Chapter II 
REPUBLIC OF TLASCALA
ITS INSTITUTIONS- ITS EARLY HISTORY-
THE DISCUSSIONS IN THE SENATE- DESPERATE BATTLES
BEFORE advancing further with the Spaniards into the territory
of Tlascala, it will be well to notice some traits in the character
and institutions of the nation, in many respects the most remarkable
in Anahuac. The Tlascalans belonged to the same great family with
the Aztecs. They came on the grand plateau about the same time with
the kindred races, at the close of the twelfth century, and planted
themselves on the western borders of the lake of Tezcuco. Here they
remained many years engaged in the usual pursuits of a bold and
partially civilised people. From some cause or other, perhaps their
turbulent temper, they incurred the enmity of surrounding tribes. A
coalition was formed against them; and a bloody battle was fought on
the plains of Poyauhtlan, in which the Tlascalans were completely
Disgusted, however, with residence among nations with whom they
found so little favour, the conquering people resolved to migrate.
They separated into three divisions, the largest of which, taking a
southern course by the great volcan of Mexico, wound round the ancient
city of Cholula, and finally settled in the district of country
overshadowed by the sierra of Tlascala. The warm and fruitful
valleys locked up in the embraces of this rugged brotherhood of
mountains, afforded means of subsistence for an agricultural people,
while the bold eminences of the sierra presented secure positions
for their towns.
After the lapse of years, the institutions of the nation underwent
an important change. The monarchy was divided first into two,
afterwards into four separate states, bound together by a sort of
federal compact, probably not very nicely defined. Each state,
however, had its lord or supreme chief, independent in his own
territories, and possessed of co-ordinate authority with the others in
all matters concerning the whole republic. The affairs of
government, especially all those relating to peace and war, were
settled in a senate or council, consisting of the four lords with
their inferior nobles.
The lower dignitaries held of the superior, each in his own
district, by a kind of feudal tenure, being bound to supply his table,
and enable him to maintain his state in peace, as well as to serve him
in war. In return he experienced the aid and protection of his
suzerain. The same mutual obligations existed between him and the
followers among whom his own territories were distributed. Thus a
chain of feudal dependencies was established, which, if not
contrived with all the art and legal refinements of analogous
institutions in the Old World, displayed their most prominent
characteristics in its personal relations, the obligations of military
service on the one hand, and protection on the other. This form of
government, so different from that of the surrounding nations,
subsisted till the arrival of the Spaniards. And it is certainly
evidence of considerable civilisation, that so complex a polity should
have so long continued undisturbed by violence or faction in the
confederate states, and should have been found competent to protect
the people in their rights, and the country from foreign invasion.
The lowest order of the people, however, do not seem to have
enjoyed higher immunities than under the monarchical governments;
and their rank was carefully defined by an appropriate dress, and by
their exclusion from the insignia of the aristocratic orders.
The nation, agricultural in its habits, reserved its highest
honours, like most other rude-unhappily also, civilised-nations, for
military prowess. Public games were instituted, and prizes decreed
to those who excelled in such manly and athletic exercises as might
train them for the fatigues of war. Triumphs were granted to the
victorious general, who entered the city, leading his spoils and
captives in long procession, while his achievements were
commemorated in national songs, and his effigy, whether in wood or
stone, was erected in the temples. It was truly in the martial
spirit of republican Rome.
An institution not unlike knighthood was introduced, very
similar to one existing also among the Aztecs. The aspirant to the
honours of this barbaric chivalry watched his arms and fasted fifty or
sixty days in the temple, then listened to a grave discourse on the
duties of his new profession. Various whimsical ceremonies followed,
when his arms were restored to him; he was led in solemn procession
through the public streets, and the inauguration was concluded by
banquets and public rejoicings. The new knight was distinguished
henceforth by certain peculiar privileges, as well as by a badge
intimating his rank. It is worthy of remark, that this honour was
not reserved exclusively for military merit; but was the recompense,
also, of public services of other kinds, as wisdom in council, or
sagacity and success in trade. For trade was held in as high
estimation by the Tlascalans as by the other people of Anahuac.
The temperate climate of the tableland furnished the ready means
for distant traffic. The fruitfulness of the soil was indicated by the
name of the country,- Tlascala signifying the "land of bread." Its
wide plains, to the slopes of its rocky hills, waved with yellow
harvests of maize, and with the bountiful maguey, a plant which, as we
have seen, supplied the materials for some important fabrics. With
these, as well as the products of agricultural industry, the
merchant found his way down the sides of the Cordilleras, wandered
over the sunny regions at their base, and brought back the luxuries
which nature had denied to his own.
The various arts of civilisation kept pace with increasing
wealth and public prosperity; at least these arts were cultivated to
the same limited extent, apparently, as among the other people of
Anahuac. The Tlascalan tongue, says the national historian, simple
as beseemed that of a mountain region, was rough compared with the
polished Tezcucan, or the popular Aztec dialect, and, therefore, not
so well fitted for composition. But they made like proficiency with
the kindred nations in the rudiments of science. Their calendar was
formed on the same plan. Their religion, their architecture, many of
their laws and social usages were the same, arguing a common origin
for all. Their tutelary deity was the same ferocious war-god as that
of the Aztecs, though with a different name; their temples, in like
manner, were drenched with the blood of human victims, and their
boards groaned with the same cannibal repasts.
Though not ambitious of foreign conquest, the prosperity of the
Tlascalans, in time, excited the jealousy of their neighbours, and
especially of the opulent state of Cholula. Frequent hostilities arose
between them, in which the advantage was almost always on the side
of the former. A still more formidable foe appeared in later days in
the Aztecs; who could ill brook the independence of Tlascala, when the
surrounding nations had acknowledged, one after another, their
influence or their empire. Under the ambitious Axayacatl, they
demanded of the Tlascalans the same tribute and obedience rendered
by other people of the country. If it were refused, the Aztecs would
raze their cities to their foundations, and deliver the land to
To this imperious summons, the little republic proudly replied,
"Neither they nor their ancestors had ever paid tribute or homage to a
foreign power, and never would pay it. If their country was invaded,
they knew how to defend it, and would pour out their blood as freely
in defence of their freedom now, as their fathers did of yore, when
they routed the Aztecs on the plains of Poyauhtlan!"
This resolute answer brought on them the forces of the monarchy. A
pitched battle followed, and the sturdy republicans were victorious.
From this period hostilities between the two nations continued with
more or less activity, but with unsparing ferocity. Every captive
was mercilessly sacrificed. The children were trained from the
cradle to deadly hatred against the Mexicans; and, even in the brief
intervals of war, none of those intermarriages took place between
the people of the respective countries which knit together in social
bonds most of the other kindred races of Anahuac.
In this struggle, the Tlascalans received an important support
in the accession of the Othomis, or Otomies,- as usually spelt by
Castilian writers,- a wild and warlike race originally spread over the
tableland north of the Mexican valley. A portion of them obtained a
settlement in the republic, and were speedily incorporated in its
armies. Their courage and fidelity to the nation of their adoption
showed them worthy of trust, and the frontier places were consigned to
their keeping. The mountain barriers, by which Tlascala is
encompassed, afforded many strong natural positions for defence
against invasion. The country was open towards the east, where a
valley, of some six miles in breadth, invited the approach of an
enemy. But here it was, that the jealous Tlascalans erected the
formidable rampart which had excited the admiration of the
Spaniards, and which they manned with a garrison of Otomies.
Efforts for their subjugation were renewed on a greater scale,
after the accession of Montezuma. His victorious arms had spread
down the declivities of the Andes to the distant provinces of Vera Paz
and Nicaragua, and his haughty spirit was chafed by the opposition
of a petty state, whose territorial extent did not exceed ten
leagues in breadth by fifteen in length. He sent an army against
them under the command of a favourite son. His troops were beaten
and his son was slain. The enraged and mortified monarch was roused to
still greater preparations. He enlisted the forces of the cities
bordering on his enemy, together with those of the empire, and with
this formidable army swept over the devoted valleys of Tlascala. But
the bold mountaineers withdrew into the recesses of their hills,
and, coolly awaiting their opportunity, rushed like a torrent on the
invaders, and drove them back, with dreadful slaughter, from their
Still, notwithstanding the advantages gained over the enemy in the
field, the Tlascalans were sorely pressed by their long hostilities
with a foe so far superior to themselves in numbers and resources. The
Aztec armies lay between them and the coast, cutting off all
communication with that prolific region, and thus limited their
supplies to the products of their own soil and manufacture. For more
than half a century they had neither cotton, nor cacao, nor salt.
Indeed, their taste had been so far affected by long abstinence from
these articles, that it required the lapse of several generations
after the Conquest to reconcile them to the use of salt at their
meals. During the short intervals of war, it is said, the Aztec
nobles, in the true spirit of chivalry, sent supplies of these
commodities as presents, with many courteous expressions of respect,
to the Tlascalan chiefs. This intercourse, we are assured by the
Indian chronicler, was unsuspected by the people. Nor did it lead to
any further correspondence, he adds, between the parties,
prejudicial to the liberties of the republic, "which maintained its
customs and good government inviolate, and the worship of its gods."
Such was the condition of Tlascala, at the coming of the
Spaniards; holding, it might seem, a precarious existence under the
shadow of the formidable power which seemed suspended like an
avalanche over her head, but still strong in her own resources,
stronger in the indomitable temper of her people; with a reputation
established throughout the land for good faith and moderation in
peace, for valour in war, while her uncompromising spirit of
independence secured the respect even of her enemies. With such
qualities of character, and with an animosity sharpened by long,
deadly hostility with Mexico, her alliance was obviously of the last
importance to the Spaniards, in their present enterprise. It was not
easy to secure it.
The Tlascalans had been made acquainted with the advance and
victorious career of the Christians, the intelligence of which had
spread far and wide over the plateau. But they do not seem to have
anticipated the approach of the strangers to their own borders. They
were now much embarrassed by the embassy demanding a passage through
their territories. The great council was convened, and a
considerable difference of opinion prevailed in its members. Some,
adopting the popular superstition, supposed the Spaniards might be the
white and bearded men foretold by the oracles. At all events, they
were the enemies of Mexico, and as such might co-operate with them
in their struggle with the empire. Others argued that the strangers
could have nothing in common with them. Their march throughout the
land might be tracked by the broken images of the Indian gods, and
desecrated temples. How did the Tlascalans even know that they were
foes to Montezuma? They had received his embassies, accepted his
presents, and were now in the company of his vassals on the way to his
These last were the reflections of an aged chief, one of the
four who presided over the republic. His name was Xicontecatl. He
was nearly blind, having lived, as is said, far beyond the limits of a
century. His son, an impetuous young man of the same name with
himself, commanded a powerful army of Tlascalan and Otomie warriors,
near the eastern frontier. It would be best, the old man said, to fall
with this force at once on the Spaniards. If victorious, the latter
would then be in their power. If defeated, the senate could disown the
act as that of the general, not of the republic. The cunning counsel
of the chief found favour with his hearers, though assuredly not in
the spirit of chivalry, nor of the good faith for which his countrymen
were celebrated. But with an Indian, force and stratagem, courage
and deceit, were equally admissible in war, as they were among the
barbarians of ancient Rome.- The Cempoallan envoys were to be detained
under pretence of assisting at a religious sacrifice.
Meanwhile, Cortes and his gallant band, as stated in the preceding
chapter, had arrived before the rocky rampart on the eastern
confines of Tlascala. From some cause or other, it was not manned by
its Otomie garrison, and the Spaniards passed in, as we have seen,
without resistance. Cortes rode at the head of his body of horse, and,
ordering the infantry to come on at a quick pace, went forward to
reconnoitre. After advancing three or four leagues, he descried a
small party of Indians, armed with sword and buckler, in the fashion
of the country. They fled at his approach. He made signs for them to
halt, but, seeing that they only fled the faster, he and his
companions put spurs to their horses, and soon came up with them.
The Indians, finding escape impossible, faced round, and, instead of
showing the accustomed terror of the natives at the strange and
appalling aspect of a mounted trooper, they commenced a furious
assault on the cavaliers. The latter, however, were too strong for
them, and would have cut their enemy to pieces without much
difficulty, when a body of several thousand Indians appeared in sight,
and coming briskly on to the support of their countrymen.
Cortes, seeing them, despatched one of his party, in all haste, to
accelerate the march of his infantry. The Indians, after discharging
their missiles, fell furiously on the little band of Spaniards. They
strove to tear the lances from their grasp, and to drag the riders
from the horses. They brought one cavalier to the ground, who
afterwards died of his wounds, and they killed two of the horses,
cutting through their necks with their stout broadswords- if we may
believe the chronicler- at a blow. In the narrative of these
campaigns, there is sometimes but one step- and that a short one- from
history lo romance. The loss of the horses, so important and so few in
number, was seriously felt by Cortes, who could have better spared the
life of the best rider in the troop.
The struggle was a hard one. But the odds were as overwhelming
as any recorded by the Spaniards in their own romances, where a
handful of knights is arrayed against legions of enemies. The lances
of the Christians did terrible execution here also; but they had
need of the magic lance of Astolpho, that overturned myriads with a
touch, to carry them safe through so unequal a contest. It was with no
little satisfaction, therefore, that they beheld their comrades
rapidly advancing to their support.
No sooner had the main body reached the field of battle, than,
hastily forming, they poured such a volley from their muskets and
crossbows as staggered the enemy. Astounded, rather than
intimidated, by the terrible report of the firearms, now heard for the
first time in these regions, the Indians made no further effort to
continue the fight, but drew off in good order, leaving the road
open to the Spaniards. The latter, too well satisfied to be rid of the
annoyance, to care to follow the retreating foe, again held on their
Their route took them through a country sprinkled over with Indian
cottages, amidst flourishing fields of maize and maguey, indicating an
industrious and thriving peasantry. They were met here by two
Tlascalans envoys, accompanied by two of the Cempoallans. The
former, presenting themselves before the general, disavowed the
assault on his troops as an unauthorised act, and assured him of a
friendly reception at their capital. Cortes received the communication
in a courteous manner, affecting to place more confidence in its
good faith than he probably felt.
It was now growing late, and the Spaniards quickened their
march, anxious to reach a favourable ground for encampment before
nightfall. They found such a spot on the borders of a stream that
rolled sluggishly across the plain. A few deserted cottages stood
along the banks, and the fatigued and famished soldiers ransacked them
in quest of food. All they could find was some tame animals resembling
dogs. These they killed and dressed without ceremony, and,
garnishing their unsavoury repast with the fruit of the tuna, the
Indian fig, which grew wild in the neighbourhood, they contrived to
satisfy the cravings of appetite. A careful watch was maintained by
Cortes, and companies of a hundred men each relieved each other in
mounting guard through the night. But no attack was made.
Hostilities by night were contrary to the system of Indian tactics.
By break of day on the following morning, it being the 2nd of
September, the troops were under arms. Besides the Spaniards, the
whole number of Indian auxiliaries might now amount to three thousand;
for Cortes had gathered recruits from the friendly places on his
route; three hundred from the last. After hearing mass, they resumed
their march. They moved in close array; the general had previously
admonished the men not to lag behind, or wander from the ranks a
moment, as stragglers would be sure to be cut off by their stealthy
and vigilant enemy. The horsemen rode three abreast, the better to
give one another support; and Cortes instructed them in the heat of
fight to keep together, and never to charge singly. He taught them how
to carry their lances, that they might not be wrested from their hands
by the Indians, who constantly attempted it. For the same reason
they should avoid giving thrusts, but aim their weapons steadily at
the faces of their foes.
They had not proceeded far, when they were met by the two
remaining Cempoallan envoys, who with looks of terror informed the
general, that they had been treacherously seized and confined, in
order to be sacrificed at an approaching festival of the Tlascalans,
but in the night had succeeded in making their escape. They gave the
unwelcome tidings, also, that a large force of the natives was already
assembled to oppose the progress of the Spaniards.
Soon after, they came in sight of a body of Indians, about a
thousand, apparently all armed and brandishing their weapons, as the
Christians approached, in token of defiance. Cortes, when he had
come within hearing, ordered the interpreters to proclaim that he
had no hostile intentions; but wished only to be allowed a passage
through their country, which he had entered as a friend. This
declaration he commanded the royal notary, Godoy, to record on the
spot, that, if blood were shed, it might not be charged on the
Spaniards. This pacific proclamation was met, as usual on such
occasions, by a shower of darts, stones, and arrows, which fell like
rain on the Spaniards, rattling on their stout harness, and in some
instances penetrating to the skin. Galled by the smart of their
wounds, they called on the general to lead them on, till he sounded
the well-known battle-cry, "St. Jago, and at them!"
The Indians maintained their ground for a while with spirit,
when they retreated with precipitation, but not in disorder. The
Spaniards, whose blood was heated by the encounter, followed up
their advantage with more zeal than prudence, suffering the wily enemy
to draw them into a narrow glen or defile, intersected by a little
stream of water, where the broken ground was impracticable for
artillery, as well as for the movements of cavalry. Pressing forward
with eagerness, to extricate themselves from their perilous
position, to their great dismay, on turning an abrupt angle of the
pass, they came in presence of a numerous army choking up the gorge of
the valley, and stretching far over the plains beyond. To the
astonished eyes of Cortes, they appeared a hundred thousand men, while
no account estimates them at less than thirty thousand.*
* As this was only one of several armies kept on foot by the
Tlascalans, the smallest amount is, probably, too large. The whole
population of the state, according to Clavigero, who would not be
likely to underrate it, did not exceed half a million at the time of
They presented a confused assemblage of helmets, weapons, and
many-coloured plumes, glancing bright in the morning sun, and
mingled with banners, above which proudly floated one that bore as a
device the heron on a rock. It was the well-known ensign of the
house of Titcala, and, as well as the white and yellow stripes on
the bodies, and the like colours on the feather-mail of the Indians,
showed that they were the warriors of Xicotencatl.
As the Spaniards came in sight, the Tlascalans set up a hideous
war-cry, or rather whistle, piercing the ear with its shrillness,
and which, with the beat of their melancholy drums, that could be
heard for half a league or more, might well have filled the stoutest
heart with dismay. This formidable host came rolling on towards the
Christians, as if to overwhelm them by their very numbers. But the
courageous band of warriors, closely serried together and sheltered
under their strong panoplies, received the shock unshaken, while the
broken masses of the enemy, chafing and heaving tumultuously around
them, seemed to recede only to return with new and accumulated force.
Cortes, as usual, in the front of danger, in vain endeavoured,
at the head of the horse, to open a passage for the infantry. Still
his men, both cavalry and foot, kept their array unbroken, offering no
assailable point to their foe. A body of the Tlascalans, however,
acting in concert, assaulted a soldier named Moran, one of the best
riders in the troop. They succeeded in dragging him from his horse,
which they despatched with a thousand blows. The Spaniards, on foot,
made a desperate effort to rescue their comrade from the hands of
the enemy,- and from the horrible doom of the captive. A fierce
struggle now began over the body of the prostrate horse. Ten of the
Spaniards were wounded, when they succeeded in retrieving the
unfortunate cavalier from his assailants, but in so disastrous a
plight that he died on the following day. The horse was borne off in
triumph by the Indians, and his mangled remains were sent, a strange
trophy, to the different towns of Tlascala. The circumstance
troubled the Spanish commander, as it divested the animal of the
supernatural terrors with which the superstition of the natives had
usually surrounded it. To prevent such a consequence, he had caused
the two horses, killed on the preceding day, to be secretly buried
on the spot.
The enemy now began to give ground gradually, borne down by the
riders, and trampled under the hoofs of their horses. Through the
whole of this sharp encounter, the Indian allies were of great service
to the Spaniards. They rushed into the water, and grappled their
enemies, with the desperation of men who felt that "their only
safety was in the despair of safety." "I see nothing but death for
us," exclaimed a Cempoallan chief to Marina; "we shall never get
through the pass alive." "The God of the Christians is with us,"
answered the intrepid woman; "and He will carry us safely through."
Amidst the din of battle the voice of Cortes was heard, cheering
on his soldiers. "If we fail now," he cried, "the cross of Christ
can never be planted in the land. Forward, comrades! When was it
ever known that a Castilian turned his back on a foe?" Animated by the
words and heroic bearing of their general, the soldiers, with
desperate efforts, at length succeeded in forcing a passage through
the dark columns of the enemy, and emerged from the defile on the open
Here they quickly recovered their confidence with their
superiority. The horse soon opened a space for the manoeuvres of
artillery. The close files of their antagonists presented a sure mark;
and the thunders of the ordnance vomiting forth torrents of fire and
sulphurous smoke, the wide desolation caused in their ranks, and the
strangely mangled carcasses of the slain, filled the barbarians with
consternation and horror. They had no weapons to cope with these
terrible engines, and their clumsy missiles, discharged from uncertain
hands, seemed to fall ineffectual on the charmed heads of the
Christians. What added to their embarrassment was, the desire to carry
off the dead and wounded from the field, a general practice among
the people of Anahuac, but which necessarily exposed them, while
thus employed, to still greater loss.
Eight of their principal chiefs had now fallen; and Xicotencatl,
finding himself wholly unable to make head against the Spaniards in
the open field, ordered a retreat. Far from the confusion of a
panic-struck mob, so common among barbarians, the Tlascalan force
moved off the ground with all the order of a well-disciplined army.
Cortes, as on the preceding day, was too well satisfied with his
present advantage to desire to follow it up. It was within an hour
of sunset, and he was anxious before nightfall to secure a good
position, where he might refresh his wounded troops, and bivouac for
Gathering up his wounded, he held on his way, without loss of
time; and before dusk reached a rocky eminence, called Tzompachtepetl,
or "the hill of Tzompach," crowned by a sort of tower or temple. His
first care was given to the wounded, both men and horses. Fortunately,
an abundance of provisions was found in some neighbouring cottages;
and the soldiers, at least all who were not disabled by their
injuries, celebrated the victory of the day with feasting and
As to the number of killed or wounded on either side, it is matter
of loosest conjecture. The Indians must have suffered severely, but
the practice of carrying off the dead from the field made it
impossible to know to what extent. The injury sustained by the
Spaniards appears to have been principally in the number of their
wounded. The great object of the natives of Anahuac in their battles
was to make prisoners, who might grace their triumphs, and supply
victims for sacrifice. To this brutal superstition the Christians were
indebted, in no slight degree, for their personal preservation. To
take the reports of the Conquerors, their own losses in action were
always inconsiderable. But whoever has had occasion to consult the
ancient chroniclers of Spain in relation to its wars with the infidel,
whether Arab or American, will place little confidence in numbers.*
* According to Cortes not a Spaniard fell- though many were
wounded- in this action so fatal to the infidel! Diaz allows one.
The events of the day had suggested many topics for painful
reflection to Cortes. He had nowhere met with so determined a
resistance within the borders of Anahuac; nowhere had he encountered
native troops so formidable for their, weapons, their discipline,
and their valour. Far from manifesting the superstitious terrors
felt by the other Indians at the strange arms and aspect of the
Spaniards, the Tlascalans had boldly grappled with their enemy, and
only yielded to the inevitable superiority of his military science.
How important would the alliance of such a nation be in a struggle
with those of their own race- for example, with the Aztecs! But how
was he to secure this alliance? Hitherto, all overtures had been
rejected with disdain; and it seemed probable, that every step of
his progress in this populous land was to be fiercely contested. His
army, especially the Indians, celebrated the events of the day with
feasting and dancing, songs of merriment, and shouts of triumph.
Cortes encouraged it, well knowing how important it was to keep up the
spirits of his soldiers. But the sounds of revelry at length died
away; and in the still watches of the night, many an anxious thought
must have crowded on the mind of the general, while his little army
lay buried in slumber in its encampment around the Indian hill.
1. The Indian chronicler, Camargo, considers his nation a branch of the Chichemec. (Hist. de Tlascala, MS.) So, also, Torquemada. (Monarch. Ind., lib. 3, cap. 9.) Clavigero, who has carefully investigated the antiquities of Anahuac, calls it one of the seven Nahuatlac tribes. (Stor. del Messico, tom. I. p. 153, nota.) The fact is not of great moment, since they were all cognate races, speaking the same tongue, and, probably, migrated from their country in the far North at nearly the same time.
2. The descendants of these petty nobles attached as great value to their pedigrees, as any Biscayan or Asturian in Old Spain. Long after the Conquest, they refused, however needy, to dishonor their birth by resorting to mechanical or other plebeian occupations, oficios viles y bajos. "Los descendientes de estos son estimados por hombres calificados, que aunque sean probrísimos no usan oficios mecánicos ni tratos bajos ni viles, ni jamas se permiten cargar ni cabar con coas y azadones, diciendo que son hijos Idalgos en que no han de aplicarse á estas cosas soeces y bajas, sino servir en guerras y fronteras, como Idalgos, y morir como hombres peleando." Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
3. "Cualquier Tecuhtli que formaba un Tecalli, que es casa de Mayorazgo, todas aquellas tierras que le caian en suerte de repartimiento, con montes, fuentes, rios, ó lagunas tomase para la casa principal la mayor y mejor suerte ó pagos de tierra, y luego las demas que quedaban se partian por sus soldados amigos y parientes, igualmente, y todos estos están obligados á reconocer la casa mayor y acudir á ella, á alzarla y repararla, y á ser continuos en re conocer á ella de aves, caza, flores, y ramos para el sustento de la casa del Mayorazgo, y el que lo es está obligado á sustentarlos y á regalarlos como amigos de aquella casa y parientes de ella." Ibid., MS.
4. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
5. "Los grandes recibimientos que hacian á los capitanes que venian y alcanzaban victoria en las guerras, las fiestas y solenidades con que se solenizaban á manera de triunfo, que los metian en andas en su puebla, trayendo consigo á los vencidos; y por eternizar sus hazañas se las cantaban publicamente, y ansí quedaban memoradas y con estatuas que les ponian en los templos." Ibid., MS.
6. The whole ceremony of inauguration, it seems, has especial reference to the merchant-knights.
7. "Ha bel paese," says the Anonymous Conqueror, speaking of Tlascala, at the time of the invasion, "di pianure et motagne, et è provincia popolosa et vi si raccoglie molto pane." Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. p. 308.
8. A full account of the manners, customs, and domestic policy of Tlascala is given by the national historian, throwing much light on the other states of Anahuac, whose social institutions seem to have been all cast in the same mould.
9. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind. lib. 2, cap. 70.
10. Camargo (Hist. de Tlascala, MS.) notices the extent of Montezuma's conquests,--a debatable ground for the historian.
11. Torquemada, Monarch, Ind., lib. 3, cap. 16.--Solís says, "The Tlascalan territory was fifty leagues in circumference, ten long, from east to west, and four broad, from north to south." (Conquista de Méjico, lib. 3, cap. 3.) It must have made a curious figure in geometry!
12. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
13. "Los Señores Mejicanos y Tezcucanos en tiempo que ponian treguas por algunas temporadas embiaban á los Seéores de Tlaxcalla grandes presentes y dádivas de oro, ropa, y cacao, y sal, y de todas las cosas de que carecian, sin que la gente plebya lo entendiese, y se saludaban secretamente, guardándose el decoro que se debian: mas con todos estos trabajos la órden de su república jamas se dejaba de gobernar con la rectitud de sus costumbres guardando inviolablemente el culto de sus Dioses." Ibid., MS.
14. "The Tlascalan chronicler discerns in this deep-rooted hatred of Mexico the hand of Providence, who wrought out of it an important means for subverting the Aztec empire. Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
15. "Si bien os acordais, como tenemos de nuestra antiguedad como han de venir gentes á la parte donde sale el sol, y que han de emparentar con nosotros, y que hemos de ser todos unos; y que han de ser blancos y barbudos." Ibid., MS.
16. To the ripe age of one hundred and forty! if we may credit Camargo. Solís, who confounds this veteran with his son, has put a flourishing harangue in the mouth of the latter, which would be a rare gem of Indian eloquence,--were it not Castilian. Conquista, lib. 2, cap. 16.
17. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 3.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 27.
There is sufficient contradiction, as well as obscurity, in the proceedings reported of the council, which it is not easy to reconcile altogether with subsequent events.
18. "--Dolus an virtus, quis in hosta requirat?"
19. "I les matáron dos Caballos, de dos cuchilladas, i segun algunos, que lo viéron, cortáron á cercen de un golpe cada pescueço, con riendas, i todas." Gomara, Crónica, cap. 45.
20. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 50.--Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 62.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 45.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 3, 41.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, MS., lib. 12, cap. 10.
21. “Que quando rompiessemos por los esquadrones, que lleuassen las lanças por las caras, y no parassen á dar lançadas, porque no les echassen mano dellas." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 62.
22. "Entonces dixo Cortés, 'Santiago, y á ellos.'" Ibid., cap. 63.
23. "Una gentil contienda," says Gomara of this skirmish. Crónica, cap. 46.
24. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 51. According to Gomara, (Crónica, cap. 46,) the enemy mustered 80,000. So, also, Ixtlilxochitl. (Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 83.) Bernal Diaz says, more than 40,000. (Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 63.) But Herrera (Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 5) and Torquemada (Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 20) reduce them to 30,000. One might as easily reckon the leaves in a forest, as the numbers of a confused throng of barbarians. As this was only one of several armies kept on foot by the Tlascalans, the smallest amount is, probably, too large. The whole population of the state, according to Clavigero, who would not be likely to underrate it, did not exceed half a million at the time of the invasion. Stor. del Messico, tom. I. p. 156.
25. "La divisa y armas de la casa Y cabecera de Titcala es una garga blanca sobre un peñasco." (Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.) "El capitan general," says Bernal Diaz, "que se dezia Xicotenga, y con sus diuisas de blanco y colorado, porque aquella diuisa y librea era de aquel Xicotenga." Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 63.
26. "Llaman Teponaztle ques de un trozo de madero concavado y de una pieza rollizo y, como decimos, hueco por de dentro, que suena algunas veces mas de media legua y con el atambor hace estraña y suave consonancia." (Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.) Clavigero, who gives a drawing of this same drum, says it is still used by the Indians, and may be heard two or three miles. Stor. del Messico, tom. II. p. 179.
27. "Una illis fuit spes salutis, desperâsse de salute." (P. Martyr, De Orbe Novo, dec. 1, cap. 1.) It is said with the classic energy of Tacitus.
28. "Respondióle Marina, que no tuviese miedo, porque el Dios de los Christianos, que es muy poderoso, i los queria mucho, los sacaria de peligro." Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 5.
29. Ibid., ubi supra.
30. Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib, 33, cap. 3, 45.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 83.--Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 51.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 63.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 40.
31. Viaje de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. ix.
32. According to Cortés not a Spaniard fell,--though many were wounded,--in this action so fatal to the infidel! Diaz allows one. In the famous battle of Navas de Tolosa, between the Spaniards and Arabs, in 1212, equally matched in military science at that time, there were left 200,000 of the latter on the field; and, to balance this bloody roll, only five and twenty Christians! See the estimate in Alfonso IX.'s veracious letter, ap. Mariana (Hist. de España, lib. 2, cap. 24). The official returns of the old Castilian crusaders, whether in the Old World or the New, are scarcely more trustworthy than a French imperial bulletin in our day.