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of religion till they quit it. The children of the caciques, and the principal nobility, are educated by them, and dress in the same manuer, and follow their rules, from seven or eight years old till their marriage. These priests make a vow of continence, and no woman is permitted to enter their houses; they have also fasts, which are more rigorously observed at some seasons of the year than at others.
The chief temple occupies as much ground as a town capable of containing five hundred inhabitants. It is surmounted with forty towers, each of which has about a hundred steps of ascent, except the principal one, which is as lofty as that of the cathedral of Seville; these are all very solidly built of hewn stone, with some ornamental wood work, well wrought, and painted. The principal nobles have in these towers their places of burial, and their particular idol.*
This temple has three naves. These contained the larger idols, which I ordered to be thrown down, and the private chapels, wherein human sacrifices were offered, to be cleansed, and the images of our Lady, and the Saints to be placed in them.
Both Montezuma and his subjects were much dissatisfied with this change, and he sent to request me to suspend my design, informing me that there would be great danger of his people revolting
against me; as they fully believed whatever they possessed was the gift of these idols, and that should they suffer them to be
canons; their long bair was clotted together, and their ears lacerated in honour of their gods. p. 149. He likewise observes, that around the great court of the temple were many houses, not very lofty, wherein the priests resided, who had the care of it; and, hard by, a large building, wherein were a number of young Mexican women, who resided there as in a nunnery, until they were married.
The article of the communion is a fact positively asserted by all the writers on America. It was more particularly in use at Mexico. The priests of that city formed a large image of the paste of maize, which they baked. It represented their god. They displayed it on a certain day of the year, with much ceremony, to the veneration of the faithful, and on these occasions no one failed to repair to the temple. They made a great procession with this image, and on their return to the temple, the high priest broke it, and the others distributed it in small pieces to the people, who eat them, and believed themselves sanctified after having taken this aliment. We find a similar custom among many of the ancient nations of our hemisphere. Lettere Americane.
* The principal pobles alone had their sepulture in these towers: for the usual mode of disposing of the dead at Mexico was in subterraneous toinbs inade of stone. “The body was there placed in a sitting posture on a seat, and was furnished with a sword and a buckler. They also buried with it jewels of gold, viands, and liquors.” The author of the account of Temextitlan says, that he assisted in taking from a tomb several things, to about the value of three thousand castillans. He adds, that some of the Indian nations burn the bodies, and bury their ashes. The women were buried with a distaff and a spindle. Lettere Americane.
ill treated, they would thereby expose themselves to their anger, which would bring upon them the loss of all the productions of the earth, and their own destruction by famine.
I attempted, through my interpreters, to convince them of their folly, in putting trust in idols, formed by themselves, of the basest materials; that they ought to know that there was but one only sovereign and universal God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things in Nature, who was immortal, that is, without beginning or end; that it was their duty to worship him, and believe in him alone, and not in any created thing, or perishable substance. To this I added whatever I thought would have a tendency to turn them from their idolatry, and bring them to the knowledge of the true God.
They replied, that as they were not aborigines* of Mexico, it might very probably have happened that they had, in some res
* The Mexicans were the descendants of the Aztecs, who emigrated from a country called, in their traditions and hieroglyphical records, Jollan and Aztlan, about the year 1160, and after a migratory life of more than fifty years, at length arrived at the valley of Tenorhtillan. They at first established themselves at Zumpango, and on the southern side of the mountains of Tepeyac. In the year 1945 they arrived at Chapoltepec. Being there harrassed and molested by the petty princes around them, they retired to a group of small islands called Acovolco, towards the southern part of the lake of Tezcucc. For half a century they lived there in great poverty, being obliged to subsist on the roots of aquatic plants, insects, and a reptile of the lizard kind, called a colote. Being reduced to slavery by the kings of Tezcuco, or Acolhuacan, they were compelled to abandon their settlement on the lake, and to take refuge on the continent at Tezapan. They afterwards obtained their liberty, in consequence of having rendered some important services to the king of Acolhuacan in a war with the people of Xevhimilco. They first fixed themselves at Acatzetzentlan, which they called Mexicalzingo, from the name of Mexitle, their god of war, and next at Iztacalco. They removed from thence to some little islands in the western part of the lake of Tezcuco, in obedience to an order received from the oracle of Aztlan. An ancient tradition was preserved among this wandering people that the term of their migration was to be a place where they should find an eagle holding a serpent in his talons, seated on the top of a nopal, whose roots were fixed in the crevices of a rock. This nopal was seen by the Aztecs in the year 1325, on a small island, which served for a foundation to the Tenalli, or Teopan, that is, the House of God, afterwards called by the Spaniards the Great Temple of Mixitli. This period forms the era of the building of Mexico.
According to the Aztec chronology, seven nations are said to have governed successively in Mexico, from whence they expelled their predecessors. Among the first of these were the Olmecs, the Toultics, who made their appearance in the year 648, and whose kingdom lasted from 667 to 1031, the Chechemeches, Sichimeches, and Nahuaitecs, and the Acolhuis, and Aztecs.
From the regions, says M. Humboldt, situated to the north of the Rio Gilo, issued forth those warlike nations who successively inundated the country of Anahuac. Clavigero, History of Mexico-Humboldt's Travels.
pects deviated from their primitive religion since quitting their native country; that as I had left it so recently, I was the more
The Mexicans, says a celebrated Spanish geographer, are descended from the Aztec, a nation who came from the kingdom called Aztlan, and took the name of Mexico from their principal idol. Under the conduct of Huitziton, and Tecpatzin, who were great diviners, they wandered for the term of more than fifty years, without forming any settlement, until directed by their god, Huitzilipuchtli, they fixed themselves on the lake, to which they gave the name of Temititlan, which signifies the stone of the Tuna.* in this contined space and narrow territory, they established themselves under the conduct of Huitzilihuite, their two first leaders bav. ing died. There, relieved from famine, sickness, and the various accidents which they had experienced in their protracted peregrination, they rapidly increased, and their descendants became so numerous, that they chose themselves a king, and established the powerful empire of Mexico. These Indians are of a browner colour than the others; they possess an acute understanding, and lived in a state of civil and political order before the arrival of the Spaniards. They were idolators, and had a great number of gods and goddesses, to whom they offered human sacrifices, to render them propitious; the captives sacrificed in their temples were innumerable, as they had a particular deity for each thing, representing them by monstrous figures.
Their government was monarchical, and was organized with singular judgment and harmony.
The first of the Mexican kings was Acamapectli, who was chosen when they had established themselves in the lake He married llanqueitl, daughter of Acolmictil, king of Cohuctitlan, but having no children by her, he took for his second wife, with the consent of bis first, Tezcalta-miahuatl, daughter of the lord of Telepanco. He reigned twenty-one years, with so much power, that it would scarcely seem that he had been tributary to the king of Azcapuzalco, and exerted his utmost efforts to maintain the prosperity of his dominions. He died much lamented.
His son Huitzizi-chuitl, obtained the crown, not by hereditary right, but the choice of the ancients and principal men of the republic. He married Ayanhzihuatl, the daughter of the king of Azcapuzalco, and, after the example of his father, took for his second wife Miahuaxo-chiti, the daughter of Texcaca-hualtzin, king of Quanhnahuac, which united in friendship those two monarchs, and rendered them more powerful and feared by the other nations. He appointed to the chief command of his armies his brother Quatleco-hualtzin. His third son, Acolna-hucatl, was cruelly murdered by Moxtla, emperor of Azcapuzalco. This prince had a prosperous reign of twenty-two years.
Chimalpopoca, his brother, succeeded him. He suffered the greatest indignities from his brother-in-law, Maxtla, emperor of Azcapuzalco, who fraudulently carried off and ravished one of his women. In revenge of this injury, he sent him, instead of the fief which he owed him, a mantle of nequen, and a petticoat of mean texture, signifying that the dress of a woman was better suited to him than the bow and arrows. The emperor was en
• Tupa, or Magliey, a species of the Cactus, or Nopal; this name was given to the lake by the Aztecs, from the circumstance of its being the place where they discovered the eagle, as predicted by their oracle, perched on the top of that plant, which was rooted in a rock.
entitled to their belief, and that they were convinced they could do no better than consult with me, and follow my advice in this
raged at this, and learning that Chimalpopoca had formed a conspiracy to deprive him of life, he resolved to make prisoner of him. The latter, not being able to oppose the forces of his enemy, preferred death to surrendering, and determined to sacrifice himself, together with his nobles, to his god Huitzilopuchtli, at a festival held for that purpose. The death of this monarch, and of two others, were only wanting to have completed the sacrifice, when the soldiers of Maxtla entered his palace, and seizing him, threw him into a dungeon, where they supplied him with but little food. To prevent his enemy from enjoying the triumph of putting him to death, he hung himself in this prison.
Izco-huatl, son of Acampictle, the first monarch, was their fourth king. He was born of a slave, but had been legitimized by his father. He was chosen, from the talents and courage which he had displayed, as captaingeneral of the army.
This prince was forty-six years old when he received the sceptre, and reigned with much ability, being the most fortunate of all the Mexican kings. He subdued many provinces, gained many battles, and avenged the injuries of his predecessors, by destroying the empire of the Tupanecas, in a great battle, and killing Maxtla; who, in order to escape from the victors, concealed himself in a bath, called Temascal, where he was despatched with clubs and stones. The triumphant Izco-huatl, having greatly extended his kingdom, built a temple to the idol Chihuaco-huatl, which signifies the Woman-Serpent, and the following year the famous temple of Huitzilopichtli, the chief god of the Mexicans; shortly after which he fell sick and died.
The fifth sovereign was Montecuhzuma, first of the name, which signifies the furious; he was likewise called Ilhuicami, or be who shoots arrows to heaven. He was captain-general of the army, and was elected to the throne for his surpassing valour and merit. His first care, after his accession, was to build a temple to the false demon, in the quarter called Huitzana-huac; and bis dominions appearing to him too confined, he extended them by the conquest of the provinces of Chalco, Ilatilulco, ('ohuixca, Oztomantlaca, Cuezalteca, Ichatezipantaca, Teoxahualca, with those of llachco, and Ilachmelac. On his return from his war with the latter, he enlarged the temple and house of Huitzilopuchtli, and adorned it with the spoils of his enemies. He next proceeded to take the field against the Chilapanecus, and the people of Quahteopan, and Izumpa-huacan, whom he likewise subjected. He had reigned nine years in prosperity, when the waters of the lake rose to such a degree as to overflow the whole city. Having consulted the king of Tezcuco, on the means of remedying this evil, he built the dike which surrounded the city when the Spaniards entered it. This misfortune was succeeded by a dreadful famine, and the rebellion of Chalco, and some other provinces, which kept this valiant prince continually in motion, till at length he died, crowned with victory, in the twenty-ninth year of his reign, according to the Mexican account, leaving very prudent directions for the choice of his successor.
Axayacatl, who held the office of captain-general, was deemed worthy to succeed him on the throne. He was not less fortunate than his predecessor. He rendered the Ilatelulcan, and various other tribes, tributary to the empire, during which he was rendered lame by a wound which he received in a battle with the Otomies of the kingdom of Xiquipilco. He was always the first in danger, and the last in retreat, never being seen in the centre
respect. From this period Montezuma, and his principal attendants, joined me, with appaient satisfaction, in overthrowing the
of his army. He was much more inclined to rigour than to clemency; and finally died full of glory.
Tizos, the elder brother of the former, was the seventh monarch of Mexico. On the election of his brother to the throne, he succeeded him in the employment of captain-general, which he aspired to, merely as it had become the ladder to the throne. He was not so warlike and courageous as his predecessors, although he made war on the people of Ilacoltepec, and subdued them. He afterwards devoted himself wholly to peace, and the worship of his gods; and being determined to build a more splendid temple to Huitzilopuchtli, he collected a great quantity of materials, but he enjoyed not the pleasure of seeing it, as he died in the third year of his reign, in consequence of poison, given him by Techotlalu, lord of Iztapalapan, by means of a woman, whom he employed for that purpose.
Ahuizotl, brother to the preceding, who, on his advancement to the throne, had been decorated with the dignity of captain-general, succeeded him. He commenced his reign with finishing the new temple of Huitzipuchtli, and then made war upon the Mazahuias, who had rebelled, and overcame them; he proceeded in a similar manner with the Iziahcoacas, and Topacnecas, of the province of Xalisco; reserving the prisoners of those countries, and those of lacripan, for a sacrifice at the dedication of the temple: the number of whom is said to have amounted to seventy-two thousand. In the fourth year of his reign Mexico experienced a terrible earthquake, which was followed by an inundation of the city, in consequence of the superabundance of the water; to restrain which, in future, he constructed another dike, which separated the salt water from the fresh. He likewise undertook to bring to Mexico the water from Huitzilopuchco, and put to death Izutzumazin, who opposed it, saying it would overflow Mexico, as indeed happened. The latter, in attempting to escape from the king, gave him a blow which was attended with fatal consequences. He extended his dominion over all New Spain to the borders of Guatimala, and discovered the stone quarry of Tezontii, from whence the stone used in the buildings of Mexico is brought, which he greatly aggrandized by this
Having reigned eighteen years he died, in consequence of the blow which he had received three years before, universally lamented by his subjects, and was succeeded by
Montecuhzuma, second of the name, and the tenth in the series of their kings. He was the son of king Axayacatl, and nephew to Tizor and Ahuizotl. He was chosen in expectation of his imitating his predecessors, from the great opinion which the Mexicans entertained of him. He was very grave and reserved; it was quite a wonderful thing to hear him speak: and whilst he was a member of the council of state, he was the subject of admiration. He usually remained shut up in a great hall, which he had appropriated to himself in the temple of Huitzopuchtli, with which god, it was said, he had frequent communications, and whose priest he was. When notice was given him of his elevation to the throne, the messengers found him employed in barring the temple. The first act of his reign was to chastise the province of Atloxco, which had rebelled. On his return from that expedition, he showed very plainly his real character, discovering his haughtiness and duplicity. He made war upon the republic of Tlaxcula, in which he was always unsuccessful. In the fourth year of his reign an extraordinary famine occurred. He repaired the aqueduct, by which water was brought