Expedition of P.
de Narvaez. His army defeated by Cortes
at Cempoal, May 26th. 1520.—Return of the Spaniards to
the Spaniards, July 1st. Battle of Obtumba. Reception of
the Spaniards in Tlascala, July 10th.
Bishop of Burgos who was at this time president of the
equipment, was more bent on it than ever, and held the oydor and his authorities in defiance. When the oydor therefore saw that his endeavours to prevent the armament from sailing were in vain, he thought it most prudent under all the circumstances to embark with it, in order to mediate, and prevent any injury to the public service, or, if necessary, by virtue of his office as oydor, to take possession of the country, in the name of his Majesty the Emperor.
fitted out by Velasquez and under the command of Narvaez, arrived at the
more magnificent, presents to Narvaez, and could not conceal the satisfaction which he felt. It was now three days since he had received this intelligence, without communicating it to Cortes, who observed and was surprised at the alteration which he perceived in him. At the expiration of that time however, being, from the circumstance of Cortes having paid him two visits in the course of the day, apprehensive of the general having obtained the knowledge of it through some other channel, he told him the news, saying, that he had just that moment received it. Cortes demonstrated the greatest joy, and after Montezuma had shewn him the representations of it which had been transmitted to him, whereby Cortes learned all that it is was necessary for him to know, he took his leave, and communicated it to his troops, who instantly got under arms, and fired vollies. We soon however perceived that Cortes when by himself was very pensive, and shortly calling us together, he explained to us the evident destination of this armament, that it was meant against us, and he now, by gifts, as well as promises, as if what we received was his private bounty, instead of our fair right, made interest with us, to continue firm and steady to him in the contest which was to take place.
From the representation of our deserters, Narvaez was induced to send to the governor of Villa Rica; demanding of him to surrender his command. He entrusted this business to three persons, Guevara a man of talents and a clergyman, a relation of Velasquez named Amarga, and one Vergara a scrivener, who accordingly set out for Villa Rica. Sandoval had received information of the arrival of an armament, and guessing its object, prepared against an attack. He sent off all his invalids to an Indian village at some distance, and having exhorted his soldiers to hand by him, he caused a gibbet to be erected, and placed a guard on the road of Cempoal. When the deputation from Narvaez arrived at Villa Rica, they did not meet a person except Indians, for Sandoval had given orders to the Spaniards not to appear, and remained at home himself. They were perplexed how to proceed, but guessing by the appearance of the house that it must be the governors, after
going to mass they proceeded thither. On entering, Guevara
sainted Sandoval, and immediately began a conversation, the purport of which was,
the great force Velasquez had sent, and the expence
he had been at, for the purpose of arresting Cortes, and all with him as
traitors; and he concluded by summoning Sandoval to surrender himself and his
post, to General Pamphilo de Narvaez. The expressions
used by this churchman greatly displeased Sandoval, who told him, that if it
was not for the protection his holy profession afforded him, he should be
punished for his insolence, in using the word traitors to those who were more
faithful subjects to his Majesty than either Narvaez or Velasquez; and as to
his demands, he referred him to Cortes, telling him to go to Mexico and settle
his business with him there. Guevara insisting on executing his mission, called
to the notary Vergara to take out his authorities,
which he was preparing to do, but Sandoval stopped him, saying, “Look you Vergara; your papers are nothing to me; I know not if they
are true or false, originals or copies; but I forbid you to read them here, and
by heaven if you attempt it, I will this instant give you a hundred lashes.” At
this Guevara cried out, “Why do you mind these traitors, read the commission.”
Sandoval then calling him a lying knave ordered them all to be seized; whereon,
a number of Indians who were employed to work about the fortress, having been
prepared for the purpose, threw trammels over them like so many damned souls,
and making them fast, instantly set off with them on their backs, for Mexico;
they hardly knowing if they were dead or alive, or if it was not all
enchantment, when they travelled in such a manner,
post haste, by fresh relays of Indians, which were in waiting, and saw the
large and populous towns, which they paled through with a vapidity that stupified them. Thus they were carried, day and night, till
they were safely deposited in
of his officer, whom he highly blamed. He gave them the most hospitable entertainment, and treated them with the greatest respect; and having pretty well lined their pockets with gold, he in a few days sent back; as tractable as lambs, those who had set out against him like furious lions.
As our general was one of those whole resources never are exhausted, so also it is hardly necessary to dwell upon the merits of those valiant officers and soldiers, who accompanied him, and by our valour in the held, and wisdom in counsel, supported him through all his difficulties. On this occasion it was determined by us, as most expedient, to send letters to Narvaez and others, which should come to hand previous to the arrival of Guevara. In this we most earnestly requested, that no step might be taken which would endanger our general interests, or encourage the Indians to rise upon us, and we also held out every inducement that friendship or interest could suggest, to bring them over to us. At the same time, under these general offers of kindness, we did not forget secretly to treat with such as we thought likely to be wrought upon, for Guevara and Vergara had both informed Cortes that Narvaez was not well with his captains, and that gold would do wonders with them. Cortes adjured Narvaez in his letters, by their former intimacy, not to give cause by his conduct for the Mexicans to rise and destroy them all, assuring him that they were ready to do any thing to liberate Montezuma, whose disposition had also greatly altered since the time that Narvaez had begun to correspond with, him; adding, that he was convinced, that what was alledged to have been said by him never could have come from so wise a man, but was the fabrication of such wretches as Cervantes the buffoon, and the others, who had milled and misrepresented him. He at the same time offered an unlimited submission to whatever Narvaez would order. Cortes also determined to write to the Secretary Andres de Duero, and the Oydor Lucas Vasquez, and took care that the letters should be well accompanied with presents. When Narvaez received the first letter he turned it into ridicule, handing it about among his officers, calling us traitors, and say-
ing that he would put us all to death; and as to Cortes, he would cut off his ears, and broil and eat them, with a great deal of such absurdity. Of course he sent no reply whatever. Just at this time, Guevara and his associates arrived, and they immediately launched out in the praises of Cortes, declaring the expressions of respect he had made use of relative to Narvaez, the services that he had rendered, and the advantages that would result from a junction of their forces. This put Narvaez in such a rage that he would neither see nor hear any of them again. They then began to converse with their comrades, and when the latter perceived how well furnished they had returned, they already wished themselves amongst us. At this time also, arrived the reverend father of the order of mercy, and brought with him the private letters and presents; he went first to kiss the hands of Narvaez, and to tell him how anxious Cortes was to serve under his command, but Narvaez would not see him, except to revile and abuse him. The reverend father therefore gave up that part of his commission, and applied himself to the distribution of the presents, with such effect, that in a short time all the principal officers of the army of Narvaez were in our interests.
If the oydor was originally inclined to favour Cortes, he was now much more so sine he saw the magnificent presents which had been so liberally distributed. This was strongly contrasted by the miserable avarice of Narvaez, who used to say in his lofty tones to his major domo, “Take heed that not a mantle is missing, as I have duly entered down every article.” This penuriousness put his officers in an uproar of exclamation against him, all which he attributed to the intrigues of the oydor Vasquez. There was also a difference between them owing to his not keeping due accounts with the oydor, as was his duty, relative to the provisions sent in by order of Montezuma; and Narvaez being encouraged by the savour and patronage of the Bishop of Burgos, now seized the oydor, and sent him as a prisoner to the Island of Cuba, or Old Spain, and a gentleman of the name of Oblanco, a man of consideration, remonstrating with Narvaez upon this, and saying a good deal upon the merits of Cortes and his associates, was also arrested by him,
and thrown into prison, which he took so much to heart that in three days he died. The oydor Vasquez, during the voyage, prevailed on the captain of the ship to land him in St. Domingo, where, waiting on the officers of the royal court of audience, and the Jeronymite brothers, they were highly offended at the treatment their officer had received, and made complaints upon the subject to his Majesty’s council in Castille, without any effect however, owing to the influence of the Bishop of Burgos.
troops sent by Velasquez now quitting the coast, advanced to Cempoal. The first thing that Narvaez did upon his arrival
there, was, to take forcibly from the sat cacique, all the gold and mantles,
and also the young Indian women who had been given to Cortes and his officers
by their parents, and had been left in his care on our march to Mexico. The fat
cacique complained to him of this, and also of the robberies committed by his
soldiers, saying, that it was otherwise when Cortes and his men were there;
upon which Salvatierra, a very impudent boasting
fellow exclaimed, “See what fear these Indians have of this insignificant
Cortes.” And yet I protest, that this man who was so
ready with his tongue on all occasions, when we came to attack Narvaez and his
army, was the most despicable cowardly wretch I ever beheld. Narvaez at this
time transmitted a copy of the commission which he held under the government of
This being made known to such of us as Cortes was in the habit of advising with, he agreed with us in a general determination, to march
against Narvaez and his forces, leaving Alvarado in the command
of the city. With him remained all those who were not inclined to go with us,
and also all those who we thought would be better from us, as having an
inclination towards Narvaez or Velasquez. We also left a sufficiency of provisions,
which was the more necessary as the harvest had been deficient, owing to a want
of rain. We strengthened our quarters by a good pallisade,
leaving eighty three soldiers, with four large guns, twenty four musquets and cross-bows and seven horses, to keep in awe,
the populous city of
Cortes having waited on Montezuma previous to our march, the king questioned him relative to his intention of marching against Narvaez, both being of the same country, and vassals of the same monarch. He also requested to know if he could be of any service, expelling his apprehension, from what he had heard of their superior numbers; and he also asked of Cortes, an explanation relative to the charges brought by the new corners against him and us, that we were outcasts and traitors, and that the others were sent to bring us to punishment. Cortes chearfully replied, that he had not before spoken to him on the subject of his departure, because he was convinced it would give his majesty concern; that it was true we were all vassals of the fame monarch, but utterly false that we were traitors and fugitives, for on the contrary, we had come fully authorised. That as for their destroying us by their superior numbers, it did not depend upon them, but upon our Lord Jesus Christ, and his blessed mother, who would support us; and he also added, that as our monarch ruled many different countries, the inhabitants of form were more brave than those of others, and that we were all natives of Old Castille, and called true Castillians, whereas our opponents were commanded by a Biscayan; and that his majesty should soon see the difference between us, as he hoped with the blessing of God, to bring them back with him prisoners, and that our going should not therefore give his majesty any uneasiness. He also expressed his hope, that Montezuma would to his utmost endeavour, prevent any insurrection in the city, as he certainly would, on his return, make those who be-
haved ill in his absence, dearly answer for it. Cortes then
took his leave, embracing Montezuma twice, which the king returned, and Donna
Marina acquitted herself so well in her office, that she made the separation a
very melancholy one. Montezuma promised to do all that Cortes desired him, and
offered to assist him with five thousand troops; an offer which Cortes, knowing
indeed that he had them not to send, declined, by saying, that he required no
aid but that of our Lord Jesus Christ; but he requested that the king would
cause due attention to be given to that part of the temple which was
consecrated to our holy religion. Having parted from Montezuma, he summonned Alvarado and the garrison of
set out on our march by the city of
When we had proceeded some distance upon our march, one of our advanced parties met with four Spaniards, who turned out to be those of Narvaez, with the proofs of his commission of captain general. On our coming to where they were, they saluted Cortes with great respect, and he immediately dismounted, in order to confer with them.
Alonzo de Mata the principal person, was then proceeding to read the documents; but Cortes cut him short, by asking him if he was a royal notary, adding, that on producing his commission he should be obeyed, but if he had it not, he could not be permitted to read any supposed orders; that those of his Majesty he submitted to, prostrate on the ground, but desired to see the original. Mata, frightened, and holding in reality no office under the crown, did not know what to say; but Cortes relieved him from his embarrasment, and he halted here, to give them time to refresh themselves. Cortes told them our destination, and that he was ready to receive any message from their general, of whom he never used a disrespectful expression; but he talked privately with these persons, and used arguments of so convincing a nature, that before they separated, he made them completely his friends. On their return, they were loud in their praises of Cortes, and his generosity; and of the magnificence of our appearance; for many of our soldiers bore ornaments of gold, upon their arms, and chains and collars of the same about their necks. Sandoval and his party joined us on the next day, at the rendezvouz; they were in all about seventy. With them came the five who had quitted Narvaez, and who were most graciously received by Cortes. Sandoval told him, that he had some time before sent two soldiers, disguised like Indians, into the quarters of Narvaez; their complexions resembled the natives, and each brought a load of fruit to sell. They went directly to the habitation of the brave Salvatierra, who bought their fruit for a thing of yellow beads; he then sent them to get grass for his horse, on the banks of a little river; they brought the last load about the hour of vespers, acid having fed the horse, they sat there till night, during which time they heard Salvatierra observe to some of his associates, what a lucky moment they had come at, to get the seven hundred thousand crowns, from that traitor Cortes. As soon as it was dark, our soldiers got out of the house unobserved, taking with them the horse, saddle and bridle, and on their way they met with another horse which was lame, and which they also seized and brought off. Cortes laughed heartily when he heard it, and we afterwards learned that Salvatierra had diverted all the army of Narvaez
with his absurdities, when he found the trick that had been played upon him. After that time they kept a better watch.
It was determined now by us, to send the reverend father of the order of mercy, with a letter to Narvaez, the contents of which were to this purpose. That we had rejoiced on hearing of so noble a person’s arrival in this country, as expecting material advantage therefrom, both to our holy religion, and his Majesty’s service; but that contrary to our expectations he had reviled us, and caused the whole country to revolt. That our general had sent, offering to resign to him whatever territories or provinces he chose to occupy, add to engage in new expeditions. That if he came by virtue of a commission from his Majesty, we demanded a sight of the original, within the space of three days, for which purpose, and to obey it prostrate on the earth, we had now advanced hither; but if no such authority was in his possession, he should return to the Island of Cuba, and not do any thing here that would throw the country into a disturbance, which if he attempted, we would as in duty bound make him prisoner, and send him to be dealt with according to his Majesty’s pleasure. That he was answerable for all the lamentable consequences that would ensue, and that this letter was thus sent, because no royal notary dare undertake to deliver one, as according to due form ought to be done, after the violence committed against his Majesty’s officer, the oydor, a crime Laesae Majestatis, the perpetrator of which Cortes was in duty bound to apprehend and bring to justice, and for which he thereby cited him to appear and answer, calling God to witness the justness of his conduct. This letter concluding with expressions of great respect, was signed by Cortes, the captains, and several soldiers, and sent by the Reverend Father Olmedo, and by a soldier of the name of Ulagre, whose brother came over with Narvaez as the commander of his artillery.
Olmedo on his arrival waited in Narvaez with great respect, and also proceeded to execute the rest of his mission, in bringing together certain officers of that army, amongst whom were Rodorigo Mira and
Ulagre of the artillery. To these he
liberally distributed his gold, and also, more privately, to Andres de Duero,
with an earnest invitation to him to visit Cortes. Narvaez soon began to
suspect what was the real object of Olmedo, and was
inclined to seize and make him prisoner; which being known to Duero, who had
great influence with Narvaez, not only on account of his situation, but also
from their being ionic way related, he represented to him the impropriety of
committing such an outrage against a person of a holy function. He also
surmised to him the great probability that the soldiers of Cortes might be
easily won over to him by a little attention and policy. Having by these
arguments and other similar ones appeased Narvaez for the present, he took his
leave, and informed Olmedo of what had passed.
Narvaez shortly after sent for Olmedo, who waited on
him, and desired permission to speak to him in private, and there in a laughing
manner began to tell him how he knew that he had given orders to take him
prisoner, whereas there was not a person existing more devoted to his service,
and that he knew to a certainty many persons in the army of Cortes would he
very glad to see him delivered into the hands of his excellency;
indeed he would venture to say our whole army was of that opinion, and as a
proof of it, he assured him, that he possessed a letter full of absurdities,
which Cortes had written by the persuasion of those who wished to deliver him
up, and which was indeed such ridiculous stuff that he had been once or twice
inclined to throw it away, but would with his permission now bring it to him.
He accordingly went, as he said, for the letter, pretending he had left it in
his baggage, but in reality to call to
order to carry on his plan of getting an interview with Cones, then proposed,
that steps should be taken to open a communication between them and him, to which
Augustin Bermudez a secret friend of Cortes added,
that Duero and Salvatierra should be tent upon the
business; this he did knowing the character of Salvatierra,
who was not at all disposed to the expedition. It was at last settled, that
commodation, and the arrangement of their future measures, at a place which lay at a convenient distance between the quarters of the two armies, and that there Narvaez was to seize and make him prisoner, for which purpose he prepared twenty of his soldiers in whom he placed most confidence. Intelligence of all this was immediately conveyed to Cortes: The reverend father remained at the quarters of Narvaez, having made out a relationship to Salvatierra, with whom he dined every day.
general, on first hearing of the arrival of Narvaez, sent a soldier who had
I must recall the recollection of my reader to that part of my narrative, wherein I related how Andres de Duero, and the Contador de
* Exclusive of the garrison of Villa Rica.
Lares, negociated the appointment of Cortes to the station of
captain general. Also that they were to make an equal
partition of all the treasure that should be acquired by him. Duero now
therefore seeing Cortes so wealthy, under colour to
Narvaez of a treaty whereby to get Cortes in his power, waited on the latter,
in order to obtain from him his share of the riches, for the third partner, De Lares, was sometime dead. This Cortes not only acceded to,
but moreover promised him equal command with himself, and an equal share of
territory when the conquest of the country should be effected; so that it was
agreed between them, together with Augustin Bermudez,
Alguazil major of the army of Narvaez, and many
others whom I will not now name, to get rid of the command of Narvaez
altogether. Cortes to confirm these, and bring over others, was more liberal
than ever in his presents, with which he loaded the two Indians of Duero. On
one of these days of intercourse, after they had been a considerable time
together privately, and had dined, Duero having mounted his horse, asked Cortes
if he had any commands for him; to which Cortes replied, that he wished to
remind him not to deviate from what they had now settled, for that if he did,
by his conscience, which was his usual oath, he would be in his quarters within
three days, and that he should be the very first person at whom he would throw
his lance; and saying this, he bid him farewell.
now sent for Juan Velasquez de Leon, a person of much consideration, and who
had always been his particular friend, though a near relation of the governor
of Cuba, and on his coming to him told him, in that smooth and persuasive
manner that he could put on. when ever he pleased,
“Senior Velasquez de Leon,
and fix yourself with Narvaez immediately, and distribute
the gold I give you according to my directions.” Velasquez replied,
that he would willingly obey his order in every thing but one, which was that
of taking his treasure with him. To which Cortes answered that he believed as
much, but that he did not wish him to go on other terms than what he had
de Leon arrived by day break at the town of
made two returns over his shoulders, and round his body, so
that he gave the idea of a truly gallant soldier, and impressed all who beheld
him with respect. The Alguazil Bermudez, and Andres
de Duero, wished particularly to communicate with him in private, but just at
this moment arrived a Captain Gamarra,
together with one Juan Yuste, Juan Buono, and Salvatierra the
braggart. These persons, determined Narvaez to make him prisoner, for the
freedom with which he had spoken in favour of Cortes,
and Narvaez had in consequence given privately an order for the purpose, which
coming to the knowledge of those already spoken of, as having embarked in the
interests of Cortes, they immediately represented to him the impropriety of
such a violent, proceeding, and how impolitic it would be. Hereupon Narvaez
again addressed him in a very friendly manner, requesting his assistance to
bring Cortes and the rest of us into their power, and invited him to dine with
him the next day. Velasquez promised assistance to his design, but representing
Cortes as determined and head strong, he recommended a division of the country,
and that each should take separate provinces. At this time Olmedo
getting within hearing of Velasquez, and speaking in the manner of a person of
trust, addressing himself to Narvaez said, “Let your excellency
order out your troops under arms, and shew him what
your force is, that Cortes may know, and be terrifyed
at it.” Narvaez agreeing to this, the troops were turned out in review order,
and passed by them. Velasquez complimenting Narvaez upon their number and
appearance, and wishing him an increase of his power, the latter replied,
saying, he believed Velasquez was now convinced how effectually he could have
crushed Cortes and all those with him: to which Velasquez only answered that he
trusted they knew how to defend themselves. On the next day he dined with
Narvaez, and there was in company a nephew of the governor of
deserve it.” But the other gentleman, on this, launching out into still greater liberty with Velasquez himself, the latter instantly laid his hand on his sword, desiring Narvaez to permit him to punish him as a base liar; but the officers present interfering prevented mischief, and it was recommended both to Velasquez and Olmedo to quit the place. Velasquez accordingly, on his excellent grey mare, armed in his helmet and coat of mail which he always wore, and his gold chain about his shoulders, went to take his leave of Narvaez, who returned his salute very coolly. The young man we have before spoken of was again very violent, but Velasquez gave him no other reply than swearing by his beard, that he would in a few days see what materials he was made of: then, taking hasty leave of those who were standing by, he put spurs to his good grey mare, and was soon out of sight, for he had got a hint or suspicion that Narvaez would send after him, and saw some persons on horseback, apparently for the purpose; but he was too well mounted for them, and reached our camp in safety.
We were at that time reposing by the side of the river, after the fatigues of so sultry a march, when a report came from an outpost that horsemen were in sight. On their arrival, what greeting, and embracing, and joy and congratulation! and how Cortes received them! and well he might, for they were eminently serviceable to him. We all got round to hear their narrative. Velasquez told Cortes first how he had executed his commission, and distributed his presents. Then our merry droll friar took off Narvaez when he made him order out his troops in review, to laugh at him; and told us by what finesse he got him to read the letter; and how he had persuaded the bragging fool Salvatierra that he was his cousin, the one being from Olmedo, and the other from Burgos; and of the ridiculous speeches and gestures the fellow made when he was talking how he would kill Cortes, and all of us, for the lots of his horse; mimicking him to admiration. Thus were we all together like so many brothers, rejoicing and laughing as if we had been at a wedding or a feast, knowing well that tomorrow was the day in which we were to conquer or die, opposed to five times
our number. Such is the fortune of war! We then proceeded on our march, and halted for the night by the river and bridge which is about a league distant from Cempoal; at present there is a dairy farm at that place.
After the departure of the reverend father and Juan Velasquez from the quarters of Narvaez, it seems that certain of the officers gave advice to him of the secret practices which had been going on, and recommended to him to be well upon his guard, as Cortes had many friends amongst his troops. The fat Cacique also, who was greatly in dread of being called to account by Cortes, for having delivered up the women and mantles with which he had been intrusted, was very vigilant in watching and obtaining intelligence of our motions, as he was directed by Narvaez to do.
Finding that we had now approached near to Cempoal, the fat Cacique thus addressed Narvaez. “What are you doing, and how careless are you! do you think that Malintzin and his Teules are equally so? I tell you that when you least expect it he will come upon you and put you all to death.” Although Narvaez laughed at this, he did not however reject the warning. The first thing he in consequence did was, to declare war against us with fire, sword, and free rope. This we learned from a soldier named El Galleguillo, who came over to us, or was sent by Andres de Duero to Cortes. He then drew up his artillery, cavalry, and infantry, in a plain distant a quarter of a league from Cempoal, where he determined to wait for us. It happened to rain exceedingly heavy on that day, and as the troops of Narvaez were not accustomed to hardship, and moreover despised us, they grew restless and uneasy in their situation, and the captains advised their chief to march them back to their quarters, which he accordingly did, forming his eighteen guns in a line, in front of the building in which he lodged. His officers also advised, that a grand guard of forty cavalry should be posted for the night on the road of Cempoal, and that some cavalry vedettes, and active foot soldiers, should be placed to watch
the ford which we must pass. Twenty of the cavalry were also to patrole during the whole night in and about the quarters of Narvaez. All this was done by the advice of his officers, who wished to get back under shelter, and who despised Cortes, laying it was absurd to suppose he would come to attack them with his pitiful handful of men, and that if he had advanced, it was only a mere ostentation, in order to induce them to come into terms.
Narvaez returned to his quarters, he promised publicly two thousand crowns to
whoever killed Cortes or Gonzalo de Sandoval. He placed as spies at the ford,
one Gonzalo Carrasco who lives now in La
as we had arrived at the river which runs through the fertile meadows at about
a leagues distance from Cempoal, trusty persons being
selected and sent to the outposts, our Cortes summoned us all, officers and
soldiers, around him, where he was on horseback, and earnestly enjoining
silence, addressed us as follows. “Gentlemen, it is well known to you that D.
Velasquez governor of Cuba selected me for your captain general, not that your
number did not contain many equally worthy; and you also recollect how it was
believed by us, and publicly proclaimed, that we came to colonize, when in
reality our instructions went no farther than to barter with the natives. You
also recollect my determination to return to
written to his Majesty, giving a full account of these countries, and
requesting that the government of them may not be bestowed on any unworthy
person, and that we, fearing the effect of the arts and influence of the Bishop
of Burgos, and of the Governor of Cuba whom he favors, had resolved to maintain
his Majesty’s government and right in this country, until his royal mandate
duly authenticated should be produced to us, which we would then as in duty
bound, obey, prostrate upon the earth. You also recollect how we have sent the
treasure obtained by us to his Majesty. Now therefore, adverting to other
matters, I must remind you how often you have all been at the point of death in
various wars and battles, how we have suffered from fatigues, and rains, and
winds, and hunger, sleeping on our arms, on the ground and in snow. Not to
mention above fifty of our countrymen dead, and your own wounds as yet
unhealed, our sufferings by sea and land, the perils of Tabasco, Tlascala, and
of Cholula, where the vessels were prepared in which we were to have been
boiled, and our perilous entry into
Our officers and soldiers all replied, that live were ready and determined to conquer or die; and we warned him not to say any more about an accommodation, or partition of the country, for that if he did, we
would plunge our swords in his body. Cortes on hearing this
applauded our spirit, saying, that he expected no less, and adding a profusion
of promises, and assurances that he would make us all rich and prosperous. He
then, adverting to our intended attack, earnestly enjoined us to observe the
strictest silence, saying, that to conquer in battle, prudence and silence were
more necessary than excess of bravery; that he knew our ardour
induced all to strive who should be most forward, and that it was necessary to
distribute us by companies, and to appoint to each his distinct duty.
Accordingly, he ordered that in the attack the first thing to be done should
be, to seize the artillery. For this duty he selected seventy soldiers, of
which number I was one, and put us under the command of Pizarro, an active lad,
whose name however was at that time as little known as that of
de Sandoval, alguazil major for his Majesty in
Pedro Hernandez, Secretary. Hernando Cortes.
Cortes also promised to the first soldier who laid his hand on Narvaez, the sum of three thousand crowns, to the second, two thousand, and to the third, one thousand, as he said, to buy gloves. He appointed captain I. Velasquez de Leon to seize his relation Diego Velasquez, with whom he had the quarrel, and gave him a detachment of seventy soldiers, retaining twenty with himself, as a reserve, to go wherever he saw most occasion, and more particularly to support the attack upon the
quarters of Narvaez, and Salvatierra, in a lofty temple. Having thus arranged his troops and instructed his captains, he addressed us in a few words, saying, he well knew that the army of Narvaez was four times more numerous than ours, but that they were not accustomed to arms, and many of them were ill; he therefore trusted, that, attacking them thus unexpectedly, God would give the victory to us, who were his faithful servants, and that next to divine assistance, we were to rely on our own courage, and the strength of our arms; that now was the hour of trial, and that at worst it was preferable to die with glory.
One circumstance has struck me since, which is, that he never once said or insinuated to us that such or such persons in the army of Narvaez were our friends; and in so doing he acted like a wise captain, making us rely entirely on our own exertions, and use them to the utmost, without expecting any other assistance or support. Our three detachments were now formed, and the captains at the head of each, they and the soldiers mutually encouraging each other. Our captain, Pizarro, explained to us how we were to rush in upon the guns with our lances at the charge, and that immediately on getting them in our possession, the artillery men who were attached to his company should point and fire them against the quarters of Narvaez.
would we not have given for defensive armour on this
night! A morion, a helmet, or a breastplate, would
have fetched any money. Our countersign was Spiritu santo, Spiritu santo. That of Narvaez was
As Captain Sandoval and I were always intimate friends, he at this time called me aside, and made me promise him that after the capture of the guns if I remained alive, I would seek out and attach myself to him for the rest of the engagement. These things being arranged, we remained with empty stomachs, reflecting on what was before us, and waiting for the orders to march. I was stationed centinel at an advanced post, and had not been there long when a patrole came to me, and
asked me if I had heard any thing. I replied that I had not. A corporal soon after came to our post and said that Galleguillo the deserter of Narvaez’s army was missing, and that he had come amongst us as a spy; in consequence of which Cortes had given orders that we should march instantly. Accordingly we heard our drum beat, and the captains calling over their companies.
We joined the column, and proceeding on our march, we found the soldier whom we had missed, sleeping in the road under some mantles, for the poor fellow not being inured to hardships was fatigued. We continued our march at a quick pace, and in profound silence, and soon arrived at the river, where we surprised the two vedettes of the army of Narvaez, one of whom, by name Carrasco, we made prisoner, the other flying before us into the town, and giving the alarm. On account of the rain, we found the river deeper than usual, and difficult to pats, owing to the loose stones under our feet, and the weight of our arms. I also recollect that the soldier whom we had made prisoner called to our general, “Senior Cortes do not advance, for I swear that Narvaez is with his whole force drawn up to receive you.” Cortes gave him in charge to his secretary, Hernandez, and we proceeded, and on coming into the town, heard the man who had escaped, giving the alarm; and Narvaez calling to his captains to turn out.
Our company which headed the column, charging our lances, rushed on, and closing up to the guns, made ourselves mailers of them without giving the artillery men time to put the matches to more than four, of which one shot only took effect, killing three of our soldiers. Our whole force now advanced with drum beating, and falling upon the cavalry brought down six or seven of them, whilst we who had got possession of the guns could not quit them, because the enemy kept up a heavy discharge of arrows and musquetry from the quarters of Narvaez. Captain de Sandoval and his company coming forward, marched up the steps of the temple, notwithstanding that he was stoutly resisted by the enemy with missile weapons, musquetry, partizans, and lances, and
who were in charge of the artillery, perceiving that there was no longer any
danger to them, left them to our gunners, and proceeded with Captain Pizarro to
support the attack of Sandoval, who had been forced down six or seven of the
steps. Supported by us they again advanced, making the enemy give ground in
their turn, and just at that instant, if I do not mistake, I heard the voice of
Narvaez crying out, “Santa Maria assist me, for they have killed me, and struck
out one of my eyes!” On this we all shouted out, “Victory! victory!
Still we could not force our way into the temple, until Martin Lopez the shipwright, a very tall man, set fire to the thatch of the roof, and the fire spreading, forced those who were inside to rush out and come tumbling down the steps. P. Sanchez Farfan was the first who laid his hand on Narvaez; we brought him prisoner to Sandoval, together with several of his captains, and continued shouting, “Victory! Live our King and Cortes! Narvaez is dead!”
During this time Cortes and the rest of our army were engaged with those of the troops of Narvaez who yet; held out, in some lofty temples which we now battered with the artillery. As soon as our shouts were understood, and the cause of them, Cortes made proclamation that all who did not instantly submit, and range themselves under the standards of his Majesty, and the command of his officer Cortes, should be put to death. This however had no effect on those who occupied the lofty temples where Diego Velasquez and Salvatierra were posted, until Sandoval with one half of our body, and the guns, proceeded against them, and entering, made those officers and the people with them prisoners. As soon at this was done, Sandoval returned to keep guard upon Narvaez, who was doubly ironed. We had also with him under our care, Salvatierra, D. Velasquez, Gamarra, Juan Yuste, Juan Buono Viscaino, and many other principal persons. Shortly after, Cortes came in unobserved, fatigued, and the sweat running down his face; and addressing Sandoval, without any congratulation or compli-
ment, told him that it was impossible to describe what he had gone through. Then turning about he cried, “What is become of Narvaez? how is Narvaez?” Sandoval answered, “Here he is very safe.” Cortes then said, “Son Sandoval keep good watch on him, and the other captains.” After which he hastened out to cause proclamation to be made, that all should immediately lay down their arms and submit.
All this passed during the night, showers falling very frequently, and in the intervals the moon shone; but just at the moment of our attack it was extremely dark, and rained heavily, and a multitude of fire flies appearing at the same time, the soldiers of Narvaez thought that they were the lighted matches of our musquetry.
was very badly wounded, and his eye was beaten out; he therefore requested that
his surgeon named Maestre Juan should be sent for.
This being done, whilst he was under the operation of having his eye dressed,
Cortes entered the room unnoticed; but being soon observed, Narvaez addressing
him said, “Senior Captain Cortes, appreciate as it deserves your good fortune, in
having defeated and made me prisoner.” Cortes replied that his thanks were due
to God, and to his valiant officers and soldiers, but that it was the least of
our atchievements since our arrival in
We soon after brought Narvaez and the rest of the prisoners to another apartment, where a guard was placed upon them composed of our most trusty and confidential soldiers. To this duty I was appointed, and Sandoval before he left us called me aside, and gave me a private order to permit no person whatever to speak to Narvaez. We knew that forty of the cavalry were at an outpost on the river; it was therefore necessary to keep a good guard until this party was disposed of, lest they should fall on us in order to rescue their officers. Cortes now sent to them Christoval de Oli, and de Ordas, mounted on two of the horses of Narvaez which we found tied in a small wood close to Cempoal, with unlimited
offers if they would come in and submit. Our officers guided by one of Narvaez’s soldiers arrived at the pot of the cavalry, and by their promises and arguments won them over, and they all entered the town together.
By this time it was dear day. Cortes, seated in an arm chair, a mantle of orange colour thrown over his shoulders, his arms by his side, and surrounded by his officers and soldiers, received the salutations of the cavaliers who as they dismounted came up to him to kiss his hand. It was wonderful to see the affability, and the kindness with which he spoke to and embraced them, and the compliments which he made to them; amongst the number were Augustin Bermudez, Andres de Duero, and many other friends of our general. Each, as he had paid his respects, took his leave, and went to the quarters assigned him. During all this time, and even before the arrival of the cavalry, the drums, fifes, and timbals of the army of Narvaez never ceased, having struck up at day break in honor of Cortes, without being desired or spoken to by any one of us. One of them a Negro and a comical fellow; danced and shouted for joy, crying, “Where are the Romans who with such small numbers have ever atchieved such a glorious victory?” Nor was it possible to silence him or the rest, until Cortes was at last obliged to order one of them to be confined.
Our losses on each side on this occasion were as follow. The ensign of Narvaez, named Fuertes, an Hidalgo of Seville. A captain of the same army named Roxas, of Old Castille, and two others killed, and many wounded. One also of the three who had antecedently deserted from us to him was killed. Four of our soldiers were killed, and a number wounded. The fat Cacique on our approach had taken refuge in the quarters of Narvaez; he also received a wound: Cortes ordered him to his house, and to be there protected and taken care of. Of the two others who deserted from us, each got his deserts; Escalona being severely wounded, and Cervantes well beaten.
As to the fierce Salvatierra, his soldiers declared that they never saw so pitiful a fellow, nor so terrified a being when he heard our drum beat; but when we shouted for victory, and cryed that Narvaez was dead, he told them that he had got a pain in his stomach, and could fight no. more. Such was the result of his bravados. Captain Velasquez de Leon took his relation Diego Velasquez to his own quarters, where he had his wounds attended to, and treated him with the utmost distinction.
The reinforcement of the warriors of Chinanta, which Cortes had been promised, marched in shortly after the action was over, conducted by our soldier Barrientos, with great pomp and regularity, in two files, lanciers and archers alternately, and in this manner they came to the number of one thousand five hundred, with colours, drums, and trumpets, shouting, and making such a warlike appearance that it was glorious to behold. It afforded matter of astonishment to the army of Narvaez, for they appeared to be double their real number. Our general received them with infinite courtesy, and, dismissed them with thanks and handsome presents.
now sent Francisco de Lugo to order all the captains and pilots of the fleet to
come to him at Cempoal, or, in case they refused, to
make them prisoners. He also gave directions that the ships should be
dismantled, thereby cutting off all possibility of a communication with
thus secured his port, he turned to other matters, and ordered Velasquez de
Leon with one hundred and twenty men upon an expedition to Panuco.
One hundred of them were soldiers who had come with Narvaez; the other twenty
were taken from amongst ourselves. This force was also
to have two ships with it, for the purpose of extending our discoveries. He
gave a command upon a similar plan to Diego de Ordas,
to establish a colony at Guacacualco. Ordas was also to send to
ned man. He therefore pacified him with presents, for he
always apprehended some act of violence on his part, and for the future took
care to employ him on business of importance at a distance, as in the
brought with him a Negro who was in the small pox; an unfortunate importation
for that country, for the disease spread with inconceivable rapidity, and the
Indians died by thousands; for not knowing the nature of it, they brought it to
a fatal issue by throwing themselves into cold water in the heat of the
disorder. Thus black was the arrival of Narvaez, and blacker still the death of
such multitudes of unfortunate souls, which were sent into the other world
without having an opportunity of being admitted into the bosom of our holy
church. At this time a claim was made on Cortes by such of our soldiers as had
been in distant garrisons, for their share of the gold taken in
of fortune making sudden turns, evil follows closely upon good, as was our case
at present, our late successes being contrasted by melancholy news from
when dancing at a solemn festival in honor of their gods, which he had permitted them to hold, whereby, in their own defence they had been forced to kill seven of his soldiers. Cortes replied to them in terms not the most pleasing, saying he would soon be at Mexico, and put all in proper regulation; with which answer they returned, very little indeed to the satisfaction of Montezuma who felt the insult strongly, many of the natives being killed.
In consequence of this intelligence, the detachments were countermanded, and Cortes exhorted the troops of Narvaez to forget past animosities, and not to lose this opportunity of serving his Majesty and themselves, exposing to their view the riches they would acquire, so that they one and all declared their readiness to proceed to Mexico, a resolution they never would have taken, if they had known the force of that city. By very long marches we arrived at Tlascala, where we learned that until the time that Montezuma, and the Mexicans, got intelligence of the defeat of Narvaez, they had never ceased making attacks upon Alvarado; but when they heard of our success they desisted, leaving the Spaniards greatly fatigued and distressed, by their continual exertions and want of water and provisions. This information was conveyed by two Indian messengers who arrived at the moment we entered Tlascala. Here Cortes made an inspection of our army, which now amounted to one thousand three hundred men, nearly one hundred of whom were cavalry, and one hundred and sixty were crossbow-men and musqueteers. Two thousand warriors of the Tlascalans having joined us, we pursued our route by long marches to Tescuco, where we were very ill received, and every thing bore the appearance of disaffection.
On St. John’s day in the month of June one thousand five hundred and twenty, we arrived in the City of Mexico, meeting with a reception very different from our former one, for none of the nobility or chiefs of our acquaintance could be recognised, and the city seemed to be totally depopulated. When we entered our quarters, Montezuma came to embrace Cortes, and with him joy of his victory, but the general would
neither hear, nor speak to him; whereon the King retired very melancholy, to his apartment. Cortes made inquiry into the circumstances of the commotion, which evidently was not approved or instigated by Montezuma. Indeed if he had thought fit to at against our party, they could all have been destroyed, as easily as seven of them. By what Alvarado told Cortes it appeared, that a number of Indians, enraged at the detention of Montezuma, at the erection of the crucifix in their temple, and by the order of their gods as they said, had gone thither to pull it down, but to their infinite astonishment, found all their strength utterly unable to move it. This being represented to Montezuma, he desired no attempt of the kind should be made again. Alvarado added for his own exculpation, that the attack was made upon him by the friends and subjects of Montezuma, in order to liberate their monarch, at the time that they believed Narvaez had destroyed Cortes and his army. Cortes now asked Alvarado for what reason he fell upon the Mexicans, while they were dancing and holding a festival in honour of their gods. To this Alvarado replied, that it was in order to be beforehand with them, having had intelligence of their hostile intentions against him from two of their own nobility and a priest. Cortes then Aced him if it was true that they had requested permission of him to hold their festival, and the other hereupon replied that it was so, and that it was in order to take them by surprise, and to punish and terrify them; so as to prevent their making war upon the Spaniards, that he had determined to fall on them by anticipation. At hearing this avowal Cortes was highly enraged; he censured the conduct of Alvarado in the strongest terms, and in this temper left him.
Alvarado farther said, that one time when he was attacked by the Mexicans, he endeavoured to fire off one of his guns, and could not get the priming to light; but sometime after, when they were in very great danger, and expected all to have been killed, the piece went off of itself, and made such havock amongst the enemy that they were completely driven back, and the Spaniards thus miraculously saved. I heard several other soldiers also mention this as a fact; it was also said, by Alvara-
do only, that when the garrison was in great want of water, they sank a pit in the court, and immediately a spring of the sweetest water broke forth. I can declare, to my own knowledge, that there was a spring in the city which very frequently threw up water tolerably fresh. Glory to God for all his mercies!
Some say that it was avarice tempted Alvarado to make this attack, in order to pillage the Indians of the golden ornaments which they wore at their festival. I never heard any just reasons for the assertion, nor do I believe any such thing, although it is so represented by Fra Bartholome de las Casas; but for my part I am convinced, that his intention in falling on them at that time was, in order to strike terror into them, and prevent their insurrection, according to the saying, that, the first attack is half the battle. A very bad plan as appeared by the result, and it is certain, that after the affair at the temple, Montezuma did most earnestly desire that they should not attack our people, but the Mexicans were so enraged that they could not be restrained.
during our march had expatiated to the new corners upon the power and influence
he possessed, and the respect with which he was treated in
forcement of numbers he had obtained, continued a haughty demeanour. He in this manner now addressed the noblemen sent to him by Montezuma, bidding them tell their master, immediately to cause markets to be held and provisions supplied, and to beware of the consequences of neglect. These lords very well understood the purport of the injurious expressions which he had used, and on their return informed the King of what had passed. Whether it was from rage at the story told by them, or the consequence of a preconcerted plan to fall upon us, within a quarter of an hour after, a soldier entered our quarters, wounded dangerously, and in great hurry, and told us that the whole people were in arms. This man had been sent by Cortes to bring to our quarters some Indian ladies, and amongst them the daughter of Montezuma, whom Cortes, when he marched against Narvaez, had left in the care of their relation the Prince of Tacuba. He was on his return with them when he was attacked by the people who were assembled in great numbers, had broken a bridge upon the causeway of Tacuba, and had once had him in their hands and were hurrying him into a canoe to carry him off for sacrifice, but that he extricated himself from them, with two dangerous wounds.
Cortes immediately on receiving the intelligence ordered out a party of four hundred men, under the command of Captain de Ordaz, to go and see what foundation there was for the account given by the soldier, and to endeavor if possible to pacify the minds of the people. De Ordaz had hardly proceeded the length of half a street, when he was attacked by immense numbers of Mexicans in the streets, and on the terraces of the houses, who by their first discharge killed eight soldiers on the spot, wounded most of the rest, and De Ordaz himself in three places. Finding it therefore impossible to proceed, he retreated slowly to our quarters, in doing which he lost another good soldier named Lezcano, who with a two handed sword had performed many feats of great force and valour. Our quarters had been attacked by multitudes at the same moment; they poured in such discharges of missile weapons upon us there that they immediately wounded upwards of forty six, twelve of
whom afterwards died. The streets were so crowded, that De Ordas when he endeavored to reach us could not proceed, and was incessantly attacked in front, in rear, and from the roofs of the houses. Neither our fire arms, nor our good fighting could prevent the enemy from closing in upon us for a length of time; however De Ordaz at last forced his way back, with the loss of twenty three men. The enemy still continued their attacks, but all we had hitherto suffered was nothing to that which succeeded. They set fire to various parts of the buildings which we occupied, thinking to burn us alive, or stifle us with the smoke; and we were obliged to stop it by tearing down the building, or by throwing earth upon it. All the courts and open spaces of our quarters were covered with their arrows and missile weapons, and in repelling their attacks, repairing the breaches which they had made in the walls, dressing our wounds, and preparing for ensuing engagements, we paired that day and night.
As soon as the next morning dawned we sallied out with our whole force upon the enemy, being determined is we could not conquer, to make them fear us. The Mexicans came to meet us with their whole force, and both parties fought desperately; but as the numbers of our opponents were so immense, and as they constantly brought up fresh troops, even if we had been ten thousand Hectors of Troy, and as many Roldans, we could not have beaten them off; nor can I give any idea the desperation of this battle; for though in every charge we made upon them we brought down thirty and even forty, it was of no avail; they came on even with more spirit than at first, nor could we, by our cannon or fire arms, make any impression on them. If at any time they appeared to give ground it was only to draw us from our quarters, in order to ensure our destruction. Then the stones and darts thrown on us from the terraces of the houses were intolerable. But I describe it faintly; for some of our soldiers who had been in Italy swore, that neither amongst Christians nor Turks, nor the artillery of the King of France, had they ever seen such desperation as was manifested in the attacks of those Indians. We were at length forced to retreat to our quarters, which we reached with great difficulty.
On this day we lost ten or twelve soldiers, and all of us who came back were severely wounded. From the period of our return we were occupied in making preparation for a general sally on the next day but one, with four military machines constructed of very strong timber, in the form of towers, and each capable of containing twenty five men under cover, with port holes for the artillery and also for the musquetiers and crossbow-men. This work occupied us for the space of one day, except that we were obliged likewise to repair the breaches made in our walls, and resist those who attempted to scale them in twenty different places at the same time. They continued their reviling language saying, that the voracious animals of their temples had now been kept two days fasting, in order to devour us at the period which was speedily approaching, when they were to sacrifice us to their gods; that our allies were to be put up in cages to fatten, and that they would soon repossess our ill acquired treasure. At other times they plaintively called to us to give them their king, and during the night we were constantly annoyed by showers of arrows, which they accompanied with shouts and whistlings.
At day break on the ensuing morning, after recommending ourselves to God, we sallied out with our turrets, which as well as I recollect were called burros or mantas, in other places where I have seen them, with some of our musquetry and cross-bows in front, and our cavalry occasionally charging. The enemy this day shewed themselves more determined than ever, and we were equally resolved to force our way to the great temple, although it should cost the life of every man of us; we therefore advanced with our turrets in that direction. I will not detail the desperate battle which we had with the enemy in a very strong house, nor how their arrows wounded our horses, notwithstanding their armour, and if at any time the horsemen attempted to pursue the Mexicans, the latter threw themselves into the canals, and others sallied out upon our people and massacred them with large lances.
As to setting sire to the buildings, or tearing them down, it was
utterly in vain to attempt; they all stood in the water, and only communicating by draw bridges, it was too dangerous to attempt to reach them by swimming, for they showered stones from their slings, and masses of cut stone taken from the buildings, upon our heads, from the terraces of the houses. Whenever we attempted to set fire to a house, it was an entire day before it took effect, and when it did, the flames could not spread to others, as they were separated from it by the water, and also because the roofs of them were terraced.
We at length arrived at the great temple, and immediately and instantly, above four thousand Mexicans rushed up into it, without including in that number other bodies who occupied it before, and defended it against us with lances, stones, and darts. They thus prevented our ascending for some time, neither turrets, nor musquetry, nor cavalry availing, for although the latter body several times attempted to charge, the hone pavement of the courts of the temple was so smooth, that the houses could not keep their feet, and fell. From the steps of the great temple they opposed us in front, and we were attacked by such numbers on both sides, that although our guns swept off ten or fifteen of them at each discharge, and that in each attack of our infantry we killed many with our swords, their numbers were such that we could not make any effectual impression, or ascend the steps. We were then forced to abandon our turrets, which the enemy had destroyed, and with great concert, making an effort without them, we forced our way up. Here Cortes shewed himself the man that he really was. What a desperate engagement we then had! every man of us was covered with blood, and above forty dead upon the spot. It was God’s will that we should at length reach the place where we had put up the image of our Lady, but when we came there it was not to be found, and it seems that Montezuma, actuated either by fear or by devotion, had caused it to be removed. We set fire to the building, and burned a part of the temple of the gods Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatepuco. Here our Tlascalan allies served us essentially. While thus engaged, some setting the temple on fire, others fighting, above three thousand noble Mexicans with their
priests were about us, and attacking us, drove us down six and
even ten of the steps, while others who were in the corridores,
or within side the railings and concavities of the great temple, shot such
clouds of arrows at us that we could not maintain our ground, when thus
attacked from every part. We therefore began our retreat, every man of us being
wounded, and forty six lest dead upon the spot. We were pursued with a violence
and desperation which is not in my power to describe, nor in that of any one to
form an idea of who did not see it. During all this time also other bodies of
the Mexicans had been continually attacking our quarters, and endeavoring to
set fire to them. In this battle, we made prisoners two of the principal
priests. I have often seen this engagement represented in the paintings of the
natives, both of
great difficulty we reached our quarters, which we found the enemy almost in
possession of, as they had beaten down a part of the walls; but they desisted
in a great measure from their attacks on our arrival, still throwing in upon us
however showers of arrows, darts, and stones. The night was employed by us in
repairing the breaches, in dressing our wounds, burying our dead, and
consulting upon our future measures. No gleam of hope could be now rationally
formed by us, and we were utterly sunk in despair. Those who had come with
Narvaez showered maledictions upon Cortes, nor did
they forget Velasquez by whom they had been induced to quit their comfortable
and peaceable habitations in the
Cortes perceiving how desperate our situation was, determined that
Montezuma should address his subjects from a terrace, and desire them to desist
from their attacks, with an offer from us to evacuate
As they concluded their address, a shower of arrows and stones fell about the spot where Montezuma stood, from which the Spaniards, in-
terposing their bucklers, protected the King; but expecting that while speaking to his people they would not make another attack, they unguarded him for an instant, and just then three stones and an arrow struck him in the head, arm, and leg.
The King when thus wounded refused all assistance, and we were unexpectedly informed of his death. Cortes and our captains wept for him, and he was lamented by them and all the soldiers who had known him, as if he had been their father; nor is it to be wondered at, considering how good he was. It was said that he had reigned seventeen years, and that he was the best King Mexico had ever been governed by. It was also said that he had fought and conquered in three occasions that he had been defied to the field, in the progress of subjugating different states to his dominion.
All the endeavors of our Reverend Father Fray Bartholome, could not prevail on the King to embrace our faith, when he was told that his wounds were mortal, nor could he be induced to have them attended to. After the death of Montezuma, Cortes sent two prisoners, a nobleman and a priest, to inform the new sovereign, Coadlavaca, and his chiefs, of the event, and how it had happened by the hands of his own subjects. He directed them to express our grief on the occasion, and our wish that he should be interred with the respect due to so great a monarch. Cortes farther signified to them, that he did not admit or acknowledge the right of the sovereign that they had chosen, but that the throne should be filled either by a son of the great Montezuma, or his cousin who was with us in our quarters. Also, that we desired unmolested egress from the city, on condition of our committing no more acts of hostility by fire or sword. Cortes then caused the body of the King to be borne out by six noblemen, attended by most of the priests whom we had taken prisoners, and exposed it to public view. He also desired them to obey the last injunctions of Montezuma, and to deliver his body to the Mexican chiefs. These noblemen accordingly related the circumstances of the King’s death to Coadlavaca, and we could hear
the exclamations of sorrow which the people expressed at the sight of his body. They now attacked us in our quarters with the greatest violence, and threatened us that within the space of two days we should pay with our lives the death of their king, and the dishonor of their gods, saying that they had chosen a sovereign whom we could not deceive, as we had done the good Montezuma. In consequence of the situation to which we were reduced, Cortes determined to make on the ensuing day another sally, and to march towards that part of the city which contained many houses built on the firm ground, there to do all the injury we could, and that our cavalry taking advantage of the causeway, should ride the enemy down; which he hoped would make them tired of hostility, and induce them to come into terms. We accordingly made our sally, and proceeded to that part of the city, where, notwithstanding the resistance and incessant attacks of the enemy, we burned about twenty houses, approaching very near the firm ground; but whatever injury we did them was dearly paid for by the loss of twenty soldiers killed, nor could we get possession of a single bridge, all of them being partly broken, and the enemy had also made barricades and parapets to obstruct the cavalry, in every part where they expected to be able to act. Thus our difficulties and troubles increased upon us. This sally I recollect took place on a thursday; Sandoval and many other good cavalry men were present at it but those of Narvaez not being used to service, were timorous in comparison to our veterans.
As our numbers diminished every day, whilst those of the enemy increased, as also did the fury of their attacks, at the same time that we from our wounds were less able to make resistance; our powder being almost exhausted, our provisions and water intercepted, our friend the good Montezuma dead, and our proposals for peace rejected, the bridges by which we were to retreat broken down, and in fine, death before our eyes in every direction, it was determined by Cortes and all of the officers and soldiers, to quit the city during the night, as we hoped at
that time to find the enemy less alert, in order to put them the more off their guard, we sent a message by a chief priest, informing them, that if we were permitted to quit the city unmolested within the space of eight days, we would surrender all the gold which was in our possession.
with us a soldier named Botello, of respectable demeanour, who spoke latin,
had been at
Orders were now given to make a portable bridge of very strong timber, to be thrown over the canals where the enemy had broken down the bridges, and for conveying, guarding, and placing this, were assigned, one hundred and fifty of our soldiers and four hundred of the allies. The advanced guard was composed of Sandoval, Azevido el Pulido, F. de Lugo, D. de Ordas, A. de Tapia, and eight more captains of those who came with Narvaez, having under them one hundred picked soldiers, of the youngest and most active. The rear guard was composed of one hundred soldiers, mostly those of Narvaez, and many cavalry, under the command of Alvarado and Velasquez de Leon. The prisoners, with Donna Marina and Donna Luisa, were put under the care of thirty soldiers and three hundred Tlascalans; and Cortes, with A. de Avila, C. de Oli, Bernardino Vasquez de Tapia and other officers, with fifty soldiers, composed a reserve, to act wherever occasion should require.
By the time that all this was arranged night drew on. Cortes then ordered all the gold which was in his apartment to be brought to the
great saloon, which being done, he desired the officers of his Majesty, A. de Avila and Gonzalo Mexia, to take his Majesty’s due, in their charge, assigning to them for the conveyance of it eight lame or wounded horses, and upwards of eighty Tlascalans. Upon these were loaded as much as they could carry of the gold which had been run into large bars, and much more remained heaped up in the saloon. Cortes then, called to his secretary Hernandez and other royal, notaries and said, “Bear witness that I can be no longer responsible for this gold; here is to the value of above six hundred thousand crowns, I can secure no more than what is already packed; let every soldier take what he will, better so than that it should remain for those dogs of Mexicans.” As soon as he had said this, many soldiers of those of Narvaez, and also some of ours fell to work, and loaded themselves with treasure. I never was avaricious, and now thought more of saving my life which was in much danger; however when the opportunity thus offered, I did not omit seizing out of a casket, four calchihuis, those precious stones so highly esteemed amongst the Indians; and although Cortes ordered the casket and its contents to be taken care of by his major domo, I luckily secured these jewels in time, and afterwards found them of infinite advantage as a resource against famine.
A little before the detachment which took charge of the portable bridge let out upon its march, and arriving at the first canal or aperture of water, it was thrown across. The night was dark and misty, and it began to rain. The bridge being fixed, the baggage, artillery, and some of the cavalry passed over it, as also the Tlascalans with the gold. Sandoval and those with him passed, also Cortes and his party after the first, and many other soldiers. At this moment the trumpets and shouts of the enemy were heard, and the alarm was given by them, crying out, “Taltelulco, Taltelulco, out with your canoes! the Teules are going, attack them at the bridges.” In an instant the enemy were upon us by land, and the lake and canals were covered with canoes. They immediately flew to the bridges, and fell on us there, so that they intirely intercepted our line of march. As misfortunes do not come
single, it also rained so heavily that some of the horses were terrifyed, and growing restive fell into the water, and the bridge was broken in at the same time. The enemy attacked us here now with redoubled fury, and our soldiers making a stout refinance, the aperture of water was soon filled with the dead and dying men, and horses, and those who were struggling to escape; all heaped together, with artillery, packs, and bales of baggage, and those who carried them. Many were drowned here, and many put into the canoes and carried off for sacrifice. It was dreadful to hear the cries of the unfortunate sufferers, calling for assistance and invoking the Holy Virgin or St. Jago, while others who escaped by swimming, or by clambering upon the chests, bales of baggage, and dead bodies, earnestly begged for help to get up to the causeway. Many who on their reaching the ground thought themselves safe, were there seized or knocked in the head with clubs.
Away went whatever regularity had been in the march at first; for Cortes and the captains and soldiers who were mounted clapt spurs to their horses and gallopped off, along the causeway; nor can I blame them, for the cavalry could do nothing against the enemy, of any effect; for when they attacked them, the latter threw themselves into the water on each side the causeway, and others from the houses with arrows, or on the ground with large lances, killed the horses. It is evident we could make no battle with them in the water, and without powder, and in the night, what else could we do than what we did; which was, to join in bodies of thirty or forty soldiers, and when the Indians closed upon us, to drive them off with a few cuts and thrusts of our swords, and then hurry on, to get over the causeway as soon as we could. As to waiting for one another, that would have lost us all; and had it happened in the day time, things would have been even worse with us. The escape of such as were fortunate enough to effect it, was owing to God’s mercy, who gave us force to do so; for the very sight of the number of the enemy who surrounded us, and carried off our companions in their canoes to sacrifice, was terrible. About fifty of us, soldiers of Cortes, and some of those of Narvaez, went together in a body, by the cause-
every now and then parties of Indians came up, calling us Luilones,
a term of reproach, and attempting to seize us, and we, when they came within
our reach, facing about, repelling them with a few thrusts of our swords, and
then hurrying on. Thus we proceeded, until we reached the firm ground near Tacuba, where Cortes, Sandoval, De Oli,
Salcedo, Dominguez, Lares,
and others of the cavalry, with such of the infantry soldiers as had crossed
the bridge before it was destroyed, were already arrived. When we came near
them, we heard the voices of Sandoval, De Oli, and De
Morla, calling to Cortes who was riding at their
head, that he should turn about, and assist those who were coming along the
causeway, and who complained that he had abandoned them. Cortes replied that
those who had escaped owed it to a miracle, and if they returned to the bridges
all would lose their lives. Notwithstanding, he, with ten or twelve of the
cavalry and some of the infantry who had escaped unhurt countermarched, and
proceeded along the causeway; they had gone however but a very short distance
when they met P. de Alvarado with his lance in his hand, badly wounded, and on
foot, for his chesnut mare had been killed; he had
with him three of our soldiers, and four of those of Narvaez, all badly
wounded, and eight Tlascalans covered with blood.
While Cortes proceeded along the causeway, we reposed in the enclosed courts
hard by Tacuba. Messengers had already been sent out
from the city of
To revert to Cortes and his companions, when they learned from Alvarado that they were not to expect to see any more of our, soldiers, the tears ran from their eyes, for Alvarado had with him in the rear guard, Velasquez de Leon, with above twenty more of the cavalry, and upwards of one hundred infantry. On enquiry Cortes was told that they
were all dead, to the number of one hundred and fifty and more. Alvarado also told them that after the horses had been killed, about eighty assembled in a body and passed the first aperture, upon the dead bodies and heaps of luggage; I do not perfectly recollect if he said that he passed upon the dead bodies, for we were more attentive to what he related to Cortes of the deaths of J. Velasquez and above two hundred more companions, those of Narvaez included, who were with him, and who were killed at that canal. He also said that at the other bridge God’s mercy saved them, and that the whole of the causeway was full of the enemy.
that fatal bridge which is called the leap of Alvarado, I say that no soldier
thought of looking whether he leaped, much or little, for we had enough to do
to save our own lives. It must however have been as he stated when he met
Cortes, that he palled it upon the dead bodies and baggage, for if he had
attempted to sustain himself upon his lance, the water would have been too deep
for him to have reached the bottom of it; and the aperture was too wide, and
the sides too high for him to have leaped, let him have been ever so active.
For my part I aver that he could not have leaped it in any manner, for in about
a year after, when we invested Mexico, I was engaged with the enemy on that
which is now called the bridge of the leap of Alvarado, for they had there made
breastworks and barricades; and we many times conversed upon the subject at the
spot, and all of us agreed that it could not have happened. But as some will
insist upon the reality of it I repeat it again, it could not have been done,
and let those who wish to ascertain it view the place; the bridge is there, and
the depth of the water will prove no lance could reach to the bottom. There was
As our captains found from the information of Alvarado that they were not to expect any more of our companions, for that the causeway was full of warriors of the enemy, and if any had hitherto escaped they must now be intercepted, as we also found that all the people of those countries were preparing to attack us in Tacuba, it was determined under the guidance of six or seven of our allies well acquainted with the country, to endeavor to reach Tlascala. Accordingly we set out, and proceeding by an indirect road came to some houses hard by a temple on a hill. During our march we were harrassed by the enemy, who threw stones and shot their arrows at us. I fear to tire the reader with the prolixity of those repeated details, but I am compelled to relate what was of such desperate consequence to us, for many of us were in this manner killed. Here we defended ourselves, and took what care we could of our wounds. As to provisions, we had none.
Our wounds, having taken cold and being only bound with rags, were now in a miserable situation, and very painful; we had also to deplore the loss of many valiant companions. As for those of Narvaez, most of them perished in the water, loaded with gold. Numbers of Tlascalans also lost their lives in the same manner. Poor Botello too! the astrologer! his stars bore an evil aspect for he was killed with the rest. The sons of Montezuma, Cacamatzin, and all the other prisoners, amongst whom were some princes, lost their lives on this fatal night. All our artillery was lost, we had very few cross-bows, only twenty three horses, and our future prospect was very melancholy, from our uncertainty as to the reception we might meet in Tlascala, which was our only resource.
Having dressed our wounds and made arrows for our cross-bows,
and being incessantly harrassed in our present post, we proceeded at upon our journey, under the guidance of our faithful Tlascalans. Those who were very badly wounded we carried between us; the lame were supported upon crutches, and some who were utterly unable to help themselves on, were placed upon the croups of lame horses. Thus, with what cavalry we had able to at, in front and on the flanks; and as many of the infantry as were fit to bear arms making head to the enemy, we proceeded on our march, our wounded Spaniards and allies in the centre, the rest opposing the enemy, who continued to follow, harrass, and revile us, saying we were now going to meet our destruction. Words which we did not at that time understand.
I have hitherto forgotten to mention the satisfaction we had, in seeing Donna Marina and Donna Luisa rejoin us. Having crossed the bridge amongst the first, they had been saved by the exertions of two of the brothers of Donna Luisa, all the rest of the female Indians having been lost there. On this day we arrived at a great town named Gualtitlan, from whence we continued our march, harrassed by the enemy, whose numbers and boldness increased, insomuch that they killed two of our lame soldiers and one horse in a bad pass, wounding many more. Having repulsed them, we proceeded until we arrived at some villages, and halting there for the night, we made our supper on the horse which had been killed. On the next morning we set out very early, and having proceeded little more than a league, just as we began to think ourselves in safety, three of our vedettes came in with a report that the whole plains were covered with the armies of the enemy. This intelligence was truly frightful and we felt it as such, but not so as to prevent our determination to conquer or die, or our arranging all matters to the best effect for action.
A halt being made, orders were given to the cavalry, that they should charge at half speed, not stopping to make thrusts, but pointing the lances at the faces of the enemy, until they were put to flight; the infantry were warned to thrust with their swords, and to pass them
clear through the bodies of their opponents, so that at worst we should sell our lives dearly, and this being done, as we saw that the enemy began to surround us, after recommending ourselves to God and the Holy Virgin, and invoking the aid of St. Jago, the cavalry formed in bodies of fives, and the infantry in concert with them, proceeded to the attack.
Oh what it was to see this tremendous battle! how we closed foot to foot, and with what fury the dogs fought us! such wounding as there was amongst us with their lances and clubs and two handed swords, while our cavalry, favoured by the plain ground, rode through them at will, galloping at half speed, and bearing down their opponents with couched lances, still fighting manfully, though they and their horses were all wounded; and we of the infantry, negligent of our former hurts, and of those which we now received, closed with the enemy, redoubling our efforts to bear them down with our swords.
Cortes, De Oli, Alvarado mounted on a horse of one of the soldiers of Narvaez, and Sandoval, though all wounded, continued to ride through them. Cortes now called out to us to strike at the chiefs; for they were distinguished by great plumes of feathers, golden ornaments, richly wrought arms, and devices.
Then to hear the valiant Sandoval, how he encouraged us crying out, “Now gentlemen is the day of victory; put your trust in God, we shall survive for he preserves us for some good purpose.” All the soldiers felt determined to conquer, and thus animated as we were by our Lord Jesus Christ, and our lady the Virgin Mary, as also by St. Jago who undoubtedly assisted us, as certified by a chief of Guatimotzin who was present in the battle, we continued, notwithstanding many had received wounds and some of our companions were killed, to maintain our ground.
It was the will of God, that Cortes, accompanied by the captains
De Oli, Sandoval, Alvarado, and several others, should reach that part of the army of the enemy which was the post of their general in chief, who was distinguished by a standard, arms covered with gold, and a great penache ornamented in the same manner. As soon as Cortes perceived the chief who bore the standard, and who was surrounded by many others bearing also great penaches of gold, he cried out to Alvarado, Sandoval, De Oli, Avila, and the rest, “Now gentlemen, let us charge them.” Then, recommending themselves to God, they rode into the thickest of them, and Cortes with his horse struck the Mexican chief, and threw down the standard; the cavaliers who supported him at the same moment effectually breaking this numerous body. The chief who bore the standard, not having fallen, in the charge made upon him by Cortes, Juan de Salamanca, mounted on his good pyed mare, pursued him, and having killed him, seized the rich penache which he bore, and presented it to Cortes, laying, that as he had given the Mexican general the first blow, and struck down his standard, the trophy of the conquest was due to him.
It was God’s will, that, on the death of their general, and of many other chiefs who surrounded him being known, the enemy should relax in their efforts, and begin to retreat. As soon as this was perceived by us, we forgot our hunger, thirst, fatigue, and wounds, and thought of nothing but victory, and pursuit. Our cavalry followed them up close, and our allies, now become lions, mowed down all before them with the arms which the enemy threw away in their flight.
As soon as our cavalry returned from the pursuit, we all gave thanks to God, for never had there appeared so great a force together in that country, being the whole of the warriors of Mexico, Tezcuco, and Saltocan, all determined not to leave a trace of us upon the earth. The whole nobility of these nations were of assembled, magnificently armed, and adorned with gold, penaches, and devices. This battle was fought near a place named Obtumba. I have frequently seen it represented in paintings amongst the Mexicans, in the same manner as
the other battles fought by us antecedently to the final conquest. I must now
recall to the readers recollection, that our entry
now give an account of all our countrymen who lost their lives in
After the battle we continued our march to Tlascala, cheerfully, and eating certain gourds named ayotes, which we found by the way, the enemy only shewing themselves at a distance, until we arrived at a village where we took up our quarters in a strong temple, and halted for the night, occasionally alarmed by the Mexicans, who kept about us as it were to see us out of their country. From this place we to our great joy perceived the mountains of Tlascala, for we were anxious to be convinced of the fidelity of our friends, and to know something of our companions in Villa Rica. Cortes warned us, as we were so few in number and had escaped by God’s mercy, to be cautious not to give
offence; this he particularly enforced to the soldiers of Narvaez who were not so much habituated to discipline. He added that he hoped to find our allies steady to us, but that if it turned out otherwise, though but four hundred and forty strong, ill armed, and wounded, we had vigorous bodies and stout hearts to carry us through.
arrived at a fountain on the side of some hills, where is a circular rampart
built in old times, at the boundary of the states of