Chapter III 
REPUBLIC OF TLASCALA
DECISIVE VICTORY- INDIAN COUNCIL- NIGHT ATTACK-
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ENEMY- TLASCALAN HERO
THE Spaniards were allowed to repose undisturbed the following
day, and to recruit their strength after the fatigue and hard fighting
on the preceding. They found sufficient employment, however, in
repairing and cleaning their weapons, replenishing their diminished
stock of arrows, and getting everything in order for further
hostilities, should the severe lesson they had inflicted on the
enemy prove insufficient to discourage him. On the second day, as
Cortes received no overtures from the Tlascalans, he determined to
send an embassy to their camp, proposing a cessation of hostilities,
and expressing his intention to visit their capital as a friend. He
selected two of the principal chiefs taken in the late engagement as
the bearers of the message.
Meanwhile, averse to leaving his men longer in a dangerous state
of inaction, which the enemy might interpret as the result of timidity
or exhaustion, he put himself at the head of the cavalry and such
light troops as were most fit for service, and made a foray into the
neighbouring country. It was a montainous region, formed by a.
ramification of the great sierra of Tlascala, with verdant slopes
and valleys teeming with maize and plantations of maguey, while the
eminences were crowned with populous towns and villages. In one of
these, he tells us, he found three thousand dwellings. In some
places he met with a resolute resistance, and on these occasions
took ample vengeance by laying the country waste with fire and
sword. After a successful inroad he returned laden with forage and
provisions, and driving before him several hundred Indian captives. He
treated them kindly, however, when arrived in camp, endeavouring to
make them understand that these acts of violence were not dictated
by his own wishes, but by the unfriendly policy of their countrymen.
In this way he hoped to impress the nation with the conviction of
his power on the one hand, and of his amicable intentions, if met by
them in the like spirit, on the other.
On reaching his quarters, he found the two envoys returned from
the Tlascalan camp. They had fallen in with Xicotencatl at about two
leagues' distance, where he lay encamped with a powerful force. The
cacique gave them audience at the head of his troops. He told them
to return with the answer, "That the Spaniards might pass on as soon
as they chose to Tlascala; and, when they reached it, their flesh
would be hewn from their bodies, for sacrifice to the gods! If they
preferred to remain in their own quarters, he would pay them a visit
there the next day." The ambassadors added, that the chief had an
immense force with him, consisting of five battalions of ten
thousand men each. They were the flower of the Tlascalan and Otomie
warriors, assembled under the banners of their respective leaders,
by command of the senate, who were resolved to try the fortunes of the
state in a pitched battle, and strike one decisive blow for the
extermination of the invaders.
This bold defiance fell heavily on the ears of the Spaniards,
not prepared for so pertinacious a spirit in their enemy. They had had
ample proof of his courage and formidable prowess. They were now, in
their crippled condition, to encounter him with a still more
terrible array of numbers. The war, too, from the horrible fate with
which it menaced the vanquished, wore a peculiarly gloomy aspect
that pressed heavily on their spirits. "We feared death," says the
lion-hearted Diaz, with his usual simplicity, "for we were men." There
was scarcely one in the army that did not confess himself that night
to the reverend Father Olmedo, who was occupied nearly the whole of it
with administering absolution, and with the other solemn offices of
the Church. Armed with the blessed sacraments, the Catholic soldier
lay tranquilly down to rest, prepared for any fate that might betide
him under the banner of the Cross.
As a battle was now inevitable, Cortes resolved to march out and
meet the enemy in the field. This would have a show of confidence,
that might serve the double purpose of intimidating the Tlascalans,
and inspiriting his own men, whose enthusiasm might lose somewhat of
its heat, if compelled to await the assault of their antagonists,
inactive in their own intrenchments. The sun rose bright on the
following morning, the 5th of September, 1519, an eventful day in
the history of Spanish Conquest. The general reviewed his army, and
gave them, preparatory to marching, a few words of encouragement and
advice. The infantry he instructed to rely on the point rather than
the edge of their swords, and to endeavour to thrust their opponents
through the body. The horsemen were to charge at half speed, with
their lances aimed at the eyes of the Indians. The artillery the
arquebusiers, and crossbowmen, were to support one another, some
loading while others discharged their pieces, that there should be
an unintermitted firing kept up through the action. Above all, they
were to maintain their ranks close and unbroken, as on this depended
They had not advanced a quarter of a league, when they came in
sight of the Tlascalan army. Its dense array stretched far and wide
over a vast plain or meadow ground, about six miles square. Its
appearance justified the report which had been given of its numbers.
Nothing could be more picturesque than the aspect of these Indian
battalions, with the naked bodies of the common soldiers gaudily
painted, the fantastic helmets of the chiefs glittering with gold
and precious stones, and the glowing panoplies of feather-work which
decorated their persons. Innumerable spears and darts tipped with
points of transparent itztli or fiery copper, sparkled bright in the
morning sun, like the phosphoric gleams playing on the surface of a
troubled sea, while the rear of the mighty host was dark with the
shadows of banners, on which were emblazoned the armorial bearings
of the great Tlascalan and Otomie chieftains. Among these, the white
heron on the rock, the cognisance of the house of Xicotencatl, was
conspicuous, and, still more, the golden eagle with outspread wings,
in the fashion of a Roman signum, richly ornamented with emeralds
and silver work, the great standard of the republic of Tlascala.
The common file wore no covering except a girdle round the
loins. Their bodies were painted with the appropriate colours of the
chieftain whose banner they followed. The feather-mail of the higher
class of warriors exhibited, also, a similar selection of colours
for the like object, in the same manner as the colour of the tartan
indicates the peculiar clan of the Highlander. The caciques and
principal warriors were clothed in a quilted cotton tunic, two
inches thick, which, fitting close to the body, protected also the
thighs and the shoulders. Over this the wealthier Indians wore
cuirasses of thin gold plate, or silver. Their legs were defended by
leathern boots or sandals, trimmed with gold. But the most brilliant
part of their costume was a rich mantle of the plumaje or
feather-work, embroidered with curious art, and furnishing some
resemblance to the gorgeous surcoat worn by the European knight over
his armour in the Middle Ages. This graceful and picturesque dress was
surmounted by a fantastic head-piece made of wood or leather,
representing the head of some wild animal, and frequently displaying a
formidable array of teeth. With this covering the warrior's head was
enveloped, producing a most grotesque and hideous effect. From the
crown floated a splendid panache of the richly variegated plumage of
the tropics, indicating, by its form and colours, the rank and
family of the wearer. To complete their defensive armour, they carried
shields or targets, made sometimes of wood covered with leather, but
more usually of a light frame of reeds quilted with cotton, which were
preferred, as tougher and less liable to fracture than the former.
They had other bucklers, in which the cotton was covered with an
elastic substance, enabling them to be shut up in a more compact form,
like a fan or umbrella. These shields were decorated with showy
ornaments, according to the taste or wealth of the wearer, and fringed
with a beautiful pendant of feather-work.
Their weapons were slings, bows and arrows, javelins, and darts.
They were accomplished archers, and would discharge two or even
three arrows at a time. But they most excelled in throwing the
javelin. One species of this, with a thong attached to it, which
remained in the slinger's hand, that he might recall the weapon, was
especially dreaded by the Spaniards. These various weapons were
pointed with bone, or the mineral itztli (obsidian), the hard vitreous
substance already noticed, as capable of taking an edge like a
razor, though easily blunted. Their spears and arrows were also
frequently headed with copper. Instead of a sword, they bore a
two-handed staff, about three feet and a half long, in which, at
regular distances, were inserted, transversely, sharp blades of
itztli,- a formidable weapon, which, an eye-witness assures us, he had
seen fell a horse at a blow.
Such was the costume of the Tlascalan warrior, and, indeed, of
that great family of nations generally, who occupied the plateau of
Anahuac. Some parts of it, as the targets and the cotton mail or
escaupil, as it was called in Castilian, were so excellent, that
they were subsequently adopted by the Spaniards, as equally
effectual in the way of protection, and superior, on the score of
lightness and convenience, to their own. They were of sufficient
strength to turn an arrow, or the stroke of a javelin, although
impotent as a defence against firearms. But what armour is not? Yet it
is probably no exaggeration to say that, in convenience, gracefulness,
and strength, the arms of the Indian warrior were not very inferior to
those of the polished nations of antiquity.
As soon as the Castilians came in sight, the Tlascalans set up
their yell of defiance, rising high above the wild barbaric minstrelsy
of shell, atabal, and trumpet, with which they proclaimed their
triumphant anticipations of victory over the paltry forces of the
invaders. When the latter had come within bowshot, the Indians
hurled a tempest of missiles, that darkened the sun for a moment as
with a passing cloud, strewing the earth around with heaps of stones
and arrows. Slowly and steadily the little band of Spaniards held on
its way amidst this arrowy shower, until it had reached what
appeared the proper distance for delivering its fire with full effect.
Cortes then halted, and, hastily forming his troops, opened a
general well-directed fire along the whole line. Every shot bore its
errand of death; and the ranks of the Indians were mowed down faster
than their comrades in the rear could carry off their bodies,
according to custom, from the field. The balls in their passage
through the crowded files, bearing splinters of the broken harness and
mangled limbs of the warriors, scattered havoc and desolation in their
path. The mob of barbarians stood petrified with dismay, till, at
length, galled to desperation by their intolerable suffering, they
poured forth simultaneously their hideous war-shriek, and rushed
impetuously on the Christians.
On they came like an avalanche, or mountain torrent, shaking the
solid earth, and sweeping away every obstacle in its path. The
little army of Spaniards opposed a bold front to the overwhelming
mass. But no strength could withstand it. They faltered, gave way,
were borne along before it, and their ranks were broken and thrown
into disorder. It was in vain the general called on them to close
again and rally. His voice was drowned by the din of fight and the
fierce cries of the assailants. For a moment, it seemed that all was
lost. The tide of battle had turned against them, and the fate of
the Christians was sealed.
But every man had that within his bosom which spoke louder than
the voice of the general. Despair gave unnatural energy to his arms.
The naked body of the Indian afforded no resistance to the sharp
Toledo steel; and with their good swords, the Spanish infantry at
length succeeded in staying the human torrent. The heavy guns from a
distance thundered on the flank of the assailants, which, shaken by
the iron tempest, was thrown into disorder. Their very numbers
increased the confusion, as they were precipitated on the masses in
front. The horse at the same moment, charging gallantly under
Cortes, followed up the advantage, and at length compelled the
tumultuous throng to fall back with greater precipitation and disorder
than that with which they had advanced.
More than once in the course of the action, a similar assault
was attempted by the Tlascalans, but each time with less spirit, and
greater loss. They were too deficient in military science to profit by
their vast superiority in numbers. They were distributed into
companies, it is true, each serving under its own chieftain and
banner. But they were not arranged by rank and file, and moved in a
confused mass, promiscuously heaped together. They knew not how to
concentrate numbers on a given point, or even how to sustain an
assault, by employing successive detachments to support and relieve
one another. A very small part only of their array could be brought
into contact with an enemy inferior to them in amount of forces. The
remainder of the army, inactive and worse than useless in the rear,
served only to press tumultuously on the advance, and embarrass its
movements by mere weight of numbers, while, on the least alarm, they
were seized with a panic and threw the whole body into inextricable
confusion. It was, in short, the combat of the ancient Greeks and
Persians over again.
Still, the great numerical superiority of the Indians might have
enabled them, at a severe cost of their own lives, indeed, to wear
out, in time, the constancy of the Spaniards, disabled by wounds,
and incessant fatigue. But, fortunately for the latter, dissensions
arose among their enemies. A Tlascalan chieftain, commanding one of
the great divisions, had taken umbrage at the haughty demeanour of
Xicotencatl, who had charged him with misconduct or cowardice in the
late action. The injured cacique challenged his rival to single
combat. This did not take place. But, burning with resentment, he
chose the present occasion to indulge it, by drawing off his forces,
amounting to ten thousand men, from the field. He also persuaded
another of the commanders to follow his example.
Thus reduced to about half his original strength, and that greatly
crippled by the losses of the day, Xicotencatl could no longer
maintain his ground against the Spaniards. After disputing the field
with admirable courage for four hours, he retreated and resigned it to
the enemy. The Spaniards were too much jaded, and too many were
disabled by wounds, to allow them to pursue; and Cortes, satisfied
with the decisive victory he had gained, returned in triumph to his
position on the hill of Tzompach.
The number of killed in his own ranks had been very small,
notwithstanding the severe loss inflicted on the enemy. These few he
was careful to bury where they could not be discovered, anxious to
conceal not only the amount of the slain, but the fact that the whites
were mortal. But very many of the men were wounded, and all the
horses. The trouble of the Spaniards was much enhanced by the want
of many articles important to them in their present exigency. They had
neither oil, nor salt, which, as before noticed, was not to be
obtained in Tlascala. Their clothing, accommodated to a softer
climate, was ill adapted to the rude air of the mountains; and bows
and arrows, as Bernal Diaz sarcastically remarks, formed an
indifferent protection against the inclemency of the weather.
Still, they had much to cheer them in the events of the day; and
they might draw from them a reasonable ground for confidence in
their own resources, such as no other experience could have
supplied. Not that the results could authorise anything like
contempt for their Indian foe. Singly and with the same weapons, he
might have stood his ground against the Spaniards. But the success
of the day established the superiority of science and discipline
over mere physical courage and numbers. It was fighting over again, as
we have said, the old battle of the European and the Asiatic. But
the handful of Greeks who routed the hosts of Xerxes and Darius, it
must be remembered, had not so obvious an advantage on the score of
weapons, as was enjoyed by the Spaniards in these wars. The use of
firearms gave an ascendency which cannot easily be estimated; one so
great, that a contest between nations equally civilised, which
should be similar in all other respects to that between the
Spaniards and the Tlascalans, would probably be attended with a
similar issue. To all this must be added the effect produced by the
cavalry. The nations of Anahuac had no large domesticated animals, and
were unacquainted with any beast of burden. Their imaginations were
bewildered when they beheld the strange apparition of the horse and
his rider moving in unison and obedient to one impulse, as if
possessed of a common nature; and as they saw the terrible animal,
with his "neck clothed in thunder," bearing down their squadrons and
trampling them in the dust, no wonder they should have regarded him
with the mysterious terror felt for a supernatural being. A very
little reflection on the manifold grounds of superiority, both moral
and physical, possessed by the Spaniards in this contest, will
surely explain the issue, without any disparagement to the courage
or capacity of their opponents.
Cortes, thinking the occasion favourable, followed up the
important blow he had struck by a new mission to the capital,
bearing a message of similar import with that recently sent to the
camp. But the senate was not yet sufficiently humbled. The late defeat
caused, indeed, general consternation. Maxixcatzin, one of the four
great lords who presided over the republic, reiterated with greater
force the arguments before urged by him for embracing the proffered
alliance of the strangers. The armies of the state had been beaten too
often to allow any reasonable hope of successful resistance; and he
enlarged on the generosity shown by the politic Conqueror to his
prisoners,- so unusual in Anahuac,- as an additional motive for an
alliance with men who knew how to be friends as well as foes.
But in these views he was overruled by the war-party, whose
animosity was sharpened, rather than subdued, by the late
discomfiture. Their hostile feelings were further exasperated by the
younger Xicotencatl, who burned for an opportunity to retrieve his
disgrace, and to wipe away the stain which had fallen for the first
time on the arms of the republic.
In their perplexity they called in the assistance of the priests
whose authority was frequently invoked in the deliberations of the
American chiefs. The latter inquired, with some simplicity, of these
interpreters of fate, whether the strangers were supernatural
beings, or men of flesh and blood like themselves. The priests,
after some consultation, are said to have made the strange answer,
that the Spaniards, though not gods, were children of the sun; that
they derived their strength from that luminary, and, when his beams
were withdrawn, their powers would also fail. They recommended a night
attack, therefore, as one which afforded the best chance of success.
This apparently childish response may have had in it more of cunning
than credulity. It was not improbably suggested by Xicotencatl
himself, or by the caciques in his interest, to reconcile the people
to a measure which was contrary to the military usages,- indeed, it
may be said, to the public law of Anahuac. Whether the fruit of
artifice or superstition, it prevailed; and the Tlascalan general
was empowered, at the head of a detachment of ten thousand warriors,
to try the effect of an assault by night.
The affair was conducted with such secrecy that it did not reach
the ears of the Spaniards. But their general was not one who allowed
himself, sleeping or waking, to be surprised on his post.
Fortunately the night appointed was illumined by the full beams of
an autumnal moon; and one of the videttes perceived by its light, at a
considerable distance, a large body of Indians moving towards the
Christian lines. He was not slow in giving the alarm to the garrison.
The Spaniards slept, as has been said, with their arms by their
side; while their horses, picketed near them, stood ready saddled,
with the bridle hanging at the bow. In five minutes the whole camp was
under arms, when they beheld the dusky columns of the Indians
cautiously advancing over the plain, their heads just peering above
the tall maize with which the land was partially covered. Cortes
determined not to abide the assault in his intrenchments, but to sally
out and pounce on the enemy when he had reached the bottom of the
Slowly and stealthily the Indians advanced, while the Christian
camp, hushed in profound silence, seemed to them buried in slumber.
But no sooner had they reached the slope of the rising ground, than
they were astounded by the deep battle-cry of the Spaniards,
followed by the instantaneous apparition of the whole army, as they
sallied forth from the works, and poured down the sides of the hill.
Brandishing aloft their weapons, they seemed to the troubled fancies
of the Tlascalans like so many spectres or demons hurrying to and
fro in mid air, while the uncertain light magnified their numbers, and
expanded the horse and his rider into gigantic and unearthly
Scarcely waiting the shock of their enemy, the panic-struck
barbarians let off a feeble volley of arrows, and, offering no other
resistance, fled rapidly and tumultuously across the plain. The
horse easily overtook the fugitives, riding them down and cutting them
to pieces without mercy, until Cortes, weary with slaughter, called
off his men, leaving the field loaded with the bloody trophies of
The next day, the Spanish commander, with his usual policy after a
decisive blow had been struck, sent a new embassy to the Tlascalan
capital. The envoys received their instructions through the
interpreter, Marina. That remarkable woman had attracted general
admiration by the constancy and cheerfulness with which she endured
all the privations of the camp. Far from betraying the natural
weakness and timidity of her sex, she had shrunk from no hardship
herself, and had done much to fortify the drooping spirits of the
soldiers; while her sympathies, whenever occasion offered, had been
actively exerted in mitigating the calamities of her Indian
Through his faithful interpreter, Cortes communicated the terms of
his message to the Tlascalan envoys. He made the same professions of
amity as before, promising oblivion of all past injuries; but, if this
proffer were rejected, he would visit their capital as a conqueror,
raze every house in it to the ground, and put every inhabitant to
the sword! He then dismissed the ambassadors with the symbolical
presents of a letter in one hand, and an arrow in the other.
The envoys obtained respectful audience from the council of
Tlascala, whom they found plunged in deep dejection by their recent
reverses. The failure of the night attack had extinguished every spark
of hope in their bosoms. Their armies had been beaten again and again,
in the open field and in secret ambush. Stratagem and courage, all
their resources, had alike proved ineffectual against a foe whose hand
was never weary, and whose eye was never closed. Nothing remained
but to submit. They selected four principal caciques, whom they
intrusted with a mission to the Christian camp. They were to assure
the strangers of a free passage through the country, and a friendly
reception in the capital. The proffered friendship of the Spaniards
was cordially embraced, with many awkward excuses for the past. The
envoys were to touch at the Tlascalan camp on their way, and inform
Xicotencatl of their proceedings. They were to require him, at the
same time, to abstain from all further hostilities, and to furnish the
white men with an ample supply of provisions.
But the Tlascalan deputies, on arriving at the quarters of that
chief, did not find him in the humour to comply with these
instructions. His repeated collisions with the Spaniards, or, it may
be, his constitutional courage, left him inaccessible to the vulgar
terrors of his countrymen. He regarded the strangers not as
supernatural beings, but as men like himself. The animosity of a
warrior had rankled into a deadly hatred from the mortifications he
had endured at their hands, and his head teemed with plans for
recovering his fallen honours, and for taking vengeance on the
invaders of his country. He refused to disband any of the force, still
formidable, under his command; or to send supplies to the enemy's
camp. He further induced the ambassadors to remain in his quarters,
and relinquish their visit to the Spaniards. The latter, in
consequence, were kept in ignorance of the movements in their favour
which had taken place in the Tlascalan capital.
The conduct of Xicotencatl is condemned by Castilian writers as
that of a ferocious and sanguinary barbarian. It is natural they
should so regard it. But those who have no national prejudice to
warp their judgments may come to a different conclusion. They may find
much to admire in that high, unconquerable spirit, like some proud
column, standing alone in its majesty amidst the fragments and ruins
around it. They may see evidences of a clearsighted sagacity, which,
piercing the thin veil of insidious friendship proffered by the
Spaniards, and penetrating the future, discerned the coming miseries
of his country; the noble patriotism of one who would rescue that
country at any cost, and, amidst the gathering darkness, would
infuse his own intrepid spirit into the hearts of his nation, to
animate them to a last struggle for independence.
1. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 52.
Oviedo, who made free use of the manuscripts of Cortés, writes thirty-nine houses. (Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 3.) This may, perhaps, be explained by the sign for a thousand, in Spanish notation, bearing great resemblance to the figure 9. Martyr, who had access, also, to the Conqueror's manuscript, confirms the larger, and, a priori, less probable number.
2. "Que fuessemos á su pueblo adonde está su padre, q allá harian las pazes co hartarse de nuestras carnes, y honrar sus dioses con nuestros coraçones, y sangre, é que para otro dia de mañana veriamos su respuesta." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 64.
3. More than one writer repeats a story of the Tlascalan general's sending a good supply of provisions, at this time, to the famished army of the Spaniards; to put them in stomach, it may be, for the fight. (Gomara, Crónica, cap. 46.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 83.) This ultra-chivalrous display from the barbarian is not very probable, and Cortés' own account of his successful foray may much better explain the abundance which reigned in his camp.
4. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 52.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 83.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 46, 47.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 3.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 64.
5. Through the magnifying lens of Cortés, they appeared to be 150,000 men; (Rel. Seg., ap. Lorenzana, p. 52;) a number usually preferred by succeeding writers.
6. "Not half so gorgeous, for their May-day mirth
All wreathed and ribanded, our youths and maids,
As these stern Tlascalans in war attire!
The golden glitterance, and the feathermail
More gay than glittering gold; and round the helm
A coronal of high upstanding plumes,
Green as the spring grass in a sunny shower;
Or scarlet bright, as in the wintry wood
The clustered holly; or of purple tint;
Whereto shall that be likened? to what gem
Indiademed, what flower, what insect's wing?
With war songs and wild music they came on;
We, the while kneeling, raised with one accord
The hymn of supplication."
SOUTHEY'S Madoc, Part 1, canto 7.
7. The standards of the Mexicans were carried in the centre, those of the Tlascalans in the rear of the army. (Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, vol. II. p. 145.) According to the Anonymous Conqueror, the banner staff was attached to the back of the ensign, so that it was impossible to be torn away. "Ha ogni copagnia il sue ere con la suo Alfiere con la sua insegna inhastata, et in tal modo ligata sopra le spalle, che non gli da alcun disturbo di poter combattere ne far ció che vuole, et la porta cosi ligata bene al corpo, che se no fanno del suo corpo pezzi, non se gli puo sligare, ne torgliela mai." Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305.
8. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 6.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 46.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 64.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 45.
The two last authors speak of the device of "a white bird like an ostrich," as that of the republic. They have evidently confounded it with that of the Indian general. Camargo, who has given the heraldic emblems of the four great families of Tlascala, notices the white heron, as that of Xicotencatl.
9. The accounts of the Tlascalan chronicler are confirmed by the Anonymous Conqueror and by Bernal Diaz, both eyewitnesses; though the latter frankly declares, that, had he not seen them with his own eyes, he should never have credited the existence of orders and badges among the barbarians, like those found among the civilized nations of Europe. Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 64, et alibi.--Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305.
10. "Portano in testa," says the Anonymous Conqueror, "per difesa una cosa come teste di serpeti, ò di tigri, ò di leoni, ò di lupi, che ha le mascelle, et è la testa dell' huomo messa nella testa di qsto animale com se lo volesse diuorare: sono di legno, et sopra vi é a pena, et di piastra d'oro et di pietro preciose copte, che è cosa marauigliosa da vedere." Rel d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305.
11. "Io viddi che cobattedosi un dì, diede un Indiano una cortellata a un cauallo sopra il qual era un caualliero co chi cobatteua, nel petto, che glielo aperse fin alle iteriora, et cadde icotanete morto, et il medesimo giorno viddi che un altro Indiano diede un altra cortellata a un altro cauallo su il collo che se lo gettó momo a i piedi." Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305.
12. Particular notices of the military dress and appointments of the American tribes on the plateau may be found in Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.,--Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. II, p. 101, et seq.,--Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 26,--Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305, et auct. al.
13. "Que granizo de piedra de los honderos! Pues flechas todo el suelo hecho parva de varas todas de á dos gajos, que passan qualquiera arma, y las entrañas adonde no ay defensa." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 65.
14. So says Bernal Diaz; who, at the same time, by the epithets, los muertos, los cuerpos, plainly contradicts his previous boast that only one Christian fell in the fight. (Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 65.) Cortés has not the grace to acknowledge that one.
15. Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 3.--Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana p. 52.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 6.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 83.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 46.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 32.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 65, 66.
The warm chivalrous glow of feeling, which colors the rude composition of the last chronicler, makes him a better painter than his more correct and classical rivals. And, if there is somewhat too much of the self-complacent tone of the quorum pars magna fui in his writing, it may be pardoned in the hero of more than a hundred battles, and almost as many wounds.
16. The Anonymous Conqueror bears emphatic testimony to the valor of the Indians, specifying instances in which he had seen a single warrior defend himself for a time against two, three, and even four Spaniards! "Sono fra loro di valetissimi huomini et che ossano morir ostinatissimamete. Et io ho veduto un d'essi difendersi valetemente da duoi caualli leggieri, et un altro da tre, et quattro." Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305.
17. The appalling effect of the cavalry on the natives reminds one of the confusion into which the Roman legions were thrown by the strange appearance of the elephants in their first engagements with Pyrrhus, as told by Plutarch in his life of that prince.
18. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 53, 54.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 3.--P. Martyr, De Orbe Novo, dec. 2, cap. 2.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 32.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 8.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 66.
19. "Digamos como Doña Marina, con ser muger de la tierra, que esfuerço tan varonil tenia, que con oir cada dia que nos auian de matar, y comer nuestras carnes, y auernos visto cercados en las batallas passadas, y que aora todos estauamos heridos, y dolientes, jamas vímos flaqueza en ella, sino muy mayor esfuerço que de muger." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 66.
20. Ibid., cap. 67.--Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 83