Expedition of Cortes to Higueras.
DE OLI I
have already mentioned as having revolted. When Cortes received intelligence of
this, it made him very pensive; but as he was one not to be trifled with in such
cases, he determined to send a gentleman who was his relation, by name
Francisco de las Casas,
with five ships, and one hundred well provided soldiers, having with them some
of the original veteran conquerors of
Las Casas set out from the
De Oli as I have already related being in expectation of the return of his detachment, wished for a truce with Las Casas, which the latter for his misfortune agreed to, and remained at sea, partly in the inten-
tion of looking out for some other place of disembarkation,
and partly induced by letters from the friends of Cortes who were in the troops
commanded by De Oli. On that night a hard gale sprung
up, by which our vessels were driven on shoe and entirely lost, with above
thirty of the soldiers. The rest were made prisoners, after being two days
without food, and almost dying with cold, being thoroughly soaked in the salt
water and with rain which at that season fell very heavily. De Oli was very triumphant on this occasion. He made his
prisoners swear fidelity to him against Cortes, releasing them all except Las Casas. The parties he had sent out against Gonzalez de
Avila returned about this time. It seems that
Las Casas and De Avila being at large, though prisoners, for De Oli was too brave to be under any apprehensions from them, concerted a plan with some soldiers to put him to death, the signal for which was to be the words, “To me, friends of the King and Cortes, kill the tyrant!” Las Casas half in jest as it were, and laughing, then asked
liberty to return to Cortes; to which De Oli replied,
that he was too happy to have so brave a man for his companion, and did not
choose to part with him. “Then,” said Las Casas in
the same manner, “take care that one of these days I do not kill you.” All this
the other considered as a joke; but the measures were taken, and one night
after supper, when the cloths were taken away, and the servants and pages had
sat down in their apartment, as Juan Nunez de Mercado and other soldiers of the
party of Cortes, Las Casas, and Avila, were
conversing with De Oli upon the affairs of Mexico,
and the fortune of Cortes, he being entirely unsuspicious of their designs, the
conspirators suddenly drew out penknives and fell upon him. Las Casas seizing him by the beard made a cut at his throat,
and the others gave him several wounds; but such was his strength and activity
of body, that he escaped out of their hands for the
present, calling aloud to his people for assistance, but they were all too
busily employed at their suppers to hear him. He then fled, and concealed
himself among some bushes, in hopes of assistance. Many were in the act of
coming to him for the purpose, but were deterred by the cries of Las Casas not to assist the tyrant, but to rally on the side of
their King, and his general Cortes. They first hesitated, and then obeyed; and
Las Casas immediately gave notice, that whoever knew
where De Oli was, and did not immediately reveal it,
should suffer death. Information was soon given, in consequence of which he was
made prisoner, and, by sentence of the two captains, beheaded in the town of
Las Casas and
receive reinforcement, which he was going to request from Cortes
in some months after the departure of Las Casas,
began to grow apprehensive of a disaster; not that he entertained the least
doubt of the valour or conduct of that officer, but
he repented, under the circumstances of the case, that he had not taken the
command himself. He was also anxious to examine the state of that province,
more especially its mines, and for these reasons now determined to set out upon
his journey thither. He appointed a good garrison to take charge of the city of
In order to deprive the Mexicans of chiefs, in case they should attempt to rise, he took with him Guatimotzin the late king, the chief of Tacuba, Velasquez an Indian and captain under Guatimotzin, and several others. There came also with us Fra Juan de las Varillas, another clergyman, two reverend fathers, Flemings, and good theologians, to preach the faith, and the captains De Sandoval and Luis Marin, with many other cavaliers. The suite, or officers who attended the person of Cortes were as follows; a steward and paymaster, a keeper of the plate, a major domo, two stewards of the household, a butler, a confectioner, a chamberlain, a physician, a surgeon, a number of pages of his household, amongst whom was D. Francisco de Montejo afterwards captain
When the party was on the point of letting out, the factor Salazar, and the veedor Chirinos, either seeing or affecting to see much danger likely, to result from Cortes quiting the seat of government, and finding also that they had not been left in any station during his absence, remonstrated with him, but finding it to be to no purpose, they then requested permission to accompany him as far as Guacacualco. To this he gave his consent, and they accordingly set out. Cortes was received in all the places upon his way with such pomp and rejoicing as is not in my power to describe. Above fifty soldiers and straggling travellers newly arrived from Castille joined him upon the road, and the general divided his troops in two parties, until their arrival at Guacacualco, for the greater convenience of obtaining provisions.
During the journey, the veedor and factor kept themselves dole to Cortes, especially the latter, playing a hundred tricks of servility and obsequiousness, and every word he spoke, he was cap in hand, and with his fluent speech, and smooth words, as it were trying to get him back to Mexico, and expressing his solicitude for his safety. Sometimes when he was riding by the side of the general he would sing, “Ay tio bolvamonos, ay tio bolvamonos.” Then Cortes would laugh at him and reply singing,
“Adelante mi sobrino, adelante mi sobrino,
Y no creais in agueros, que sera lo que dins quisiere.
Adelante mi sobrino.
Oh good uncle let us return.
Forward, dear nephew forward,
Trust in God and never heed auguries.”
the subject of our factor and his delicate speeches, I have now to mention how
a marriage took place on the arrival of the party at the town of
Here Cortes remained six days, during which time the factor was continually sounding in his ears the burthen of his old song. He also told him of secret practices of the contador and the treasurer, who boasted that he was the son of his catholic Majesty, and in short a number of stories, the drift of all which was, to induce Cortes to supercede the present deputies, and put him, and the veedor, in their places. In this he too well succeeded; for by his arts he obtained from the general a deputation for himself and his associate the veedor, to hold the government of Mexico, in case they should judge that the present deputies
failed in their duty. These intrigues caused much trouble
now sent orders to one of his major domos, Simon de
Cuenca, at Villa Rica, to freight two light vessels with biscuit of maiz, (for at, that time there was no wheat in New Spain,)
six pipes of wine, oil, vinegar, pork, iron, and other necessary articles, and
to proceed with them along the coast, northward, until he should receive
further directions. The general then ordered all the settlers of Guacacualco who were fit for service to join his
expedition. I have already mentioned how this colony was formed out of the most
respectable hidalgos, and ancient conquerors of the country; and now that we
had reason to expect to be left in quiet possession of our hard earned
properties, our houses and farms, we were obliged to undertake an hostile
expedition to the distance of five hundred leagues, and which took up the time
of above two years and a half. But we dared not say no, neither would it avail
us. We therefore armed ourselves, and mounting our horses, joined the
expedition, making in the whole above two hundred and fifty veterans, of whom
one hundred and thirty were cavalry, besides many Spaniards newly arrived from
I was immediately ordered to march at the head of thirty Spaniards and three thousand Mexicans, to a district named Cimatan, which was in rebellion, with directions to quarter my troops on the natives, and if I found them submissive, to do no farther injury, but if refractory,
they were to be summoned intelligibly, three times, in presence of a royal notary and proper witnesses, and in case they persisted, I was to make war on, and compel them to submit. The orders which I received from the general I now have in my possession, signed and sealed by him, and countersigned by his secretary, A. Valiente. I found the people peaceable, but in a few months after, in consequence of the settlers of Guacacualco being withdrawn, they broke out again. However they being in the state that I have mentioned, I made no delay, but sat out with my detachment to rejoin Cortes at Iquinapa.
general, with the rest of his troops, leaving Guacacualco;
proceeded to Tonala, crossed a river to Ayaqualulco, crossed another river, and, seven leagues
distant an arm of the sea, upon a bridge of half a quarter of a league in
length; a molt astonishing work in such a situation, and constructed by the
natives of the country under the inspection of two captains, settlers of Guacacualco. They then proceeded to a large river named Mazapa, which flows by Chiapa,
and is named by mariners
From Copilco we marched to Nicaxuxuica,
and to Zagutan, passing another river, in which the
general lost some articles of his baggage. The last mentioned town was found by
us in. a state of peace, but the inhabitants fled during the night. Cortes
ordered parties out to search the woods and make prisoners, which was a very
inconsiderate thing, and productive of bad consequences; we found, it is true,
after much trouble, seven chiefs and some others, but they all made their
escape from us again during the night, and we were thus left without guides. At
this period arrived at our quarters fifty canoes from
loaded with provisions, also some from a place named Teapan in my encomienda.
We proceeded on our march to Tepetitan and Iztapa, crossing a great river named Chilapa, at which we were detained four days making barks. I proposed to Cortes, to send five of our Indian guides to a town of the same name, “which I understood to be on the banks of this river, to desire the people to assist us with their canoes. Cortes assented, and it was done; we procured six large canoes, and also provisions. We were four days in passing.
we went on to Tepetitan which was depopulated and
burnt, in consequence of a civil war. For three days of our march from the
The three days which the natives allured us the journey would take up, turned out to be no less than seven; but they succeeded in
getting rid of us, and we set out, provided only with roasted maiz and roots sufficient for three days. We were obliged to construct bridges of timber, at which all laboured from the general downwards, which detained us three days, during which time we had nothing to eat but a certain wild plant named Quexquexque, which inflames the mouth and tongue. When we had crossed this inlet we found no road whatever, and we were obliged to open our way through the woods, as it were, sword in hand. After labouring thus for two days in hopes of reaching the place which we were in search of, we became totally in despair. The trees were so thick that, we could not see the sun, and when we ascended to the top of one we could not discover to any distance. Of our three guides also two had fled, and the third was incapable of rendering any service. Cortes, whole resources were inexhaustible, guided himself by a mariners compass, and by his Indian map, according to which, the town we were in quest of, lay to the east. Cortes himself was however forced to acknowledge, that if we were one day more without, discovering it, he did not know what we should do.
Fortunately we at this time perceived the remains of trees which had been formerly cut, and also a small lane or path, and Lopez the pilot and I returned to report our discovery to the general. Our news revived the spirits of the army, and we pushed forward to a village on the opposite side of a river, where, though the inhabitants had abandoned it, we found sufficiency of provisions for ourselves and our horses. Parties were immediately sent out in quest. of the natives, and they soon returned, bringing with them many chiefs and priests, who being well treated,, procured us a plentiful supply of provisions, and pointed out our way to Izguantepeque, which was three days journey, or sixteen leagues distant from this town of Tamaztepeque. During our journey hither we lost our stage dancer by fatigue, as also three of the newly arrived Spaniards, and many of the Mexicans were left to die upon the road. It came also to be discovered that some of their chiefs, had seized two or three of the natives of the places through which we passed, and
concealed them with the baggage, until through hunger they had killed and eaten them, dressing the bodies in their manner, which is, by a kind of oven made with heated stones which are put under ground. On enquiry it was also found out that they had done the same with two of our guides who had fled from us, but were retaken. Cortes severely reprehended all those concerned, and one of the reverend father Franciscans preached a holy and wise sermon on the occasion, after which, by way of example, the general caused one against whom it was most clearly proved to be burnt; for though all were equally guilty, yet in the present circumstances one example was judged sufficient. As for our poor musicians with their instruments, their sackbuts, and dulcimers, they felt the lots of the regales and feasts of Castille, and now their harmony was stopt, excepting one only, whom the soldiers used to curie whenever he struck up, saying it was maiz and not music that they wanted. Some persons have asked me how it happened that since necessity has no law, we did not, rather than starve, lay our hands on the herd of pigs which Cortes brought with him. To this I reply that they were not within our sight or reach, and the general’s Reward, who was a fly artful fellow, said that they had all been eaten by the alligators in crossing the river. But in reality they had them four days march behind the army. On our route we made crosses in the living trees, and put inscriptions on them saying, “here passed Cortes and his army at such a time.”
The Indians of Tamaztepeque sent forward to our next nation, Ciguatepecad, to inform the people of our approach, and remove their apprehensions. They also, to the number of twenty attended us thither, where, being arrived and halted, Cortes was anxious to know the course of a large river which flows by that town. Upon enquiry he found that it discharged itself in certain inlets of the sea, near the towns named Gueyatasla, and Xicalango, and thereby he thought that he could conveniently send two Spaniards to the north coast, to obtain information relative to his ships. One of his messengers was Francisco de Medina, to whom he gave a joint commission of captain with Simon de
informed at our present quarters, that the town of
but on the next they had received further intelligence concerning it, and treated us with more deference. They promised that they would provide every accomodation for our people on their’ arrival, and while we were engaged in discourse with them on these subjects, two Spaniards sent by Cortes brought me letters, wherein he ordered, that I should within three days meet him with all the provisions that I could collect, for that he had been deserted by the natives, and was on his way to Gueyacala without any necessaries whatever. These Spaniards also informed me, that four of our soldiers who had been detached by Cortes higher up the river had not returned, and were supposed to be murdered, as afterwards appeared to be the case.
Cortes pursued his march, and was for four days employed in constructing his bridge across the great river, during which time the army suffered dreadfully from hunger, having lest their last quarters without any provisions whatever. Some old soldiers cut down trees resembling the palm, and procured nuts which they roasted and eat. A very poor resource for so many. On the night that the bridge was finished I arrived with one hundred and thirty loads of corn, honey, fruit, and salt, and eighty fowls. It was dark, and Cortes had made mention of his expectation of my arrival. The consequence was, that the soldiers waited for me, and immediately laid violent hands on every atom of provisions which I had brought, not leaving any thing for Cortes or the other officers. The general’s steward and major domo cried out, “this is for the general,” and “do not touch that,” but it was to no avail, the soldiers said that the general and the others had been eating their hogs, while the poor soldiers were famishing, and neither entreaties nor arguments could induce them to leave him so much as a single load of corn. Cortes lost all patience when he heard of it, and swore that he would make enquiry and punish those who had committed the outrage, and who had talked about the hogs. But he soon found that this was merely crying in the desert. He then blamed me, but I told him that a guard should have been appointed to receive the provisions when they were brought in, for that hunger knows no law. As he
saw there was no remedy he returned to me, and, Captain De Sandoval being present, addressed me with good words saying, “my dear friend Del Castillo I am sure that you have left something behind you on the road for yourself and our friend here; do let us go together, and permit me to share it with you.” Sandoval also said that he vowed to his God he had not so much as a handful of maiz. When thus applied to I could not refuse them. “Well,” said I, “when the soldiers are all asleep, come with me, and take shares of what I provided for myself and those with me;” which was, twelve loads of maiz, twenty fowls, three jars of honey, fruits, and salt; I had also some women to make bread. They both thanked and embraced me, and so we escaped famine for this time. Cortes enquired how the reverend fathers had fared, but there was no cause of apprehension for them, as each soldier gave them a portion of what he had obtained. Such are the hardships attendant upon expeditions in unexplored countries! our general, feared as he was by the soldiers, had his provisions pillaged, and was in danger of starving, and Captain De Sandoval would not trust any one, but went himself to get his ration from me. On continuing our march, when we had advanced about a league from the river, we came to those desperate trembling marshes. Here our horses were near being all smothered; but as the distance was not above half a bow shot between the firm ground on each side, we contrived to draw them through it by main force, and when we had gotten across, after returning thanks to God, Cortes sent to Gueyacala for a fresh supply of provisions, of which he took care not to be plundered as on the former occasion, and on the ensuing day the whole of our party arrived, at an early hour, in the town of Gueyacala, where the chiefs attended, and had made ample preparations for our reception.
Cortes, having done whatever was necessary to conciliate the good will of these people, enquired of them relative to his future march, and also, if they had ever received any intelligence of ships being on the coast, or of any settlement of Europeans there. They told him, that at the distance of eight days journey there were many men with beards
like ourselves, who had horses, and three ships with them. They also furnished him with a map of his route, and offered their assistance during the march; but in answer to his demand that they would open the way for us, they represented to him the disobedience of some of their dependencies, and expressed their wishes to reduce them to submission by our means. This duty he gave to Diego de Mazariegos, a relation of the treasurer Alonzo de Estrada, as a compliment to him, and calling me aside, he desired that I would attend him upon the occasion as his counsellor, from my experience in the affairs of the country. This I should not now mention, nor do I as a boast, but it is my duty as an historian, and further, it was well known to the whole army, and his Majesty was informed of it in the letters written to him by Cortes. About eighty of us went with Mazariegos upon this occasion. When we arrived, we found the district in the best disposition possible; the chiefs returned with us to wait on Cortes, and brought with theirs a most plentiful supply of provisions. In about four days after this, all the native chiefs deserted us, and we were lest with only three guides, to pursue our route, which we did, crossing two rivers, to another town in the district of Gucyacala, which we found abandoned.
Here was the scene of the death of Guatimotzin, last native king of the Mexicans. It appeared that a plot had been entered into by this unfortunate man, together with many others of his nobility, to murder the Spaniards, and return to Mexico; and that on their arrival, they intended to make a junction of all their forces, and attack the Spanish garrison. Their treason was communicated to the general by two lords named Tapia and Juan Velasquez, who had commanded under Guatimotzin during the siege. As soon as Cortes got the knowledge of it he took the informations, not only of these two, but also of several others concerned; their confession, was, that perceiving we marched without precaution, that discontent prevailed, that many of our soldiers were sick, and provisions so scarce that ten Spaniards had died of hunger absolutely, and others had returned to Mexico, considering also the uncertainty of our fate and destination they had decided, that dying at once was
was preferable to going with us any farther. They had therefore resolved to try their fortunes, and fall upon us at the passage of some river or marsh, their numbers being an encouragement to the attempt, as they exceeded three thousand well armed men. Guatimotzin denied that the whole of the Mexican force was concerned in this plot, or that it would have ever been, to his knowledge, carried into effect. But he admitted that it had been heard though never approved of by him. The prince of Tacuba declared that all which had ever passed between Guatimotzin and him was, frequent declarations that to lose their lives at once would be preferable to wasting in the manner they were, in a flow death, by hunger and fatigue, and seeing the distresses of their friends suffering around them. Without any more proofs whatever, Cortes ordered Guatimotzin and his cousin the prince of Tacuba to be hanged immediately, and the preparations for the execution being made, they were brought to the place attended by the reverend fathers. Before he was executed, the king turning round to Cortes said, “Malintzin! now I find in what your false words and promises have ended;—in my death.—Better that I had fallen by my own hands than trust myself in your power in my city of Mexico.—Why do you thus unjustly take my life? May God demand of you this innocent blood!” The prince of Tacuba only said that he was happy to die by the side of his lawful sovereign. Thus ended the lives of these two great men, and I must say like good christians, and for Indians, most piously; and I heartily pitied Guatimotzin and his cousin, having ken them in such great fortune and situations. They behaved very kindly to me during our march, doing me many services, especially giving me Indians to carry grass for my horse; and I also declare that they suffered their deaths most undeservingly, and so it appeared to us all, amongst whom there was but one opinion upon the subject; that it was a most unjust and cruel sentence.
We continued our march afterwards with great caution, from apprehensions of a mutiny among the Mexicans on account of the execution of their chiefs; but the wretches were so exhausted by famine,
sickness, and fatigue, that they did not appear even to think about the matter. At night we arrived at a village which was abandoned by the inhabitants, but on searching we found eight priests who readily attended us to Cortes. He desired them to call back their neighbours, and that they should receive no injury. This the priests readily promised, requesting at the same time, that their idols which were in a temple adjoining the building wherein were the quarters of Cortes, should not be touched; which the general agreed to, but took the opportunity of expostulating with them upon the absurdity of venerating what was in reality no more than clay and timber. The priests seemed very willing to embrace the true doctrine, and brought us twenty loads of fowls and maiz. To the question put to them by Cortes, how many days journey, or suns, it was, to the place where were the men with beards on their faces and who rode horses they replied, seven; that the place was named Nito, and they offered to be our guides thither.
Cortes caused a cross to be fixed in a large ceiba tree close to their temple, which as I have before mentioned joined to the building wherein he had taken his quarters. He was at this time very ill tempered, and sad. He was vexed by the difficulties and misfortunes which had attended his march, and his conscience upbraided him with the death of the unfortunate Guatimotzin. He was so distracted by these thoughts that he could not rest in his bed at night, and getting up in the dark to walk about, as a relief from his anxieties, he went into a large apartment where some of the idols were worshipped. Here, he missed his way, and fell from the height of twelve feet, to the ground, receiving a desperate wound and contusions in his head. This circumstance he tried to conceal, keeping his sufferings to himself, and getting his hurts cured as well as he could.
Quitting this place we arrived in two days at a district the people of which are called the Mazotecas, and found a newly built town, fortified and barricaded, with very strong pallisadoes in two circles, one of which was like a barbican, with loop holes, and trenches sunk
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before it. The part which was not fortified in this manner was defended by a perpendicular rock, the top of which was piled with stones shaped for the sling. It had also a parapet, and there was on one side of the town an impassable marsh. On entry we sound every house filled with provisions of whatever kind the country afforded, and a magazine stocked with arms of all sorts, but not a single human being. While we were expressing our astonishment at these circumstances, fifteen Indians came out of the marsh, and addressing us with great submission, informed us that they had been driven to the construction of this fortress, as a last resource in an unsuccessful war, in which they had been engaged with some of their neighbours, whom, as well as I recollect, they called the Lazandones. It seemed to be a warfare of plunder on each side. The name of this district means in their language a country abounding with game, which it was very well intitled to be called. Two of the Indians attended us from this place, and communicated to Cortes what they knew of the settlement of the Spaniards.
We now travelled through a country entirely open, consisting of vast plains without a tree. The heat of the sun was excessive, and the deer which fed over this extensive range of champaign were innumerable, and so tame as almost to come to our hands. The horsemen took them after the shortest pursuit, and we had in a very little space of time above twenty killed. Asking our guides the reason of these animals not being alarmed at the approach of men, we found that it was owing to a superstition of the people, who considered them to be divinities, as they said that their gods appeared to them in their forms; and also that their idols had commanded that they should be neither killed nor frightened. The heat of the weather was now so great, that a relation of the general’s, named Palacios Rubios, lost his horse by pursuing the game. Pursuing our journey by villages where war had left its destructive marks, we met some Indians on their return from hunting. They had with them a huge lion which they had just killed, and some iguanas, a species of small serpent, very good to eat. They led us to their town, being obliged to wade up to our middles in a lake of fresh water with
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which it was surrounded. In this town was a large pond of
fresh water, which was quite full of fishes, resembling what we call in
proceeded towards a place named Tayasal, situated on
an island, the white temples, turrets, and houses of which, glistened from a
distance. It was the chief town of a district. As the road grew very narrow we
thought it best to halt for the night, four companies of soldiers being
detached to the shore, to search for a passage. Luckily they took two canoes,
in which were ten men and two women who were conveying salt and maize. Being
brought to Cortes and questioned, they said, that they belonged to the town
before us, which was distant about four leagues. Cortes detained one canoe and
some of the people, particularly the women, and sent the others with two
Spaniards to the chief, to demand from him canoes to cross the water. Our whole
party then set out towards the river, and arriving there, we found the cacique
waiting for us. He invited the general to his town, and Cortes embarked with
thirty crossbow-men, and arriving there, was presented with some trifles of
gold much alloyed, and a few mantles. They here informed him that they knew of
Spaniards being at two different places, one of which it seems was Nito, the other San Gil de Buena
Our whole body having crossed the river, we halted at the distance
of two leagues from it, to wait the return of Cortes. Here a Negro, two Indians, and three Spanish soldiers deserted; the latter preferring the taking their chance among enemies, to the repetition of the fatigues they had gone through. This day I was sun struck and fell ill of a calenture. The weather also at this time changed, and for three days and nights it never ceased raining; but we were obliged to continue our journey under it, from the apprehension that our provisions should fall short. After two days march we came to a ridge of rocks, the stones whereof cut like knives; we sent soldiers a league’s distance on each side to search for some other road, but to no effect. Our horses fell here at every step, and cut themselves to pieces, and the farther we proceeded on the descent, the worse it was. We lest eight horses dead upon the spot, and most of the rest were so wounded as not to be able to keep up with us. Amongst others who received hurts the general’s relation Palacios Rubios broke his leg by a fall. We called this place La Sierra de los Pedernales. When we had gotten over it we did not fail to return thanks to God for his mercy in extricating us from that difficulty. We then advanced chearfully towards a town named Taica, which lay before us, and where we hoped to find a sufficiency of every thing; but we Were suddenly and unexpectedly stopped by an enormous torrent, which, being swelled by the heavy rains, came tumbling between great precipices with a noise which could be heard at the distance of two leagues. Here we were obliged to halt for three complete days, in order to make a bridge from one precipice to the other, and when at the end of the third day we began to pass over, we found that the people on the other side had taken advantage of our delay, to remove themselves and all their provisions out of our reach.
When we learned that after all our fatigues hunger was to be our portion, we seemed as it were thunder struck. I own I never in my life felt my heart so depressed as when I found nothing to be had for myself or my people; and this too on the eve of our Lord’s resurrection! a pretty festival we had of it truly! Cortes, after sending out his servants every where, procured about a bushel of maiz. When he saw
the distress which we were in, he called together the colonists of Guacacualco, as the flower of his army, and earnestly solicited us to do our utmost to procure some necessaries. Pedro de Ircio who was present asked to be appointed to the command, to which Cortes assented; but I, who knew that De Ircio was more of a talking, than a marching soldier, and that he would lag by the way and retard us, whispered Cortes and Sandoval to prevent his going, for he being duck legged, could not get through the deep ground and mire like us, and would be obliged to sit down. Cortes therefore ordered him to stay, and five of us setting out together, with two guides, and crossing rivers and marshes, came to some Indian houses where we found provisions in plenty. Here we also took some prisoners, and with their fruit, fowls, and corn, we celebrated the feast of the resurrection heartily. On the same night arrived a thousand Mexicans, whom Cortes had ordered to follow us. We joyfully loaded them with all the corn that we could procure, and twenty fowls for Cortes and Sandoval, and there still remained some corn in the town which we staid to guard. On the next day we advanced to other villages, where we found such a plenty of corn that we wrote a billet to Cortes, with ink which we made, and on a piece of a drum head, desiring him to send all the Indians that he could, to carry it to our people.
Thirty soldiers and about five hundred Indians in a short time arrived, and thus, thanks to God, we were amply provided for the remainder of the five days, during which we staid at Taica. I must observe, that the bridges which we constructed on this march, remained perfectly good for many years, and that the Spaniards, when they passed them used to say, “these are the bridges of Cortes,” as formerly it used to be said, “here are the pillars of Hercules.” We continued our march for two days, to a place named Tania, through a country intersected with rivers and rivulets, and where all the towns were abandoned; and during the night, our guides, being intrusted to the care of some of the newly arrived Spaniards who I suppose slept upon their posts, made their escape. Thus we were left in a difficult country, and not
knowing which way to turn. In addition to this, it rained most
heavily. Cortes was out of humour and said, Pedro de Ircio and many more
being by, that he wished others besides the settlers of Guacacualco
would bestir themselves, and do sonic good, in searching for guides. De Ircio, Marmolejo a person of
quality, and Burgales afterwards regidor
From the prisoners whom we had taken we learned, that it was necessary to descend the river for two days journey, to a place of above two hundred houses named Oculiztli; which we accordingly did, passing on our road some large buildings where the travelling merchants of the Indians are used to stop. At the close of the second day we arrived at the place to which we had been directed, where we found plenty of provisions. We also found in one of the temples an old red cap, and a sandal, as offerings to their idols. Some of our soldiers brought to Cortes two old men and sour women, whom they took in the maiz fields; Cortes asked them what distance the Spanish settlement was from this place; to which they replied that it was two days journey, being close by the sea side, and that no town intervened. Upon this Cortes ordered Sandoval immediately to set out on foot, with six soldiers, and get down to the coast, in order to ascertain what number of men De Oli had with him, for as yet we were entirely ignorant of all that had happened there, and Cortes required this information in order to effect what he had determined, which was, to fall upon, and surprise De Oli and his troops during the night.
taking three guides reached the sea side, and going northwards, soon perceived
a canoe, and concealing him self where he expected it to anchor for the night,
he was fortunate enough to get possession of it, and upon examination, found it
to belong to Indian merchants who were bringing salt to Golfo
Dolce. Sandoval embarked on board this canoe with a part of his soldiers, and
sending the rest by land, he pursued his route for the great river. As fortune
would have it, on his voyage he fell in with a canoe in which had come four
Spanish settlers, who were searching for fruit near the mouth of the river,
being in great distress from the hostilities of the Indians, and the ravages
made by disease. Two of these being up in a tree, were astonished at the sight
of Sandoval and the rest, and reported to their companions what they had seen.
When they met, Sandoval was informed by them of their present distress, and how
they had hanged the officer left there by
red, a soldier named Alonzo Ortiz obtained from him permission to let off with the news, in order to get a reward. He accordingly in a short time reached us, and by his intelligence rejoiced us all. Cortes presented him with an excellent horse named Moor’s-head, and each of us gave him something proportionate to our abilities. Sandoval arrived a short time after, and informed us that they were preparing to embark for the Island of Cuba, and how they had hanged their commanding officer, for opposing them and also because he had hanged a turbulent priest: as also that they had elected one Anthonio Niote in his place.
Cortes issued an order to march immediately for the sea coast, which was distant six leagues, and we had an inlet of the sea to pass. We were therefore obliged to wait till low water, and then cross it, wading and swimming. Cortes pushed forwards with his attendants, and crossed the river in the two canoes, swimming the horses by the side of them; but he found it so dangerous from the violence of the current, that he sent word to us not to attempt to follow him until farther orders.
The general trusted the care of the embarkation to Sandoval. One Saavedra, presuming upon his relationship with Cortes, would not pay respect to the captain’s orders, and endeavouring to force his passage, laid his hand to his poniard with disrespectful expressions to Sandoval. The latter made few words, but seizing him instantly, threw him into the water; where he was nearly drowned. Our suffering at this time from hunger was beyond my expression. For these four days we had literally nothing but the few nuts that we could gather, and some wild fruits; and when we arrived on the other side our condition was not bettered.
this colony to consist of forty men and six women, all yellow and sickly, and
without any thing to eat. Of course we were anxious for the moment of setting
out in order to search the country for provisions. About eighty of us went on
foot, under the command of Captain Luis Marin, to a town at the distance of
eight leagues, where we found provisions of all kinds, cocoa in the greatest
quantity, and plenty of corn, and vegetables. This place was exactly on the route
whither it was the intention of Cortes to go. On receiving our intelligence, he
dispatched Sandoval with the principal part of his troops to join us. We sent a
plentiful supply of maiz to our wretched colonists,
who having been so long starving, eat to such an excess that seven of them died
immediately. At this time also a vessel arrived there, with seven horses, forty
hogs, eight pipes of salted meat, biscuit, and fifteen
passengers, adventurers from the
Cortes now determined to examine this great river, for which purpose he fitted out one of the brigantines of Avila which had been stranded, and with this vessel, a boat, and four double canoes, in which he embarked thirty soldiers, with eight sailors of the vessel which lately
arrived, he proceeded up the river to a spacious lake with good anchorage, which extended to the distance of six leagues, and the whole of the adjacent country was liable to be inundated. Proceeding higher he found the current more strong, and at length came to some shallows which his vessels could not pass; he accordingly disembarked, and proceeding by a narrow road, paired through different villages. In the first he took some natives to serve as guides, and in the second he found plenty of corn, and fowls, amongst which were pheasants, pidgeons, and partridges. These last I have frequently observed domesticated among the Indians. Pursuing his route, he came near a large town named Cinacan Tencintle, situated amongst fine cocoa, plantations, and in which he heard the sound of music, the Indians being engaged in a drunken festival. Cortes waited until a fit opportunity; concealed in a wood, and then suddenly rushing out, made ten men and fifteen women prisoners. The rest attacked him with arrows and darts, but our people closed with them and cut to pieces eight of their chiefs. When the natives found that the affair was going against them they thought it high time to submit; and accordingly four old men, two of whom were priests, came, apparently very much tamed, to petition Cortes for the prisoners, and brought with them a few trifles of gold. Cortes promised to deliver his prisoners on receiving a good supply of provisions which they assured him of, and he pointed out to them where the ships lay. It appears that a misunderstanding afterwards happened between Cortes and the natives, relative to the delivery of his captives, he wishing to retain three women to make bread. They in consequence proceeded to hostilities again; Cortes received a wound in the face, twelve also of his soldiers were wounded, and a boat destroyed. He then returned after an absence of twenty six days, suffering dreadfully, by the mosquitos. He wrote to Sandoval giving him an account of all that had occurred, at Cinacan, which is distant from Guatimala seventy leagues, and ordered him to proceed to Naco; Cortes himself intending to establish a settlement at the place which was named Puerto de Cavallos, for which purpose he desired ten of the veterans of Guacacualco without whose assistance nothing was conducted properly.
Cortes taking with him all the Spaniards that remained at St. Gil de Buena Vista, embarked in two ships, and after eight days sail arrived at Puerto de Cavallos, in order to plant a colony there, the situation being answerable, and the harbour good. He appointed Diego de Godoy commandant of this settlement, which he named Natividad. He thought that by this time Sandoval had arrived at Naco which was not far distant, and wrote to him there, desiring ten of the soldiers of Guacacualco to reinforce him, as he intended to proceed to the bay of Honduras. This letter reached us in the quarters which I last mentioned, for we had not arrived at Naco. I will say no more of the proceedings of Cortes, nor how the flies bit him day and night, and prevented his rest, so that as we afterwards heard he had like to have died or lost his senses, from want of sleep.
Sandoval on receiving the general’s letter pressed forwards towards Naco, but was obliged to halt at a place called Cuyocan, in order to bring up his stragglers who had quitted him in search of provisions. We had also a river to pass, and the natives all round were hostile. As our line of march was so very long by the number of invalids who came straggling after us, especially of the Mexicans, it became necessary to establish a post at the ferry on this river, for which purpose Sandoval left me with the command of eight men.
One night a body of the natives fell upon us, but we were prepared for them. They set fire to the house in which we were, and thought to have brought off our canoe; but we, with the assistance of a few Mexicans, beat them off for that time, and knowing that there were some invalids lodged upon the road behind us, we on the next day brought them over and all together set out to join Sandoval. One man died upon the road; he was a Genoese, had been some time ill, and at length sunk under poverty of diet. I was obliged to leave the body behind, for which Sandoval blamed me when I made my report. I told him we had two invalids on each horse, and my companion Bartholome de Villa Nueva haughtily said, that it was difficult enough for us to
bring ourselves, without carrying dead men. Sandoval immediately ordered me and Villanueva to return and bury him, which we accordingly did, and placed a cross over the grave. We found in his pocket a purse containing a quantity of dice, and a memorandum of his family and effects in Teneriffe. Rest his soul! Amen.
In about two days we arrived at Naco, having passed a place where mines have been since discovered, and also a town named Quinistan. On arriving at Naco we found it to be a good town, but it was abandoned by its inhabitants; however we obtained plenty of provisions and salt which we much wanted. We took our quarters in some very large quadrangles, the same place where De Oli had been executed, and fixed ourselves as if we had been to remain here for ever. In this place is the fined water that we had met with in New Spain, as also a tree, which at the time of the siesta, let the heat of the sun be as great as it will, has a delightful refreshing coolness in its shade, and there seems to descend from it a kind of dew, of the mod delicate nature, which is good for the head. The place is well situated, the neighbourhood fertile and producing both the red and the small sapote, and it was at that time populous.
Sandoval having obtained possession of three of the principal natives of the district, treated them kindly, and we continued in peaceable terms with them, but the inhabitants could not be induced to return to the town. It was now time to send the reinforcement Cortes had required, of ten Spanish settlers of Guacacualco. I was an invalid and unable to go, and Sandoval wished to keep me with him; eight valiant soldiers were however sent, who set out heartily cursing Cortes and his expedition at every step. They had some reason, for they did; not know the leaf of the Hate of the country through which they were to go. Sandoval took the precaution of sending five principal persons of the natives with them, and gave it to be understood that if any injury was done to them the country should be severely punished. They arrived at the place where Cortes was, in safety, and he immediately embarked
for Truxillo, leaving Godoy in the
command at Puerto de Cavallos, with forty Spaniards,
which was all that remained of the settlers who came with
For some time Godoy maintained himself in the neighbouring country, but as his men were continually dropping off by disease, the Indians began to despise and neglect them, and in a short time they lost by sickness and famine above half their number, and three of them deserted and joined Sandoval. Such was the result of the colonization of Puerto de Cavallos. Sandoval, by different expeditions to the neighbouring districts, named Cirimongo, Acalaco, Quizmitan, and four others, and by judicious measures, brought the whole of the country to peace and subjection, all around Naco, and as far as Godoy’s settlement.
days sail Cortes arrived at the
to send labourers to clear the woods in front of the town, and open the view to the sea. All this being readily undertaken by them, Cortes ordered a number of sows in young to be turned out on these islands, to stock them, which they did in the course of a few years. The reverend fathers Franciscans also preached to the Indians many holy things very edifying to hear. The natives applied themselves to labour so earnestly, that in two days they cleared the woods towards the sea, and built fifteen houses one of which was for Cortes, and a very good habitation. The renown of our general made him feared through all these districts, as far as Olancho where are the rich mines; the Indians called him the captain Hue-hue of Marina, that is the old captain who brings Donna Marina, and his pretence reduced the whole country to submission, two or three districts in the mountains only holding out. Against these, the names of which were given to him by the chief of Papayeca, then a populous district but now almost uninhabited, he sent Captain Saavedra with a party of soldiers who brought most of them under subjection, the only one that held out being that people named the Acaltecans.
As many of the suite of Cortes began now to fall lick from the effects of the climate, he tent them on board a vessel to St. Domingo or Cuba, and by this opportunity he also sent letters to the reverend fathers of the order of St. Jerome, and the court of royal audience; informing them of all the events that had happened; of his resigning the government of Mexico into the hands of deputies, to proceed against De Oli in person, and also of his suture intentions. He requested from them a reinforcement of soldiers, and, to attach credit to his report, he sent a valuable present of gold, taken in reality from his side board, but in such a manner that it should appear to them the produce of this settlement. This business he entrusted to a relation named Avalos, with orders, on his way, to take up twenty five soldiers, who, he had received intelligence, were left in the Island of Cozumel, to kidnap Indians. This vessel was wrecked about seventy leagues from the Havannah; the Captain, Avalos, and many passengers perished, and
those few who escaped, amongst whom was the licentiate Pedro Lopez, were the first who brought to the islands intelligence of the existence of Cortes and his army, for it had been hitherto universally believed that we had all perished. As soon as it was known where Cortes then was, two old ships were freighted with horses and colts, and sent out to us. Except these, and one pipe of wine, all the rest of the cargo consisted of shirts, caps, and useless trumpery of various kinds.
Indians of the islands called the Guanajes, which are
about the distance of eight leagues from Truxillo,
came at this time to complain to Cortes, that it had been a practice of the
Spaniards to come to their islands, and kidnap the natives and their maceguales, or slaves, and that a vessel was now there, as
supposed for that purpose. Cortes on hearing this ordered out one of his ships,
which came in view of the vessel, but she immediately hoisted sail, and made
her escape. It afterwards appeared that the commander of her was the bachelor
Whilst Sandoval remained at Naco, the chiefs of two districts in that vicinity named Quecuspan, and Tanchinalchapa, came to him to complain of a party of Spaniards who maltreated their people, robbing them, and putting them in chains, and who were now at the distance of about one day’s march from his post. He accordingly set out against them with seventy men, and arrived at the place where these people were, perfectly at their ease, and not expecting any attack. They were surprised at seeing us, and ran to their arms; but we soon seized the captain and several more, thus getting the better of them without any blood being drawn on either side. Sandoval censured them in very strong terms for their misconduct, and ordered those Indians whom they had made prisoners to be immediately released. The captain of this party was one Pedro de Garro; he and his men were marched prisoners to our settlement. From the manner in which they were mounted and attended, they seemed to be lords, in comparison of us who were dirty and worn
down with service. Several of them were persons of quality or gentlemen, and after they had reposed a day amongst us they grew perfectly contented.
of their being in these countries is as follows. Pedro Arias de Avila, who had
the government of Tierra Firma, sent a captain named Francisco Hernandez to
make conquests in the
All this being explained to Sandoval; was by him communicated to Cortes, in expectation of his supporting the views of Hernandez, by Captain Luis Malin, whom I attended upon this occasion. Our, whole party consisted of ten soldiers, and a most desperate journey it was. The Indians were hostile and attacked us with large heavy lances, wounding two of our soldiers. The rivers which we crossed were swollen and rapid, and so frequent, that in one day we passed three of them; one river named Xagua, ten leagues from Triumpho de la Cruz, detained us for two days, and the inlets and lagoons were infested by alligators. By the side of the river Xagua we found the skeletons of seven horses; they had belonged to De Oli’s troops, and died from eating poisonous
herbs. Passing El Triumpho de la
Cruz, and a place named Quemara, at length we arrived
in the neighbourhood of Truxillo
about the hour of vespers, and law five cavaliers riding along the coast. These
were, Cortes and four of his friends, who were taking exercise. When he recognised us, after the first surprise at the unexpected
meeting, he dismounted from his horse, and running up, embraced us all with
tears in his eyes, so overjoyed was he to see us. It made me melancholy to find
him so weak and reduced. Distress and disease had worn him down; indeed he
expected death, and had gotten a Franciscan habit made to be buried in. He had
not at this time received any intelligence from
were relating to Cortes the hardships we had sustained during our late journey,
a ship was descried at a distance, making for our port. This vessel sailed from
the Havannah, with letters for the general from the
licentiate Zuazo, alcalde
auction. From his father in Castille he was informed, of the death of the Bishop of Burgos, that Albornoz had been laboriously undermining us at court, and also of what I have before related, in regard to his Majesty’s orders to the admiral, and the interference of the duke of Bejar; also that Narvaez had been appointed to the government of the river Palmas, and that the government of Panuco had been given to one Nuno de Guzman.
In regard to the affairs of New Spain these letters further added, that in consequence of the powers which Cortes had given to the factor Gonzalo de Salazar, and the veedor Pedro Almindes Chirinos, to supercede the deputies he had left in Mexico, viz. the treasurer Alonzo de Estrada, and the contador Albornoz, and to take the administration upon themselves in case of misconduct on the part of the deputies, these two officers having on their return to Mexico formed a strong party, amongst whom was the licentiate Zuazo alcalde major, Rodrigo de Paz alguazil major, A. de Tapia, Jorge de Alvarado, and the rest of the ancient conquerors, attempted to take the government into their hands by main. force, and the consequence of the struggle of the two parties was, much disturbance, and bloodshed. The factor and veedor however carried their point, and had made prisoners the two, former deputies and many of their friends. Still however there was fighting every day, the predominating party confiscating the property of their opponents, to distribute it among their own adherents. They had, we learned, completely superceded Zuazo in his office, and had imprisoned Rodrigo de Paz the alguazil major, but that the licentiate Zuazo had effected a temporary reconciliation between the parties. During these disturbances, three districts, viz. the Zapotecans, Minxes, and those in the vicinity of a fortified rock named Coatlanhad rebelled, and a force going against them under the veedor. Chirinos, instead of attending to their business, the troops thought of nothing but card playing, in consequence of which the natives surprised them in their camp, and did them much mischief. The factor had then sent a veteran captain named Andrez de Monjaraz, to assist the veedor, and advise him; but
this officer was unable to exert himself
properly, being an invalid. As to the city of
letters also informed us that the factor constantly remitted gold to his
Majesty’s treasurer, Don Francisco de los Cobos, to
make an interest for himself at court, reporting that we were all dead at Xicalonga, the belief of which was corroborated by Diego de
Ordas who, to get out of the factions and troubles of
Mexico had sailed with two vessels to search for us, and arriving at the place
called Xicalonga, where the captains Simon de Cuenca
and Francisco de Medina had been killed, hearing the account of their
misfortunes, and not knowing the particulars, had taken it for granted that it
could be no others than Cortes and his party who were thus destroyed, and
reported so in his letters to Mexico which he sent by certain passengers, and
then, without landing, hoisted sail for Cuba. The factor shewed
his letter to our relations, and put on mourning; and a monument was erected, and funeral service performed for the honour of Cortes, in the great
As there are in all places flattering traitors, one of this description, whom we once expected better from, and whose name I will not mention, solemnly assured the factor, before many witnesses, that going one night by the church of St. Jago, which is built on the scite of the great temple of the Mexicans, and looking into the church yard, he
saw the souls of Cortes, Donna Marina, and Sandoval, burning in flames of fire; and that, he had been so terrified thereat, as to have remained ill ever since. Another man of good reputation also came to the factor, and told him that the quadrangles of Tescuco were haunted by evil spirits, which the natives said were the souls of Donna Marina and Cortes. All those falsehoods they invented to ingratiate themselves with the factor.
time arrived in
treasure of Cortes, whose major domo he had been, and because he could not, or would not declare, or make discovery concerning it, he caused his feet and part of his legs to be burnt; and not content with giving him the torture, and knowing also that if left alive he might complain to his Majesty, he ordered him to be hanged, which was accordingly done. He also arrested most of the friends of Cortes. Tapia and Jorge de Alvarado, however, took sanctuary with the Franciscan fathers; but several of them went over to him, partly because he gave them Indians, and partly because it is natural to wish to be with the strongest power, or, as the saying is, to cry, “success to the conquerors.” He emptied the arsenal of arms, and brought them to his palace, in the front of which he also planted all the artillery, which was commanded by Captain Don Luis de Guzman, son in law to the Duke of Medina Sidonia. He next formed a body guard for his own protection, composed in part of the soldiers of Cortes, to the command of which he appointed one Artiaga.
Zuazo also wrote to Cortes to inform him, that he had reported
many scandals of him to his Majesty, such as defrauding him of the duty upon
gold; and as an instance to what extent he carried his tyranny, he mentioned a
circumstance of a travelling Spaniard having
in-formed a woman, and given her proofs, that her husband who was gone with
Cortes was alive. This coming to the ears of the factor, he caused him to be
seized by four alguazils, and would have hanged him,
but that he, to excuse himself, declared that what he had said was all a
falsehood, and that he had only invented it to comfort the poor woman, seeing
her weeping for the lots of her husband. The business which brought this man to
Zuazo concluded by saying, that he feared
intelligence made us all very sad. It was difficult to say which of the two,
Cortes or the factor, we cursed most heartily in our own minds. We secretly
gave them ten thousand maledictions, and our hearts sunk within us. Cortes
retired to his chamber, and did not appear to us till evening, when we
entreated him immediately to hasten to
I remember when we were in the town of Truxillo, a gentleman named Roderigo Manueca, a principal officer in the general’s household, to divert Cortes, seeing him distressed, as he was with good reason, laid a wager with some other cavaliers, that he would climb in his armour to the top of the rock, whereon stood the house which the Indians had built for the head quarters. When he had got a considerable way up he missed his hold, and falling to the ground, was killed.
the settlers of this place now began to grow mutinous, on finding that Cortes
had omitted to name them to any office. He however found the means to pacify
them, by promises not to forget them on his arrival at
confidential friends of the governor Arias de Avila, having gotten the
knowledge that a private correspondence was going on between Hernandez and
Cortes, began to suspect the view of the former to surrender his province, and
detach himself from Avila. These soldiers were named Garruito
and Zamorrano. The former was urged on particularly
by an old enmity to Cortes, on account of a rivalship
about a lady in St. Domingo when they were both youths, and which had ended in
a duel. These persons informed
time that Cortes sailed from Truxillo for Vera Cruz,
he was obliged to put back by contrary winds, the second time from an. accident
which happened to the vessel. He was dispirited by sickness, the voyage also
added to his mental depression, and he was apprehensive of the power of the
factor. On his return he ordered a solemn mass, and prayed fervently to the holy Ghost to enlighten him as to his future proceedings. It
appears that he became inspired with an inclination to stay and colonize the
country where he then was; for he sent three expresses as hard as they could
post to recall us, and bring us back to Truxillo. In
his letters he expressed his determination, which he attributed to the
inspiration of his guardian angel. When we received this message we bestowed a
thousand maledictions on Cortes and the ill fortune which attended him, and told
Sandoval, that if he chose to, remain it must be by
himself, for that we were determined to proceed to,
Now I mention Sandoval’s horse, I must observe of him, that he was the swiftest, and the best dressed, and finest figure of any horse in New Spain: he was of a dark chesnut colour, and such was the fame of Motilla, that it reached the ear of his Majesty, to whom Sandoval
intended to present him. Sandoval applied to me at this time for
my horse, an excellent animal for career, exercise, or road. He cost me six
hundred crowns to one Avalos brother to Saavedra, my
former one, which had cost me a greater sum, being killed in an action at a
place called Zulaco. However Sandoval exchanged with
me one of his, which was killed under me in lets than two months; after which I
remained with nothing better than a vicious colt, which I bought a bad bargain
of from amongst those brought to Truxillo in the two
vessels, as I have before related. Sandoval at parting from us desired us to
wait his return at a large Indian town named Acalteca.
When he reached Truxillo, his friend Cortes was
rejoiced to see him, but neither our letter, nor the pressing instances of
Sandoval, nor of the reverend father Varillas, could
induce him to surmount his aversion to proceed to
Sandoval found it impossible to induce Cortes to go to Mexico, he prevailed
upon him to send a confidential servant named Martin de Orantes,
with a commission to Pedro de Alvarado, and Francisco de las
Casas, to take upon them the government during his
absence, in case those officers were in Mexico, and should they not be found
there, the same power was to be exercised by the treasurer Alonzo de Estrada,
and the contador Albornoz,
conformably to the deputation given by Cortes to them, previous to his
departure from Mexico, those delegated to the factor and veedor
being revoked. Cortes having agreed to this, and given his orders and
instructions, directed Orantes to land in a bay
between Vera Cruz and Panuco, and to suffer no one to
go on shore but himself; and the vessel was
immediately to hoist sail, and proceed for Panuco.
These last instructions were given, that the arrival of his officer should be
kept as private as possible until the proper time. He also sent letters by him
to all his friends in
The wind and weather bring favourable, in a few days the vessel arrived
arrived at its destination, and Orantes
on landing disguised himself as a labourer. On his
journey he avoided the Spaniards, lodging and mixing only with the natives.
Those who had known him before could not have recognized him, after an absence
of two years and three months. To such as questioned
him he said, that his name was Juan, de Flechilla; in
this manner, being an active man, he arrived in four days at
It was then determined by them, as the first step, to seize on the person of the factor in the morning. All the intermediate time was employed in collecting arms and friends, and making other preparations for the purpose. The veedor was at that period at the rock of Coatlan. At day break the whole party marched to the palace inhabited by the factor, crying, “long live his Majesty, and Hernando Cortes.” When this was heard by the citizens, they all took to their arms, thinking it something wherein government called for their assistance, and numbers under that idea joined the treasurer on his march. As to the contador, he played a double part, giving intelligence to the factor to put him on his guard, and Estrada reproached him strongly for his conduct.
When the party of Cortes approached the residence of the factor, they found that he was already well prepared, owing to the information that he had received. His artillery under Don Luis de Guzman was planted in front of the house, and he had a strong garrison within side. Those with the treasurer forcing their way in, some by the different doors, others by the terraces and wherever they could get access, all at the
time, and shouting for his Majesty and Cortes, the adherents of the factor
became dismayed, and the artillery-men abandoning the guns, the other soldiers
also made off and hid themselves; one of them, Gines Nortes, leaping down from a corredor,
so that there only remained with the factor, Pedro Gonzalez Sabiote,
and four servants. When he found himself thus abandoned, he became desperate,
and endeavoured himself to fire off the guns, in
which attempt he was seized, and made prisoner. A large cage of timber was constructed
to receive him, and thus terminated his career as governor of
Immediate intelligence of all that had happened was forwarded to Pedro de Alvarado, with directions to him to proceed to Truxillo, and wait upon Cortes. The next thing that the new deputies did was, to pay their respects to Juanna de Mansilla, the woman who had been whipped for a witch. The treasurer placed her on horseback behind him, and thus, attended by all the cavaliers in procession, she was paraded through the streets of Mexico like a Roman matron, and was ever after called Donna Juanna, in honour of her constancy, in refusing to comply with the orders of the factor, to marry again, while she was convinced that her husband was living.
tion of property among their greedy supporters, had gained them many adherents, and, if not friends, at least persons interested in the maintenance of their government. These, composed principally of the low and seditious description, but mixed with some of quality, with the support and contrivance of the contador who dreaded the arrival of Cortes, had formed a plan to kill the treasurer, and reinstate the factor and veedor in their offices. For the purpose of releasing them from prison, they had recourse to one Guzman, a white-smith; a fellow of low character, and a ridiculous affecter of wit. To him they applied to make the keys, giving him a piece of gold whereon was marked the form in which they were to be wrought, and charging him at the same time to keep the strictest secrecy. All this he readily undertook and promised, speaking as if he had the liberation of the prisoners sincerely at heart. They then told him all the particulars which his inquisitiveness induced him to question them about, and he proceeded in his work, but slowly and aukwardly, in order to induce them to repeat their visits, to hurry him on; and he thus obtained from the conspirators the knowledge that he required. The keys being finished, and the party ready to make the attempt, he suddenly went to the house of the treasurer, and gave him an account of the whole. The treasurer, assembling the friends of Cortes on the instant, proceeded to the place of meeting, where he found twenty conspirators armed, and in waiting for the signal. These he seized, but many others made their escape. Among these apprehended were some notorious characters; one of them had lately committed violence on a Castillian woman. They were tried before the bachelor Ortega alcalde major, and being convicted, three were hanged, and several whipped.
I must now make a considerable digression from my narrative, though it comes in properly in point of matter, to mention how the same vessel which conveyed the letters transmitted by the factor to his Majesty in Castille, conveyed others, so artfully concealed that he had no suspicion of them, wherein was given a full and true account of all
his oppressions, and unlawful proceedings. These facts had also been already reported by the courts of St. Domingo, which contradicted the accounts of the death of Cortes, and informed his Majesty, how that officer was employed for his service. The Emperor is reported to have declared his indignation at the manner in which Cortes had been treated, and his determination to support him.
When Fra Altamirano arrived at Truxillo, and explained his business to Cortes, the latter returned thanks to heaven for having granted peace to that country. He also declared his intention of going thither, but that it must be by land, on account of the contrariety of the currents and his own bad state of health. The pilots however represented to him that the season was favourable, it being then the month of April, and prevailed upon him to give up his first determination, but still he could not leave that place until the return of Sandoval, whom he had detached against a Captain Roxas, who served under Arias, and against whom complaints had been lodged by the natives of a district named Olancho, which was distant about fifty five leagues from Truxillo. Sandoval had been detached thither with seventy soldiers; at first the two parties were upon the brink of hostilities, but became afterwards reconciled and parted amicably, Roxas and his soldiers quitting that country.
Sandoval was immediately recalled in consequence of the message brought by Altamirano. The general appointed Captain Saavedra his lieutenant in that province, and wrote at the same time to Captain Luis Marin, to march our whole party by the road of Guatimala, and Captain Godoy he ordered to Naco. These letters Saavedra maliciously suppressed, for they never came to our hands. Cortes previous to his embarkation confessed to Fra Juan and received the sacrament, for he was so ill that he thought himself at the point of death. The wind favouring his voyage to the Havannah, he soon arrived there, and
and was joyfully received by his former friends and acquaintances; and a vessel from New Spain which arrived about the same time, brought intelligence that the country was at peace, for that the Indians hearing that Cortes, and we his conquerors were yet living, had come in and submitted.