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SECTION VI. The Spaniards commence their March to Mexico; with an account of the War in Tlascala, and the submission of that Nation

Everything being in readiness for our march to Mexico, we were advised by our allies of Chempoalla to proceed by way of Tlascala, the inhabitants of that province being in friendship with them and constantly at war with the Mexicans; and at our requisition, we were joined by fifty of the principal warriors of the Totanacas1, who likewise gave us 200 tlamama, or men of burden, to draw our guns and to transport our baggage and ammunition2. Our first day's march on the 16th of August 1519, was to Xalapan, and our second to Socochima, a place of difficult approach, surrounded by vines. During the whole of this march, the main body was kept in compact order, being always preceded by an advance of light infantry, and patroles of cavalry. Our interpreters informed the people of this place, that we were subjects of the great emperor Don Carlos, who had sent us to abolish human sacrifices and various other abuses; and as these people were allies of Chempoalla and independent of Montezuma, they treated us in a friendly manner. We erected a cross at this place, explaining its signification and giving them information of many things belonging to our holy faith, and exhorting them to reverence the cross. From this place we proceeded by a difficult pass among lofty mountains to Texotla, the people of which place were well disposed to us, as they also paid no tribute to Montezuma. Continuing our march through desert lofty mountains, we experienced excessive cold, with heavy falls of hail, and came next day to a pass, where there were some houses and large temples, and great piles of wood intended for the service of the idols. Provisions were scarce during the two last days, and we now approached the confines of the Mexican empire, at a place called Xocotlan; to the cacique of which place Cortes sent a message informing him of our arrival. The appearance of this place evinced that we were entering upon a new and richer country. The temples and other buildings were lofty, with terraced roofs, and had a magnificent appearance, being all plastered and white-washed, so as to resemble some of our towns in Spain; on which account we called this place Castel blanco.

In consequence of our message, the cacique and other principal persons of the town came out to meet us, and conducted us to our quarters, where they gave us a very poor entertainment. After supper, Cortes inquired respecting the military power of Montezuma, and was told that he was able to bring prodigious armies into the field. The city of Mexico was represented as of uncommon strength, being built on the water, with no communication between the houses, houses, except by means of boats or bridges, each house being terraced, and only needing the addition of a parapet to become a fortress. The only access to the city was by means of three causeways or piers, each of which had four or five apertures for the passage of the waters, having wooden bridges which could be raised up, so as to preclude all access. We were likewise informed of the vast wealth possessed by Montezuma, in gold, silver, and jewels, which filled us with astonishment; and although the account we had already received of the military resources of the empire and the inaccessible strength of the capital might have filled us with dismay, yet we were eager to try our fortunes. The cacique expatiated in praise of Montezuma, and expressed his apprehension of having offended him by receiving us into his government without his leave. To this Cortes replied, That we had come from a far distant country by command of our sovereign, to exhort Montezuma and his subjects to desist from human sacrifices and other outrages; adding: "I now require all who hear me, to renounce your inhuman sacrifices, cannibal feasts, and other abominable customs; for such is the command of GOD, whom we adore." The natives listened to all this in profound silence, and Cortes proposed to the soldiers to destroy the idols and plant the holy cross, as had been already done at Chempoalla; but Father Olmedo recommended that this should be postponed to a fitter opportunity, lest the ignorance and barbarism of the people might incite them to offer indignity against that holy symbol of our blessed religion.

We happened to have a very large dog along with us, which belonged to Francisco de Lugo, which used to bark very loud during the night, to the great surprise of the natives, who asked our Chempoallan allies if that terrible animal was a lion or tiger which we had brought to devour them. They answered that this creature attacked and devoured whoever offended us; that our guns discharged stones which destroyed our enemies, and that our horses were exceedingly swift and caught whoever we pursued. On this the others observed that with such astonishing powers we certainly were teules. Our allies also advised them to beware of practising any thing against us, as we could read their hidden thoughts, and recommended them to conciliate our favour by a present. They accordingly brought us several ornaments of much debased gold, and gave us four women to make bread, and a load of mantles. Near some of the temples belonging to this place I saw a vast number of human skeletons arranged in such exact order that they might easily be counted with perfect accuracy, and I am certain there were above an hundred thousand. In another part immense quantities of human bones were heaped up in endless confusion. In a third, great numbers of skulls were suspended from beams, and watched by three priests. Similar collections were to be seen everywhere as we marched through this district and the territories of Tlascala.

On consulting the cacique of Xocotla respecting the road to Mexico, he advised us to go through Cholula; but our allies strongly dissuaded us from that route, alleging that the people were very treacherous, and that the town was always occupied by a Mexican garrison, and repeated the former advice of going by Tlascala, assuring us of a friendly reception there. Cortes accordingly sent messengers before us to Tlascala announcing our approach, and bearing a crimson velvet cap as a present. Although these people were ignorant of writing, yet Cortes sent a letter by his messengers, as it was generally understood to carry a sanction of the message which was to be delivered. We now set out for Tlascala, in our accustomed order of march, attended by twenty principal inhabitants of Xocotla. On arriving at a village in the territory of Xalacingo3, where we received intelligence that the whole nation of the Tlascalans were in arms to oppose us, believing as to be in alliance with their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, on account of the number of Mexican subjects who attended our army. So great was their suspicion on this account, that they imprisoned our two messengers, for whose return we waited two days very impatiently. Cortes employed the time in exhorting the Indians to abandon their idolatry and to reconcile themselves to our holy church. At the end of these two days, we resumed our march, accompanied by two of the principal people of this place whom Cortes demanded to attend us, and we soon afterwards met our messengers who had made their escape, either owing to the negligence or connivance of their guards. These messengers were in extreme terror, as the people of Tlascala threatened to destroy us and every one who should adhere to us. As a battle was therefore to be expected, the standard was advanced to the front, and Cortes instructed the cavalry to charge by threes to the front, never halting to give thrusts with their lances, but urging on at speed with couched lances levelled at the faces of the enemy. He directed them also, when their lance was seized by the enemy, to force it from them by the efforts of the horse, firmly grasping the butt under the arm. At about two leagues from the last resting-place, we came to a fortification built of stone and lime, excellently constructed for defence, and so well cemented that nothing but iron tools could make an impression on it. We halted for a short time to examine this work, which had been built by the Tlascalans to defend their territory against the incursions of their Mexican enemies; and on Cortes ordering us to march on, saying, "Gentlemen follow your standard the holy cross, through which we shall conquer;" we all replied, "Forward in the name of God, in whom is our only confidence."

After passing this barrier some distance, our advanced guard descried about thirty of the Tlascalan troops, who had been sent to observe us. Cortes sent on the cavalry to endeavour to take some of these men prisoners, while the infantry advanced at a quick pace to support the advanced guard. Our cavalry immediately attacked, but the Tlascalans defended themselves bravely with their swords, wounding some of the horses severely, on which our people had to kill five of them, but were unable to make any prisoners. A body of three thousand warriors now sallied out upon us with great fury from an ambush, and began to discharge their arrows at our cavalry; but as our artillery and musquetry were now ready to bear upon them, we soon compelled them to give way, though in a regular manner, and fighting as they retreated; leaving seventeen of their men dead on the field; and one of our men was so severely wounded as to die a few days after. As the day was near a close, we did not attempt any pursuit; but continued our march, in which we soon descended from the hills into a flat country, thickly set with farm-houses, among fields of maize and the Maguay plant. We halted for the night on the banks of a brook, where we dressed our wounds with the grease of a fat Indian who was slain in the skirmish; and though the natives had carried away all their provisions, we caught their dogs when they returned at night to the houses, and made a comfortable supper of that unusual fare. Next day, after recommending ourselves to God, we resumed our march against the Tlascalan army; both cavalry and infantry being duly instructed how to act when we came to battle; the cavalry to charge right through, and the infantry to preserve a firm array. We soon fell in with the enemy, to the number of about 6000 men in two bodies, who immediately attacked us with great spirit, discharging their arrows, shouting, and sounding their martial instruments. Cortes halted the army, and sent three prisoners to demand a peaceable conference, and to assure them we wished to treat them as brothers; ordering at the same time the notary Godoy, to witness this message officially. This message had no effect, as they attacked us more fiercely than before, on which Cortes gave the word, St Jago, and on them. We accordingly made a furious onset, slaying many with the first discharges of our artillery, three of their chiefs falling on this occasion. They now retreated to some uneven ground, where the whole army of the state of Tlascala, 40,000 in number, were posted under cover, commanded by Xicotencatl, the general in chief of the republic. As the cavalry could not act in this uneven ground, we were forced to fight our way through as well as we were able in a compact column, assailed on every side by the enemy, who were exceedingly expert archers. They were all clothed in white and red, with devices of the same colours, being the uniform of their general. Besides the multitudes who discharged continual flights of arrows, many of them who were armed with lances closed upon us while we were embarrassed by the inequality of the ground; but as soon as we got again into the plain, we made a good use of our cavalry and artillery. Yet they fought incessantly against us with astonishing intrepidity, closing upon us all around, so that we were in the utmost danger at every step, but God supported and assisted us. While closely environed in this manner, a number of their strongest warriors, armed with tremendous two-handed swords, made a combined attack on Pedro de Moron, an expert horseman, who was charging through them accompanied by other three of our cavalry. They seized his lance and wounded himself dangerously, and one of them cut through the neck of his horse with a blow of a two-handed sword, so that he fell down dead. We rescued Moron from the enemy with the utmost difficulty, even cutting the girths and bringing off his saddle, but ten of our number were wounded in the attempt, and believe we then slew ten of their chiefs, while fighting hand to hand. They at length began to retire, taking with them the body of the horse, which they cut in pieces, and distributed through all the districts of Tlascala as a trophy of victory. Moron died soon after of his wounds, at least I have no remembrance of seeing him afterwards. After a severe and close conflict of above an hour, during which our artillery swept down multitudes out of the numerous and crowded bodies of the enemy, they drew off in a regular manner, leaving the field to us, who were too much fatigued to pursue. We took up our quarters, therefore, in the nearest village, named Teoatzinco, where we found numbers of subterraneous dwellings. This battle was fought on the 2d September 1519. The loss of the enemy on this occasion was very considerable, eight of their principal chiefs being slain, but how many others we know not, as whenever an Indian is wounded or slain, he is immediately carried off by his companions. Fifteen of them were made prisoners, of whom two were chiefs. On our side fifteen men were wounded, one only of whom died. As soon as we got clear of the enemy, we gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation, and took post in a strong and spacious temple, where we dressed our wounds with the fat of Indians. We obtained a plentiful supply of food from the fowls and dogs which we found in the houses of the village, and posted strong guards on every side for our security.

We continued quietly in the temple for one day, to repose after the fatigues of the battle, occupying ourselves in repairing our cross-bows, and making arrows. Next day Cortes sent out seven of our cavalry with two hundred infantry and all our allies, to scour the country, which is very flat and well adapted for the movements of cavalry, and this detachment brought in twenty prisoners, some of whom were women, without meeting with any injury from the enemy, neither did the Spaniards do any mischief; but our allies, being very cruel, made great havoc, and came back loaded with dogs and fowls. Immediately on our return, Cortes released all the prisoners, after giving them food and kind treatment, desiring them to expostulate with their companions on the madness of resisting our arms. He likewise released the two chiefs who had been taken in the preceding battle, with a letter in token of credence, desiring them to inform their countrymen that he only asked to pass through their country in his way to Mexico. These chiefs waited accordingly on Xicotencatl, whose army was posted about two leagues from our quarters, at a place called Tehuacinpacingo, and delivered the message of Cortes. To this the Tlascalan general replied, "Tell them to go to Tlascala, where we shall give them peace by offering their hearts and blood to our gods, and by feasting on their bodies." After what we had already experienced of the number and valour of the enemy, this horrible answer did not afford us much consolation; but Cortes concealed his fears, and treated the messengers more kindly than ever, to induce them to carry a fresh message. By inquiry from them he got the following account of the number of the enemy and of the nature of the command enjoyed by its general. The army now opposed to us consisted of the troops or quotas of five great chiefs, each consisting of 10,000 men. These chiefs were Xicotencatl the elder, father to the general, Maxicotzin, Chichimecatecle, Tecapaneca cacique of Topeyanco, and a cacique named Guaxocinga4. Thus 50,000 men were now collected against us under the banner of Xicotencatl, which was a white bird like an ostrich with its wings spread out5. The other divisions had each its distinguishing banner, every cacique bearing these cognizances like our Spanish nobles, a circumstance we could not credit when so informed by our prisoners. This formidable intelligence did not tend to lessen the fears which the terrible answer of Xicotencatl had occasioned, and we prepared for the expected battle of the next day, by confessing our sins to our reverend fathers, who were occupied in this holy office during the whole night6.

On the 5th of September, we marched out with our whole force, the wounded not excepted, having our colours flying and guarded by four soldiers appointed for that purpose. The crossbow-men and musketeers were ordered to fire alternately, so that some of them might be always loaded: The soldiers carrying swords and bucklers were directed to use their points only, thrusting home through the bodies of the enemy, by which they were less exposed to missile weapons; and the cavalry were ordered to charge at half speed, levelling their lances at the eyes of the enemy, and charging clear through without halting to make thrusts. We had hardly marched half a quarter of a league, when we observed the whole army of the enemy, covering the plain on every side as far as the eye could reach, each separate body displaying its particular device or standard, and all advancing to the sound of martial music. A great deal might be said of this tremendous and long doubtful battle, in which four hundred of us were opposed to prodigious hosts, which surrounded us on every side, filling all the plains to the extent of two leagues. Their first discharges of arrows, stones, and double-headed darts covered the whole ground which we occupied, and they advanced continually till closed upon us all around, attacking us with the utmost resolution with lances and two-handed swords, encouraging each other by continual shouts. Our artillery, musketry, and cross-bows plied them with incessant discharges, and made prodigious havoc among the crowded masses of the enemy, and the home thrusts of our infantry with their swords, prevented them from closing up so near as they had done in the former battle. Yet with all our efforts, our battalion was at one time completely broken into and separated, and all the exertions of our general was for some time unable to get us again into order; at length, however, by the diligent use of our swords, we forced them from among us, and were able again to close our ranks. During the whole battle our cavalry produced admirable effects, by incessant charges through the thickest of the enemy. We in some measure owed our safety, under God, to the unwieldy multitude of the enemy, so that some of the divisions could never get up to the attack. One of the grand divisions, composed of the warriors dependant on Guaxocinga, was prevented from taking any share in the battle by Chichemecatecle7, their commander, who had been provoked by some insulting language by Xicotencatl respecting his conduct in the preceding engagement, of which circumstance we received information afterwords. The circumstance of these divisions not joining in the battle, slackened the ardour of the rest, more especially after they had experienced the terrible effects of our cavalry, artillery, and other offensive weapons; and one of their greatest chiefs being killed, they at length drew off from the fight, and were pursued to a short distance by our cavalry. In this great battle, one only of our soldiers was killed, but seventy men and all our horses were wounded. I had two wounds, one by an arrow and the other by a stone, but they were not sufficient to make me unfit for duty. Thus again masters of the field, we gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation, and returned to our former post, first burying our dead companion in one of the subterraneous houses, which was filled up and levelled, that his body might not be discovered by the enemy. We passed the ensuing night in a most comfortless situation, not being able to procure even oil and salt, and exposed to excessive cold winds from the snowy mountains.

Cortes sent a fresh message by three of our prisoners and those who had carried his former message, demanding a free passage to Mexico, and threatening to destroy the whole country in case of refusal. On their arrival at Tlascala, they found the chiefs much cast down at their repeated losses, yet unwilling to listen to our proposals. They sent for their priests and wizards, who pretended to foretel future events by casting lots, desiring them to say if the Spaniards were vincible, and what were the best means of conquering us; likewise demanding whether we were men or superior beings, and what was our food. The wizards answered, that we were men like themselves, subsisting upon ordinary food, but did not devour the hearts of our enemies as had been reported; alleging that though invincible by day, we might be conquered at night, as we derived all our power from the influence of the sun. Giving credit to this response, Xicotencatl received orders to make an immediate attack on our quarters during the night. He marched accordingly with ten thousand warriors, and made a night attack on our post in three places at once: But our outposts kept too good guard to be taken by surprise, and we were under arms in a moment to receive them. They met with so warm a reception, that they were soon forced to turn their backs; and as it was clear moon-light, our cavalry pursued them with great effect, so that they returned to their camp heartily repenting of their night attack; insomuch that it was reported they sacrificed two of their priests for deceiving them to their hurt. In this action one only of our allies was killed, and two Spaniards wounded; but our situation was far from consolatory. Besides being dreadfully hard harassed by fatigue, we had lost fifty-five of our soldiers from wounds, sickness, and severity of the weather, and several were sick. Our general and Father Olmedo were both ill of fevers: And we began to think it would be impossible for us to reach Mexico, after the determined resistance we had experienced from the Tlascalans.

In this extremity several of the officers and soldiers, among whom I was one, waited on Cortes, and advised him to release his prisoners and to make a fresh offer of friendship with the Tlascalans through these people. He, who acted on all occasions like a good captain, never failing to consult with us on affairs of importance, agreed with our present advice, and gave orders accordingly. Donna Marina, whose noble spirit and excellent judgment supported her on all occasions of danger, was now of most essential service to us, as indeed she often was; as she explained in the most forcible terms to these messengers, that if their countrymen did not immediately enter into a treaty of peace with us, that we were resolved to march against their capital, and would utterly destroy it and their whole nation. Our messengers accordingly went to Tlascala, where they waited on the chiefs of the republic, the principal messenger bearing our letter in one hand, as a token of peace, and a dart in the other as a signal of war, as if giving them their choice of either. Having delivered our resolute message, it pleased GOD to incline the hearts of these Tlascalan rulers to enter into terms of accommodation with us. The two principal chiefs, named Maxicatzin and Xicotencatl the elder8, immediately summoned the other chiefs of the republic to council, together with the cacique of Guaxocingo the ally of the republic, to whom they represented that all the attacks which they had made against us had been ineffectual, yet exceedingly destructive to them; that the strangers were hostile to their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, who had been continually at war against their republic for upwards of an hundred years, and had so hemmed them in as to deprive them of procuring cotton or salt; and therefore that it would be highly conducive to the interests of the republic to enter into an alliance with these strangers against their common enemies, and to offer us the daughters of their principal families for wives, in order to strengthen and perpetuate the alliance between us. This proposal was unanimously agreed upon by the council, and notice was immediately sent to the general of this determination, with orders to cease from hostilities. Xicotencatl was much offended at this order, and insisted on making another nocturnal attack on our quarters. On learning this determination of their general, the council of Tlascala sent orders to supersede him in the command, but the captains and warriors of the army refused obedience to this order, and even prevented four of the principal chiefs of the republic from waiting upon us with an invitation to come to their city.

After waiting two days for the result of our message without receiving any return, we proposed to march to Zumpacingo, the chief town of the district in which we then were, the principal people of which had been summoned to attend at our quarters, but had neglected our message. We accordingly began our march for that place early of a morning, having Cortes at our head, who was not quite recovered from his late illness. The morning was so excessively cold, that two of our horses became so exceedingly ill that we expected them to have died, and we were all like to perish from the effects of the piercing winds of the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Mountains. This occasioned us to accelerate our march to bring us into heat, and we arrived at Zumpacingo before daybreak; but the inhabitants, immediately on getting notice of our approach, fled precipitately from their houses, exclaiming that the teules were coming to kill them. We halted in a place surrounded with walls till day, when some priests and old men came to us from the temples, making an apology for neglecting to obey our summons, as they had been prevented by the threats of their general Xicotencatl. Cortes ordered them to send us an immediate supply of provisions, with which they complied, and then sent them with a message to Tlascala, commanding the chiefs of the republic to attend him at this place to establish a peace, as we were still ignorant of what had taken place in consequence of our former message. The Indians of the country began to entertain a favourable opinion of us, and orders were given by the Tlascalan senate that the people in our neighbourhood should supply us plentifully with provisions.

At this time some of the soldiers resumed their mutinous complaints, particularly those who had good houses and plantations in Cuba, who murmured at the hardships they had undergone and the manifold dangers with which we were surrounded. Seven of their ringleaders now waited on Cortes, having a spokesman at their head, who addressed the general in a studied oration, representing, "That above fifty-five of our companions had already perished during the expedition, and we were now ignorant of the situation of those we had left at Villa Rica. That we were so surrounded by enemies, it was hardly possible to escape from being sacrificed to the idols of the barbarians, if we persisted in our present hopeless enterprize. Our situation, they said, was worse than beasts of burden, who had food and rest when forced to labour, while we were oppressed with fatigue, and could neither procure sleep or provisions. As therefore the country now seemed peaceable and the enemy had withdrawn, the present opportunity ought to be taken for returning immediately to Villa Rica, on purpose to construct a vessel to send for reinforcements from Cuba; adding, that they lamented the destruction of our shipping, a rash and imprudent step, which could not be paralleled in history," Cortes answered them with great mildness; "That he was satisfied no soldiers ever exhibited more valour than we, and that by perseverance alone could we hope to preserve our lives amidst those great perils which God hitherto delivered us from, and that he hoped for a continuance of the same mercy. He appealed to them to say if he had ever shrunk from sharing in all their dangers; which indeed he might well do, as he never spared himself on any occasion. As to the destruction of the ships, it was done advisably, and for most substantial reasons; and as the most illustrious of our countrymen had never ventured on so bold a measure, it was better to look forward with trust in God, than to repine at what could not now be remedied. That although the natives we had left behind were at present friendly, all would assuredly rise against us the moment we began to retreat; and if our situation were now bad, it would then be desperate. We were now in a plentiful country; and as for our losses by death and fatigue, such was the fortune of war, and we had not come to this country to enjoy sports and pastimes. I desire therefore of you, who are all gentlemen, that you no longer think of retreat, but that you henceforwards shew an example to the rest, by doing your duty like brave soldiers, which I have always found you hitherto." They still continued to urge the danger of persisting in the march to Mexico; but Cortes cut them short, saying, That it was better to die at once than live dishonoured: And being supported by all his friends, the malcontents were obliged to stifle their dissatisfaction, as we all exclaimed that nothing more should be said on the subject.

Our deputation from Zumpacingo to Tlascala was at length successful; as after four repeated messages from the chiefs of the republic, their general Xicotencatl was obliged to cease hostilities. Accordingly forty Indians were sent by him to our quarters with a present of fowls, bread, and fruit. They also brought four old women in tattered clothes, some incense, and a quantity of parrots feathers. After offering incense to Cortes, one of the messengers addressed him as follows: "Our general sends these things to you. If ye are teules, as is reported, and desire human victims, take the hearts and blood of these women as food: We have not sacrificed them to you, as you have not hitherto made known your pleasure. If ye are men, we offer you fowls, bread, and fruit; if benignant teules, who do not desire human sacrifices, here are incense and parrots feathers." Cortes replied, That we were men like themselves, and never put any one to death except in our own defence: That he had repeatedly required them to make peace with us, which offer he now renewed, advising them no longer to continue their mad resistance, which must end in their own ruin and the destruction of their country: That our only object in coming among them, was to manifest the truths of our holy religion, and to put an end to human sacrifices, by command from God and our emperor. These men were spies, who had been sent by Xicotencatl to gain information of the strength and disposition of our quarters; and we were informed of this by our Chempoallan allies, who had learnt from the people of Zumpacingo that Xicotencatl intended to attack us. On this information, Cortes seized four of the messengers, whom he forced by threats to confess, that their general only waited for their report to attack us that night in our quarters. He then caused seventeen of the Tlascalan messengers to be arrested, cutting off the hands of some and the thumbs of others, and sent them back in that condition to Xicotencatl with a message, that he would wait his attack for two days, after which, if he heard nothing farther from him, he would march with his Spaniards to seek him in his post. On the return of his spies in a mutilated state, Xicotencatl, who was prepared to march against us, lost all his haughtiness and resolution, and we were informed that the chief with whom he had quarrelled, now quitted the army with his division.

The approach of a numerous train of Indians by the road from Tlascala was announced by one of our videts, from which we all conceived hopes of an embassy of peace, which it actually was. Cortes ordered us all immediately under arms, and on the arrival of the embassy, four old men advanced to our general, and after making three several reverences, touching the ground with their hands and kissing them, they offered incense, and said: That they were sent by the chiefs of Tlascala to put themselves henceforwards under our protection, and declared that they would on no account have made war upon us, if they had not believed we were allies of Montezuma, their ancient and inveterate enemy. They assured him that the first attack had been made upon us by the Otomies without their approbation, who believed they might easily have brought our small number as prisoners to their lords of Tlascala. They concluded by soliciting pardon for what had passed, assuring us that their general and the other chiefs of Tlascala would soon wait upon us to conclude a durable peace. Cortes in his answer, assumed a severe countenance, reproaching them for the violence they had been guilty of, yet, in consideration of their repentance, he accepted their presents, and was willing to receive them to favour, as he wished for peace; but desired them to inform their chiefs, if they delayed waiting upon him, he would continue his hostilities till be had ruined their whole country. The four ambassadors returned with this message to their employers, leaving their attendants with the provisions in our quarters. We now began to entertain hopes of their sincerity, to our great satisfaction, as we were heartily tired of the severe and hopeless war in which we had been so long engaged.

The news of the great victories which we had gained over the Tlascalans soon spread over the whole country, and came to the knowledge of Montezuma, who sent five principal nobles of his court to congratulate us on our success. These men brought a present of various articles of gold, to the value of 1000 crowns, with twenty loads of rich mantles, and a message, declaring his desire to become a vassal of our sovereign, to whom he was willing to pay an yearly tribute. He added a wish to see our general in Mexico, but, owing to the poverty of the country and the badness of the roads, he found himself under the necessity to deprive himself of that great pleasure. Cortes expressed his gratitude for the present, and his satisfaction at the offer of their sovereign to become tributary to our emperor; but requested the Mexican ambassadors to remain with him till he had concluded his arrangements with the Tlascalans, after which he would give them a definitive answer to the message of Montezuma. While conversing with the Mexican ambassadors, Xicotencatl, with fifty of his principal warriors all in uniform habits of white and red, came to wait upon Cortes with great respect, who received them very courteously, causing the Tlascalan general to sit down beside him. Xicotencatl then said, That he came in the name of his father and the other chiefs of the Tlascalan nation, to solicit peace and friendship, to submit themselves to our sovereign, and to ask pardon for having taken up arms against us, which had proceeded from their dread of the machinations of Montezuma, who was always desirous of reducing their nation to slavery. Their country, he said, was very poor, as it possessed neither gold, jewels, cotton, nor salt; the two latter they were prevented from obtaining by Montezuma, who had also deprived them of all the gold their fathers had collected. Their poverty, therefore, must plead their excuse, for not bringing satisfactory presents. He made many other complaints against the oppressions of Montezuma, and concluded by earnestly soliciting our friendship and alliance. Xicotencatl was strong made, tall, and well proportioned, having a broad and somewhat wrinkled face, and grave aspect, appearing to be about thirty-five years old. Cortes treated him with every mark of respect, and expressed his high satisfaction that so brave and respectable a nation should become our allies, and subjects to our sovereign; but warned them seriously to beware of repeating the offences they had been guilty of towards us, lest it should occasion an exemplary punishment. The Tlascalan chief promised the utmost fidelity and obedience, and invited us to come to their city; which Cortes promised to do as soon as he had concluded his business with the Mexican ambassadors, and Xicotencatl took his leave.

The ambassadors of Montezuma endeavoured to impress Cortes with distrust of the sincerity of the Tlascalans; asserting that their professions of peace and friendship were only meant to betray us, as they would certainly murder us while in their city. To these representations Cortes answered that he was resolved to go to Tlascala, that he might ascertain the sincerity of their professions; and that any such attempt as the Mexicans surmised would only bring on its own condign punishment. The ambassadors then requested Cortes to delay his march for six days, that they might receive fresh instructions from their sovereign, to which he acceded for two reasons, because of the state of his own health, and that the observations of the ambassadors seemed to require serious consideration. He now sent a messenger to Juan Escalente at Villa Rica, informing him of all that had happened, and requiring him to send some vessels of sacramental wine, and some consecrated bread, all that we had brought with us having been used. We at this time got the people of Zumpacingo to purify and white wash one of their temples, in which we erected a lofty cross. Our new friends the Tlascalans supplied us amply with provisions, particularly fowls and tunas, or Indian figs; and repeatedly invited us to their capital, but with this last we could not immediately comply, owing to the engagement with the Mexican ambassadors. At the end of the sixth day, as agreed upon, six nobles arrived from Montezuma, with a present of gold to the value of 3000 crowns, and 200 rich mantles; with a complimentary message, desiring us on no account to trust the Tlascalans or to go to their capital. Cortes returned thanks for the present, and the warning respecting the Tlascalans, whom he said he would severely punish if they attempted any treachery: and as he was just informed of the approach of the chiefs of Tlascala, he requested the Mexican ambassadors to wait three days for his final answer.

The ancient chiefs of Tlascala now arrived at our quarters, borne in litters or hammocks, and attended by a large train of followers. These were Maxicatzin, Xicotencatl the elder, who was blind, Guaxocinga, Chichimecatecle, and Tecapaneca the allied cacique of Topeyanco. After saluting Cortes with great respect, the old blind chief Xicotencatl addressed him to the following effect: "We have often sent to request pardon for our hostilities, which were caused by our suspicions that you were in alliance with our enemy Montezuma. Had we known who and what you were, we would have gone down to the coast to invite you from your ships, and would have swept the roads clean before you. All we can now do is to invite you to our city, where we shall serve you in every thing within our power; and we beg you may not listen to the misrepresentations of the Mexicans, who are our enemies, and are influenced by malice against us." Cortes returned thanks for their courtesy, saying that he would have visited them ere now, but wanted men to draw his cannons. On learning this, five hundred of the natives were assembled for this service in less than half an hour, and Cortes promised to visit their capital next day. We accordingly began our march early next morning, the Mexican ambassadors accompanying us at the desire of Cortes, and keeping always near his person that they might not be insulted by their Tlascalan enemies. From this time the natives always gave Cortes the name of Malintzin, signifying the lord or captain of Marina, because she always interpreted for him in their language. We entered the city of Tlascala on the 23d September 1519, thirty-four days after our arrival in the territories of the republic. As soon as we began our march, the chiefs went before to provide quarters for us; and on our approach to the city, they came out to meet us, accompanied by their daughters and other female relations: each tribe separately, as this nation consisted of four distinct tribes, besides that which was governed by the cacique of Topeyanco. These tribes were distinguished from each other by different uniforms, of cloth made of nequen, as cotton did not grow in their country. The priests, came likewise to meet us, in long loose white garments, having their long hair all clotted with blood proceeding from recent cuts in the ears, and having remarkably long nails on their fingers; they carried pots of incense, with which they fumigated us. On our arrival, the chiefs saluted Cortes with much respect, and the people crowded to see us in such numbers that we could hardly make our way through the streets, presenting Cortes and the cavalry with garlands of beautiful and sweet smelling flowers.

We at length arrived at some large enclosed courts, in the apartments, around which our lodgings were appointed; when the two principal chiefs took Cortes by the hand and conducted him into the apartment which was destined for his use. Every one of our soldiers were provided with a mat and bed-clothes made of nequen cloth. Our allies were lodged close by us, and the Mexican ambassadors were accommodated, by desire of Cortes, in the apartment next his own. Though we had every reason to confide in the Tlascalans, Cortes used the most rigid military precautions for our safety; which, being observed by the chiefs, they complained of as indicating suspicion of their sincerity; but Cortes assured them this was the uniform custom of our country, and that he had the most perfect reliance on their truth. As soon as an altar could be got ready, Cortes ordered Juan Diaz to celebrate the mass, as Olmeda was ill of a fever. Many of the native chiefs were present on this occasion, whom Cortes took along with him after the service into his own apartment, attended by those soldiers who usually accompanied him. The elder Xicotencatl then offered a present, consisting of a small quantity of gold and some pieces of cloth, not worth twenty crowns altogether, and expressed his fear that he might despise so paltry a present, which he excused on account of the poverty of their nation, occasioned by the extortions of Montezuma, from whom they were forced to purchase peace at the expence of every thing valuable belonging to them. Cortes assured them that he valued their gift, small as it was, more than he would a house full of gold from others, as it was a testimony of their friendship, which he greatly valued. Xicotencatl then proposed that a strict alliance should be formed between the two nations, and that our chiefs should accept their daughters in marriage, offering his own to Cortes, who thanked him for these marks of friendship. The chiefs remained with Cortes a whole day, and as Xicotencatl was blind, Cortes permitted him to examine his head, face, and beard with his hands, which he did with much attention.

Next day the chiefs brought five daughters of their principal caciques, who were much handsomer than the other women of the country, each attended by a female slave. On this occasion Xicotencatl presented his own daughter to Cortes, and desired him to assign the others among his principal officers. Cortes thanked him for the mark of regard, but that for the present the ladies must remain with their parents, as we must first obey the commands of our God, and the orders of our sovereign, by abolishing human sacrifices and other abominations, and by teaching them the true faith in the adoration of one only God. He then shewed them a beautiful image of the holy Mary, the queen of heaven, the mother of our Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost, conceived without sin, adding, That if they wished to become our brethren, and that we should marry their daughters, they must renounce their idolatry, and worship our God, by which they would not only benefit their temporal concerns, but would secure an eternal happiness in heaven; whereas by persisting in the worship of their idols, which were representations of the devils, they would consign themselves to hell, where they would be plunged eternally into flames of fire. This and a great deal more excellently to the purpose, being well explained to them by our interpreters, the chiefs made answer to the following effect: That they readily believed all they had now heard respecting the excellence of our God and his saints, and might in time be able to understand the subject of his exhortations; but that if they were now to renounce the religion of their ancestors in their old age to please us, the priests and people would rebel against them; more especially as the priests had already consulted their gods, who had commanded them on no account to omit the human sacrifices and other ancient customs, as otherwise they would send famine, pestilence, and war into their country: They requested, therefore that nothing more might be said on this subject, as they could not renounce their gods but with their lives. When the subject of this conference was reported to father Olmedo, who was a wise and good man, he advised the general not to urge the matter any farther for the present, as he was adverse to forced conversions, such as had been already attempted at Chempoalla; and that to destroy the idols were a needless act of violence, unless the principles of idolatry were eradicated from their minds by argument as they would easily procure other idols to continue their worship. Three of our cavaliers, Alvarado, de Leon, and De Lugo, gave a similar advice to Cortes, and the subject was judiciously dropped, which might have again excited the Tlascalans to inveterate enmity.

Soon after this we got permission to clear out and purify one of the temples, which was converted into a Christian church, and had an altar and cross erected. Here the ladies who were destined to be the brides of our officers, having been instructed in the principles of the Christian religion were baptized. The daughter of Xicotencatl was named Donna Luisa, and being taken by the hand by Cortes, was presented by him to Alvarado, saying to her rather that this officer was his brother, with which arrangement the old cacique seemed perfectly satisfied. Almost the whole province of Tlascala came afterwards to depend upon this lady, paying rent and homage to her. She had a son by Alvarado named Don Pedro, and a daughter Donna Leonora, who inherited her mothers domains, and is now the wife of Don Francisco de la Cueva, cousin to the Duke of Albuquerque, by whom she has four or five sons. In right of his wife Donna Luisa, Alvarado became lord, and almost sovereign of Tlascala. As far as I can remember, the niece, or daughter of Maxicatzin, named Donna Leonora, and remarkably handsome, was given to Velasquez de Leon. I have forgotten the names of the other ladies, all stiled Donnas, but they were assigned to De Oli, Sandoval, and Avila. After the ceremonies were concluded, the natives were informed that the crosses were erected in order to expel the evil spirits which they had been in use to worship.

Cortes obtained considerable information from the two principal chiefs of Tlascala, Xicotencatl, and Maxicatzin, relative to the military and political state of Mexico. They said that Montezuma had an army of an hundred thousand warriors, occupying all the cities of the neighbouring states, which were subject to his dominions, with strong garrisons, and forcing them to pay heavy tributes in gold, manufactures, productions of the soil, and victims for sacrifice, so that his wealth and power were exceedingly great; but that all the districts which were under subjection to him were exceedingly dissatisfied with his tyranny, and inclined to take part with his enemies. Their own state of Tlascala had been in almost continual wars with the Mexicans for above an hundred years, and formed a league for mutual defence with the people of Guaxocingo9; but were principally vexed by inroads from the Mexican garrison in Cholula, from which city the troops of Montezuma were able to come by surprise on the Tlascalan territories. They described the city of Mexico as of great strength, being built in the lake, and only accessible by narrow causeways, with wooden bridges, and having no access to most of its houses but by drawbridges or boats. They described the arms of the Mexicans as consisting of double-headed darts, which were projected by a kind of slings, lances having stone heads, an ell in length, and both edges as sharp as a razor, and two-handed swords, edged likewise with sharp stones, besides shields and other defensive armour. The chiefs shewed large nequen cloths, on which their various battles were represented, with all those different kinds of weapons. They alleged that their country was anciently inhabited by a people of great stature and very barbarous manners, who had been extirpated by their ancestors, and produced a thigh-bone which they said had belonged to one of these giants. I stood by it, and it equalled my height, though I am as tall as most men. We sent this bone to Spain for the inspection of his majesty. The chiefs told us that their idols had long ago predicted, that a people was to arrive from the distant lands where the sun rises, and to subdue their country, and they believed we were those to whom the prediction applied. Cortes said that this was certainly the case, and that our great emperor had sent us to establish a lasting friendship between our nation and them, and to be the instruments of shewing them the only way of Salvation: To which we all said Amen!

While we were in Tlascala a volcano near Guaxocingo threw out great quantities of flames, and Diego de Ordas went up to examine it, attended by two Spanish soldiers, and some of the principal Indians. The natives declined going any nearer to the volcano than the temples of Popocatepeque, but De Ordas and his two Spanish comrades ascended to the summit of the mountain, and looked down into the crater, which is a circle of near a quarter of a league diameter. From this peak also, they had a distant view of the city of Mexico, which was twelve or thirteen leagues from the mountain. This was considered as a great feat, and De Ordas, on his return to Spain, got royal authority to bear this volcano in his arms, which is now borne by his nephew who dwells in La Puebla. This volcano did not throw out flames for a good many years afterwards, but it flamed with great violence in 1530. We observed many wooden cages in the city of Tlascala, in which the victims intended for sacrifice were confined and fattened; but we destroyed all these, releasing the unhappy prisoners, who remained along with us, as they dared not to return to their own homes. Cortes spoke very angrily to the Tlascalan chiefs, exhorting them to abolish this horrible custom of human sacrifices, and they promised amendment; but immediately, on our backs being turned, they resumed their ancient abominations.



CHAPTER V. HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST OF MEXICO, WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1568, BY CAPTAIN BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, ONE OF THE CONQUERORS | A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.IV | SECTION VII. Events during the March of the Spaniards from Tlascala to Mexico