A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. IV.
Robert Kerr

Part 5 out of 10

[1] This expedition appears to have been for the reduction of certain
provinces to the south-east of the vale of Mexico, now forming the
intendency of Oaxaca, inhabited by the Mixtecas and Tzapotecas. The
Tustepeque of the text, was probably a town on the Boca de Chacahua on
the South Sea, now called Tututepec, in lat. 15 50' N. and long. 100
15' E. On the very imperfect map of Clavigero, it is named Tototepec,
and is placed in the country of the Mixtecas.--E.

[2] Named, more appropriately, in the map of Clavigero, Tzapoteca-pan.--E.

[3] I suspect this ought to be named Chinantla.--E.

[4] This way probably be some corruption of the native name of the Rio
Coatzacualco, or Huaxacualco; by giving it the ordinary Spanish prefix
_agua_; which signifies water, or a river, with the native termination


_Some Account of the Expedition of Francisco de Garay for the Colonization
of Panuco_.

Having formerly mentioned the expedition fitted out by Francisco de Garay,
the governor of Jamaica, it seems proper to give a more particular account
of that affair in this place. Hearing of the great riches which Diego
Velasquez was likely to acquire from New Spain, and of the fertile
countries which had been discovered on the continent of the West Indies,
and encouraged by the means he now possessed of prosecuting discoveries
and conquests, he determined to try his own fortune in that career. For
this purpose he sent for and discoursed with Alaminos, who had been our
chief pilot, from whom he received so favourable an account of these
countries, that he sent Juan de Torralva, a person in whom he could
confide, to solicit the bishop of Burgos to grant him a commission for
settling the country on the river of Panuco; and having succeeded in this
preliminary step, he fitted out an armament of three ships, with 240
soldiers, under the command of Alonzo Alvarez Pineda, who was defeated by
the Panuchese, one ship only escaping, which joined us at Villa Rica, as
already related. Receiving no intelligence of the fate of his first
armament, Garay sent a second, which also arrived at our port. Having now
expended a great deal of money to no purpose, and having learnt the good
fortune of Cortes, he became more than ever desirous to secure the
advantages he expected to derive from his commission. With this view he
fitted out thirteen ships, in which he embarked 136 cavalry, and 840 foot
soldiers, mostly musqueteers and crossbow-men, of which he took the
command in person. He sailed with this great armament from Jamaica, on the
24th June 1523, and arrived safe at the port of Xagua in the island of
Cuba, where he received information that Cortes had reduced the province
of Panuco to subjection, and had sent a petition to the emperor to get a
commission for governing his new acquisition. He was here informed of the
heroic deeds of Cortes and his companions, and in particular of our having
defeated the large force of Narvaez, while we had only 270 soldiers.

Struck with awe at the power and abilities of our general, he solicited
the licentiate Zuazco to mediate between him and Cortes, that he might be
permitted to take possession of the government of Panuco, in pursuance of
his commission from the bishop of Burgos.

Garay shortly afterwards set out with his armament, and being driven by a
storm into the river Palmas[1], he disembarked there, intending to march
by land to Panuco, having first exacted an oath of fidelity from his
troops; and he even nominated the various officers of his colony, which he
intended to name Garayana. Having marched for two days along the sea-shore,
through a marshy uninhabited country, he arrived at some villages, where
the inhabitants entertained him hospitably, but many of his soldiers
straggled about robbing and maltreating the people. Garay at length
arrived at Panuco, where his soldiers expected all their difficulties
would end, but it was almost a desert, as it had been much wasted in the
war with Cortes, and the natives concealed what remained, so that they
found nothing but bare walls, where they were tormented with mosquitos and
every kind of vermin. Garay could get no intelligence of his fleet, and
learnt from a Spaniard who had fled from punishment and lived among the
Indians, that the province of Panuco was poor and unhealthy; and as this
man gave a very favourable account of Mexico, many of Garays soldiers
deserted from him, and went off for Mexico, plundering the natives on
their way. Garay found himself in a bad plight, and sent one of his
officers, named Diego de Ocampo, to sound the disposition of Vallejo, who
was governor of St Estevan del Puerto for Cortes, and to notify the
appointment of Garay to the government of this country. Vallejo gave a
favourable answer, requesting the soldiers might be restrained from
maltreating the inhabitants; but sent off an express to Cortes, soliciting
a strong reinforcement or the immediate presence of the general. On
receiving this intelligence, Cortes immediately sent off Alvarado,
Sandoval, Father Olmedo, and Gonzalo de Ocampo, brother to Diego de Ocampo,
who was with Garay, giving them a copy of the royal instructions, by which
all his conquests were left under his command till the dispute between him
and Velasquez were judicially settled.

On the arrival of Garay in the neighbourhood of St Estevan, Vallejo learnt
from five deserters that the troops were scattered negligently in a large
town called Nacoplan, on which he concerted a plan for coming on them by
surprise, and made forty of them prisoners, alleging that they had invaded
the country without a commission, and had plundered the inhabitants who
lived under his government. Garay threatened Vallejo with the vengeance of
the court of Spain for this outrage, and demanded the immediate release of
his soldiers; on which Vallejo requested to see his commission, which, if
from his majesty, he would obey in all humility. Just at this time arrived
the deputies from Cortes, and Diego de Ocampo, being then first alcalde of
Mexico, made a formal remonstrance against the entrance of Garay with an
armed force into the government of another person. Several days were spent
in remonstrances and replies on both sides, during which time many of
Garays troops deserted from him.

Two of the ships belonging to Garay were lost in a tempest, and the
remainder took shelter in the mouth of the river, when Vallejo secretly
negotiated with their officers to join the party of Cortes. He at length
contrived to inviegle the whole of the fleet up the river to the port of
St Estevan, where he made all their officers and men prisoners in the name
of Cortes; but Father Olmedo persuaded him to set them at liberty. The
unfortunate Garay entreated the officers of Cortes to restore his ships
and to compel his troops to return to their duty, promising to give up his
intended settlement at Panuco, and to retire to the river Palmas. They
agreed to this, and used every measure to induce the deserters to return,
but with little effect; as they alleged they had already discharged their
engagement in coming to Panuco, and they despised Garay. In this hopeless
state, Garay was persuaded to write to Cortes, stating his situation, and
requesting his protection and assistance, in consideration of their former
friendship. Cortes engaged to do what he desired, and invited him to come
to Mexico, where he was honourably received, and promised every redress,
referring him to Olmedo, Sandoval, and Alvarado, to agree with him on the
terms. At the suggestion of Olmedo, a marriage was proposed between Donna
Catalina Cortes y Pizarro, the daughter of Cortes, and the eldest son of
Garay, who had a command in the fleet. Cortes agreed to this, giving his
daughter a liberal fortune, and agreed that Garay should establish a
colony on the river Palmas, in which he engaged to give him every
assistance in his power. Garay now interceded with Cortes to allow Narvaez
to return to Cuba, for which favour Narvaez was extremely thankful, and
took leave of Cortes with many professions of gratitude. Soon afterwards,
Garay was seized with a pleurisy, of which he died in four days, leaving
Cortes and Father Olmedo his executors. As his armament was left without a
head, a competition arose among his officers for the vacant command; but
young Garay was ultimately made general. This gave great offence to the
soldiers, in consequence of which they dispersed about the country in
small bodies of fifteen or twenty men, pillaging the natives as if they
had been among Moors. This enraged the Indians, who laid a plot to cut off
the Spaniards, which they executed so effectually that in a very short
time they sacrificed and eat above five hundred of the soldiers of Garay,
in some of the towns upwards of a hundred of them being destroyed at one
time. In other places they fell upon the stragglers, whom they massacred
almost without resistance; and, encouraged by this success, they even rose
against the settlement of Estevan in such numbers, that they could hardly
be resisted by Vallejo and seven or eight of the veterans of Cortes, who
induced many of Garays soldiers to abide by them in the open field, where
three battles were fought, in one of which Vallejo was slain, and a great
number of Spaniards wounded. The Indians became at length so bold and
desperate, that they one night killed and burned forty Spaniards, among
whom were several belonging to Cortes, and destroyed fifteen horses. When
Cortes heard of these proceedings he was much enraged, and would have gone
in person to suppress the rebellion, but was then confined by a broken arm;
wherefore he sent Gonzalo de Sandoval, with 100 infantry, 50 cavalry, 15
musqueteers, and two field-pieces, accompanied by 8000 Mexican and
Tlascalan warriors, giving orders to reduce the country so completely
under subjection that they might not have power to give any farther

Sandoval was a person of much vigilance when he had any important business
in hand, and made no delay in marching against the enemy, who had
concentrated their forces in two narrow defiles. Sandoval divided his
forces into two bodies, but was so obstinately resisted, that he drew off
his forces, feigning to retreat to Mexico, followed by the Indians, whom
he completely deceived, making an unexpected countermarch at midnight, by
which he gained possession of the passes; yet not till he had lost three
horses, and had a great many of his men wounded. On passing the defiles,
he found himself opposed in front by an immense body of Indians, who had
collected on receiving notice of his countermarch. He concentrated his
whole force into one solid column; and as his cavalry were inexperienced
in the service, he gave them full instructions never to halt making
thrusts, as the Indians always seized the lances when wounded, and often
wrested them from the hands of our men; but ordered them to clap spurs to
their horses on such occasions, firmly grasping their lances, and thus
force them from the enemy by the strength of their horses. Having placed
guards and patroles, and ordered the horses of the cavalry to remain all
night saddled and bridled, he made the troops repose under arms on the
banks of a river, placing the Mexican and Tlascalan warriors at a short
distance from the Spanish troops, knowing by experience that the allies
were of more harm than benefit in a night attack. At day-break next
morning, Sandoval put his troops in motion, and was soon fronted by three
large bodies of the enemy, who endeavoured to surround him. Forming his
cavalry in two squadrons, he attacked the enemy with such spirit that they
were soon broken and dispersed, with the loss of two soldiers and three
horses on his side. The allies made terrible havock after this victory,
burning and plundering all before them, till the arrival of the army at St
Estevan. The remains of this colony were found in a miserable condition,
and the soldiers of Garay assured him that its preservation was entirely
owing to the bravery and conduct of our few veterans who were there.
Sandoval divided his army into several bodies, which he entrusted to the
command of the veterans, and sent them to overrun the neighbouring
districts, with orders to send in all the provisions they could collect,
being unable to go out himself, as he was badly wounded. In the course of
three days, his parties sent in many prisoners of the ordinary class, and
five chiefs; but Sandoval released the common people, and ordered his
troops to make no more prisoners, except of such chiefs as had been
concerned in or present at the murder of the Spaniards. In a few days
Sandoval was able to take the field, and by skilful measures he made
prisoners of twenty caciques, who had commanded where no less than six
hundred Spaniards were slain. He then summoned all the neighbouring towns
to send their chiefs to him to treat of peace and submission: Some obeyed,
but others neglected to attend, and he thought it best to dissimulate with
the latter for the present, till he had informed Cortes what had been
already done, and had received his orders as to the disposal of the
prisoners and his future procedure. Cortes, who now conferred the vacant
command of St Estevan on Sandoval, ordered all who had been any way
concerned in the murder of the Spaniards to be punished with death, as an
example to deter others from being guilty of the like offence, directing
Diego de Ocampo, as alcalde-major, to take the necessary steps against
them, with orders to execute all who should be found guilty. He gave
orders likewise to conciliate the natives by all possible means, and to
prevent the soldiers of Garay from committing any future outrages. Two
days after the receipt of these orders, the accused caciques were brought
to trial; and many of them being found guilty by evidence, or by their own
confession, were publickly executed, some being burnt and others hanged.
Many also were pardoned; and all the districts which had belonged to the
caciques who suffered on this occasion, were restored to their children or
other heirs. Ocampo now proceeded against all those Spaniards who had been
guilty of outrages, going about the country in bands, plundering and
murdering the natives, or who had invited other soldiers to desert to them;
and having collected them together, he shipped them off for Cuba. To Juan
de Grijalva, who had been commodore of the fleet under Garay, Cortes
offered the alternative of a present of 2000 crowns, and a passage to Cuba,
or an honourable reception at Mexico. But Grijalva and all the other
officers belonging to Garay preferred going to Cuba. When Sandoval and
Ocampo had thus reduced the settlement to order, and cleared it of these
troublesome inmates, they returned to Mexico, leaving the command at St
Estevan to an officer named Vallecillo; and on their arrival at the
capital, they were received by Cortes and others with the distinction
which their services richly merited[2].

[1] This is probably the river of Nueva Santander, about 100 miles north
from the Rio Tampico or river of Panuco--E.

[2] A very uninteresting episode, respecting the misfortunes of the
liceniate Zuazo, who has been formerly mentioned, is here omitted, as
having no reference whatever to the general history in hand: It is
sufficient to say that, after many perils by sea and land, Zuazo came
to Mexico, where Cortes gave him the office of alcalde-major, which
seems to have resembled our provost-marshal, or chief military


_Narrative of various Expeditions for the Reduction of different Provinces
in New Spain_.

As the views of Cortes were always lofty, so was he always well supported
by the talents and bravery of his officers and soldiers. After his power
was thoroughly established in the great city of Mexico and its more
immediate dependencies, and in the districts or provinces of Guaxaca,
Zacatula, Colima, Vera Cruz, Panuco, Coatzacualco, and others, as already
related, he was informed that there were populous nations and rich mines
in the province of Guatimala; and he resolved to send a military force
under Alvarado, to conquer and colonize that country. Alvarado, therefore,
was dispatched to that province, with 300 infantry, 135 cavalry, 200
Tlascalans and Cholulans, and 100 Mexicans[1], and four field-pieces.
Alvarado was instructed to bring those nations to submission by peaceful
means, if possible; and Father Olmedo accompanied him, on purpose to
preach the doctrines of our holy religion to the natives; and at all
events, to insist upon all the prisons and cages that were used for human
victims being destroyed, the prisoners set free, and the utter abolition
of human sacrifices and cannibal feasts. This expedition left Mexico on
the 13th of December 1523; and Alvarado during his march, received the
submission of the district known by the name of the Rocks of Guelama,
where he received many rich contributions in gold. Having passed the
districts belonging to the Tzapotecas of Tecuantepec, and by Soconusco, a
town containing above 15,000 houses, Alvarado came to the neighbourhood of
a place named Zapotitlan, where, at a bridge over a river, he was opposed
by a very numerous body of warriors who disputed the passage with so much
bravery, that many of the soldiers were wounded and one horse killed; and
it required three very hard fought battles before the Spaniards were able
to break through and disperse the enemy.

From this place, continuing his march, Alvarado was continually harassed
by the Indians of Quetzaltenango, and came at length to a defile in a high
mountain, where the ascent was about a league and a half. On arriving at
the summit, a remarkably fat woman was found in the act of sacrificing a
dog, which is an infallible token of intended hostilities; and immediately
afterwards, great numbers of armed Indians were seen advancing on all
sides, in a difficult broken ground, where the cavalry of Alvarado were
unable to act. In this rough and impracticable place, above 6000 of the
warriors of Utatlan, a district adjoining to Quetzaltenango, made an
attack upon our troops; and being soon put to flight, they rallied shortly
after, reinforced by great numbers of fresh troops, who waited the advance
of our forces, and fought them bravely hand to hand. On this occasion,
three or four of the enemy uniting their efforts, used to seize a horse
before and behind, endeavouring to pull him to the ground, and it required
the most strenuous exhortations both of Alvarado and Father Olmedo to
animate the exertions of our troops, who at length succeeded in defeating
and dispersing the Indians. Our army halted in the field of battle for
three days, unmolested by the enemy, and then marched to Quetzaltenango,
where Alvarado hoped to have given his troops some repose; but he found
two xiquipils of warriors, or 16,000 men assembled to oppose him in a
plain, where he gave them so complete a defeat, with so heavy a loss of
warriors, that they remained for a long time under complete awe of the
Spaniards. The chiefs of these Indians sent a deputation to Alvarado,
offering peace and submission, under which they had concealed a plan for
destroying his army in the following manner. At a short distance there was
a place called Utatlan, in a very difficult rugged country, and surrounded
by defiles, to which they invited him to march, intending to fall upon him
there with all their forces, as in that place the cavalry could not act.

Alvarado accordingly marched to Utatlan, a town of considerable strength,
which had only two gates, the ascent to one of which was by a stair of
about twenty-five steps, and the other opened to a very bad broken
causeway, the streets likewise being very narrow, and the houses very
close together. Observing the bad situation of this place, and that the
women and children had disappeared, Alvarado began to suspect that some
mischief was in contemplation; and he was informed by some Indians of the
place he had last quitted, that a number of warriors were concealed all
round the place, to which they meant to set fire in the night, and then
assault him with all their forces. Alvarado immediately called his troops
to arms, and marched out into the open country, telling the chiefs that he
did so for the purpose of procuring grass for his horses. They did not
seem pleased with this change; and as soon as Alvarado was completely
clear of the town, he seized the principal cacique, whom he reproached for
his treachery, and ordered to be burnt alive. Father Olmedo obtained a
respite of this sentence, with permission to endeavour to convert the
condemned cacique to the holy faith, in which he exerted himself a whole
day, and at length succeeded: and, _as an indulgence_, his punishment was
commuted to hanging, and his territory given to his son. After this,
Alvarado attacked and dispersed the native warriors who were in the
neighbourhood of the town. When this success became known in Guatimala,
which was engaged in hostility with the people of Utatlan, they sent an
embassy to treat with Alvarado before his arrival on their frontiers,
bringing a present of gold, declaring their submission to the government
of our emperor, and offering to serve as allies in all our wars. Alvarado
accepted their submission and offer of service, and desired them to send
him 2000 of their warriors, with which they immediately complied; and as
the people of Utatlan had again rebelled, he remained eight days in their
country, collecting considerable spoil and making many slaves; after which
he marched to the city of Guatimala, where he was hospitably received.

As the utmost harmony subsisted between Alvarado and the natives of
Guatimala, the chiefs of that nation represented to him that a nation in
their neighbourhood, called the Altitlans, who occupied several strong
fortresses on the side of a lake, had refused to make submission to him,
and that they were a barbarous and malicious people. Alvarado sent a
message commanding these people to submit, but they abused his messengers;
on which he marched against them with 140 Spanish soldiers and 2000
warriors of the Guatimalans, and was resisted by a strong force of the
Altitlans, whom he soon defeated with considerable loss, and pursued to
their fortresses on the lake. Having driven them from these fortresses,
they took shelter in an island of the lake, to which he sent several of
their chiefs whom he had taken prisoners, to persuade them into peace and
submission, in which he at length succeeded, partly by threats and partly
by promises, and returned to Guatimala. Father Olmedo exerted himself so
effectually in his mission, that he prevailed upon the people to imitate
our example, in adoring the holy Virgin, for which purpose he erected an
altar and image of our lady, and explained the mysteries of the Christian
faith to the natives. A people named the Pipiles, who came from a
considerable distance towards the south, to enter into submission to
Alvarado, informed him that a nation in their way, called the Izcuintepecs,
were of a malignant disposition, and maltreated all travellers through
their country. He sent, therefore, a message to invite them to come in and
submit, which they refused to comply with; for which reason he marched
into their country with his whole force, united to a strong body of his
allies of Guatimala, and made great havock among them. Not having been
present in this expedition, as I did not go into the province of Guatimala
until my return from Higueras, I have only given a short summary of the
conquest of Guatimala and its dependencies, which may be found related at
full length in a book written by Gonzalo de Alvarado.

About this time Cortes was informed that the provinces of Higueras and
Honduras contained rich mines, and some sailors reported that the native
fishers of these countries used weights to their nets made of gold mixed
with copper; they alleged also, that a strait or passage would probably be
found in that direction into the Pacific Ocean. On these accounts he
determined to send some troops to that country under Christoval de Oli, to
inquire after the mines, and to search for this reported strait, by which
a communication might be opened with the Spice Islands; and as the way by
land was long and difficult, it was determined to send this expedition by
sea. Accordingly, de Oli embarked in six ships, with a force of 370
soldiers, 100 of whom were musqueteers and crossbow-men, and 22 cavalry.
Five of the veteran conquerors of Mexico went along with this expedition;
among whom was one Briones, a seditious fellow and a bitter enemy of
Cortes; besides whom, many of the soldiers on this expedition were greatly
dissatisfied at the unequal distribution of lands which had been made in
New Spain. De Oli was ordered to go first to the Havanna, to procure a
supply of provisions and necessaries, and then to pursue his voyage to the
Higueras to make the necessary inquiries for the reported mines and
straits; after which he was to build a town in some commodious situation.
To advance the interests of our holy religion, he was provided with two
friars, one of whom understood the Mexican language. At the Havanna, de
Oli took on board five of the followers of Garay, who had been expelled
from Panuco for seditious conduct, who ingratiated themselves into his
confidence, and advised him to renounce his obedience to Cortes, in which
they were aided by Briones; so that he at length went over to the party of
Velasquez, who engaged to make such representations at court that the
command of this intended settlement might be given to de Oli independent
of Cortes. De Oli was a brave man, and endowed with many good qualities,
yet unfit for his present employment, having been brought up in the house
of Velasquez, so that he was the more readily influenced by bad advisers
to desert the interest of Cortes to whom he lay under great obligations.
On the third of May, de Oli arrived at his station, which he named _El
Triumpho de la Cruz_, where he appointed to the civil administration of
the new colony, such alcaldes and regidors as had been recommended by
Cortes, and even took possession of the country for his majesty in the
name of Cortes, as he wished to conceal his secession from our general
till he saw whether the country was sufficiently rich to be worth while to
set up an independent government; as, if it turned out otherwise, he could
return to his possessions in Mexico, and gloss over his negociations with
Velasquez, under pretence of having done so in order to procure the
necessary supplies. In this manner was the new colony of El Triumpho
established, from whence Cortes had no intelligence for more than eight

There were a considerable number of veterans and Spaniards of rank,
established in the town of Coatzacuaclo, otherwise called Del Espiritu
Santo, who were entrusted with the government of that province, together
with the districts of Citla, Tabasco, Cimatan, Choutalpa, Cachula, Zoque,
the Quilenes, Cinacatan, Chamuela, Chiapa, Papanahausta, Pinula, Xaltepec,
Huaxaltepec, Chinantla, Tepeque, and others; but through all New Spain,
the demand for tribute was the signal of insurrection, and all who
attempted to levy it were killed, as were all Spaniards who fell into the
hands of the natives; so that we were continually obliged to go from one
town to another with a company of soldiers to preserve peace. As the
district of Cimatan was particularly refractory, and Captain Luis Marin
could not conveniently send a body of troops to that place, I and three
other Spaniards were sent there to endeavour to prevail on the people to
submit. On approaching the principal town, we were attacked by a large
body of Indians, who killed two of my companions, and wounded me
desperately in the throat. My surviving companion made off to some canoes
on the banks of the river Macapa, leaving me alone and in great jeopardy;
but I crept under cover of some bushes where I lay some time almost
exhausted, and recovering my strength after some time, I forced my way
through the natives, and escaped to where my companion was in the canoes,
with four Indians whom we had brought with us to carry our baggage, which
they had thrown away, and for the sake of which the natives quitted us, so
that we got across the river, which is broad and deep and full of
alligators. To avoid the Indians, we concealed ourselves for eight days in
the woods, so that we were concluded to be lost, and our property in lands
and Indians was divided among the other Spaniards, such being then the
custom in New Spain. We returned to the town, however, at the end of
twenty-three days, to the great joy of our friends, and the disappointment
of those who had succeeded to our property.

Our captain, Luis Marin, thought proper to wait upon Cortes, to represent
the necessity of a reinforcement; and accordingly got thirty soldiers,
commanded by Alonzo de Grado, with orders for all the Spaniards at
Coatzacualco to march for the province of Chiapa, which was then in a
state of rebellion, and directions to build a town there to keep the
natives in order. In the first place, we had to make roads through the
woods, and the country being very marshy, we were under the necessity of
constructing causeways in many places to enable the horses to pass. The
first place we came to was Tezputzlan, and thence to Cachula, beyond which
there had been no passage before our expedition, all the other natives
being in great fear of the inhabitants of Chiapa, who were then the
bravest warriors in all America, and had never been subdued by the
Mexicans; but they were extremely barbarous, being in use to rob all
passengers, and to carry away the natives of other districts to till their
ground. The present expedition was during Lent, and as well as I can now
remember, in the year 1524, our little army consisting of 27 cavalry, 23
musqueteers, 72 foot soldiers armed with sword and target, and one
field-piece under the direction of a cowardly fellow of a gunner, who
pretended to have served in Italy. Besides these, we had 50 Mexican
warriors, and the cacique of Cachula with some of his principal people,
who were all terribly afraid. On approaching Chiapa, an advanced guard of
four of our most active soldiers, of whom I was one, always preceded the
army to reconnoitre, and as the ground was not fit for a horse, I left
mine behind. We were usually about half a league in front of the army, but
on our approach to Estapa, their first settlement, some of the hunters of
Chiapa perceived us at a distance, and gave the alarm by means of smoke.
The road was now wide and convenient, between well cultivated fields of
corn and other vegetables; and on coming to Estapa we found it abandoned
by the inhabitants, on which we posted our guards and patroles, and took
up our quarters for the night. We were soon disturbed by information from
our out-guards, that the natives were collecting on every side to attack
us; and, going out of town to meet them we had a severe action, in which
they killed two of our soldiers and four horses, wounding our reverend
father Fra Juan, and thirteen soldiers, including our captain Luis Marin,
who was wounded in two places; besides which many of our allies were slain.
This action lasted till dark night, when the enemy were forced to retire,
leaving fifteen slain and many wounded in the field. From two of the
wounded, who seemed chiefs, we learnt that a general attack was intended
against us next day. These people were clothed in good defensive armour of
quilted cotton, using darts hardened in the fire, war clubs, and lances
longer than ours, and they fought with unusual bravery; insomuch that,
when one of our horsemen halted to make a thrust, the Indians seized the
horse, and either wrested the lance from the horseman or pulled him to the

Next day we pursued our march to Chiapa, a place with very regular streets,
and containing not less than four thousand families, besides the dependent
towns and villages around. We had not proceeded above a quarter of a
league from Estapa, where we had passed the night, when we found the whole
warriors of the district drawn up to oppose us, well armed, dressed up in
plumes of feathers, and making the hills resound with their warlike shouts.
They attacked us with the utmost fury, and our black gunner was so
stupified with fear, that he stood long trembling before he durst put the
match to the gun, and when he fired the piece all the good he did was
wounding three of our own men. After a severe conflict, we at length
forced them to fly; but they rallied in some broken ground, reinforced by
some fresh bodies of Indians, and attacked us again by surprize, while we
were giving God thanks for our victory. In these new troops, many were
provided with long thongs to twist round our horses, and some carried the
nets they used in hunting for the same purpose. In this second battle the
enemy were so desperate that they killed two of our soldiers and five
horses, and scarce one of us escaped without a wound. They had along with
them a very fat aged woman, whom they esteemed a wizard, who had promised
them the victory. Her body was all covered over with paint mixed with
cotton wool; and she advanced fearlessly amid our allies, who were
regularly formed by companies, by whom she was cut to pieces. At length,
by a violent effort, we forced the enemy to fly, some taking to the rocks
and others to the river, and being excellent swimmers they made their
escape. We then halted and sang the _Salve regina_: After which we took
possession of a town on the river, where we halted for the night, taking
care of our wounded, and carefully concealing our dead.

About midnight, ten chiefs of neighbouring districts came down the river
in five canoes, and were brought to our captain, whom they informed that
they belonged to the nation of the Xaltepecs, who were at war with the
people of Chiapa, and came to offer their assistance to us against them,
on condition that we should afterwards support the independence of their
nation against the people of Chiapa. This was very satisfactory to us, as
we could not have passed the river, which was both broad and deep, without
their assistance; the chiefs were therefore dismissed with a promise on
our part of protection, and on theirs to bring us canoes and auxiliaries.
During the remainder of the night we had to keep strict guard, as the
drums and horns of the enemy were heard on the opposite banks of the river,
where their warriors were collecting from all sides to attack us. As soon
as it was light, our new friends joined us with the promised canoes, and
shewed us a very dangerous ford, which they urged us to pass without delay,
that we might endeavour to save the lives of some of their people who had
been recently made prisoners by the enemy. We accordingly passed the river
in a solid column at the ford, which reached our armpits, and where we
lost one of our cavalry. On gaining the opposite bank, we were so hotly
assailed by the enemy with darts and arrows, that every one of us had two
or three wounds before we got out of the water. But as we were now joined
by large bodies of those Indians who had offered their assistance, we soon
compelled the enemy to fly for shelter to their city, against which we
immediately advanced in good order, accompanied by our new allies. On
arriving there, it seemed too closely built to be occupied with safety,
and we encamped therefore in the open field, sending messengers to invite
them to peace, with which they complied, by sending a deputation of their
chiefs, who submitted to become subject to our sovereign, and requiring
that the neighbouring tribes might be prevented from destroying their
houses and plantations. All these things being settled to our mutual
satisfaction, we went into the town, where we found many prisoners
confined in wooden cages, who had been seized by the Chiapese while
travelling from place to place, all of whom we set free. In the temples of
this place we found several idols of horrible figures, and many remains of
men and boys, who had been recently sacrificed. Our reverend father Fra
Juan, broke all the idols to pieces, and preached so successfully that
many were baptized. Many of the chiefs of the neighbouring tribes came in
and made their submission: Among these were the chiefs of Cinacatan,
Papanahaustla, Pinola, Guehuistlan, Chamula, the Quilenes, and others who
spoke the Zoque language, and many other tribes, the names of which I do
not now remember. These people were much surprised when they perceived the
smallness of the force with which we had ventured to attack a nation so
warlike as the Chiapese, whom the Mexicans were never able to subdue.

While our captain was thus occupied in arranging matters with the chiefs
of the surrounding districts, one of our soldiers went accompanied by
eight Mexicans, to a town called Chamula, where he demanded a contribution
of gold in the name of our captain, though entirely without authority. A
quantity was accordingly offered him; but not being satisfied with the
amount, he attempted to seize the cacique, by which violent proceeding he
occasioned an insurrection of that town, and another in the neighbourhood
called Quiahuitlan, or Guehuistlan. When this improper transaction came to
the ears of our captain, he sent the soldier a prisoner to Mexico, and
immediately marched to Chamula to quell the insurrection, being assisted
on this occasion by the inhabitants of Cinacatan, a polished tribe which
was addicted to merchandize. On our arrival at Chamula, we found the place
strongly fortified by art and nature, and the people well armed, having a
peculiar species of large shield which covered the whole body, and could
be rolled up into a small compass when not in use. Our cavalry were
ordered to keep guard in the plain in our rear, to watch the motions of
the insurgents in the neighbouring districts; while the infantry
endeavoured to force their way into the town; but our musketeers made very
little impression, as the enemy were covered by their walls, while their
missiles injured us materially, being exposed without any defence. We
continued the attack during the whole day to very little purpose, being
unable to force the ramparts, which were guarded by above 2000 men armed
with lances. We therefore drew off for the time, and procured some timber
from a depopulated town in the neighbourhood, with which we constructed
certain machines named _mantas_ or _burros_, under cover of which twenty
men or more could approach the walls in safety, to work a passage through
them. On our first attempt to do this, the enemy threw down upon our
machines, heavy stones, fire, and scalding water, so that we were
constrained to remove our machines to repair the injury they had sustained.
We again brought forward our machines to the walls, and at length
succeeded in making several breaches. While employed in this manner, four
of their principal chiefs and priests addressed us from the top of the
ramparts, saying, since we wanted gold they had brought us some, and then
threw over seven crowns of fine gold, with many gold trinkets, some of
which were cast in the shape of various birds, shells, and the like;
immediately after which they assailed us with repeated vollies of darts,
arrows, and stones. By the time that it was dark, we had made two
considerable breaches; but as a heavy rain came on, we drew off for the
night, keeping a vigilant guard round our post, and having our cavalry on
the alert in the plain, ready saddled and bridled. During the whole night,
the enemy kept continually sounding their warlike instruments, making
horrid yells, and threatening us with destruction next day, which they
said was promised by their gods. We brought forward our machines again at
day-break to enlarge the breaches we had made on the preceding day; but
the enemy defended themselves with great obstinacy, wounding five of our
people, and myself among the rest by the thrust of a lance, which had gone
through me, had it not been for the strength of my quilted cotton armour.
Towards evening it came on again to rain hard, and we were called off from
the attack; but as the enemy ceased to shout and make their usual noises,
I suspected they were about leaving the town, and perceived also that
their lances were mostly rested against the walls and parapets, except
about two hundred which still appeared in the hands of a part of the enemy.
On this, I and one of my comrades crept in at a small breach in the wall,
and were immediately attacked by above two hundred of these lancemen, who
would soon have dispatched us, if some of our Indian allies had not
noticed our perilous situation, and called the rest of our soldiers to our
aid, who crowded in at the breach and soon enabled us to put the enemy to
flight. These were only the rear guard of the garrison, all the rest of
the inhabitants, men, women, and children, having evacuated the town by
the opposite gate. We immediately pursued, and made many prisoners.

Leaving this place, we marched for Cinacatan, and halted for the night at
the place where _Chiapa de los Espanoles_ is now built; from whence our
captain dismissed six of our prisoners, with a message to their countrymen,
offering to restore all the rest of the prisoners, if they would submit.
They immediately complied with this, and submitted themselves as subjects
to the Spanish monarchy. In this neighbourhood dwelt a nation called the
Guehuistlans[2], who possessed three fortified towns, and were in
rebellion against us. Leaving our baggage and wounded men in Cinacatan, we
proceeded to reduce these people to submission. They had barricaded all
the approaches to their towns by means of felled trees, which were cleared
away by the aid of our Indian allies, and we got up to one of their
fortresses, which threatened to give us infinite trouble, as it was full
of warriors, well armed both for offence and defence. But they all fled
when we mounted to the assault, leaving the place to us without resistance.
By means of two prisoners who were taken by our allies, offers of peace
and good treatment were sent to them, on condition of submission; with
which they complied, bringing with them some trifling presents of gold and
_quetzal_ feathers.

Having thus effected our business in this place, by reducing all the
surrounding tribes to submission, we proceeded, according to the orders of
Cortes, to establish a colony, though some who had already plantations and
Indians in Coatzacualco objected to this place as unfit for cavalry, and
that our force was too small for keeping so populous a district under
subjection, especially as the natives had many strong fortresses in the
fastnesses of their mountains. Even our captain, Luis Marin, and the royal
notary Diego de Godoy, were adverse to the plan. Alonzo de Grado, also, a
very troublesome fellow, was possessed of a patent from Cortes, by which
he was entitled to an _encomienda_ in the province of Chiapa, when reduced
to obedience; and in virtue of this, he demanded that all the gold which
had been received from the Indians of Chiapa, and also, that which had
been found in the temples, amounting to about 1500 crowns, should be
delivered up to him. This was refused by Marin, who alleged that it ought
to be applied for replacing the horses which were killed during the
expedition. These disputes ran so high, that our captain ordered both
Godoy and De Grado into irons, intending to send them to Mexico. Godoy
obtained his liberty by concessions; and in return for this lenity entered
into cabals with De Grado for misrepresenting the conduct of Marin to
Cortes. On this occasion I was solicited to write to Cortes in exculpation
of De Grado, as they said that Cortes would believe my statements. I wrote
accordingly a true state of the case, but in no respect charging Marin
with any thing amiss. De Grado was sent off to Mexico, under an oath to
appear before Cortes in eighty days, as the distance he had to travel
exceeded 190 leagues. On his arrival, Cortes was so much displeased by his
conduct, that he ordered De Grado to take 3000 crowns and retire to Cuba,
that he might give no farther trouble in his government; but De Grado made
such ample apologies, that he was restored to favour. As it was finally
resolved to establish a colony in this place, and as I had an order to
that effect from Cortes, our captain, who was likewise my particular
friend, appointed me to the command of the _encomienda_ at Cinacatan,
which I enjoyed for eight years. As soon as possible after my appointment,
I procured a reverend father to preach to the Indians, whom I was anxious
to convert to our holy faith. He accordingly erected an altar and crucifix,
and preached with so much success, that fifteen of the Indians offered
themselves for baptism on the first day of his mission; which gave me
infinite satisfaction, as I felt the warmest interest in the welfare of
these people, whom I looked upon as my own children.

When all things were properly settled at this place, we resolved to
chastise the people of Cimatan who had slain two of the party with which I
had been deputed to them, as formerly mentioned near the beginning of this
section. In our way to that place, we had to march through a district
named Tapelola, which was so very rugged that our horses were unable to
proceed until the roads were cleared for them, which was immediately done
on application to the caciques. We continued our march by the districts of
Silo, Suchiapa, and Coyumelapa, to those of Tecomayatacal and Ateapan; the
chief town of which was extensive, closely built, and very populous. This
place belonged to my _encomienda_. Near this town there was a large and
deep river which it was necessary for us to pass, where we were opposed by
the people of the vicinity with so much vigour that we had six soldiers
wounded and three of our horses killed; but we put them to flight, and
they withdrew into the woods and mountains, after setting fire to their
town. We remained here five days, taking care of our wounded men; and as
we had taken many of the women of this district, some of them were sent
out to invite the natives to return and submit, with which they complied.
Godoy was averse from the lenity shewn on this occasion, and insisted that
these people ought to be punished for their revolt, or at least made to
pay for the horses which they had slain. I happened to be of a different
opinion; and as I spoke freely, Godoy became enraged and used very angry
words, which I retorted. At length we proceeded to blows and drew our
swords; and if we had not been parted one or other of us must have been
killed, we were both so much enraged. Even as it was, several cuts were
given and received on both sides, before we were separated. Marin was a
good man and of a mild disposition, so that he restored every thing to
these deluded people and left them in peace.

We continued our march through the other districts of Cimatlan and
Talatiopan, where we were attacked by a numerous body of archers, by whom
above twenty of our soldiers were wounded and two horses killed; but we
very soon defeated them. These people were the most powerful archers I had
yet seen, as they were able to drive their arrows through two suits of
well quilted cotton armour; and their country is mostly composed of a
marsh which quakes under foot. It was in vain therefore to think of
pursuing the natives in such an impracticable country; and as they treated
all our offers of peace with contempt, we judged it best to return to our
colony of Coatzacualco; which we did through the districts of Guimango,
Nacaxa, Xuica, Teotitlan, Copilco, and some others which I do not remember
the names of, to Ulapa, and thence across the rivers Agaqualulco and
Tonala to Coatzacualco, where the slain horses were paid for at the rate
of a penny the pound.

[1] Though without any warrant for this purpose, we believe that the
numbers of these allies ought to have been reckoned by thousands
instead of hundreds.--E.

[2] Diaz is often variable in his orthography of Indian names; calling
this people in different places, Gueguestitlans, Guehuistlans, and


_Negotiations of Cortes at the Court of Spain, in respect to the Conquest
and Government of Mexico_.

In the year 1521, the holy father Adrian de Lobayana, succeeded to the
papacy, he being then governor of Castille and resident in the city of
Vittoria, where our agents waited upon him to kiss the foot of his
holiness. About the same time a great nobleman, named M. de la Soa,
arrived from Germany, who was chamberlain to our emperor, and was sent by
him to congratulate the new pope on his election. When this nobleman was
informed of the heroic deeds of the conquerors of Mexico, and the great
things they had performed for the extension of the holy faith, by the
conversion and baptism of such myriads of Indians, he became interested in
our behalf, and made application to his holiness to expedite the business
of our agents. This was readily acceded to, as besides the allegations of
our agents, the pope had received other complaints against the bishop of
Burgos from persons of quality and honour. Our chief agents on this
occasion were Francisco de Montejo, Diego de Ordas, Francisco Nunez cousin
to our general, and his father Martin Cortes; who were countenanced by
many powerful noblemen, and chiefly by the Duke of Bejar. Thus supported,
they brought forward their charges against the bishop to good purpose.
These were, that Velasquez had bribed the bishop by the gift of a
considerable district in Cuba, the natives of which were made to work in
the gold mines for his emolument, to the manifest injury of the royal
revenue. That when, in 1517, 110 of us had sailed at our own expence under
the command of Hernandez de Cordova for the discovery of New Spain, the
bishop had falsely informed his majesty that it was done by Velasquez.
That Velasquez had transmitted 20,000 crowns in gold, which had been
procured by his nephew Juan de Grijalva on our second voyage, all of which
was given to the bishop, and no part of it to his majesty to whom it
belonged. That when Cortes sent home a large contribution in gold to his
majesty, the bishop had suppressed our letters, substituting others, and
ascribed the present to Velasquez, retaining half of the treasure to his
own use; and, when Puertocarrera applied to him for permission to wait
upon his majesty, the bishop had thrown him into prison, where he died.
That the bishop had forbidden the officers of the _Casa de contratation_
of Seville to give any assistance to Cortes, by which the public service
had suffered manifest injury. That he had appointed very unfit persons to
the military command in New Spain, as was particularly the case with
regard to Christoval de Tapia, to whom he had given a commission as
governor of New Spain, in order to bring about a marriage between his
niece and Tapia. That he had given authenticity to the false accounts
transmitted by the agents of Velasquez, suppressing the true relations
which came from Cortes. There were many other charges against the bishop
which he could not gainsay, as they were all substantiated by good

All these things being made clear to his holiness, he was pleased to order,
that the bishop should have no longer any authority in regard to the
affairs of New Spain, of which the government should be conferred on
Cortes, and that Velasquez should be remunerated for all the expences he
had incurred on account of the expedition, which he could duly
substantiate. His holiness sent also to New Spain, a great number of
indulgences for the hospitals and churches, and recommended to Cortes and
the other conquerors to pay unremitting attention to the conversion of the
Indians, and was pleased to send us his holy bulls of absolution. His
majesty graciously confirmed all these orders of the pope, ordering
Velasquez to be deprived of the government of Cuba, on account of having
sent the expedition under Narvaez, in defiance of peremptory orders to the
contrary from the royal audience of St Domingo, and the Jeronymite
brethren. The bishop was so much affected by his disgrace on this occasion,
that he fell dangerously ill.

About this time, Panfilo de Narvaez and Christoval de Tapia arrived in
Spain, together with the pilot Umbria and Cardenas, who by the instigation
of the bishop of Burgos, preferred many severe accusations against Cortes
to his majesty, in which they were gladly joined by the agents of
Velasquez. They alleged, that Velasquez had fitted out three several
expeditions for New Spain at vast expence, the last of which he had
confided to Cortes, who broke his engagements and converted the armament
to his own advantage. That when Velasquez sent Narvaez as governor of New
Spain, with his majesties commission, Cortes made war upon him, defeated
him and made him a prisoner. That when the bishop of Burgos sent Tapia to
take the command of New Spain in the name of his majesty, Cortes refused
obedience, and compelled him to re-embark. They also accused Cortes of
having embezzled a great quantity of gold which he had obtained for his
majesty; of taking a fifth of all the plunder to his own use; of having
tortured Guatimotzin; of defrauding the soldiers of their shares; of
making the natives of Mexico construct for his use magnificent palaces and
castles as large as villages; of having poisoned Francisco de Garay, in
order to get possession of his ships and troops, and many other charges of
a similar nature. By command of his majesty, a court of inquiry was
appointed from the privy council, to hear and determine upon these
allegations, before which the following answers were given in. That
Cordova was the real discoverer of New Spain, which had been done by him
and his companions at their own cost. That although Velasquez had sent
Juan de Grijalva on an expedition to New Spain, it was only for the
purpose of trade, and not of colonization. That the principal charges had
been expended by the different captains, and not by Velasquez, who had
received the chief part of 20,000 crowns which these captains had
collected. That Velasquez gave Indians in Cuba to the bishop of Burgos to
collect gold for him, which ought to have belonged to his majesty. That
although it was true Velasquez had sent Cortes to New Spain, his orders
were only to barter; and the establishment he had made was entirely owing
to the representations of his companions for the service of God and his
majesty, and in no respect due to the instructions of Velasquez. That it
was well known to all, that Cortes had reported the whole of his
proceedings to his majesty, to whom he and his companions sent all the
gold they could procure, waiting his majesties ultimate orders in the
utmost humility; whereas the bishop of Burgos suppressed his letters, and
appropriated the gold to his own use, concealing our meritorious services
from his majesty, preventing our agents from gaining access to the emperor,
and even throwing one of them into prison, where he died; and that he
prevented the royal officers from supplying us with such things as we
needed, by which our enterprize had been much retarded. That all these
things had been done by the bishop from corrupt motives, that he might
give the government of Mexico to Velasquez or Tapia, in order that one of
them might marry his _niece_ Donna Petronilla de Fonseca, being anxious to
make his _son-in-law_ governor of that splendid kingdom. As for the
expedition of Narvaez, our agents contended that Velasquez ought to suffer
death for having sent it in direct disobedience of his majesties orders as
communicated by the royal audience; and that he had behaved with high
disrespect to his majesty, in making his application to the bishop of
Burgos on this occasion. In support of all these accusations they offered
to bring substantial proofs, and prayed the court to award punishment for
these multiplied offences.

In reply to the accusations of Narvaez against Cortes, they represented,
that Narvaez sent word to Montezuma on his arrival in Mexico, that he came
to rescue him, by which he occasioned a dangerous war. That when Cortes
desired to see his commission, and represented the necessity of an
amicable junction of their forces for the good of the service, Narvaez
would give no answer, but immediately declared war against Cortes and his
companions, by which they were forced to defend themselves, and that
Narvaez had even presumed to seize his majesties oydor, for which Cortes
deemed it requisite to bring him to punishment. That when Cortes went to
wait on Narvaez, that he might see his commission and remonstrate with him
on his proceedings, Narvaez had attempted to make him prisoner by surprise,
of which proof could be made by witnesses. As to the failure of Garay, and
the ridiculous charge of having poisoned him; it was well known that the
expedition under Garay had failed through his own misconduct and ignorance
of the country; after which he had gladly accepted the friendly offers of
Cortes, who had given him an hospitable reception in Mexico, where an
alliance was agreed upon between their families, and Garay was to have
been assisted in establishing a colony on the river Palmas; and finally,
it was established beyond all doubt, by the oaths of the physicians who
attended him, that Garay had died of a pleurisy. In regard to the charge
of retaining his majesties fifth, it was proved that Cortes had fairly
expended it in the public service, together with 6000 crowns of his own
property. That the fifth which he had retained for himself, was according
to compact with the soldiers; and as to the shares belonging to the
soldiers, it was well known that very little gold was found in Mexico on
its capture, as almost all the wealth of the place had fallen into the
hands of our allies of Tlascala and Tezcuco. That the torture given to
Guatimotzin had been done by his majesties officers, contrary to the
inclination of Cortes, in order to force a discovery of where the
treasures of Montezuma had been concealed. As for the buildings, though
certainly sumptuous, they were intended for the use of his majesty and his
successors, and that the work had been carried on by the Indians, under
the order of Guatimotzin, as was always done in building houses for the
great in that country. As to Alonzo de Avila having taken the commission
from Narvaez by force; it appeared there was no commission among his
papers, which consisted entirely of receipts for the purchase of horses
and the like; and farther, that these papers had been taken without any
order from Cortes, who never saw any of them. As for Tapia, it was urged,
that if he had come to Mexico and produced his majesties orders, they
should have been received and obeyed by Cortes with the utmost humility:
But that his incapacity was so notorious to every one then in New Spain,
that it was the universal advice and desire of all that Cortes should
retain the command. As to the pilot Umbria, whose feet had been cut off,
this had been done in the due course of justice, for having run away with
his ship. That Cardenas had consented along with all the rest to give up
his share of the gold, that the whole might be sent to his majesty; and
that Cortes had given him 300 crowns from his own pocket, which was more
than he deserved, being a person of no consideration and no soldier.

The court having duly weighed all the charges and answers, the whole
proceedings were reported to his majesty, together with their opinion and
sentence, which were entirely in favour of Cortes, whose merit and valour,
and that of all the veteran conquerors of Mexico, were highly praised.
Velasquez was enjoined silence in respect to his complaints against Cortes,
and was told that he might seek for the remuneration of his expences by a
legal process. Cortes was declared governor-general of New Spain, pursuant
to the orders of the pope, and the court approved of the arrangements
which he had made in the country, authorizing him to distribute and
appoint the districts or _repartimientos_ in the way he thought proper.
Narvaez was referred for redress to France, where Avila was still a
prisoner. The pilots Umbria and Cardenas obtained royal grants of property
in New Spain, to the extent of a thousand crowns in annual rent. And it
was ordained that all the veterans of Cortes should have immediate and
ample gratifications in lands and Indians, with such precedency in rank as
their valour and services had deserved. This sentence was confirmed by the
emperor at Valladolid, who was then on his road to Flanders; and he gave
orders likewise for the banishment of all relapsed converts in New Spain,
and that no _Scholars_[1] should be admitted into that country for a
certain term of years. His majesty, and his brother the king of Hungary,
were graciously pleaded to write letters to Cortes, and to us the
conquerors, thanking us for the good service we had performed.

This affair being decided in our favour, the necessary documents were
entrusted to two relations of Cortes, Roderigo de Paz and Francisco de las
Casas, who carried them in the first place to St Jago in the island of
Cuba, where Velasquez resided. On the sentence being made known to him,
and proclaimed by sound of trumpet, he fell ill from vexation, and died
soon afterwards poor and miserable. Francisco de Montejo had the
government of Yucutan and Cozumel from his majesty, with the title of Don.
Diego de Ordas was ennobled, getting for his coat of arms the volcano of
Guaxocingo, and was confirmed in all his possessions in New Spain. He went
back to Spain two years afterwards to solicit permission to conquer the
province of Maranion, in which enterprize he lost his life and all his
property. On the arrival of Las Casas and De Paz in Mexico with the
appointment of Cortes to the government, there were great rejoicings
everywhere. Las Casas was made a captain, and got the _encomienda_ of a
good district called Anquitlan; and De Paz was appointed major-domo and
secretary to Cortes, getting likewise valuable possessions. Cortes
liberally rewarded the captain of the vessel which brought out this
pleasing information, and provided handsomely for all who came out to New
Spain from his native country of Medellin. All the proceedings of our
agents in Spain were regularly conveyed to us the conquerors; but it
seemed to me that they agented solely for Cortes and themselves, as we who
had raised Cortes to his greatness, were continually encountering dangers
and hardships, without any reward. May God protect us, and inspire our
great emperor to cause his just intentions towards us to be carried into
effect. To us, the ancient, wise, and brave conquerors of Mexico, it
appeared that Cortes ought to have duly considered his true friends, who
had supported him from the first through all his difficulties and dangers,
and ought to have rewarded us according to our respective merits, and his
majesties orders, by giving us good and profitable situations, instead of
leaving us poor and miserable. By his majesties orders, and by his duty,
Cortes was bound to have given to us and our children all the good offices
in the kingdom of New Spain; but be thought only of himself and his
favourites. In our opinion, who were the conquerors, the whole country
ought to have been divided into five equal parts, allotting one to the
crown, another for the holy church, and the remaining three parts to
Cortes and the rest of us, who were the true original conquerors, giving
each a share in perpetuity in proportion to our rank and merits,
considering that we had not only served his majesty in gratuity, but
without his knowledge, and, almost against his will. This arrangement
would have placed us at our ease; instead of which, many of us are
wandering about, almost without a morsel to eat, and God only knows what
may become of our children.

To the veedor Pedro Alonzo Chirinos, Gonzalo Salazar the factor, Rodrigo
Albornos the contador, and many others who came now from Spain, and to the
dependents of great men, who flattered him and told him fine tales, Cortes
refused nothing; but he treated us the true conquerors like vassals,
forgetting us entirely in the distribution of property, yet never failing
to call upon us when he wanted our assistance, as if we had been fit only
for expeditions and battles. I do not blame him for being generous, as
there was enough for all; but he ought in the first place to have
considered those who had served his majesty in the conquest of this noble
kingdom, and to whose blood and valour he was indebted for his own
elevation. Long afterwards, when Luis Ponce de Leon came out to supersede
Cortes, we the veteran conquerors represented to our general that he ought
to give us that property which he had been ordered by his majesty to
resign. He expressed his sorrow for having so long neglected us, and
promised even with an oath, that he would provide for us all, if he
returned to his government, thinking to satisfy us with smooth words and
empty promises.

[1] This probably alludes to _lawyers_, as on a former occasion, Diaz
mentions a request from the Spaniards that none of that fraternity
might be sent over to New Spain, probably to avoid the introduction of
litigious law suits.--E.


_Of an Expedition against the Zapotecas, and various other Occurrences_.

Intelligence was brought to Mexico that the Zapotecas were in rebellion,
on which Rodrigo Rangel, whom I have several times mentioned already,
solicited Cortes to be appointed to the command of an expedition for their
reduction, that he too might have an opportunity of acquiring fame,
proposing likewise to take Pedro de Ircio along with him as his lieutenant
and adviser. Cortes knew well that Rangel was very unfit for any service
of danger or difficulty, being a miserably diseased object, the effect of
his sins, and put him off therefore by various excuses; but as he was a
very slanderous fellow, whom he wished to get rid of, he at length agreed
to his proposal, and at the same time wrote for ten or twelve veterans,
then residing in Coatzacualco, of whom I was one, desiring us to accompany
Rangel on this expedition. The country of the Zapotecas is composed of
high and rugged mountains, always enveloped in clouds and mists, with such
narrow and bad roads as to be unfit for cavalry, so steep that they must
be climbed up like ladders, each successive soldier of the file having his
head at the heels of the man immediately before him. The natives of these
mountains are light and active, and have a way of whistling and shouting,
so as to make the hills resound again, insomuch that it is hardly possible
to know on which side they are coming to attack. Against such enemies in
so strong a country, and with such a leader, it was impossible for us to
effect any thing. We advanced, however, under heavy rain, to a scattered
village, part of the houses being situated on a rocky ridge, and the rest
in a valley, and well it was for us that the Indians made no stand, as
poor Rangel whined and moaned the whole way, complaining of pains in his
limbs, and the severity of the weather. It was at last agreed, as he grew
every day worse and worse, that we could be of no use here, and were
exposing ourselves needlessly to danger, to abandon this fruitless
expedition, and return to our homes. Pedro de Ircio was among the first
who advised this, and soon set the example, by retiring to his own town of
Villa Rica; but Rangel chose rather to go along with us to Coatzacualco,
to our great dissatisfaction, as he expected benefit from that warm
climate to relieve him of his pains.

We were hardly returned to Coatzacualco, when Rangel took it into his head
to go upon an expedition against the Indians of Cimatan and Tatupan, who
continued in rebellion, confiding in the impracticability of their country,
among large rivers and trembling marshes; being also very formidable
warriors, who used very long bows of great strength. We were all very
averse from this, but as Rangel produced his commission from Cortes, we
were under the necessity to obey, and accordingly set out on the
expedition, with about 100 horse and foot. We soon arrived at a pass among
lakes and marshes, where the Indians had thrown up a strong circular
entrenchment of large trees and pallisades, having loop-holes to shoot
through, and where they gave us a very warm reception with a flight of
darts and arrows, by which they killed seven horses, and wounded Rangel
and eight of our men. We had often told him what stout warriors these
Indians were, and he now declared that in future the old conquerors should
command him, and not he us, for he would not have been now in such
jeopardy if he had listened to our advice. When our wounded men and horses
were dressed, he requested me to go forward to reconnoitre, on which I
took two comrades, and a fierce dog belonging to Rangel, desiring the
infantry to follow close behind, but that Rangel and the cavalry might
keep at a good distance in the rear. In this order we pursued our march
for Cimatan, and soon fell in with another post, fortified like the former,
and as strongly defended, whence the Indians assailed us with a shower of
arrows, which killed the dog, and wounded us all three. On this occasion I
received a wound in my leg, and had seven arrows sticking in my cotton
armour. I immediately called to some of our Indian auxiliaries, who were a
little way behind, to desire all the infantry to come up immediately, but
that all the cavalry must remain behind, as otherwise they would certainly
lose their horses. We soon drove the Indians from their entrenchments; but
they took refuge among the marshes, where we could not pursue them without
running the risk of sinking at every step.

Having passed the night at an Indian village, we proceeded forwards next
day, when we were opposed by a body of Indians posted in a marsh on the
border of an open plain. In spite of every thing we could say, Rangel made
a charge upon them with his cavalry, and was the first to tumble head
foremost into the marsh, where the Indians closed in upon him, in hope of
taking him alive for sacrifice. By great exertions we rescued him from
their hands, half drowned and badly wounded. The country being very
populous, we very soon found a village which the natives had abandoned,
where we went for the purpose of refreshment, and to dress our wounded men:
But had hardly been there a quarter of an hour, when the enemy attacked us
with such violence, that we had much ado to repel them, after they had
killed one of our men and two horses. Poor Rangel complained grievously of
his wounds and bruises, and was so infested by mosquitoes and other vermin,
which abound greatly in that country, that he could not rest either day or
night. He, and some of the soldiers who had belonged to Garay that
accompanied him, grew very sick of their expedition, in which nothing had
been got except three hard fought battles, in which eleven horses and two
soldiers had been slain, and many others wounded, on which account they
were very desirous to get home again; yet Rangel was averse from having it
appear that a retreat was his choice, and got, therefore, a council of
those who were of his own opinion to propose that measure. At this time, I
and about twenty more had gone out to try if we could make any prisoners,
and had taken five among some gardens and plantations near the village. On
my return, Rangel called me aside, and informed me that his council had
determined on a retreat, and desired me to persuade the rest of the
detachment to come into that opinion. "How, Sir," said I, "can you think
of a retreat? What will Cortes and the world say of you, when they hear of
your retreating in two successive expeditions, without having done any
thing? You cannot surely return without disgrace, till you have reached
the head town of these Indians. I will go forward on foot with the
infantry to reconnoitre: Give my horse to another soldier, and you may
follow in the rear with the cavalry." "You give good advice, said Rangel,
and we will march on." This was done accordingly, to the great regret of
many of our companions, and we advanced in good order to Cimatan, the
principal town of the district, where we were saluted as usual by a shower
of arrows. We entered the town, however, which was abandoned by the enemy,
yet took several prisoners, whom I dismissed, with an invitation to the
chiefs to come in and make peace with us; but they never returned. Rangel
was very angry at me on this account, and swore that he would make me
procure Indians for him, in place of those whom I had liberated. To pacify
him, I went among the neighbouring marshes with thirty soldiers, where we
picked up several stragglers, whom we brought to him. But he dismissed
these likewise, in hopes to induce the rest to submit, yet all to no
purpose. Thus ended the two famous expeditions against the Zapotecans and
Cimatanese, and such was all the fame acquired by Rangel in the wars of
New Spain. Two years afterwards, we effected the conquest of both these
countries, the natives of which were converted to our holy religion, by
the grace of God, and through the exertions of Father Olmedo, now grown
weak and infirm, to the great regret of all who knew him, as he was an
excellent minister of the gospel.

Cortes had now collected 80,000 crowns in gold, and had caused a superb
golden culverin to be made as a present for the emperor, on which the
following motto was engraved:

_Esta ave nacio sin par: Yo en servir os sin segundo;
Y vos sin iqual en el Mundo_[1].

This sumptuous present was sent over to Spain under the care of Diego de
Soto. I am uncertain whether Juan de Ribera, who had been secretary to
Cortes went over at the same time with Soto; but I know that he carried
over a sum of money for the generals father, which he appropriated to his
own use; and, unmindful of the many obligations he had received, he
reported much evil of Cortes, combining with the bishop of Burgos and
others to injure him. I always thought him a bad man, from what I had
observed of him when engaged in gaming, and many other circumstances: But,
as he was of a fluent speech, and had been secretary to Cortes, he did him
much harm, and would have injured him much more, if it had not been for
the interest of the Duke of Bejar, who protected Cortes, who was then
engaged in a treaty of marriage with the dukes niece, Donna Juana de
Zuniga[2]. By this interest, and combined with the magnificent present
brought over by Soto, the affairs of Cortes at the court of Spain took a
favourable turn. The golden Phoenix with its motto, gave great offence to
many, who thought it presumptuous in Cortes to insinuate that he had no
equal in his services: But his friends justly defended him, observing that
no one had so far extended the fame and power of his majesty, or had
brought so many thousand souls under the dominion of the holy catholic
church as he had done. Neither did they forget the merits of us his
associates, truly declaring that we were entitled to honours and
emoluments, which we had as justly earned as the original nobles of
Castille, whose estates and honours were now enjoyed by their descendents.
The culverin went no farther than Seville, as his majesty was graciously
pleased to give it to Don Francisco de los Cobos, commendator-major of
Leon, who melted it down. Its value was 20,000 ducats. Martin Cortes, our
generals father, brought a suit against Ribera for the money of which he
had defrauded him; and while that was pending, Ribera died suddenly while
at dinner, and without confession. May God pardon his sins! _Amen_.

Cortes continued to rebuild and embellish the city of Mexico, which was
again as well peopled by natives as ever it had been before the conquest.
All of these were exempted from paying tribute to his majesty, till their
houses were built, and till the causeways, bridges, public edifices, and
aqueducts, were all restored. In that quarter of the city appropriated to
the Spaniards, churches and hospitals were erected under the
superintendence of Father Olmedo, as vicar and superior; who likewise
established an hospital for the natives, to whom he paid particular
attention. In compliance with our petition, formerly mentioned, the
general of the Franciscans sent over twelve of his order, under the
vicarage of Father Martin de Valentia. Among these came Father Torribio de
Motolinea, which name, signifying _poor brother_, he acquired from the
Mexicans, because all that he received in charity he gave away in the same
manner, going always barefooted in a tattered habit, preaching to the
natives, and often in want of food. When Cortes learnt that these reverend
fathers were arrived at Villa Rica, he ordered the road to Mexico to be
repaired, and to have houses built at proper intervals for their
accommodation; commanding the inhabitants of all the towns in the way to
meet them with the utmost reverence, ringing their bells, bearing
crucifixes and lighted wax-candles, and that all the Spaniards should
kneel down and kiss their hands. On their approach to Mexico, Cortes went
out to meet them, and dismounting from his horse, kneeled down to kiss the
hands of the vicar. The natives were astonished to see so much honour
conferred on these reverend fathers in tattered garments and bare feet,
and considering them as gods, they all followed the example of the general,
and have ever since behaved to them with the utmost reverence.

About this time, Cortes informed his majesty of his proceedings with
regard to the conversion of the natives, and rebuilding the city of Mexico;
and also of the conduct of De Oli, whom he had sent to reduce the province
of Higueras, but who had deserted and joined the party of Velasquez, on
which account he had resolved to send a force to reduce him to obedience.
He complained also of the proceedings of Velasquez, to the great injury of
his majesties service, and of the partiality which had been shewn by the
bishop of Burgos. At this time likewise, he remitted 30,000 crowns in gold
to the royal treasury, lamenting the injurious effects of the proceedings
of Velasquez and the bishop, which had prevented him from making a much
larger contribution. He complained also against the contador, Rodrigo de
Albornos, who had aspersed him from private pique, because he had refused
to give him in marriage the daughter of the prince of Tezcuco; and that he
understood Albornos corresponded in cyphers with the bishop of Burgos.
Cortes had not yet learnt that the bishop was removed from the management
of the affairs of the Indies. By the same ship, Albornos sent home
accusations against Cortes; charging him with the levy of exorbitant
contributions in gold for his own use; fortifying castles to defend
himself, and marrying his private soldiers to the daughters of the native
lords: insinuating that Cortes was endeavouring to set himself up as an
independent king, and that it was highly necessary to send out an able
officer with a great force to supersede him. The bishop of Burgos laid
these letters before the whole junto of the enemies of Cortes, who
immediately produced this new accusation to the emperor, complaining of
the partial favour which had been shewn him on former occasions. Deceived
by these misrepresentations, which were enforced by Narvaez, his majesty
issued an order to the admiral of Hispaniola, to go with six hundred
soldiers to arrest Cortes, and to make him answer with his head if found
guilty; as also to punish all of us who had been concerned in attacking
Narvaez. As an encouragement, this officer was promised the admiralty of
New Spain, the right to which was then under litigation. Either from want
of money, or because he was afraid of committing himself against so able
and successful a commander, the admiral delayed his expedition so long,
that the friends and agents of Cortes had time to make a full explanation
of all the circumstances to the Duke of Bejar, who immediately represented
a true statement of the case to the emperor, and offered to pledge his own
life in security for the loyalty of Cortes. Being on due consideration
quite satisfied of the justice of our cause, his majesty determined to
send out a person of high quality and good character to hold a supreme
court of justice in New Spain. The person chosen for this purpose was Luis
Ponce de Leon, cousin to Don Martin, Count of Cordova; whom his majesty
entrusted to inquire into the conduct of Cortes, with full power to
inflict capital punishment if guilty. But it was two years and a half
before this gentleman arrived in New Spain.

I now go beyond the date of my narrative to inform my readers of a
circumstance which happened during the viceroyalty of that illustrious
nobleman, Don Antonio de Mendoza, worthy of eternal memory and heavenly
glory for his wise and just government. Albornos wrote malignant and
slanderous letters against him, as he had before done of Cortes, which
letters were all sent back from Spain to Don Antonio. When he had read all
the gross abuse which they contained, he sent for Albornos, to whom he
shewed his own letters; saying mildly, in his usual slow manner, "When you
are pleased to make me the subject of your letters to his majesty,
remember always in future to tell the truth."

[1] Like the solitary Phoenix, I, without a peer, serve you, who have no
equal in the world.

[2] In Clavigero, at the close of Vol. I. this lady is named Donna Jeroma
Ramirez de Arrellano y Zuniga, daughter of Don Carlos Ramiro de
Arellano, Count of Auguiller, by Donna Jeroma de Zuniga, a daughter of
the Count of Benares, eldest son of Don Alvaro de Zuniga, duke of
Bejar. After two male descents from this marriage, the Marquisate of
the Valley of Oaxaca, and the great estates of Cortes in New Spain,
fell, by various collateral female descents, to the Neapolitan family
of Pignatelli, duke of Montelione and Terranova, marquis of the Valley
of Oaxaca, Grandee of Spain, and prince of the Roman empire.--E.


_Narrative of the Expedition of Cortes to Higueras_.

I have formerly mentioned the revolt of De Oli. Cortes was much distressed
on receiving this intelligence, and immediately sent off his relation,
Francisco de las Casas, with five ships and a hundred well appointed
soldiers, among whom were some of the veteran conquerors of Mexico, with
orders to reduce De Oli. Las Casas soon arrived at the bay of Triumpho de
la Cruz, where De Oli had established his head-quarters; and though Las
Casas hoisted a signal of peace, De Oli determined on resistance, and sent
a number of soldiers in two armed vessels to oppose Las Casas, who ordered
out his boats armed with swivels and musquetry to attack those belonging
to De Oli. In this affair Las Casas was successful, as he sunk one of the
vessels belonging to De Oli, killed four of his soldiers, and wounded a
great number. On this misfortune, and because a considerable number of his
soldiers were on a detached service in the inland country, for the purpose
of reducing a party of Spaniards under Gil Gonzalez de Avila, who was
employed in making conquests on the river Pechin, De Oli thought it
advisable to propose terms of peace to Las Casas, in hopes that his
detachment might return to his assistance. Las Casas unfortunately agreed
to treat, and remained at sea; partly for the purpose of finding some
better place of disembarkation, and partly induced by letters from the
friends of Cortes who were along with De Oli. That same night a heavy
storm arose, by which the vessels of Las Casas were driven on shore and
utterly lost, and above thirty of the soldiers perished. All the rest were
made prisoners two days afterwards, having been all that time on shore
without food, and almost perished with cold, as it was the season of
almost incessant rain. De Oli obliged all his prisoners to swear fidelity
to him against Cortes, and then released them all except Las Casas.

The party which he sent against De Avila returned about this time, having
been successful in their errand. Avila had gone with a party to reduce the
country about the _Golfe Dolce_, and had founded a settlement to which he
gave the name of _St Gil de buena vista_; and the troops sent against him,
after killing his nephew and eight of his soldiers, made himself and all
the rest prisoners. De Oli was now much elated by his success, in having
made two captains belonging to Cortes prisoners, and sent off a full
account of his exploits to his friend Velasquez. He afterwards marched up
the country to a place called Naco in a very populous district, which is
all now laid waste. While here, he sent off various detachments in
different directions, among which one was commanded by Briones, who had
first instigated him to revolt; bat Briones now revolted from him in his
turn, and marched off with all his men for New Spain. He was a seditious
fellow, who had on some former occasion had the lower part of his ears cut
off, which he used to say had been done for refusing to surrender in some
fortress or other. He was afterwards hanged at Guatimala for mutiny.

De Oli was personally brave but imprudent, and permitted Las Casas and
Avila to be at large, disdaining to be under any apprehensions from them;
but they concerted a plan with some of the soldiers for putting him to
death. Las Casas one day asked him, as if half in jest, for liberty to
return to Cortes; but De Oli said he was too happy to have the company of
so brave a man, and could not part with him. "Then" said Las Casas, "I
advise you to take care of me, for I shall kill you one of these days". De
Oli considered this as a joke, but measures were actually concerted for
the purpose; and one night after supper, when the servants and pages had
withdrawn to their own apartment, Las Casas, Avila, Juan de Mercado, and
some other soldiers attached to Cortes, suddenly drew out their penknives
and fell upon De Oli. Las Casas seized him by the beard, and made a cut at
his throat, and the rest gave him several wounds; but being strong and
active, he escaped from their hands, calling loudly to his people for
assistance, but they were all too busy at their suppers to hear him. He
then fled and concealed himself among some bushes, calling out for
assistance, and many of his people turned out for that purpose; but Las
Casas called upon them to rally on the side of the king and his general
Cortes, which after some hesitation they consented to. De Oli was made
prisoner by the two captains, who shortly afterwards sentenced him to be
beheaded, which was carried into execution in the town of Naco. He was a
brave man, but of no foresight, and thus paid with his life for following
evil counsels. He had received many favours from Cortes, having valuable
estates, and the commission of _Maestre de Campo_. His lady, Donna
Philippa de Aranja, was a Portuguese, by whom he had one daughter. Las
Casas and Avila now joined their troops together, and acted in concert as
captains under Cortes. Las Casas colonized Truzilo in New Estremadura.
Avila sent orders to his lieutenant in Buena Vista to remain in charge of
that establishment, promising to send him a reinforcement as soon as
possible, for which purpose he meant to go to Mexico.

Some months after the departure of Las Casas, Cortes became afraid of some
disaster, and repented that he had not gone himself on the expedition, and
now resolved to go himself, that he might examine the state of the country
and the mines it was said to contain. He left a good garrison in Mexico,
and appointed Alonzo de Estrada and Albornos, the treasurer and contador,
to carry on the government in his absence, with strict injunctions to pay
every attention to the interest of his majesty, and recommended to
Motolinca and Olmedo to labour incessantly in converting the natives. On
purpose to deprive the Mexicans of chiefs during his absence, he took
along with him Guatimotzin the late king of Mexico, the prince of Tacuba,
an Indian now named Velasquez, who had been a captain under Guatimotzin,
and several other caciques of consequence. We had along with us Fra Juan
de las Varillas, and several other good theologians to preach to the
Indians, as also the captains Sandoval and Marin and many other cavaliers.
On this occasion, Cortes, was attended by a splendid personal suit; such
as a steward, paymaster, keeper of the plate, a major-domo, two stewards
of the household, a butler, confectioner, physician, surgeon a number of
pages, among whom was Francisco de Montejo, who was afterwards captain in
Yutucan, two armour-bearers, eight grooms, two falconers, five musicians,
a stage-dancer, a juggler and puppet-master, a master of the horse, and
three Spanish muleteers. A great service of gold and silver plate
accompanied the march, and a large drove of swine for the use of the table.
Three thousand Mexican warriors attended their own chiefs, and a numerous
train of domestic servants.

When about to set out, the factor Salazar and veedor Chirinos,
remonstrated with Cortes on the danger of leaving the seat of government;
but finding him determined, they asked permission to accompany him to
Coatzacualco, which he agreed to. Cortes was received in all the places on
his way with much pomp and many rejoicings; and above fifty soldiers and
straggling travellers newly arrived from Spain, joined us on the road.
During the march to Coatzacualco, Cortes divided his troops into two
detachments, for the convenience of quarters and provisions. While on the
march, a marriage took place at the town of Ojeda near Orizava, between
our linguist Donna Marina and Juan Xaramillo. As soon as the advance of
Cortes to Guazpaltepec in the district of Sandoval was known at
Coatzacualco, all the Spaniards of that settlement went above thirty
leagues to meet him; in so much respect and awe was he held by us all. In
proceeding beyond Guazpaltepec fortune began to frown upon us, as in
passing a large river three of our canoes overset, by which some plate and
other valuables were lost, and nothing could be recovered as the river
swarmed with alligators. At Coatzacualco three hundred canoes were
prepared for crossing the river, fastened two and two together to prevent
oversetting, and we were here received under triumphal arches, with
various festivities, such as mock skirmishes between Christian's and Moors,
fireworks, and the like. Cortes remained six days at Coatzacualco, where
the factor and veedor prevailed on Cortes to give them a commission to
assume the government of Mexico in case they should judge that the present
deputies failed in their duty. This measure occasioned much trouble
afterwards in Mexico, as I shall explain hereafter; but these two
associates took their leaves at this place, with much pretended tenderness
and affection for the general, even affecting to sob and cry at parting.

From Coatzacualco, Cortes sent orders to Simon de Cucena, one of his
major-domos, to freight two light vessels at Villa Rica with biscuit made
of maize flour, as there was then no wheat in Mexico, wine, oil, vinegar,
pork, iron, and other necessaries, and to proceed with them along the
coast till he had farther directions. Cortes now gave orders for all the
settlers of Coatzacualco who were fit for duty, to join the expedition.
This was a severe disappointment to us, as our colony was composed of most
of the respectable hildagos, the veteran conquerors, who expected to have
been allowed to enjoy our hard earned houses and lands in peace, instead
of which we were obliged to undertake an arduous expedition of five
hundred leagues, which took us up above two years and a half of infinite
fatigues. We had nothing for it but compliance, so that we armed ourselves
and mounted our horses; being in all above 250 veterans, 130 of whom were
cavalry, besides many soldiers newly arrived from Old Spain. I was
immediately dispatched at the head of 30 Spaniards and 3000 Mexicans, to
reduce the district of Cimatan, which was then in rebellion. My orders
were, if I found the natives submissive, I was merely to quarter my troops
on the natives, and do them no farther injury. But, if refractory, they
were to be summoned three times in presence of a royal notary and proper
witnesses, after which, if they still persisted in rebellion, I was to
make war on them and compel them to submit. The people received me in a
peaceable manner, for which reason I marched on with my detachment to
rejoin Cortes at Iquinapa. In consequence of the veterans being withdrawn
from Coatzacualco, these people revolted again in a few months after.
After I left him, the general proceeded with the rest of his troops to
Tonala, crossing the river Aquacualco, and another river seven leagues
from an arm of the sea, by a bridge a quarter of a league in length, which
was constructed by the natives under the direction of two Spanish settlers
of Coatzacualco. The army then proceeded to the large river Mazapa, called
by seamen _Rio de dos bocas_, or Two-mouth river, which flows past Chiapa.
Crossing this by means of double canoes, they proceeded through several
villages to Iquinapa, where my detachment rejoined the army. Crossing
another river and an arm of the sea, on wooden bridges, we came to a large
town named Copilco, where the province of Chontalpa begins; a populous
district, full of plantations of cacoa, which we found perfectly peaceable.
From thence we marched by Nicaxuxica and Zagutan, passing another river,
in which the general lost some part of his baggage. We found Zagutan in
peace, yet the inhabitants fled during the night; on which Cortes ordered
parties out into the woods to make prisoners. Seven chiefs and some others
were taken, but they all escaped from us again in the night, and left us
without guides. At this place fifty canoes arrived at our quarters from
Tabasco, loaded with provisions, and some also from Teapan, a place in my

From Zagutan, we continued our march to Tepetitan, crossing a large river
called Chilapa, where we were detained four days making barks. I here
proposed sending five of our Indian guides to a town of the same name,
which I understood was on the banks of this river, in order to desire the
inhabitants to send their canoes to our assistance; which was accordingly
done, and they sent us six large canoes and some provisions: Yet with all
the aid we could procure, it took us four days to pass this river. From
thence we went to Tepetitan, which was depopulated and burnt in
consequence of a civil war. For three days of our march from the river
Chilapa, our horses were almost constantly up to their bellies in the
marshy grounds, and when we reached a place called Iztapa, it was found
abandoned by the inhabitants; but several chiefs and others were brought
in, who were treated kindly, and made the general some trifling presents
of gold. As this place abounded in corn and grass, we halted three days to
refresh the men and horses, and it was considered by Cortes as a good
situation for a colony, being surrounded by a number of towns, which might
serve as dependencies. Cortes received information from some travelling
merchants at this place concerning the country he had to pass through,
produced to them a map painted on cloth, representing the road to
_Huy-Acala_, which signifies _great_ Acala, there being another place of
the same name. According to them, the way was much intersected by rivers,
as, to reach a place named Tamaztepec, three days journey from Iztapa,
there were three rivers and an arm of the sea to cross. In consequence of
this intelligence, the general sent orders to the chiefs to provide canoes
and construct bridges at the proper places, but neither of these things
were done. Instead of three days, our march occupied us for a whole week;
but the natives succeeded in getting quit of us, and we set out with only
provisions of roasted maize and roots for three days, so that we were
reduced to great straits, having nothing to eat but a wild plant called
_quexquexque_, which inflamed our mouths. We were obliged to construct
bridges of timber, at which every one had to labour from the general
downwards; which detained us for three days. When we had crossed the last
inlet, we were obliged to open a way through the woods with infinite
labour, and after toiling in this manner for two days we were almost in
despair. The trees were so thick that we could not see the sun; and on
climbing to the top of one of the trees, we could not discover any thing
but a continuation of the same impervious forest. Two of our guides had
fled, and the only one who remained was utterly ignorant of the country.
The resources of Cortes were quite inexhaustible, as he guided our way by
a mariners compass, assisted by his Indian map, according to which the
town of _Huy-acala_ of which we were in search, lay to the east; but even
he acknowledged that he knew not what might become of us, if we were one
day longer of finding it out.

We who were of the advanced guard fortunately at this time fell in with
the remains of some trees which had been formerly cut, and a small lane or
path, which seemed to lead towards a town or village. The pilot Lopez and
I returned to the main body with intelligence of this happy discovery,
which revived the spirits of our whole army. We accordingly made all
possible haste in that direction, and soon came to a river, on the
opposite side of which we found a village named Tamaztepec, where, though
abandoned by the inhabitants, we found plenty of provisions for ourselves
and horses. Parties were immediately sent out in search of the natives,
who soon brought back many chiefs and priests who were well treated, and
both supplied us plentifully with provisions, and pointed out our road to
Izguantepec, which was three days journey, or sixteen leagues from the
town where we now were. During our journey to this place, our stage-dancer
and three of the new come Spaniards died of fatigue, and many of the
Mexicans had been left behind to perish. We discovered likewise that some
of the Mexican chiefs who accompanied us, had seized some of the natives
of the places through which we passed, and had eaten them to appease their
hunger. Cortes very severely reprimanded all who had been concerned in
this barbarous deed, and one of our friars preached a holy sermon on the
occasion; after which, as an example to deter our allies from this
practice in future, the general caused one against whom this crime had
been most clearly proved, to be burnt. All had been equally guilty, but
one example was deemed sufficient on the present occasion. Our poor
musicians felt severely the want of the feasts they had been used to in
Spain, and their harmony was now stopt, except one fellow; but the
soldiers used to curse him, saying they wanted maize not music. It may be
asked, how we did not lay our hands on the herd of swine belonging to
Cortes in our present state of starvation? But these were out of sight,
and the steward alleged they had been devoured by the alligators on
passing one of the rivers: In reality, they were artfully kept four days
march behind the army. During our route, we used to carve crosses on the
bark of trees, with inscriptions bearing, that Cortes and his army had
passed this way at such and such a time.

The Indians of Tamaztepec sent a message to Izguantepec, our next station,
to inform the inhabitants, and that they might not be alarmed at our
approach: They also deputed twenty of their number to attend us to that
place as guides. After our arrival at Izguantepec, Cortes was curious to
know the course of a large river which flowed past that place, and was
informed that it discharged itself into the sea near two towns named
Guegatasta and Xicolanga; from which he judged that this might be a
convenient way in which to send for information concerning his ships under
Cuenca whom he had ordered to wait his orders on that part of the coast.
He accordingly sent off two Spaniards on that errand, to one of whom,
Francisco de Medina, he gave an order to act as joint commander along with
Simon Cuenca. Medina was a man of dilligence and abilities, and well
acquainted with the country; but the commission he carried proved most
unfortunate in its consequences. He found the ships waiting at Xicolanga,
and on presenting his authority as joint captain, a dispute arose between
him and Cuenca as to which of them should have the chief command. Each was
supported by a party, and had recourse to arms, in which all the Spaniards
were slain except eight. The neighbouring Indians fell upon the survivors,
and put them all to death; after which they plundered the ships and then
destroyed them. It was two years and a half after this, before we knew
what had become of the ships.

We now learnt that the town of Huy-acala was three days march distant from
our present quarters, and that the way lay across some deep rivers and
trembling marshes. Two soldiers were sent on by Cortes to examine the
route, who reported on their return that the rivers were passable by means
of timber bridges, but as for the marshes, which were more material to
know, they were beyond the rivers and had not been examined. Cortes sent
me in the next place, along with one Gonzalo de Mexia and some Indian
guides, with orders to go forward to Huy-acala to procure provisions, with
which we were to meet him on the road. But our guides deserted us the
first night, on account of the two nations being at war, and we were
forced to rely entirely on ourselves for the remainder of the journey. On
our arrival at the first town belonging to the district of Huy-acala,
which has the supreme command over twenty other towns, the inhabitants
seemed very jealous of us at first, but were soon reconciled. This
district is much intersected by rivers, lakes, and marshes, and some of
the dependent towns are situated in islands, the general communication
being by means of canoes. We invited the chiefs to accompany us back to
Cortes; but they declined this, because their nation was at war with the
people of Izguantepec. It would appear that at our arrival they had no
idea of the force of our army under Cortes; but, having received more
accurate intelligence concerning it next day, they treated us with much
deference, and promised that they would provide every accommodation for
our army on its arrival. While still conversing, two other Spaniards came
up to me with letters from Cortes, in which he ordered me to meet him
within three days with all the provisions I could possibly collect; as the
Indians of Izguantepec had all deserted him, and he was now on his march
for Huy-acala entirely destitute of necessaries. These Spaniards also
informed me, that four soldiers who had been detached farther up the river
had not returned, and were supposed to have been murdered, which we learnt
afterwards was the case. In pursuing his march, Cortes had been four days
occupied in constructing a bridge over the great river, during which time
the army suffered excessive famine, as they had come from their last
quarters without provisions, owing to the desertion of the natives. Some
of the old soldiers cut down certain trees resembling palms, by which
means they procured nuts which they roasted and eat; but this proved a
miserable recourse for so great a number. On the night that the bridge
was completed, I arrived with 130 loads of provisions, consisting of corn,
honey, fruit, salt, and fowls. It was then dark, and Cortes had mentioned
his expectation of my arrival with provisions, in consequence of which,
the soldiers waited for me and seized every thing I had, not leaving any
thing for Cortes and the other officers. It was all in vain that the
major-domo cried out, "this is for the general;" for the soldiers said the
general and his officers had been eating their hogs, while they were
starving, and neither threats nor entreaties could prevail on them to
leave him a single load of corn. Cortes lost all patience, and swore he
would punish those who had seized the provisions and spoken about the hogs;
but he soon saw that it was better to be quiet. He then blamed me; but I
told him he ought to have placed a guard to receive the provisions, as
hunger knows no law. Seeing there was no remedy, Cortes, who was
accompanied by Sandoval, addressed me as follows: "My dear friend, I am
sure you must have something in reserve for yourself and your friend
Sandoval, pray take us along with you that we may partake." Sandoval also
assured me that he had not a single handful of maize. "Well," said I,
"gentlemen, come to me when the soldiers are asleep, and you shall partake
of what I had provided for myself and my companions." They both thanked
and embraced me, and so we escaped famine for this bout, as I had with me
twelve loads of maize, twenty fowls, three jars of honey, and some fruit
and salt. Cortes made inquiry as to how the reverend fathers had fared;
but they were well off, as every soldier gave them a share of what they
had procured. Such are the hardships of military expeditions in unexplored
countries. Feared as he was by the soldiers, our general was pillaged of
his provisions, and in danger of starving, and both he and captain
Sandoval were indebted to me for their rations.

On continuing our march from the river for about a league, we came to the
trembling marshes, where our horses had all been nearly destroyed; but the
distance across did not exceed half a bowshot, between the firm ground on
either side, and we got them through by main force. When we were all safe
over, and had given thanks to God for our safety, Cortes sent on to
Huy-acala for a fresh supply of provisions, and took care not to have
these plundered like the former; and on the ensuing day, our whole army
arrived early at Huy-acala, where the chiefs had made ample preparation
for our reception. Having used every proper means to conciliate the chiefs
of this nation, Cortes inquired from them as to the country we had still
to march through, and whether they had heard of any ships being on the
coast, or of any Europeans being settled in the country. He was informed,
that at the distance of eight days journey, there were many men having
beards like ourselves, who had horses and three ships. They also gave the
general a map of the route, and offered every assistance in their power;
but when asked to clear the road, they represented that some of their
dependent districts had revolted, and requested our assistance to reduce
them to obedience. This duty was committed to Diego de Mazariegos, a
relation of the treasurer de Estrada, as a compliment to him, and Cortes
desired me in private to accompany him as his counsellor, being
experienced in the affairs of this country. I do not mention this
circumstance, which is known to the whole army, by way of boast, but as my
duty of historian requires it of me, and indeed his majesty was informed
of it, in the letters which were written to him by Cortes. About eighty of
us went on this occasion along with Mazariegos, and had the good fortune
to find the district in the best disposition. The chiefs returned with us
to Cortes, and brought a most abundant supply of provisions along with
them. In about four days, however, all the chiefs deserted us, and we were
left with only three guides to pursue our march, as well as we could.
After crossing two rivers, we came to another town in the district of
Huy-acala, which was abandoned by the inhabitants, but in which we took up
our quarters.

In this place, Guatimotzin, the last king of the Mexicans, closed his
unhappy career. It appeared that a plot had been concerted by this
unfortunate monarch with many of the Mexican nobles who accompanied him,
to endeavour to cut off the Spaniards; after which they proposed to make
the best of their way back to Mexico, where, collecting all the forces of
the natives, they hoped to be able to overpower the Spanish garrison. This
conspiracy was revealed to Cortes by two Mexican nobles who had commanded
under Guatimotzin during the siege, and who had been baptized by the names
of Tapia and Velasquez. On receiving this intelligence, Cortes immediately
took the judicial informations of these two and of several others who were
concerned in the plot; from which it was learnt, that the Mexicans,
observing that we marched in a careless manner, that discontent prevailed
among our troops, many of whom were sick, that ten of our Spanish soldiers
had died of hunger, and several had returned towards Mexico, and
considering also the uncertainty of the fate of the expedition and the
miseries they endured from scarcity of provisions, they had come to the
resolution of falling upon us at the passage of some river or marsh, being
encouraged by their numbers, which exceeded 3000 well armed men, and
thinking it preferable to die at once than to encounter the perpetual
miseries they now endured by accompanying us in this wilderness.
Guatimotzin acknowledged that he had heard of this proposal, which he
never approved of, declaring that he did not believe it would ever have
been attempted, and anxiously denied that the whole of the Mexican force
had concurred in the plot. His cousin, the prince of Tacuba, declared that
all which had ever passed on the subject, between him and Guatimotzin, was,
that they had often expressed their opinion, that it would be better to
lose their lives at once like brave men, than to suffer in the manner they
did by hunger and fatigue, and to witness the intolerable distresses of
their friends and subjects who accompanied them. On those scanty proofs,
Cortes sentenced Guatimotzin and the prince of Tacuba to be immediately
hanged; and when the preparations were made for the execution, they were
led forth to the place attended by the reverend fathers, who did their
utmost to console them in their last moments. Before his execution,
Guatimotzin addressed Cortes to the following effect: "_Malintzin_! I now
see that your false words and flattering promises have ended in my death.
It had been better to have fallen by my own hands, than to have trusted
myself to your power. You take away my life unjustly, and may God demand
of you my innocent blood." The prince of Tacuba only said, that he was
happy to die along with his beloved sovereign. Thus did these two great
men end their lives, and, for Indians, most piously and like good
Christians. I lamented them both sincerely, having seen them in their
greatness. They always treated me kindly on this march, giving me Indians
to procure grass for my horse, and doing me many services. To me and all
of us, their sentence appeared cruel and unjust, and their deaths most

After this, we continued our march with much circumspection, being
apprehensive of a mutiny among the Mexican troops in revenge for the
execution of their chiefs; but these poor creatures were so exhausted by
famine, sickness, and fatigue, that they did not seem even to have
bestowed a thought on the matter. At night we came to a deserted village;
but on searching we found eight priests, whom we brought to Cortes. He
desired them to recal the inhabitants, which they readily promised,
requesting him not to injure their idols in a temple close to some
buildings in which Cortes was quartered, which he agreed to, yet
expostulated with them on the absurdity of worshipping compositions of
clay and wood. They seemed as if it would have been easy to induce them to
embrace the doctrines of our holy faith; and soon brought us twenty loads
of fowls and maize. On being examined by Cortes about the bearded men with
horses, they said that these people dwelt at a place called _Nito_, at the
distance of seven suns, or days journey from their village, and offered to
guide us to that place. At this time Cortes was exceedingly sad and
ill-humoured, being fretted by the difficulties and misfortunes of his
march, and his conscience upbraided him for the cruelty he had committed
upon the unfortunate king of Mexico. He was so distracted by these
reflections, that he could not sleep, and used to walk about at night, as
a relief for his anxious thoughts. Going in the dark to walk in a large
apartment which contained some of the Indian idols, he missed his way and
fell from a height of twelve feet, by which he received a severe contused
wound in his head. He endeavoured to conceal this circumstance from
general knowledge, and got his wounds cured as well as he could, keeping
his sufferings to himself.

After leaving this place, we came in two days to a district inhabited by a
nation called the _Mazotecas_, where we found a newly built town,
fortified by two circular enclosures of pallisades, one of which was like
a barbican, having loop-holes to shoot through, and was strengthened by
ditches. Another part of the town was inaccessible, being on the summit of
a perpendicular rock, on the top of which the natives had collected great
quantities of stones for their defence. And a third quarter of the town
was defended by an impassable morass. Yet after all these defensive
preparations, we were astonished to find the town entirely abandoned,
though every house was full of the different kinds of provisions which the
country afforded, besides which it had a magazine stocked with arms of all
sorts. While we were expressing our astonishment at these circumstances,
fifteen Indians came out of the morass in the most submissive manner, and
told us that they had been forced to the construction of this fortress as
their last resort, in an unsuccessful war with a neighbouring nation,
called the _Lazandones_ as far as I can now remember. They brought back
the inhabitants, whom we treated with kindness, and from whom we received
farther information, respecting, the Spanish settlement, to which two of
the natives of this place undertook to shew us the way. From this place we
entered upon vast open plains, in which not a tree was to be seen, and in
which innumerable herds of deer were feeding, which were so tame as almost
to come up to us. Our horsemen, therefore, easily took as many as they
pleased, and we found that the Indians never disturbed them, considering
them as a kind of divinities, and had even been commanded by their idols,
or priests rather in their name, neither to kill or frighten these animals.
The heat of the weather was now so excessive that Palacios Rubios, a
relation of Cortes, lost his horse by pursuing the deer. We continued our
march along this open campaign country, passing several villages where the
destructive ravages of war were distinctly perceivable. On one occasion we
met some Indians on their return from hunting, who had along with them a
huge _lion_[1] just killed, and several _iguanas_[2], a species of small
serpent very good to eat. These people shewed us the way to their town, to
which we had to wade up to our middles through a lake of fresh water by
which it was surrounded. This lake was quite full of fish, resembling
shads, but enormously large, with prickles on their backs; and having
procured some nets, we took above a thousand of them, which gave us a
plentiful supply. On inquiry, five of the natives of this place engaged to
guide us to the settlement of our countrymen; and they were glad to get so
easily rid of us, as they were apprehensive we had come to put them all to

Leaving this place, we proceeded to a town named _Tayasal_, situated on an
island in a river, the white temples, towers, and houses, of which place,
glistened from a distance. As the road now became very narrow, we thought
proper to halt here for the night, having in the first place detached some
soldiers to the river to look out for a passage. They were so fortunate as
to take two canoes, containing ten men and two women, who were conveying a
cargo of maize and salt. Being brought to Cortes, they informed him that
they belonged to a town about four leagues farther on. Our general
detained one of the canoes and some of the people, and sent two Spaniards
along with the rest in the other canoe, to desire the cacique of that town
to send him canoes to enable us to cross the river. Next morning, we all
marched down to the river, where we found the cacique waiting for us, who
invited the general to his place of residence. Cortes accordingly embarked
with an escort of thirty crossbows, and was presented on his arrival at
the town with a few toys of gold very much alloyed, and a small number of
mantles. They informed him that they knew of Spaniards being at three
different places, which were Nito, Buena Vista, and Naco, the last being
ten days journey inland from Nito, and where the greater number of the
Spaniards resided, Nito being on the coast. On hearing this, Cortes
observed to us that De Oli had probably divided his forces, as we knew
nothing as yet respecting Gil Gonzalo de Avila, or Las Casas.

Our whole army now crossed the river, and halted about two leagues from it,
waiting the return of Cortes. At this place, three Spanish soldiers, two
Indians, and a Negro deserted; preferring to take their chance among the
unknown natives of the country, to a continuance of the fatigues and
dangers they had experienced. This day likewise, I had a stroke of the sun,
which occasioned a burning fever or calenture. At this period the weather
changed, and for three days and nights it rained incessantly; yet we had
to continue our march, lest our provisions might fail. After two days
march we came to a ridge of rocky hills, which we named the _Sierra de los
Pedernales_, the stones of which were as sharp as knives. Several soldiers
were sent a league on each side of this bad pass in search of a better
road, but to no purpose, so that we were forced to proceed. Our horses
fell at every step, and the farther we advanced it grew the worse,
insomuch that we lost eight horses, and all the rest were so lamed that
they could not keep up with us. After getting over this shocking pass, we
advanced towards a town called _Taica_, where we expected to procure
provisions in abundance; but to our great mortification were unexpectedly
stopped by a prodigious torrent, so swelled by the late heavy rains that
it was quite impassable, and made such a noise in tumbling over its rocky
bed that it might have been heard at the distance of two leagues. We had
to stop here for three complete days to construct a bridge between the
precipitous banks of this river; in consequence of which delay the people
of Taica had abandoned their town, removing all their provisions out of
our reach. We were all miserably disappointed at this event, finding that
hunger was to be our portion after all our fatigues. After sending out his
servants in every direction, Cortes was only able to procure about a
bushel of maize. He then called together the colonists of Coatzacualco,
and earnestly solicited us to use our utmost endeavours to procure
supplies. Pedro de Ircio requested to have the command on this occasion,
to which Cortes assented: But as I knew Ircio to be a better prater than
marcher, I whispered to Cortes and Sandoval to prevent him from going, as
he was a duck-legged fellow, who could not get through the miry ground,
and would only interrupt us in our search. Cortes accordingly ordered him
to remain, and five of us set out with two Indian guides across rivers and
marshes, and came at length to some Indian houses where we found
provisions in abundance. We here made some prisoners, and with their fruit,
fowls, and corn, we celebrated the feast of the Resurrection to our great
contentment. That same night we were joined by a thousand Mexicans, who
had been sent after us, whom we loaded with all the corn we could procure,
and twenty fowls for Cortes and Sandoval, after which there still remained
some corn in the town, which we remained to guard. We advanced next day to
some other villages, where we found corn in abundance, and wrote a billet
to Cortes desiring him to send all the Indians he could spare to carry it
to the army. Thirty soldiers and about five hundred Indians arrived in a
short time, and we amply provided for the wants of the army during the
five days it remained at Taica. I may observe here, that the bridges which
we constructed on this march continued good for many years; and the
Spaniards, when they travelled this way, used to say, "These are the
bridges of Cortes."

After resting five days at Taica, we continued our march for two days to a
place called Tania, through a country everywhere intersected by marshes,
rivers, and rivulets, all the towns being abandoned and the provisions
carried away; and, to add to our misfortunes, our guides made their escape
during the night, being entrusted, as I suppose, to some of the newly
arrived Spaniards, who used to sleep on their posts. We were thus left in
a difficult country, and did not know which way to go; besides which heavy
rains fell without ceasing. Cortes was very much out of humour, and
observed among his officers, that he wished some others besides the
Coatzacualco settlers would bestir themselves in search of guides. Pedro
de Ircio, a man of quality named Marmolejo, and Burgales, who was
afterwards regidor of Mexico, offered their services, and taking each of
them six soldiers, were out three days in search of Indians, but all
returned without success, having met with nothing but rivers, marshes, and
obstructions. Cortes was quite in despair, and desired Sandoval to ask me
as a favour to undertake the business. Though ill, I could not refuse when
applied to in this manner; wherefore, taking two friends along with me who
could endure fatigue, we set out following the course of a stream, and
soon found a way to some houses, by observing marks of boughs having been
cut. Following these marks, we came in sight of a village surrounded by
fields of corn; but we remained concealed till we thought the people were
asleep, and taking the inhabitants by surprise, we secured three men, two
very handsome Indian girls, and an old woman, with a few fowls and a small
quantity of maize. On bringing our prize to head-quarters, Sandoval was
quite overjoyed. "Now," said he to Pedro de Ircio in the presence of
Cortes, "was not Castillo in the right, when he refused to take hobbling
people along with him, who tell old stories of the adventures of the Conde
de Urena and his son Don Pedro Giron?" All who were present laughed
heartily at this sally, as Ircio used to pester us with these stories
continually, and Sandoval knew that Ircio and I were not on friendly terms.
Cortes paid me many compliments on this occasion, and thanked me for my
good service. But what is praise more than emptiness, and what does it
profit me that Cortes said he relied on me, next to God, for procuring
guides? We learnt from the prisoners that it was necessary to descend the
river for two days march, when we would come to a town of two hundred
houses, called _Oculiztli_; which he did accordingly, passing some large
buildings where the travelling Indian merchants used to stop on their
journeys. At the close of the second day we came to Oculiztli, where we
got plenty of provisions, and in one of the temples we found an old red
cap and a sandal, which had been placed there as offerings to the idols.
Some of our soldiers brought two old men and four women to Cortes, who
told him that the Spanish settlement was on the seaside two days journey
from this place, with no intervening towns. Cortes therefore gave orders
to Sandoval to set out immediately with six soldiers for the coast, to
ascertain what number of men De Oli had with him, as he meant to fall upon
him by surprise, being quite ignorant of the revolution which had happened
in this quarter.

Sandoval set out accordingly with three guides, and on reaching the sea
shore, he soon perceived a canoe; and concealing himself where he expected
it might anchor for the night, was fortunate enough to get possession of
the canoe; which belonged to some Indian merchants who were carrying salt
to _Golfo dolce_. Sandoval embarked in this canoe with a part of his men,
sending the rest along the shore, and made for the great river. During the
voyage, he fell in with four Spaniards belonging to the settlement, who
were searching for fruit near the mouth of the river, being in great
distress from sickness and the hostilities of the Indians. Two of these
men were up in a tree, when they saw Sandoval to their great astonishment,
and soon joined him. They informed him of the great distress of the
settlement, and of all the events which had occurred, and how they had
hanged the officer whom Avila had left in the command, and a turbulent
priest, for opposing their determination to return to Cuba, and had
elected one Antonio Niote in his stead. Sandoval resolved to carry these
people to Cortes, whom he wished to inform as soon as possible of the news,
and sent a soldier named Alonzo Ortiz, who soon reached us with the
agreeable intelligence, for which Cortes gave him an excellent horse, and
all of us gave him something in proportion to our abilities. Sandoval
arrived soon afterwards, and Cortes issued immediate orders to march to
the coast, which was about six leagues distant. Cortes pushed forwards
with his attendants, and crossed the river by means of the two canoes,
swimming the horses. The Spanish settlement was about two leagues from the
place where Cortes landed, and the colonists were astonished on seeing the
Europeans coming towards them, and still more so when they found it was
the renowned conqueror of Mexico. Cortes received their congratulations
very graciously, and desired them to bring all the canoes they could
collect, and the boats belonging to their ships to assist his army in
crossing. He likewise ordered them to provide bread for the army; but of
this only fifty pounds weight could be got, as they lived almost entirely
on _sapotes_ and other vegetables, and fish.

We had an arm of the sea to cross, and had therefore to wait for low water,
but Cortes had found the passage so dangerous that he sent us word not to
follow till farther orders. The care of passing this dangerous place was
entrusted to Sandoval, who took as effectual measures as possible, but it
took us four days to get over, partly wading and partly swimming. One
soldier and his horse went to the bottom, and was never seen more, and two
other horses were lost. A person named Saavedra, presuming on his
relationship to Cortes, refused obedience to the orders of Sandoval, and
endeavoured to force his passage, even laying his hand on his poinard, and
using disrespectful expressions to Sandoval; who seized him instantly and
threw him into the water, where he was nearly drowned. Our sufferings at
this time were excessive, as during all these four days we had literally
nothing to eat, except by gathering a few nuts and some wild fruits, and
on getting across our condition was not improved. We found this colony to
contain forty men and six women, all yellow and sickly, and utterly
destitute of provisions; so that we were under the necessity of setting
out immediately in search of food both for ourselves and them. For this
purpose, about eighty of us marched, under the command of Luis Marin, to a
town about eight leagues distant, where we found abundance of maize and
vegetables, and great quantities of cacao; and as this place was in the
direct road for Naco, to which Cortes intended to go, he immediately sent
Sandoval and the greatest part of the troops to join us, on receiving the
agreeable intelligence of our good fortune. We sent a plentiful supply of
maize to the miserable colonist who had been so long in a starving
condition, of which they eat to such excess that seven of them died. About
this time likewise a vessel arrived with seven horses, forty hogs, eight
pipes of salted meat, a considerable quantity of biscuit, and fifteen
adventurers from Cuba. Cortes immediately purchased all the provisions,
which he distributed among the colonists, who eat the salted meat so
voraciously that it occasioned diarrhoeas, by which, in a very few days,
fourteen of them were carried off.

As Cortes wished to examine this great river, he caused one of the
brigantines belonging to Avila which had been stranded to be fitted out;
and embarking with thirty soldiers and eight mariners belonging to the
vessel lately arrived, having likewise a boat and four double canoes, he
proceeded up the river to a spacious lake with good anchorage. This lake
was navigable for six leagues, all the adjacent country being subject to
be inundated; but on endeavouring to proceed higher, the current became
stronger, and he came to certain shallows, which prevented the vessels
from proceeding any farther. Cortes now landed with his soldiers, and
advanced into the country by a narrow road which led to several villages
of the natives. In the first of these he procured some guides, and in the
second he found abundance of corn, and many domesticated birds, among
which were pheasants, pigeons, and partridges, which last are often
domesticated by the Indians of America. In prosecuting his route, he
approached a large town called _Cinacan Tencintle_, in the midst of fine
plantations of cacao, where he heard the sound of music and merry-making,
the inhabitants being engaged in a drunken feast. Cortes waited a
favourable opportunity, concealed in a wood close by the town, when
suddenly rushing out, he made prisoners of ten men and fifteen women. The
rest of the inhabitants attacked him with their darts and arrows, but our
people closed with them and killed eight of their chiefs, on which the
rest submitted, sending four old men, two of whom were priests, with a
trifling present of gold, and to petition for the liberation of the
prisoners, which he accordingly engaged to give up on receiving a good
supply of provisions, which they promised to deliver at the ships. A
misunderstanding took place afterwards between Cortes and these Indians,
as he wished to retain three of their women to make bread, and hostilities
were renewed, in which Cortes was himself wounded in the face, twelve of
his soldiers wounded, and one of his boats destroyed. He then returned
after an absence of twenty-six days, during which he had suffered
excessive torment from the mosquitoes. He wrote to Sandoval, giving him an
account of all that had occurred in his expedition to Cinacan, which is
seventy leagues from Guatimala, and ordered him to proceed to Naco; as he
proposed to remain himself on purpose to establish a colony at _Puerto de
Cavallos_[3], for which he desired Sandoval to send back ten of the
Coatzacualco veterans, without whose assistance nothing could be done
properly. Taking with him all the Spaniards who remained at St Gil de
Buena Vista, Cortes embarked in two ships, and arrived in eight days sail
at Puerto de Cavallos, which had a good harbour, and seemed every way well
calculated for a colony, which he established there under the command of
Diego de Godoy, naming the town Natividad. Expecting by this time that
Sandoval might have arrived at Naco, which is not far distant from Puerto
Cavallos, Cortes sent a letter for him to that place, requiring a
reinforcement of ten of the veteran soldiers of Coatzacualco, as he
intended to proceed for the bay of Honduras; but this letter reached us in
our last-mentioned quarters as we had not yet reached Naco. Leaving Cortes
for the present, I shall only say that he was so tormented by the
mosquitoes, which prevented him from procuring rest either by night or day,
that he had almost lost his life or his senses.

On receiving this last letter from the general, Sandoval pressed on for
Naco, but was obliged to halt at a place called _Cuyocan_, in order to
collect the stragglers who had gone in quest of provisions. We were also
impeded by a river, and the natives on every side were hostile. Our line
of march was now extremely long, by the great number of invalids,
especially of the Mexicans, who were unable to keep up with the main body;
on which account Sandoval left me at this place, with the command of eight
men at the ferry, to protect and bring up the stragglers. One night the
natives attacked my post, setting fire to the house in which we were
lodged, and endeavoured to carry away our canoe; but, with the assistance
of some of our Mexicans who had come up, we beat them off; and, having
collected all the invalids who had loitered behind, we crossed the river
next day, and set but to rejoin Sandoval. A Genoese, who had been sometime
ill, sunk at length through weakness, occasioned by poverty of diet, and
died on the road, and I was obliged to leave his body behind. When I made
my report to Sandoval, he was ill pleased at me for not having brought on
the dead body; but I told him we had already two invalids on every horse,
and one of my companions said rather haughtily, that we had enough of
difficulty to bring on ourselves, without carrying dead men. Sandoval
immediately ordered me and that soldier, whose name was Villanueva, to go
back and bury the Genoese, which we did accordingly, and placed a cross
over his grave. We found a purse in his pocket, containing some dice, and
a memorandum of his family and effects in Teneriffe. God rest his soul!
_Amen_. In about two days we arrived at Naco, passing a town named
_Quinistlan_, and a place where mines have been since discovered. We found
Naco to be a very good town, but it was abandoned by its inhabitants, yet
we procured plenty of provisions and salt, of which we were in very great


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