia who were almost equally strangers to the use 
of milk." The buffalo range was not so much on the 
western coast as on the eastern slopes of the Rocky 
Mountains; 100 and the migratory Aztec might well 
doubt whether the wild, uncouth monsters whom he 
occasionally saw bounding with such fury over the 
distant plains were capable of domestication, like the 
meek animals which he had left grazing in the green 
pastures of Asia. Iron, too, though met with on the 
surface of the ground, was more tenacious, and harder 
to work, than copper, which he also found in much 
greater quantities on his route. It is possible, more- 

that " the bison is not known to have ever been domesticated by the 
Indians." (Ubi supra.) Gomara speaks of a nation, dwelling about 
40 north latitude, on the northwestern borders of New Spain, whose 
chief wealth was in droves of these cattle {buyes con una giba sobre la 
cruz, " oxen with a hump on the shoulders"), from which they got fhei, 
clothing, food, and drink, which last, however, appears to have been 
only the blood of the animal. Historia de las Indias, cap. 214, ap. 
Barcia, torn. ii. 

99 The people of parts of China, for example, and, above all, of 
Cochin China, who never milk their cows, according to Macartney, 
cited by Humboldt, Essai politique, torn. iii. p. 58, note. See, also, 
p. 118. 

100 Th e native regions of the buffalo were the vast prairies of the 
Missouri, and they wandered over the long reach of country east of 
the Rocky Mountains, from 55 north, to the headwaters of the 
streams between the Mississippi and the Rio del Norte. The Colum- 
bia plains, says Gallatin, were as naked of game as of trees. (Synop- 
sis, sec. 5.) That the bison was sometimes found also on the other 
side of the mountains, is plain from Gomara's statement. (Hist, de 
las Ind., loc. cit.) See, also, Laet, who traces their southern wan- 
derings to the river Vaquimi(?), in the province of Cinaloa, on the 
Californian Gulf. Novus Orbis (Lugd. Bat , 1633), p. 286. 



over, that his migration may have been previous to the 
time when iron was used by his nation ; for we have 
seen more than one people in the Old World employ- 
ing bronze and copper with entire ignorance, appar- 
ently, of any more serviceable metal. 101 — Such is the 
explanation, unsatisfactory, indeed, but the best that 
suggests itself, of this curious anomaly. 

The consideration of these and similar difficulties 
has led some writers to regard the antique American 
civilization as purely indigenous. Whichever way we 
turn, the subject is full of embarrassment. It is easy, 
indeed, by fastening the attention on one portion of 
it, to come to a conclusion. In this way, while some 
feel little hesitation in pronouncing the American 
civilization original, others, no less certainly, discern 
in it a Hebrew, or an Egyptian, or a Chinese, or a 
Tartar origin, as their eyes are attracted by the light 

101 Ante, vol. i. p. 142. 
Thus Lucretius : 

" Et prior seris erat, quam ferri cognitus usus, 
Quo facilis magis est natura, et copia major. 
jEre solum terras tractabant, aereque belli 
Miscebant fluctus." 

£>e Rerum Natura, lib. 5. 

According to Carli, the Chinese were acquainted with iron 3000 
years before Christ. (Lettres Americ, torn. ii. p. 63.) Sir J. G. 
Wilkinson, in an elaborate inquiry into its first appearance among the 
people of Europe and Western Asia, finds no traces of it earlier than 
the sixteenth century before the Christian era. (Ancient Egyptians 
vol. iii. pp. 241-246.) The origin of the most useful arts is lost in 
darkness. Their very utility is one cause of this, from the rapidity 
with which they are diffused among distant nations. Another cause 
is, that in the first ages of the discovery men are more occupied with 
availing themselves of it than with recor ing its history; until time 
turns history into fiction. Instances are familiar to every school-boy. 



of analogy too exclusively to this or the other quarter. 
The number of contradictory lights, of itself, per- 
plexes the judgment and prevents us from arriving at a 
precise and positive inference. Indeed, the affectation 
of this, in so doubtful a matter, argues a most unphilo- 
sophical mind. Yet where there is most doubt there is 
often the most dogmatism. 

The reader of the preceding pages may perhaps 
acquiesce in the general conclusions, — not startling 
by their novelty, — 

First, that the coincidences are sufficiently strong to 
authorize a belief that the civilization of Anahuac was 
in some degree influenced by that of Eastern Asia. 

And, secondly, that the discrepancies are such as to 
carry back the communication to a very remote period ; 
so remote that this foreign influence has been too feeble 
to interfere materially with the growth of what may be 
regarded in its essential features as a peculiar and in- 
digenous civilization. 





No. i. — See vol. i. p. 153. 


[I have thought it best to have this translation made 
in the most literal manner, that the reader may have a 
correct idea of the strange mixture of simplicity, ap- 
proaching to childishness, and moral sublimity, which 
belongs to the original. It is the product of the twilight 
of civilization.] 

My beloved daughter, very dear little dove, you have already 
heard and attended to the words which your father has told you. 
They are precious words, and such as are rarely spoken or listened 
to, and which have proceeded from the bowels and heart in which 
they were treasured up ; and your beloved father well knows that you 
are his daughter, begotten of him, are his blood, and his flesh ; and 
God our Lord knows that it is so. Although you are a woman, and 
are the image of your father, what more can I say to you than has al- 
ready been said ? What more can you hear than what you have heard 
from your lord and father ? who has fully told you what it is becoming 
for you to do and to avoid ; nor is there anything remaining, which 
concerns you, that he has not touched upon. Nevertheless, that I 
may do towards you my whole duty, I will say to you some few words. 



— The first thing that I earnestly charge upon you is, that you observe 
and do not forget what your father has now told you, since it is all 
very precious ; and persons of his condition rarely publish such things ; 
for they are the words which belong to the noble and wise, — valuable 
as rich jewels. See, then, that you take them and lay them up in your 
heart, and write them in your bowels. If God gives you life, with 
these same words will you teach your sons and daughters, if God shall 
give you them. — The second thing that I desire to say to you is, that 
I love you much, that you are my dear daughter. Remember that 
nine months I bore you in my womb, that you were born and brought 
up in my arms. I placed you in your cradle, and in my lap, and with 
my milk I nursed you. This I tell you, in order that you may know 
that I and your father are the source of your being ; it is we who now 
instruct you. See that you receive our words, and treasure them in 
your breast. — Take care that your garments are such as are decent 
and proper ; and observe that you do not adorn yourself with much 
finery, since this is a mark of vanity and of folly. As little becoming 
is it, that your dress should be very mean, dirty, or ragged ; since rags 
are a mark of the low, and of those who are held in contempt. Let 
your clothes be becoming and neat, that you may neither appear fan- 
tastic nor mean. When you speak, do not hurry your words from 
uneasiness, but speak deliberately and calmly. Do not raise your 
voice very high, nor speak very low, but in a moderate tone. Neither 
mince, when you speak, nor when you salute, nor speak through your 
nose ; but let your words be proper, of a good sound, and your voice 
gentle. Do not be nice in the choice of your words. In walking, my 
daughter, see that you behave becomingly, neither going with haste, 
nor too slowly ; since it is an evidence of being puffed up, to walk too 
slowly, and walking hastily causes a vicious habit of restlessness and 
instability. Therefore neither walk very fast, nor very slow; yet, 
when it shall be necessary to go with haste, do so, — in this use your 
discretion. And when you may be obliged to jump over a pool of 
water, do it with decency, that you may neither appear clumsy nor 
light. When you are in the street, do not carry your head much in- 
clined, or your body bent ; nor as little go with your head very much 
raised ; since it is a mark of ill breeding ; walk erect, and with your 
head slightly inclined. Do not have your mouth covered, or your 
face, from shame, nor go looking like a near-sighted person, nor, on 
your way, make fantastic movements with your feet. Walk through 
the street quietly, and with propriety. Another thing that you must 



attend to, my daughter, is, that when you are in the street you do 
not go looking hither and thither, nor turning your head to look at 
this and that ; walk neither looking at the skies nor on the ground. 
Do not look upon those whom you meet with the eyes of an offended 
person, nor have the appearance of being uneasy ; but of one who looks 
upon all with a serene countenance ; doing this, you will give no one 
occasion of being offended with you. Show a becoming countenance ; 
that you miy neither appear morose, nor, on the other hand, too com- 
plaisant. See, my daughter, that you give yourself no concern about 
the words you may hear, in going through the street, nor pay any regard 
to them, let those who come and go say what they will. Take care 
that you neither answer nor speak, but act as if you neither heard 
nor understood them ; since, doing in this manner, no one will be able 
to say with truth that you have said anything amiss. See, likewise, 
my daughter, that you never paint your face, or stain it or your lips 
with colors, in order to appear well ; since this is a mark of vile and 
unchaste women. Paints and coloring are things which bad women 
use, — the immodest, who have lost all shame and even sense, who are 
like fools and drunkards, and are called ravieras [prostitutes]. But, 
that your husband may not dislike you, adorn yourself, wash yourself, 
and cleanse your clothes ; and let this be done with moderation ; since 
if every day you wash yourself and your clothes it will be said of you 
that you are over-nice, — too delicate ; they will call you tapepetzon 
tinemaxoch. — My daughter, this is the course you are to take ; since 
in this manner the ancestors from whom you spring brought us up. 
Those noble and venerable dames, your grandmothers, told us not so 
many things as I have told you, — they said but few words, and spoke 
thus : " Listen, my daughters ; in this world it is necessary to live with 
much prudence and circumspection. Hear this allegory, which I shall 
now tell you, and preserve it, and take from it a warning and example 
for living aright. Here, in this world, we travel by a very narrow, 
steep, and dangerous road, which is as a lofty mountain ridge, on 
whose top passes a narrow path ; on either side is a great gulf without 
bottom ; and if you deviate from the path you will fall into it. There 
is need, therefore, of much discretion in pursuing the road." My ten- 
derly loved daughter, my little dove, keep this illustration in your heart, 
and see that you do not forget it, — it will be to you as a lamp and a 
beacon so long as you shall live in this world. Only one thing remains 
to be said, and I have done. If God shall give you life, if you shall 
continue some years upon the earth, see that you guard yourself care- 


fully, that no stain come upon you ; should you forfeit your chastity, 
and afterwards be asked in marriage and should marry any one, you 
will never be fortunate, nor have true love, — he will always remember 
that you were not a virgin, and this will be the cause of great affliction 
and distress ; you will never be at peace, for your husband will always 
be suspicious of you. O my dearly beloved daughter, if you shall 
live upon the earth, see that not more than one man approaches you ; 
and observe what I now shall tell you, as a strict command. When 
it shall please God that you receive a husband, and you are placed 
under his authority, be free from arrogance, see that you do not 
neglect him, nor allow your heart to be in opposition to him. Be not 
disrespectful to him. Beware that in no time or place you commit 
the treason against him called adultery. See that you give no favor 
to another ; since this, my dear and much-loved daughter, is to fall 
into a pit without bottom, from which there will be no escape. Ac- 
cording to the custom of the world, if it shall be known, for this crime 
they will kill you, they will throw you into the street, for an example 
to all the people, where your head will be crushed and dragged upon 
the ground. Of these says a proverb, " You will be stoned and dragged 
upon the earth, and others will take warning at your death." From 
this will arise a stain and dishonor upon our ancestors, the nobles and 
senators from whom we are descended. You will tarnish their illus- 
trious fame, and their glory, by the filthiness and impurity of your sin. 
You will, likewise, lose your reputation, your nobility, and honor of 
birth ; your name will be forgotten and abhorred. Of you will it be 
said that you were buried in the dust of your sins. And remember, 
my daughter, that, though no man shall see you, nor your husband 
ever know what happens, God, who is in every place, sees you, will be 
angry with you, and will also excite the indignation of the people 
against you, and will be avenged upon you as he shall see fit. By his 
command, you shall either be maimed, or struck blind, or your body 
will wither, or you will come to extreme poverty, for daring to injure 
your husband. Or perhaps he will give you to death, and put you 
under his feet, sending you to the place of torment. Our Lord is 
compassionate ; but, if you commit treason against your husband, 
God, who is in every place, shall take vengeance on your sin, and will 
permit you to have neither contentment, nor repose, nor a peaceful 
life ; and he will excite your husband to be always unkind towards 
you, and always to speak to you with anger. My dear daughter, 
whom I tenderly love, see that you live in the world in peace, tran- 



quillity, and contentment, all the days that you shall live. See that 
you disgrace not yourself, that you stain not your honor, nor pollute 
the lustre and fame of your ancestors. See that you honor me and 
your father, and reflect glory on us by your good life. May God 
prosper you, my fust-born, and may you come to God, who is in every 

No. II. — See vol. i. p. 175. 


[This poem was fortunately rescued from the fate of 
too many of the Indian MSS., by the chevalier Botu- 
rini, and formed part of his valuable Museo. It was 
subsequently incorporated in the extensive collection 
of documents made by Father Manuel de la Vega, in 
Mexico, 1792. This magnificent collection was made 
in obedience to an enlightened order of the Spanish 
government, " that all such MSS. as could be found in 
New Spain, fitted to illustrate the antiquities, geogra- 
phy, civil, ecclesiastical, and natural history of Amer- 
ica, should be copied and transmitted to Madrid." 
This order was obeyed, and the result was a collection 
of thirty-two volumes in folio, which, amidst much 
that is trivial and of little worth, contains also a mass 
of original materials, of inestimable value to the his- 
torian of Mexico and of the various races who occu- 
pied the country of New Spain.] 

Un rato cantar quiero, 
pues la ocasion y el tiempo se ofrece j 
Vol. III.— s 35 



ser admitido espero, 

si intento lo merece ; 

y comienzo mi canto, 

aunque fuera mejor llamarle llanto, 

Y tu, querido Amigo, 

goza la amenidad de aquestas flores, 

alegrate conmigo ; 

desechemos de pena los temores, 

que el gusto trae medida, 

por ser al fin con fin la mala vida. 

Io tocare cantando 
el musico instrumento sonoroso, 
tu de flores gozando 
danza, y festeja a Dios que es Poderoso, 
gocemos de esta gloria, 
porque la humana vida es transitoria, 

De Ocblehacan pusiste 
en esta noble Corte, y siendo tuyo, 
tus sillas, y quisiste 
vestirlas ; donde arguyo, 
que con grandeza tanta 
el Imperio se aumenta y se levanta. 

Oyoyotzin prudente, 
famoso Rey y singular Monarca, 
goza del bien presente, 
que lo presente lo florido abarca ; 
porque vendra algun dia 
que busques este gusto y alegria. 

Entonces tu Fortuna 
te ha de quitar el Cetro de la mano, 
ha de menguar tu Luna 
no te veras tan fuerte y tan ufano ; 
entonces tus criados 
de todo bien seran desamparados. 

Y en tan triste suceso 

los nobles descendientes de tu nido, 

de Principes el peso, 

los que de nobles Padres han nacido, 

faltando tu Cabeza, 

gustaran la amargura de pobreza. 


Y traerdn & la memoria 

quien fuiste en pompa de todos envidiada 

tus triunfos y victoria ; 

y con la gloria y Magestad pasada 

cotejando pesares, 

de lagrimas haran crecidas Mares. 

Y estos tus descendientes, 
que te sirven de pluma y de corona 
de ti viendose ausentes, 

de Culhuacan estranaran la cuna, 

y tenidos por tales 

con sus desdichas crecerdn sus males. 

Y de esta grandeza rara, 
digna de mil coronas y blasones, 
sera la fama avara ; 

solo se acordaran en las naciones, 

lo bien que governaron, 

las tres Cabezas que el imperio honraron. 

En Mexico famosa 
Moctezuma, valor de pecho Indiano ; 
A Culhuacan dichosa 
de Necahualcoyotl rigio la mano ; 
Acatlapan la fuerte 
Totoquilhuastli le salio por suerte. 

Y ningun olvido temo 

de lo bien que tu reyno dispusfste, 

estando en el supremo 

lugar, que de la mano recibiste 

de aquel Senor del Mundo, 

factor de aquestas cosas sin segundo. 

Y goza pues muy gustoso, 

O Necahualcoyotl, lo que agora tienes 

con flores de este hermoso 

jardin corona tus ilustres sienes ; 

oye mi canto, y lira 

que a darte gustos y placeres tira. 

Y los gustos de esta vida, 

sus riquezas, y mandos son prestados, 

son sustancia fingida, 

con apanencias solo matizados ; 



y es tan gran verdad esta, 

que & una pregunta me has de dar respuesta, 

I Y que es de Cihuapan, 
y Quantzintecomtzin el valiente, 
y Conahuatzin ; 
que es de toda esa gente ? 
sus voces ; \ agora acaso ! 
ya estan en la otra vida, este es el caso. 

| Ojala los, que agora 
juntos los tiene del amor el hilo, 
que amistad atesora, 
vieramos de la muerte el duro filo ! 
porque no hay bien seguro, 
que siempre trae mudanza a lo futuro, 

Now would I sing, since time and place 

Are mine, — and oh ! with thee 
May this my song obtain the grace 

My purpose claims for me. 
I wake these notes on song intent, 
But call it rather a lament. 
Do thou, beloved, now delight 
In these my flowers, pure and bright, 

Rejoicing with thy friend ; 
Now let us banish pain and fear, 
For, if our joys are measured here, 

Life's sadness hath its end. 

And I will strike, to aid my voice, 

The deep, sonorous chord ; 
Thou, dancing, in these flowers rejoice, 

And feast Earth's mighty Lord ; 
Seize we the glories of to-day, 
For mortal life fleets fast away. — 
In Ocblehacan, all thine own, 
Thy hand hath placed the noble throne 


Which thou hast richly dressed • 
From whence I argue that thy sway 
Shall be augmented day by day, 

In rising greatness blessed. 

Wise Oyoyotzin 1 prudent king ! 

Unrivalled Prince, and great ! 
Enjoy the fragrant flowers that spring 

Around thy kingly state ; 
A day will come which shall destroy 
Thy present bliss, — thy present joy, — 
When fate the sceptre of command 
Shall wrench from out thy royal hand, — 

Thy moon diminished rise ; 
And, as thy pride and strength are quenched, 
From thy adherents shall be wrenched 

All that they love or prize. 

When sorrow shall my truth attest, 

And this thy throne decline, — 
The birds of thy ancestral nest, 

The princes of thy line, — 
The mighty of thy race, — shall see 
The bitter ills of poverty ; — 
And then shall memory recall 
Thy envied greatness, and on all 

Thy brilliant triumphs dwell ; 
And as they think on by-gone years, 
Compared with present shame, their tears 

Shall to an ocean swell. 

And those who, though a royal band, 

Serve thee for crown, or plume, 
Remote from Culhuacan's land 

Shall find the exile's doom. 
Deprived of thee, — their rank forgot,— 
Misfortune shall o'erwhelm their lot. 
Then fame shall grudgingly withhold 
Her meed to greatness, which of old 

Blazons and crowns displayed ; 




The people will retain alone 
Remembrance of that triple throne 
Which this our land obeyed. 

Brave Moctezuma's Indian land 

Was Mexico the great, 
And Nezahualcoyotl's hand 

Blessed Culhuacan's state, 
Whilst Totoquil his portion drew 
In Acatlapan, strong and true; 
But no oblivion can I fear, 
Of good by thee accomplished here, 

Whilst high upon thy throne ; 
That station, which, to match thy worth, 
Was given by the Lord of Earth, 

Maker of good alone. 

Then, Nezahualcoyotl, — now, 

In what thou hast, delight ; 
And wreathe around thy royal brow 

Life's garden blossoms bright ; 
List to my lyre and my lay, 
Which aim to please thee, and obey. 
The pleasures which our lives present — 
Earth's sceptres, and its wealth — are lent, 

Are shadows fleeting by ; 
Appearance colors all our bliss ; 
A truth so great, that now to this 

One question, make reply. 

What has become of Cihuapan, 

Quantzintecomtzin brave, 
And Conahuatzin, mighty man ; 

Where are they ? In the grave! 
Their names remain, but they are fled, 
Forever numbered with the dead. 
Would that those now in friendship bound, 
We whom Love's thread encircles round, 

Death's cruel edge might see ! 
Since good on earth is insecure, 
And all things must a change endure 

In dark futurity 1 


No. III. — See vol. i. p. 178. 


De los jardines el mas ameno y de curiosidades fue el Bosque de 
Tezcotzinco ; porque demas de la cerca tan grande que tenia, para 
subir i. la cumbre de el, y andarlo todo, tenia sus gradas, parte de ellas 
de argamasa, parte labrada en la misma pena ; y el agua que se trahia 
para las Fuentes, Pilas, y Bafios, y los canos que se repartian para el 
riego de las Flores y arboledas de este Bosque, para poderla traer 
desde su Nacimiento, fue menester hacer fuertes y altissimas murallas 
de argamasa desde unas sierras d otras, de increible grandeza ; sobre 
la qual hizo una Fargea hasta venir A dar a la mas alta del Bosque, y 
&. las espaldas de la cumbre de el. En el primer Estanque de Agua 
estaba una Pena esculpida en ella en circunferencia los anos desde que 
havia nacido el Rey Nezahualcoiotzin hasta la edad de aquel tiempo ; 
y por la parte de afuera los anos en fin de cada uno de ellos, asi mismo 
esculpidas las cosas mas memorables que hizo : y por dentro de la 
rueda esculpidas sus Armas, que eran una casa, que estaba ardiendo, 
en llamas y desaciendose ; otra que estaba muy ennoblecida de edi- 
ficios : y en medio de las dos un pie de venado, atada en el una piedra 
preciosa, y salian del pie unos penachos de plumas preciosas, y asf 
mismo una cierva, y en ella un Brazo asido de un Arco con unas Fle- 
chas, y como un Hombre armado con su Morrion y oregeras, coselete, 
y dos tigres & los Lados, de cuias bocas salian agua y fuego, y por orla, 
doce cabezas de Reyes y Sefiores, y otras cosas que el primer Arzobispo 
de Mexico, Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga, mando hacer pedazos, en- 
tendiendo ser algunos fdolos ; y todo lo referido era la etimologfa de 
sus Armas. Y de alii se partia esta agua en dos partes, que la una iba 
cercando y rodeando el Bosque por la parte del Norte, y la otra por la 
parte del Sur. En la cumbre de este Bosque estaban edificadas unas 
casas <L manera de torre, y por remate y Chapitel estaba hecha de can- 
teria una como A manera de Mazeta, y dentra de ella salian unos 
Penachos y plumeros, que era la etimologia del nombre del Bosque ; 
y luego mas abajo, hecho de una Pena, un Leon de mas de dos brazas 
de largo con sus alas y plumas : estaba hechado y mirando i. la parte 

4 i 6 APPENDIX. 

del Oriente, en cuiaboca asomaba un rostro, que era el mismo retrato 
del Rey, el qual Leon estaba de ordinario debajo de un palio hecho 
de oro y plumeria, Un poquito mas abajo estaban tres Albercas de 
agua, y en la de en medio estaban en sus Bordos tres Damas esculpidas 
y labradas en la misma Pena, que significaban la gran Laguna y las 
Ramas las cabezas del Imperio ; y por un lado (que era hacia la parte 
del Norte) otra Alberca, y en una Pena esculpido el nombre y Escudo 
de Armas de la Ciudad de Tolan, que fue cabecera de los Tultecas ; 
y por el lado izquierdo, que caia hacia la parte del Sur, estaba la otra 
Alberca, y en la pena esculpido el Escudo de Armas y nombre de la 
Ciudad de Tenaiocan, que fue la cabecera del Imperio de los Chichi- 
mecas ; y de esta Alberca salia un cano de Agua, que saltando sobre 
unas penas salpicaba el Agua, que iba a caer a un Jardin de todas 
fibres olorosas de Tierra caliente, que parecia que llovia con la pre- 
cipitacion y golpe que daba el agua sobre la pena. Tras este jardin 
se seguian los Bafios hechos y labrados de pena viva, que con dividirse 
en dos Banos eran de una pieza ; y por aqui se bajaba por una pena 
grandisima de unas gradas hechas de la misma pena, tan bien gravadas 
y lizas, que parecian Espejos; y por el pretil de estas gradas estaba 
esculpido el dia, mes, y ano, y hora, en que se le dio aviso al Rey 
Nezahualcoiotzin de la muerte de un Sefior de Huexotzinco, a quien 
quiso y amo notablemente, y le cojio esta nueva quando se estaban 
haciendo estas gradas. Luego consecutivamente estaba el Alcazar y 
Palacio que el Rey tenia en el Bosque, en los quales havia, entre otras 
muchas salas, aposentos, y retretes, una muy grandisima, y delante de 
ella un Patio, en la qual recivia a los Reyes de Mexico y Tlacopan, y 
6. otros Grandes Seiiores, quando se iban a holgar con el, y en el Patio 
se hacian las Damas, y algunas representaciones de gusto y entrete- 
nimiento. Estaban estos alcazares con tan admirable y maravillosa 
hechura, y con tanta diversidad de piedras, que no parecian ser hechos 
de industria humana. El Aposento donde el Rey dormia era redondo ; 
todo lo demas de este Bosque, como dicho tengo, estaba plantado de 
diversidad de Arboles, y fibres odoriferas, y en ellos diversidad de 
Aves, sin las que el Rey tenia en jaulas, traidas de diversas partes, que 
hacian una armonia, y canto, que no se oian las Gentes. Fuera de 
las florestas, que las dividia, una Pared entraba la Montana, en que 
havia muchos venados, conejos, y liebres, que si de cada cosa muy 
particular se describiese, y de los demas Bosques de este Reyno, era 
menester hacer Historia muy particular. 


No. IV. — See vol. i. p. 201. 



When Axaiacatzin, king of Mexico, and other lords, sent their 
daughters to king Nezahualpilli, for him to choose one to be his queen 
and lawful wife, whose son might succeed to the inheritance, she who 
had highest claims among them, from nobility of birth and rank, was 
Chachiuhnenetzin, daughter of the Mexican king. But, being at that 
time very young, she was brought up by the monarch in a separate 
palace, with great pomp and numerous attendants, as became the 
daughter of so great a king. The number of servants attached to 
her household exceeded two thousand. Young as she was, she was 
yet exceedingly artful and vicious ; so that, finding herself alone, and 
seeing that her people feared her, on account of her rank and impor- 
tance, she began to give way to the unlimited indulgence of her lust. 
Whenever she saw a young man who pleased her fancy, she gave 
secret orders to have him brought to her, and, having satisfied her 
desires, caused him to be put to death. She then ordered a statue or 
effigy of his person to be made, and, adorning it with rich clothing, 
gold, and jewelry, had it placed in the apartment in which she lived. 
The number of statues of those whom she thus put to death was so 
great as almost to fill the apartment. When the king came to visit 
her, and inquired respecting these statues, she answered that they 
were her gods ; and he, knowing how strict the Mexicans were in 
the worship of their false deities, believed her. But, as no iniquity 
can be long committed with entire secrecy, she was finally found out 
in this manner. Three of the young men, for some reason or other, 
she had left alive. Their names were Chicuhcoatl, Huitzilimitzin, and 
Maxtla, one of whom was lord of Tesoyucan, and one of the grandees 
of the kingdom ; and the other two, nobles of high rank. It hap- 
pened that one day the king recognized on one of these a very precious 
jewel, which he had given to the queen ; and, although he had no feai 
of treason on her part, it gave him some uneasiness. Proceeding to 
visit her that night, her attendants told him that she was asleep, sup- 


posing that the king would then return, as he had done at other 
times. But the affair of the jewel made him insist on entering the 
chamber in which she slept ; and, going to awake her, he found only 
a statue in the bed, adorned with her hair, and closely resembling her. 
This being seen by the king, and also that the attendants around were 
in much trepidation and alarm, he called his guards, and, assembling 
all the people of the house, made a general search for the queen, who 
was shortly found, at an entertainment with the three young lords, who 
were likewise arrested with her. The king referred the case to the 
judges of his court, in order that they might make an inquiry into the 
matter and examine the parties implicated. These discovered many 
individuals, servants of the queen, who had in some way or other been 
accessory to her crimes, workmen who had been engaged in making 
and adorning the statues, others who had aided in introducing the 
young men into the palace, and others again who had put them to 
death and concealed their bodies. The case having been sufficiently 
investigated, he despatched ambassadors to the kings of Mexico and 
Tlacopan, giving them information of the event, and signifying the 
day on which the punishment of the queen and her accomplices was 
to take place ; and he likewise sent through the empire to summon all 
the lords to bring their wives and their daughters, however young 
they might be, to be witnesses of a punishment which he designed for 
a great example. He also made a truce with all the enemies of the 
empire, in order that they might come freely to see it. The time 
being arrived, so great was the concourse of people gathered on the 
occasion, that, large as was the city of Tezcuco, they could scarcely 
all find room in it. The execution took place publicly, in sight of the 
whole city. The queen was put to the garrote [a method of stran- 
gling by means of a rope twisted round a stick], as well as her three 
gallants ; and, from their being persons of high birth, their bodies 
were burned, together with the effigies before mentioned. The other 
parties who had been accessory to the crime, who were more than two 
thousand persons, were also put to the garrote, and buried in a pit 
made for the purpose in a ravine near a temple of the Idol of Adul- 
terers. All applauded so severe and exemplary a punishment, except 
the Mexican lords, the relations of the queen, who were much incensed 
at so public an example, and, although for the present they concealed 
their resentment, meditated future revenge. It was not without cause 
that the king experienced this disgrace in his household, since he was 
thus punished for the unworthy means made use of by his father to 
obtain his mother as a wife. 


No. V. — See vol. i. p. 248. 


[The instrument forms part of the Muiloz collection.] 

Por quanto yo Diego Velasquez, Alcalde, capitan general, e repar- 
tidor de los caciques 6 yndios de esta isla Fernandina por sus Altezas, 
&c, embie los dias pasados, en nombre e servicio de sus Altezas, aver 
e bojar la ysla de Yucatan S ta Maria de los remedios, que nuevamente 
habia descubierto, e a descobrir lo demas que Dios N ro S or fuese ser- 
vido, y en nombre de sus Altezas tomar la posesion de todo, una armada 
con la gente necesaria, en que fue e nombre por capitan dellad Juan de 
Grijalva, vezino de la villa de la Trinidad desta ysla, el qual me embio 
una caravela de las que llevava, porque le facia mucha agua, e en ella 
cierta gente, que los Indios en la dicha S ta Maria de los remedios le 
habian herido, e otros adolecido, y con la razon de todo lo que le habia 
ocurrido hasta otras yslas e tierras que de nuebo descubrio ;■ que la 
una es una ysla que se dice Cozumel, e le puso por nombre S^ Cruz ; 
y la otra es una tierra grande, que parte della se llama Ulua, que puso 
por nombre S ta Maria de las Niebes ; desde donde me embio la dicha 
caravela e gente, e me escribio como iba siguiendo su demanda prin- 
cipalmente & saber si aquella tierra era Isla, 6 tierra firme ; e ha 
muchos dias que de razon habia de haber sabido nueva del, de que 
se presume, pues tal nueva del fasta oy no se sabe, que debe de tener 
6 estar en alguna 6 estrema necesidad de socorro : e asi mesmo por- 
que una caravela, que yo embie al dicho Juan de Grijalva desdel 
puerto desta cibdad de Santiago, para que con el e la armada que 
lleva se juntase en el puerto de S n Cristobal de la Havana, porque 
muy mas proveido de todo e como al servicio de sus Altezas convenia 
fuesen, quando llego donde penso fallarle, el d h ° Juan de Grijalva se 
habia fecho a la bela e hera ido con toda la dicha armada, puesto que 
dejo abiso del viage que la d ha carabela habia de llebar ; e como la 
d ha carabela, en que iban ochenta, 6 noventa hombres, no fallo la 
d ha armada, tomo el dicho aviso, y fue en seguimiento del d ho Juan 
de Grijalva ; y segun paresze 6 se ha sabido por informacion de las 



personas feridas e dolientes, que el d ho Juan de Grijalva me embi6, no 
se habia juntado con el, ni della habia habido ninguna nueba, ni los 
cjhos dolientes ni feridos la supieron a la buelta, puesto que vinieron 
mucha parte del biage costa £ costa de la ysla de S ta M a de los reme- 
dios por donde habian ydo ; de que se presume que con tiempo for- 
zoso podria de caer acia tierra firme, 6 llegar a alguna parte donde los 
dichos ochenta 6 noventa ombres espafioles corran detrimento por el 
nabio, 6 por ser pocos, 6 por andar perdidos en busca del d ho Juan de 
Grijalva, puesto que iban muy bien pertrechados de todo lo necesario : 
ademas de esto porque despues que con el d ho Juan de Grijalva embie 
la dicha armada he sido informado de muy cierto por un yndio de los 
de la d ha ysla de Yucatan S ta Maria de los remedios, como en poder 
de ciertos Caciques principales della estan seis cristianos cautibos, y 
los tienen por esclabos, e se sirben dellos en sus haciendas, que los 
tomaron muchos dias ha de una carabela que con tiempo por alii diz 
que aporto perdida, que se cree que alguno dellos deve ser Nicuesa 
capitan, que el catolico Rey D n Fernando de gloriosa memoria mando 
ir a tierra firme, e redimirlos seria grandisimo servicio de Dios N ro S or e 
de sus Altezas : por todo lo qual pareciendome que al servicio de Dios 
N ro S nr e de sus Altezas convenia inhiar asi en seguimiento e socorro 
de la d ha armada quel d ho Juan de Grijalva llebo, y busca de la cara- 
bela que tras el en su seguimiento fue como a redimir si posible fuese 
los d hos cristianos que en poder de los d hos Indios estan cabtivos ; 
acorde, habiendo muchas veces pensado, e pesado, e platicadolo con 
personas cuerdas, de embiar como embie otra armada tal, e tambien 
bastecida e aparejada ansi de nabios e mantenimientos como de gente 
e todo lo demas para semejante negocio necesario ; que si por caso d 
la gente de la otra primera armada, 6 de la d ha carabela que fue en su 
seguimiento hallase en alguna parte cerca de infieles, sea bastante 
para los socorrer 6 descercar ; e si ansi no los hallare, por si sola 
pueda seguramente andar e calar en su busca todas aquellas yslas 
tierras, e saber el secreto dellas, y faser todo lo demas que al servicio 
e de Dios N ro S or cumpla e al de sus Altezas combenga : e para ello 
he acordado de la encomendar i. vos Fernando Cortes, e os imbiar 
por capitan della, por la esperiencia que de vos tengo del tiempo que 
ha que en esta ysla en mi compania habeis servido & sus Altezas, con- 
fiando que soys persona cuerda, y que con toda pendencia e zelo de 
su real servicio dareis buena razon e quenta de todo lo que por ml en 
nombre de sus Altezas os fuere mandado acerca de la dicha negocia- 
cion, y la guiareis 6 encaminareis como mas al servicio de Dios N ro 


S or e de sus Altezas combenga ; y porque mejor guiada la negocia- 
cion de todo vaya, lo que habeis de fazer, y mirar, e con mucha vigi- 
lancia y deligencia ynquirir e saber, es lo siguiente. 

1. Hagase el servicio de Dios en todo, y quien saltare castiga con 

2. Castigareis en particular la fornicacion. 

3. Proibireis dados y naipes, ocasion de discordias y otros excesos. 

4. Ya salido la armada del p to desta ciud d de Santiago en los otros, 
dotareis desta esta cuidado no se haga agravio a Espafioles ni Indios. 

5. Tornados los bastimentos necesarios en d hos puertos, partireis a 
v ro destino, haciendo antes alarde de gente 6 armas. 

6. No consentireis vaya ningun Indio ni India. 

7. Salido al mar y metidas las barcas, en la de v ro navio visitareis 
los otros, y reconocereis otra vez la gente con las copias [las listas] de 
cada uno. 

8. Apercibireis a los capitanes y Maestres de los otros navios que 
jamas se aparten de v ra conserra, y hareis quanto convenga para 
llegar todos juntos a la ysla de Cozumel Santa Cruz, donde sera vues- 
tra derecha derrota. 

9. Si por algun caso llegaren antes que vos, les mandareis que nadie 
sea osado a tratar mal & los Indios, ni les diga la causa porque vais, ni 
les demande 6 interrogue por los cristianos captivos en la Isla de S ta 
Maria de los remedios : digan solo que vos hablareis en llegando. 

10. Llegado a d ha ysla de S ta Cruz vereis y sondeareis los puertos, 
entradas, y aguadas, asi della como de S ta Maria de los remedios, y la 
punta de S ta Maria de las Nieves, para dar cumplida relacion de todo. 

11. Direis & los Indios de Cozumel, S ta Cruz, y demas partes, que vais 
por mandado del Rey a visitarles ; hablareis de su poder y conquistas, 
individuando las hechas en estas Islas y Tierra firme, de sus mercedes 
& quantos le sirven ; que ellos se vengan & su obediencia y den mues- 
tras dello, regalandole, como los otros han hecho, con oro, perlas, 
&c, para que eche de ver su buena voluntad y les favorezca y defi- 
enda : que yo les aseguro de todo en su nombre, que me peso mucho 
de la batalla que con ellos ovo Francisco Hernandez, y os embio para 
darles & entender como Su Alteza quiere que sean bien tratados, &c. 

12. Tomareis entera informacion de las cruces que diz se hallan en 
d ha Isla S ta Cruz adoradas por los Indios, del origen y causas de 
semejante costumbre. 

13. En general sabreis quanto concierne £ la religion de la tierra. 

14. Y cuidad mucho de doctrinarlos en la verdadera fee, pues esta 
VOL. III. 36 


es la causa principal porque sus Altezas permiten estos descubrimi- 

15. Inquirid de la armada de Juan de Grijalva, y de la caravela que 
llevo en su seguimiento Cristov. de Olid. 

16. Caso de juntaros con la armada, biisquese la caravela, y con- 
certad donde podreis juntaros otra vez todos. 

17. Lo mismo hareis si i° se halla la caravela. 

18. Ireis por la costa de la Isla de Yucatan S la Maria de los reme- 
dios, do estan seis cristianos en poder de unos caciques a quienes dice 
conocer Melchor Indio de alii, que con vos llevais. Tratadlo con 
mucho amor, para que os le tenga y sirva fielmente. No sea que os 
suceda algun dafio, por que los Indios de aquella tierra en caso de 
guerra son mafiosos. 

19. Donde quiera, tratareis muy bien a los Indios. 

20. Quantos rescates hicieredes metereis en area de tres Haves de 
que tendreis vos una, las otras el Veedor y el Tesorero que nombra- 

21. Quando se necesite hacer agua, 6 lefia, &c, embiareis personas 
cuerdas al mando del de mayor confianza, que ni causen escandalo ni 
se pongan en peligro. 

22. Si adentro la tierra viereis alguna poblacion de Indios que 
ofrecieren amistad, podreis ir i. ella con la gente mas pacifica y bien 
armada, mirando mucho en que ningun agravio se les haga en sus 
bienes y mugeres. 

23. En tal caso dejareis i. mui buen recabdo los navios ; estareis 
mui sobre aviso que no os enganen ni se entrometan muchos Indios 
entre los Espafioles, &c. 

24. Avisdo que placiendo &. Dios N. S. ayais los X nos que en la d ha 
Isla de S ta M a de los remedios est&n captivos, y buscado que por ella 
ayais la d ha armada e la d ha caravela, seguireis vuestro viage a la punta 
liana ques el principio de la tierra grande que agora nuevamente el 
d ho J. de Grijalva descubrio, y correreis en su busca por la costa della 
adelante buscando todos los rios e puertos della fasta llegar a la baia 
de S. Juan, y S ta M a de los Nieves, que es desde donde el d ho J. de 
Grijalva me embio los heridos e dolientes, e me escrivio lo que hasta 
alii le habia occurrido ; e si alii hallaredes, juntaros e ir con el J.; 
porque entre los Espafioles que llevais 6 alia estan no haya diferen- 
cias, . . . cada uno tenga cargo de la gente que consigo lleva, . . . 
y entramos mui conformes, consultareis lo que mas convenga conforme 
a esta instruccion, y a la que Grijalva llevo de sus Paternidades y mias : 



en tal caso los rescates todos se hardn en presencia de Francisco de 
Pefialosa, veedor nombrado por sus Paternidades. 

25. Inquirireis las cosas de las tierras a do llegareis, asi morales 
como fisicas, si hai perlas, especieria, oro, &c, part te en S ta M> de las 
Nieves, de donde Grijalva me embio ciertos granos de oro por fundir 
e fundidos. 

26. Quando salteis en tierra sea ante v ro S no y muchos testigos, y 
tomareis posesion della con las solemnidades usadas : inquirid la cali- 
dad de las gentes: porque diz que hay gentes de orejas grandes y 
anchas, y otras que tienen las caras como perros, ... a que parte 
estdn las Amazonas, que dicen estos Indios que con vos llevais, que 
estan cerca de alii. 

27. Las demas cosas dejo A v ra prudencia, confiando de vos que en 
todo tomeis el cuidadoso cuidado de hacer lo que mas cumpla al 
servicio de Dios y de SS. AA. 

28. En todos los puertos de esta ysla do hallareis Espanoles que 
quieran ir con vos, no Ueveis a quien tuviere deudas, si antes no las 
paga 6 da fianzas suficientes. 

29. Luego en llegando d S ta M a de las Nieves, me embiareis en el 
navio que menos falta hiciere, quanto hubieredes rescatado y hallado 
de oro, perlas, especeria, animales, aves, &c., con relacion de lo hecho 
y lo que pensais hacer, p a que yo lo mande y diga al Rey. 

30. Conocereis conforme a derecho de las causas civiles y criminales 
que ocurran, como Capitan desta armada con todos los poderes, &c. 
&c. F ha en esta cibdad de Santiago puerto desta isla Fernandina, a 
23 Oct., 1518. 

No. VI. — See vol. i. p. 270. 


[Few Spanish scholars have had access to the writings 
of Las Casas ; and I have made this short extract from 
the original, as a specimen of the rambling but vigor- 



ous style of a work the celebrity of which has been 
much enhanced by the jealous reserve with which it 
has been withheld from publication.] 

Esto es uno de los herrores y disparates que muchos han tenido y 
echo en estas partes ; porque simprimero por mucho tiempo aver a los 
yndios y a qualquiera nacion ydolatria dotrinado es gran desvario 
quitarles los ydolos ; lo qual nunca se hace por voluntad sino contra de 
los ydolatras ; porque ninguno puede dexar por su voluntad e de buena 
gana aquello que tiene de muchos anos por Dios y en la leche mamado 
y autorizado por sus mayores, sin que primero tenga entendido que 
aquello que les dan o en que les comutan su Dios, sea verdadero Dios. 
Mirad que doctrina les podian dar en dos 6 en tres 6 en quatro 6 en 
diez dias, que alii estuvieron, y que mas estuvieran, del verdadero 
Dios, y tampoco les supieran dar para desarraygalles la opinion erro- 
nea de sus dioses, que en yendose, que se fueron, no tornaron a ydo- 
latrar. Primero se han de rraer de los corazones los ydolos, conviene 
d saber el concepto y estima que tienen de ser aquellos Dios los yd6- 
latras por diuturna y deligente e continua dotrina, y pintalles en ellos 
el concepto y verdad del verdadero Dios.y despues ellos mismosviendo 
su engano y error an de derrocar e destruir, con sus mismas manos y 
de toda su voluntad, los ^dolos que veneraban por Dios e por dioses. 
Yasi lo ensena San Agustin en el sermon, De puero ceniurionis, de verbis 
Domini. Pero no fue aqueste el postrero disparate que en estas yndias 
cerca desta materia se a hecho poner cruces, ynduciendo a los yndios 
a la rreverencia dellas. Si ay tiempo para ello con sinificacion alguna 
del fruto que pueden sacar dello, si se lo pueden dar a entender para 
hacerse y bien hacerse, pero no aviendo tiempo ni lengua ni sazon, 
cosa superflua e ynutil parece. Porque pueden pensar los yndios que 
les dan algun ydolo de aquella figura que tienen por Dios los chris- 
tianos, y asi lo aran ydolatra adorando por Dios aquel palo. La mas 
cierta 6 conveniente regla e dotrina que por estas tierras y otras de 
ynfieles semejantes a estos los christianos deben dar e tener, quando 
van de pasada como estos yvan, 6 quando tambien quisieren morar 
entre ellas, es dalles muy buen exemplo de hobras virtuosas y Chris- 
tianas, para que, como dice nuestro Redemptor, viendolas alaben y 
den gloria al Dios e padre de los cristianos, e por ellas juzguen que 
quien tales cultores tiene no puede ser sino bueno e verdadero Dios. 


No. VII. — See vol. i. p. 325. 


[Puerto-Carrero and Montejo were the two officers 
sent home by Cortes from Villa Rica with despatches 
to the government. The emissaries were examined 
under oath before the venerable Dr. Carbajal, one of 
the Council of the Indies, in regard to the proceed- 
ings of Velasquez and Cortes; and the following is 
the deposition of Puerto-Carrero. He was a man of 
good family, superior in this respect to most of those 
embarked in the expedition. The original is in the 
Archives of Simancas.] 

En la cibdad de la Corufia, a 30 dias del mes de Abril, de 1520 
afios, se tomo el d ho e depusicion de Alonso Hernandez Puerto-Car- 
rero por mi, Joan de Samano, del qual haviendo jurado en forma so 
cargo del juramento dijo lo sig te . 

Primeramente dijo, que en ell armada que hizo Fran co Hernandez 
de Cordova e Caycedo e su compafiero el no fue en ella ; de la qual 
armada fue el d ho Fran co Hernandez de Cordova por Capitan General 
e principal armador ; e que ha oido decir como estos descubrieron la 
Isla que se llama de Yucatan. 

Item : dijo que en ell armada de que fue Cap" General Joan de 
Grijalva este testigo no fue ; pero que vido un Cap n , que se dice Pedro 
de Alvarado, que embio Joan de Grijalva en una caravela con cierto 
oro e joyas a. Diego Velasquez ; e que oyo decir, que des que Diego 
Velasquez vido que traian tan poco oro, e el Capitan Joan de Grijalva 
se queria luego bolver e no hacer mas rescate, acordo de hablar a 
Hernandez Cortes para que hiciesen esta armada, por que al presente 
en Santiago no havia persona que mejor aparejo tuviese, i que mas 
bien quisto en la isla fuese, por que al presente tenia tres navios ; fuele 
preguntado, como savia lo susod ho ; respondio, que poique lo avia 
oido decir a muchas personas de la isla. 


Dice mas que se pregono en el pueblo don este testigo vivia, que 
todas las personas que quisiesen ir en ell armada, de todo lo que se 
oviese 6 rescatase habria la una tercera parte, e las otras dos partes 
eran para los armadores i navios. 

Fuele preguntado, quien hizo dar el d ho pregun, e en cuyo nombre 
se hacia, & quien se decia entonces que hacia la d ha armada ; respon- 
dio, que oyo decir, que Hernando Cortes havia escripto una carta i. un 
Alc e de aquel pueblo para que hiciese a pregonarlo ; e que oyo decir, 
que Diego Velasquez hablo con Hern do Cortes para que juntam te con 
el hiciesen la d ha armada, por que al presente no habia otra persona 
que mejor aparejo en la dicha isla para ello tuviese, porque al pre- 
sente tenia tres navios, e era bien quisto en la isla ; e que oyo decir, 
que si el no fuera por Capitan, que no fuera la tercera parte de la 
gente que con el fue ; e que no sabe el concierto que entre si tienen, 
mas de que oyo decir, que amvos hacian aquella armada, e que ponia 
Hern do Cortes mas de las dos partes della, e que la otra parte cree 
este testigo que la puso Diego Velasquez, porque lo oyo decir, e des- 
pues que fue en la d ha armada vido ciertos navios que puso Hern do 
Cortes, en lo que gastaba con la gente, que le parecio que ponia las 
dos partes 6 mas, e que de diez navios que fueron en ell armada 
los tres puso Diego Velasquez, e los siete Cortes suyos e de sus 

Dijo que le dijeron muchas personas que ivan en ell armada como 
Hern do Cortes hizo pregonar, que todos los que quisiesen ir en su 
compania, si toviesen nescesida de dineros asi para comprar vestidos 
como provisiones 6 armas para ellos, que fuesen a el, e que el les 
socoreria e les daria lo que hoviesen menester, e que a todos los que 
k el acodian que lo dava, e que esto sabe, porque muchas personas a 
quien el socorria con dineros que lo dijeron ; e que estando en la villa 
de la Trenidad, vio que el e sus amigos davan a toda la gente que alii 
estaba todo lo que havian menester ; e asi mesmo estando en la villa 
de Sant Cristobal en la Havana, vio hacer lo mismo, e comprar 
muchos puercos e pan, que podian ser tres 6 cuatro meses. 

Fuele preguntado, a quien tenian por principal armador desta 
armada, 6 quien era publico que la hacia ; dijo que lo que oyo decir 
6 vido, que Hern do Cortes gastava las dos partes, e que los d hos Diego 
Velasquez e Hern do Cortes la hicieron como d ho tiene, e que no sabe 
mas en esto de este articulo. 

Fuele preguntado, si sabia quel d ho Diego Velasquez fuese el prin- 
cipal por respecto de ser Governador por su Al en las tierras 6 islas 


que por su industria se descobriesen ; que no lo sabe, por que no le 
eran entonces llegados Gonzalo de Guzman e Narvaez. 

Fuele preguntado, si sabe el d ho Diego Velasquez sea lugar teniente 
de Governador e capitan de la isla de Cuba ; dijo que ha oido decir, 
ques teniente de Almirante. 

Fuele preguntado, si sabia dellasi to e capitulac 11 que el dicho Diego 
Velasquez tomo con los Frailes Geronimos en nombre de S. M., e de 
la instruccion que ellos para el descubrimiento le dieron ; dijo que 
oyo decir, que les havia f ho relacion que ha via descovierto una t rra que 
era mui rica, e les embio a pedir le diesen lic a para vojalla. e para res- 
catar en ella, e los Padres Geronimos que la dieron, e que esto sabe 
por que lo oyo decir: fuele preguntado, si vio este asiento 6 poderes 
algunos de los d hos Padres 6 la d ha instruccion ; dijo que bien los 
puede haver visto, mas lo que en ellos iva, no se acuerda mas que lo 
arriva d ho . 

Fuele preguntado, si vio 6 oyo decir, que los dichos poderes e 
capitulac 11 de los d hos Padres Geronimos fuese nombrado Diego Velas- 
quez 6 el d ho Cortes ; dijo que en los poderes que los P^ Geronimos 
embiaron a Diego Velasquez que a el seria, e no ha Hernando Cortes, 
por que el d ho Diego Velasquez lo embio a pedir. 

Fuele preguntado, como e porque causa obedecia a Hern do Cortes 
por Cap" General de aquella armada ; dijo que porque Diego Velas- 
quez le dio su poder en nombre de su Al. para ir hacer aquel rescate ; 
6 que lo sabe, porque vio el poder e lo oyo decir a todos ellos. 

Fuele preguntado, que me la causa por que no usaron con el d ho 
Hern do Cortes de los poderes que llevaba del d ho Diego Velasquez ; 
dijo que esta armada iva en achaque de buscar i. Juan de Grijalva ; 
que oyo decir, que no tenia poder Diego Velasquez de los P res Gero- 
nimos para hacer esta armada ; e con este achaque que arriva dice 
hicieron esta armada, e que el uso del poder que Diego Velasquez le 
dio, 6 alii rescato. 

Fuele preguntado, que fu6 la causa porque, quando quisieron poblar, 
le nombraron ellos por Capitan General 6 justicia mayor de nuevo ; 
dijo que Hernando Cortes, desque havia rescatado e vido que tenia 
pocos vastim tos , que no havia mas de para bolver tasadamente a la isla 
de Cuba, dijo que se queria bolver ; e entonces toda la gente se junta- 
ron 6 le requirieron que poblase, pues los Yndios les tenian buena 
voluntad e mostravan que holgaban con ellos, e la t rra era tan apare- 
jada para ello, e S. M. seria dello mui servido ; e respondio, que el no 
fraia poder para poblar, que el responderia ; e respondio, que pues 


era servicio de S. M. poblar, otejaba que poblasen ; e hicieron Alc s e 
Rexidores, e se juntaron en su cabildo, e le proveyeron de Xusticia 
mayor e Capitan General en nombre de S. M. 

Fuele preguntado, que se hicieron los navios que llebaron ; dijo que 
desque poblaron venian los maestres de los navios, a decir al capitan 
que todos los navios se ivan a fondo, que no los podian tener encima 
dell agua ; i el d ho Capitan mando a ciertos maestres e pilotos que 
entrasen en los navios e viesen los que estavan para poder navegar, e 
ver si se podiesen remediar ; e los d hos maestres e pilotos digeron, que 
no havia mas de tres navios que pudiesen navegar e remediarse, e que 
havia de ser con mucha costa ; e que los demas que no havia medio 
ninguno en ellos, e que alguno dellos se undid en la mar, estando 
echada el ancla ; e que con los demas que no estavan para poder 
navegar e remediarse, los dejaron ir al traves ; e que esta es la verdad, 
e firmolo de su nombre. 

Dijo que se acuerda que oyo decir, que Hernando Cortes havia 
gastado en esta armada cinco mill ducados 6 castellanos ; e que Diego 
Velasquez oyo decir, que havia gastado mill e setecientos, poco mas 6 
menos ; e que esto que gasto fue en vinos e aceites e vinagre e ropas 
de vestir, las que les vendio un factor que alia, esta de Diego Velas- 
quez, en que les vendia el arroba de vino A cuatro castellanos que 
salia al respecto por una pipa cient. castellanos, el arroba del aceite a 
seis castellanos, e alomesmo la arrova del vinagre, e las camisas d. dos 
pesos, y el par de los alpargates a castellano, e un mazo de cuentas de 
valoria i. dos castellanos costandole a el & dos reales, e a. este respecto 
fueron todas las otras cosas; e que esto que gasto Diego Velasquez lo 
sabe, porque lo vido vender, e este testigo se le vendio hasta parte dello. 
— Alonso Hernandez Portocarrero declaro ante mi, Johan de Samano. 

No. VIII.— See vol. i. p. 328. 


[The following extract from this celebrated letter of 
the Municipality of La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz to 
the Emperor gives a succinct view of the foundation 



of the first colony in Mexico, and of the appointment 
of Cortes by that body as Chief Justice and Captain- 
General. The original is preserved in the Imperial 
Library at Vienna.] 

Despues de se aver despedido de nosotros el dicho Cacique, y buelto 
& su casa, en mucha conformidad, como en esta armada venimos, per- 
sonas nobles, cavalleros, hijos dalgo, zelosos del servicio de n ro Senor 
y de W™ 5 Reales Altezas, y deseosos de ensalzar su Corona Real, de 
acrecentar sus Sefiorios, y de aumentar sus rentas, nos juntdmos y 
platicamos con el dicho capitan Fernando Cortes, diciendo que esta 
tierra era buena, y que segun la muestra de oro que aquel Cacique 
avia traido, se creia que debia de ser mui rica, y que segun las mues- 
tras que el dicho Cacique avia dado, era de creer que el y todos sus 
Indios nos tenian muy buena voluntad ; por tanto que nos parecia 
que nos convenia al servicio de V ras Magestades, y que en tal tierra se 
hiziese lo que Diego Velasquez avia mandado hacer al dicho Capitan 
Fernando Cortes, que era rescatar todo el oro que pudiese, y rescatado 
bolverse con todo ello & la Isla Fernandina, para gozar solamente de 
ello el dicho Diego Velasquez y el dicho Capitan ; y que lo mejor que 
& todos nos parecia era, que en nombre de V ras Reales Altezas se 
poblase y fundase alii un pueblo en que huviese justicia, para que en 
esta tierra tuviesen Sefiorio, como en sus Reinos y Sefiorios lo tienen ; 
porque siendo esta tierra poblada de Espafioles, de mas de acrecentar 
los Reinos y Sefiorios de V ras Magestades, y sus rentas, nos podrian 
hacer mercedes a nosotros y i. los pobladores que de mas alia vini- 
esen adelante ; y acordado esto, nos juntamos todos en Concordes 
de un animo y voluntad, y hizimos un requerimiento al dicho capi- 
tan, en el qual diximos, que pues el veia quanto al servicio de 
Dios n ro Senor y al de V 1 ^ Magestades convenia, que esta tierra 
estuviese poblada, dandole las causas de que arriba a V ras Altezas 
se ha hecho relacion, que le requerimos que luego cesase de hacer 
rescates de la manera que los venia a hacer, porque seria destruir 
la tierra en mucha manera, y V 1 ^ Magestades serian en ellos muy 
desservidos; y que ansi mismo le pedimos y requerimos que luego 
nombrase para aquella villa, que se avia por nosotros de hacer y 
fundar, Alcaldes y Regidores, en nombre de V ras Reales Altezas, con 
ciertas protestaciones, en forma que contra el protestamos si ansi no lo 
hiziesen ; y hecho este requerimiento al dicho Capitan, dixo que daria 


su respuesta el dia siguiente ; y viendo pues el dicho Capitan como 
convenia al servicio de V ras Reales Altezas lo que le pediamos, luego 
otro dia nos respondio diciendo, que su voluntad estava mas inclinada 
al servicio de V ras Magestades que d. otra cosa alguna, y que no mi- 
rando al interese que a el se le siguiese, si prosiguiera en el rescate 
que traia propuesto de rehacer los grandes gastos que de su hacienda 
avia hecho en aquella armada juntamente con el dicho Diego Velas- 
quez, antes poniendolo todo le placia y era contento de hacer lo que 
por nosotros le era pedido, pues que tanto convenia al servicio de 
V ras Reales Altezas ; y luego comenzo con gran diligencia a poblar y 
& fundar una villa la qual puso por nombre la rica Villa de Vera Cruz, 
y nombronos &. los que la delantes subscribimos, por Alcaldes y Regi- 
dores de la dicha Villa, y en nombre de V ras Reales Altezas recibio 
de nosotros el juramento y solenidad que en tal caso se acostumbra 
y suele hacer ; despues de lo qual otro dia siguiente entr&mos en 
nuestro cabildo y ajuntamiento, y estando asi juntos embiamos 6. 
llamar al dicho Capitan Fernando Cortes, y le pedimos en nombre de 
V ras Reales Altezas que nos mostrase los poderes y instrucciones que 
el dicho Diego Velasquez le avia dado para venir a estas partes, el 
qual embio luego por ellos y nos los mostro ; y vistos y leidos por 
nosotros, bien examinados segun lo que pudimos mejor entender, 
hallamos & nuestro parecer que por los dichos poderes y instrucciones 
no tenia mas poder el dicho capitan Fernando Cortes, y que por aver 
ya espirado no podia usar de justicia ni de Capitan de alii adelante ; 
pareciendonos pues, mui Excellentissimos Principes ! que para la 
pacificacion y concordia de entre nosotros, y para nos gobernar bien, 
convenia poner una persona para su Real servicio, que estuviese en 
nombre de V ras Magestades en la dicha villa y en estas partes por jus- 
ticia mayor y capitan y cabeza, i. quien todos acatasemos hasta hacer 
relacion de ello a V ras Reales Altezas para que en ello proveyesen lo 
que mas servidos fuesen, y visto que a ninguna persona se podria dar 
mejor el dicho cargo que al dicho Fernando Cortes, porque demas de 
ser persona tal qual para ello conviene, tiene muy gran zelo y deseo 
del servicio de V ras Magestades, y ansi mismo por la mucha experi- 
encia que de estas partes y Islas tiene, de causa de los quales ha siem- 
pre dado buena cuenta, y por haver gastado todo quanto tenia por 
venir como vino con esta armada en servicio de V ras Magestades, y 
por aver tenido en poco, como hemos hecho relacion, todo lo que 
podia ganar y interese que se le podia seguir si rescatara como traia 
concertado, v le proveimos en nombre de V ras Reales Altezas de 



justicia y Alcalde mayor, del qual recibimos el juramento que en tal 
caso se requiere, y hecho como convenia al Real servicio de V ra Ma- 
gestad, lo recibimos en su Real nombre en n ro ajuntamiento y cabildo 
por Justicia mayor y capitan de V ras Reales armas, y ansi estd y estard 
hasta tanto que V rs Magestades provean lo que mas a su servicio 
convenga : hemos querido hacer de todo esto relacion a V ras Reales 
Altezas, porque sepan lo que acd se ha hecho, y el estado y manera 
en que quedamos. 

No. IX. — See vol. i. p. 407. 


[This passage from the Indian chronicler relates to 
the ceremony of inauguration of a Tecuhtle, or mer- 
chant-knight, in Tlascala. One might fancy himself 
reading the pages of Ste.-Palaye, or any other historian 
of European chivalry.] 

Esta ceremonia de armarse caballeros los naturales de Mexico y 
Tlaxcalla y otras provincias de la Laguna Mejicana es cosa muy 
notoria ; y asi no nos detendremos en ella, mas de pasar secunta- 
mente. Es de saber, que cualquier Senor, 6 hijos de Sefiores, que por 
sus personas habian ganado alguna cosa en la guerra, 6 que hubiesen 
hecho 6 emprendido cosas senaladas y aventajadas, como tubiese 
indicios de mucho valoi, y que fuese de buen consejo y aviso en la 
republica, le armaban caballero ; que como fuesen tan ricos que por 
sus riquezas se enoblecian y hacian negocios de hijos y dalgo y 
caballero, los armaban caballeros por dos, diferentemente que los 
caballeros de linea recta, porque los llamaban Tepilhuan : Al Mer- 
cader que era armado caballero, y & los finos que por descendencia 
lo eran, llamaban Tecuhtles. Estos Tecuhtles se armaban caba- 
lleros con muchas ceremonias. Ante todas cosas, estaban encer- 
rados 40 6 60 dias en un templo de sus fdolos, y ayunaban todo 

43 2 


este tiempo, y no trataban con gente mas que con aquellos que les 
Servian, y al cabo de los cuales eran llevados al templo mayor, y 
alii se les daban grandes doctrinas de la vida que habian de tener y 
guardar ; y antes de todas estas cosas les daban grandes bejamenes 
con muchas palabras afrentosas y satiricas, y les daban de punadas 
con grandes reprensiones, y aun en su propio rostro, segun atras deja- 
mos tratado, y les horadaban las narices y labios y orejas ; y la sangre 
que de ellos salia la ofrecian a sus Idolos. AlH les daban publica- 
niente sus arcos y flechas y macanas y todo genero de armas usadas 
en su arte militar. Del templo era llevado por las calles y plazas 
acostumbradas con gran pompa y regocijo y solemnidad : ponianles 
en las orejas orejeras de oro, y bezotes de lo mismo, llevando adelante 
muchos truhanes y chocarreros que decian grandes donaires, con que 
hacian reir las gentes ; pero como vamos tratando, se ponian en las 
narices piedras ricas, oradabanles las orejas y narices y bezos, no con 
yerros ni cosa de oro ni plata, sino con guesos de Tigres y leones y 
aguilas agudos. Este armado caballero hacia muy solemnes fiestas y 
costosas, y daban muy grandes presentes a los antiguos Senores caba- 
lleros asi de ropas como de esclavos, oro y piedras preciosas y plume- 
rias ricas, y divisas, escudos, rodelas y arcos y flechas, & manera de 
propinas cuando se doctoran nuestros letrados. Andan de casa en 
casa de estos Tecuhtles dandoles estos presentes y dadivas, y lo propio 
hacen con estos armados caballeros despues que lo eran, y se tenia 
cuenta con todos ellos. Y era repiiblica ; y asi no se armaban muchos 
caballeros hidalgos pobres, por su poca posibilidad, sino eran aquellos 
que por sus nobles y loables hechos lo habian merecido, que en tal 
caso los caciques cabeceros y los mas supremos Senores Reyes, pues 
tenian meromixto imperio con sus tierras, y orca y cuchillo para eje- 
cutar los casos de justicia, como en efecto era asi. Finalmente, que 
los que oradaban las orejas, bezos, y narices de estos, que asi se 
armaban caballeros, eran caballeros ancianos y muy antiguos, los 
cuales estaban dedicados para esto ; y asi como para en los casos de 
justicia y consejos de guerra. Servian estos caballeros veteranos en 
la republica, los cuales eran temidos, obedecidos, y reverenciados en 
muy gran veneracion y estima. Y como atras dejamos dicho, que al 
cabo de los 40 6 60 dies de ayuno de los caballeros nobles los sacaban 
de alii para llevarlos al templo mayor donde tenian sus simulacros ; 
no les oradaban entonces las orejas, narices, ni labios, que son los labios 
de la parte de abajo, sino que cuando se ponian en el ayuno, entonces; 
y ante todas cosas les hacian estos bestiales espectaculos ; y en todo 



el tiempo de ayuno estaba en cura, para que el dia de la mayor cere- 
monia fuese sano de las heridas, que pudiesen ponerle las orejeras y 
bezotes sin ningun detrimento ni dolor ; y en todo este tiempo no se 
lavaban, antes estaban todo tiznados y embiajados de negro, y con 
muestras de gran humildad para conseguir y alcanzar tan gran merced 
y premio, velando las armas todo el tiempo del ayuno segun sus orde- 
nanzas, constitutiones, y usos y costumbres entre ellos tan celebrados. 
Tambien usaban tener las puertas donde estaban ayunando cerradas 
con ramos de laurel, cuyo arbol entre los naturales era muy estimado. 

No. X. — See vol. ii. p. 119. 


[This chapter, which has furnished me with many 
particulars for the narrative, contains a minute account 
of Montezuma's household and way of life, gathered 
by the writer, as he tells us, from the testimony of 
different individuals of credit, who had the best means 
of information. It affords a good specimen of the 
historian's manner, and may have interest to the Cas- 
tilian scholar, since the original has never been pub- 
lished, and, to judge from appearances, is not likely 
to be so.] 

Quando este gran Principe Montezuma comia, estaba en una gran 
sala encalada e mui pintada de pinturas diversas ; alii tenia enanos e 
chocarreros que le decian gracias e donaires, e otros que jugaban con 
vn palo puesto sobre los pies grande, £ le traian e meneaban con tanta 
facilidad 6 ligereza, que parecia cosa imposible ; e otros hacian otros 
juegos e cosas de mucho para se admirar los hombres. A la puerta 
de la sala estaba vn patio mui grande, en que habia cien aposentos de 
2 S ° 3° P' es de largo, cada uno sobre si, en torno de dicho patio, 6 
Vol. III. — t 37 



alii estaban los Senores principales aposentados como guardas del pa- 
lacio ordinarias, y estos tales aposentos se llaman galpones, los quales a 
la contina ocupan mas de 600 hombres, que jamas se quitaban de alii, 
e cada vno de aquellos tenian mas de 30 servidores, de manera que a 
lo menos nunca faltaban 3000 hombres de guerra en esta guarda cote- 
diana del palacio. Quando queria comer aquel principe grande, daban 
le agua a manos sus Mugeres, e salian alii hasta 20 dellas las mas que- 
ridas e mas hermosas e estaban en pie en tanto que el comia ; Etraiale 
vn Mayordomo 6 Maestre-sala 3000 platos 6 mas de diversos manjares 
de gallinas, codornices, palomas, tortolas, e otras aves, e algunos platos 
de muchachos tiernos guisados a su modo, e todo mui lleno de axi, e 
el comia de lo que las mugeres le trahian 6 queria. Despues que 
habia acabado de comer se tornaba a labar las manos, e las Mugeres 
se iban a su aposento dellas, donde eran mui bien servidas ; E luego 
ante el seiior allegabanse a sus burlas e gracias aquellos chocarreros 
e donosos, e mandaba les dar de comer sentados a vn cabo de la sala ; 
£ todo lo restante de la comida mandaba dar a la otra gente que se ha 
dicho que estaban en aquel gran patio ; y luego venian 3000 Xicalos i 
cantaros 6 anforas de brevage, e despues que el sefior habia comido 6 
bebido, e labadose las manos, ibanse las Mugeres, e acabadas de salir 
de la sala, entraban los negociantes de muchas partes, asi de la misma 
cibdad como de sus senorios ; e los que le habian de hablar incabanse 
de rodillas quatro varas de medir 6 mas, apartados del e descalzos, £ 
sin manta de algodon que algo valiese ; e sin mirarle a la cara decian 
su razonamiento ; e el proveia lo que le parecia ; e aquellos se levan- 
taban e tornaban atras retraiendose sin volver las espaldas vn buen 
tiro de piedra, como lo acostumbraban hacer los Moros de Granada 
delante de sus senores e principes. Alii habia muchos jugadores de 
diversos juegos, en especial con vnos fesoles a manera de habas, e 
apuntadas como dados, que es cosa de ver ; e juegan cuanto tienen 
los que son Tahures entrellos. Ivan los Espanoles a ver a Montezuma, 
6 mandabales dar duchos, que son vnos banquillos 6 escabelos, en que 
se sentasen, mui lindamente labrados, £ de gentil madera, e decianles 
que querian, que lo pidiesen e darselo han. Su persona era de pocas 
cames, pero de buena gracia e afabil, e tenia cinco 6 seis pelos en la 
barba tan luengos como un geme. Si le parecia buena alguna ropa 
que el Espaiiol tubiese, pediasela, e si se la dada liberalmente sin le 
pedir nada por ella, luego se la cobria £ la miraba mui particular- 
mente, £ con placer la loaba ; mas si le pedian precio por ella hacialo 
dar luego, e tomaba la ropa e tornabasela a dar d los christianos sin 



se la cobrir e como descontento de la mala crianza del que pedia el 
precio, decia : Para mi no ha de haher precio alguno, porque yo soy 
sefior, e no me han de pedir nada deso ; que yo lo dare sin que me 
den alguna cosa ; que es mui gran afrenta poner precio de ninguna 
cosa a los que son sefiores, ni ser ellos Mercaderes. Con esto con- 
cuerdan las palabras que de Scipion Africano, que de si decian aquella 
contienda de prestancia, que escrive Luciano, entre los tres capitanes 
mas excelentes de los antiguos, que son Alexandro Magno, e Anibal, 
e Scipion : Desde que nasci, ni vendi ni compre cosa ninguna. Asi que 
decia Montezuma quando asi le pedian prescio : Otro dia no te pedire 
cosa alguna, porque me has hecho mercader ; vete con Dios a tu casa, 
e lo que obieses menester pidelo, e darsete ha : E no tomes aca, que no 
soy amigo desos tratos, ni de los que en ellos entienden, para mas de 
dexarselos vsar con otros hombres en mi Sefiorio. Tenia Montezuma 
mas de 3000 sefiores que le eran subgetos, e aquellos tenian muchos 
vasallos cada uno dellos ; E cada qual tenia casa principal en Temix- 
titan, e habia de residir en ella ciertos meses del afio ; E quando se 
habian de ir 6. su tierra con licencia de Montezuma, habia de quedar 
en la casa su hijo 6 hermano hasta quel sefior della tornase. Esto 
hacia Montezuma por tener su tierra segura, e que ninguno se le 
alzase sin ser sentido. Tenia vna sena, que trahian sus Almoxarifes e 
Mensageros quando recogian los tributos, e el que erraba lo mataban 
a el e a quantos del venian. Dabanle sus vasallos en tributo ordinario 
de tres hijos uno, e el que no tenia hijos habia de dar vn Indio 6 India 
para sacrificar a. sus Dioses, e sino lo daban, habian de sacrificarle a 
£1: Dabanle tres hanegas de mahiz vna, e de todo lo que grangeaban, 
6 comian, 6 bebian ; En fin, de todo se le daba el tercio ; E el que 
desto faltaba pagaba con la cabeza. En cada pueblo tenian Mayor- 
domo con sus libros del numero de la gente e de todo lo demas asen- 
tado por tales figuras e caracteres quellos se entendian sin discrepancia, 
como entre nosotros con nuestras letras se entenderia vna cuenta mui 
bien ordenada. E aquellos particulares Mayordomos daban quenta a 
aquellos que residian en Temixtitan, e tenian sus alholies e magazenes 
e depositos donde se recogian los tributos, e oficiales para ello, 6 
ponian en carceles los que a su tiempo no pagaban, e dabanles ter- 
mino para la paga, e aquel pasado e no pagado, justiciaban al tal 
deudor, 6 le hacian esclavo. 

Dexemos esta materia, e volvamos a este gran Principe Montezuma, 
el qual en vna gran sala de 150 pies de largo, e de 50 de ancho. de 



grandes vigas e postes de madera que lo sostenian, encima de la qual, 
era todo vn terrado e azutea, 6 tenia dentro desta sala muchos g£neros 
de aves, e de animales. Havia 50 aguilas caudales en jaolas, tigres, 
lobos, culebras, tan gruesas como la pierna, de mucho espanto, e en 
sus jaolas asi mismo, e alii se les llevaba la sangre de los hombres 
e mugeres 6 ninos que sacrificaban, e cebaban con ella aquellas 
bestias ; e habia vn suelo hecho de la mesma sangre humana en toda 
la dicha sala, e si se metia vn palo 6 vara temblaba el suelo. En en- 
trando por la sala, el hedor era mucho e aborrecible e asqueroso ; las 
culebras daban grandes e horribles silvos, e los gemidos e tonos de los 
otros animales alii presos era una melodia infernal, e para poner es- 
panto ; tenian 500 gallinas de racion cada dia para la sustentacion 
desos animales. En medio de aquella sala habia vna capilla & manera 
de vn horno grande, e por encima chapada de las minas de oro e plata 
e piedras de muchas maneras, como agatas e cornesinas, nides, topa- 
cios, planas desmeraldas, e de otras suertes, muchas e mui bien engas- 
tadas. Alii entraba Montezuma 6 se retrahia & hablar con el Dieblo, 
al qual nombraban Atezcatepoca, que aquella gente tienen por Dios 
de la guerra, y el les daba i. entender, que era Senor y criador de todo, 
y que en su mano era el veneer ; e los Indios en sus arreitos y can- 
tares e hablas le dan gracias y lo invocan en sus necesidades. En 
aquel patio e sala habia continuamente 5000 hombres pintados de 
cierto betun 6 tinta, los quales no llegan & mugeres e son castos; 
llamanlos papas, e aquestos son religiosos. 

$ * # -x- * * * * * 

Tenia Montezuma vna casa mui grande en que estaban sus Mugeres, 
que eran mas de 4000 hijas de sefiores, que se las daban para ser sus 
Mugeres, e el lo mandaba hacer asi ; 6 las tenia mui guardadas y 
servidas ; y algunas veces el daba algunas dellas A quien queria favo- 
recer y honrar de sus principales : Ellos las recibian como vn don 
grandisimo. Habia en su casa muchos jardines 6 100 vanos, 6 mas, 
como los que vsan los Moros, que siempre estaban calientes, en que 
se banaban aquellas sus Mugeres, las quales tenian sus guardas, e otras 
mugeres como Prioras que las governaban : E A estas mayores, que 
eran ancianas, acataban como k Madres, y ellas las trataban como £ 
hijas. Tuvo su padre de Montezuma 150 hijos 6 hijas, de los quales 
los mas mato Montezuma, y las hermanas caso muchas dellas con 
quien le parecio ; y el tubo 50 hijos y hijas, 6 mas ; y acaecio algunas 
veces tener 50 mugeres prefiadas, y las mas dellas mataban las cria- 
turas en el cuerpo, porque asi dicen que se lo mandaba el Diablo, que 



hablaba con ellas y deciales que se sacrificasen ellas las orejas y las 
lenguas y sus naturas, & se sacasen mucha sangre e se la ofreciesen, 
6 asi lo hacian en efeto. Parecia la casa de Montezuma vna cibdad 
mui poblada. Tenia sus porteros en cada puerta. Tenia 20 puertas 
de servicio ; entraban -nuchas calles de agua a ellas, por las quales 
entraban e salian las canoas con mahiz, e otros bastimentos, e lena. 
Entraba en esta casa vn cano de agua dulce, que venia de dos leguas 
de alii, por encima de vna calzada de piedra, que venia de vna fuente, 
que se dice chapictepeque, que nace en vn penon, que esta en la 
Laguna salada, de mui excelente agua. 

No. XI. — See vol. ii. p. 274, et alibi. 


[The most remarkable, in some respects, of Ovi- 
edo's compositions is his Quincuagenas, a collection of 
imaginary dialogues with the most eminent persons of 
his time, frequently founded, no doubt, on the personal 
communications which he had held with them. In his 
"History of the Indies" he has also introduced a 
dialogue which he tells us he actually had with Don 
Thoan Cano, a Castilian hidalgo, who married Guate- 
mozin's widow, the lovely daughter of Montezuma. 
He came into the country originally with Narvaez; 
and, as he was a man of intelligence, according to 
Oviedo, and his peculiar position both before and after 
the Conquest opened to him the best sources of in- 
formation, his testimony is of the highest value. As 
such I have made frequent use of it in the preceding 



pages, and I now transcribe it entire, in the original, 
as an important document for the history of the 


Alc. Senor, ayer supe que Vm. vive en la grand cibdad de Mexico, 
y que os llamais Thoan Cano ; y porque yo tube amistad con vn 
caballero llamado Diego Cano, que fue criado del serenissimo Prin- 
cipe Don Thoan, mi senor, de gloriosa memoria, deseo saber si es 
vivo, e donde sois senor natural, e como quedastes avecindado en 
estas partes, £ rescibire merced, que no rescibais pesadumbre de mis 
preguntas ; porque tengo necesidad de saber algunas cosas de la 
Nueva Espana, y es razon, que para mi satisfaccion yo procure enten- 
der lo que deseo de tales personas e habito que merezcan credito ; y 
ansi, Senor, recibire mucha merced de la vuestra en lo que digo. 

THOAN Cano. Senor Alcayde, yo soy el que gano mucho en 
conoceros ; y tiempo ha que deseaba ver vuestra persona, porque os 
soi aficionado, y querria que mui de veras me tubiesedes por tan amigo 
e servidor como yo os lo sere. E satisfaciendo a lo que Vm. quiere 
saber de mi, digo, que Diego Cano, Escribano de Camara del Principe 
Don Thoan, y camarero de la Tapiceria de su Alteza, fue mi tio, £ ha 
poco tiempo que murio en la cibdad de Caceres, donde vivia e yo soy 
natural : Y quanto a lo demas, yo, Senor, pase desde la Isla de Cuba i. 
la Nueva Espana con el capitan Pamphilo de Narvaez, e aunque mozo 
£ de poco edad, yo me halle cerca del quando fue preso por Hernando 
Cortes e sus mafias ; e en ese trance le quebraron vn ojo, peleando £1 
como mui valiente hombre ; pero como no le acudio su gente, e con el 
se hallaron mui pocos, quedo preso £ herido, e se hizo Cortes senor del 
campo, £ truxo a su devocion la gente que con Pamphilo habia ido, e 
en rencuentros £ en batallas de manos en Mexico ; y todo lo que ha 
sucedido despues yo me he hallado en ello. Mandais que diga como 
quede avecindado en estas partes, y que no reciba pesadumbre de vues- 
tras preguntas ; satisfaciendo & mi asiento, digo, Senor, que yo me case' 
con una Senora hija legitima de Montezuma, llamada dofia Isabel, tal 
persona, que aunque se hobiera criado en nuestra Espana, no estobiera 
mas ensenada £ bien dotrinada 6 Cat61ica, £ de tal conversacion e arte, 



que os satisfaria su manera e buena gracia ; y no es poco util e prove- 
chosa al sosiego e contentamientos de los naturales de la tierra ; porque, 
como es Sefiora en todas su; cosas e amiga de los christianos, por su 
respecto e exemplo mas quietud e reposo se imprime en los animos de 
los Mexicanos. En lo demas que se me preguntare, e de que yo tenga 
memoria, yo, Senor, dire lo que supiere conforme a la verdad. 

ALC. Io acepto la merced que en eso recibire ; y quiero comenzar 
a decir lo que me ocurre, porque me acuerdo, que fui informado que 
su padre de Montezuma tubo 150 hijos e hijas, 6 mas, e que le acaecio 
tener 50 mugeres prenadas ; E ansi escrebi esto, e otras cosas a este 
proposito en el capitulo 46 ; lo qual si asi fue, queria saber, ^como 
podeis vos tener por legitima hija de Montezuma a la S ra Dofia Isabel 
vuestra Muger, e que forma tenia vuestro suegro para que se cono- 
ciesen los hijos bastardos entre los legitimos 6 espurios, e quales eran 
mugeres legitimas e concubinas? 

CAN. Fue costumbre vsada y guardada entre los Mexicanos, que 
las mugeres legitimas que tomaban, era de la manera que agora se 
dira. Concertados el hombre e muger que habian de contraer matri- 
monio, para le efectuar se juntaban los parientes de ambas partes e 
hacian vn areito despues que habian comido 6 cenado ; e al tiempo 
que los Novios se habian de acostar e dormir en vno, tomaban la halda 
delantera de la camisa de la Novia e atabanla i. la manta de algodon 
que tenia cubierto el Novio. E asi ligados tomabanlos de las manos los 
principales parientes de ambos, e metian los en una camara, donde los 
dejaban solos e oscuros por tres dias contiguos sin que de alii saliesen 
el ni ella, ni alia entraba mas de vna India a los proveer de comer e 
lo que habian menester ; en el qual tiempo deste encerramiento siempre 
habia bailes 6 areitos, que ellos llaman mitote ; e en fin de los tres dias 
no hai mas fiesta. E los que sin esta cerimonia se casan no son habi- 
dos por matrimonios, ni los hijos que proceden por legitimos, ni here- 
dan. Ansi como murio Montezuma, quedaronle solamente por hijos 
legitimos mi Muger e vn hermano suio, e muchachos ambos; A causa 
de lo qual fue elegido por Senor vn hermano de Montezuma, que se 
decia Cuitcavaci, Senor de Iztapalapa, el qual vivio despues de su 
eleccion salos 60 dias, y murio de viruelas ; a causa de lo qual vn 
sobrino de Montezuma, que era Papa 6 sacerdote maior entre los 
Indios, que se llamaba Guatimuci, mato al primo hijo legitimo de 
Montezuma, que se decia Asupacaci, hermano de padre e madre de 
dona Isabel, e hizose senor, e fue mui valeroso. Este fue el que perdi6 
i. Mexico, e fue preso, e despues injustamente muerto con otros prin- 


cipales Senores e Indios ; pues come Cortes e los christianos fueVon 
ensenoreados de Mexico, ningun hijo quedo legitimo sino bastardos 
de Montezuma, ecepto mi Muger, que quedaba viuda, porque Guati- 
muci senor de Mexico, su primo, por fixar mejor su estado, siendo 
ella mui muchacha, la tubo por muger con la cerimonia ya dicha del 
atar la camisa con la manta ; 6 no obieron hijos, ni tiempo para pro- 
creallos ; e ella se convirtio &. nuestra santa fee catolica, e casose con 
vn hombre de bien de los conquistadores primeros, que se llamaba 
Pedro Gallego, e ovo vn hijo en ella, que se llama Thoan Gallego 
Montezuma ; e murio el dicho Pedro Gallego, e yo case' con la dicha 
dona Isabel, en la qual me ha dado Dios tres hijos e dos hijas, que se 
llaman Pedro Cano, Gonzalo Cano de Saavedra, Thoan Cano, dona 
Isabel, e dona Catalina. 

ALC. Senor Thoan Cano, suplicoos que me digais porque mato 
Hernando Cortes a Guatimuci: ,irevel6se despues, 6 que hizo para 
que muriese ? 

Can. Habeis de saber, que asi &. Guatimuci, como al Rey deTacuba, 
que se decia Tetepanquezal, & al Senor de Tezcuco, el capitan Her- 
nando Cortes les hizo dar muchos tormentos e crudos, quemandoles 
los pies, e untandoles las plantas con aceite, e poniendoselas cerca de 
las brasas, e en otras diversas maneras, porque les diesen sus tesoros ; 
e teniendolos en contiguas fatigas, supo como el capitan Cristoval de 
Olit se le habia alzado en puerto de Caballos e Honduras, la qual 
provincia los Indios llaman Guaimuras, e determino de ir A buscar e 
castigar el dicho Christoval de Olit, e partio de Mexico por tierra con 
mucha gente de Espanoles, e de los naturales de la tierra ; e llevose 
consigo aquellos tres principales ya dichos, y despues los ahorco en el 
camino ; e ansi enviudo dona Isabel, £ despues ella se caso de la 
manera que he dicho con Pedro Gallego, e despues conmigo. 

ALC. Pues en cierta informacion, que se envio al Emperador Nu- 
estro Senor, dice Hernando Cortes, que habia sucedido Guatimuci en 
el Senorio de Mexico tras Montezuma, porque en las puentes murio 
el hijo e heredero de Montezuma, e que otros dos hijos que qued&ron 
vivos, el vno era loco 6 mentecapto, e el otro paralitico, 6 indviles por 
sus enfermedades : E yo lo he escripto asi en el capitulo 16, pensando 
quello seria as{. 

Can. Pues escriba Vm. lo que mandare, y el Marques Hernando 
Cortes lo que quisiere, que yo digo en Dios y en mi conciencia la 
verdad, y esto es mui notorio. 

ALC. Senor Thoan Cano, digame Vm £ de que procedi6 el alza- 


miento de los Indios de Mexico en tanto que Hernando Cortes sali6 
de aquella cibdad e fue a buscar a Pamphilo de Narvaez, 6 dexo preso 
& Montezuma en poder de Pedro de Alvarado? Porque he oido 
sobre esto muchas cosas, e mui diferentes las vnas de las otras ; e yo 
querria escrebir verdad, asi Dios salve mi anima. 

Can. Senor Alcayde, eso que preguntais es vn paso en que pocos 
de los que hai en la tierra sabran dar razon, aunque ello fue mui noto- 
rio, e mui manifiesta la sinrazon que i. los Indios se les hizo, y de alii 
tomaron tanto odio con los Christianos que no fiaron mas dellos, y se 
siguieron quantos males ovo despues, e la rebelion de Mexico, y 
pienso desta manera : Esos Mexicanos tenian entre las otras sus ido- 
latrias ciertas fiestas del ano en que se juntaban k sus ritos e cerimo- 
nias ; y llegado el tiempo de vna de aquellas, estaba Alvarado en 
guarda de Montezuma, e Cortes era ido donde habeis dicho, e muchos 
Indios principales juntaronse e pidieron licencia al capitan Alvarado, 
para ir & celebrar sus fiestas en los patios de sus mezquitas 6 qq. 
maiores junto al aposento de los espanoles, porque no pensasan que 
aquel aiuntamiento se hacia A otro fin ; E el dicho Capitan les dio la 
licencia. E asi los Indios, todos Senores, mas de 600, desnudos, 6 
con muchas joyas de oro, e hermosos penachos, e muchas piedras 
preciosas, e como mas aderezados e gentiles hombres se pudieron e 
supieron aderezar, e sin arma alguna defensiva ni ofensiva, bailaban e 
cantaban e hacian su areito 6 fiesta segund su costumbre ; e al mejor 
tiempo que ellos estaban embebecidos en su regocijo, movido de cob- 
dicia el Alvarado hizo poner en cinco puertas del patio cada 15 hom- 
bres, e en el entro con la gente restante de los Espanoles, e comenza- 
ron d acuchillar e matar los Indios sin perdonar a vno ni A ninguno, 
hasta que a. todos los acabaron en poco espacio de hora. I esta fue 
la causa porque los de Mexico, viendo muertos € robados aquellos 
sobre seguro, e sin haber merecido que tal crueldad en ellos hobiese 
fecho, se alzaron e hicieron la guerra al dicho Alvarado, e a los chris- 
tianos que con el estaban en guarda de Montezuma, £ con mucha 
razon que tenian para ello. 

ALC. l Montezuma, como murio ? porque diversamente lo he en« 
tendido, y ansi lo he yo escripto diferenciadamente. 

CAN. Montezuma murio de vna pedrada que los de fuera tiraron, 
lo qual no se hiciera, si delante del no se pusiera vn rodelero, porque 
como le vieran ninguno tirara ; y ansi por le cubrir con la rodela, e no 
creer que alii estaba Montezuma, le dieron vna pedrada de que murio. 
Pero quiero que sepais, Senor Alcayde, que desde la primera revelion 



de los Indios hasta que el Marques volvio d la cibdad despues de 
preso Narvaez, non obstante la pelea ordinaria que con los christianos 
tenian, siempre Montezuma les hacia dar de comer ; e despues que el 
Marques torno se le hizo grand recebimiento, e le dieron d todos los 
Espanoles mucha comida. Mas habeis de saber, que el capitan Al- 
varado, como le acusaba la conciencia, e no arrepentido de su culpa, mas 
queriendole dar color, e por aplacar el dnimo de Montezuma, dixo d 
Hernando Cortes, que fingiese que le queria prender e castigar, porque 
Montezuma le rogase por el, e que se fuesen muertos por muertos ; lo 
qual Hernando Cortes no quiso hacer, antes mui enojado dixo, que 
eran vnos perros, e que no habia necesidad de aquel cumplimiento ; 
6 envio d vn principal a que hiciesen el Franquez 6 Mercado; el qual 
principal enojado de ver la ira de Cortes y la poca estimacion que 
hacia de los Indios vivos, y lo poco que se le daba de los muertos, 
desdenado el principal e determinado en la venganza fue el primero 
que renovo la guerra contra los Espanoles dentro de vna hora. 

ALC. Siempre oi decir que es buena la templanza, e sancta la 
piedad, e abominable la soberbia. Dicen que fue grandisimo el tesoro 
que Hernando Cortes repartio entre sus milites todos, quando deter- 
mino de dexar la cibdad e irse fuera della por consejo de vn Botello, 
que se preciaba de pronosticar lo que estaba por venir. 

Can. Bien se quien era ese, y en verdad que el fue de parecer que 
Cortes y los Christianos se saliesen ; y al tiempo del efectuarlo no lo 
hizo saber a todos, antes no lo supieron, sino los que con el se hallaron 
d esa pldtica ; e los demas que estaban en sus aposentos e cuarteles 
se quedaron, que eran 270 hombres ; los quales se defendieron ciertos 
dias peleando hasta que de hambre se dieron d los Indios, e guardd- 
ronles la palabra de la manera que Alvarado la guardo a los que es 
dicho ; e asi los 270 Christianos, e los que dellos no habian sido muer- 
tos peleando todos, quando se rindieron, fueron cruelmente sacrifica- 
dos : pero habeis, Senor, de saber, que desa liberalidad que Hernando 
Cortes vso, como decis, entre sus milites, los que mas parte alcanzd- 
ron della, e mas se cargdron de oro e joyas, mas presto los mataron ; 
porque por salvar el albarda murio el Asno que mas pesado la tomo; 
e los que no la quisieron, sino sus espaldas e armas, pasdron con menos 
ocupacion, haciendose el camino con el espada. 

ALC. Grand ldstima fue perderse tanto Thesoro y 154 Espanoles, 
e 45 yeguas, e mas de 2000 Indios, e entrellos al Hijo e Hijas de Mon- 
tezuma, e d todos los otros Senores que trahian presos. Io asi lo tengo 
escripto en el capitulo 14 de esta Historia. 



Can. Senor Alcayde, en verdad quien tal os dixo, 6 no lo vido, ni 
supo 6 quiso callar la verdad. Io os certifico, que fueron los Espa- 
fioles muertos en eso, con los que como dixe de suso que quedaron 
en la cibdad y en los que se perdieron en el camino siguiendo a Cortes, 
y continuandose nuestra fuga, mas de 1 170; e asi parecio por alarde ; 
e de los Indios nuestros amigos de Tascaltecle, que decis 2000, sin 
dubda fueran mas de 8000. 

ALC. Maravillome como despues que Cortes se acogio, e los que 
escaparon d la tierra de Tascaltecle, como no acabaron A el e A. los 
christianos dexando alii, muertos a los amigos ; y aun asi diz, que no 
les daban de comer sino por rescate los de Guaulip, que es ya termino 
de Tascaltecle, e el rescate no le querian sino era oro. 

CAN. Tenedlo, Senor, por falso todo eso ; porque en casa de sus 
Padres no pudieron hallar mas buen acogimiento los Christianos, e 
todo quanto quisieron, e aun sin pedirlo, se les dio gracioso e de mui 
buena voluntad. 

ALC. Para mucho ha sido el Marques e digno es de quanto tiene, 
e de mucho mas. E tengo lastima de ver lisiado vn cavallero tan 
valeroso e manco de dos dedos de la mano izquierda, como lo escrebi 
e saque de su relacion, e puse en el capitulo 15. Pero las cosas de la 
guerra ansi son, e los honores, e la palma de la victoria no se adquie- 
ren durmiendo. 

Can. Sin dubda, Senor, Cortes ha sido venturoso e sagaz capitan, 
e los principales suelen hacer mercedes d quien los sirve, y es bien las 
hagan i. todos los que en su servicio real trabajan ; pero algunos he 
visto yo que trabajan e sirven e nunca medran, e otros que no hacen 
tanto como aquellos son gratificados e aprovechados ; pera ansi fuesen 
todos remunerados como el Marques lo ha sido en lo de sus dedos de 
lo que le habeis lastima. Tubo Dios poco que hacer en sanarlo ; y 
salid, Senor, de ese cuidado, que asi como los saco de Castilla, quanda 
paso la primera vez A estas partes, asi se los tiene agora en Espafia ; 
porque nunca fue manco dellos, ni le faltan ; y ansi, ni hubo menester 
cirujano ni milagro para guarecer de ese trabajo. 

ALC. Senor Thoan Cano, 1 es verdad aquella crueldad que dicen 
que el Marques vso con Chulula, que es vna Cibdad por donde pas6 
la primera vez que fue a Mexico ? 

Can. Mui grand verdad es, pero eso yo no lo vi, porque aun no 
era yo ido i. la tierra ; pero supe lo despues de muchos que los vie>on 
e se hallaron en esa cruel hazaiia. 

Al.C. I Como oistes decir que paso ? 



CAN. Lo que ol por cosa mui notoria es, que en aquella cibdad 
pidio Hernando Cortes 3000 Indios para que llevasen el fardage, e se 
los dieron, e los hizo todos poner a cuchillo sin que eseapase ninguno. 

Alc. Razon tiene el Emperador Nuestro Sefior de mandar quitar 
los Indios a todos los Christianos. 

CAN. Hagase lo que S. M. mandare e fuese servido, que eso es lo 
que es mejor ; pero yo no querria que padeciesen justos por peca- 
dores : 1 quien hace crueldades paguelas, mas el que no comete delicto 
porque le han de castigar ? Esto es materia para mas espacio ; y yo 
me tengo de envarcar esta noche, e es ya quasi hora del Ave Maria. 
Mirad, Senor Alcayde, si hay en Mexico en que pueda yo emplearme 
en vuestro servicio, que yo lo hare con entera voluntad e obra. Y en 
lo que toca a la libertad de los Indios, sin dubda a vnos se les habia 
de rogar con ellos a que los tuviesen e governasen, e los industrasen 
en las cosas de nuestra sancta fee Catolica, 6 & otros se debian quitar : 
Pero pues aqui esta el Obispo de Chiapa, Fr. Bartolome de las Casas, 
que ha sido el movedor e inventor destas mudanzas, 6 va cargado de 
frailes mancebos de su orden, con el podeis, Senor Alcayde, desen- 
volver esta materia de Indios. £ yo no me quiero mas entremeter ni 
hablar en ella, aunque sabria decir mi parte. 

ALC. Sin duda, Senor Thoan Cano, Vmd. habla como prudente, 
y estas cosas deben ser asi ordenadas de Dios, y es de pensar, que este 
reverendo Obispo de Cibdad Real en la provincia de Chiapa, como 
celoso del servicio de Dios e de S. M., se ha movido a estas peregrina- 
ciones en que anda, y plega a Dios que el y sus Frailes acierten i. ser- 
vices ; pero el no esta tan bien con migo como pensais, antes se ha 
quexado de mi por lo que escrebi cerca de aquellos Labradores e 
nuevos cavalleros que quiso hacer, y con sendas cruces, que querian 
parecer a las de Calatrava, seiendo labradores e de otras mezclas 6 
genero de gente baja, quando fue a Cubagua e a Cumana, e lo dixo 
al Senor Obispo de S. Joan, don Rodrigo de Bastidas, para que me lo 
dixese, y ansi me lo dixo ; y lo que yo respondi a. su quexa no lo hice 
por satisfacer al Obispo de San Joan, e su sancta intencion ; fue que 
le suplique que le dixese, que en verdad yo no tube cuenta ni respecto, 
quando aquello escrevi, a le hacer pesar ni placer, sino a decir lo que 
paso ; y que viese vn Libro, que es la primera parte destas Historias 
de Indias, que se imprimio el afio de 1535, y alii estaba lo que escrebi ; 
e que holgaba porque estabamos en parte que todo lo que dixe y lo 
que dexe de decir se provaria facilmer.te ; y que supiese que aquel 
Libro estaba ya en Lengua Toscana y Francesa e Alemana e Latina 


6 Griega e Turca e Araviga, aunque yo le escrevi en Castellana ; y 
que pues el continuaba nuevas empresas, y yo no habia de cesar de 
escrebir las materias de Indias en tanto que S. S. M. M. desto fuesen 
servidos, que yo tengo esperanza en Dios que le dexara mejor acertar 
en lo porvenir que en lo pasado, y ansi adelante le pareceria mejor 
mi pluma. Y como el Senor Obispo de San Joan es tan noble e le 
consta la verdad, y quan sin pasion yo escribo, el Obispo de Chiapa 
quedo satisfecho, aun yo no ando por satisfacer a su paladar ni otro, 
sino por cumplir con lo que debo, hablando con vos, Senor, io cierto; 
y por tanto quanto a la carga de los muchos Frailes me parece en 
verdad que estas tierras manan, 6 que llueven Frailes, pero pues son 
sin canas todos y de 30 anos abajo, plega a Dios que todos acierten a 
servirle. Ya los vi entrar en esta Cibdad de dos en dos hasta 30 dellos, 
con sendos bordones, e sus sayas e escapularios e sombreros e sin 
capas, e el Obispo detras dellos. E no parecia vna devota farsa, e 
agora la comienzan no sabemos en que parara. ; el tiempo lo dira, y 
esto haga Nuestra Senor al proposito de su sancto servicio. Pero 
pues van hacia aquellos nuevos vulcanes, decidme, Senor, <; que cosa 
son, si los habeis visto, y que cosa es otro que teneis alia en la Nueva 
Espana, que se dice Guaxocingo ? 

Can. El Vulcan de Chalco 6 Guaxocingo todo es vna cosa, e 
alumbraba de noche 364 leguas 6 mas, e de dia salia continuo humo 
6 i. veces llamas de fuego, lo qual esta en vn escollo de la sierra nevada, 
en la qual nunca falta perpetua nieve, e esta a 9 leguas de Mexico ; 
pero este fuego e humo que he dicho turo hasta 7 anos, poco mas 6 
menos, despues que Hernando Cortes paso a. aquellas partes, e ya no 
sale fuego alguno de alii ; pero ha quedado mucho azufre e mui bueno, 
que se ha sacado para hacer polvora, e hai quanto quisieron sacar 
dello : pero en Guatemala hai dos volcanes e montes fogosos, e echan 
piedras mui grandisimas fuera de si quemadas, e lanzan aquellas bocas 
mucho humo, e es cosa de mui horrible aspecto, en especial como le 
vieron quando murio la pecadora de dona Beatriz de la Cueva, Muger 
del Adelantado Don Pedro de Alvarado. Plega a nuestro Senor de 
quedar con Vmd., Senor Alcaide, e dadme licencia que atiende la 
Barca para irme a la Nao. 

Alc. Senor Thoan Cano, el Espiritu Sancto vaya con Vm., y os 
de tan prospero viage e navegacion, que en pocos dias y en salva- 
mento Uegueis a Vuestra Casa, y halleis a la S ra dona Isabel y los 
hijos e hijas con la salud que Vmd. y ellos os deseais. 
Vol. III. 38 


No. XII. — See vol. ii. p. 333. 

ICO, JUNE 27, 1526. 

[Montezuma, on his death-bed, commended, as we 
have seen in the History, three favorite daughters to 
the protection of Cortes. After their father's death 
they were baptized, and after the Conquest were mar- 
ried to Spaniards of honorable family, and from them 
have descended several noble houses in Spain. Cortes 
granted, by way of dowry, to the eldest, Dona Isabel, 
the city of Tacuba and several other places, embracing 
an extensive and very populous district. I have given 
here the instrument containing this grant, which has 
a singular degree of interest, from the notices it con- 
tains of Montezuma's last moments, and the strong 
testimony it bears to his unswerving friendship for the 
Spaniards. Some allowance must be made by the 
reader for the obvious endeavor of Cortes to exhibit 
Montezuma's conduct in so favorable a light to the 
Castilian government as might authorize the extensive 
grant to his daughter. 

The instrument in the Munoz collection was taken 
from an ancient copy in the library of Don Rafael 
Floranes of Valladolid.] 





Por quanto al tiempo que yo, Don Hernando Cortes, capitan ge- 
neral e Governador desta nueva Espana e sus provincias por S. Mag 4 , 
pase a estas partes con ciertos Navios e gente para las pacifkar e poblar 
y traher las gentes della al dominio y servidumbre de la Corona Im- 
perial de S. M. como al presente estd, y despues de a ellos benido 
tuve noticia de un gran Senor, que en esta gran cibdad de Tenextitan 
residio, y hera Senor della, y de todas las demas provincias y tierras &. 
ella comarcanas, que se llamaba Moteguma, al qual hize saber mi 
venida, y como lo supo por los Mensageros que le envie para que me 
obedeciese en nombre de S. M. y se ofreciese por su vasallo : Tuvo 
por bien la dicha mi venida, e por mejor mostrar su buen celo y volun- 
tad de servir a S. M., y obedecer lo que por mi en su Real nombre le 
fuese mandado, me mostro mucho amor, e mando, que per todas las 
partes que pasasen los Espafioles hasta llegar a. esta Cibdad se nos 
hiciese mui buen acogimiento, y se nos diese todo lo que hubiesemos 
menester, como siempre se hizo, y mui mejor despues que a esta cib- 
dad llegamos, donde fuimos mui bien recevidos, yo y todos los que en 
mi compafiia benimos ; y aun mostro haberle pesado mucho de algu- 
nos recuentros y batallas que en el camino se me ofrecieron antes de la 
llegada a esta dicha cibdad, queriendose el desculpar dello ; y que de 
lo demas dicho para efetuar y mostrar mejor su buen deseo, huvo por 
bien el dicho Moteguma de estar debajo de la obediencia de S. M., y 
en mi poder a manera de preso asta que yo hiciese relacion a S. M., 
y del estado y cosas destas partes, y de la voluntad del dicho Mote- 
guma ; y que estando en esta paz y sosiego, y teniendo yo pacificada 
esta dicha tierra docientas leguas y mas hacia una parte y otra con 
el sello y seguridad del dicho senor Moteguma, por la voluntad y 
amor que siempre mostro al servicio de S. M., y complacerme A mi 
en su real nombre, hasta mas de un ano, que se ofrecio la venida de 
Panfilo de Narvaez, que los alboroto y escandalizo con sus danadas 
palabras y temores que les puso ; por cuyo respeto se levanto contra 
el dicho senor Moteguma un hermano suyo, llamado Auit Lavaci, 
Senor de Iztapalapa, y con mucha gente que traxo assi hizo mui 
cruda guerra al dicho Moteguma y a mi y A los Espanoles que en mi 
compania estavan, poniendonos mui recio cerco en los aposentos y 


casas donde estavamos ; y para quel dicho su hermano y los princi- 
pales que con el venian cesasen la dicha guerra y alzasen el cerco, se 
puso de una ventana el dicho Moteguma, y estdndoles mandando y 
amonestando que no lo hiciesen, y que fuesen vasallos de S. M. y 
obedeciesen los mandamientos que yo en su real nombre le mandaba, 
le tiraron con muchas hondas, y le dieron con una piedra en la cabeza, 
que le hicieron mui gran herida ; y temiendo de morir della, me hizo 
ciertos razonamientos, trayendome i. la memoria que por el entrafia- 
ble amor que tenia al servicio de S. M. y a mi en su Real nombre y e 
todos los Espanoles, padecia tantas heridas y afrentas, lo qual dava por 
bien empleado ; y que si el de aquella herida fallecia, que me rogava 
y encargaba muy afetuosamente, que aviendo respeto a lo mucho que 
me queria y deseava complacer, tuviese por bien de tomar a cargo 
tres hijas suyas que tenia, y que las hiciese bautizar y mostrar nuestra 
doctrina, porque conocia que era mui buena ; a. las quales, despues 
que yo gane esta dicha cibdad, hize luego bautizar, y poner por nom- 
bres 6. la una que es la mayor, su legitima heredera, Dona Isabel, y i. 
las otras dos, Dona Maria y Dona Marina ; y estando en finamiento 
de la dicha herida me torno a llamar y rogar mui ahincadamente, que 
si el muriese, que quirase por aquellas hijas, que eran las mejores 
joyas que el me daba, y que partiese con ellas de lo que tenia, por que 
no quedasen perdidas, especialmente & la mayor, que esta queria 
el mucho ; y que si por ventura Dios le escapaba de aquella en- 
fermedad, y le daba Victoria en aquel cerco, que el mostraria mas 
largamente el deseo que tenia de servir & S. M. y pagarme con obras 
la voluntad y amor que me tenia ; y que demas desto yo hiciese rela- 
tion £ su Magestad de como me dexaba estas sus hijas, y le suplicase 
en su nombre se sirviese de mandarine que yo mirase por ellas y las 
tuviese so mi amparo y administration, pues el hera tan servidor y 
vasallo de S. M. y siempre tuvo mui buena voluntad a los Espafioles, 
como yo havia visto y via, y por el amor que les tenia le havian dado 
el pago que tenia, aunque no le pesab'a dello. Y aun en su lengua 
me dixo, y entre estos razonamientos que encargaba la conciencia 
sobre ello. — Por ende acatando los muchos servicios que el dicho 
Senor Moteguma hizo & S. M. en las buenas obras que siempre en su 
vida me hizo, y buenos tratamientos de los Espanoles que en mi com- 
pania yo tenia en su real nombre, y la voluntad que me mostro en su 
real servicio ; y que sin duda el no fue parte en el levantamiento desta 
dicha cibdad, sino el dicho su hermano ; antes se esperaba, como yo 
tenia por cierto, que su vida fuera mucha ayuda para que la tierra es- 



tuviera siempre mui pacifica, y vinieran los naturales della en verdadero 
conocimiento, y se sirviera S. M. con mucha suma de pesos de oro y 
joyas y otras cosas, y por causa de la venida del dicho Narvaez y de la 
guerra que el dicho su hermano Auit Lavaci levanto, se perdieron ; y 
considerando asi mismo que Dios nuestro sefior y S. M. son mui 
servidos que en estas partes plante nuestra santissima Religion, como 
de cada dia la en crecimiento : Y que las dichas hijas de Motecuma 
y los demas Senores y principales y otras personas de los naturales 
desta Nueva Espafia se les de y muestre toda la mas y mejor Dotrina 
que fuere posible, para quitarlos de las idolatrias en que hasta aqui 
han estado, y traerlos al verdadero conocimiento de nuestra sancta 
fee catholica, especialmente los hijos de los mas principales, como lo 
era este Sefior Motecuma, y que en esto se descargava la conciencia 
de S. M. y la mia; en su real nombre tuve por bien de azetar su 
ruego, y tener en mi casa a. las dichas tres sus hijas, y hacer, como he 
hecho, que se les haga todo el mejor tratamiento y acogimiento que 
ha podido, haciendoles administrar y ensenar los mandamientos de 
nuestra santa fe catholica y las otras buenas costumbres de Christianos, 
para que con mejor voluntad y amor sirvan a Dios nuestro Sefior y 
conozcan y los Articulos della, y que los demas naturales tomen 
exemplo. Me parecio que segun la calidad de la persona de la dicha 
Dona Isabel, que es la mayor y legitima heredera del dicho Sefior 
Motecuma, y que mas encargada me dejo, y que su edad requeria tener 
compafiia, le he dado por marido y esposo a una persona dehonra, Hijo- 
Dalgo, y que ha servido a S. M. en mi compafiia dende el principio que 
a estas partes paso, teniendo por mi y en nombre de S. M. cargos y 
oficios mui honrosos, asi de Contador y mi lugartheniente de Capitan 
Governador como de otras muchas, y dado dellas mui buena cuenta, 
y al presente esta a su administracion el cargo y oficio de visitador 
general de todos los Indios desta dicha Nueva Espafia, el qual se dice 
y nombra Alonso Grado, natural de la villa de Alcantara. Con la 
qual dicha Dona Isabel le prometo y doi en dote y arras a la dicha 
Dona Isabel y sus descendientes, en nombre de S. M., como su Go- 
vernador y Capitan General destas partes, y porque de derecho le per- 
tenece de su patrimonio y legitima, el Senorio y naturales del Pueblo 
de Tacuba, que tiene ciento e veinte casas ; y Yeteve, que es estancia 
que tiene quarenta casas ; y Izqui Luca, otra estancia, que tiene otras 
ciento y veinte casas ; y Chimalpan, otra estancia, qae tiene quarenta 
casas ; y Chapulma Loyan, que tiene otras quarenta casas ; y Escapu- 
caltango, que tiene veinte casas; e Xiloango, que tiene quarenta 


casas ; y otra estancia que se dice Ocoiacaque, y otra que se dice 
Castepeque, y otra que se dice Talanco, y otra estancia que se dice 
Goatrizco, y otra estancia que se dice Duotepeque, y otra que se dice 
Tacala, que podra haver en todo mil y docientas y quarenta casas ; 
las quales dichas estancias y pueblos son subjetos al pueblo deTacuba 
y al Sefior della. Lo qual, corno dicho es, doy en nombre de S. M. 
en dote y arras a la dicha Dona Isabel para que lo haya y tenga y goce 
por juro de heredad, para agora y para siempre jamas, con titulo de 
Senora de dicho Pueblo y de lo demas aqui contenido. Lo qual le 
doy en nombre de S. M. por descargar su Real conciencia y la mia en 
su nombre. — Por esta digo ; que no le sera, quitado ni removido por 
cosa alguna, en ningun tiempo, ni por alguna manera ; y para mas 
saneamiento prometo y doy mi fe en nombre de S. M., que si se lo 
escriviese, le hare relacion de todo, para que S. M. se sirva de con- 
firmar esta Merced de la dicha Dona Isabel y a los dichos sus here- 
deros y subcesores del dicho Pueblo de Tacuba y lo demas aqui 
contenido, y de otras estancias a. el subjetas, que estan en poder de 
algunos Espanoles, para que S. M. asimismo se sirva demanddiselas 
dar y confirmar juntamente con las que al presente le doy ; que poi 
estar, como dicho es, en poder de Espanoles, no se las di hasta ver si 
S. M. es dello servido ; y doy por ninguna y de ningun valor y efeto 
qualquier cedula de encomienda y deposito que del dicho pueblo de 
Tacuba y de las otras estancias aqui contenidas y declaradas yo aya 
dado a qualquiera persona ; por quanto yo en nombre de S. M. las 
revoco y lo restituyo y doi a la dicha Doha Isabel, para que lo tenga 
como cosa suya propia y que de derecho le pertenece. Y mando & 
todas y qualesquier personas, vecinos y moradores desta dicha Nueva 
Espafia, estantes y habitantes en ella, que hayan y tengan a la dicha 
Doha Isabel por Senora del dicho pueblo de Tacuba con las dichas 
estancias, y que no le impidan ni estorven cosa alguna della, so pena 
de quinientos pesos de oro para la camara y fino de S. Mag d . — Fecho 
a veinte y siete dias del mes de Junio de mil y quinientos y veinte y 
seis afios. — Don Hernando de Cortes. — Por mandado del Governador 
mi sefior. — Alonso Baliente. 



No. XIII. — See vol. ii. p. 442. 


[These Regulations, proclaimed by Cortes at Tlascala 
on the eve of the final march against Mexico, sho'v 
the careful discipline established in his camp, and, to 
some extent, the nature of his military policy. The 
Code forms part of the collection of Muhoz.] 


Este dia & voz de pregonero publico sus Ordenanzas, cuyo proemio 
es este. 

Porque por muchas escrituras y coronicas autenticas nos es notorio 
e manifiesto quanto los antiguos que siguieron el exercicio de la guerra 
procuraron e travaxaron de introducir tales y tan buenas costumbres y 
ordenaciones, con las cuales y con su propia virtud y fortaleza pudiesen 
alcanzar y conseguir victoria y prospero fin en las conquistas y guer- 
ras, que hobiesen de hacer e seguir; e por el contrario vemos haber 
sucedido grandes infortunios, desastres, e muertes a los que no sigui- 
eron la buena costumbre y orden que en la guerra se debe tener ; e les 
haber sucedido scmejantes casos con poca pujanza de los enemigos, 
segun parece claro por muchos exemplos antiguos e modernos, que 
aqui se podrian espresar; e porque la orden es tan loable, que no tan 
solamente en las cosas humanas mas aun en las divinas se ama y sigue, 
y sin ella ninguna cosa puede haber cumplido efecto, como que ello 
sea un principio, medio, y fin para el buen reximiento de todas las 
cosas: Por ende yo, H.C., Capitan general e Justicia mayor en esta 
Nueva Espana del mar occeano por el mui alto, mui poderoso, e mui 
catolico D. Carlos nuestro Senor, electo Rey de Romanos, futuro Em- 
perador semper Augusto, Rey de Espana e de otros muchos grandes 
reynos e Senorios, considerando todo lo suso dicho, y que si los pa- 
sados falldron ser necesario hacer Ordenanzas e costumbres por donde 
. se rigiesen e gobernasen aquellos que hubiesen de seguir y exercer el 
uso de la guerra, a los Espanoles que en mi compafiia agora estdn 6 
estubiesen e a mi nos es mucho mas necesario e conveniente seguir y 

45 2 


observar toda la mejor costumbre y orden que nos sea posible, asi por 
lo que toca al servicio de Dios nuestro Senor y de la sacra Catolica 
Magestad, como por tener por enemigos y contrarios a. la mas belicosa 
y astuta gente en la guerra e de mas generos de armas que ninguna 
otra generacion, especialmente por ser tanta que no tiene numero, 6 
nosotros tan pocos y tan apartados y destituidos de todo humano 
socorro ; viendo ser mui necesario y cumplidero al servicio de su 
Cesarea Magestad e utilidad nuestra, Mande hacer e hicemas Orde- 
nanzas que de yuso seran contenidas e ir&n firmadas de mi nombre e 
del infrascrito en la manera siguiente. 

Primeramente, por quanto por la experiencia que habemos visto 
e cada dia vemos quanta solicitud y vigilancia los naturales de estas 
partes tienen en la cultura y veneracion de sus idolos, de que & Dios 
nuestro Senor se hace gran deservicio, y el demonio por la ceguedad 
y engano en que los trae es de ellos muy venerado ; y en los apartar 
de tanto error e idolatria y en los reducir al conocimiento de nuestra 
Santa Fe catolica nuestro Senor sera muy servido, y demas de adquirir 
gloria para nuestras dnimas con ser causa que de aqui adelante no se 
pierdan ni condenen tantos, aci en lo temporal seria Dios siempre en 
nuestra ayuda y socorro : por ende, con toda la justicia que puedo y 
debo, exhorto y ruego £ todos los Espafioles que en mi compania fue- 
sen & esta guerra que al presente vamos, y i. todas las otras guerras 
y conquistas que en nombre de S. M. por mi mandado hubiesen de ir, 
que su principal motivo e intencion sea apartar y desarraigar de las 
dichas idolatrias A todos los naturales destas partes, y reducillos, 6 &. 
lo menos desear su salvacion, y que sean reducidos al conocimiento 
de Dios y de su Santa Fe catolica ; porque si con otra intencion se 
hiciese la dicha guerra, seria injusta, y todo lo que en ella se oviese 
Onoloxio e obligado a restitucion, e S. ternia razon de mandar 
gratificar a los que en ellas sirviesen. E sobre ello encargo la con- 
ciencia A los dichos Espafioles, e desde ahora protesto en nornbre de 
S. M. que mi principal intencion e motivo en facer esta guerra e las 
otras que ficiese por traer y reducir & los dichos naturales al dicho 
conocimiento de nuestra Santa Fe e creencia ; y despues por los soz- 
jugar e supeditar debajo del yugo e dominio imperial e real de su Sacra 
Magestad, a quien juridicamente el Senorio de todas estas partes. 

Yt. En por quanto de los reniegos e blasfemias Dios nuestro Senor 
es mucho deservido, y es la mayor ofensa que i. su Santisimo nombre 
se puede hacer, y por eso permite en las gentes recios y duros casti- 
gos ; y no basta que seamos tan malos que por los inmensos bene- 



ficios que de cada dia del recibimos no le demos gracias, mas decimos 
mal e blasfemimos de su santo nombre; y por evitar tan aborrecible 
uso y pecado, mando que ninguna persona, de qualquiera condicion 
que sea, no sea osado decir, No creo en Dios, ni Pese, ni Reniego, ni 
Del cielo, ni No ha poder en Dios ; y que lo mismo se entienda de 
Nuestra Senora y de todos los otros Santos : sopena que demas de ser 
executadas las penas establecidas por las leyes del reyno contra los 
blasfemos, la persona que en lo susodicho incurriese pague 15 caste- 
llanos de oro, la tercera parte para la primera Cofradia de Nuestra 
Senora que en estas partes se hiciese, y la otra tercera parte para el 
fisco de S. M., y la otra tercera parte para el juez que lo sentenciase. 

Yt. Porque de los juegos muchas y las mas veces resultan reniegos 
y blasfemias, e nacen otros inconvenientes, e es justo que del todo se 
prohiban y defiendan ; por ende mando que de aqui adelante ninguna 
persona sea osada de jugar a. naypes ni a otros juegos vedados dineros 
ni preseas ni otra cosa alguna ; sopena de perdimiento de todo lo que 
jugase e de 20 pesos de oro, la mitad de todo ello para la Camara, e 
la otra mitad para el juez que lo sentenciase. Pero por quanto en las 
guerras es bien que tenga la gente algun exercicio, y se acostumbra 
y permitese que jueguen por que se eviten otros mayores inconveni- 
entes ; permitese que en el aposento donde estubiese se jueguen naypes 
6 otros juegos moderadamente, con tanto que no sea a los dados, 
porque alii es curarse han de no de decir mal, e a lo menos si lo 
dixesen seran castigados. 

Yt. Que ninguno sea osado de echar mano a la espada 6 punal 6 
otra arma alguna para ofender a ningun Espanol ; sopena que el que 
lo contrario hiciese, si fuese hidalgo, pague 100 pesos de oro, la mitad 
para el fisco de S. M., y la otra mitad para los gastos de la Xusticia ; 
y al que no fuese hidalgo se le han de dar 100 azotes publicamente. 

Yt. Por quanto acaese que algunos EspaSoles por no valar e hacer 
otras cosas se dexan de aputar en las copias de los Capitanes que 
tienen gente : por ende mando que todos se alisten en las Capitanias 
que yo tengo hechas e hiciese, excepto los que yo sefialare que queden 
fuera dellas, con apercibimiento que dende agora se les face, que el 
que ansi no lo hiciese, no se le dara parte ni partes algunas. 

Otrosi, por quanto algunas veces suele acaecer, que en burlas e por 
pasar tiempo algunas personas que estan en una capitania burlan e 
porfian de algunos de las otras Capitanias, y los unos dicen de los 
otros, y los otros de los otros, de que se suelen recrecer quistiones e 
escandalos ; por ende mando que de aqui adelante ninguno sea osado 


de burlar ni decir mal de ninguna Capitania ni la perjudicar ; sopena 
de 20 pesos de oro, la mi tad para la Camara, y la otra mi tad para los 
gastos de Xusticia. 

Otrosi, que ninguno de los dichos Espanoles no se aposente ni pose 
en ninguna parte, exepto en el lugar e parte donde estubiese aposen- 
tada su capitan ; supena de 12 pesos de oro, aplicados en la forma 
contenida en el capitulo antecedente. 

Yt. Que ningun capitan se aposente en ninguna poblacion 6 villa 
6 ciudad, sino en el pueblo que le fuese senalado por el Maestro de 
Campo, sopena de 10 pesos de oro, aplicados en la forma suso dicha. 

Yt. Por quanto cada Capitan tenga mejor acaudillada su gente, 
mando que cada uno de los dichos Capitanes tenga sus cuadrillas de 
20 en 20 Espanoles, y con cada una quadrilla un quadrillero 6 cabo 
de escuadra, que sea persona hdbil y de quien se deba confiar ; so la 
dicha pena. 

Otrosi, que cada uno de los dichos quadrilleros 6 cabos desquadra 
ronden sobre las velas todos los quartos que les cupiese de velar, so 
la dicha pena ; e que la vela que hallasen durmiendo, 6 ausente del 
lugar donde debiese velar, pague cuatro Castellanos, aplicados en la 
forma suso dicha, y demas que este atado medio dia. 

Otrosi, que los dichos quadrilleros tengan cuidado de avisar y avisen 
i, las velas que hubiesen de poner, que puesto que recaudo en el Real 
no desamparen ni dexen los portillos 6 calles 6 pasos donde les fuese 
mandado velar y se vayan de alii d otra parte por ninguna necesidad 
que digan que les constrifio hasta que sean mandado ; sopena de 50 
castellanos, aplicados en la forma suso dicha al que fuese hijo dalgo ; 
y sino lo fuese, que le sean dados 100 azotes publicamente. 

Otrosi, que cada Capitan que por mi fuese nombrado tenga y traiga 
consigo su tambor e bandera para que rija y acaudille mejor la gente 
que tenga a su cargo ; sopena de 10 pesos de oro, aplicados en la 
forma suso dicha. 

Otrosi, que cada Espanol que oyese tocar el atambor de su com- 
pania sea obligado & salir e saiga & acompanar su bandera con todas 
sus armas en forma y a punto de guerra ; sopena de 20 castellanos 
aplicados en la forma arriba declarada. 

Otrosi, que todas las veces que yo mandase mover el Real para 
alguna parte cada Capitan sea obligado de llevar por el camino toda 
su gente junta y apartada de las otras Capitanias, sinque se entrometa 
en ella ningun Espanol de otra Capitania ninguna ; y para ello con- 
striBan 6 apremien 6. los que asi llevasen debaxo de su bandera segun 



uso de guerra ; sopena de 10 pesos de oro, aplicados en la forma suso 

Yt. Por quinto acaece que antes 6 al tiempo de romper en los ene- 
migos algunos Espaiioles se meten entre el fardage, demas de ser 
pusilanimidad, es cosa fea el mal exemplo para los Indios nuestros 
amigos que nos acompanan en la guerra : por ende mando que ningun 
Espaiiol se entremeta ni vaya con el fardage, salvo aquellos que para 
ello fuesen dados e sefialados : sopena de 20 pesos de oro, aplicados 
segun que de suso contiene. 

Otrosi, por quanto acaece algunas veces que algunos Espaiioles 
fuera de orden y sin les ser mandado arremeten 6 rompen en algun 
esquadron de los enemigos, e por se desmandar ansi se desbaratan y 
salen fuera de ordenanza, de que suele recrecerse peligro a los mas : 
porende mando que ningun Capitan se desmande a romper por los 
enemigos sin que primeramente por mi le sea mandado ; sopena de 
muerte. En otra persona se desmanda, si fuese hijodalgo, pena de 
100 pesos, aplicados en la forma suso dicha ; y si no fuese hidalgo, le 
sean dados 100 azotes publicamente. 

Yt. Por quanto podria ser que al tiempo que entran a tomar por 
iuerza alguna poblacion 6 villa 6 ciudad a los enemigos, antes de ser 
del todo .echados fuera, con codicia de robar, algun Espaiiol se 
entrase en alguna casa de los Enemigos, de que se podria seguir dano : 
por ende mando que ningun Espanol ni Espaiioles entren a robar ni 
& otra cosa alguna en las tales casas de los enemigos, hasta ser del 
todo echados fuera, y haber conseguido el fin de la victoria ; sopena 
de 20 pesos de oro, aplicados en la manera que dicha es. 

Yt. Si por escusar y evitar los hurtos encubiertos y fraudes que se 
hacen en las cosas habidas en la guerra 6 fuera de ella, asi por lo que 
toca al quinto que dellas pertenece i. su catolica Magestad, como 
porque han de ser repartidas conforme &. lo que cada una sirve <£ 
merece : por ende mando que todo el oro, plata, perlas, piedras, 
plumage, ropa, esclavos, y otras cosas qualesquier que se adquieran, 
hubiesen, 6 tomasen en qualquier manera, ansi en las dichas pobla- 
ciones, villas, 6 ciudades, como en el campo, que la persona 6 per- 
sonas a cuyo poder viniese 6 la hallasen 6 tomasen, en qualquier forma 
que sea, lo traigan luego incontinente e manifiesten ante mi 6 ante 
otra persona aue fuese sin lo meter ni llevar a su posada ni 6. otra 
parte alguna ; sopena de muerte 6 perdimiento de todos sus bienes 
para la Camara e fisco de S. M. 

E por quanto lo suso dicho e cada una cosa e parte dello se guarde 


6 cumpla segun 6 de la manera que aqui de suso se contiene, y de 
ninguna cosa de lo aqui contenida pretendan ignorancia, mando que 
sea apregonado publicamente, para que venga a noticia de todos: 
Que fueron hechas las dichas Ordenanzas en la ciudad y provincia de 
Taxclateque selado 22 dias del mes de Diciembre, afio del nascimiento 
de nuestro Salvador Jesu Christo de 1520 afios. 

Pregonaronse las dichas Ordenanzas desuso contenidas en la ciudad 
6 provincia de Taxclatecle, miercoles dia de San Esteban, que fuesen 
26 dias del mes de Diciembre, afio del nacimiento de nuestro Salvador 
Jesu Christo de 1520 afios ; estando presente el magnifico Sefior Fer- 
nando Cortes, capitan general e Justicia mayor de esta Nueva Espafia 
del mar Occeano por el Emperador nuestro Sefior, por ante mi, Juan 
de Rivera, escribano e Notario publico en todos los Reinos e Senorios 
de Espafia por las Autoridades apostolica y Real. Lo qual pregono 
en voz alta Anton Garcia pregonero, en el Alarde que la gente de 6. 
caballo e de a pie que su merced mando facer e se fizo el dicho dia. 
A lo qual fueron testigos que estaban presentes, Gonzalo de Sandoval, 
Alguacil mayor, e Alonso de Prado, contador, e Rodrigo Alvarez 
Chico, veedor por S. M., e otras muchas personas. — Fecho ut supra. 
— Juan de Rivera. 

No. XIV. — See vol. iii. p. 290. 


[I have noticed this celebrated Letter, the Carta 
Qiiinta of Cortes, so particularly in the body of the 
work, that little remains to be said about it here. I 
have had these passages translated to show the reader 
the circumstantial and highly graphic manner of the 
general's narrative. The latter half of the Letter is 
occupied with the events which occurred in Mexico in 
the absence of Cortes and after his return. It may be 
considered, therefore, as part of the regular series of 
his historical correspondence, the publication of which 



was begun by archbishop Lorenzana. Should another 
edition of the Letters of Cortes be given to the world, 
this one ought undoubtedly to find a place in it.] 

A lake of great width and proportionate depth was the difficulty 
which we had to encounter. In vain did we turn to the right and to 
the left ; the lake was equally wide in every direction. My guides 
told me that it was useless to look for a ford in the vicinity, as they 
were certain the nearest one was towards the mountains, to reach 
which would necessarily be a journey of five or six days. I was ex- 
tremely puzzled what measure to adopt. To return was certain death ; 
as, besides being at a loss for provisions, the roads, in consequence of 
the rains which had prevailed, were absolutely impassable. Our situa- 
tion was now perilous in the extreme ; on every side was room for 
despair, and not a single ray of hope illumined our path. My fol- 
lowers had become sick of their continual labor, and had as yet reaped 
no benefit from their toils. It was therefore useless for me to look to 
them for advice in our present truly critical position. Besides the 
primitive band and the horses, there were upwards of three thousand 
five hundred Indians who followed in our train. There was one soli- 
tary canoe lying on the beach, in which, doubtless, those whom I had 
sent in advance had crossed. At the entrance of the lake, and on the 
other side, were deep marshes, which rendered our passage of the 
lake considerably more doubtful. One of my companions entered 
into the canoe, and found the depth of the lake to be five-and-twenty 
feet, and, with some lances tied together, I ascertained that the mud 
and slime were twelve feet more, making in all a depth of nearly forty 
feet. In this juncture, I resolved that a floating bridge should be 
made, and for this purpose requested that the Indians would lend 
their assistance in felling the wood, whilst I and my followers would 
employ ourselves in preparing the bridge. The undertaking seemed 
to be of such magnitude that scarcely any one entertained an idea of 
its being completed before our provisions were all exhausted. The 
Indians, however, set to work with the most commendable zeal. Not 
so with the Spaniards, who already began to comment upon the 
labors they had undergone, and the little prospect which appeared of 
their termination. They proceeded to communicate their thoughts 
one to another, and the spirit of disaffection had now attained such a 
height that some had the hardihood to express their disapprobation of 
my proceedings to my very face. Touched to the quick with this 
Vol III. — u 39 



show of desertion when I had least expected it, I said to them that 1 
needed not their assistance ; and, turning towards the Indians who 
accompanied me, exposed to them the necessity we lay under of using 
the most strenuous exertions to reach the other side, for if this point 
were not effected we should all perish from hunger. I then pointed in 
the opposite direction, in which the province of Acalan lay, and cheered 
theirspirits with the prospect of there obtaining provisions in abundance, 
without taking into consideration the ample supply which would be 
afforded us by the caravels. I also promised them, in the name of 
your Majesty, that they should be recompensed to the fullest extent 
of their wishes, and that not a person who contributed his assistance 
should go unrewarded. My little oration had the best possible effect 
with the Indians, who promised, to a man, that their exertions should 
only terminate with their lives. The Spaniards, ashamed of their 
previous conduct, surrounded me and requested that I would pardon 
their late act ; alleging, in extenuation of their offence, the miserable 
position in which they were placed, obliged to support themselves 
with the unsavory roots which the earth supplied, and which were 
scarcely sufficient to keep them alive. They immediately proceeded 
to work, and, though frequently ready to fall from fatigue, never made 
another complaint. After four days' incessant labor the bridge was 
completed, and both horse and man passed without the slightest acci- 
dent. The bridge was constructed in so solid a manner that it would 
be impossible to destroy it otherwise than by fire. More than one 
thousand beams were united for its completion, and every one of them 
was thicker than a man's body, and sixty feet long. 

-% Si * « # * * * * 

At two leagues' distance from this place, the mountains commenced. 
From no words of mine, nor of a more gifted man, can your Majesty 
form an adequate idea of the asperity and unevenness of the place 
which we were now ascending. He alone who has experienced the 
hardships of the route, and who himself has been an eye-witness, can 
be fully sensible of its difficulty. It will be sufficient for me to say, 
in order that your Majesty may have some notion of the labor which 
we had to undergo, that we were twelve days before we got entirely 
free of it, — a distance altogether of eight leagues ! Sixty-eight horses 
died on the passage, the greater part having fallen down the precipices 
which abounded on every side ; and the few that escaped seemed so 
overcome that we thought not a single one would ever afterwards 
prove serviceable. More than three months elapsed before they re« 



covered from the effects of the journey. It never ceased to rain, day 
or night, from the time we entered the mountain until we left it ; and 
the rock was of such a nature that the water passed away without col- 
lecting in any place in sufficient quantity to allow us to drink. Thus, 
in addition to the other hardships which we had to encounter, was that 
most pressing of all, thirst. Some of the horses suffered considerably 
from the want of this truly necessary article, and but for the culinary 
and other vessels which we had with us, and which served to receive 
some of the rain, neither man nor horse could possibly have escaped. 
A nephew of mine had a fall upon a piece of sharp rock, and frac- 
tured his leg in three or four places ; thus was our labor increased, as 
the men had to carry him by turns. We had now but a league to 
journey before we could arrive at Tenas, the place which I men- 
tioned as belonging to the chief of Tayco ; but here a formidable 
obstacle presented itself, in a very wide and very large river, which 
was swollen by the continued rains. After searching for some time, 
one of the most surprising fords ever heard of was discovered. Some 
huge jutting cliffs arrest the progress of the river, in consequence of 
which it extends for a considerable space around. Between these cliffs 
are narrow channels, through which the water rushes with an impetu- 
osity which baffles description. From one of these rocks to another 
we threw large trunks of trees, which had been felled with much labor. 
Ropes of bass-weed were affixed to these trunks ; and thus, though 
at imminent risk of our lives, we crossed the river. If anybody had 
become giddy in the transit, he must unavoidably have perished. Of 
these passes there were upwards of twenty, and we took two whole 
days to get clear, by this extraordinary way. 

» * « * * * * * * 

It were indeed an arduous task for me to describe to your Majesty 
the joy which pervaded every countenance when this truly inspiring 
account was received. To be near the termination of a journey so 
beset with hardships and labor as ours had been, was an event that 
could not but be hailed with rapture. Our last four days' march sub- 
jected us to innumerable trials ; as, besides being without any certainty 
of our proceeding in the right direction, we were ever in the heart of 
mountains abounding with precipices on every side. Many horses 
dropped on the way; and a cousin of mine, Juan Davilos by name, 
fell down a precipice and broke an arm. Had it not been for the suit 
of armor which he wore, he would have been infallibly dashed to 
pieces. As it was, besides having his arm broken, he was dreadfully 


lacerated. His horse, upon which he was mounted, having no pro- 
tection, was so wounded by the fall that we were obliged to leave him 
behind. With much difficulty we succeeded in extricating my cousin 
from his perilous situation. It would be an endless task to relate to 
your Majesty the many sufferings which we endured ; amongst which 
the chief was from hunger ; for, although we had some swine which 
we had brought from Mexico, upwards of eight days had elapsed with- 
out our having tasted bread. The fruit of the palm-tree boiled with 
hogs' flesh, and without any salt, which we had exhausted some time 
previous, formed our only sustenance. They were alike destitute of 
provisions at the place at which we had now arrived, where they lived 
in constant dread of an attack from the adjoining Spanish settlement. 
They needed not to fear such an event ; as, from the situation in which 
I found the Spaniards, they were incapable of doing the slightest mis- 
chief. So elated were we all with our neighborhood to Nico that all 
our past troubles were soon forgotten, as are the dangers of the sea by 
the weather-beaten sailor, who on his arrival in port thinks no more 
of the perils he has encountered. We still suffered greatly from 
hunger ; for even the unsavory roots were procured with the greatest 
difficulty ; and, after we had been occupied many hours in collecting 
them, they were devoured with the greatest eagerness, in the shortest 
space of time imaginable. 

No. XV. — See vol. iii. p. 328. 


[I give this Letter of Cortes entire, Ultima y senti- 
disima Carta, his " Last and most touching Letter," 
as it is styled by Vargas Ponce, who has embraced it 
in his important collection from the archives of Seville.* 

* [It has since been printed in the Col. de Doc. ined. para la Hist, 
de Espafia, torn, i., affording an opportunity for correcting the almost 
innumerable errors which disfigure the transcription of Vargas Pon9e 
and render it scarcely intelligible. — Ed.] 


It may be called touching, when we consider the tone 
of it, as compared with the former correspondence of 
its author, and the gloomy circumstances under which 
it was written. Yet we are not to take the complaints 
contained in it of his poverty too literally; since at 
his death, but three years after, he left immense estates. 
But these estates were so much embarrassed by his ex- 
pensive and disastrous expeditions in the South Sea that 
his income during the rest of his life seems to have 
been scarcely sufficient to meet his ordinary expen- 
diture. The last days of Cortes, wasted in ineffectual 
attempts to obtain redress from the court whom he had 
so signally served, remind us of the similar fate of 
Columbus. The history of both may teach us that the 
most brilliant career too often leads only to sorrow 
and disappointment, as the clouds gather round the 
sun at his setting.] 

Pense que haber trabajado en la juventud me aprovechara para que 
en la vejez tubiera descanso, y asi ha quarenta afios que me he ocupado 
en no dormir, mal comer, y 6. las veces ni bien ni mal, traer las armas i. 
cuestas, poner la persona en peligro, gastar mi hacienda y edad, todo 
en servicio de Dios, trayendo obejas en su corral muy remotas de nues- 
tro hemisferio, ignotas, y no escriptas en nuestras Escrituras, y acre- 
centando y dilatando el nombre y patrimonio de mi Rey, ganandole 
y trayendole a su yugo y Real cetro muchos y muy grandes reynos y 
senorios de muchas barvaras naciones y gentes, ganados por mi propia 
persona y espensas, sin ser ayudado de cosa alguna, hantes muy 
estorvado por muchos emulos y invidiosos, que como sanguijuelas han 
reventado de artos de mi sangre. De la parte que &. Dios cupo de mis 
trabajos y vigilias asaz estoy pagado, porque seyendo la obra suya, 
quiso tomarme por medio, y que las gentes me atribuyesen alguna 
parte, aunque quien conociere de mi lo que yo, bere claro que no sin 
causa la divina providencia quiso que una hobra tan grande se acavase 
por el mas flaco e inutil medio que se pudo hallar, porque a solo dios 
fuese el atributo. De lo que & mi rey quedo, la 1 emuneracion siempre 


estuve satisfecho, que ceteris paribus no fuera menor por ser en tiempo 
de V. M., que nunca estos reynos de Espafia, donde yo soy natural y 
& quien cupo este beneficio, fueron poseydos de tan grande y Catolico 
principe, magnanimo ypoderoso Rey; y asi V. M., la primera vez que 
vese las manos y entregue los frutos de mis servicios, mostro recono- 
cimiento dellos y comenzo a mostrar voluntad de me hacer gratifica- 
cion, honrrando mi persona con palabras y hobras, que pareciendome 
& mi que no se equiparaban a. mis meritos, V. M. sabe que rehus6 yo 
de recibir. V. M. me dijo y mando que las aceptase, porque pareciese 
que me comenzaba a hacer alguna merced, y que no las reciviese por 
pago de mis servicios; porque V. M. se queria haber con migo, como 
se han los que se muestran a tirar la ballesta, que los primeros tiros 
dan fuera del terrero, y enmendando dan en el y en el bianco y fiel ; 
que la merced que V. M. me hacia hera dar fuera del terrero, y que 
iria enmendando hasta dar en el fiel de lo que yo merecia ; y pues 
que no se me quitava nada de lo que tenia, ni se me habia de quitar, 
que reciviese lo que me dava ; y ansi vese las manos a V. M. por ello, 
y enbolviendo las espaldas quitoseme lo que tenia todo, y no se me 
cumplio la merced que V. M. me hizo. Y demas destas palabras que 
V. M. me dijo, y obras que me prometio, que, pues tiene tan buena 
memoria, no se le habran olvidado, por cartas de V. M. firmadas de 
su real nombre tengo otras muy mayores. Y pues mis servicios hechos 
hasta alii son benemeritos de las obras y promesas que V. M. me 
hizo, y despues aca no lo han desmerecido ; antes nunca he cesado de 
servir y acrecentar el Patrimonio de estos reynos, con mil estorvos, 
que si no obiera tenido no fuera menos lo acrecentado, despues que la 
merced se me hizo, que lo hecho porque la mereci, no se porque no 
se me cumple la promesa de las merecedes ofrecidas, y se me quitan 
las hechas. Y si quisieren decir que no se me quitan, pues poseo algo ; 
cierto es que nada e iniitil son una mesma cosa, y lo que tengo es tan 
sin fruto, que me fuera arto mejor no tenerlo, porque obiera entendido 
en mis grangerias, y no gastado el fruto de ellas por defenderme del 
fiscal de V. M., que a sido y es mas dificultoso que ganar la tierra de 
los enemigos ; asi que mi trabajo aprovecho para mi contentamiento 
de haber hecho el dever, y no para conseguir el efecto del, pues no 
solo no se me siguio reposo a la vejez, mas trabajo hasta la muerte ; y 
pluguiese a Dios que no pasase adelante, sino que con la corporal se 
acabase, y no se estendiese a la perpetua, porque quien tanto trabajo 
tiene en defender el cuerpo no puede dejar de ofender al anima. Su- 
plico a V. M. no permita que a tan notorios servicios haya tan poco mi- 


ramiento, y pues es de creer que no es a culpa de V. M. que las gentes 
lo sepan ; porque como esta obra que Dios hizo por mi medio es tan 
grande y maravillosa, y se ha estendido la fama de ella por todos los 
reynos de V. M. y de los otros reyes cristianos y aun por algunos in- 
fieles, en estos donde hay noticia del pleito de entre el fiscal y mi, no 
se trata de cosa mas ; y unos atribuyen la culpa al fiscal, otros a culpas 
mias ; y estas no las hallan tan grandes, que si bastasen para por ellas 
negarseme el premio, no bastasen tambien para quitarme la vida, 
honrra, y hacienda ; y que pues esto no se hace que no deve ser mia la 
culpa. A V. M. ninguna se atribuye ; porque si V. M. quisiese quitarme 
lo que me dio, poder tiene para ejecutarlo, pues al que quiere y puede 
nada hay imposible ; decir que se vuscan formas para colorar la obra, 
y que no se sienta el intento, ni caven ni pueden caber en los reyes 
unjidos por Dios tales medios, porque para con el no hay color que no 
sea transparente, para con el mundo no hay para que Colorado, por 
que asi lo quiero, asi lo mando, es el descargo de lo que los reyes hacen. 
Yo suplique a V. M. en Madrid fuese servido de aclarar la boluntad que 
tubo de hacerme merced en pago de mis servicios, y le traje i. la me- 
moria algunos de ellos ; dijome V. M. que mandaria a los del su consejo 
que me despachasen ; pense que se les dejava mandado lo que abian 
de hacer, porque V. M. me dijo que no queria que trajese pleyto con 
el fiscal : cuando quise saberlo, dijeronme que me defendiese de la 
demanda del fiscal, porque havia de ir por tela de justicia, y por ella se 
habia de sentenciar: sentilo por grave, y escrebi a V. M. a Barcelona, 
suplicandole que pues era servido de entrar en juicio de su siervo, 
lo fuese en que obiese Juezes sin sospecha y V. M. mandase que 
con los del Consejo de las Indias se juntasen algunos de los otros, 
pues todos son criados de V. M., y que juntos lo detenninasen ; no 
fue V. M. servido, que no puedo alcanzar la causa, pues quantos mas 
lo viesen mejor alcanzarian lo que se devia hacer. Veome viejo y pobre 
y empenado en este reyno en mas de veinte mil ducados, sin mas de 
ciento otros, que he gastado de los que traje e me han enviado, que 
algunos de ellos debo tambien que los an tornado prestados para en- 
viarme, y todos corren cambios ; y en cinco anos poco menos quo ha que 
sali de mi casa, no es mucho lo que he gastado, pues nunca ha salido de 
la Corte, con tres hijos que traygo en ella, con letrados, procuradores, 
y solicitadores ; que todo fuera mejor empleado que V. M. se sirviera 
de ello y de lo que yo mas hoviera adquirido en este tiempo ; ha 
ayudado tambien la ida de Argel. Pareceme que al cojer del fruto de 
is trabajos no devia hecharlo en basijas rotas, y dejarlo en juicio de 


pocos, sino tornar i. suplicar i. V. M. sea servido que todos quantos 
jueces V. M. tiene en sus Consejos conozcan de esta causa, y conforme 
a justicia la sentenciase. — Yo he sentido del obispo de Cuenca que 
desea que obiese para esto otros jueces demas de los que hay ; porque el 
y el licenciado Salmeron, nuebo Oidor en este Consejo de Indias, son los 
que me despojaron sin hoyrme de hecho, siendo jueces en la nueva 
Espana, como lo tengo provado, y con quien yo traigo pleito sobre el 
dicho despojo, y les pido cantidad de dineros de los intereses y rentas 
de lo que me despojdron ; y esta claro que no han de sentenciar contra 
si. No les he querido recusar en este caso, porque siempre crey que 
V. M. fuera servido que no llegara a estos terminos ; y no seyendo 
V. M. servido que hayan mas jueces que determinen esta causa, serme 
ha forzado recusar al Obispo de Cuenca y a Salmeron, y pesar mehia 
en el anima porque no podra ser sin alguna dilacion ; que para mi no 
puede ser cosa mas dafiosa, porque he sesenta afios, y anda en cinco 
que sali de mi casa, y no tengo mas de un hijo Varon que me suceda; 
y aunque tengo la muger moza para poder tener mas, mi hedad no 
sufre esperar mucho ; y si no tubiera otro, y dios dispusiera de este 
sin dejar sucesion, <jque me habria aprovechado lo adquirido? pues 
subcediendo hijas se pierde la memoria. Otra y otra vez torno & 
suplicar a V. M. sea servido que con los Jueces del Consejo de Indias 
se junten otros jueces de estos otros Consejos ; pues todos son criados 
de V. M., y les fia la governacion de sus reynos y su real conciencia, 
no es inconveniente fiarles que determinen sobre una escriptura de 
merced, que V. M. hizo a un su vasallo de una partecica de un gran 
todo con que el sirvio A V. M., sin costar trabajo ni peligro en su real 
persona, ni cuidado de espiritu de proveer como se hiciese, ni costa 
de dineros para pagar la gente que lo hizo, y que tan limpia y lealmente 
sirvio, no solo en la tierra que gano, pero con mucha cantidad de oro 
y plata y piedra de los despojos que en ella ubo ; y que V. M. mande 
k los jueces que fuere servido que entiendan en ello, que en un 
cierto tiempo, que V. M. les senale, lo determinen y sentencien sin 
que haya esta dilacion ; y esta sera para mi muy gran merced ; porque 
a dilatarse, dejarlo he perder y volvermehe i. mi casa : porque no tengo 
ya edad para andar por mesones, sino para recogerme & aclarar mi 
cuenta con Dios, pues la tengo larga, y poca vida para dar los descar- 
gos, y sera mejor dejar perder la acienda que el anima. Sacra Ma- 
gestad : Dios Nuestro Senor guarde la muy Real persona de V. M. con 
el acrecentamiento de Reynos y estados que V. M. desea. De Valla- 
dolid, a tres de Febrero de quinientos quarenta y quatro afios. De 


V. C. M. muy humilde siervo y vasallo, que sus muy reales pies y 
manos besa. — El Marques de Valle. 

Cuvierta a la S. C. C. M., El Empcrador y Rey de las Espaiias. 

Tiene este decreto : — A su Mag. del Marques del Valle, 3 de Febrero 
de 44 : — Nay que responder : parece letra de Covos. 

Original. Archivo de Indias. 

No. XVI. — See vol. iii. p. 335. 


[The original of this document is in the Hospital of 
Jesus, at Mexico ; and the following literal translation 
was made from a copy sent to me from that capital.] 


The remains of Don Hernan Cortes (the first Marquis of the Val- 
ley of Oajaca), which lay in the monastery of St. Francis for more 
than fifty years since they had been brought from Castilleja de la 
Cuesta, were carried in funeral procession. It also happened that Don 
Pedro Cortes, Marquis of the Valley, died at the court of Mexico, 
Jan. 30, 1629. The Lord Archbishop of Mexico, D. Francisco Manso 
de Zuniga, and his Excellency the Viceroy, Marquis of Serralbo, 
agreed that the two funerals should be conducted together, paying the 
greatest honor to the ashes of Hernando Cortes. The place of inter- 
ment was the church of St. Francis in Mexico. The procession set 
forth from the palace of the Marquis of the Valley. In the advance 
were carried the banners of the various associations ; then followed 
the different orders of the religious fraternities, all the tribunals of 
Mexico, and the members of the Audience. Next came the Arch- 
bishop and the Chapter of the cathedral. Then was borne along the 
corpse of the Marquis Don Fedro Cortes in an open coffin, succeeded 
by the remains of Don Hernando Cortes, in a coffin covered with 
black velvet. A banner of pure white, with a crucifix, an image of 


the Virgin and of St. John the Evangelist, embroidered in gold, was 
carried on one side. On the other were the armorial bearings of the 
King of Spain, also worked in gold. This standard was on the right 
hand of the body. On the left hand was carried another banner, of 
black velvet, with the arms of the Marquis of the Valley embroidered 
upon it in gold. The standard-bearers were armed. Next came the 
teachers of divinity, the mourners, and a horse with sable trappings, 
the whole procession being conducted with the greatest order. The 
members of the University followed. Behind them came the Viceroy 
with a large escort of cavaliers ; then four armed captains with their 
plumes, and with pikes on their shoulders. These were succeeded by 
four companies of soldiers with their arquebuses, and some with lances. 
Behind them banners were trailed upon the ground, and muffled drums 
were struck at intervals. The coffin enclosing the remains of the 
Conqueror was borne by the Royal Judges, while the knights of the 
order of Santiago supported the body of the Marquis Don Pedro 
Cortes. The crowd was immense, and there were six stations where 
the coffins were exposed to view, and at each of these the responses 
were chanted by the members of the religious fraternities. 

The bones of Cortes were secretly removed from the church of St. 
Francis, with the permission of his Excellency the Archbishop, on the 
2d of July, 1794, at eight o'clock in the evening, in the carriage of the 
Governor, the Marques de Sierra Nevada, and were placed in a vault, 
made for this purpose, in the church of Jesus of Nazareth. The bones 
were deposited in a wooden coffin enclosed in one of lead, being the 
same in which they came from Castilleja de la Cuesta, near Seville. 
This was placed in another of crystal, with its cross-bars and plates of 
silver ; and the remains were shrouded in a winding-sheet of cambric 
embroidered with gold, with a fringe of black lace four inches deep. 





Abderahman, on the palm-tree, 
i. 175, note. 

Ablutions at table, i. 155, ii. 122. 

Aborigines of America, origin of 
the, iii. 355, 359, 381; of their 
civilization, 361. Peculiarities 
in their organization, 384. See 
Indians and Mankind. 

Absolution, Aztec rite of, i. 71. 

Achilles, shade of, cited, i. 65, 

Acolhuans. See Colhuans and 

Acolman, iii. 71. Dispute there, 

Aculan, Spaniards at the capital 
of, iii. 277. 

Adelantado, i. 249, note, ii. 215. 

Adrian of Utrecht, regent of 
Spain, iii. 73, 227. Warrant 
by, 228. Pope, 231. 

Adultery, charge respecting, iii. 

Agave Americana, or aloe, or ma- 
guey, i. 6. Paper from the, 
102, 139. Various uses made 
of the, 102, note, 139, 140, 158. 
Dresden Codex made of the, 
107, note. Account of it, 139, 

140. Nezahualcoyotl concealed 
under fibres of, 167. 

Agriculture, tax on, among the 
Aztecs, i. 41, 137. Remarks 
on, 135. Of North American 
Indians, 136. Among the Mexi- 
cans, 136. Articles of Aztec, 
138. Encouraged by Neza- 
hualcoyotl, 177. Tlascalan, 406. 
Cholulan, ii. n. Near the lake 
of Chalco, 58. Attention to, 
after the Conquest, iii. 255, 318. 

Aguilar, Geronimo de, a Christian 
captive, account of, i. 271. Cor- 
tes' reception of, 273. An in- 
terpreter, 273. In the retreat 
from Mexico, ii. 360. At Chalco, 
iii. 46. 

Aguilar, Marcos de, succeeds 
Ponce de Leon as royal com- 
missioner, iii. 273, note. Col- 
lects opinions in regard to 
repartimientos, ib. 

Ahuahutle, insects' eggs, used as 
food, ii. 109, note, iii. 156, note. 

Ahualco, crossed by Spaniards, ii. 

Ahuitzotl, i. 23, 83, note. 

Ajotzinco, city of, ii. 55. 

Alaman, Lucas, cited, i. 104, note, 
230, note, 294, note, ii. 46, note, 

Vol. III. 





65, note, 66, note, 76, note, 118, 
«0^?, 122, note, 137, «0fc, 340, 
note, iii. 28, «<?/<?, 53, note, 67, 
»<?&, 189, rcofe, 191, note, 193, 
K0&, 225, note, 235, «<?/£, 239, 
»0/*, 240, note, 246, #<?/<?, 257, 
note, 279, »<?A?, 317, koA?, 318, 
note, 333, wote, 33s, note, 336, 

«<?/<?, 337, #0A?. 

Alaminos, Antonio de, chief pilot 
of the armada, i. 260, 319. De- 
spatched to Spain, 361. Anchors 
at Cuba, 362. 

Alderete, Julian de, royal treas- 
urer, iii. 44. At Tacuba, 69. 
Advice of, as to attack, 127. 
His division for assaulting Mex- 
ico, 128, and note. Too eager 
and in peril, 130, 132. Urges 
the torture of Guatemozin, 218, 


Alexander the Great, ii. 398, note. 

Alexander VI., Pope, bull of par- 
tition by, ii. 30, note. Enjoins 
conversion of the heathen, 31, 

Algiers, expedition against, iii. 


Alms-giving, Aztec, i. 74. 

Aloe. See Agave Americana. 

Alphabet, Egyptian, i. 94, note. 
Nearest approach to, 96. Euro- 
pean, introduced into Mexico, 

Alvarado, Jorge de, iii. 128. 

Alvarado, Pedro de, enters the 
river Alvarado, i. 225, 290. His 
return to Cuba with treasures, 
227, 228, 243. Joins Cortes, 
254. Marches across Cuba, 
256. Reprimanded, 264. In 

the battles near the Tabasco 
278, 280. On a foraging party, 
330. Cuts down the body of 
Morla, 349. Despatched to 
Cempoalla, 364. Troops put 
under, 383. At Tlascala, 469. 
Dona Luisa given to, 472. Visits 
Montezuma with Cortes, ii. 81. 
Aids in seizing Montezuma, 158. 
Montezuma pleased with, 179. 
Takes command at Mexico, 230. 
Instructions to, 230. Forces 
under, 231, 279, note. Assault 
on, 263, 270, 272. Blockaded, 

268, 277. Joined by Cortes, 

269. Aztecs massacred by, 271, 
272, note, 276, note, iii. 158. 
Character of, ii. 278. Cortes' 
dissatisfaction with, 279. Chival- 
rous, 303. Storms the great 
temple, 313. Overpowered at 
the Mexican bridges, 327. Acts 
at the evacuation of Mexico, 
347, 360. Unhorsed, 355, 356. 
At the battle of Otumba, 385. 
Accompanies Duero and Ber- 
mudez to Vera Cruz, 421. San' 
doval and, iii. 19. Reconnoitres 
Mexico, 25. Conspiracy against, 
76. To command the point 
Tacuba, 85. Demolishes the 
aqueduct, 91, 93. Enmity of 
Olid and, 92. Operations of, 
no. Protects breaches, 117. 
Sandoval to join, 127. His 
neglect to secure a retreat, 129. 
Rebuked, 129. His fortune 
at the assault, 137. Cortes' 
opinion of, 141. Temple burnt 
by, 166. Meeting of Cortes 
and, 169. In the murderous 



assault, 178, 181. To occupy 
the market-place, 185. De- 
tached to Oaxaca, 222. Con- 
quers Guatemala, 260. 

Alvarado's Leap, ii. 356, 357, 358. 

Amadis de Gaula, ii. 59, note. 

Amaquemecan, Spaniards at, ii. 


Ambassadors, persons of, held sa- 
cred, i. 45. 

Ammunition, iii. 151. See Gun- 

Amnesty, granted by Nezahualco- 
yotl, i. 170. 

Anaglyphs, i. 98, note. 

Anahuac, i. 9. Extent of, II, 
note. Meaning of the word, 12, 
note. Forms of government in, 
26. The golden age of, 61. 
Number of human sacrifices in, 
79, note, 82. See Aztecs and 

Andrada, Don Juan, ii. 339, note. 

Animals, collection of, ii. 114. Of 
the New World and the Old, 
different, iii. 355. Origin of, in 
the New World, 356. No use- 
ful domesticated, among the 
Aztecs, 399. See Draught- 

Animals, artificial, i. 143, note, 
179. 3 X 4> 35 6 . note, ii. 37, 131. 

Antigua or Vera Cruz Vieja, i. 
345, note, iii. 243. 

Antiquities, i. 185, iii. 394. Of 
Cozumel, i. 266, note. 

Aqueducts, conducting to Tezcot- 
zinco, i. 183. At Iztapalapan, 
ii. 62. From Chapoltepec, 83, 
104, note, in ; destroyed, iii. 

Arabic manuscripts destroyed, i. 

Architecture, refinement and, i. 
173. Of the Tezcucans, 178, 
185. In Yucatan, 223, 225. Of 
Cozumel, 266. At Cempoalla, 
336. 338. Of Tlascala, 464. 
Marine, at Ajotzinco, ii. 55. At 
Cuitlahuac, 59. Of Iztapalapan, 
61. On the Tezcucan lake, 67. 
At Mexico, 73. Encourage- 
ment of, by Montezuma, III. 
After the Conquest, iii. 240. 
Coincidences with Aztec, 386, 
391. Of Palenque, 391. 

Archives at Tezcuco, i. 174, 179. 

Argensola, on the house of Cortes, 
i. 230, note. On the detention 
of Cortes in Spain, 233, note. 

Arithmetic among the Aztecs, i. 

Ark, coincidences with the, iii. 

3 6 4- 
Armada, intrusted to Cortes, i. 
244. The fitting out of the, 245, 
246. Expense of it, 247, 253, 
327. Sails, 252. Equipment 
of it, 252, 254, 255. Joined 
by volunteers, 254. Sails from 
Havana, 259. Its strength, 259. 
Chief pilot of the, 260. En- 
counters a storm, 264. At Co- 
zumel, 264, 271. Sails, 26.; 
271, 273. At the Rio de Ta- 
basco, 274. Wounded sent back 
to the, 280. Sails for Mexico, 
289. At San Juan de Ulua, 
Villa Rica, and Vera Cruz, 291, 
2 9S. 3 X 9. 341- One vessel joins 
the, 354. One vessel of the, 
despatched to Spain, 361, 363 



Juan Diaz attempts to escape 
with one of the, 363. Sunk, 
366, 368, 369, note. See Brig- 

Armies, account of Aztec, i. 47. 

Armor, tribute of, i. 41, 42, note. 

Arms of Montezuma, ii. 82. See 

Arrows, defence against, i. 256, 
282. Burnt, ii. 166. Discharge 
of, at the assault in Mexico, 

Art, few works of Aztec, found, 
hi. 389. 

Artillery. See Cannon. 

Artisans, Montezuma's, ii. 124. 

Astrology, i. 121, note, 124. Ori- 
gin of, 123. 

Astronomy, Mexican, i. 125, 126. 
Studied, 194, 202. 

Atlantis of Plato, hi. 356. 

Audience, giving of, by Monte- 
zuma, ii. 123. 

Auditors of accounts, Aztec, i. 33, 

Auxiliaries. See Indian allies. 

Aviary, Aztec, ii. 62, 113, 114, hi. 
114, 240. 

Avila, Alonso de, joins Cortes, i. 
254. Fights, 275, 277, 280. 
Aids to seize Montezuma, ii. 
158 ; Narvaez, 244. Before 
Cortes, in behalf of the sol- 
diers, 261. Tries to calm Cor- 
tes, 280. In the retreat from 
Mexico, 347, 360. At the bat- 
tle of Otumba, 385. Despatched 
to St. Domingo, 428, note; to 
Spain, iii. 226. Captured by the 
French, 226. 

Axayacatl, Aztec sovereign, Tlas- 

calans oppose, i. 408. His 
treasure, ii. 150, 193-195. See 

Axayacatl's palace, ii. 76, jj, 291, 
iii. 106. Spaniards quartered 
in, ii. 76, 77. Chapel in, 150. 
Montezuma's confinement in, 
163. Return of Cortes to, 269. 
Spaniards besieged there, 277. 
Assaulted by Aztecs, 292. Fired, 
295. Commanded by the tem- 
ple of the war-god, 311. De- 
stroyed, iii. 113. 

Ayllon, the licentiate, sent to stay 
Velasquez's expedition, ii. 217. 
Joins the fleet, 218. Seized and 
sent back, 221. His report, 221. 
Released, iii. 74. 

Ayotlan, siege and capture of, i. 


Azcapozalco, a slave-market, i. 
149, 169, iii. 28, note. 

Aztecs, or Mexicans, civilization 
of the, i. 1, 50, 204, ii. 134, iii. 
355. Extent of their country, 
i. 2, iii. 200. Quarter from 
which they came, i. 17, note. 
Time of their arrival at Ana- 
huac, i. 18, 20, note, 403, iii. 
200. Their migratory habits, i. 
18, iii. 372. Settlement of, at 
Mexico, i. 19. Domestic feuds 
and secession among them, 20. 
Extent of their territory just 
before the arrival of the Span- 
iards, 23. Form of govern- 
ment among the, 26. Election 
and installation of sovereigns, 
26. Legislative and judicial 
system among them, 31. Great 
aim of their institutions, 45. 



On calling them barbarians, 50, 
note. Compared with Saxons 
of the time of Alfred, 51. Com- 
parison of modern Mexicans 
and, 51. Their mythology, 55. 
Cycles, 64, 115, note, 117, iii. 
362, 376. Ideaf of future life, 
i. 65. Their claims to civiliza- 
tion, 87, iii. 201. Compared 
with Europeans of the sixteenth 
century, i. 87. Their law of 
honor, 87, note. Their manu- 
scripts, 102. The Teoamoxtli, 
or divine book of the, no, 
note, Their literary culture, 

112. Measurement of time, 

113. Their cycle called an 
"old age," 116, note. Astrol- 
ogy, 124. Astronomy, 125. 
Their festival at the termina- 
tion of the great cycle, 128. 
Their agriculture, 136. Ac- 
quaintance of, with plants, 141 ; 
with minerals, 141 ; with the 
mechanical arts, 142, 146. Their 
domestic manners, 152. Differ 
from North American Indians, 

159, iii. 384, note. Character 
of the, original and unique, i. 

160. Nezahualcoyotl unites his 
forces with the, 169. Beat and 
sacrifice Maxtla, 169. Transfer 
of power to, from the Tezcu- 
cans, 203. The first communi- 
cation with them, 225, 226, 227. 
Orders to Cortes respecting the 
treatment of them, 248. Their 
condition, and disgust with 
Montezuma, at the time of 
Cortes' arrival, 306. Defeated 
by Tlascalans, 409. Aid in a 


Cholulan conspiracy, ii. 16, 19. 
Number of, in the Mexican mar- 
ket, 135. Enraged at the profa- 
nation of their temples, 206. 
Aid in building vessels at Vera 
Cruz, 207, 223. Insurrection 
by the, 277. Their assaults on 
the Spanish quarters, 292, 304. 
Sally against them, 299. Ad- 
dressed by Montezuma, 307. 
Insult Montezuma, 307, 308. 
Their spirit at the storming of 
the great temple, 313, 314. 
Cortes' address to, 319. Their 
reply, 319, 320. Their combat- 
ant spirit, 323-328. Assault 
the retreating Spaniards, 352. 
Measures for rallying, 403. 
Tlascalan alliance with, re- 
jected, 406. Guatemozin em- 
peror of the, 434. Proceeded 
against as rebels, 436. Want 
of cohesion among them, iii. 16. 
Deride Cortes, 33. Fights with, 
on the Sierra, 48. At Xochi- 
milco, 62, 63. Defend the 
aqueduct of Chapoltepec, 93. 
At Iztapalapan, 95. Defeat of 
their flotilla, 96, 97. Fight on 
the causeways, 102. Their ex- 
asperation, 114. Their hatred 
of white men, 125, 164. Their 
bravery at the general assault, 
132. Attack Alvarado and San- 
doval, 138. Their spirit and 
sufferings, 154, 160, 165, 174, 
184. Sortie of. 159. Do not 
bury their dead, 163, 176. As- 
sault on, at the market-place, 
181. Effect of Guatemozin's 
capture on, 189. Evacuate the 



city, 195. Remarks on the fall 
of their empire, 201. Essay on 
the origin of the civilization of 
the, 355. Traditions respecting 
their origin, 381. See Guate- 
mozin and Montezuma. 

Babel, coincidences of the tower 
of, and the temple of Cholula, 
iii. 365. 

Bachelors subject to penalties, iii. 

Badajoz, British atrocities at, ii. 

Badajoz, Gutierre de, storms the 

great teocalli, iii. 166. 
Bahama Islands, i. 218. Expedi- 
tion to, for slaves, 222. 
Balboa, Nunez de, i. 217, 238. 

Transports brigantines, iii. 24, 

Banana, i. 138. The forbidden 

fruit, 138, note. 
Banner of Cortes, i. 256, 447, 

note. Lost and recovered, iii. 

136. See Standard. 
Banners, River of, i. 225, 290. 
Baptism, Aztec and pagan, i. 67, 

iii- 369. 371- 
Barante, on a disclosure in the 

reign of Louis the Eleventh, 

iii. 79. 
Barba, Don Pedro, governor of 

Havana, ordered to seize Cor- 
tes, 1. 258. 
Barba, Pedro, killed, iii. 120. 
Barbers, Aztec, i. 465, ii. 132. 
Barca, Madame Calderon de la. 

on Mexican love of flowers, 1, 
335, note. On Tacuba, iii. 92, 
note. On Cuernavaca, 317, note. 

Barks at Ajotzinco, ii. 55. See 

Barracks built at Mexico, iii. 122. 

Barrio de San Jago, iii. 171. 

Barter, Grijalva's, at the River of 
Banners, i. 226, 290. Object of 
Cortes' expedition, 247. At Co- 
zumel, 265. With the Tabas- 
cans, 286. See Traffic. 

Basque language, iii. 381, note. 

Bas-reliefs destroyed, i. 145, ii. 117. 

Batanzos, Fray Domingo de, dis- 
cusses the repartimientos and 
probable fate of the Indians, iii. 
293, note. 

Baths of Montezuma, i. 184, ii. 119. 

Battles, Aztecs avoided slaying 
their enemies in, i. 84. Of Ta- 
basco, 276, 279. Of Ceutla, 282. 
Between Aztecs and Tlascalans, 
409, 410 ; Spaniards and Tlas- 
calans, 414, 415, 418, 420, 430, 
434, 442 ; Escalante and Quauh- 
popoca, ii. 156 ; Cortes and Nar- 
vaez, 250. At the Aztec insur- 
rection, 293, 300. At the great 
temple, 314. On leaving Mex- 
ico, 325, 327. Of the Melan- 
choly Night, 352. Of Otumba, 
379. Of Quauhquechollan,4i4. 
Of Iztapalapan, iii. 8, 9, 95. 
Near Chalco, 12. At Xaltocan, 
26. At Tlacopan, 30. Ofjaca- 
pichtla, 39. On the rocks of the 
Sierra, 47, 48. At Cuernavaca, 
55. At Xochimilco, 58, 62. At 
the aqueduct of Chapoltepec, 
93. Naval, with the Indian 



flotilla, 96. On the Mexican 

causeways, 102. With Alde- 

rete's division, 132. With the 

Panuchese, 229. 
Beetles, Cortes aided by, ii. 252. 
Beggary, not tolerated, i. 192. 
Bejar, Duke de, befriends Cortes, 

iii. 230, 308. His reception of 

him, 304. 
Belus, on the tower of, iii. 387, 

Benavente, Count of, i. 214, note. 
Bermudez, Agustin, ii. 253, 424. 
Bernaldez on devils, i. 58, note. 
Bilious fever. See Vbmito, 
Bird, Dr., on mantas, ii. 324, note. 
Birds, artificial, i. 143, note, 179, 

314, 356, note, ii. 37, 131. See 

Births, consultation at, i. 125. 
Bishop's Pass, i. 391. 
Bison, domesticated, iii. 400, note. 
Blanc, Mont, height of, ii. 43, note. 
Blasphemy, prohibited, ii. 440. 
Blumenbach, on American skulls, 

iii. 386, note. 
Bodies of the Tlascalans, painted, 

i. 430, 431. See Dead. 
Bodleian Library, roll and Codex 

in the, i. 42, note, 105, note. 
Body-guard of Montezuma, ii. 

119. Of Cortes, iii. 80. See 

Booty, law on appropriating, ii. 

441. Little found in Mexico, iii. 

197, 198, 218. See Gold and 

Borunda, the Mexican Champol- 

lion, i. 109, note. 
Botanical garden, ii. 62, note 116. 

See Floating. 

Botello urges night retreat, ii. 344. 

Boturini, Benaduci, Chevalier, his 
writings and collection of manu- 
scripts, i. 12, note, 23, note, 24, 
30, note, 102, note, 105, note, 109, 
note, 160, note, 161, 162, 175, 
note, ii. 77, note, 378, note, iii. 
366, note. 

Bradford's American Antiquities, 

iii- 353- 

Branding of slaves, ii. 410, iii. 20. 

Brass substituted for iron, i. 141, 

Brasseur de Bourbourg, Abbe, 
cited, i. 10, note, 59, note, no, 
note. His theory in regard to 
Mexican mythology, iii. 356, 

Brazil secured to Portugal, ii. 30, 

Breaches in the causeways, made 
and filled, iii. 102-105, 112, 116, 
129-131, 155, 168. Neglected 
by Alderete, 130-132. Meas- 
ures for filling, 153. 

Bread and wine, consecrated, iii. 
371, note. 

Bridges, at Mexico, ii. 69, 75, 104, 
106, 153, iii. 93. Removed, ii. 
269,282. Demolished, 320, 325, 
327. Restored, 327. Leaped 
by Cortes, 328. Portable, 347, 
349, 351. Arched, at Tlascala, 
i. 461. At Cuernavaca, iii. 54. 
In the expedition to Honduras, 
267, 269, 282. See Breaches 
and Canals. 

Brigantines, built on Lake Tez- 
cuco, ii. 175. Burnt, 263, 418. 
Built and transported to Lake 
Tezcuco, 419, 430, 448, iii. 5, 19, 



2i, 42, 45, 8i, 84. Attempts to 
destroy, 42. Launched, 72, 82. 
Canal for transporting, 81. ' Re- 
mains of, preserved, 82, note, 
241. Co-operate with the army, 
95, 96, 98, ioo, 102, 128, 139, 
187. Decoyed and destroyed, 
120. Sail from Honduras to 
Truxillo, 284. See Fleet. 

Brinton, Dr. Daniel G., explana- 
tions of Mexican mythology by, 
i. 12, note, 6o, note, 62, note, 267, 

British atrocities, ii. 33. 

Budh, incarnation of, i. 60, note. 

Buffalo ranges, iii. 399. 

Buffoons, Aztec, i. 158, note. See 

Bullock, W., on Tezcuco, i. 180, 
note, ii. 183, note. On a basin 
at Tezcotzinco, i. 184, note. On 
antiquities at Tezcotzinco, 186, 
note. On Puebla de los An- 
geles, ii. 10, note. On the pyra- 
mids of Teotihuacan, 375, note, 
377, note. On a banner in the 
Hospital of Jesus, iii. 136, note. 

Bulls for the Conquerors, iii. 44, 
299, note. 

Burials, i. 67, note. See Dead. 

Bustamante, editor of Sahagun's 
Universal History, i. 91, 98, 109. 
note, 133, iii. 171, note, 205, note. 

Cabot, Sebastian, i. 218. 
Cacama, king of Tezcuco, rival for 

the crown, i. 305, ii. 182, 456. 

Favors a friendly reception of 

Cortes, i. 312, ii. 181. Counsels 
Montezuma, 54, 181. Mission 
of, to Cortes, 55, 57. Accom- 
panies Montezuma, 70. His 
plan for liberating Montezuma, 
183. Negotiations with, 184, 
185. Seizure of, and of his con- 
federates, 186, 187, 449, iii. 158. 
Brought away from Mexico, ii. 
347. 449- Fate of, 449. 

Cacao, i. 138, 178, note. A circu- 
lating medium, 148, ii. 135. 

Caesar, Julius, order by, i. 284, note. 

Calderon, Sefior de, ii. 339, note. 
See Barca. 

Calendar, Aztec, i. 115, n6, and 
note, 117. Of the lunar reckon- 
ing, 120, 122. Coincidences 
with the Asiatic, iii. 377. 

Calendar-stone, i. 126, 145, 146, 
note, ii. 1 12. 

Calmecac school, i. 73. 

Calpulli, or tribes, distribution in- 
to, i. 41, note. 

Camargo, Diego Mufios, i. 468, 
note. Account of, and of his 
writings, ii. 286. Cited, 332, 
note, 257, note, iii. 431. 

Campeachy, Bay of, i. 273. 

Canals, for irrigation, i. 137, 281, 
ii. 11, 58. Instead of streets, 55. 
In the gardens at Iztapalapan, 
62. In Mexico, 102, 106. Filled 
up, 102, 33s, 353. For trans- 
porting brigantines, iii. 81. See 
Breaches and Bridges. 

Cannibalism, i. 81, 87, 157, 271. 
During the siege, iii. 121, 156. 
Of the allies, 124. Spanish cap- 
tives the victims of, 143. Co- 
incidences as to, 374. 



Cannon, landed from the ships, i. 
280. Command of, given to 
Mesa, 280. Effect of, at the 
battle of Ceutla, 282. Mounted 
on the Vera Cruz hillocks, 296. 
Effect of, on Aztec visitors, 300. 
Sent to the fleet, 331. At Cem- 
poalla, 338. Effect of, on the 
Tlascalans, 422, 435, 436. At 
Cholula, ii. 23. Effect of, at 
Mexico, 81, 293, 294, 299. On 
board Narvaez's fleet, 218. At 
Cempoalla, 246, 250. Turned 
against Narvaez, 251. Effect 
of, at the retreat, 356. All lost 
in the retreat, 365. For at- 
tacking Mexico, 436. In the 
fleet on Lake Tezcuco, iii. 84. 
Effects of, at the siege of Mex- 
ico, 105, 137, 139. Cast in 
Mexico, 241. 

Cano, Don Thoan, ii. 274, note. 
Married Montezuma's daugh- 
ter, 274, note, 309, note, 339, 
note, iii. 274, note. Cited, ii. 
309, note, 364, 365, note, 392, 
note, iii. 438. 

Canoes, ii. 55, 67, 107, iii. 93, 96, 

Captives. See Christians and 

Caribbee Islands, i. 218. 

Carli, Count, cited, i. 30, note, 127, 
note, 147, notes, iii. 356, note, 
371, note, 374, ?iote, 401, note. 

Carpets, cotton, at Vera Cruz, i. 

Carreri, Gemelli, chart of, iii. 382, 

Casa de Contratacion, i. 215, ii. 

Casa, Giovanni della, ii. 107, note. 

Casas Grandes, ruins of, iii. 383, 

Castes in Mexico, i. 148. 

Catalina. See Xuarez. 

Catalogue of Mexican historians 
i. 100, note. 

Catapult, built, iii. 172. 

Cathedrals, i. 144, ii. ioi, 137, iii. 
239, 240. 

Cathervvood's illustrations, iii. 353. 

Catholics, Protestants and, i. 288, 
354. Views of, as to infidels, 
ii. 28-30. 

Catoche, Cape, i. 223, 273. 

Cattle, i. 242, note, iii. 318. 

Causeways, dividing Chalco from 
Xochicalco, ii. 58, 66. The 
three at Mexico, 104. Present 
state of the, iii. 243. See Cojo- 
huacan, Iztapalapan, Tepejacac, 
and Tlacopan. 

Cavaliers, i. 254, 267. 

Cavallero, superintendent of ma- 
rine, ii. 262. 

Cavalry, i. 280, 283, 284. Indian 
ideas respecting, 234. In Nar- 
vaez's armada, ii. 218, 251. 
Effect of, at Mexico, 299, 355, 
359, 370. Lo^s of, 365. At 
the battle of Otumba, 383. For 
attacking Mexico, 436. At 
Tlacopan, iii. 30. Ambuscade 
with, 35, 68. At the si^ge and 
surrender of Mexico, 109, 137. 
See Horses. 

Cavo, on Cortes' bigotry, iii. 346, 

Cempoalla, i. 323, 332, 336. Re- 
ception of Cortes at, 337. Ca- 
cique of, at Chiahuitztla, 341 



Cortes' second visit to, 344, 350. 
Cacique of, aided by Cortes, 
349. Arrests there, 352. Pro- 
ceedings there, 383. Narvaez 
at, ii. 227, 245. Sick and 
wounded left at, 264. 

Cempoallan allies, i. 385, 386, note. 
Perish from cold, 391. Distrust 
Cholulans, 399. Four, sent to the 
Tlascalans, 400, 416, 417. Fight 
Tlascalans, 421. Enter Cholula, 
ii. 12. Detect a conspiracy, 14. 
Withdraw, 39. At Mexico with 
Cortes, 66, note, 279, note. 

Centaurs, Spaniards thought to 
be, i. 284. 

Central America, its ancient civil- 
ization distinct from that of 
Mexico, i. 14, note. See Chiapa, 
Mitla, and Pa leu que. 

Ceremonies, religious, i. 77. 

Ceutla, battle of, i. 282, 285. 

Chalcas, i. 181, note, iii. 46. 

Chalchuites, resembling emeralds, 

i- 3i9- 

Chalco, iii. II. Sandoval's expe- 
ditions to, 37, 45. Cortes' ex- 
pedition in favor of, 45. Indian 
levies join Spaniards at, 84, 95. 

Chalco, lake of, i. 145, ii. 55, 58, 

Challenges, iii. 161. 

Champollion, i. 98, and note, 108, 

Chapoltepec, carved stones at, 
destroyed, i. 126, note. Resi- 
dence of Mexican monarchs, ii. 
49, 117. Aqueduct from, 83, 
104, note, iii. 91, 92. Account 
of, ii. 117. Views from, 117. 

Charles V., Spain under, i. 213. 

Erroneous statements regard- 
ing, 215, note. Discovery by 
the beginning of his reign, 217. 
Title of, 326, note. Cortes' First 
Letter to, 357, ii. 427. Dis- 
cussion before, on the civiliza- 
tion of Indians, i. 373. Monte- 
zuma's gifts to, ii. 193, 194, 196, 
197. His first visit to Spain 
after his accession, 211. His 
treatment of envoys from Cortes, 
212, 214. Second Letter to, by 
Cortes, 424. Absent, iii. 73, 
227. Grant by, to Cortes, for 
capturing Guatemozin, 190, note. 
Third Letter to, from Cortes, and 
one from the army, 224, 226. In 
Spain, 231. Board selected by, 
respecting Cortes, 231. Powers 
given by, to Cortes, 234. Fifth 
Letter to, 266, note, 456. Ap- 
points &juez de residencia, 290. 
Writes to Cortes, 292 ; orders 
him to return to Spain, 297. 
Gives audience to him, 305. 
Confides in Cortes, 305. Visits 
him, 305. Honors and rewards 
Cortes, 306. Goes to Italy, 311. 
Absence of, 325. Applications 
to, by Cortes, and the result, 
327. Last Letter to, by Cortes, 
327, 328, 460. 

Chase, Montezuma's fondness for 
the, ii. 180, 181. 

Chastity, injunctions as to, iii. 408. 

Chess, i. 315, note. 

Chiahuitztla, visit to, i. 340. 

Chiapa, resemblances to architec- 
ture in, iii. 389, 391. 

Chiapa, Bishop of, i. 376. See 
Las Casas. 



Chichemecatl, a Tlascalan chief, 

iii. 22, 84, 147. 
Chichimecs, i. 15, 16, 20, note, iii. 


Children, baptizing and na'rning 
of, i. 67, iii. 369. Education 
and discipline of, i. 72, 153. 
Sacrificed, ii. 15. Cortes' treat- 
ment of, 25. Stew of, for 
Montezuma, 120, note. 

Chimalpopoca, sacrificed, i. 87, 

China, i. 44, note, 60, note, 148, 
note. See Chinese. 

Chinantla, lances from, ii. 230, 236. 

Chinantlan allies aid Cortes, ii. 
229, 259. 

Chinese, i. 135. Their language 
and the Othomi, iii. 380, 381. 
Iron among the, 401, note. See 

Chivalry, spirit of, in the troops, 
iii. 60, 161. 

Chocolate, i. 41, note, 138, 157, 
158, ii. 121. 

Cholula, traditions connected with 
Quetzalcoatl at, i. 61, 308, ii. 5, 
190, 193, 454. Account of, 3, 
9, 13. Pilgrims to, 7. Entered 
by the Spaniards, 12. Junction 
of Cortes and Velasquez de 
Leon at, 229, 233. Olid's coun- 
termarch on, 413. Coincidences 
of the tower of Babel and the 
temple of, iii. 365. 

Cholulan allies, ii. 413, iii. 146. 

Cholulans, i. 399. Distrust of, 
399, 474, 476. Summons to 
the, 474, 475. Embassy from 
the, 475, 476. Their reception 
of the Spaniards, ii. 12. Con- 

spiracy of the, 14. To aid Cortes, 
18, 21. Massacred, 22. Efforts 
to convert, 36. 
Christianity, ideas, rites, and usa- 
ges not unlike to, among the 
Mexicans, i. 58, 67, 71, ii. 150, 
i"- 373- Measures for con- 
version to, i. 219, 267-270, 287, 

353. 390. 39 6 . 397. 4 6 8, ii. 36, 
iii. 277, 280. Similarity of 
Quetzalcoatl's teachings to, ii. 
5, note. On conquest for con- 
version to, 29, 170. Duty to 
convert to, 30, 170. Attempts 
to convert Montezuma to, 79, 
84, 179, 201, 331 ; Maxixca, 
423 ; his son, and Xicotencatl, 
429. After the Conquest, iii. 
240, 253. Rapid spread of, 254. 
See Cortes. 
Christians, in captivity, i. 247, 

265, 271. See Christianity. 
Chronology, i. 113, 117, ii. 91. 
Churches, ii. 369, 377, iii. 168, 


Cihuaca, cacique, killed, ii. 385. 

Cihuacoatl, title of Mexican mag- 
istrate, i. 31, note. See Cioa- 

Cimatlan, phonetic sign for, i. 99. 

Cioacoatl, Eve and, iii. 366. 

Circulating medium, i. 148, ii. 


Cities, division of, i. 71. See 

Civilization, Mexican claim to, 1. 
87. Of the Tezcucans over the 
rest of Anahuac, 204. In Yu- 
catan, 223, 223. In Cozumel, 

266. At Tabasco, 281. Of 
Tlascala, 306, 408. As shown 



in Indian manuscripts, 361, 
note. Of Indians, discussed, 
373. At Iztapalapan, ii. 61-63. 
In Mexico, 89. Essay on the 
origin of Mexican, iii. 355, 361 ; 
similarity and dissimilarity of, 
in the two continents, 362 ; two 
general conclusions respecting 
it, 402. See Refinement. 

Claudian, cited, ii. 43, note. 

Clavigero, i. 2, note, 11, note. On 
Boturini's authorities, 12, note. 
Dates from, 20, note. Notices 
of, and of his Storia antica del 
Messico, 25, 53. On the high- 
priest, 70, note. On the num- 
ber of human sacrifices, 82, 
note. Catalogue of Mexican 
historians by, 100, note. On 
Aztec fairs, 114, note. On the 
population of Tlascala, 419, 
note. On Mexican dialects, 
iii. 379, note. 

Clemencin, on coins, i. 316, note. 

Clement VII., pope, iii. 299, note. 

Cloths, Mexican, i. 146, ii. 4. See 
Cotton, Feather-work, and Man- 

Coanaco, made cacique of Tez- 
cuco, ii. 449. Joins the Aztecs, 
449. Puts Spaniards to death, 
449. Destroys his brother, 450. 
Escapes from Tezcuco, 453. 
Captured, iii. 189. 

Coatepec, town of, ii. 448. 

Coatzacualco, ii. 188, 229, 262, iii. 

Cochineal, i. 146, 387, ii. 132, note. 

Cocotlan, i. 393, 394. 

Code, military, ii. 439, iii. 451. 
See Laws. 

Codex Telleriano-Remensis, i. 83. 
note, 108, note. 

Cofre de Perote, a volcano, i. 391. 

Cogolludo on ruins in America, 
iii. 396, note. 

Cojohuacan, iii. 66, 85, 93, 193, 
222. Cortes' residence at, 296. 
Provisions respecting, in Cortes' 
will, 330. 

Cojohuacan causeway, iii. 67, 92, 

Colhuacan, hospital at, i. 305. 

Colhuans, i. 18, note. 

Coliman founded, iii. 243. 

Colonial administiation of Spain, 
under Charles V., i. 215. 

Colonization, progress of, by the 
beginning of the reign of Charles 
V., i. 218. Not attempted by 
Grijalva, 226, 227, 248. Velas- 
quez obtains authority for, 249, 
note. Plan of, at Vera Cruz, 
326. At Coatzacualco, ii. 188. 

Color of Mexican hieroglyphics, 
i. 97. 

Columbus, Christopher, i. 58, note, 
220, iii. 300. 

Columbus, Diego, i. 220. 

Columbus, Ferdinand, i. 229, note. 

Commission. See Hieronymite 

Communion, Aztec and pagan, 
iii. 369, 371. 

" Companions," the, i. 121, note. 

Compostella, Castilian cortes at, 
ii. 212. 

Concubines of Tezcucan princes, 
i. 186. 

Confession, Aztec, i. 71. Among 
Tartars, iii. 374, note. 

Conquerors, distribution of In- 



dians among the Spanish, i. 

Conquests, not always partitioned, 
i. 43, note. On the right of, ii. 
28, 29, 170. 

Conspiracy, i. 364, ii. 14, iii. 75. 

Constant, Benjamin, i. 123, note. 

Continency of Aguilar, i. 272. 

Convent, of St. Francis, i. 389, 
note, iii. 289. Cortes and Co- 
lumbus at La Rabida in Spain, 

Conversion, Las Casas on forced, 
i. 270, note, iii. 423, 424. Ob- 
ject of the Spaniards, ii. 439. 
See Christianity . 

Cook, James, Captain, iii. 359, 

Copal, tribute of, i. 42, note. 

Copan, city of, iii. 282. 

Copper, weapons headed with, i. 
433. Tools of, iii. 390. 

Cora language, iii. 383, note. 

Cordillera mountains, i. 6, 138. 

Cordova, Gonsalvo de, iii. 337. 

Cordova, Hernandez de, i. 222. 

Corn. See Indian corn. 

Coronation of Montezuma, i. 303. 

Corral, ensign, iii. 48, 136. 

Cortes, Hernando, i. 83. Velas- 
quez selects him for an expedi- 
tion, 229, 243, 244. Birth and 
genealogy of, 230, iii. 300. His 
early years, i. 231. In Hispan- 
iola, 235. In Cuba, 236. Mar- 
riage of, with Catalina Xuarez, 
237, 240, 242. His difficulties 
with Velasquez, 237, 241. Put 
in irons, 238, 240. Escapes 
twice, 240, 241. The Armada 
intrusted to bim as Captain- 
Vol. III. — V 41 

general, 244, 249, 253. Applies 
all his money to fitting out the 
fleet, 245, 246, 253, 327. In- 
structions to, by Velasquez, 247, 
iii. 419. His clandestine em- 
barkation, i. 252. His meas- 
ures for equipment, 252, 254, 
255. Described, 257. Strength 
of his armament, 259, 260. His 
address to his soldiers, 261. 
At Cozumel, 264. Endeavors 
to liberate captive Christians, 
265. His zeal to convert the 
natives, 268, 287, 320, 338, 350, 

39°. 39 6 - "• 3 6 . 143, 145. 4 2 9. 
440, iii. 70, 250, 330. At Ta- 
basco, i. 274, 278. His first 
interview with Mexicans, 295. 
His presents and demand to 
see Montezuma, 298. Embassy 
returns to, with presents from 
Montezuma, 314. (See Monte- 
euma.) His second message to 
Montezuma, 318. The reply, 
319,320. First made acquainted 
with the condition of Mexico, 
323, 340. His resignation and 
reappointment, 328, 329, ii. 239. 
His policy with the Totonacs 
and Montezuma, i. 342, 343. 
Another Aztec embassy to, 347. 
Aids the cacique of Cempoalla, 
349. Hangs up Morla, 349. 
Reconciles Totonacs, 350. His 
despatches to Spain, 355, 337, 
358, note, 361. Condemns con- 
spirators, 364. Destroys his 
ships, 366, 368, 369, note. (Sea 
Armada.) His embassy to Tlas- 
cala, 400. H<s vigilance, 400, 
416, 441, 467, ii. 20, 41, 56. 


note, 78, 208, iii. 14. His march 
to Tlascala, i. 401, 446, 461. 
Ill of a fever, 446, 460. Stand- 
ards borne by, 447, note. Male- 
contents expostulate with, 449. 
Mutilates Tlascalan spies, 453, 
454. Montezuma discourages 
his visit to Mexico, 458. Called 
Malinche, 472, ii. 318. Invited 
to Mexico, i. 473. Massacre 
by, at Cholula, ii. 22, 28, 33. 
Prohibition of wanton injuries 
by, 25, 32. Encourages the 
disaffection of the Aztecs, 52. 
His entrance into Mexico, 65- 
75. Visited by Montezuma, 
68-73. His quarters, 76, jj. 
His visit to Montezuma, 81, 82. 
Descendants of, now in Mexico, 
82. (See Monteleone.) Visits 
the market, 128 ; the great tem- 
ple, 137, 140 ; its sanctuaries, 
143. Chapel granted to, 150. 
Discovers hidden treasures, 150. 
His seizure of Montezuma, 155 ; 
fetters him, 167 ; unfetters him, 
168. Seizes Cacama, 186. Will- 
ing to relinquish his share of 
Montezuma's gift, 199. On 
profaning Mexican temples, 206. 
Learns Narvaez's arrival, 223. 
His treatment of envoy prison- 
ers, 224. His letter to Narvaez, 
225; marches against him, 229, 
231. His parting with Monte- 
zuma, 232. His strength, 237. 
Met by Guevara and Duero, 
as envoys, 238, 241. Summons 
Narvaez, 241 ; assaults and de- 
feats him, 243, 249, 250; his 
treatment of him, 254; of the 

captives and his own troops, 
260. His return to Mexico, 
264. His forces, 265, 279. In 
ill-humor, 280. Releases Cuit- 
lahua, 281. Rehorses Duero, 
302. Wounded, 303, 312, 329, 
372, 384, 394, iii. 58, 134. 
Leads in storming the great 
temple, ii. 312. Addresses the 
Aztecs through Marina, 318. 
Builds a manta, 324. Deceived 
and releases priests, 326, 327. 
Exposures and hardihood of, 
328. Montezuma's last con- 
versation with, 333. His re- 
spect for Montezuma's memory, 
341. His retreat from Mexico, 
347, 348. At Popotla, 359. 
Loss of his Diary, 365. Kills 
Cihuaca at the battle of Otumba, 
386. At Tlascala, 393. Re- 
monstrance with, by the troops, 
397. His expedition against 
the Tepeacans, 409 ; against 
Quauhquechollan, 413. At It- 
zocan, 416. Increase of his au- 
thority, 417. His plans for re- 
covering Mexico, 417, 418, 430, 
436, 444, iii. 84, 85. His Second 
Letter to the Emperor, ii. 424. 
His despatches to St. Domingo, 
428. Triumphal return of, to 
Tlascala, 428. His forces, 436. 
Enters Tezcuco, 451. His mis- 
sion to Guatemozin, iii. 5. Re- 
conciles Indian allies, 15. His 
reception of brigantines from 
Tlascala, 22. Reconnoitres the 
capital, 25, 34, 45. Seized and 
rescued, 58. At Xochimilco. 
61. At Cojohuacan, 66. Or- 



dcrs of, respecting his bones, 
67, note, 330. Dejected, 69, 
70. Proceedings in Spain in re- 
gard to, 73. Conspiracy against, 
in the camp, 75. His body- 
guard, 80. His forces, S3. 
Makes three divisions, 85, 86, 
note. With his fleet at Izta- 
palapan, 95. Takes post at 
Xoloc, 99. His movements on 
the causeway, 102. Levels 
buildings, 105, 112, 153, 162. 
His proffers to Guatemozin, 
125, 178, 179, 180, 185. As- 
saults the city, 129. Recon- 
noitres Alderete's route, 130. 
Seized and rescued, 134. Anx- 
iety respecting, 138, 139. Gives 
the command to Sandoval, 141. 
His entries into the tianguez, 
169, 171. Murderous assault 
by, 182. His last assault, 186. 
His reception of Guatemozin, 
191 ; permits him to be tor- 
tured, 218. Sends detachments 
to the Pacific Ocean, 221. Re- 
building of Mexico by, 223, 233, 
239. His Third Letter, and 
one from the army, 224, 226. 
Sends costly presents to Spain, 
225, note. Complaints against, 
in Spain, 227. Board appointed 
respecting, 231. The charges 
against, and the replies, 232, 
291, 313. Commission and 
powers given to, 234. Founds 
settlements, 243. Joined by 
his v/ife, 245. The ordinances 
made by, 245, note. His scru- 
ples about slavery, 247, 250, 
330. Suppresses the royal in- I 

structions annulling repartimi- 
entos, 248, note. His desire of 
religious teachers, 251. His 
regulations respecting agricul- 
ture, 256. Voyages and ex- 
peditions of, 257. His instruc- 
tions for expeditions, 260. Look? 
into the resources of the coun- 
try, 260, 264, 285. His expe- 
dition to Honduras, 264, 290, 
note, 396, note. His Fifth Let- 
ter, 266, note, 297, 454. At 
Truxillo, 284. Further plans 
of conquest by, 284. Embarks 
and returns, 287. Sick and de- 
spondent, 288. Driven to Cuba, 
288. At San Juan de Ulua and 
Medellin, 288. Triumphal re- 
turn of, to Mexico, 239. Su- 
perseded by s.juez de residencia, 
290. Further faction against, 
in Spain, 291, 296. Urged to 
assert his authority, 294. Or- 
dered to leave Mexico, 295. 
Ordered to Spain, 297. Arrival 
of, in Spain, 300. Meets Pi- 
zarro, 300. At Guadaloupe, 
303. His reception, 304. His 
interview with the emperor, 305. 
Marquis of Oaxaca, 306. Gift 
of land to, 306. Not reinstated 
in government, 308. Captain- 
General of New Spain, 309. 
Second marriage of, 309. Em- 
barks for New Spain, 312. An 
investigation of his conduct by 
the Royal Audience, 313. Ac- 
cused of murdering his first 
wife, 313. To keep ten leagues 
from Mexico, 316. Welcome 
to, at Tezcuco, 316. Retires to 


Cuernavaca, 317. Expeditions 
of, for discovery, 319, 323. His 
final return to Castile, 325. His 
attendance on the Council of 
the Indies, 325. Joins an ex- 
pedition against Algiers, 325. 
Wrecked, 326. His applica- 
tions to the emperor, 327. His 
last letter to him, 327, 460. Pre- 
pares to return to Mexico, 329. 
Sick, 329. His will, 329, 330. 
Dies, 333. Obsequies of, 333-335. 
465. His children and descend- 
ants, 336. His character, 338. 
Ascendency over his soldiers, 
341. Compared to Hannibal, 
341. As a conqueror, 343. Not 
cruel, 344. In private life, 345. 
His bigotry, 346. His dress 
and appearance, 348. His edu- 
cation, 348. See Spaniards. 

Cortes, Don Luis, iii. 337. 

Cortes, Don Martin, ii. 211. Ex- 
ertions of, for his son, iii. 230. 
Death of, 299. 

Cortes, Don Martin, son of Ma- 
rina, i. 293, iii. 280, 337. 

Cortes, Don Martin, son of Cor- 
tes by his second marriage, iii. 
325. Wrecked, 326. Provision 
for, 329. Present at his father's 
death, 332. Persecuted, 336. 

Cosmogony, Humboldt on, i. 63, 

Cottons, given to Cortes, i. 299, 

315. 348. 
Cotton dresses, i. 41, ii. 37, 80. 
Cotton mail, orescaupil, or jackets 

quilted with cotton, i. 47, 256, 

282, 433, 434. 
Council, of finance, i. 171. Of jus- 

tice, 171. Of state, 171. Of 
war, 171. Of music, 172. 

Council of the Indies, i. 215. Or- 
dinances by the, iii. 74, 228. 
Reception of Cortes by the, 325. 

Couriers, i. 43, 44, note, 129, ii. 47. 

Courts, Aztec, i. 32, 34, 35, 36. 
Merchants allowed to have, 151. 
At the Mexican market, ii. 136. 

Coxcox survived the Deluge, iii. 


Cozumel, i. 225, 264, 270. 

Cozumel Cross, iii. 368, note. 

Crimes, punishments for, i. 37. 

Cross, the, a common symbol of 
worship, i. 267, note. See 

Crosses of stone, in Yucatan, i. 225. 
In Cozumel, 266. At Tabasco, 
289. At Cempoalla, 353. At 
Naulinco, 390. Frequency of, 
390, and note, iii. 368. On 
raising, at Tlatlauqnitepec, or 
Cocotlan, i. 396. At Tlascala, 
470, 471. Upon Quetzalcoatl's 
temple at Cholula, ii. 36. At 
Mexico, 143, 146, 203, 314. 
Pulled down, 316, iii. 107. Cruz 
del Marques, 56. At Palenque, 
368. Cozumel, 368, note. An- 
tiquity and generality of, among 
pagans, 371. 

Crowning of Aztec sovereigns, I. 

Cruz die Marques, mountain, iii. 

Cuba, i. 220. Expeditions from, 
to Yucatan, 222-224. Cortes 
in, 236, 242. Propositions in 
the army to return to, 318, 323, 
325, 459. Cortes' emissaries 



land at, 362. Las Casas' labors 
in, 371. Cortes' apprehensions 
from, ii. 39. Sailing of Nar- 
vaez's fleet from, 219. Desire 
of troops to return to, 397, iii. 
76. Return of some to, ii. 421. 
Cortes driven to, iii. 288. See 
St. Jago de Cuba, and Velas- 

Cuernavaca, or Quauhnahuac, 
capture of, iii. 51-55. Asks aid, 
151. Cortes' residence at, 317. 
Remarks on, 317. 

Cuicuitzca, made cacique of Tez- 
cuco, ii. 186, 187, note, 449. 
Absent, 267. Put to death, 450. 

Cuitlahua, lord of Iztapalapan, ii. 
54. Interview of, with Cortes, 
61, iii. 6. Accompanies Monte- 
zuma, ii. 70. Released, 281, 
403. Supplies Montezuma's 
place, 281, 305, note. Arouses 
the Aztecs for the battle of 
Otumba, 380, 403. Notice of, 
402. Dies of smallpox, 420, 
431. Succeeded by Guatemo- 
zin, 434. 

Cuitlahuac, Spaniards at, ii. 59. 

Culinary science, Aztec, ii. 120, 

Currency, Mexican, i. 148, ii. 135. 

Cycles, Aztec, i. 64, 115, note, 
117. Persian, 115, note. Etrus- 
can, 116, note. Wheels of, 119, 
note. Of the lunar reckoning 
by the priests, 120, note. An- 
alogies respecting, in the Old 
and the New World, iii. 362, 


Cypress Cortes', i. 398. Size of, 
ii. 118. 



Dancing, Mexican, i. 158, and 

Dante, i. 56, 66, note, 8o, note, ii 

29, note. 
Darien, Isthmus of, crossed, i 

217. Colony there, 218, 271. 

Oviedo there, ii. 283. 
Dates, on Mexican, i. 117. 
Daughters, counsels to, i. 153, iii. 


Days, Aztec arrangement of, i. 
114, 115. Hieroglyphics for, 
114. Division of civil, 126, note. 
Coincidences as to the signs of, 
iii. 376. 

Dead, burnt, i. 66, 204, note. 
Buried, 67, note. Carried off 
in battle, 422, 423. Spanish, 
buried, 437. Unburied during 
the siege, iii. 163, 176, 193. 
Buried, 196. Coincidences as 
to the obsequies of the, 374, 375. 
See Funeral cereynonies. 

Death, a penalty, i. 31. Judges 
punished with, 34. For crimes, 
34. Inflicted on soldiers, 49. 
Two sons put to, by a Tezcucan 
prince, 49. 

Defaulters, liable to slavery, i. 43. 

Deities, Mexican, i. 57, 58, 84. 
Days and festivals appropriated 
to, 58, 76. On unity and plu- 
rality of, 58, note. Huitzilo- 
pochtli, the Mexican Mars, 59. 
Quetzalcoatl, the god of the air, 
60. Penates, 63, 128. Tezcat- 
lipoca, 78, ii. 144. Presiding 
over agriculture, i. 136. Images 
of, 143, 144. See Huitzilo- 



pochtli, idols, Quetzalcoatl, and 

Delafield's Antiquities, map in, iii. 

382, note. 
Deluge, coincidences as to the, in 

the Old and the New World, iii. 


Denon, on an Egyptian temple, i. 
94, note. 

Devil, Mexican, i. 59, note, 84, 
note. Cortes possessed with the, 
330, note. His delusion of the 
Aztecs, iii. 372, ?iote, 373. 

Diary of Cortes, lost, ii. 365. 

Diaz, Bernal, errors of, i. 473, note. 
His way of life, ii. 209, note. 
His share of spoil, 260, note. 
Letter not signed by, 426, note. 
Account of, and of his writings, 
459-463. Ravine crossed by, 
iii. 54, note. Leaves his farm 
to accompany Cortes to Hon- 
duras, 265, note. On the Chris- 
tianity of Guatemozin and the 
prince of Tacuba, 273, note. On 
Cortes at Honduras, 288. His 
character of Cortes, 347-350. 

Diaz, Juan, the licentiate, efforts 
of, to convert natives, i. 269, ii. 
179. His conspiracy, i. 363. 
Performs mass in the great tem- 
ple, ii. 151, 203. 

Dikes opened upon the Spaniards 
at Iztapalapan, iii. 7, 9. See 
Causeways and Breaches. 

Diodorus, i. 182, note. 

Discovery, i. 135, 216. Progress 
of, by the beginning of the reign 
of Charles V., 217. Catholic 
and Protestant views as to, ii. 
2 9> 3 1 ) note. Progress of, under 

Cortes, iii. 222, 243, 258, 319, 

Dishes of Montezuma, ii. 120, 121. 

Divine book, or Teoamoxtli, i. 
no, note. 

Domestic manners of the Aztecs, 
i. 152. 

Dominican friars, i. 219, 371-373. 

Dove, on the topmast, i. 234. Co- 
incidences with Noah's, iii. 364, 


Drain of Huehuetoca, ii. 103. 

Draught-cattle, want of, i. 145, iii. 
223, 399. 

Draw-bridges, Mexican, ii. 69, 104, 
153, 282. 

Dresden Codex, i. 107, and note, 
108, note, iii. 393. 

Dresses, of Aztec warriors, i. 47. 
Owls embroidered on, 58, note. 
Of Cholulans, ii. 12. Of Aztec 
chiefs, 68. Of Montezuma, 71, 
119, 306. Of Mexicans, 129, 
131,298,353. Of Indian allies, 

Drought at Tezcuco, ii. 94. 

Drum, the Tlascalan, i. 420. The 
huge Mexican, ii. 141, 350. Of 
the war-god, sounded for the 
sacrifice of Spaniards, iii. 142. 

Ducat, value of the, i. 316, note. 

Duero, Andres de, i. 243, 251. In 
Narvaez's armada, ii. 226. En- 
voy to Cortes, 238^ 240. To 
share in the profits, 240. At 
Cempoalla, 253. Unhorsed and 
rehorsed, 302. Remonstrates, 
398. Returns to Cuba, 421. In 
Spain, sustaining Velasquez, 

Dupaix, i. 125, note, iii. 354, 388, 



note. On Mexican tools, 390, 
note. On antediluvian build- 
ings, 39s, note. 

Du Ponceau. P. S., iii. 379, note. 
On the synthetic structure of 
the Indian dialects, 379, note. 

Dyes, and dye-woods, Mexican, i. 
146, 218. 


Eagle, on a standard, i. 431, iii. 


Earthen-ware, Aztec, i. 146. 

Earthquake, i. 98. 

Ebeling, collection of maps by, 
iii. 267, note. 

Eclipses, Aztec knowledge as to, 
i. 125. 

Education, Aztec, i. 72, 153, ii. 
148. For the profession of 
hieroglyphical painting, i. 101. 
The council of music virtually a 
board of, 172. Of the Tezcu- 
can royal household, 181. 

Egyptians, temples of, i. 94, note. 
Hieroglyphics of, 96, 97. Sothic 
period of, 121, note. Sophocles 
on the, 137, note. Addresses 
to their kings by priests, 182. 
Their representations of the 
human frame, iii. 392. 

Elphinstone, W., on mythology, 
i. 57 1 note. 

Emeralds, Mexican use of, i. 142. 
One of the, sent to Spain, iii. 
224. Genuineness of, disputed 
by Alaman, 225, note. Given 
by Cortes to his second wife, 
iii. 310, and note. 

Emperor, i. 28, 326, note. 

Encomiendas. See Rcpartimi- 

Entertainments, style of Mexican, 

i. 154. 
Era, the Mexican, i. 117. 
Ercilla, cited, ii. 370, note, 384, 

Escalante, Juan de, i. 383, 384. 

Forces intrusted to, 386, ii. 156. 

Instructions to, from Cholula, 

39. Treachery towards, 156. 

Mortally wounded, 157. 
Escobar, a page, i. 329, ii. 311. 
Escudero, Juan, i. 239. Executed, 

Estates, held by Aztec nobles, 1. 

Estrada, juez de residencies, iii. 

2 93. 295. 296, 298. 
Estrada, Maria de, a heroine, ii. 


Estrella's manuscript, cited, i. 221, 
note, 234, note, 236, note, 241, 
note, 242, note, 251, note. Ac- 
count of it, 262, note. 

Etruscans, cycles of the, i. 117, 

Eucharist, rite analogous to the, 
iii. 369. 

Euripides on purification, iii. 371, 

Eve, Aztec coincidences as to, in. 

Everett, Edward, iii. 399, note. 


Fairs, days for, i. 114, 148, ii. 135. 
Traffic at, i. 148. For the sale 
of slaves, 149. At Tlascala, 464. 
See Market. 


Falsehood, a capital offence, i. 

Famine, in Mexico, iii. 121, 126, 

149, 156, 162, 163, 174. At 

Honduras, 283. 
Fans given by Montezuma, i. 357, 

Farfan grapples with Narvaez, ii. 


Feather-work, mantles of, for trib- 
ute, i. 41, and note. Worn by 
warriors, 47. Manufacture of, 
147. Made by the royal house- 
hold of Tezcuco, 182. Given 
to Cortes, 299, 314, 315, 348, 
356, note, 458, ii. 52. Worn by 
Tlascalans, i. 432. Beauty and 
warmth of, ii. 129. 

Females. See Women. 

Ferdinand and Isabella, state of 
Spain at the close of the reign 
of, i. six. 

Festivals, for deities, i. 58, 76. At 
the termination of the great 
cycle, 128. 

Festivities, style of, i. 154. 

Feudal system, in Anahuac, i. 30, 

Fever. See Vomito. 

Fiefs, origin of, in Anahuac, i. 30, 

Figurative writing, i. 95. See Hie- 

Fire-arms, i. 282, 439. All lost in 
the retreat from Mexico, ii. 366. 
Supply of, 423. 

Fires always burning, i. 76, ii. 9, 
141, 146. 

First-fruits for the priests, i. 74. 

Fish, reservoirs of, ii. 62. Tanks 
of, 116. 

Fleet fitted out by Velasquez 
against Cortes, i. 363, ii. 215, 
216. Narvaez commander of 
the, 216. Its strength, 218. At 
San Juan de Ulua, 219. Dis- 
mantled, 262. See Armada, 
Brigantines , Flotilla, and Ships. 

Fleets for discovering a strait, iii. 
221, 257, 258. Ruined by the 
Royal Audience, 319. 

Flemings in Spain, i. 213, 372. 

Floating gardens, or chinampas, 
ii. 59, 68, 103. See Gardens. 

Florida, i. 218, iii. 258. 

Flotilla, Indian, destroyed, iii. 97. 

Flowers, fondness for, i. 335, ii. 
12, 49, 134. In the Iztapalapan 
gardens, 62. 

Fohi, incarnation of the, i. 60, 

Fonseca, Juan Rodriguez de, 
Bishop of Burgos, notices of, i. 
372, ii. 213. His hostility to 
Columbus, to his son, and to 
Cortes, 213, 427, iii. 233, 236. 
Exertions of, against Cortes and 
his envoys, ii. 214, iii. 73, 227, 
233. Orders Cortes to Spain 
for trial, ii. 422. Procures the 
passing of ordinances, iii. 74, 

. 227. Interdiction of, 230, 234. 
End of his influence, 235. His 
death, 235. 

Forbidden fruit, the, i. 138, noie. 

Forests, destroyed, i. 7, 398, and 
note, ii. 49. Penalties for de- 
stroying, i. 137. Laws on 
gathering wood in, 189, 190. 
See Fuel. 

Fractions, arithmetical, of Aztecs, 
i 113. 



Franciscan friars, in New Spain, 

iii. 251. 
Francis I., of France, envious of 

the Emperor Charles V., iii. 

Franklin, Benjamin, on the turkey, 

i. 157, note. 
French atrocities, ii. 33. 
Fruit-trees not allowed in Monte- 
zuma's gardens, ii. 116, note. 
Fuel, on gathering, i. 190. 
Funeral ceremonies, Aztec, i. 66. 

For Nezahualpilli, 203, note. 

See Dead. 
Funeral piles, i. 203, note. Of 

arms, ii. 166. 
Future life, Aztec views of, i. 65. 

Galindo, Colonel, on civilization 
in Palenque, iii. 394. 

Gallatin, Albert, on Mexican 
prayers, i. 68, note, iii. 380, note, 
399, note. 

Galvez, castle of, ii. 117. 

Gama, Antonio, on hieroglyphics, 
i. 97, 98, note. Bustamante's 
continuation of his work, 98, 
note. On Mexican notation, 
113, note. On intercalation, 115, 
note. On the beginning of the 
year of the new cycle, 117, note. 
On the lunar reckoning of the 
priests, 120, note. On the nine 
companions, 121, note. His as- 
trological almanac, 125, note. 
Carved stones seen by, 126, 
note. Account of, and oi his 

writings, 132, 133. On a night 
in Cholula, ii. 20, note. 

Gaming, ii. 176, 200, 440. 

Gante, Pedro de, convent by, iii. 

Garay, Francisco de, his squadron, 
i. 384, ii. 422. Crews of, join 
Cortes, 423. 

Gardens of plants, i. 141. Gt 
Iztapalapan, ii. 62. First Euro- 
pean, 63, note. Montezuma's, 
116, 117. At Huaxtepec, iii. 
38. See Floating gardens. 

Garrisons, in the larger cities, i. 

Gauntlet run by Spaniards, ii. 164, 

Geology, conjectures confirmed 
by, i. 64, note. 

Gerolt, Federico de, ii. 47, note. 

Gestures, Indian, i. 292. 

Gibbon, Edward, i. 368, note. 

Girls, counsels given to, i. 153, iii. 


Gladiatorial sacrifices, i. 80, note. 

Glass, sent to Montezuma, i. 299. 

Gold, tribute of, i. 41, 42, note, 
142. From a tomb, 67, note. 
Said to be found in temples, 76, 
note. Traffic with, 148. Mines 
of, worked in Cuba, 222, 242. 
Curiously wrought specimens 
of, from Yucatan, 224. Plates 
of, given to Grijalva, 225. Trade 
for ornaments and vessels of, 
226. Despatched to Spain by 
Velasquez, 228. Barter for, at 
Cozumel, 265. Spanish desire 
of, 277, 286, 295, 299, ii. 40, 199. 
Given to Cortes, by Teuhtlile, i. 
299. Bits of, obtained by the 

49 c 


soldiers, 313. Presented by 
Montezuma, 314, 315, 348, 356, 
note, 458, ii. 37, 52, 80, 88. 
Relinquished by the Conquer- 
ors, i. 355, ii. 200. Sent by 
Cortes to Spain, i. 355. Four 
loads of, offered as a bribe to 
Cortes, ii. 52. Present of, at 
Amaquemecan, 55. Worn by 
Montezuma, 71. Place of get- 
ting, 188. Sent by Montezuma 
to the Castilian sovereign, 193, 
194, 196. Comparison of, with 
silver, 197, note. Converted 
into chains, 201, 345. Effect 
of the arrival of, in Spain, 212. 
Given to Narvaez's soldiers, 
260. Fate of, on the evacua- 
tion of Mexico, 346, 365, note, 
372. Spaniards killed while 
transporting, 395, 449. Given 
for maize bread, 396, note. Can- 
non of, sent to Spain, iii. 260, 
note. Carried to Spain by Cor- 
tes, 299, 300. Drawn from Te- 
huantepec by Cortes, 318. See 

Golden Fleece, i. 214, note. 

Goldsmiths, skill of Mexican, i. 
143, note, ii. 77. See Animals. 

Golfo Dolce, iii. 283. 

Gomara, Francisco Lopez de, i. 
84, note, 226, note, 258, note. 
Authority for Cortes' First Let- 
ter, 359. On firing at the Az- 
tecs, ii. 293, note. On the bap- 
tism of Montezuma, 332, note. 
On losses at the retreat, 364. 
Account of, and of his writings, 
457. 458. On protecting Gua- 
temozin, iii. 276. On Cortes' 

precious stones, 310, note. On 
domesticated bisons, 400, note. 

Goods, sale and transportation of, 
i. 148, 150. 

Government in Anahuac, i. 26. 
Under Nezahualcoyotl, 171. Of 
the Tlascalans, 404. Of Cho- 
lula, ii. 4. 

Grado, Alonso de, at Villa Rica, 
ii. 174. 

Granaries, i. 43, 138. 

Grijalva, Juan de, expedition of, to 
Yucatan, i. 224, 289. Returns 
to Cuba and is censured, 227, 
228. Cortes to join, 247. Vol- 
unteers from, join Cortes, 254. 
Chief pilot of, 260. Effect of 
his landing, on Montezuma, 


Grijalva, River of, i. 225, 274. 

Guadaloupe, in Spain, iii. 303. 

Guadaloupe, Our Lady of, i. 160, 

Gualipan, ii. 392, note. 

Guatemala, conquered, iii. 260. 
Settlement of Toltecs in, 397. 

Guatemozin, Montezuma's neph- 
ew, ii. 308, note. Tecuichpo, 
wife of, 339, note, 434, iii. 192, 
274, note. Elected emperor, ii. 
434. Rallies for defence of his 
capital, 435. Missions to, iii. 
5, 17. His animosity to the 
Spaniards, 17. His application 
to Tangapan, 18, note. Codes' 
desire of an interview with, 33. 
Attempts the recovery of Chal- 
co, 41 ; to relieve Xochimilco, 
61. His policy, 64, 118. De- 
coys brigantines, 120. Proffers 
to, 125, 156, 178. 179, 180, 181. 



note, 185. Distributes heads of 
Spaniards and of horses, 145. 
Effect of his machinations, 151. 
Council called by, 157. Will 
not surrender, 158, 186. His 
palace, 161. Declines meeting 
Cortes, 180, 181, 186. Efforts 
of, to escape, 186, 188. Cap- 
tured, 188. Intercedes for his 
wife and followers, 189. His 
interview with Cortes, 191. On 
a monument to, 205, note. Tor- 
ture of, 218, 230, 232, 233. Re- 
garded as a rebel, 230. Sus- 
pected, 271. Executed, 273. 
Remarks on, 273. 

Guevara, Narvaez's envoy to San- 
doval, ii. 222. Cortes' recep- 
tion of, 224. His return, 225, 
226. Envoy to Cortes, 238, 

Gulf of California, iii. 222, 319. 
Penetrated by Ulloa, 322. Called 
Sea of Cortes, 324. 

Gulf of Mexico, i. 218, ii. 188. 

Gunpowder, manufactured, ii. 430, 
iii. 241. 

Guns. See Cannon and Fire- 

Guzman, captured, iii. 135. Sacri- 
ficed, 148. 

Guzman, Nunez de, at the head 
of the Royal Audience of New 
Spain, iii. 312, 316. Cortes' 
expedition against, 320. 


Hanging gardens of Nezahual- 
coyotl, i. 183. See Floating 

Hannibal, ii. 50, note, iii. 341. 

Hardy, Lieutenant, on Casas 
Grandes, iii. 383, note. 

Harems, royal, i. 179, ii. 51, 118. 

Harvard University Library, maps 
in, iii. 267, ?iote. 

Hatuey, on Spaniards and heaven, 
i. 221. 

Havana, i. 222, note. The ar- 
mada at, 256, 258. Orders re- 
specting Cortes at, 258. See 

Head of a Spaniard sent to Mon- 
tezuma, ii. 157. 

Heaven, the Aztec, i. 65, 66, note. 
Hatuey 's remark on, 221. 

Heckewelder, John, i. 58, note. 

Heeren, A. H. L., i. 56, note, 94, 
note, 99, note. 

Helmet, the Aztec, i. 47. Filled 
with gold dust, 299, 315. 

Henry IV. of France, treasury of, 
ii. 198, note. 

Hernandez, Francisco, on maize, 
i. 139, note. On the species of 
the maguey, 140, note. Pan- 
egyrizes tobacco, 156, note. 
Takes models, 179. His work 
on natural history, 179, note. 
On the gardens of Huaxtepec, 
iii. 39, note. 

Herodotus, i. 44, note, 56. 

Heron, an heraldic emblem, i. 

Herrera, Antonio de, i. 221, note, 
227, note. On Cortes' escape 
on a plank, 240, note. On 
Aguilar's temptations, 272, note. 
Gives a speech by Marina, 421, 
note. On the Spaniards at 
Cholula, ii. 13, note. On ca- 



noes in Lake Tezcuco, 68, note. 
On launching brigantines, 82, 
note. Account of, and of his 
writings, 91-93. On humming- 
birds, 114, note. On cochineal, 
132, note. On arrows at the 
Aztec assault, 293, note. On 
gold thrown away, 372, note. 
On stewed human flesh, 410, 

Herrick, cited, i. 176, note. 

Hesiod, i. 56. On brass and 
iron, 142, note. 

Hidalguia, privileges of the, iii. 
84, note. 

Hieroglyphics, i. 94. Egyptian 
and Aztec, compared, 97, iii. 
393. Chiefly representative, 
among the Mexicans, i. 99. 
Education respecting, 101. Of 
the Mendoza Codex, 106, note. 
Of the Dresden Codex, 106, 107, 
note, iii. 393. On interpreting, 
i. 107, note, 109. For months 
and days, 114. For half-cen- 
turies, 117. For years, 117-119, 
note, iii. 376. In the lunar cal- 
endar, i. i2i. Of the Aztec 
calendar, iii. 377, note. On 
Oriental coincidences with Az- 
tec, 393. See Paintings . 

Hieronymite commission to re- 
dress Indian grievances, i. 219, 
371. Their authority for the 
expedition under Cortes, 228, 
249. Redress asked of the, 
362. Their discretion, 371. 

High-priests, Aztec, i. 70, and 
note. One of the, liberated, ii. 
327. Prayer of the, at the elec- 
tion of Guatemozin, 432. 

Hill of Otoncalpolco, or Hill of 
Montezuma, ii. 361, iii. 29. The 
temple there, ii. 361, 362. 
Church there, 369. 

Hispaniola, Las Casas in, i. 371, 
374. Despatches to, by Cortes, 
ii. 428. Detention of Cortes at, 
iii. 312, 315. See Royal Audi- 

Historians, four, of the house of 
Nezahualcoyotl, i. 174, note. 

Holguin, captures Guatemozin, 
iii. 188. Quarrels with San- 
doval, 190. 

Homer, and the theogony of the 
Greeks, i. 56. Cited, 65, ?iote, 
155, note. 

Honduras, expeditions to, iii. 259, 
264, 290, note, 396, note. 

Honor, the Aztec law of, i. 87, 

Horn of Guatemozin, sounded, 
iii. 132, 137. 

Horse, homage to the, at Peten, 
iii. 280, 281. 

Horses, in Cortes' expedition, i. 
260. Dearness of, 260, note, 
iii. 140, note. Landing of, at 
Tabasco, i. 2S0. Loss of, at 
Tlascala, 415, 420. Buried, 421. 
All, wounded, 438. Give out, 
446. Effect of, at Mexico, ii. 
75. Aztecs cling to, 300. Eaten, 
371. New supply of, 423. Loss 
of, at the general assault, iii. 
140. See Cavalry. 

Hospitals, i. 49, 305. 

Hours, astrological symbols for, 
iii. 378, note. 

Household gods, i 63. Broken, 



Huacachula, ii. 412, note. See 


Huaxtepec, iii. 37, 50. 

Huehuetoca, drain of, ii. 103. 

Huejotlipan, ii. 392. 

Huematzin composed the Teoa- 
moxtli or divine book, i. no, 

Huexotzinco, meaning of, i. 99. 

Huitzilopochtli, the Mexican 
Mars, account of, and of his 
image, i. 59, ii. 143, 144. Sym- 
bolical character, i. 59, note. 
Incensing of, ii. 270. Image of, 
thrown down, 317. New image 
of, iii. 107. View of Spaniards 
sacrificed to, 143. Prediction 
respecting, 145, 147, 150. 

Huitzilopochtli's temple, human 
sacrifices at the dedication of it, 
i. 83. Ashes of Nezahualpilli in 
the, 204, note. Spaniards there, 
ii. 76. Cathedral on its site, 76, 
101, 137, iii. 239. Visited by 
Cortes, ii. 137. Described, 137- 
141, 311. View from it, 141. 
Christian chapel in, 203, 270, 
314. Mexicans quartered in, 
311. Stormed, 311, 313. Funeral 
pyre of, 317. 

Human monsters at Mexico, ii. 

Human sacrifices, at the instal- 
lation of monarchs, i. 27, 83, 304. 
Of prisoners, 38, 45, 84. To 
Huitzilopochtli, 59, iii. 143. At 
the funerals of the rich, i. 66. 
At confession and absolution, 
72, note. Origin of, in Anahuac, 

77. For the god Tezcatlipoca, 

78. Of women, 80. Gladia- ! 
Vol. III. 4 

tonal, 80, note. Extent of, 82, 
351, note. At the dedication 
of the temple of Huitzilopochtli, 
83. Measures for procuring 
victims for, 84, 85, ?wte. In- 
fluence of, on the Aztecs, 85, 
89, note, iii. 202. Compared 
with the Inquisition, i. 87. 
Voluntary, 87. Practised to 
some extent by the Tcltecs, 88, 
note. At the kindling of the 
new fire, 129. Of Maxtla, 169. 
By Nezahualcoyotl, 192. Neza- 
hualcoyotl's ideas respecting, 
192, 200. At the obsequies of 
Nezahualpilli, 204, note. At the 
Isla de los Sacrificios, 227. Not 
offered at Cozumel, 268. Of 
Christians wrecked at Yucatan, 
271. At the coronation of 
Montezuma, 304 ; during his 
administration, 307. Remains 
of, near Vera Cruz, 333. Victims 
for, demanded of the Totonacs, 
342. Among Tlascalans, 408. 
Of captives in the Aztec and 
Tlascalan wars, 409. Cempo- 
allan envoys seized for, 417. 
Victims for, released, 471. Fruits 
and flowers instead of, ii. 5. 
Number of, at Cholula, 8. Of 
children, 15. Condemned in 
Montezuma's presence, 83. 
Stench of, in the great temple, 
145. Promise from Montezuma 
respecting, 180. Of Spaniards, 

3 l6 . 353. 435. 449. «'• 6 4. *43. 
148, 167. Among the Mongols. 
374. See Cannibalism and 
Humboldt, maps of, i. xxxii, 8 



note. On the extent of the 
Aztec empire, 3, note. On the 
extent of Anahuac, n, note. On 
the Aztec cosmogony and that 
of Eastern Asia, 64, note. On 
the Aztec annals, 100, note. On 
the Dresden Codex, 107, note. 
On the publication of Aztec re- 
mains, 130, note. His obli- 
gations to Gama, 133. On 
Indian corn, 136, note. On the 
musa, 138, note. On the Ameri- 
can agave, 139, note. On silk 
among the Aztecs, 147, note. 
On the peopling of a continent, 
208, note, iii. 362, note. On dis- 
eases in Mexico, i. 297, note. 
On the volcano Orizaba, 332, 
note. On the Cofre de Perote, 
391, note. On the mound to 
Quetzalcoatl, ii. 6, note, 7, note. 
On thewordvo/cuti, 03, note. On 
Montano's ascent, 47, note. 
Identifies localities, 82, note. 
On the drain of Huehuetoca, 
103, note. On the comparative 
quantities of silver and gold, 
197, note. On the pyramids of 
Teotihuacan, 376, note. On the 
avenue to Iztapalapan, iii. 67, 
note. On scientific analogies, 
377, note. His definition of oce- 
lotl, 377, note. On Mexican lan- 
guages, 379, note. On Mexican 
beards and moustaches, 384, 
note. On the color of the abo- 
rigines, 385, note. 

Humming-birds, ii. 113, and note, 
iii. 364. 

Husbands, on duties to, iii. 407. 

Hymns. See Songs. 

Iceland, early colonization of, iii. 

Idols, treatment of, at Cozumel, i. 
269 ; at Cempoalla, 353. Of 
the war-god, thrown down, ii. 
317. Destroyed at Peten, iii. 
280. See Cathedrals 

Immortality. See Future life. 

Impressments for manning the 
fleet, iii. 84. 

Incense, compliments of, i. 341, 
455. In Montezuma's palace, 
ii. 83. 

Incensing of Huitzilopochtli, ii. 

India, epic poets of, i. 56, note. 

India House, i. 215, ii. 211. 

Indian allies, i. 417. Value of the, 
421. On the march against 
Mexico, ii. 437, 443. Reconciled 
by Cortes, iii. 15. Join Span- 
iards at Mexico, 122. Desert, 
146, 147. Return, 150. In the 
expedition to Honduras, 264. 
See Ccmpoallan, Chinantlan, 
Cholulan, Tepeacan, Tezcucans, 
Tlascalan, and Totonacs. 

Indian corn, i. 136, 138, 281. See 

Indians, Aztecs and, differ, in do- 
mestic manners, i. 159. Re- 
partimientos in regard to, 218, 
371. Commission respecting, 
219, iii. 293, note. Held in 
slavery that they may be Chris- 
tianized, 219. Las Casas in- 
sists upon the entire freedom 
of the, 219. Treatment of, at 
Cozumel, 265. Fight the Span- 



iards, at Tabasco, 275 ; at 
Ceutla, 282. Interview with, at 
San Juan de Ulua, 291. Aid 
the Spaniards, 296. On the 
civilization of, 373. Taken by 
Spaniards, 427. Find Spanish 
new-comers to be enemies of 
the old, ii. 220, 227. Protected 
by the Spanish government, 
iii. 295, note. See Aborigines, 
Christianity , Indian allies, and 

Indies. See Council of the Indies. 

Indulgences, papal, for the troops, 
iii. 44, 299, note. 

Infidelity, on persecution for, ii. 
28, note. 

Inquisition, Aztec sacrifices com- 
pared to the, i. 87. Brought to 
Mexico, 89. 

Intemperance, i. 37, 159. 

Intercalation, among the Aztecs, 
i. 114, 115, note, 117, note. Per- 
sian, 115, note, iii. 378. 

Interpreters. See Aguilar, Ma- 
rina, and Melchorejo. 

Iron, not known to the Aztecs, i. 
142, iii. 390, 399. Substitutes 
for, i. 142. On the table-land 
in Mexico, iii. 399, 400. The 
early use of, 401, note. 

Irrigation, i. T37. See Canals. 

Irving, Washington, i. 272, note, 
iii. 236, note. 

Isabella, suppressed repartimien- 
tos, i. 218. 

Isla de los Sacrificios, i. 227, 289. 

Israelites, i. 132, ii. 86, note, 150, 
iii. 372. 

Itzalana, iii. 389. 

Itzocan, conquered, ii. 416. 

Itztli, tools made of, i. 143. Weap- 
ons pointed with, 430, 433. 
Blades of, 433. 

Ixtlilxochitl, son of Nezahualpilli, 
rival for the Tezcucan crown, 
i. 306, 474, ii. 182. Embassy 
from, to Cortes, i. 474. 

Ixtlilxochitl, cacique of Tezcuco, 
account of, ii. 454. Instructed 
and watched, iii. 4. Procures 
allies, 43, in. Efficiency of, 
in, 114. Kills the Aztec 
leader, 115. Does not desert, 

Ixtlilxochitl, the historian, on the 
extent of Anahuac, i. 12, note. 
His opinion of the Toltec rec- 
ords, 13, note. On feudal chiefs, 
29, note. On halls of justice 
and judgments in Tezcuco, 36. 
On the cycles, 64, note. On 
sacrifices at the dedication of 
the temple of Huitzilopochtli, 
83, note. On measures for pro- 
curing victims, 85, note. On 
Mexican hieroglyphical writers, 
101, note. On the divine book, 
no, note. Story by, 151, note. 
Notices of, and of his writings, 
163, 206, note. Source of the 
materials of his works, 174, note, 
207, note. Translation by, of a 
poem of Nezahualcoyotl, 175, 
iii. 409. Cited, i. 176, note. On 
the population of Tezcuco, 177, 
note. On Nezahualcoyotl's resi- 
dence, 183, iii. 415. On Indian 
antiquities, i. 186, note. On 
Nezahualcoyotl's advice to his 
son, 198, note. His character 
of Nezahualcoyotl, 199. On 

49 6 


the Lady of Tula, 201, note. 
On Nezahualpilli's punishment 
of his wife, 202, note, iii. 417. 
Account of, and of his writings, 
i. 206, note. On Montezuma's 
conversion, ii. 201, note. On 
the massacre by Alvarado, 275, 
note. On a statue of the Sun, 
378, note. Authority for Teco- 
col, 453, note, 454, note. Ety- 
mology of the name of, 454, 
note. On headquarters at Tez- 
cuco, iii. 3, note. On Tanga- 
pan's sister and her vision, 18, 
note. Termination of his works, 
105, note. On the rescue of 
Cortes by aTlascalan chief, 134, 
note. On the Toltec migration, 


Iztaccihuatl, ii. 9, 42, 47, note, 48, 

Iztaes, destruction of idols by, iii. 
280, note. 

Iztapalapan, ii. 61. Gardens of, 
62, iii. 6. Sack of, 8. Sando- 
val's expedition against, 86, 95. 
See Cuitlahua. 

Iztapalapan causeway, first crossed 
by Spaniards, ii. 66. Described, 

67, 104. Advance on the, iii. 

68. At the junction of the Co- 
johuacan, 98. Cannon placed 
upon the, 99. Fighting there, 
108, 112. Alderete on the, 130. 

Iztapan ; iii. 268. 

Jacapichfla, expedition against, 

iii. 39. 
Jackets. See Cotton. 

Jalap, i. 388, note. 

Jauhtepec, iii. 51. 

Java, market-days and weeks in, 
i. 114, note. 

Javelin, the Tlascalan, i. 433. 

Jesters, i. 250, ii. 123. 

Jewels, i. 204, note, 226, iii. 224, 

Jews. See Israelites. 

Jomard, on the new Jire, i. 128, 

Judges, Aztec, i. 31. In Tezcuco, 
33. Collusions of, punishable 
with death, 34. Details respect- 
ing, 34, 35. Montezuma tries 
the integrity of, 305. Twelve, 
at the Mexican market, ii. 136. 

Jugglers, i. 158, note, ii. 123, 124, 
iii. 299. 

Julian, fleet burned by, i. 368, 

Julian year, i. 117, note. 

Juste, Juan, inscriptions by, ii. 
396, note, iii. 20. 


Kings, Egyptian, i. 26, note. Use 
of the word among the Aztecs, 
27. See Sovereigns. 

Kingsborough, Lord, publishes 
Sahagun's Universal History, i. 
91. Manuscripts in his work, 
105, 106, note. Identifies the 
Teoamoxtli and the Pentateuch, 
no, note. On the scientific in- 
struments of the Mexicans, 125, 
note. Account of his publica- 
tion of the remains of the Aztec 
civilization, 131. On the Aztec 
knowledge of the Scriptures, iii. 



367, note. His Aztec and Is- 

raelitish parallelisms, 372, note. 

On the words Mexico and 

Messiah, 372, note. 
Knight-errantry of Cortes, iii. 338. 
Knighthood, i. 46, 406, ii. 429, iii. 

Knotted strings, i. 102, note. 


Lances, instructions by Cortes re- 
specting, i. 284, 417, 429, ii. 381. 
For the Spaniards, 230, 236, 
437, iii. 160. 

Lands, revenues from, i. 40. Held 
in common, 41, note. For the 
maintenance of priests, 74. 
Cholulan cultivation of, ii. 11. 
See Agriculture. 

Languages, in Anahuac, i. m, 
174. Tlascalan, 407. On co- 
incidences as to, in the Old 
and the New World, iii. 378. 
Remarks on the Indian, 378 ; 
on the Othomi, 380; on the 
Cora, 383, note. 

Lares, Amador de, i. 243, 251. 

Las Casas, Bartolome de, on hu- 
man sacrifices in Anahuac, i. 
82, note. Procures a commis- 
sion to redress Indian griev- 
ances, 219, 371. Protects the 
natives of Cuba, 221. On the 
censure of Grijalva, 228, note. 
On the father of Cortes, 231, 
note, On Cortes and Velas- 
quez, 241, note, 253, 238. On 
property acquired by Cortes, 
242. On the etymology of 
adeiantado, 249, note. His 

charity and friendship for the 
Indians, 268, 371. On forced 
conversions, 270, note, iii. 423, 
424. On the proclamation at 
Tabasco, i. 275, note. On Ta- 
basco, 277. On the loss at the 
battle of Ceutla, 285, note. On 
Indian gestures, 292, note. On 
traditions and Montezuma, 309, 
note. Account of, and of his 
writings, 371-380, ii. 286. His 
connection with negro slavery, 
i. 372. Bishop of Chiapa, 376. 
His death and character, 377. 
Biographies of, 380. On the 
population of Cholula, ii. 3, 
note. On the massacre at Cho- 
lula, 27, note. Herrera borrows 
from, 92. His portrait of Ve- 
lasquez, iii. 237. On ruins in 
Yucatan, 396, note. Extract 
from, 423. 

Las Tres Cruzes, village of, iii. 

Latrobe, his descriptions, i. 5, 
note. On the calendar-stone, 
146, note. Describes two baths, 
184, note. On Indian antiqui- 
ties, 186, note. On Tacuba, ii. 
361, note. On the interposition 
of the Virgin, 369, note. De- 
scribes a cavity in a pyramid, 
376, note. 

Law of honor, the Aztec, i. 87, 

Lawrence, on animals in the New 
World, iii. 355, note. 

Laws, Aztec, i. 37. Military codes 
of, 49, ii. 439, iii. 451. Neza- 
hualcoyotl's code of, i. 170. 

Lead, from Tasco, i. 141. 




League. See Mexico. 

Legerdemain, i. 158, note, 159, 
note, ii. 123. 

Legislative power, i. 31. 

Le Noir, M., i. 107, note, iii. 394, 

Leon, Juan Velasquez de, joins 
Cortes, i. 254. At Tabasco, 
280. In irons, 329. At Tlas- 
cala, 469. Aids in seizing Monte- 
zuma, ii. 158, 161. Guards him, 

164. Montezuma's pleasure in 
his company, 179. To plant a 
colony at Coatzacualco, 188. 
Charged with purloining plate, 
199. Narvaez's letter to, 229. 
Joins Cortes at Cholula, 229, 
233. Fidelity of, 243, 255, note, 
256. To secure Panuco, 262. 
Joins Cortes at Tlascala, 264. 
Tries to calm his anger, 280. 
Chivalrous, 302. At the evacu- 
ation of Mexico, 347. Killed, 
366. Fate of gold collected by, 


Leon, Luis Ponce &e,juez de resi- 
dential, iii. 292. 

Lerma, defends Cortes, iii. 134. 

Lieber, Francis, on punishment, 
i. 171, note. 

Lime, i. 42, note, 223, 266, 336. 

Litters, i. 341, ii. 57, 70, 73, 162, 

165, 231, 385. 

Livy, cited, i. 208, note, iii. 342, 

Llorente's Life of Las Casas, i. 380. 

Lopez, Geronimo, condemns the 
education given by the mission- 
aries, iii. 253, note. 

Lopez, Martin, ship-builder, ii. 
175. 3 6 °. 418, 430, iii, 21. 

Lord's Supper, rite like the, iii. 

369. 37i. 
Lorenzana, on a tribute-roll, i. 

42, note. On the seizure of 

Montezuma, ii. 171, note. Cited, 

316, note, iii. 128, note. 
Louis XL, disclosure in his reign, 

iii. 79. 
Lucan, cited, i. 284, note, 309, 

Lucian, on the Deluge, iii. 363, 

Lucretius, cited on iron, iii. 401, 

Luisa, Dona, given to Alvarado 

i. 472. 
Lujo, Francisco de, i. 278, ii. 158. 

Encourages Cortes, 243. At 

the evacuation of Mexico, 347. 
Lunar calendars, i. 120, iii. 377, 

Lyell, Charles, on the spread of 

mankind, iii. 359, note. 


Macaca, armada at, i. 253, 254. 
Machiavelli, i. 24, note, 89, note, 

311, note. 
Magarino, at a bridge, ii. 347, 

Magellan, discoveries by, iii. 258. 
Magistrates, Aztec, i. 32. Neza- 

hualpilli the terror of unjust, 

202, note. 
Maguey. See Agave Americana. 
Mahometan belief as to martyrs, 

i. 65, note. 
Maize, the word, i. 139, note. 

Yearly royal expenditure of, in 



Tezcuco, 178, note. See Indian 

Majesty, the title, i. 326, note. 

Malinche, i. 472. See Marina. 

Malinche, Cortes called, i. 472, ii. 

Malinche, the mountain, i. 465. 

Manifesto to the Indians, i. 275, 

Mankind, origin of, in America, 
iil. 355, 358. Two great families 
of, in America, 360. See Abo- 

Mantas, use and description of, 

ii. 3 2 4- 

Mantles of feather-work. See 

Manuscripts, scarcity of, among 
the Toltecs, 12, note. Materials 
of the Mexican, 102. Their 
shape, 103. Destruction of, 104, 
105. Collected at Mexico and 
perished, 105, 162. Mendoza 
Codex, 103. Dresden Codex, 
107. With interpretations, 108, 
note. No clue to the, 109. Re- 
port of a key to them, 109, note. 
The Teoamoxtli, or divine book, 
no, and note. Notice of the 
Aztec, in Europe, 131. Estre- 
lla's, 263. Collection of, by 
Vega, iii. 409. See Hieroglyphics 
and Paintings. 

Maps, i. xxxii. For the revenue, 
43. Ebeling collection of, iii. 
267, note. In Delafield's An- 
tiquities, 382, note. 

Marina, or Malinche, a female 
slave and interpreter, account 
of, i. 292, iii. 278. Cortes and, 
i, 293. Don Martin Cortes, 

son of, 293, iii. 280. Moratin 
cited on, i. 293, note. Inter- 
prets, 338, 342, 352. Cheers a 
Cempoallan chief, 421. Value 
of her services, 443. Discovers 
Tlascalan spies, 453. Cortes 
called Malinche from, 472, ii. 
318. Discovers a conspiracy at 
Cholula, 15. Interpreter be- 
tween Cortes and Montezuma, 
79, 85. Urges Montezuma to 
go to the Spanish camp, 161. 
Finds out Cuitlahua, 303, note. 
Interprets Cortes' address to the 
Aztecs, 318. In the retreat from 
Mexico, 360. At Chalco, iii. 
46. At the interview between 
Cortes and Guatemozin, 191. 
Meets her mother, 278. Mar- 
riage of, 279. 

Marineo, Lucio, on gaming, ii. 
441, note. 

Market, Mexican, ii. 140. Closed, 

Market-days. See Fairs. 

Market-place, ii. 130. See Tlate- 

Marquis of Oaxaca, iii. 306. 

Marriage, among the Aztecs, i. 
38, 154. Among the Tezcucans, 
186. Of Nezahualcoyotl, 188. 
Of Spaniards with Tlascalans, 
468, 471. 

Martin, Benito, chaplain, ii. 210. 

Martin of Valencia, iii. 252. 

Martyr, Peter, on maps and man- 
uscripts, i. 103, note, 131, 145, 
note, 361, note. On cacao as a 
circulating medium, 148. On a 
huge beam, 185, note. On 
Flemings in Spain, 213, note. 



On Tabasco, 277, note. On a 
fabric, 315, note. On the gold 
and silver wheels, 316, note. 
Account of, ii. 96. On the 
dwellings in Mexico, 106, note. 
On the calendar-stone, 112, note. 
On Mexican trinkets, 131, note, 
194, note. On the pusillanimity 
of Montezuma, 169, note. On 
the insurrection against Alva- 
rado, 276, note. On firing 
Mexico, 318, note. On canni- 
balism, iii. 124, note. On an 
emerald, 225, note. 

Martyrs, Mexican idea respecting, 
i. 45. Mahometan belief, 65, 

Masks, in the Aztec plays, i. 112. 

Massacre, at Cholula, ii. 22. By 
Alvarado, 271. At Iztapalapan, 
iii. 8. 

Matadero, fortress in the, iii. 241. 

Matanzas, i. 222, note. 

Maundeville, Sir John, i. 143, 

Maximilian, poverty of, ii. 198, 

Maxixca, cacique of Tlascala, i. 
440, ii. 265. Welcomes Cor- 
tes from Mexico, 392. Cortes 
quartered in his palace, 393. 
Present to, 395. Averse to an 
alliance with Aztecs, 405. Dies 
of smallpox, 419. Olmedo 
with, 423. Spaniards in mourn- 
ing for, 429. Son of, confirmed 
in the succession, 429. Son of, 
goes to Spain, iii. 299. 

Maxtla, Tepanec empire be- 
queathed to, i. 165. His treat- 
ment and jealousy of Neza- 

hualcoyofl, 165, 166. Oppres- 
sions by, 168, 169. Conquered 
and sacrificed, 169. 

McCulloh, i. 62, note, 102, note, 
122, note. Notice of his work, 
iii. 375, note. 

Meals, i. 155. Montezuma's, ii. 

Mechanical arts, Aztec, i. 142, 

143. 145. 146- 
Medellin, iii. 243, 288. 
Medicinal plants in Mexico, ii. 

Melancholy night, ii. 352-367, iii. 


Melchorejo, interpreter, i. 265, 

Menagerie, at Mexico, ii. 114. 

Mendicity, not tolerated, i. 192. 

Mendoza Codex, i. 42, note. His- 
tory of the, 105. With an inter- 
pretation, 108, note. Examined 
by the Marquis Spineto, 131. 
The arrangement of, 131. 

Mendoza, Don Antonio, viceroy 
of New Spain, iii. 321. Inter- 
feres with Cortes, 324. 

Merchandise, sale and transporta- 
tion of, i. 148, 150. 

Merchants, Aztec, i. 149. 

Merida, Cozumel Cross at, iii. 
368, note. 

Mesa, commander of artillery, 1. 

Messiah, the words Mexico and, 
iii. 372. 

Metals, in Ithaca and Mexico, L 
155, note. Early exportations 
of, from the Spanish colonies, 
218. See Gold, Mines, and 



Mcxia charges Leon with pur- 
loining plate, ii. 199. 

Mexican Gulf, i. 218. Explored, 
ii. 188. 

Mexicans. See Aztecs. 

Mexico, interest and importance 
of, i. 1. Ancient and modern 
extent of, 2. Climate and pro- 
ducts of, 3. Primitive races of, 
9, 10, iii. 383. Legislative power 
in, i. 31. Predictions and prodi- 
gies connected with the down- 
fall of, 61, 203, 308, 309, 310, 
455. 458. ii. 35. an d note, 190, 
193, 454. On the colonization 
of, by the Israelites, i. 132. 
Apathy of, respecting antiqui- 
ties, 185, note. Hostility to 
Montezuma in, 306. Languages 
of, iii. 379. 

Mexico, Tezcuco, and Tlacopan, 
league of, i. 21, 169. Extend 
their territory, 22, 23. 

Mexico, city, situation of, i. 8, 9. 
Called Tenochtitlan, 19. Set- 
tlement of the Aztecs at, 19, 20, 
note. Derivation of the name, 
19. Map of, referred to, 23. 
Images spread throughout, 144. 
Terror there, at the landing 
of Cortes, 311. The cacique 
of Cocotlan's account of, 394 
Spanish route to, ii. 47. First 
view of, by the Spaniards, 49, 
Seen from Iztapalapan, 63. En- 
trance of the Spaniards into, 
°5 - 75- Environs of, 67. Streets 
in, 74, 106. Population of, 74 
108. Comparison of ancieni 
and modern, 101, 109, note 
Description of, 105, 130. View 

of, from the great temple, 142. 
Alvarado takes command of, 
230, 231. Insurrection in, 262, 

268, 270, 277. Cortes re-enters, 

269. Massacre there, by Al- 
varado, 271. Assault on the 
Spanish quarters at, 292. Sally 
of the Spaniards, 299. Fired, 
300, 318. Storming of the great 
temple at, 311, 313. Evacua- 
tion of, by the Spaniards, 326, 
343, 347. Cuitlahua's acts 
there after the evacuation, 403. 
Guatemozin's measures for de- 
fending, 435. Second expedi- 
tion to, 443. Reconnoitred, iii. 
25. 45. 71- Siege of, 84, 85, 94. 
Assaults on the causeways of, 
102. Famine in, 121, 126, 149, 
156, 162, 163, 174. General 
assault on, 128. Measures for 
securing retreat there, 129, 
153. Destruction of buildings 
at, 153, 155, 159, 162. Want of 
water in, 163. Seven-eighths of, 
in ruins, 170. Pestilence in, 
176. Murderous assault there, 
182. Last assault on, 186, 187. 
Tempest there, 194. Evacua- 
tion of, permitted, 195. Purifi- 
cation of, 196. Loss during 
the siege of, 196. Remarks on 
the conquest of, 200, 203. Re- 
building of, 223, 233, 239. Pop- 
ulation for, 242. At the present 
day, 243. Disturbances in, 286. 
Cortes' triumphal return to, 
289. Cortes ordered to leave, 
295 ; to keep ten leagues from, 
316. Deserted to visit Cortes 
at Tezcuco, 316. 



Michoacan, iii. 18 , note. Embassy 
from, 220. Visited, 221. Co- 
liman in, founded, 243. Tradi- 
tion there, connected with the 
Deluge, 304. 

Midwives, baptism by, iii. 370, 

Mier, Dr., i. 62, note, ii. 5, note. 

Military institutions, Aztec, i. 45. 

Milk, on the use of, iii. 399, 400. 

Milman, on Budh, i. 60, note. 

Milton's Paradise Lost, i. 56. 

Mines, and minerals, i. 141. 
Wrought, iii. 255, 318. 

Minstrels, entertained, i. 158, note. 

Mirrors, Aztec, ii. 132. 

Missionaries to New Spain in the 
time of Cortes, ii. 251. Leave 
Mexico, 287. Provision for, in 
Cortes' will, 330. Charity for 
their religious analogies, 368. 
Schools and colleges established 
by, iii. 253. See Dominican, 
Las Casas, Olmedo, and To- 

Mitla, ruins of, ii. 189, note, iii. 


Mixtecapan, ii. 417. 

Monastic institutions among pa- 
gans, iii. 374, note. 

Money, substitutes for, i. 148, and 
note. See Currency. 

Montano, Francisco, ascends Po- 
pocatepetl, ii. 46. 

Montejo, Francisco de, i. 280. 
Explores the coast, 319, 321, 
322,341. Alcalde of Villa Rica, 
327. In the expedition to Hon- 
duras, iii. 265. 

Montejo and Puertocarrero, mis- 
sion of, to Spain, i. 361. Touch 

at Cuba, 362, ii. 210. On the 
destruction of the fleet, i. 369, 
note. Prosecuted before the 
Royal India House, ii. 211. 
Treatment of, by Charles V., 
212, 214. Influence of Fonseca 
against, 214. 

Monteleone, dukes of, descend- 
ants of Cortes, i. xxxiii, ii. 82, 
iii. 240, 337. 

Monterey, founds Vera Cruz, 1. 
296, note, iii. 244, note. 

Montesinos, old ballad of, i. 290. 

Montezuma I., i. 22. Bas-relief 
of, destroyed, 144, 145, ii. 

Montezuma II., i. 26, 85. Bas- 
relief of, destroyed, 144, 145, 
ii. 117. The orthography of, 
i. 295, note. Message to, by 
Cortes, 299. Accounts of, 302, 
394, 473, ii. 336. Meaning of 
the word, i. 302, note, ii. 193. 
His coronation, i. 304. Be- 
nevolent and religious acts of, 
305. Hatred of, 305, 339, ii. 
40, 51, 127. Principal cause of 
his calamities, i. 308. Resur- 
rection and warning of his sister, 
310, note. Dismayed at the land- 
ing of Spaniards, 311. Sends 
presents and forbids Cortes' 
approach, 312, 317, 320, 356, 
vote. Exactions of the Totonacs 
by his tax-gatherers, 342. In- 
ventory of his gifts, 356, note. 
His efforts to subdue the Tlas- 
calans, 410. New embassy from. 
458. Invites the Spaniards to 
Mexico, 473. Treacherous em- 
bassy from, to the Spaniards at 



Cholula, ii. 14, 16, 18, 19, 22. 
Spaniards the historians of, 38. 
Tries to bribe the Spaniards to 
return, 53. Welcomes Cortes, 
through Cacama, 57. Respect 
for, near the capital, 60. His 
visit to Cortes, 68, 69, 70, 72. 
Aztec homage to, 70, 73, 83, 

124, 127, 306. His personal 
appearance, 71. His reception 
of Cortes at Axayacatl's palace, 
76. Effect of his conduct on 
the Spaniards, 80, 88, 178, 192. 
Conversation of, with Cortes, 
79. Attempts to convert, 79, 
84, 179, 201, 331. Visit to, by 
Cortes, 81. His palace, 82, 
112, iii. 239. Submission of, to 
Charles V., ii. 87, 90. His 
domestic establishment, 118- 

125, iii. 433. His wives, ii. 118, 
339, iii. 433. His meals, ii. 120, 
iii. 433. His reception of Cortes 
at the great temple, ii. 140, 141. 
Aids in preparing a chapel, 150. 
His treasures discovered, 150. 
History of his seizure, 155, 158. 
Accompanies Cortes to head- 
quarters, 162. Respect shown 
to, 163, 176. His reception of 
Quauhpopoca, 166. Fettered, 
167. Unfettered, 168. Declines 
going to his palace, 169. His 
life in the Spanish quarters, 175. 
His munificence, 176. His visit 
to the great temple, 179. Sails 
in a brigantine, 180. Plan for 
liberating, by Cacama, 183. In- 
tercedes for Cacama, 185. 
Swears allegiance, 190. His 
gifts for the emperor, 193, 19-j, 

196, 197. Parting of Cortes 
and, 231, 232. Sends a mes- 
senger to Cortes. 268. Checks 
the Aztecs in an insurrection, 
277. Welcomes Cortes, and is 
coldly received, 280. Cuitlahua 
chosen successor of, 281, 380, 
402. Witnesses the Aztec fight- 
ing, 305. Prevailed on to ad- 
dress the Aztecs, 306. Insulted, 
307, 308. Wounded, 308, 309, 
and note. Last days and death 
of, 309, 330, 333. Commends 
his children to Cortes, 333. His 
conversation with Cortes, 333. 
Fate of his children, 333, not? 
339, note, 340, 347, 366, 434, 
iii. 192, and note, 274, note, 446. 
Compassion for him, ii. 334, 
338, 341. His character, 335. 
Descendant of, viceroy of Mex- 
ico, 340, note. Respect to his 
memory, 341. His successor, 
380, 402. Son of, goes to Spain, 
iii. 299. See Cortes and Te- 

Montezuma's Hill. See Hill. 

Months, Aztec division of, i. 114. 

Monument at the limits of Tlas- 
cal 1, i. 401, 410, 414, ii. 390. 

Moon, worshipped, i. 194, note. 
Monument to the, ii. 375. 

Moran, a horseman, assaulted, i. 

Moratin, cited on Marina, i. 293, 

Morla, condemned to be hung, i. 

Morla, Francisco de, ii. 347, 355, 

Morpeth, Lord, cited, i. 334, note. 



Morton, S. G., on the burial of 
the dead, iii. 375, note. Facial 
angle of his skulls, 385, note. 
Remarks on his Crania Ameri- 
cana, 386, note. 

Mosaic, imitated, i. 147. 

Mothers. See Daughters. 

Motilla, Sandoval's steed, iii. 139, 

Motolinia, ii. 93. 

Mound to Quetzalcoatl, ii. 5, 6, 7, 
9, 24. 

Mountain of Flints, iii. 281. 

Munoz, zeal of, respecting the 
manuscript of Sahagun's His- 
tory, i. 91. Manuscript of Her- 
nandez discovered by, 180, 
note. Transcribed an account 
of Grijalva's expedition, 229, 

Murray, C. A., i. 44, note. 

Musa, the plant, i. 138. 

Music, council of, i. 172. Its in- 
fluence, 173. Instruments of, 

Musketry, i. 282. See Fire-arms. 

Mythology, i. 55. Mexican, 57. 
Effect of the Aztecs, 204. 

Naco, expeditions to, iii. 263, 283. 
Najera, his Dissertatio de Lingua 

Othomitorum, iii. 381, note. 
Naming children, ceremony of, i. 

67, iii. 369. 
Napoleon, on pyramids, ii. 382, 

Narvaez, Panfilo de, i. 221, 369, 

note. Notice of, ii. 216. Com- 

mander of Velasquez's fleet 
against Cortes, 216. Will not 
listen to Ayllon, 217. Arrives 
at San Juan de Ulua, 219. His 
summons to Sandoval, 220, 222. 
Seizes Ayllon and sends him 
back, 221. Envoys of, carried 
by porters to Mexico, 222-224. 
Cortes' mission to him, 225. 
Olmedo's intercourse with, 225, 
226, 227. At Cempoalla, 226, 
246, 251. Proposes to liber- 
ate Montezuma, 227. Cortes 
marches against, 231, 234. His 
summons to Cortes to surrender, 
234. His envoys to Cortes, 
238, 240, 241. Reply to, 241. 
Preparations for assaulting, 242, 
244, 250, 257. Marches to the 
River of Canoes, 245. His 
sentinels, 246, 248. Attacked and 
defeated, 249, 257. Wounded, 
250. Treatment of, by Cortes, 
254. His gossip with Oviedo, 
257, note. Murmurs among his 
troops, 259. Property taken 
from, 260, note. Mutinies among 
the levies from, 321, 397, 400, 
iii. 75. To send Cortes for trial 
to Spain, ii. 422. Proceedings 
in Spain in regard to, iii. 73, 
74, 228, note. Ordered before 
Cortes, 231. Brings charges 
against Cortes, 231. See Span- 
Nations, on the identification of, 

iii- 374- 
Nativities, astrologers consulted 

at, i. 125. 
Naulinco, entertainment at, i. 389. 
Negro slaves, introduction of, into 



the Western World, i. 372. 
Transportation of, by Cortes, 
iii. 320. See Slaves. 

Nero, Cortes and, ii. 28, note. 

New fire, the, i. 128, note, 129. 

New Spain, Yucatan called, i. 223. 
Early settlements in, iii. 243. 
Condition of the natives there, 
250. Population of, in 1810, 
250, note. Arrival of Fran- 
ciscan friars in, 251. Royal 
audience of, 296, 312. New 
royal audience of, 315. Vice- 
roy of, 321. Number of lan- 
guages in, 379. 

New Spain of the Ocean Sea, ii. 


New Zealanders and Otaheitans, 
iii. 359, note. 

Nezahualcoyotl, prince of the Tez- 
cucans, efficiency of, i. 17, 21, 
164. Poetry by, 22, note, 175, 
176, note, 195, iii. 409. Mexican 
code under, i. 40, note, 170. 
Meaning of the name, 99, 183, 
note, 200, note. Personal history 
and adventures of, 164. Con- 
quers Maxtla, 169. Four his- 
torians of the royal house of, 
174, note. An illustrious bard, 
174. Pile of buildings erected 
by, 178, 180. 

Nezahualpilli, monarch of Tezcu- 
co, i. 34. Account of, 197. His 
treatment of his guilty wife, 
202, note, iii. 417. Has fore- 
bodings of calamity to his 
country, i. 203, 309, ii. 454. 
His death, i. 203, 306. His 
obsequies, 203, note. Address 
made by at the coronation of 

Montezuma as king, 303, h. 
338. Contest respecting the 
succession to, i. 306, ii. 182. 
456. Spaniards quartered in 
his palace, 451. Pardons a son, 

Niebuhr, on calendars, i. 116, tiote, 
121, note. 

Night attacks, i. 416, 441, 442, ii. 
249, 352, iii. 99. 

Nine " companions," the, i. 121, 

Noah, Quetzalcoatl identified with, 
i. 62, note. 

Nobles, Aztec, i. 26. Entertain 
minstrels, buffoons, and jug- 
glers, 158, note. Treatment of, 
by Nezahualcoyotl, 170. Their 
manners, 178, ii. 73, 105. Tlas- 
calan, i. 404, 405, note. Chiv- 
alrous act of Aztec, 411. Aztec, 
meet Cortes, ii. 68. Bear Mon- 
tezuma in a palanquin, 70, 73. 
Must reside in Mexico, 105. 
Attend on Montezuma, 119. 
Massacre of, 272. Six, deputed 
to Tlascala, 404. Delivered up, 
and sent to Guatemozin, iii. 5. 
Sent to Guatemozin, 156, 179, 
180. Four hundred, hung, 230. 
Accompany Cortes to Spain, 

Noche triste, ii. 351-367, iii. 85. 

Xootka, dialects there, iii. 384. 

Northmen visit America, iii. 359, 

Notation, i. 112, 118. 

Numeration, among the Aztecs, i. 

Nunez, Cortes' page, challenged, 
iii. 161. 

Vol. III.— w 


5° 6 


Oaxaca, plantation for the crown 
at, ii. 188. Embassy from, 417. 
Mineral wealth of, iii. 222. 
Marquis of the Valley of, 306. 

Observatory, Nezahualpilli's, i. 


Obsidian, Mexican tools made of, 
i. 143. 

Ocelotl, Humboldt on the, iii. 
377, note. 

Ojeda, at the evacuation of Mex- 
ico, ii. 365, note. 

Olea, Cristoval de, saves Cortes, 
iii. 134. 

Oleron, on the laws of, ii. 30, note. 

Olid, Cristoval de, sent in search 
of Gri}alva, i. 228. Joins Cortes, 
254. Noticed, 280, ii. 206, 245, 
280, 303, 305, 347, 355, 360, 
385. Detached to Quauhque- 
chollan, 412, 415, note. His 
countermarch on Cholula, 413. 
Sandoval and, iii. 19. Recon- 
noitres Mexico, 25. At Cuer- 
navaca, 55. Conspiracy against, 
76. Takes post at Cojohuacan, 
85, 94. Demolishes the aque- 
duct, 91, 93. Enmity between 
Alvarado and, 91. His ex- 
pedition to Honduras, 259. 
Defection of, 263. Beheaded, 

Olmedo, Bartolome de, Father, 
notice of, i. 269. His efforts to 
convert the natives, 269, 287, 
320, 390. Interposition of, 396, 
467, 469, ii. 143. Character of, 
i- 396. 470. Performs mass, ii. 
151, 203. Attempts to convert 

Montezuma, 179, 201, 331. 
Mission of, to Narvaez, 225, 226, 
257. Meets Cortes, 234. Goes 
against Narvaez, 247. Before 
Cortes, in behalf of the soldiers, 
261. Urges Montezuma to ad- 
dress the Aztecs, 306. Visits 
the expiring Maxixca, 420. Ser- 
mon by, after the surrender of 
Mexico, iii. 199. Last years of, 

Oral tradition, connection of, with 
Aztec picture-writing, i. 101, 
in. Embodied in songs and 
hymns, ill. 

Ordaz, Diego de, i. 254. To ran- 
som Christian captives, 265, 
270. Commander of infantry 
in the battle of Ceutla, 280, 281. 
Charges the enemy, 284. In 
irons, 329, 330. Attempts the 
ascent of Popocatepetl, ii. 44. 
Escutcheon of, 46. Visits Mon- 
tezuma with Cortes, 82. To 
settle Coatzacualco, 262. Joins 
Cortes at Tlascala, 264. Chiv- 
alrous, 303. Storms the great 
temple, 313. At the evacuation 
of Mexico, 347, 352, 360. 

Ordinances for the government of 
New Spain during Cortes' vice- 
royalty, iii. 245, note. 

Orizaba, the volcano, i. 332, 389, 
ii. 9. 

Orozco y Berra, on the various 
races in Mexico, i. 10, note. 
On ancient remains in Central 
America, 15, note. Cited, 16, 
note, 18, note, 108, note. 

Orteaga, editor of Veytia's His- 
tory, i. 25. 



Ortegiiilla, page of Montezuma, 
ii. 178, 206. 

Otaheitans and New Zealanders, 
iii. 359, note. 

Otomies, i. 409. Aid the Tlas- 
calans, 410. A migratory race, 
iii. no, note, ill, note. Claim 
protection, no, 151. Notice 
of, no, note. Their language, 

Otompan, or Otumba, ii. 373, 379, 
iii. 11. 

Ovando, Don Juan de, orders 
manuscripts to be restored to 
Sahagun, i. 91. 

Ovando, Don Nicolas de, Gov- 
ernor of Hispaniola, i. 232, 234, 
ii. 219, note. 

Oviedo de Valdez, Gonzalo Fer- 
nandez, i. 138, note, 371. On 
the peso de oro, 316, note. On 
the gold and silver wheels, 316, 
note. On the device of Tlas- 
cala, 431, note. On the skill of 
Aztec goldsmiths, ii. 77, note. 
On Montezuma, 119, note, 162, 
note, 192, note, iii. 433. On 
Montezuma and Narvaez, ii. 
227, note. On the ascendency 
of Cortes, 256, note. Narvaez's 
gossip with, 257, note. On the 
massacre by Alvarado, 274, note. 
Account of, and of his writings, 
282-286. Compares Cortes to 
Horatius Codes, 328, note. On 
a leap by Cortes, 329, note. On 
horse-flesh, 371, note. Pan- 
egyrizes Cortes, iii. 16, note, 83, 

Owl, Mexican devil and, i. 58, 

Pacific Ocean, descried by Nunez 
de Balboa, i. 217. Discovered 
and taken possession of, iii. 221. 
Spanish ideas of the, 238. 

Padilla, i. 183, note, 185, note. 

Paintings, hieroglyphical, made in 
court, i. 35. Chair for the study 
and interpretation of, 35, 109. 
Aztec laws registered in, 37, 100. 
Cycles of the Vatican, 64, note. 
Of Sahagun, 91, 92. Features 
of Mexican, 96. Coloring in, 
97. Aztec and Egyptian, com- 
pared, 97. Chiefly represent- 
ative, in Anahuac, 99. The 
records made in, 100. Con- 
nection of oral tradition with, 

100, in. Humboldt on, ioo, 
note. Education respecting, 

101. ' Destruction of, 104, ii. 
452. Their importance, 109. 
Sent to Spain, 361. Of Nar- 
vaez and his fleet, ii. 223. Of 
the storming of the great temple, 
317, note. See Hieroglyphics. 

Palace of Nezahualcoyotl, i. 178, 
180, 181, iii. 415. Of Axayacatl, 
ii. 76, 77, 150. Of Montezuma, 
82, 112, iii. 239, 240. Of Max- 
ixca, ii. 394. Of Guatemozin, 
fired, iii. 161. Of Cortes, at 
Mexico, 240; at Cuernavaca, 

Palenque, i. 287, iii. 268, 389. 
Cross at, 368. Architecture of, 
391. Sculpture there, 392. 

Palfrey, John G., Lectures by, iii 
363, note. 

Palos, Cortes at, iii. 300. 

5 o8 


Panuchese, defeated, iii. 229. 
Panuco, i. 321, ii. 262, 422. 
Papantzin, resurrection of, i. 310, 

Paper, i. 41, and note, 102. 
Papyrus, account of, i. 102, note. 
Pearls, worn by Montezuma, ii. 


Penance among Tartars, iii. 374, 

Peninsular War, ii. 33. 

Pentateuch and Teoamoxtli, i. 
no, note. 

Perrine, Dr., on the maguey, i. 
140, note. 

Persia, i. 44, note, 115, note. 

Peru, records in, i. 102, note. 

Peso de oro, i. 315, note, 316, 
note, ii. 197, note. 

Pesquisa Secreta, or Secret In- 
quiry, iii. 313. 

Pestilence, at Mexico, iii. 177. 

Peten, lake and isles of, iii. 277, 

Philosophy, mythology and, i. 56. 

Phonetic writing and signs, i. 94, 
note, 95, 98, 99, 108, note. 

Picture-writing, i. 94, 300, 314. 
See Hieroglyphics. 

Pikes. See Lances. 

Pilgrims to Cholula, ii. 7. 

Pins, from the agave, i. 140. 

Pisa, tower of,