Chapter IV 
CONSPIRACY IN THE ARMY-BRIGANTINES LAUNCHED-MUSTER OF FORCES-EXECUTION OF XICOTENCATL-MARCH OF
THE ARMY-BEGINNING OF THE SIEGE
AT the very time when Cortes was occupied with reconnoitring the
valley, preparatory to his siege of the capital, a busy faction in
Castile was labouring to subvert his authority and defeat his plans of
conquest altogether. The fame of his brilliant exploits had spread not
only through the isles, but to Spain and many parts of Europe, where a
general admiration was felt for the invincible energy of the man,
who with his single arm as it were, could so long maintain a contest
with the powerful Indian empire. The absence of the Spanish monarch
from his dominions, and the troubles of the country, can alone explain
the supine indifference shown by the government to the prosecution
of this great enterprise. To the same causes it may be ascribed,
that no action was had in regard to the suits of Velasquez and
Narvaez, backed as they were by so potent an advocate as Bishop
Fonseca, president of the Council of the Indies. The reins of
government had fallen into the hands of Adrian of Utrecht, Charles'
preceptor, and afterwards Pope,- a man of learning, and not without
sagacity, but slow and timid in his policy, and altogether incapable
of that decisive action which suited the bold genius of his
predecessor, Cardinal Ximenes.
In the spring of 1521, however, a number of ordinances passed
the Council of the Indies, which threatened an important innovation in
the affairs of New Spain. It was decreed, that the Royal Audience of
Hispaniola should abandon the proceedings already instituted against
Narvaez, for his treatment of the commissioner Ayllon; that that
unfortunate commander should be released from his confinement at
Vera Cruz; and that an arbitrator should be sent to Mexico, with
authority to investigate the affairs- and conduct of Cortes, and to
render ample justice to the governor of Cuba. There were not wanting
persons at court, who looked with dissatisfaction, on these
proceedings, as an unworthy requital of the services of Cortes, and
who thought the present moment, at any rate, not the most suitable for
taking measures which might discourage the general, and, perhaps,
render him desperate. But the arrogant temper of the Bishop of
Burgos overruled all objections; and the ordinances having been
approved by the Regency, were signed by that body, April 11, 1521. A
person named Tapia, one of the functionaries of the Audience of St.
Domingo, was selected as the new commissioner to be despatched to Vera
Cruz. Fortunately circumstances occurred which postponed the execution
of the design for the present, and permitted Cortes to go forward
unmolested in his career of conquest.
But, while thus allowed to remain, for the present at least, in
possession of authority, he was assailed by a danger nearer home,
which menaced not only his authority, but his life. This was a
conspiracy in the army, of a more dark and dangerous character than
any hitherto formed there. It was set on foot by a common soldier,
named Antonio Villafana, a native of Old Castile, of whom nothing is
known but his share in this transaction. He was one of the troop of
Narvaez,- that leaven of disaffection, which had remained with the
army, swelling with discontent on every light occasion, and ready at
all times to rise into mutiny. They had voluntarily continued in the
service after the secession of their comrades at Tlascala; but it
was from the same mercenary hopes with which they had originally
embarked in the expedition,- and in these they were destined still
to be disappointed. They had little of the true spirit of adventure,
which distinguished the old companions of Cortes; and they found the
barren laurels of victory but a sorry recompense for all their toils
With these men were joined others, who had causes of personal
disgust with the general; and others, again, who looked with disgust
on the result of the war. The gloomy fate of their countrymen, who had
fallen into the enemy's hands, filled them with dismay. They felt
themselves the victims of a chimerical spirit in their leader, who,
with such inadequate means, was urging to extremity so ferocious and
formidable a foe; and they shrunk with something like apprehension
from thus pursuing the enemy into his own haunts, where he would
gather tenfold energy from despair.
These men would have willingly abandoned the enterprise, and
returned to Cuba; but how could they do it? Cortes had control over
the whole route from the city to the sea-coast; and not a vessel could
leave its ports without his warrant. Even if he were put out of the
way, there were others, his principal officers, ready to step into his
place, and avenge the death of their commander. It was necessary to
embrace these, also, in the scheme of destruction; and it was
proposed, therefore, together with Cortes, to assassinate Sandoval,
Olid, Alvarado, and two or three others most devoted to his interests.
The conspirators would then raise the cry of liberty, and doubted not
that they should be joined by the greater part of the army, or
enough, at least, to enable them to work their own pleasure. They
proposed to offer the command, on Cortes' death, to Francisco
Verdugo, a brother-in-law of Velasquez. He was an honourable
cavalier, and not privy to their design. But they had little doubt
that he would acquiesce in the command, thus, in a manner, forced
upon him, and this would secure them the protection of the governor
of Cuba, who, indeed, from his own hatred of Cortes, would be
disposed to look with a lenient eye on their proceedings.
The conspirators even went so far as to appoint the subordinate
officers, an alguacil mayor, in place of Sandoval, a
quarter-master-general to succeed Olid, and some others. The time
fixed for the execution of the plot was soon after the return of
Cortes from his expedition. A parcel, pretended to have come by a
fresh arrival from Castile, was to be presented to him while at
table, and, when he was engaged in breaking open the letters, the
conspirators were to fall on him and his officers, and despatch them
with their poniards. Such was the iniquitous scheme devised for the
destruction of Cortes and the expedition. But a conspiracy, to be
successful, especially when numbers are concerned, should allow but
little time to elapse between its conception and its execution.
On the day previous to that appointed for the perpetration of
the deed, one, of the party, feeling a natural compunction at the
commission of the crime, went to the general's quarters, and solicited
a private interview with him. He threw himself at his commander's
feet, and revealed all the particulars relating to the conspiracy,
adding, that in Villafana's possession a paper would be found,
containing the names of his accomplices. Cortes, thunderstruck at
the disclosure, lost not a moment in profiting by it. He sent for
Alvarado, Sandoval, and other officers marked out by the
conspirator, and, after communicating the affair to them, went at once
with them to Villafana's quarters, attended by four alguacils.
They found him in conference with three or four friends, who
were instantly taken from the apartment, and placed in custody.
Villafana, confounded at this sudden apparition of his commander,
had barely time to snatch a paper, containing the signatures of the
confederates, from his bosom, and attempt to swallow it. But Cortes
arrested his arm, and seized the paper. As he glanced his eye
rapidly over the fatal list, he was much moved at finding there the
names of more than one who had some claim to consideration in the
army. He tore the scroll in pieces, and ordered Villafana, to be taken
into custody. He was immediately tried by a military court hastily got
together, at which the general himself presided. There seems to have
been no doubt of the man's guilt. He was condemned to death, and,
after allowing him time for confession and absolution, the sentence
was executed by hanging him from the window of his own quarters.
Those ignorant of the affair were astonished at the spectacle; and
the remaining conspirators were filled with consternation when they
saw that their plot was detected, and anticipated a similar fate for
themselves. But they were mistaken. Cortes pursued the matter no
further. A little reflection convinced him, that to do so would
involve him in the most disagreeable, and even dangerous,
perplexities. And, however much the parties implicated in so foul a
deed might deserve death, he could ill afford the loss even of the
guilty, with his present limited numbers. He resolved, therefore, to
content himself with the punishment of the ringleader.
He called his troops together, and briefly explained to them the
nature of the crime for which Villafana had suffered. He had made no
confession, he said, and the guilty secret had perished with him. He
then expressed his sorrow, that any should have been found in their
ranks capable of so base an act, and stated his own unconsciousness of
having wronged any individual among them; but, if he had done so, he
invited them frankly to declare it, as he was most anxious to afford
them all the redress in his power. But there was no one of his
audience, whatever might be his grievances, who cared to enter his
complaint at such a moment; least of all were the conspirators willing
to do so, for they were too happy at having, as they fancied,
escaped detection, to stand forward now in the ranks of the
malcontents. The affair passed off, therefore, without further
As was stated at the close of the last chapter, the Spaniards,
on their return to quarters, found the construction of the brigantines
completed, and that they were fully rigged, equipped, and ready for
service. The canal, also, after having occupied eight thousand men for
nearly two months, was finished.
It was a work of great labour; for it extended half a league in
length, was twelve feet wide, and as many deep. The sides were
strengthened by palisades of wood, or solid masonry. At intervals dams
and locks were constructed, and part of the opening was through the
hard rock. By this avenue the brigantines might now be safely
introduced on the lake.
Cortes was resolved that so auspicious an event should be
celebrated with due solemnity. On the 28th of April, the troops were
drawn up under arms, and the whole population of Tezcuco assembled
to witness the ceremony. Mass was performed, and every man in the
army, together with the general, confessed and received the sacrament.
Prayers were offered up by Father Olmedo, and a benediction invoked on
the little navy, the first worthy of the name ever launched on
American waters. The signal was given by the firing of a cannon,
when the vessels, dropping down the canal one after another, reached
the lake in good order; and as they emerged on its ample bosom, with
music sounding, and the royal ensign of Castile proudly floating
from their masts, a shout of admiration arose from the countless
multitudes of spectators, which mingled with the roar of artillery and
musketry from the vessels and the shore! It was a novel spectacle to
the simple natives; and they gazed with wonder on the gallant ships,
which, fluttering like sea-birds on their snowy pinions, bounded
lightly over the waters, as if rejoicing in their element. It
touched the stern hearts of the Conquerors with a glow of rapture,
and, as they felt that Heaven had blessed their undertaking, they
broke forth, by general accord, into the noble anthem of the Te
Deum. But there was no one of that vast multitude for whom the sight
had deeper interest than their commander. For he looked on it as the
work, in a manner, of his own hands; and his bosom swelled with
exultation, as he felt he was now possessed of a power strong enough
to command the lake, and to shake the haughty towers of Tenochtitlan.
The general's next step was to muster his forces in the great
square of the capital. He found they amounted to eighty-seven horse,
and eight hundred and eighteen foot, of which one hundred and eighteen
were arquebusiers and crossbowmen. He had three large field-pieces
of iron, and fifteen lighter guns or falconets of brass. The heavier
cannon had been transported from Vera Cruz to Tezcuco, a little
while before, by the faithful Tlascalans. He was well supplied with
shot and balls, with about ten hundredweight of powder, and fifty
thousand copper-headed arrows, made after a pattern furnished by him
to the natives. The number and appointments of the army much
exceeded what they had been at any time since the flight from
Mexico, and showed the good effects of the late arrivals from the
Islands. Indeed, taking the fleet into the account, Cortes had never
before been in so good a condition for carrying on his operations.
Three hundred of the men were sent to man the vessels, thirteen, or
rather twelve, in number, one of the smallest having been found, on
trial, too dull a sailer to be of service. Half of the crews were
required to navigate the ships. There was some difficulty in finding
hands for this, as the men were averse to the employment. Cortes
selected those who came from Palos, Moguer, and other maritime
towns, and notwithstanding their frequent claims of exemption, as
hidalgos, from this menial occupation, he pressed them into the
service. Each vessel mounted a piece of heavy ordnance, and was placed
under an officer of respectability, to whom Cortes gave a general code
of instructions for the government of the little navy, of which he
proposed to take the command in person.
He had already sent to his Indian confederates, announcing his
purpose of immediately laying siege to Mexico, and called on them to
furnish their promised levies within the space of ten days at
furthest. The Tlascalans he ordered to join him at Tezcuco; the others
were to assemble at Chalco, a more convenient place of rendezvous
for the operations in the southern quarter of the valley. The
Tlascalans arrived within the time prescribed, led by the younger
Xicotencatl, supported by Chichemecatl, the same doughty warrior who
had convoyed the brigantines to Tezcuco. They came fifty thousand
strong, according to Cortes, making a brilliant show with their
military finery, and marching proudly forward under the great national
banner, emblazoned with a spread eagle, the arms of the republic. With
as blithe and manly a step as if they were going to the battle-ground,
they defiled through the gates of the capital, making its walls ring
with the friendly shouts of "Castile and Tlascala."
The observations which Cortes had made in his late tour of
reconnaissance had determined him to begin the siege by distributing
his forces into three separate camps, which he proposed to establish
at the extremities of the principal causeways. By this arrangement the
troops would be enabled to move in concert on the capital, and be in
the best position to intercept its supplies from the surrounding
country. The first of these points was Tacuba, commanding the fatal
causeway of the noche triste. This was assigned to Pedro de
Alvarado, with a force consisting, according to Cortes' own statement,
of thirty horse, one hundred and sixty-eight Spanish infantry, and
five and twenty thousand Tlascalans. Christoval de Olid had command
of the second army, of much the same magnitude, which was to take up
its position at Cojohuacan, the city, it will be remembered,
overlooking the short causeway connected with that of Iztapalapan.
Gonzalo de Sandoval had charge of the third division, of equal
strength with each of the two preceding, but which was to draw its
Indian levies from the forces assembled at Chalco. This officer was
to march on Iztapalapan, and complete the destruction of that city,
begun by Cortes soon after his entrance into the valley. It was too
formidable a post to remain in the rear of the army. The general
intended to support the attack with his brigantines, after which the
subsequent movements of Sandoval would be determined by circumstances.
Having announced his intended dispositions to his officers, the
Spanish commander called his troops together, and made one of those
brief and stirring harangues with which he was wont on great occasions
to kindle the hearts of his soldiery. "I have taken the last step," he
said; "I have brought you to the goal for which you have so long
panted. A few days will place you before the gates of Mexico,- the
capital from which you were driven with so much ignominy. But we now
go forward under the smiles of Providence. Does any one doubt it?
Let him but compare our present condition with that in which we
found ourselves not twelve months since, when, broken and
dispirited, we sought shelter within the walls of Tlascala; nay,
with that in which we were but a few months since, when we took up our
quarters in Tezcuco. Since that time our strength has been nearly
doubled. We are fighting the battles of the Faith, fighting for our
honour, for riches, for revenge. I have brought you face to face
with your foe. It is for you to do the rest."
The address of the bold chief was answered by the thundering
acclamations of his followers, who declared that every man would do
his duty under such a leader; and they only asked to be led against
the enemy. Cortes then caused the regulations for the army,
published at Tlascala, to be read again to the troops, with the
assurance that they should be enforced to the letter.
It was arranged that the Indian forces should precede the
Spanish by a day's march, and should halt for their confederates on
the borders of the Tezcucan territory. A circumstance occurred soon
after their departure, which gave bad augury for the future. A quarrel
had arisen in the camp at Tezcuco between a Spanish soldier and a
Tlascalan chief, in which the latter was badly hurt. He was sent
back to Tlascala, and the matter was hushed up, that it might not
reach the ears of the general, who, it was known, would not pass it
over lightly. Xicotencatl was a near relative of the injured party,
and on the first day's halt, he took the opportunity to leave the
army, with a number of his followers, and set off for Tlascala.
Other causes are assigned for his desertion. It is certain that,
from the first, he looked on the expedition with an evil eye, and
had predicted that no good would come of it. He came into it with
reluctance, as, indeed, he detested the Spaniards in his heart.
His partner in the command instantly sent information of the
affair to the Spanish general, still encamped at Tezcuco. Cortes,
who saw at once the mischievous consequences of this defection at such
a time, detached a party of Tlascalan and Tezcucan Indians after the
fugitive, with instructions to prevail on him, if possible, to
return to his duty. They overtook him on the road, and remonstrated
with him on his conduct, contrasting it with that of his countrymen
generally, and of his own father in particular, the steady friend of
the white men. "So much the worse," replied the chieftain; "if they
had taken my counsel, they would never have become the dupes of the
perfidious strangers." Finding their remonstrances received only
with anger or contemptuous taunts, the emissaries returned without
accomplishing their object.
Cortes did not hesitate on the course he was to pursue.
"Xicotencatl," he said, "had always been the enemy of the Spaniards,
first in the field, and since in the council-chamber; openly, or in
secret, still the same,- their implacable enemy. There was no use in
parleying with the false-hearted Indian." He instantly despatched a
small body of horse with an alguacil to arrest the chief, wherever
he might be found, even though it were in the streets of Tlascala, and
to bring him back to Tezcuco. At the same time he sent information
of Xicotencatl's proceedings to the Tlascalan senate, adding, that
desertion among the Spaniards was punished with death.
The emissaries of Cortes punctually fulfilled his orders. They
arrested the fugitive chief,- whether in Tlascala or in its
neighbourhood is uncertain,- and brought him a prisoner to Tezcuco,
where a high gallows, erected in the great square, was prepared for
his reception. He was instantly led to the place of execution; his
sentence and the cause for which he suffered were publicly proclaimed,
and the unfortunate cacique expiated his offence by the vile death
of a malefactor. His ample property, consisting of lands, slaves,
and some gold, was all confiscated to the Castilian crown.
Thus perished Xicotencatl, in the flower of his age,- as dauntless
a warrior as ever led an Indian army to battle. He was the first chief
who successfully resisted the arms of the invaders; and, had the
natives of Anahuac generally been animated with a spirit like his,
Cortes would probably never have set foot in the capital of Montezuma.
He was gifted with a clearer insight into the future than his
countrymen; for he saw that the European was an enemy far more to be
dreaded than the Aztec. Yet, when he consented to fight under the
banner of the white men, he had no right to desert it, and he incurred
the penalty prescribed by the code of savage as well as of civilised
nations. It is said, indeed, that the Tlascalan senate aided in
apprehending him, having previously answered Cortes, that his crime
was punishable with death by their own laws. It was a bold act,
however, thus to execute him in the midst of his people; for he was
a powerful chief, heir to one of the four seigniories of the republic.
His chivalrous qualities made him popular, especially with the younger
part of his countrymen; and his garments were torn into shreds at
his death, and distributed as sacred relics among them. Still, no
resistance was offered to the execution of the sentence, and no
commotion followed it. He was the only Tlascalan who ever swerved from
his loyalty to the Spaniards.
According to the plan of operations settled by Cortes, Sandoval,
with his division, was to take a southern direction; while Alvarado
and Olid would make the northern circuit of the lakes. These two
cavaliers, after getting possession of Tacuba, were to advance to
Chapoltepec, and demolish the great aqueduct there, which supplied
Mexico with water. On the 10th of May, they commenced their march; but
at Acolman, where they halted for the night, a dispute arose between
the soldiers of the two divisions, respecting their quarters. From
words they came to blows, and a defiance was even exchanged between
the leaders, who entered into the angry feelings of their followers.
Intelligence of this was soon communicated to Cortes, who sent at once
to the fiery chiefs, imploring them, by their regard for him and the
common cause, to lay aside their differences, which must end in
their own ruin, and that of the expedition. His remonstrance
prevailed, at least, so far as to establish a show of reconciliation
between the parties. But was not a man to forget, or easily to
forgive; and Alvarado, though frank and liberal, had an impatient
temper, much more easily excited than appeased. They were never
The Spaniards met with no opposition on their march. The principal
towns were all abandoned by the inhabitants, who had gone to
strengthen the garrison of Mexico, or taken refuge with their families
among the mountains. Tacuba was in like manner deserted, and the
troops once more established themselves in their old quarters in the
lordly city of the Tepanecs.
Their first undertaking was, to cut off the pipes that conducted
the water from the royal streams of Chapoltepec to feed the numerous
tanks and fountains which sparkled-in the courtyards of the capital.
The aqueduct, partly constructed of brickwork, and partly of stone and
mortar, was raised on a strong, though narrow, dike, which transported
it across an arm of the lake; and the whole work was one of the most
pleasing monuments of Mexican civilisation. The Indians, well aware of
its importance, had stationed a large body of troops for its
protection. A battle followed, in which both sides suffered
considerably, but the Spaniards were victorious. A part of the
aqueduct was demolished, and during the siege no water found its way
again to the capital through this channel.
On the following day the combined forces descended on the fatal
causeway, to make themselves masters, if possible, of the nearest
bridge. They found the dike covered with a swarm of warriors, as
numerous as on the night of their disaster, while the surface of the
lake was dark with the multitude of canoes. The intrepid Christians
strove to advance under a perfect hurricane of missiles from the water
and the land, but they made slow progress. Barricades thrown across
the causeway embarrassed the cavalry, and rendered it nearly
useless. The sides of the Indian boats were fortified with bulwarks,
which shielded the crews from the arquebuses and crossbows; and,
when the warriors on the dike were hard pushed by the pikemen, they
threw themselves fearlessly into the water, as if it were their native
element, and re-appearing along the sides of the dike, shot off
their arrows and javelins with fatal execution. After a long and
obstinate struggle, the Christians were compelled to fall back on
their own quarters with disgrace, and- including the allies- with
nearly as much damage as they had inflicted on the enemy. Olid,
disgusted with the result of the engagement, inveighed against his
companion, as having involved them in it by his wanton temerity, and
drew off his forces the next morning to his own station at Cojohuacan.
The camps, separated by only two leagues, maintained an easy
communication with each other. They found abundant employment in
foraging the neighbouring country for provisions, and in repelling the
active sallies of the enemy; on whom they took their revenge by
cutting off his supplies. But their own position was precarious, and
they looked with impatience for the arrival of the brigantines under
Cortes. It was in the latter part of May that took up his quarters at
Cojohuacan; and from that time may be dated the commencement of the
siege of Mexico.
1. Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 15.--Relacion de Alonso de Verzara, Escrivano Público de Vera Cruz, MS., dec. 21.
2. "Hazia Alguazil mayor é Alférez, y Alcaldes, y Regidores, y Contador, y Tesorero, y Ueedor, y otras cosas deste arte, y aun repartido entre ellos nuestros bienes, y cauallos." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 146.
3. Ibid., loc. cit.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 1.
4. Ibid., ubi supra.
5. So says M. de Barante in his picturesque rifacimento of the ancient chronicles, "Les procès du connétable et de monsieur de Némours, bien d'autres révélations, avaient fait éclater leur mauvais vouloir, on du moins leur pen de fidélité pour le roi; ils ne pouvaient donc douter qu'il désirât ou complotât leur ruine." Histoire des Ducs de Bourgogne, (Paris, 1838,) tom. XI. p. 169.
6. "Y desde allí adelante, aunque mostraua gran voluntad á las personas que eran en la cojuracio, siempre se rezelaua dellos." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 146.
7. Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Esp., p. 19.--Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 234.
"Obra grandíssima," exclaims the Conqueror, "y mucho para ver."--"Fuéron en guarde de estos bergantines," adds Camargo, "mas de diez mil hombres de guerra con los maestros dellas, hasta que los armáron y echáron en el agua y laguna de Méjico, que fué obra de mucho efecto para tomarse Méjico." Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
8. The brigantines were still to be seen, preserved, as precious memorials, long after the Conquest, in the dockyards of Mexico. Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 1, cap. 1.
9. "Deda la señal, soltó la Presa, fuéron saliendos los Vergantines, sin tocar vno á otro, i apartándose por la Laguna, desplegáron las Vanderas, tocó la Música, disparáron su Artillería, respondió la del Exército, así de Castellanos, como de Indios." Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 6.
10. Ibid., ubi supra.--Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 234.--Ixtlilxochitl, Venida de los Esp., p. 19.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 48.
The last-mentioned chronicler indulges in no slight swell of exultation at this achievement of his hero, which in his opinion throws into shade the boasted exploits of the great Sesostris. "Otras muchas é notables cosas, cuenta este actor que he dicho de aqueste Rey Sesori, en que no me quiero detener, ni las tengo en tanto como esta tranchea, ó canja que es dicho, y los Vergantines de que tratamos, los quales diéron ocasion á que se oviesen mayores Thesoros é Provincias, é Reynos, que no tuvo Sesori, para la corona Real de Castilla por la industria de Hernando Cortés." Ibid., lib. 33, cap. 22.
11. Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 234.
12. Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 147.
13. Ibid., ubi supra.
Hidalguia, besides its legal privileges, brought with it some fanciful ones to its possessor; if, indeed, it be considered a privilege to have excluded him from many a humble, but honest, calling, by which the poor man might have gained his bread. (From an amusing account of these, see Doblado's Letters from Spain, let. 2.) In no country has the poor gentleman afforded so rich a theme for the satirist, as teh writings of Le Sage, Cervantes, and Lope de Vega abundantly show.
14. "Y los Capitanes de Tascaltecal con toda su gente, muy lúcida, y bien armada,.....y segun la cuenta, que los Capitanes nos diéron, pasaban de cinquenta mil Hombres de Guerra." (Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 236.) "I toda la Gente," adds Herrera, "tardó tres Dias en entrar, segun en sus Memoriales dice Alonso de Ojeda, ni con ser Tezcuco tan gran Ciudad, cabian en ella." Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 13.
15. "Y sus vaderas tedidas, y el aue blaca q tienen por armas, q parece águila, con sus alas tendidas." (Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 149.) A spread eagle of gold, Clavigero considers as the arms of the republic. (Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. II. p. 145.) But, as Bernal Diaz speaks of it as "white," it may have been the white heron, which belonged to the house of Xicotencatl.
16. The precise amount of each division, as given by Cortés, was,--in that of Alvarado, 30 horse, 168 Castilian infantry, and 25,000 Tlascalan; in that of Olid, 33 horse, 178 infantry, 20,000 Tlascalans; and in Sandoval's, 24 horse, 167 infantry, 30,000 Indians.--(Rel. Terc., ap. Lorenzana, p. 236.) Diaz reduces the number of native troops to one third. Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 150.
17. "Que se alegrassen, y esforzassen mucho, pues que veian, que nuestro Señor nos encaminaba para haber victoria de nuestros Enemigos: porque bien sabian, que quando habiamos entrado en Tesaico, no habiamos trahido mas de quarenta de Caballo, y que Dios nos habia socorrido mejor, que lo habiamos pensado." Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 235.
18. Oviedo expands, what he, nevertheless, calls the "brebe é substancial oracion" of Cortés, into treble the length of it, as found in the general's own pages; in which he is imitated by most of the other chroniclers. Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 22.
19. "Y con estas últimas palabras cesó; y todos respondiéron sin discrepancia, é á una voce dicentes: Sirvanse Dios y el Emperador nuestro Señor de tan bien capitan, y de nosotros, que así lo harémos todos como quien somos, y como se debe esperar de buenos Españoles, y con tanta voluntad, y deseo, dicho que parecia que cada hora les era perder vn año de tiempo por estar y á las manos con los Enemigos." Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., ubi supra.
20. According to Diaz, the desire to possess himself of the lands of his comrade Chichemecatl, who remained with the army; (Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 150;) according to Herrera, it was an amour that carried him home. (Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 17.) Both and all agree on the chief's aversion to the Spaniards, and to the war.
21. "Y la respuesta que le embió á dezir fué, que si el viejo de su padre, y Masse Escaci le huvieran creido, que no se huvieran señoreada tanto dellos, que les haze hazer todo lo que quiere: y por no gastar mas palabras, dixo, que no queria venir." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 150.
22. So says Herrera, who had the Memorial of Ojeda in his possession, one of the Spaniards employed to apprehend the chieftain. (Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. l, cap. 17, and Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 90.) Bernal Diaz, on the other hand, says, that the Tlascalan chief was taken and executed on the road. (Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 150.) But the latter chronicler was probably absent at the time with Alvarado's division, in which he served.--Solís, however, prefers his testimony, on the ground, that Cortés would not have hazarded the execution of Xicotencatl before the eyes of his own troops. (Conquista, lib. 5, cap. 19.) But the Tlascalans were already well on their way towards Tacuba. A very few only could have remained in Tezcuco, which was occupied by the citizens and the Castilian army,--neither of them very likely to interfere in the prisoner's behalf. His execution there would be an easier matter than in the territory of Tlascala, which he had probably reached before his apprehension.
23. Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 1, cap. 17.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 90.
24. "Y sobre ello ya auiamos echado mano á las armas los de nuestra Capitanía contra los de Christóual de Oli, y aun los Capitanes desafiados." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 150.
25. Ibid., loc. cit.--Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 237.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 130.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 22.
26. The Tepanec capital, shorn of its ancient splendors, is now only interesting from its historic associations. "These plains of Tacuba," says the spirited author of "Life in Mexico," "once the theatre of fierce and bloody conflicts, and where, during the siege of Mexico, Alvarado "of the leap" fixed his camp, now present a very tranquil scene. Tacuba itself is now a small village of mud huts, with some fine old trees, a few very old ruined houses, a ruined church, and some traces of a building, which ------------ assured us had been the palace of their last monarch; whilst others declare it to have been the site of the Spanish encampment." Vol. I. let. 13.
27. Rel. Terc. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 237-239.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 94.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 22.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 50.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 130.
Clavigero settles this date at the day of Corpus Christi, May 30th. (Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. III. p. 196.) But the Spaniards left Tezcuco, May 10th, according to Cortés: and three weeks could not have intervened between their departure, and their occupation of Cojohuacan. Clavigero disposes of this difficulty, it is true, by dating the beginning of their march on the 20th, instead of the 10th of May; following the chronology of Herrera, instead of that of Cortés. Surely, the general is the better authority of the two.
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