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power and extensive dominion of your majesty, that greater mo. narchs than Montezuma thought it an honour and a pleasure to be esteemed your subjects, and that he and all his people would be compelled to acknowledge you as their lord.
I then required his submission, and threatened him with punishment in case of refusal, demanding of him gold as a proof of his obedience. He replied that he had gold, * but that he would deliver it only to the order of Montezuma, on receiving which not only his gold, but his person and all his possessions were at my disposal. In order not to excite discontent and obstruct the execution of my design, I dissembled my displeasure, and left him, assuring him that before long Montezuma would send him an order to deliver to me all the gold that he possessed.
While here I was visited by two caciques belonging to the district, who offered me some golden necklaces and seven or eight slaves. I remained in this place four or five days, when I left the caciques much pleased with my conduct, and proceeded to the resi. dence of one of them, who lived in the upper part of the valley. His territory is called Yxtamaxtil Can, and occupies an extent of about three or four leagues, on the shore of a river, along which the buildings are continued without interruption. The house of the cacique is situated on a high hill, having a good fort surrounded with walls, and having a covered way. The number of inhabi. tants on the hill are estimated at from five to six thousand; they have good houses, and live better than those in the valley. This cacique is also a subject of Montezuma. I was well treated during the three days which I remained here in order to recover from our fatigues, and to wait the return of four Zempoullan Indians whom I had sent from Caltanni to a large province called Tascalteca, which I was told was not far off.
My messengers had assured me that the people of that province were very numerpus and powerful, and with their allies were constantly at war with Montezuma, whose territories surrounded them on all sides. They likewise added that it would be of importance to me to form a connexion with them, as they would prove of essential service should Montezuma be disposed to act treacherously towards me. I remained here eight days, waiting the return of my messengers, when becoming impatient of longer
* The Indians collected among the sands of the rivers, or from the surface of the earth, the gold which they paid to their kings in small measures under the title of impost.
Clavigero says that the measure employed by the Mexicans for the gold dust which they paid in tribute to their monarchs, were goose quills, the barrels of which were filled with that substance: and the merchant who dealt in gold had the metal in grains as it came from the mines, in transparent tubes, so that they could be reckoned, and the gold was valued at so many mantles or xipequils of cocoa, according to the size of the quills.”-B. Diaz, 144.
delay, I interrogated the principal Zempoullans whom I had with me, and on their assuring me of the friendship of the Tascaltecans, I resolved to depart. As I quitted the valley I met with a walled enclosure, built of stones without mortar, * from nine to ten feet high, and twenty in thickness, on the top of which was a parapet for the combatants of a foot and a half thick. This wall crossed the valley from one side to the other; it had but one outlet of ten paces in breadth, in which place it was more than twice as thick as the rest, and built in the form of a ravelin.
On inquiring the intention of this building from the inhabitants, I was told that it was to defend themselves from their neighbours, the people of Tascalteca, who were enemies to Montezuma, and perpetually at war with him. They urged me strongly, since I was going to visit their master, not to trust myself upon the territories of his enemies, as I should be in danger of receiving insults and injuries from them, and that they might proceed to the greatest extremities, offering to conduct me themselves through the dominions of Montezuma, where I might be sure of being well received. The Zempouallans, however, in whom I placed greater confidence, dissuaded me from following their advice; they observed that these subjects of Montezuma made such representations to me in order to prevent my forming a treaty with the Tascaltecans, that the former were designing and treacherous people, whose intention was to lead me among rocks and precipices, from which it would be impossible to extricate myself.
As I proceeded on my journey I kept about half a league in advance of my troops with six horsemen, in order to have time to concert measures should I discover aught of importance, without much thought of any danger to myself.
After a march of four hours we ascended a hill, from whence the two horsemen who were forward saw several Indians with war plumes on their heads, armed with swords and bucklers, who fled immediately on perceiving them. I came up in sufficient time to order them to call to the Indians and make signs to them to come to us and fear nothing. I then went towards a place where there were about fifteen of them, but on seeing me approach they drew together, grasped their swords, and called to their fellow soldiers who were in the valley. They fought very courageously with us, and had already killed two of our horses and wounded three and two horsemen, when an army of four or five thousand came up to their assistance.
By this time eight of my horsemen had joined me, and we continued skirmishing until the arrival of my main body, to whom
* Bernal Diaz says that it was built of stone and lime, and some cement of so strong a nature, that nothing but tools of iron could have any effect on it.
I had sent orders to hasten their march. In our skirmishes we killed fifty or sixty of them, without receiving any injury, although they fought with great spirit and courage, but as we were on horseback, we of course had the advantage in the attack, and could retreat without danger. As soon as they perceived the approach of my inain body, they withdrew, and left us the field of battle.
They had scarcely gone when two of my Zempoullan envoys came up, with several deputies from the province, who called themselves caciques. I was assured that these caciques had no share in what had happened, but that it was entirely owing to the inhabitants of some of the villages, who had acted without their knowledge. They said that they were sorry for their conduct, and would pay me for the horses which had been killed, and that they wished to become my friends and to treat me with hospitality. I thanked them, and passed the following night by the side of a rivulet, a league from the field of battle, as it was late and my men were fatigued. Notwithstanding all their protestations I kept constantly on the watch, in the midst of my guards and centinels, both on foot and on horseback, until day-break, when I resumed my march, having made the best disposition in my power of my scouts, advanced guard, and main body.
We had scarcely set out when we were met by the other two Zempoullan messengers, who were weeping, and informed me that they had been bound with an intention of being put to death, but had the good fortune to effect their escape in the night. I had hardly time to congratulate them on their safety, when I perceived a multitude of Indians well armed advancing, who after uttering a loud cry, immediately commenced the battle with a shower of arrows.
I ordered my interpreters to remonstrate with them, but the more efforts I made to persuade them to peace, the more determined they appeared to be to injure us. I then changed my mode of proceeding, and we began to defend ourselves. We fought the whole day until sunset, attacked on all sides by a hundred thousand men, and with only six cannons, five or six musquets, forty archers, and the thirteen horsemen who remained, we made great destruction among the enemy, without suffering any injury ourselves, except from fatigue and hunger. A proof that the God of armies fought for us, for without divine.aid it was impossible that we should have escaped unhurt from the hands of such a numerous host, no less skilful than courageous.
The next night I took post in a small tower containing some idols, and the following morning at day-break, leaving my artillery under a guard of two hundred men, and taking with me the cave alry, one hundred infantry, and seven hundred Indians, I marched against the enemy before they had time to collect, burned five or six of their villages, made prisoners of four 'hundred men and women, and returned to my camp without loss, though constantly
fighting on the retreat. Early the next morning an assault was made upon my camp by the enemy, who amounted to upward of one hundred and forty-nine thousand men; they attacked us with such courage that some of them penetrated into the camp, and fought the Spaniards hand to hand. We defended ourselves with bravery, and God assisting us, in four hours we were intrenched and secured from danger in case of a new attack.
Before day the next morning I quitted my intrenchments unperceived by the enemy, with the horse, a hundred foot, and the Indians, and burned ten towns, one of which consisted of more than three thousand houses. Here I experienced an obstinate resistance, but as we fought for our religion, for your majesty's service, and under the banners of the cross and the holy virgin,* God granted us a signal victory. We killed great numbers of them without losing any of our own men, but in the afternoon, finding that the Indians were collecting their ces, I ordered a retreat, and we returned to our camp without loss.
The next day several caciques sent deputations to me, with professions of repentance, and offers of submission, accompanied with presents of provisions and some feathers, which are highly prized by these people. I remonstrated with them on the baseness of their conduct, but told them that I would notwithstanding forgive them and become their friend, if they were sincerely disposed to adopt a different one. The next day more than fifty, who appeared to be persons of distinction, came to my camp on pretence of bringing provisions, but in reality for the purpose of examining attentively its various parts and entrances. On receiving information from the Zempoullans that these men were spies, I had one of them seized, unknown to the others, and taking him in private with my interpreters, threatened him with the severest punishment unless he confessed the truth. He acknowledged that Sintegalt the chief general of their country, was with his army
* One of these standards, on which the Virgin was represented, is still preserved in the secretary's office; the other exhibiting the cross, is in the church of St. Francis, at Mexico.
the same officer who by Bernal D is called Xicotinga the younger. He (Cortez) then inquired relative to the power of Xicotinga and the nature of his command. They informed him that the army now assembled consisted of the quotas brought by five chiefs, each of wbich was ten thousand men. These chiefs were Xicotinga the elder, father of the general, Maxicatzin, Chihimecatecle, Tepanaceca cacique of Topeyanco, and a cacique named Guexbein. Thus fifty thousand warriors were now ranged under the banner of Xicotinga, which was a white bird with the wings spread, resembling an ostrich. Each division of the troops had also its own marks of distinction. This we found to be the case, and that each cacique bore them in the manner of our nobility in Castile; although when we were first informed of it by our prisoners we disbelieved it.-B. Diaz, p. 97.
A chief or general commanded the troops of the Tlascalans. The soldiers had in their quivers two arrows, on which were engraved the
concealed behind some hills in front of my camp; that it was his intention to attack me the following night, since the day was found to be unfavourable for that purpose, it being of the greatest importance that his men should be freed from the fear of the horses and the fire arms. He likewise added that Sintegal had sent them to examine the construction of our camp, and to discover some means of surprising us, and burning our straw barracks.
I had then another seized and interrogated, in a similar manner, who confirmed the account given by the first. After which five or six others were examined, whose answers were the same. I next ordered the hands of these fifty spies to be cut off, and sent them back to their general with this message: “ That either by night or day he or any of his men might see who we were." I then strengthened my camp with some additional fortifications, and having stationed my sentries at their posts, remained on the watch till sunset. In the dusk of the evening the enemy came down along the vallies, expecting by that means to approach near us without being perceived, in order by surrounding us, to be the better enabled to execute their design. Well informed of their movements, I thought it imprudent to await and permit them to approach, as under cover of the night they might succeed in burning our camp. With this view I advanced to meet them with all my horse, in hopes to disperse, or at least prevent them from reaching the camp. I fell upon those who were nearest; as soon as they saw the horse they fled as fast and as silently as possible, secreting themselves behind some fields of grain, with which almost the whole country was covered, abandoning the provisions which they had brought with them, in the full expectation of taking uş. The enemy having withdrawn I permitted my troops to rest for several days, during which I contented myself with merely driving off, with my detached parties, those Indians who came Lo harrass us by skirmishing, or to intimidate us with their cries.
Having recovered a little from our fatigues, I left my camp by night, after the first round, with a hundred foot, all the horse, and my Indian allies. I had hardly proceeded a league, when five of the horses fell, nor could we by any means compel them to go on. I then ordered them to be taken back as soon as possible, and continued my route, although all my men urged me to return, considering the accident as a sinister omen. I attacked several towns, in which we killed great numbers of Indians,
names of their two ancient heroes; this was in order to perpetuate the names of those who had procured their liberty. When they were in presence of the enemy, they discharged one of these arrows, and it was a point of honour to recover it, even at the risk of their lives. Their ob ligation to regain this arrow was a spur to their valour, and an incentive to fall upon the enemy with intrepidity, of which they gave a striking proof at the siege of Mexico.-Cortas Americanas, di Conti Carli.