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1519. borders of the river filled with canoes of armed Indians. Per
ceiving them determined on hostilities, he prepared to attack the town, in which above 12,000 warriors had already assembled. The Indians, observing this preparation, assailed his troops in prodigious numbers; but were driven back by the Spaniards,
who, having effected a landing, entered the town; and Cortes Takes the took formal possession of the country for the king of Spain. town of The next day he marched out with his troops to a plain, where
he was met by an immense body of Indians, who, falling furiously on the Spaniards, wounded above 70 by the first discharge of their weapons. The Spanish artillery did great execution; but when the cavalry came to the charge, the Indians, imagining the horse and rider to be one, were extremely terrified, and fled to the adjacent woods and marshes, leaving the field to the
Spaniards. April 22.
Cortes next sailed to St. Juan de Ulua, where he disembarked Arrives ate his troops, and constructed temporary barracks. At this place
he received ambassadors from Montezuma, king of Mexico, with Receives rich presents; and a message, expressing the readiness of that
sovereign to render the Spaniards any services, but his entire Mexico.
disinclination to receive any visits at his court. After repeated and mutual messages and gifts, Montezuma caused his ambassadors to declare, that he would not consent that foreign troops should appear nearer his capital, nor even allow them to continue longer in his dominions. Truly this is a great monarch and rich,” said Cortes; “ with the permission of God, we must see him.” The bell tolling for Ave Maria at this moment, and all the Spaniards falling on their knees before the cross, the Mexican noblemen were very inquisitive to know what was meant by this ceremony. Father Bartholome de Olmedo, on the suggestion of Cortes, explained to them the Christian doctrines; and they promised to relate all that they had seen and heard to their sovereign. He at the same time declared to them, that the principal design of the mission of the Spaniards
1 B. Diaz says, at a review of the troops at the island of Cozumel, they amounted to 508, the mariners (of whom there were 109) not included; and subjoins, “We had 16 cavalry, 11 ships, 13 musketeers, 10 brass field pieces, 4 falconets, and (as well as I recollect) 32 cross brows, with plenty of ammunition.” Cortes, in taking possession, drawing his sword, gave three cuts with it into a great ceiba tree, which stood in the area of a large enclosed court, and said, that against any, who denied his majesty's claim, he was ready to defend and maintain it with the sword and shield, which he then held. B. Diaz, i. c. 3. De Solis, b. 1. c. 19.
2 P. Martyr (308.) gives a very lively description of this action : “ Miraculo perculsi miseri hæsitabant, neque exercendi tela locus dabatur. Idem animal arbitrabantur hominem equo annexum, uti de Centauris exorta est fabella.” A town was afterward founded on the spot where this battle was fought, and named Santa Maria de La Vitoria. B. Diaz.
was to abolish the practice of human sacrifices, injustice, and 1519. idolatrous worship.
While at St. Juan de Ulua, the lord of Zempoalla sent five ambassadors to solicit the friendship of Cortes, who readily agreed to a friendly correspondence. Cortes now incorporated a town, and named it Villa Rica de Vera Cruz, designing, however, to settle it at another place. In the first council after this incorporation, Cortes renounced the title of captain-general, which he had held from Diego Velazquez, and the town and people elected him to the same office. The council of Vera Cruz now wrote to the king of Spain, giving an account of their new town, and beseeching him, that he would grant Cortes a commission of captain-general, in confirmation of that which he now held from from the town and troops, without any dependence on Diego Velazquez. Cortes, having written at the same time to the king, giving him assurance of his hopes of bringing the Mexican July 16. empire to the obedience of his majesty, sent despatches by one patches lo of his ships to Spain, with a rich present to king Charles.? This Spain. present partly consisted of articles of gold and silver, received from Montezuma; and those were the first specimens of these metals sent to Spain, from Mexico.3 Four Indian chiefs, with two female attendants, now went voluntarily to Spain.
Cortes had some time since received the ultimate order of Montezumo to depart instantly out of his dominions; but that mandate, like the former messages, being preposterously accompanied with a present, served merely to inflame desires, already kindled, and to renew the request of an audience.
Intent on his design, he first marched through Zempoalla to Chiahuitzla, about 40 miles to the northward of St. Juan de Ulua, and there settled the town of Villa Rica de Vera Cruz, and put it in a Settles Vera posture of defence. Determined to conquer or to die, he now Cruz.
1 B. Diaz, c. 38. De Solis, lib. 2. c. 5. Robertson, b. 5. Fr. Bartholome was chaplain to the expedition, and not less respectable for wis om than virtue. For an account of the Mexican worship and religious rites, see Herrera, d. 3. lib. 2. c. 15. Clavigero, b. 6; and Dissertation 8th in 3d volume. M. de Humboldt says, “ M. Dupé, in the service of the king of Spain, has long employed himself in curious researches regarding the idols and architecture of the Mexi
He possesses the bust in bisaltes of a Mexican priestess, which I employed M. Massard to engrave, and which bears great resemblance to the Calanthica of the heads of Isis.” N. Spain, ii. 172.
? B. Diaz, i. 84–91. De Solis, b. 2. c. 5, 6, 7, 13.
5 Robertson, b. 5. De Solis, lib. 1. c. 10. Until this march, Villa Rica was moveable, but organized : “ Till then it moved with the army, though observing its proper distinctions as a republic.” It was now settled on the plain between the sea and Chiahuitzla, half a league from that town, and 200 miles southeast of the city of Mexico. It has since, says the author of European Settlements (i. 75.) become a city, remarkable for the great traffic carried on between the opulent countries of Spanish America and old Spain.”
1519. completely destroyed his fleet, and commenced his march toward
~ Mexico. He took with him 500 men, 15 horse, and 6 field Commen- pieces; and left the rest of his troops, as a garrison, in Villa
Rica. The lord of Zempoalla supplied him with provisions, and ward Mexi- 200 of those Indians called Tamemes, whose office was to carry
burdens, and perform all servile labour. Having passed unmolested through several Indian towns, which, through the influence of Zempoalla and Chiahuitzla, were previously in the friendly confederacy, he with extreme difficulty passed an abrupt and craggy mountain, and entered the province of Zocothlan. . Here he received information of Tlascala, and resolved to pass through that province on his way to Mexico. Approaching nigh to its confines, he sent four Zempoallans of great eminence, as envoys, to obtain a passage through the country. The messengers being detained, Cortes proceeded in his march, and first successfully engaged 5000 Tlascalan Indians, who were in ambush; and afterward the whole power of their republic. The Tlascalans, after suffering great slaughter in repeated assaults on the Spaniards, concluded a treaty, in which they yielded themselves as
vassals to the crown of Castile, and engaged to assist Cortes in Sept. 23., all bis future operations. He took the republic under his procity of tection, and promised to defend the persons and possessions of
its inhabitants from injury or violence; and now entered its capital without molestation.
After remaining about twenty days in Tlascala, to receive the homage of the principal towns of the republic and of their confederates, Cortes, taking with him several thousand of his new allies, renewed his march. After having forced his way through the most formidable opposition, and eluded various stratagems,
formed by Montezuma to obstruct bis progress, he arrived at Iztapala- Iztapalapan, six miles distant from Mexico, and made a disposi
tion for an entrance into that great city.3 Meanwhile Montezuma,
1 Robertson, b. 5. De Solis, b. 2. c. 13-21. B. Diaz, i. c. 6. “ We entered the territory of Tlascala,” says Diaz, “ 24 days before our arrival at the chief city, which was on the 23d of September, 1519."
2 Authors differ in respect to the number of Tlascalans, that Cortes took with him. B. Diaz says 2000: Herrera, 3000 ; Cortes himself says 6000. De Solis, lib. 3. c. 4, 5. “All the inhabitants thereof (Tlascala) are free by the kings of Spain ; for these were the occasion that Mexico was woone in so short time, and with so little losse of men. Wherefore they are all gentlemen, and pay no tribute to the king.” Hakluyt, iii. 462. Account of Nova Hispania, written by Henry Hawks, merchant, who lived five years in that country, “and drew the same at the request of M. Richard Hakluyt, 1572."
3 At Cholula, a large city, 5 leagues distant from Tlascala and 20 from Mexico, a plot for the destruction of the Spaniards being discovered, Cortes directed his troops and allies to fall on the inhabitants, 600 of whom were killed without the loss of a single Spaniard. Robertson, b.5. Clavigero, ii. 52.- Iztapalapan was a large and beautiful city, which contained at that time more than 12,000 houses, and was situated towards the point of a peninsula, from which a paved causeway, 8 yards wide, extended, without varying the least from a right line,
baffled in all his schemes for keeping the Spaniards at a distance, 1519. found Cortes almost at the gates of his capital, before he was resolved whether to receive him as a friend, or to oppose him as an enemy. The next day Cortes marched his army, consisting of about 450 Spaniards and 6000 confederate Indians, along the grand causeway, which extended in a straight line to the city of Mexico. It was crowded with people, as were also all the towers, temples, and causeways in every part of the lake, attracted to behold such men and animals as they had never before seen. To the Spaniards every thing appeared wonderful. The objects, great in themselves, were probably magnified in their view by contrast with their own weakness, and by perpetual apprehension of meeting a desperate enemy in a monarch, the extent of whose power was incalculable. As the Spaniards advanced, beside numerous towns seen at a distance on the lake, they discovered the great city of Mexico, “elevated to a vast degree above all the rest, and carrying an air of dominion in the pride of her buildings. When they drew near the city, a great number of the lords of the court came forth to meet them, adorned with plumes, and clad in mantles of fine cotton; and announced the approach of Montezuma. Soon after appeared 200 persons, in a uniform dress, marching two and two, in deep silence, barefooted, with their eyes fixed on the ground. Next followed a company of higher rank, in showy apparel, in the midst of whom Is met by was Montezuma, in a most magnificent litter, borne by his prin- Montezucipal nobility. When Cortes was told, that the great Montezuma approached, he dismounted, and respectfully advanced toward him. Montezuma at the same time alighted, and, supported by some of his chief princes, approached with a slow and stately pace, in a superb dress, his attendants covering the streets with cotton cloths, that he might not touch the ground. After mutual Nov. 8. salutations, Montezuma conducted Cortes to the quarters which Enters he had prepared in the city for his reception, and immediately took leave of him, with the most courtly expressions of hospitality and respect. Cortes took instant precaution for security. He planted the artillery so as to command the different avenues
to the southern gate of the great temple in Mexico. Clavigero, ii. 62, 65. B. Diaz, i. 188. Clavigero says, this causeway extended more than 7 miles; but the temple, to which it led, was about a mile and a half within the city of Mexico.
1 De Solis, lib. 3. c. 10. Robertson, b. 5. B. Diaz, c. 88.—“se diò vista desde mas cerca (y no sin admiracion) à la gran Ciudad de Mexico, que se levantava con excesso entre les demas, y al parecerse le conocia el predominio hasta en la sobervia de sus Edificios." De Solis. The name Mexico is of Indian origin. It signifies the place of Mexilli, or Huitzilopochtli, the Mars of the Mexicans, on account of the sanctuary there erected to him. Clavigero, b. 1. c. 1. It appears, however, that before the year 1530, the city was more commonly called Tenochtitlan. Humboldt, b. 1. c. 1. Alcedo, Art. Mexico. VOL I.
1519. that led to the place; appointed a large division of his troops to
be always on guard; and posted sentinels at proper stations, with injunctions to observe the same vigilant discipline as if they were
in sight of an enemy's camp." Cortes re.
Cortes, knowing that his safety depended on the will of a
monarch in whom he had no right to confide, determined, with seize Mon
unexampled temerity, to seize Montezuma in his own palace, and bring him as a prisoner to the Spanish quarters. Having properly posted his troops, he took five of his prime officers and as many soldiers, thirty chosen men following at a distance, as if without any other object but curiosity, and, at the usual hour of visiting Montezuma, went directly to the palace, where they were admitted without suspicion. An assault lately made on the garrison at Vera Cruz, and a treacherous attempt against the Spaniards at Cholula on their march toward Mexico, were made the pretext for a charge against Montezuma. Satisfaction was demanded of the astonished sovereign, who endeavoured to explain and exculpate. Nothing satisfied. It was expected that he would go to the Spanish quarters, as an evidence of his confidence and attachment. On his resenting this indignity, an altercation of three hours succeeded, when an impetuous young Spaniard proposing instantly to seize him, or stab him to the heart, the intimidated monarch abandoned himself to his destiny.
Consenting to accompany the Spaniards, he called his officers Montezuma and communicated to them his resolution. Though astonished taken to the Spanish and afflicted, they presumed not to dispute his will, but carried quarters. him “in silent pomp, all bathed in tears," to the Spanish quarters.
The principal persons concerned in the assault at Vera Cruz, who had been sent for by Montezuma himself, having been tried by a Spanish court martial, were burnt alive. Cortes, convinced that they would not have ventured to make the attack without orders from their master, put Montezuma in fetters during their execution; a monitory sign, that the measure of his humiliation and of his woes was nearly full. During six months, in which the Spaniards remained in Mexico, he continued in their quarters, attended by his officers, with the external appearance and the ancient forms of government, but in personal subjection to a foreign and intrusive power. By the persuasion of Cortes,
1 Robertson, b. 5. B. Diaz, i. c. 8. De Solis, lib. 3, c. 10. Clavigero, ii. 6366. Clavigero says of the quarters” prepared for Cortes, they were a palace, built by king Axajatl, the father of Montezuma ; which was so large, as to accommodate both the Spaniards and their allies, who, together with their attendant women and servants, exceeded 7000.
2 This was eight days after the arrival of the Spaniards at Mexico. B. Diaz. Among the favourite soldiers, who now accompanied Cortes, was Diaz himself, who had already begun to make observations in order to compile a history. De Solis.