I BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, regidor of this loyal city of Guatimala, and author of the following most true history, during the time I was writing the same, happened to see a work composed by Francisco Lopez de Gomara, the elegance of which made me blush for the vulgarity of my own, and throw down my pen in despair. But when I had read it, I found that the whole was a misrepresentation, and also that in his extraordinary exaggerations of the numbers of the natives, and of those who were killed in the different battles, his account was utterly unworthy of belief. We never much exceeded four hundred men, and if we had found such numbers bound hand and foot, we could not have put them to death. But the fact was, we had enough to do to protect ourselves, for I vow to God, and say Amen thereto, that we were every day repeating our prayers, and supplicating to be delivered from the perils that surrounded us. Alaric a most brave king, and Attila a proud warrior, never killed so many of their foes as we are said by that historian to have done in New Spain. He also says we burned many cities and temples; and this he does to astonish his reader; not seeming to recollect that any of the true conquerors existed, to contradict him. He also enhances the merit of one officer at the expence of another; speaking of some as captains who were not with us.

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He says that Cortes gave orders, secretly, for the destruction of the ships; whereas it was done by the common consent of all, to have the assistance of the mariners. He also depreciates Juan de Grijalva most unjustly; he being a very valiant captain. He omits the discovery of Yucatan by De Cordova, and is in an error again when he speaks of the first expedition of Garray, as if Garray had come with it. In what concerns the defeat of Narvaez, his account is conformable to the relations given; but in that of the wars of Tlascala he is as erroneous as ever. As to the war in Mexico, where we lost above eight hundred and seventy soldiers, this he treats as a matter of little importance; and he makes no mention of our losses in the subsequent siege, but speaks of it as if it had been a festival, or a marriage! but why should I waste paper and ink in the detection of his numerous errors; I will therefore proceed with my relation, for according to what the wise say, the art and beauty of historical composition is, to write the truth; and proceeding upon this rule, with such embellishment and ornament as I shall hereafter judge expedient, I will relate and bring into full light the conquest of New Spain, and the heroic services of us the true conquerors, who with our small numbers, under the adventurous and brave Captain Hernando Cortes, and with great danger and hardships, gained to his Majesty this rich country; for which service his Majesty has frequently issued his orders that we should be amply rewarded. Moreover, as a good pilot sounds, and discovers shoals and sands as he proceeds, by the lead and line, so will I, with my pen in my hand, expose misrepresentations, in my voyage through the history of Gomara, to the haven of truth; but if I were to point out every error, the chaff would outweigh the grain.

My relation will give to historians sufficient whereby to celebrate

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our general, Cortes, and the brave conquerors by whose hands this holy and great undertaking succeeded; for this is no history of distant nations, nor vain reveries; I relate that of which I was an eye witness, and not idle reports and hearsay: for truth is sacred. Gomara received and wrote such accounts as were intended to enhance the fame and merit of Cortes; no mention being made by him of our valiant captains and soldiers; and the whole tenor of the work, shews how much he was influenced by his attachment to that family by whom he and his are patronised. He has also misled the Doctor Illescas, and Bishop Paulus Jovius.

The following history I have brought to its conclusion, in the loyal city of Guatimala, the residence of the royal court of audience, on this twenty sixth day of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand five hundred and seventy two.