March of the Spanish Army for the City of
Tlascala. Submission of that Nation.
BEING now ready to proceed to Mexico, our allies of Cempoal proposed to us to march by the province of Tlascala, the people of which were their friends, and bitter enemies to the Mexicans. In compliance with our requisition, fifty of their principal warriors attended us, and also two hundred men to draw our guns, and thus we set out from Cempoal, in the month of August 1519, our army in good order, and patroles of cavalry, and light infantry in front.
Our first day’s march was to a town named Xalapa, and the second was to Socochima, a place of difficult approach, abounding with vines. The people here were harangued through our interpreters, who informed them that we were vassals of the Emperor Don Carlos, who had sent us to put a stop to human sacrifices, and other abuses. They also explained to them many things concerning our religion, and as these people were allies of Cempoal and independent of Montezuma, we found them very well disposed to us. We here erected a cross, explaining what it signified, and that it should be held in veneration. Proceeding from this place, by a pass among lofty mountains, we arrived at another named Texutla, the people of which we found equally well disposed to us, and they also paid no tribute to the Mexican monarch. Continuing our march through desert mountains, we that night experienced great cold and storms of hail. On the next day we reached another pass, where were some houses and large temples, with piles of wood for the service of the idols. Provisions were scarce with us for these two days, and we now approached the territory of
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Appearances demonstrated that we had entered into a new country, for the temples were very lofty, and together with the terraced dwellings, and the house of the cacique, being plaistered and whitewashed, appeared very well, and resembled some of our towns in Spain. We named this place Castel Blanco. In consequence of our message, the chief, and other principal persons of the town came out to meet us, and took us to our quarters, where they gave us paltry and cold entertainment. After supper Cortes made enquiry relative to the military power of Montezuma. He was informed, how that monarch had under him great armies, and that the city of Mexico was of uncommon strength, being founded in the water, and no passage from one house to another except by bridges or boats; that each house was terraced, and only required a parapet to be converted into a fortress; that the entrance to the city was by three causeways, in each of which were four or five apertures for the passage of the waters, and that on each of these apertures was a bridge of wood, which being railed, precluded the entrance into Mexico. We were also informed of the great wealth of Montezuma, in gold, silver, and jewels, the hearing of which filled us with astonishment, and such is the nature of Spanish soldiers, that we were anxious to try our fortunes, although the accounts we had been given, made our hopes appear almost visionary; and truly we found Mexico stronger than what it was now described to us. The cacique launched out also in the praises of his great lord, Montezuma, saying, that he ruled where ever it was his will to do so, and that he was apprehensive of his dissatisfaction at our being entertained in that place, without his licence. To all this Cortes replied saying, “That we came from a distant country, by the orders of our sovereign, to warn the great Montezuma to desist from human sacrifices, and all outrages either upon his own vassals, or his neighbours, and to require from him submission to our monarch.” And, added Cortes, “I now require you all who hear me, to renounce your human sacrifices, cannibal
feasts, and other abominable practices, for such is the command of our Lord God, whom we adore and believe, who gives us life and death, and who is to raise us up to heaven.” All this the natives heard with a profound silence, and Cortes then turning to the soldiers, proposed to them immediately to plant the holy cross; but the Rev. Father Olmedo objected, upon the grounds of the ill will and ignorance of the people, which might induce them to commit some outrage or indignity against that holy symbol; he therefore recommended that it should be deferred until a better opportunity.
We had with us a very large dog, the property of Francisco de Lugo, which during the night used to bark, a thing that greatly surprised the natives, who asked our allies if that fierce animal was a lion or tyger which we brought to kill them; they answered that he fell on, and tore to pieces any who offended us; they also told them that our guns sent forth stones, which killed our enemies as we pleased to direct them, and that our horses caught whoever we pursued: to which the others replied, that with such powers we were really Teules. Our allies also warned them to take special care, for that we knew their most secret thoughts, and advised them to conciliate us by a present. Shortly after we received from them some gold in different articles but very much debased, four Indian women to make bread, and a load of mantles.
I remember a particular circumstance of this place. Near some temples were laid numbers of human skeletons, so arranged that they could be counted with ease and certainty; I am convinced from my own observation that there were above a hundred thousand; I repeat it, I am sure there were more than a hundred thousand. In another part of the square, human bones were heaped up in such quantities that they could not be counted. Numbers of skulls were also suspended from beams, and all these were watched by three priests. The same thing was seen every where in some degree, as we passed through this country and that of Tlascala.
cacique of the place where we were, being asked by us relative to the road to
Proceeding with our accustomed order, we arrived at a village in the country of Xalacingo, and from thence sent two of our allies, with the letter, to Tlascala. At this place we received intelligence, that the whole nation was already in arms against us, on the supposition, from the number of persons who attended us, of those nations which were subject to Montezuma, that we were in alliance with the Mexican power, whole inveterate enemies they were. Having suspicion of treachery from the Mexicans by these appearances, they instantly on their arrival seized our messengers, whose return we impatiently waited for during two days, which Cortes employed in exertions for the conversion of the Indians to our holy church, by his advice and exhortations. He also demanded the attendance of twenty principal inhabitants, who readily joined him, and we at the expiration of that time continued our march, during which we met the messengers whom we had sent to Tlascala, and who had made their escape, owing to the negligence or connivance of their guards.
These Indians had not yet recovered from the terror into which they were put by what they had seen and heard, for the people of Tlascala vowed destruction to us, and all our adherents. The standard
was now advanced to the front, and we all said, “If it must be so, forward in God’s name.” Our general then instructed the cavalry how to charge by threes in front, not halting to give thrusts with their lances, but pointing them at the height of the face; and he taught them how, if the enemy seized the lance, to wrest it out of their hands by the action of the horse, and holding the butt-end of the lance under the arm.
Having advanced about two leagues, we arrived at a kind of fortification built of lime and stone, and some cement of so strong a nature that nothing but tools of iron could have any effect on it. It was also extremely well constructed for defence. We halted to examine this work, which the people informed us was built by the Tlascalans, on whose territory it stood, as a defence against the incursions of the Mexicans. After pausing some time in serious contemplation of this object, Cortes ordered us to march on, saying, “Gentlemen follow your standard the holy cross, wherewith we shall conquer;” to which we one and all replied “That we were ready, for God was our true support.”
After we had proceeded some distance, our advanced guard saw about thirty of the enemy, sent out to observe us. Cortes ordered some of the cavalry to endeavour to take them prisoners, while we advanced at a quick step to support the advanced party. Our cavalry attacked them, but the enemy defended themselves so well with their swords, wounding the horses severely, that our people were obliged to kill five, it being impossible to make them prisoners. A body of three thousand warriors which had been placed in ambuscade now sallied out with great fury, and began to shoot at the cavalry, who were assembled in a body; but as we at this time brought our artillery and musketry to bear upon them, they were after a time compelled to fall back, though regularly, and fighting during their retreat. They left seventeen dead on the field, and one of our soldiers died a few days after of his wounds. Evening was now drawing on, and we did not follow them, but pur-
suing our march, quitted the hills for a flat country thickly set with farm houses, in fields of maize and the maguey plant. We halted for the night near a brook, and dressed our wounds with the grease we took out of a fat Indian who was left on the field; and although the people had removed all their effects and provisions, their dogs, which we caught when they returned to their habitations at night, afforded us a very good supper.
On the ensuing day, after having recommended ourselves to our God, we marched out to meet the enemy. Both cavalry and infantry had been duly prepared with instructions how to act in the attack, the former to charge, and then clear themselves of the enemy; the latter not to suffer their ranks to be broken. Proceeding on our march; we shortly met two bodies of Tlascalan warriors amounting to about six thousand in number, who attacked us valiantly with their missile weapons, shouting, and sounding their instruments. Cortes ordered a halt, and sent to them three Indians whom we had made prisoners on the preceding day, directing them to require of their countrymen a peaceable and amicable intercourse with us, who wished to consider them as brothers, and this notice and invitation he desired Diego de Godoy a royal notary to witness officially. As soon as our message was delivered, they attacked us more violently than before, insomuch that it was impossible to endure it any longer, and Cortes therefore cried out, “St. Jago, and at them.” We accordingly attacked, and made a considerable slaughter of them by the first discharges of our artillery, killing, amongst others, three of their chiefs.
They now retreated towards some broken ground, where the whole army of Xicotenga the general in chief, amounting to upwards of forty thousand men, was posted under cover. In this ground the cavalry could not act, and we were forced to pass it as well as we could in a compact column, much annoyed by the enemy, who started up, and taking the due distance, availed themselves of the expertness of their archers. These troops were all clad, and bore devices of white and red,
which was the uniform of their general. Those who were armed
with lances closed upon us while we were embarrassed in the broken ground, but
as soon as we arrived on the plain with our cavalry and artillery, we made them
smart for it. Notwithstanding this they closed upon us on every side, insomuch
that we could not venture to move, and we were in the greatest danger but that
the hand of God assisted us. Whilst we were engaged as I have already related,
a number of the stoutest of those warriors who carried the tremendous
two-handed swords, associated themselves in order to seize one of our horses;
accordingly, as Pedro de Moron, an exceeding good horseman, was charging
amongst them in company, with three more, these warriors first seized his
lance, and then wounding him dangerously, one of them with a blow of a
two-handed sword, cut through the neck of the mare he rode, so that the fell
instantly dead, and Moron was brought off with the greatest difficulty; for it
was utterly out of the power of us who formed the battalion to quit it, from
fear that the enemy should break into us completely. However on this occasion
we succeeded in rescuing him out of the hands of the enemy, and we also cut the
girths and brought off the saddle, but in so doing we had ten of our number
wounded, and I believe that we then killed ten chiefs of the enemy, for we were
fairly engaged with them foot to foot, and we used our swords to such effect
that they began to retire, taking with them the body of the mare, which they
cut in pieces, and sent all through the districts of Tlascala. This mare was
the property of Juan Sedeno, who was at that time ill
of three wounds which he had received on the preceding day.
people lived. The name of this place is Tehuacingo, or Tehuacacingo, and the battle was fought on the second day of September 1519.
The loss of the enemy on this occasion was very considerable, eight of their principal chiefs being amongst the number. As soon as we found ourselves clear of them we returned thanks to God for his mercy, and entering a strong and spacious temple, we dressed our wounds with the fat of Indians. Of fifteen wounded men, only one died. We obtained a plentiful supper of the fowls and dogs which we found in the village, and rested for the night under the protection of strong guards. In this and all other battles, as soon as we wounded an enemy he was immediately carried off by his companions, so that we never could ascertain the number of the dead. Fifteen of them were made prisoners by us, of whom two were chiefs.
fatigues suffered in the late battle we reposed for one day, which was employed
in repairing our cross-bows, and making arrows. On the next, Cortes, not to
give the enemy time to arrange new attacks, sent out as many of the soldiers as
were fit for service, to scour the country, which is there very flat and well
adapted for cavalry. Accordingly, seven of the cavalry, and two hundred
infantry, attended by our allies, went out, and made prisoners twenty men and
women, but without any harm whatever being done by the Spaniards. The same
cannot be said of our allies, who being cruel, made great destruction, and
returned loaded with fowls and dogs. As soon as we returned Cortes released the
prisoners, and having given them food, and treated them kindly, he expostulated
with them upon their madness in attempting to resist us. He also at this time
released two of the chiefs whom we had taken in the late battle, and sent them
with a letter, and to inform their countrymen, that we only required an
unmolested passage to
was, “That we should go to the head town of
On the fifth of September 1519, having brought out our whole force not excepting the wounded, the cross-bowmen and musketeers being directed to fire alternately, so that there should always be some of each loaded, the soldiers with sword and buckler being ordered to use the points, passing them clear through the bodies of their opponents, and the cavalry being instructed to keep their ranks, and charge at half speed, pointing their lances at the eyes of the enemy, and riding through them without halting to give thrusts, with our colours flying, and four of our companions as a guard upon them, we set out upon our march. We had not proceeded half a quarter of a league, when we saw the troops of the enemy covering the plains. Each body displayed its re-
spective device, and they advanced, sounding all their warlike instruments.
Much might be written on the subject of this great, and long doubtful battle, where four hundred men stood opposed to hosts, which surrounding them from all parts, filled these plains, extending in every direction for the space of two leagues. Many of our small number were sick and wounded, and we knew that the enemy came upon us in a determination to sweep us from the earth, and sacrifice us to their idols. Their first discharges of arrows, stones, and two-headed darts which pierce any armour, and through the body where unprotected, covered the ground; and they continued advancing until they closed upon, and attacked us with their lances, and two-handed swords, fighting foot to foot, and encouraging each other by their cries and shouts. Our artillery, musketry, and cross-bows played on them, and the home thrusts our infantry made with their swords, prevented their closing upon us as much as they had done on the former occasion. Our cavalry also charged with such effect, that, next to God, it was to them we owed the victory. At one period I saw our battalion completely broken, nor could all the exertions of Cortes for a time rally it, such was the pressure of the enemy upon us. By the sole effect of our swords, however, we at length forced them off from us, and were then enabled to close and form. One circumstance that preserved us was the thickness of the enemy, whereby full play was given to our artillery. Another was, that they did not know how to bring up their forces upon us without confusion, and some of the divisions could not come to the attack at all. The one composed of the warriors of Guaxocingo, was prevented from engaging by Chichimecatecle, whom Xicotenga, the commander in chief, had provoked by some insulting observation relative to the preceding battle. This circumstance we were informed of afterwards. They were also apprehensive by experience of our cavalry, our cannon, and other arms; but above all was the great mercy of God, who gave us force to sustain their attacks. Two divisions as I have observed stood aloof, from disgust at what Xicotenga had said
relative to the conduct of the sort of Chichimecatecle on the former occasion: this being observed by the others, thickened their ardour, and the lots of one of their greatest chiefs killed, at length caused them to draw off their forces and retire, pursued by our cavalry, though but for a very little distance, owing to their excessive fatigue. Thus being again masters of the field, we returned our thanks to God for his mercy. One of our soldiers was killed, above seventy and all the horses were wounded. I received two wounds, one by a lone, the other by an arrow; but they were not such as to prevent my doing duty; indeed if wounds had exempted us, few would have been fit for it.
returned to our former post, having buried our dead in one of the subterraneous
dwellings already mentioned, filling and levelling
it, that our loss should not be perceived by the enemy. How wretched and
comfortless was our situation after our hardships and dangers! We could not
procure even oil and salt; and the cutting winds of the
now sent three of his prisoners, together with those who had carried the former
message, to repeat his demand of a free passage to
thousand warriors, who attacked our post in three different bodies, but our out parties had kept too good a look out to be surprised, and a moment was sufficient to put us under arms. They therefore met with such a reception as soon caused them to turn their backs, being, as it was moonlight, pursued by our cavalry with a considerable loss; and they returned to their post heartily sick of a nocturnal attack. I have heard it said, that finding themselves deceived by their priests and wizards, they in revenge sacrificed two of them. We had but one of our allies killed, and two Spaniards wounded in this action, and we made four prisoners; but on the ensuing day when we came to look into the situation of our army, it was far from consolatory; we were dreadfully harrassed, had lost above fifty-five soldiers by battle, sickness, and severity of weather, and had several sick; our general was ill of a fever, as was our Rev. Father Olmedo, and the expectation of reaching Mexico was now considered as a visionary idea, after what we had experienced of the resistance of the Tlascalans.
We had however in our army many cavaliers equally wise in council as they were brave in the field, with whom Cortes never omitted consulting on important occasions, notwithstanding Gomara says that Cortes did this and that, as if he was the sole actor, insomuch that even if he had been made of iron, he could not have executed all which that historian ascribes to him. Let it suffice that he did in every respect like a good captain which he was, and this I say, that in addition to his other mercies God was pleased to give us wisdom to counsel and advise Cortes, upon all important occasions, for the belt, as the result proven. But to have done with praises, we waited on Cortes, and represented to him the favors which heaven had shewn to us, and how evidently they pointed out that we were reserved for same great end, and now we advised him to release his prisoners, and by them to make a second offer of amity to these people. Donna Marina, whose spirit supported her in all dangers, and when she knew that we were upon the brink of destruction, and were in momentary apprehension of being devoured, was at this time of molt essential service, for she explained to
those we sent, that it was our determination, if their countrymen did not immediately treat, to march against and destroy them and their town. With this resolute message they went once more to Tlascala.
Our messengers having arrived at Tlascala, waited on the chiefs, the principal of them bearing in one hand our letter, and in the other a dart. It was the will of heaven that the Tlascalans should be now inclined to enter into terms of accommodation. The two chiefs named Maxicatzin, and Xicotenga the elder, immediately sent to invite the rest, and also the cacique of Guaxocingo their ally, and being all assembled, they represented to them, that their attacks had been ineffectual on us, and destructive to them, and that we were in hostility to their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, who had made war on them for up-wards of a hundred years, by which they were now deprived of salt and cotton. They therefore proposed, that their nation should accept our alliance, and that, in order to perpetuate it, the daughters of their first families should be offered to us as wives. To these proposals they all agreed, and sent notice thereof to their general. This chief was highly offended at it, and insisted on making another night attack upon us. The council of Tlascala being informed of this, sent orders to supersede him, but the captains and warriors refused to obey, and in consequence of his violent conduct, four of their principal and moll venerable chiefs, who were appointed to wait on, and invite us to their town, were intimidated, and prevented from executing their mission.
Having remained two days without doing any thing, we now proposed to Cortes to march to a place called Zumpacingo, the chief town of the district, the people of which had been summoned, but had treated our message with neglect. Accordingly, early in the morning wt let out, under the command of Cortes who was not yet quite recovered. The morning was extremely cold, the wind affecting two of our horses so much that we were afraid they would have died. Proceeding on our march, we arrived at the town before daybreak. The instant the natives heard of our approach, they fled from their houses, crying, that
the Teules were coming to kill them. We halted in a walled inclosure, until it was light, when certain priests and old men came from the temples, and apologized for not having attended to our summons, ascribing their conduct to the threats of Xicotenga. Cortes ordered these people to go to their head town and desire the chiefs to attend him, in order to bring about a peace; for we were as yet ignorant of what had passed. We obtained here a good supply of provisions, and the farther advantage, that the Indians formed a favorable opinion of us, which daily gained ground. The chiefs and old men went to Tlascala, and their representations had such an effect, that orders were given to all the neighbouring people, to send in provisions to us.
our soldiers began now to hold very querulous language; more especially those
who had left good houses and plantations in the
Cortes replied mildly, that he believed there never existed Spanish
soldiers who had exhibited more valour and perseverance than ourselves, and that it was necessary to continue to do so in order to save our lives. That with our courage he was well acquainted, as he also was with many other circumstances which they had then mentioned. But, that as God had delivered us from those great perils, he hoped the same mercy would be continued to us in future. He then appealed to them if he had ever shewn himself unwilling to share dangers with us, which indeed he well might, for he was ever forward on those occasions, and continued his reply, adding, that as we had wherever we went preached to the ignorant natives the doctrines of our holy faith, he trusted we should still receive the divine assistance, and that of his patron St. Peter. That as to destroying our ships, it was done by good advice; “And,” continued he, “Gentlemen, our fame will exceed far that of the most illustrious of our predecessors, who never, as you observe, dared to take such a measure; and therefore it is better, instead of repining, to look forward, and leave all to be guided by the hand of God. As to our return, it is true the natives we had left behind are now friendly, but if we seemed to retreat, the very stones would rise against us. Therefore gentlemen, thus it is; bad there, worse elsewhere, better stay as you are, here in a plentiful country, and as to what you say of losses, deaths, and fatigues, such is the fortune of war, and we did not come here in search of pastimes and amusements. Therefore I beg of you, who are all cavaliers by your nation authorized to set an example, that you no, longer will think of returning, but do your duty like the valiant soldiers I have always found you to be.”
The others replied deprecating still the march to Mexico; he then cut them short by saying, that according to the song, it was better to die at once than live dishonored; and Cortes being supported in these sentiments by all his friends, the complaints of these people were stifled for the present, for we all cried out that no more should be said upon the subject.
After four messages from the chiefs of Tlascala to their general, to send a peaceable embassy to us, that chief was obliged to comply. Accordingly forty Indians arrived at our quarters, sent by him with fowls, bread, and fruit; they also brought with them four old women in wretched clothing, some incense, and a quantity of parrots feathers.
Having offered their incense to Cortes, one of the men addressed him as follows. “This present our General Xicotenga sends you. If you are, as it is said, Teules, and desire human sacrifices, here are these four women; take their hearts and blood for food; as we knew not your pleasure, we have not hitherto sacrificed them to you, now do as you chuse with them. If you are men, here are fowls, bread, and fruit; if you are benignant Teules, we offer to you this incense and these parrots feathers.” Cortes replied that he had already sent to them requiring peace, as our object in coming was to make manifest the truths of our holy religion, and in the names of our God and Emperor, to prohibit human sacrifices; that we were men like themselves, but not accustomed to put any to death except in our own defence, and that they should no longer continue their mad resistance, but embrace peace when it was offered to them.
These men it seems were spies; we were warned of this by our friends of Cempoal, who informed us likewise that the people of Cimpacingo had said that Xicotenga meant to attack us. Cortes now made immediate investigation, and causing four of these Indians to be seized, they confessed the whole, and that their general was waiting only for their report, to attack us on that very night. Cortes then causing seventeen of the Tlascalans to be arrested, made their hands be struck off, and also the thumbs of others, and in that condition sent them to their chief, with an invitation to him to come and attack us; saying, that we would wait, for the space of two days, and at the expiration of that time, if he heard no farther, would come and seek for him in his post. Xicotenga was prepared to march against us, when his spies rejoined him in that lamentable state; but from the moment he saw them,
he lost his courage and haughtiness. Also one of those divisions with the chiefs of which he had quarrelled, at this time quitted his army, as we were informed.
A vedette now, unexpectedly, announced the approach of a numerous train of Indians. by the road of Tlascala, and his companion who had stayed to observe them, shortly aster galloped in and informed us that they were hard by; we therefore conceived, hopes of that which it turned out to be, an embassy of peace. Cortes ordered us all to our quarters, and on the arrival of the embassy, the four old men deputed for the purpose, advancing from the rest, went to the place where our general was, and bowing their heads, touched the ground with their hands, and kissed them; making three more bows they then advanced, and having presented their incense they said, that they were sent on, the part of the people of Tlascala, to put themselves under our protection; declaring that they never would have made war upon us, but for their belief that we were the allies of Montezuma, their mortal and ancient enemy. They added, that the first attack made upon us was by the Chontales Estomies, or mountaineers, (without their approbation,) who thought that they could easily bring our small number to their lords the Tlascalans; they then said, that they were come to, solicit pardon for the offence, and that the general of their army and, other chiefs should shortly wait upon us. Having finished, they bowed, touching the ground, and kissing their hands. Cortes, assuming a severe look, reproached them for the violence they had committed, but in consideration of their wish to expiate their offences he told them, that he was now willing to accept their presents and receive them into favor. He bid them immediately send their chiefs to him, as in case they failed to come he was determined to proceed in hostility against them, but that his wish was for peace; in token of which he made, them a present of some artificial diamonds. The four ambassadors returned with this image, leaving those who had attended them with provisions, in our quarters. We now were convinced of the sincerity of their professions,
which came in very good time, for we were heartily tired of this severe and hopeless war.
The historian Gomara says, that Cortes ascended a rock, in order to get a view of Zumpacingo. I say it was close to our station, and the man must have been blind indeed who could not have seen it from thence. He also talks of mutinies, and other things, of which he says that he was informed. I say that never was a captain it the world better obeyed than Cortes, and that no such thought ever entered the mind of any of us, nor any thing that could be so construed, except the affair of the sands, and what I have lately related, which was only by way of advice, for the whole of our soldiers followed him most zealously, and it is no strange thing that good soldiers should occasionally counsel their chief.
of the great victory which it had been the will of God to give to us flew
through all parts, and soon reached the ears of the great Montezuma; insomuch
that this monarch, awed by the fame of our valour,
sent five of the principal noblemen of his court, to congratulate us upon our
successes. By them he sent a present of various articles of wrought gold, to
the amount of a thousand crowns, and twenty loads of the richest mantles, with
a declaration of his wish to become a vassal of our great monarch, to whom he
offered to pay an annual tribute; adding, that from the esteem in which he held
out general, he much wished to see him at his court in Mexico, but that he was
obliged to deprive himself of that satisfaction, in consequence of the poverty
of the country and badness of the roads by which he was to pass. Cortes
expressed his obligation to this great monarch for the present, and his offer
to pay tribute to our sovereign; he repelled the ambassadors to stay and
accompany him to Tlascala; with which government he had not yet made his
conclusive arrangements, and desired that they would allow him to defer giving
any farther answer on that day. He was now convalescent, and had taken as a
medicine certain apples of great virtue, the produce of the
While Cortes was conversing with the ambassadors of Montezuma, Xicotenga and fifty of his principal warriors, all clothed in uniform habits of white and red, arrived and waited on him with great respect. Cortes received him with no less, and made him sit down at his side. The chief then told him, that he came in the name of his father, and the rest of the principal persons of his nation, to solicit our friendship, to submit to our monarch, and to apologize for having taken up arms against us, the reason of which was, the apprehension of the wiles of Montezuma. He added, that their country was very poor, producing neither gold, silver, jewels, cotton, nor even salt, which last article Montezuma prevented them from obtaining. He said also, that what gold their ancestors had collected, he had deprived them of, and that if they did not now bring satisfactory presents, their poverty must plead their excuse. He made many other complaints of Montezuma, and concluded by earnestly soliciting our alliance. This chief was of tall stature, strong, and well proportioned; his face broad, and somewhat wrinkled; of a grave aspect, and aged about thirty-five years. Cortes treated him with every mark of friendship, and expressed his satisfaction at having been the means of inducing so respectable a nation to become vassals to our sovereign, and allies to us. The Tlascalan chief then invited him to his city, which Cortes promised to visit as soon as he had dispatched his business with the ambassadors of Montezuma. At the conclusion of the conversation however, Cortes addressed a few words to them of a more serious nature, in respect to the offences which they had committed against us, warning them to take care of their conduct in future. They all promised the utmost fidelity, and this conversation having passed in the presence of the ambassadors of Montezuma, they attempted to ridicule the credit which we gave to the assurances of the Tlascalans, which they asserted were so many deceptions, their intention being to fall on and murder us in their city. Cortes replied, that any such attempt would bring with it its own punishment, and that he was determined to march to Tlascala, if it were only in order to ascertain the sincerity of the people. The ambassadors of Montezuma then requested a delay of six days, to obtain far-
ther instructions. This Cortes acceded to; for which he had two motives, first, his state of health, secondly, because the observations of the Mexican ambassadors afforded grounds for serious reflections. He now also sent to Juan de Escalante, informing him of what had happened, and requiring some vessels of sacramental wine, which had been buried in a certain place, and also some consecrated bread, that which we had brought with us being used. We at this time erected a sumptuous and lofty cross in our quarters, and Cortes, ordered the people of Zumpacingo to purify and whitewash a temple, which they accordingly did.
Our friends of Tlascala brought us continually, ample supplies of provisions, such as fowls, and tunas or Indian figs, and they repeated their invitations, which we could not as yet accede to, consistently with the engagement which we had made to the Mexican ambassadors. At the expiration of the time which Cortes had given, six noblemen sent by the great Montezuma arrived, with a present of various articles in gold to the value of three thousand crowns, and two hundred rich mantles. They also brought a message of a congratulatory nature, and containing the most earnest request and advice, by no means to go to, or trust the people of Tlascala. Cortes received the present with every expression of gratitude, assuring them that he would repay it in good works to their monarch, adding, that, as to the Tlascalans, he was thankful for the warning, and if they attempted any treachery, would make them pay for it with their lives. At this moment he received intelligence of the arrival of the Tlascalan chiefs; he therefore requested of the ambassadors a delay of three days, before he gave his answer to them.
The ancient chiefs of Tlascala, named Maxicatzin, and Xicotenga the elder, a blind man, together with Guaxolacima, Chichimecatecle, and Tecapaneca of Topeyanco, now arrived at our nation, borne on hammocks, in litters, and on men’s backs, attended by a great train. Saluting Cortes with great respect, Xicotenga the blind chief addressed
him saying, that they had often sent to him, to request
pardon for their hostilities, which they ascribed to the suspicion they
entertained of our being allied to Montezuma. But now we know, said he, who,
and what you are, we would go down to the coast to invite you from your ships,
and sweep the roads before you; at present the utmost we can do is, to request
your company in our city, where you shall be served in every manner that is in
our power. We at the same time warn you, not to give credit to the
misrepresentations of these Mexicans, who are influenced by the malice which
they bear to us. Cortes returning many thanks to them, said, he would have
visited them before that time, but that he wanted men to draw his cannon; upon
which, in less than half an hour, above five hundred of the natives were
assembled for the purpose, and early in the morning we set out upon our march,
attended by the Mexican ambassadors, by the request of Cortes, who kept them
near him, lest they should meet with any insult. Before I proceed, I must
mention, that from this time the natives always addressed Cortes by the name of
Malintzin; the reason of which was, that Donna Marina
being our linguist, and interpreting to Cortes, they gave him the name of
As soon as the chiefs perceived that we were on our march, they went before us to provide our lodgings, and when we approached their city they came out to meet us, bringing their daughters and female relations; but each tribe, or division of inhabitants, distinct and separate; for it seems that of these there were four, exclusive of that under the government of Tecapaneca, lord of Topeyanco. Each of these tribes was distinguished by a different uniform, of cloth made of nequen, for cotton was a luxury not within their reach. The priests came with their incense pots, in loose white garments, with their long hair matted and clotted with blood which flowed from recent cuts in their ears, and the nails upon their fingers were remarkably long. They saluted
Cortes with reverence, and the people, when we entered, the town, crowded upon us in such numbers as to make the streets hardly passable, presenting to Cortes and the cavalry, garlands of beautiful and odoriferous flowers. When we arrived at some large courts, in the apartments about which we were to be lodged, the two chiefs taking Cortes by the hand, brought him to that which was intended for him, and every Spanish soldier was accommodated with a bed, composed of a mat, and clothes made of nequen. Our allies were lodged near us, and the ambassadors of Montezuma, by the desire of Cortes, in the apartment next to his own. Although we had every confidence in the sincerity of the Tlascalans, yet Cortes never permitted the least relaxation in military duty; when the chiefs observed this, it gave them a jealousy, as they thought it to indicate that we harboured suspicions of them, and they spoke to Cortes on the subject in such terms as convinced us all of their sincerity. Cortes replied by assurances of his perfect reliance upon their truth, and also informed them, that it was merely a compliance with the custom of our country.
As soon as an altar could be erected, Cortes ordered mass to be said by Fra. Juan Diaz, the Rev. Father Olmedo being ill of a fever. At this many of the native chiefs were present, and after it was ended Cortes took them with him to his apartment, attended by those soldiers who usually accompanied him. Xicotenga the elder then told him, that they had prepared a present of which they requested his acceptance. Accordingly, some pieces of gold, and of cloth were produced, not altogether worth twenty crowns. The chief then addressed him, expressing his fear that he would despise such a paltry offer, but that their poverty, and the extortions of Montezuma, of whom they were obliged to purchase peace at the expence of all they possessed, were the causes of it. Cortes received their present with thanks, saying, that little as it was, he valued it more from them, as a testimony of friendship, than if others had given him a house full of gold. Xicotenga then proposed to him an alliance between our two nations, and that we should accept their daughters in marriage, making the offer of his own
to Cortes. Our general thanked him for there marks of good will, and the chiefs remained with him a whole day. Xicotenga who shewed particular attachment to Cortes, was; he was curious to examine with his hands, his head, features, and beard, which the general permitted him to do.
On the next day the chiefs brought five daughters of caciques, handsome in comparison to the other women of the country; well dressed, and each attended by a female slave. Xicotenga then presented his own daughter to Cortes, desiring him to assign the rest to his officers. Cortes thanked him, but observed, that for the present the ladies must remain with their parents. The chief asking the reason why he would not receive them he replied, that it was necessary first to obey the mandates of our Lord God, and the will of our monarch who had sent us thither, to put a stop to human sacrifices, and other evil practices, and bring them to the true faith in the adoration of one God. He then shewed them a beauteous image of our Lady, with her precious son in her arms, and explained to them that it was the representation of the holy Mary, who is in the heavens, and mother to our Lord, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, “Sine peccato concepta,” and that she is our mediatrix with her precious son, who is our Lord God; then, said he, if you wish to be our brethren, and that we should intermarry with you, renounce your idolatrous worship, and adore our God; the good effects of which you will soon perceive in your temporal concerns, and thereby, after this life, your souls shall be taken into heaven, there to enjoy eternal happiness. Whereas, by persisting in the worship of your idols, which are devils, you will be drawn by them to their infernal pit, there to burn eternally in flames of fire. Cortes after an excellent harangue containing much more matter to the same effect, which was perfectly well explained by our interpreters, here ceased and waited their answer, which was given by the chiefs as follows. That they readily believed all that they had heard now, and before, of the excellence of our God, and his saints, and that they hoped in time to understand more upon the subject, that in regard to the renunciation of their ancient religion,
if they were to do it in their old age, in order to please us, what would their priests and the rising generation think of them? They would raise an insurrection; the more so, as the priests had already consulted their gods, who had commanded them by no means to omit their human sacrifices, and other ancient customs; as in case of failure in the observance of them, they would punish the country with famine, pestilence, and war. They therefore requested to be no more spoken to on the subject, as they could not renounce their gods but with their lives.
Rev. Father Olmedo, who was a wise man and good
theologian, heard this, he advised Cortes to urge it no farther at present,
being adverse to forced conversions, notwithstanding it had been done to Cempoal. He also observed, that
the destruction of their idols was a fruitless violence, if the principle was
not eradicated from their minds by arguments, as they would find other idols to
continue their worship to, elsewhere. Three other cavaliers, Alvarado, De Leon,
and De Lugo, also spoke to Cortes to the same effect. We however got one of the
temples cleared out, and erecting an altar, converted it into a christian church, and here the
ladies destined to be the brides of our officers were baptized. The daughter of
Xicotenga received, the name of Donna Louisa, and was
taken by the hand by Cortes, who presented her to Alvarado, telling her father,
that officer was his brother: at which the old chief expressed his entire
satisfaction. The niece or daughter of Maxicatzin was
given to Velasquez de Leon, to the best of my recollection: she was very
handsome, and took the name of Donna Elvina; and the
rest, whose names I do not now remember, but they were all Donnas, were
assigned to De Oli, Sandoval, and
to the Duke of Albuquerque, by whom the has four or five sons all worthy cavaliers; Donna Leonora herself being an excellent lady, the true descendant of such a father, who was in right of Donna Louisa, great lord, or as it were sovereign, in Tlascala.
now obtained in a conversation with Xicotenga the
elder and Maxicatzin, considerable information
might judge of the bulk of these people, they brought us a bone which had belonged to one of them, so large, that when placed uptight it was as high as a middling sized man; it was the bone between the knee and the hip; I stood by it, and it was of my height, though I am as tall as the generality of men. They brought also pieces of other bones of great size, but much consumed by time; but the one I have mentioned was entire; we were astonished at these remains, and thought that they certainly demonstrated the former existence of giants. This bone we sent to Castille for his Majesty’s inspection, by the first persons who went on our affairs from hence. The chiefs also told us how their idols had predicted, that men should come from distant parts where the sun rises, to subjugate the country, and that they believed us to be those of whom their gods had spoken. Cortes replied that it certainly was the case, that we were sent by our monarch to cultivate friendship with them, and that he hoped we should be the instruments of their salvation, to which we one and all said, Amen.
time the cavaliers my readers, are I fear tired of the conversation with the Tlascalans; I must however mention some other things which
occurred here. There was a volcano near Guaxocingo,
which at this time threw up great quantities of flames. Captain Diego de Ordas went to examine it, attended by two soldiers and some
principal Indians, The natives were afraid to approach nearer to it than the
temples of Popocatepeque, but De Ordas
with his two companions proceeding, reached the summit, and looked down into
the crater, which forms a circle of about a quarter of a league in diameter;
from hence they also had the first view of the city of Mexico, at the distance
of twelve or thirteen leagues. This was thought at the time a great
achievement. When De Ordas went to Castille, he
obtained permission from his Majesty, to bear the volcano of Guaxocingo in his coat of arms, and it is so borne by his
nephew who lives in La